Two of the most recognized grapes in Bordeaux are Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. We know Sauv Blanc for its fresh, herbaceous zippiness and Semillon is the sweet one. Together, they both achieve balance and can be found in a variety of combinations that result in Bordeaux Blanc. Another grape I can’t forget to mention is Muscadelle, which plays an important supporting role in both dry and sweet wine making. In The Loire Valley, I was introduced to additional grape varieties: Chenin Blanc, Melon Blanc, and Muscadet. During our class, Master Sommelier Jill Zimorski mentioned that Melon Blanc is a perfect summer wine, and now I’m on a mission to find it before Labor Day! Not to be out done of course is Burgundy’s most prized varietal, Chardonnay. As we know, Chardonnay is a very versatile grape that can be grown anywhere in the world. What makes Bourgogne Chardonnay so special is the variety of techniques used and its ability to age well in the bottle.
Outside of France, cool climate vineyards can be found on very steep slopes. Germany and Alsace are home to some of the most aromatic grape varieties in the world – Riesling and Gewurztraminer. While the styles vary between the two areas, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Alsatian wine is heavily influenced by German wine – from the bottle shapes to how the wine is described on the label.
This session was jam packed with lots of information, and I’ll be taking the weekend to review, draft thousands of note cards and talk about wine as much as possible – the exam is just 29 days away!