This week's session of Advanced Wine Essentials was about sparkling and sweet wines. I'd previously tasted nearly all of the first five sparkling wines (save Movia's Puro Rosé--of which professor disgorged its yeast during class). From the grouping, the only new angle I'd gained is a 'newfound respect' for Gruet American sparkling from New Mexico. (perhaps my palate had elevated a bit since first tasting it, long ago) We tasted both a standard, NV brut ($16/17) and a blanc de noirs NV ($17/18).
My notes on the "standard" Gruet (compared to the lighter, off-dry prosecco we tasted preceding): darker, earthier, yeasty... dry, savory, mellow... bubblier, creamy, length (on the tongue)... pair with oysters.
And for the blanc de noirs: (on the nose) red fruit... more aggressive, heavier, darker than [the standard]... tannins & stronger flavor.
The blanc de noirs was my preferred of the two and it paired nicely with our aged goat cheese. When professor took class votes on the two, I voted for blanc de noirs. But when asked what we'd choose alone--to drink without food--I voted for the 'standard.' Interesting...
But my favorite (and most interesting) wine of the class was Wrattonbully (S. Australia), botrytis viognier, Yalumba, 2008.
This type of wine (botrytis) is made from grapes which they allow to rot (mold) on the vine, producing a sweet, concentrated wine. The painstaking process (which sometimes includes the individual hand-selecting of grapes) is a highly finicky one because not only is there both good rot (noble rot) and bad rot (grey rot), but the grapes must also be harvested at precisely the right time. (this process can often call for successive tries in harvesting)
From my (rather brief) notes on Yalumba: real nice! ... (on the nose) ripe pepper, jalapeño... (and a heart shape around its number on the list) - $50. There I go again, picking the most expensive wines as my favorites.