Day four, MW Seminar
Today starts as they all do with two hour and fifteen minute blind tasting. This tasting is called Paper three by the institute, I call it the wild card tasting. The first paper only deals with white wines, the second is only red. The third paper is anything the examiners want to throw at you. In this case the line up was four whites with varying degrees of sweetness, guess the origin and winemaking style. Then four dry, red wines, guess the origin and common varietal in all. Next, two sherries, comment on winemaking style and quality and finally two ports, the same, winemaking style and quality. This was the hardest yet because although I told you the origin they did not tell me, so not only did I have to determine where the wines were made but also how they were made. You think it is easy to determine style of port until you only have sixteen minutes to make the determination and then write six paragraphs. There is a reason why only a couple of people pass the exam each year.
After the humility of the morning the afternoon was much more fun. We took a field trip with MWs Joel Butler and Bob Betz to the epicenter of Napa viticulture, BV. Now you, like me, may not hold BV in much acclaim now but one hundred years ago they were the cult Cab. Of course, they were the only Cab. Georges de Latour came here from Bordeaux and felt the Napa soils reminded him of his homeland and planted Cabernet, which was not popular at the time. We walked the vineyards, talked of clones and trellises and tasted some micro fermentation lots as examples. I will not bore you with the details but this was fun.
The afternoon and evening concluded with a winemaking seminar by Bob Betz and a Syrah tasting, not blind, of examples from around the world. The highlights were Betz Family Syrah and 1998 Penfolds Grange.
Dinner was quick burger and fries at Taylors Refresher then home to bed, that eight am tasting is only eleven hours away.