April Recap: Furmint USA Tasting; Wine & Flavors Seminar

April was a busy month full of changes and new opportunities. One of the things I love doing is attending educational seminars and tastings so that I am constantly learning and honing my craft. In April I attended several tastings including Austrian, Provence Rose, and Hungarian wines. I also did an extensive two day seminar on sensory evaluation and identifying wine aromatic molecules with sensory master, Alexandre Schmitt. My two favorite events in April were the Furmint USA tasting hosted by the Napa Valley Wine Academy and the Wine & Flavors Seminar taught by Alexandre Schmitt.

Furmint USA, Hungarian Wine Tasting at  Napa Valley Wine Academy - April 19, 2016  " FurmintUSA  is a branded educational campaign founded in 2014. Its purpose is the promotion of dry furmint wines from Hungary's Tokaj Wine Region. FurmintUSA strongly believes that furmints are not only Hungary's flagship dry white wines but that furmint is the next true rising star on the international wine scene. FurmintUSA unites first-rate Hungarian wineries and markets their very best furmints in the United States."  Furmint is a Hungarian white grape variety indigenous to Hungary's Tokaj region. It is the major grape of Tokaj. It grows vigorously, ripens late, and produces wines with high acidity. Furmint is known as Mosler in Austria, Sipon in Slovenia and N. Croatia, Moslavac Bijeli in Croatia, Som in Transylvania, and Zapfner in Germany. Furmint is the most essential grape in the production of sweet Aszu wines. However, Furmint also produces some of the most prestigious dry white wines of Hungary. At this tasting we tried nine different Furmint wines from Csopak and Tokaj's top producers. A few of the winemakers from Hungary came and presented their wines and their winery's history. I am so glad I attended and was exposed to dry Furmint wines. I really hope to see more of these wines in the market and on wine lists across the country.

Furmint USA, Hungarian Wine Tasting at Napa Valley Wine Academy- April 19, 2016

"FurmintUSA is a branded educational campaign founded in 2014. Its purpose is the promotion of dry furmint wines from Hungary's Tokaj Wine Region. FurmintUSA strongly believes that furmints are not only Hungary's flagship dry white wines but that furmint is the next true rising star on the international wine scene. FurmintUSA unites first-rate Hungarian wineries and markets their very best furmints in the United States."

Furmint is a Hungarian white grape variety indigenous to Hungary's Tokaj region. It is the major grape of Tokaj. It grows vigorously, ripens late, and produces wines with high acidity. Furmint is known as Mosler in Austria, Sipon in Slovenia and N. Croatia, Moslavac Bijeli in Croatia, Som in Transylvania, and Zapfner in Germany. Furmint is the most essential grape in the production of sweet Aszu wines. However, Furmint also produces some of the most prestigious dry white wines of Hungary. At this tasting we tried nine different Furmint wines from Csopak and Tokaj's top producers. A few of the winemakers from Hungary came and presented their wines and their winery's history. I am so glad I attended and was exposed to dry Furmint wines. I really hope to see more of these wines in the market and on wine lists across the country.

Alexandre Schmitt

Wow! This seminar was life changing. Alexandre Schmitt is from Bourdeaux, France. He graduated in Chemistry at the University of Sciences in Bourdeaux, and in Perfumery at the ISIPCA at Versailles, France. He worked as a creator of perfumes in Paris and London and taught perfumery before transitioning into the wine industry. He now teaches olfaction at the Bourdeaux Oenology University and consults for many winemakers and top wineries around the world. His client list includes: Chateau Petrus, Chateau d'Yquem, Chateau Margaux, Opus One, Robert Mondavi Winery, Dominus Estate, Bodegas Miguel Torres, Joseph Phelps, Dalla Vale, Laffort Espana, Radoux, Taransaud, and so many more. He only offers his seminars in Napa once a year so I jumped on the opportunity as soon as it became available. He is crazy talented at what he does and is often referred to as "the nose" within the wine industry.

I took his Level 2: Aromatic Molecules seminar in St. Helena at ETS Laboratories. This was a two day seminar. We went through wine defects, barrel aromas, flowers, types of wood, fruits, spices, and balsamic notes. It was incredibly eye opening; other sensory classes I have taken before have never gotten into the nitty gritty details of each chemical compound like this seminar did. As wine professionals we breakdown a wine by identifying the aromas we are picking up but we usually do not break down the specific molecule and describe it further. That is exactly what we did during these two days. For example, to simply say vanilla or cedar is being lazy and elementary. We each had to share what that vanilla felt like. Was is warm? Was it oily? Was it sweet? Creamy? Artificial or Natural? Was it Vanilla or Vanillin? As there are many different types of vanilla and levels that can be perceived. Was the cedar cool? Was it resinous? Dry? Wet? And so on...

I can't wait for Alexandre to come back to Napa next year. You bet I will be taking all the other levels he offers. You cannot get training and teaching like this anywhere else. He is the best in his category and his classes are worth the investment! I implore those seeking to sharpen their sensory skills to take his seminars. The way you think about smelling will be changed forever. For more information check out his site https://www.wineandflavors.com/en/ and sign up for his newsletter to be the first to know of a course near you.

Tierra de Malbec

I recently returned from my trip to South America. As some of you know, I left at the end of February for Argentina to work the harvest. I worked in the Lujan de Cuyo region, southeast of Mendoza at Viña Cobos. This winery produces around 150,000 cases annually and focuses on Malbec and Chardonnay. Viña Cobos is a partnership between Paul Hobbs of California and the Marchioris, an Argentine couple. Viña Cobos has five different brands: Cobos, Bramare Vineyard Designation, Bramare Appellation, Cocodrilo and Felino but is most famed for their Cobos line.

Harvest came fast and early for us at Viña Cobos. Due to the frequent rains, we were forced to take everything off the vine all at once in order to avoid losing the crop to botrytis and mildew. We finished receiving grapes an entire month earlier than expected. Because of this early finish I had some time to explore and travel. I spent some time tasting in Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley in Argentina and then crossed the Andes over to Chile and did some tasting in the Casablanca Valley.

My favorite wineries I tasted at in Lujan (Argentina) were: Tierras Altas and Finca Decero

...in Uco Valley (Argentina): Clos de los Siete and Andeluna

...in Casablanca (Chile): Kingston

Overall a majority of my favorite wines came from Clos de los Siete. The winery that had the best hospitality was Tierras Altas and the best lunch I had was at Andeluna.

Some of the other wineries I tasted at were Cruzat, Finca de Decero, Septima, Belasco, Salentein, Achaval Ferrer, and Casas del Bosque.



Delectable Wine App

"The Only Wine App Worth a Damn." -Vinography

I have been an avid user of Delectable for about eight months now and I absolutely love it! I use it to help me decide what to buy, keep track of the wines I've tasted, and organize my wine regions. Delectable also allows me to connect to other wine lovers with similar palates as mine. I can see what others are drinking and read their personal reviews. This app is super helpful and fun. I like to describe it to people as "instagram for wine". It is very social yet informational. You upload a pic of your wine label, rate and describe it, and others can like and comment on your wine. The regions feature is probably one of my favorite things about it. The app separates your wines into countries, regions, and sub regions. This allows me to see which regions I have yet to explore and inspires me to try wines from those regions I have unfilled. Go download this app now! You won't regret it. I promise! Follow me on Delectable at Alex Sanchez.