Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Comparatively Speaking

Working for a winery is tough business.

Stop laughing. I mean it. Ok, it's only tough part of the time; we DO get to do some fun things now and then.

Like yesterday, when Rawley, Clarissa, and I met for our quarterly comparative blind wine tasting. Four times a year, the four of us get together to taste wines from all over the world blindly. Usually, I slip a Riverbench wine into the mix to see if we can identify it without knowing. We focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but this year we plan to include Riesling, Rose, and maybe even sparkling wines into the mix.

For evaluation, we use an adaptation of the fabulous Mr. Olken from The Connoisseur's Guide's tasting sheet to look at color, body, aroma, and flavors. Then we rate the wines in order of our preferences. The great thing about wine is that you can never be wrong; it's more about practicing using our palates and identifying flavors along the way. It's a super fun and challenging exercise.

Yesterday's tasting was unusually difficult. We tasted four California Chardonnays, and they were all very different. We left with a few interesting takeaways:
- It IS possible to identify wines made from one vineyard. I have gotten better and better at this for Riverbench, having tasted and contributed to our wines for almost 7 years now. I think if you spend that amount of time examining wine, you can definitely learn to do this. The trick is doing that for every vineyard in the world, which is virtually impossible.
- Once again, Riverbench wines make me happy. Seriously. The Chardonnay that turned out to be Riverbench had comments like "fruit jumps out at you" and "happy nose!" I remind you, we were tasting blindly.
- Finally, Riverbench wines are well priced. Our Chardonnay came in first in the lineup (our retail price: $26) among wines priced $30 to $40 a bottle Wowza! A perfect illustration of our wines being approachable.

Now, I better get back to the tough parts of my job.