In the first two weeks (Unit 1 – Wine Foundation) of the Intensive Sommelier Training we have covered the basics of viniculture and viticulture, Wine-Tasting Technique focusing on the Court of Sommeliers Tasting Grid, an introduction to wine service including de-corking Sparkling Wine and Decanting Service, food & wine pairing (a fantastic class!), and an overview of International Wines. While we have not focused on any particular country, wine or varietal we have been practicing going through the tasting grid with a number of various wines. I would like to write and post a review of every wine we taste but I may not have time to do so. On the fourth day of class we tasted 4 wines, 2 domestic and 2 imported, the first imported was the 2011 LoLo Albariño.
Calibrating My Senses
One of the most important things for me to do at this point is to sort-of calibrate my nose and palate to the Master Sommeliers who teach the classes (we’ve had 3 different MS instructors thus far). When I went through the WSET courses I only had one instructor so I only had to learn what he considered to be Low, Medium, Medium+ or High intensity aromas, acidity and tannin. For the most part I have attempted to maintain that standard in my wine reviews where I used such descriptions of wines.
The problem is the perception of the intensity of aromas, acidity and tannin can be somewhat subjective so there is some leeway in the evaluation. One MS may consider the acidity of a wine to be medium+ while another may consider it to be high.
Rías Baixas (pronounced ree-ahs buy-shuss) is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) for wines that is located in the province of Pontevedra and the southern part of the province of A Coruña in the autonomous community of Galicia in northwest Spain. The area consists of arou0nd 7000 acres of vines. There are 6 varieties of red grapes and 6 varieties of white grapes that are authorized although some 90% of the areas production is Albariño. Most of the white wines from Rías Baixas are 100% Albariño, there are some that contain small amounts of other varieties.
Albariño, known as Alvarinho in Portugal, is the main grape variety grown in the northwest Rías Baixas area of Spain. The name means “the white [wine] from the Rhine” and locally it is believed to be a clone of Riesling originating from the Alsace region of France. It is also theorized that the grape is a close relative of the French grape Petit Manseng. The grape is believed to have been first introduced to the region in the 12th century by Cluny Monks. Although the Rías Baixas DO was established in 1988 Albariño it is only recently that this grape has begun to grow in popularity in the international market and the primary places in California that I have seen it is in the central valley, particularly in Lodi.
The 2011 LoLo Albariño is clear, day-bright and straw in color. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aromas of fresh apricots, orange zest, dried pineapple, hints of lemon grass and sea salt. On the palate it is dry and very crisp with medium+ acidity, medium to medium+ alcohol and it has a distinctive oily texture on the mid-palate and medium+ length finish. It is a medium complex wine that if tasted blind could easily be mistaken for Pinot Grigio. This wine sells on average for $18 retail.