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Wednesday 17 November 2010

WSET Advanced Certificate Course - Class 2 - "Wine Making"

Our second class at the WSET was a rapid-moving overview of wine making the world over in 90 minutes. It made a clear distinction between two different aspects of this subject - "viticulture" and "vinification".

"Viticulture" refers to the various stages of the growing of grapes (vineyard, the vine, planting, cultivation) whereas "vinification" relates to the processing of turning grapes into finished wines (white, rose and red wine making, maturation, finishing and bottling).

(Picture Courtesy of Wikipedia)
We also learned how the development of modern viticulture arose from the wholesale destruction of European vineyards by the American louse "Phylloxera" in the 19th Century. Most importantly, we learnt to appreciate the role that both viticulture and vinification play in producing good quality wines.

The phylloxera, a true gourmet, finds out the best vineyards and attaches itself to the best wines
(Cartoon from Punch, 6 Sep. 1890 via Wikipedia)

It was interesting to learn about some of those terms that I had heard many times over the years but never really fully understood. For example "malolactic fermentation" (process which turns harsh malic acid into gentler lactic acid giving a more rounded, 'buttery' flavour) or the use of "noble rot or botrytis" (a natural mould which dries up the grapes to produce some of the most luscious and valuable sweet wines like Sauternes). Another useful snippet of learning is that French oak maturation gives rise to toast, hazelnut and vanilla flavours in wine, whereas American oak gives more coconut tones.

(Botrytis Riesling via Wikipedia)
To illustrate some of the issues around viticulture and vinification, we had a blind tasting of two pairs of wines made from the same grape. It was interesting to note how different the Australian and French Syrah were (indeed the palate evoked so much more than just the grape!), but also the two Chardonnays produced by the same wine maker but from different vintages. Fascinating stuff!

Below are the wines that we tasted on this evening:

Enate 234 Chardonnay 2009, Somontano, Spain, Vinedos Y Crianzas Del Aragon SA @ £10.99 from Hallgarten Wines

Enate Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007, Somontano, Spain. Vinedos Y Crianzas Del Aragon SA @ £16.99 from Hallgarten Wines

Crozes-Hermitage 2008, Les Launes, Rhone Valley, Delas Frere @ £13.99 from Berkmann Wine Cellars

Shiraz 2006, Chateau Reynella Basket Pressed Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia @ £14.99 from Constellation Wine

Next week is Week 3: "Introduction to EU labelling"

1 comment:

  1. Just wait until you do Spirits ! I did the course in a week and the spirits session (or warm gin), at 9 am on a Friday morning was tough !

    Great spectrum of wine shown at varied levels and regions.

    Just need to find time for the diploma .......


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