Wine adventure #2

Our last Wine Exploration adventure was “Tasting the Master’s Way” with Randa Warren and we loved it.   (Click here for all the details. )   This weekend we went to the second installment:   Understanding Altitude and it’s Profound Effect on the World of Fine Wine

Scott Large from Thirst Wine Merchants aimed to teach us  how altitude impacts the world of fine wine, specifically its effect on acidity, structure and style.    Apparently, no matter where you live, altitude acts as one of the foremost factors in determining the flavor profile of a finished wine.   We were pumped to attend because one lucky guest was to win a 24-bottle wine refrigerator stocked with wines from this tasting!

Hubs said he was feeling lucky.

Well, luck wasn’t with us.  We were ten minutes late and we didn’t win.

We did, however, learn a lot from Scott and tasted some great wines.

Scott is excited and passionate about bringing great wines to Oklahoma and educating the public.

Check out the "hobbit" house on this label and this is a New Zealand wine. Interesting.

We sampled six wines.

  • At an elevation of 720 feet:  2010 Auntsfield Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand.   (This was my favorite white of the evening.)
    This wine was crisp yet juicy with lots of character.   The winery was the first commercial winery in New Zealand.  I think this would be a great summer wine and at $15 a bottle, I am all about trying it out on the patio.
  • At sea level:  2011 Walnut Block “Collectables” Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand.
    There was lots of grapefruit in the nose of this wine.   Scott stated that most all Sauvignon Blancs from the valley floor will taste exactly the same.   But, at $11.99 a bottle with a score of 89-90, I am going to find this one too.
  • At an elevation of 823 feet:  2010 Leitz Riesling “Dragonstone,”  Rhingau, Germany.
    Scott stated this was an “off dry” wine, or one step away from dryness.   This Riesling was the perfect pairing for our steak with Sriracha.   He was most excited about this wine:   “This wine is just awesome.”   It was good.   The nose I got?   Fruit loops.  🙂   (Workers have to wear harnesses to pick these grapes because of the altitude and terrain.)
  • At an elevation of 2,100 feet:   2006 Guilliams Vineyad, “Spring Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA.  (This was my favorite red of the evening.)
    This winery is a “mom and pop” shop and all the grapes on their seven acre vineyard go exclusively into their wines.   Scott said if you visit Napa, you must make a visit to this unassuming, underdog vineyard.
  • At the valley floor:  2006 Elyse Winery “Tietjen VD” Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley, CA.
    This wine had less fruit and really needed to be consumed NOW.  It had a nose of licorice with a slight medicinal quality.   I think I will let this one pass at $80 a bottle.
  • At an elevation of 4,100 feet:   2009 Luca Malbec, Uco Valley, Argentina.
    Scott stated that this wine is around $35 a bottle, but “if it were from Napa, it would be $135.”   This deep purple wine had a rich flavor.     This was quite good.   I got some lavender, spices, and black cherry.   (Scott pointed out that all wines from Argentina will be a high altitude wine.)

This Sauvignon Blanc was very good as well. (And, also from New Zealand.)

What effect does altitude have on farming and finished wine?

  1. The fruit is grown closer to the sun and this solar exposure causes thicker skins and denser fruit on the vine thus making darker more flavorful wines.
  2. Wines from grapes grown at a higher elevation will have lower alcohol content, higher acidity and will age longer.
  3. The lower temperatures and higher solar radiation make for more concentrated flavors.

Although Scott was probably not as humorous as Randa Warren from our first Wine Exploration Series, he was truly excited about wine and was full of knowledge.

The food pairing was also not as interesting as our last tasting.   That being said, we were ten minutes late and if the food was explained we may have missed it.   This is what we had, or at least my interpretation of it because we didn’t have a food tasting menu.

Clockwise from 1:00---crab and artichoke tartlettes, steak with Sriracha, herbed Chevre, and tuna tartare with sesame oil.

All of this was great food, we just didn’t have a whole lot of help with what to eat with what wine.

Scott is a wine merchant and I am going to look for their hang tags at my next wine-buying outing.

Remember I said we sampled six wines. The Hubs grabbed a few more from the empty place next to him. 🙂

Our last part of the series is a pruning and grafting seminar.   I can’t wait.

Check out our other adventures in this Wine Exploration Series.

8 comments to Wine adventure #2

  • I wonder if grapes would grow at 6,000 ft? Probably not, not much grows up there. I enjoy Argentinian wines and they are quite affordable. I went to event awhile ago and did the same thing as your hubby and capitalized on the empty seat next to me, yay for more wine!

  • I’m in for the fruit loop wine but you can keep the one that tastes like licorice. Ugh.

    We have grape vines on our acreage. There used to be a man who would come harvest them for us and in return, he got to make wine, which he split with us.

    We still have gallon-sized (yes, you read that right) jugs of his wine.

    That stuff could knock the socks off of a giant. One sip and I’m dancing on tables.

    I’m VERY picky about my wines. I’m not a dry wine kinda goal. More of a light and fruity kinda gal.

    I’m currently on a sparkling moscato kick…plus the one I like is pink. And that does something for my psyche.

    I would LOOOOVE to go on one of these tastings. Right now, I’m limited to, “Bring me something light and fruity!” I wish I knew more!

  • I have never even thought there was were so many variables in wine production – really informative post 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Traditional Lemon Meringue Tart

  • Very nice, I Love Sauvignon Blanc, I would like to try the one from New Zealand. Thanks for sharing your wine tasting.

    • Eliot

      Thanks for all the comments. We are so easily influenced that we are looking at a small wine cellar/cooler now and I am making a list of what we want to purchase to stock it. I will definitely buy both Sauvingon Blancs, the Guiliams Vineyard Cab Sauv, the Malbec, and the Riesling. (I love a good Riesling.) In fact, I may stop at the store on the way to yoga tonight (or is that counter-productive????) 🙂

  • My husband and I did many wine tastings living near Napa California. Not so much now. I am almost afraid to find more good wine since it is not in our budget. Thanks for the great information.

    • Eliot

      Aahhh, how I envy anyone who is from Napa. That destination is definitely on our bucket list. We have so much anticipation and expectations that I hope we are not disappointed when we finally get to visit wine country.

  • Interesting information here-never knew about the altitude thing. You definitely are having some fun and learning quite a bit on these wine adventures. Cool that they have inspired you to invest in a wine cooler. I do not know much about wine, but I am sure I could benefit from classes, seminars or tours. You now have me thinking about it more. Have a great evening!