Possibly my favorite class, we explored two of my favored grapes Riesling and Shiraz. I've always preferred reds to white, but I LOVE Riesling. It's an aromatic grape and I like that combination of floral, perfume and fruit that really develops in grapes like Riesling or Gewurztraminer. Also Rieslings can produce such sweetness it's as satisfying as Banoffee pie. In class we learn about the classic and premium regions for each grape and country, which basically means where they make it best and this will always be noted on the label. Germany is the home of Riesling, but premium regions also include Alsace, Austria and Clare & Eden Valleys in Australia. Although on Saturday, Hub and I tried this Marlborough Pyramid Valley Riesling (£20) from Noble Wines and it was lovely. The owner highly recommended it and I knew that Marlborough is a premium region in New Zealand.
Not all Rieslings are sweet and I do enjoy a nice dry Riesling. In Germany Rieslings are labelled according to sweetness and from low to high they are: Kabinett, Spatlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswein. Most likely they will fall on the sweeter side unless noted as dry. In class we tried the '11 Grosset Springvale Watervale Riesling from Clare Valley (£21.99) and the '11 Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg Riesling Spätlese (£19.99). They were outstanding and I made sure to over-pour and finish both my tasting glass.
We next moved onto Syrah/Shiraz and I always thought that these were sister grapes, but in fact they are the same grape and it's originally from France. Actually, when in France you can only call it Syrah or they will pretend they don't know what you are talking about. If you like big, spicy, black fruit and oaky reds like Shiraz, then keep an eye out for these classic and premium regions when shopping:
- In Northern Rhone, France: Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cote Rotie
- In Southern Rhone, France: Cotes du Rhone, Cotes du Rhone Villages and Chateauneuf-du-Pape
- In Australia: Heathcote, Hunter Valley, Barossa and McLaren Vale.
We tried this amazing '11 St. Hallet Barossa Faith Shiraz for only £12.95. It smelled a bit minty, of spice & vanilla and sweet fruit. We rated it outstanding and for that price, it doesn't get any better.
Syrah/Shiraz can be blended with other grapes including Grenache, which we also learned about. Grenache or Garnacha likes hot weather and it brings red fruit and low acidity/tannins, which softens wines like Syrah. My favorite Syrah/Grenache blend is Chat-en-Oeuf, which is a lovely easy drinking red with lots of fruit and spice. My best friend Jessie first introduced me to this wine in Paris and turns out it's made by Boutinot, where my friend Laurene works. I've often spoken about Laurene, she has incredible taste and I love her enthusiasm for wine.