Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Tasting Group visits Moët Hennessy

This past Tuesday, our Food Network tasting group was treated to a tasting at the Moet-Hennessey headquarters in New York. Moet owns or has a hand in 18 different estates producing approximately 100 different wines.

We stated with the Veuve Cliqout Brut which was straw yellow in color with yeast and lemon notes and a driving minerality.

After that aperitif, we tasted through six wines from their portfolio, a mix of red and whites.

First up was the ’08 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. It was dry and acidic with lemon and minerals. Medium long finish. Balanced, zippy and grassy.

’07 Livio Felluga Terre Alte followed that. It was an interesting blend of 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Pinot Blanco, and 30% Freluano. It was soft and rounder than the Cloudy Bay with plenty of acidity. Medium bodied with a medium finish. While this was the wine of the night for some in our group, I found it a bit all over the place.

’07 Chateau La Nerthe – Chateauneuf du Pape White was next and this was also round with nice acidity. Light gold in color with floral and orange spice aromas. Stone fruits, flowers, and minerals emerged as the wine had time to warm up. Medium bodied with a medium long finish. I thought this wine was very good and the white wine of the night for me.

’06 Newton – Unfiltered Chardonnay finished off the white wines. This had obvious oak and vanilla notes with lemon fighting through the background. Golden colored and the darkest hue of any of the whites tasted. Lush texture with a long finish. Good but not necessarily my style of wine.

We moved on to two reds after this. The first being the ’06 Terrazes de los Andes Reserva – Malbac which was a garnet colored, acidic and dry. Notably tannic leading to a long finish. OK.

Last was the ’06 Numanthia from Spain. Garnet colored with dark fruit, cider and spice box notes. Lots of various dark fruits going on and chocolate, cocoa, and mocha mixed in. Smooth, balanced with a persistent long finish. This was my wine of the night hands down.

What was also interesting about this tasting was the “how to taste” suggestions we were given from our guide.

(1) Is the wine “Yum” or “Yuk”?
(2) Does the wine have any faults or is it funky in any way?
(3) What are the fruit aromas and are they primary or in the background?
(4) What are the secondary or tertiary notes? Are they up front or in the background? Is there noticeable wood notes? They are more likely to be upfront in older wines?
(5) What’s the color of the wine? Lighter wines are likely to have less or no wood aging while darker wines are more likely to have them.

- Acidity is best defined by how much the wine makes your mouth water.
- Tannins are mainly imparted by the oak/wood aging or through seeds, skins, and stems. Tannic usually translates to a dry wine. It can also become astringent.
- Alcohol – If you smell it and your nose burns than it’s too alcoholic.
- But… Just because a wine might be 15% alcohol, it doesn’t necessarily mean its “crap” if its still in balance.
- Balance – When all of these elements come together.
- Finish – Are you still thinking about it after you drink it?
- Persistance – You should get this, essentially an extended finish, with an expensive bottle.
- Acid cuts though fat.
- Proseco is grapy by nature and goes great with a good fresh squeezed OJ.

- If is there for you, its there for you.
- Trust your taste.

These “musings” are the opinions of our tasting guide and guided towards our relatively “newbie” tasting group but I think he did a pretty good job of summing everything up.

Overall it was a great outing and we’re looking forward to our next visit.

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