Sonoma State – VESTA Sensory Workshop

Staying ahead of flaws in the cellar and quantifying differences and preferences are critical to a winery’s bottom line.  Following the conclusion of Unified, Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute will partner with VESTA to offer a workshop focusing on sensory evaluation and sensory test methods.

The workshop will be held in Santa Rosa at the Landmark Executive Center (home of Chloe’s French Café) on January 27 and 28, from 8-5 on Friday and 8-1 on Saturday.  The center is located at 3883 Airway Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

Cost of the 1.5 day workshop is $249 per person.  Pre-registration is required.  For more information, visit Sonoma State online ( or phone the VESTA National Center at 417-836-8967.

Following is the beginning of a list of the wines that we will taste during two of the seminar modules.  These particular tastings will focus on regional wine styles and preference testing using rank sums.  Many more wines, commercial and doctored, will be tasted during the modules covering tasting methodology, sensory components and wine faults and flaws.

Kim Crawford, Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
P&B in Huapai in Auckland 13.5% purchased for $11.99 at Bottle Barn Kim Crawford

Domaine André Vatan, Sancerre, Les Charmes 2010 This has been a consistent, value-priced Sancerre that I have often reached for since a visit with Andre in ’98.

As in previous vintages, the nose features grass, lemon, minerality and perfume. In the mouth it is bracing with a sense of freshly sqeuezed lemon juice – very nice.

Mis en bouteille au doamine a Chaudoux, Verdigny-en-Sancerre in Cher 13% purchased for $15.99 at Bottle Barn

Mulderbosch, Western Cape, Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Notes from the previous vintage; let’s see how the ’10 shows:  The nose shows a strong sense of herbaceousness, fresh bell pepper, sliced open and in hand. In the mouth it is dynamic, quite fresh and as in prior vintages, assertive in its herbaceous and acidic profile – delicious. The notes for the ’09 vintage have yet to be posted yet I expect that there is a touch of RS in the background adding the roundness that you experience on the palate. P&B in Stellenbosch 12.5% purchased for $15.99 at Bottle Barn Mulderbosch

Sutter Home, California, Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Vinted and bottled in Napa 13.5% $3.59, purchased at Bottle Barn Sutter Home Winery

Chalk Hill Estate Winery, Chalk Hill, Russian River Valley, Estate Bottled, Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Back in the days when I sold wine at Safeway, I could always count on this wine to be a rich expression of the grape. Today the standard carries on, making this wine more akin to Bordeaux than Sancerre.

The wine was barrel fermented, aged sur lie for 10 months and given weekly battonage. Grown, Produced & Bottled in Healdsburg 14.7% purchased for $25.49 at Bottle Barn Chalk Hill

Cantina Terlano, Alto Adige, Pinot Bianco 2010 After fermentation this wine spends six months aging on the lees in stainless. Estate Bottled in Terlano 13.5% purchased for $11.49 at Bottle Barn Terlano

Lucien Albrecht, Alsace, Pinot Blanc, Cuvee Balthazar 2010 Balthazar Albrecht settled in Orschwir in 1698. Proprietor and winemaker Jean Albrecht. This vintage features a screwcap closure and RS guidance on the back label. Bottled in Orschwihr 13% purchased for $10.99 at Bottle Barn Albrecht

Caves Allianca, Vinho Verde, Branco 2010 A bottle of the previous vintage was showing some volatility yet wastrue to type in terms of petillance, light body and high acidity. Let’s see how a bottle of the new vintage is faring. Bottled in 2010 in Anadia 10.5% purchased for $5.49 at Bottle Barn Caves Alianca

Sutter Home, fre, Chardonnay 2010The alcohol has been removed from this wine and is bottled with these statements ‘contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume and ‘a grape beverage with other natural flavors’. Spinning cone is the process behind this beverage. Contains 24% juice and includes a full list of ingredients and nutrition facts as you find with other foods and non-alcoholic beverages. Made and bottled in St. Helena. Purchased for $4.69  at Bottle Barn fre Wines

Domaine de Triennes, Vin de Pays du Var, Rose 2010 Cinsault is the starring grape behind this pink wine. Mis in Nans-les-Pins in Provence 13% purchased for $12.99 at Bottle Barn Triennes

Cline, Contra Costa County, Mourvedre, Rose 2010 Grown by Cline and produced and bottled in Sonoma 13.5% purchased at Bottle Barn for $8.99 Cline Cellars

Vietti, Barbera d’Asti, Tre Vigne 2009 The grapes are sourced from younger vines in and around Agliano d’Asti. The wine is aged in a combination of French oak barrels and Slavonian oak casks for 12 months. Estate Bottled in Castiglione Falletto 14% purchased for $14.49 at Bottle Barn Vietti

Andre Brunel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Les Cailloux 2006 In the nose the fruit goes from fresh to raisin, with black pepper and spices from the cupboard. In the mouth, this wine is approachable already, chewy and dripping with acidity with plenty of extract to fill out the palate – excellent!

We first tasted this vintage in April 2009 and had a chance to revisit it last night at a dinner party themed around the wines of France.  I must say that the wine is drinking in a similar profile to that described before, still a baby, quite structured and planning on a long life.

This is their estate CDP. 65% old vine Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 12% Syrah and 3% Cinsault, aged for 18 months in a combo of new and used oak, unfined and unfitered. 14% purchased for $45.99 at Bottle Barn

Corino, Barolo, Vigna Giachini 2006 The grapes behind this wine are, but of course, the ever-tannic Nebbiolo, sourced from a parcel owned by the family in the cru Giachini. After fermentation the wine ages in French barriques for 2 years and 50% of the wood is new. Estate bottled in Annunziata in La Morra 14.5% purchased for $56.99 at Bottle Barn Corino

Beaulieu Vineyard, Napa Valley, Georges de LaTour, Private Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 This is BV’s signature wine and has been sleeping in the cellar for quite some time. Produced and bottled in Rutherford 13.8% a gift from a friend so I don’t know what it retailed for at the time. Online sources are showing a current range of $69 to $89. Beaulieu Vineyard

Gonzalez Byass, Jerez, Tio Pepe, Fine Muy Seco, Palomino, Fino, nv The nose features a nice sense of the traditional bruised apples, coupled with fresh apples and minerality. In addition there is nuttiness and spicy floral notes – very complex. In the mouth it is quite dry, combining the tartness of green apples and the grip of the apple skins themselves.

This wine is crying out for a bit of Jamon Serrano which I don’t have at hand. It is brilliant, however, with those cured anchovies, which are in the refrigerator tonight, the ones that are quite pricey yet so vibrantly acidic.

The grapes are all Palomino. Bottled in Jerez de la Fronterra 15% a media sample and available for $13.99 at Bottle Barn Gonzalez Byass

Lustau, Sherry, Solera Reserva, Rare, Amontillado, Escuadrilla nv
This wine is the epitome of hazelnuts in a glass; very dry and long-lasting, well beyond the final sip. In October ’08 the hazelnuts were as vibrant as ever in the mouth, but in the nose a spiritous character was becoming more overt; in other words, it’s started to smell a bit like like the brandy that fortified it. P&B in Arcos in Jerez, founded 1896, Palomino is the grape 18.5% purchased for $19.99 at Bottle Barn

Chateau Les Justices, Sauternes 2005 The property is planted to 85% Semillon, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Muscadelle. Mis en bouteille par Julie Gonet-Medeville, viticultrice a Preignac 14% purchased for $21.99 (375ml bottle) at Bottle Barn          Chateau Les Justices

Quady, California, Orange Muscat, Electra, Moscato 2010 In speaking with Michael Blaylock about this wine a few years ago, the RS is in the range of 16- 17% before arresting fermentation to lock in the original appeal of the Orange Muscat grapes on the vine.

The finished wine is bottled under a screwcap closure. This remains an exceptional value in dessert wine when you realize that the price is for a full, rather than a half bottle. Winemaker Michael Blaylock. P&B in Madera 4.5% purchased for $10.49 at Bottle Barn Quady Winery

Chambers Rosewood Vineyards, Rutherglen, Muscat nv The nose smells of oranges and brown spices, as if wound into a custard. In the mouth the wine is rich, very complex, soft and luxurious.

This wine and others like it from Rutherglen are a great value, giving you a great sense of complexity for the price. Lot 11086, Produced & Bottled in Rutherglen 18% purchased for $12.99 (375ml) at Bottle Barn Chambers

Cossart Gordon, Madeira, 5 Years Old, Bual nv
This is a rich style of Madeira from the Bual grape, though not as sweet as Malmsey. P&B by the Madeira Wine Company in Funchal 19% purchased for $20.79 at Bottle Barn Cossart Gordon

Penfolds South Australia Club Tawny (no longer called Port) nv The last bottle tasted was maple syrup personified with completely integrated alcohol. Made from Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre and matured in small oak in Kalimna. The wine was subsequently bottled at Penfolds facility in Magill 18% purchased for $9.59 at Bottle Barn Penfolds


About RJ

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
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