I run this course once a year, in the early New Year.
- 1 evening a week for 6 weeks / 8 – 10 benchmark wines each evening
- 6.45-8.45pm (Evgs 1 & 2 may last a little longer).
- C-Space, 37-45 City Road, London EC1Y 1AT. This is immediately opposite the Bunhill Cemetery and Zebra Crossing, and right next to Wesley’s Chapel. A 3 minute walk from Old Street Tube, 7 minutes from Moorgate or Liverpool Street, and on numerous bus routes: 43, 76, 121, 141, 177 etc.
- £595 Scroll to the bottom of this page for the purchase links.
NEXT COURSE DATES
Wednesdays: Jan 29; Feb 5, 12, 19, 26; Mar 4; 2020
THE FINE WINE COURSE covers more advanced tasting technique, quality assessment and notemaking, based on the classic wines and wine regions of France. It differs from the Beginners Course in that each evening’s subject matter is narrower and can be explored at much greater depth; and because its best wines are very much more expensive. The typical retail price-range per evening is from £20 to £200 a bottle, with the top wines in the course costing closer to £300 a bottle. A fact sheet & map are provided for each region, and 8-10 wines are tasted on each occasion, 51 wines in all, illustrating a range of styles, France’s terroir concept and a full quality cross section.
THE COURSE IS UNUSUAL in that, along with younger examples, we show fully mature wines. These wines are increasingly rare and sought after in today’s market place. Seeing what they have to offer, how they develop with bottle age, and why one bothers to keep them, are fundamental to the appreciation and enjoyment of fine wine.
THE WINES You can see the scope and quality range in the list of wines, used for the 2017 course, below. There are variations each year of course, but this will give you a good idea.
Whilst the individual evenings will concentrate on a key aspect of tasting (which the wines are particularly suited to illustrate), they will also stand alone as there is always an exploration both of variations of style within the region, as well as a range of clear different quality levels to illustrate France’s quality hierarchy, itself an excellent basis for ‘calibrating’ wines worldwide.
THE FINE WINE COURSE CORE CONTENT
The main thing is to enjoy a wide range of fine French wine!
- A benchmark style and quality selection of France’s classic wines.
- The background to the French concept of terroir.
- A thorough exploration of tasting technique for different styles of wine.
- The distinction between objective assessment & personal preference.
- The differences between ‘traditional’ & ‘modern’ winemaking .
- Variations of style within a region to give a broader picture.
- Clear different quality levels to illustrate the French ‘calibration’.
- Practising a wide range of vocabulary for noticing, and noting.
- A detailed and orderly approach to observation and notemaking .
- Blind Tasting practice.
- Considering bottle age in relation to ‘maturity’ and ‘readiness to drink’ .
- An indication of some of the best ‘brands’ and growers to look out for.
THESE WERE THE WINES FOR THE 2019 COURSE.
Those for 2020 will be of a similar range and quality, and will be fully detailed shortly.
- NV The Society’s Brut Alfred Gratien (2012 Base)
- NV Charles Heidsieck Brut Res. (2008 Base)
- 2008 Delamotte Blanc de Blancs
- 2002 Bollinger Grande Année (Disgorged Feb 2011)
- 2002 Bollinger RD (Disgorged June 2016)
- 2010 Riesling Reserve (Trimbach)
- 2010 Riesling Jubilee (Hugel)
- 2005 Riesling Frédéric Emile (Trimbach)
- 2008 Gewurz. Seign. de Ribeaupierre (Trimbach)
- 2001 Gewurz. Furstentum Vendanges Tardives (Weinbach)
LOIRE & BORDEAUX – WHITE
- 2014 Pouilly Fumé (Ch. de Tracy)
- 2004 Sancerre Les Monts Damnées (Cotat)
- 2017 Dourthe La Grand Cuvée Sauvignon
- 2008 Domaine de Chevalier; Pessac-Léognan
- 2014 Savennières Les Genêts (Damien Laureau)
- 1991 Savennières Coulée de Serrant (Joly)
- 1990 Vouvray Coulée d’Or Grains Nobles (Bourillon d’Orléans)
- 1989 Ch. Coutet; Barsac
RED BORDEAUX – CLARET
- 2007 La Tour Figeac; St Emilion
- 2004 Ch. Canon La Gaffelière; St Emilion
- 2001 Ch. Clinet; Pomerol (100% Merlot)
- 2005 Ch. Belgrave; 5th Growth, Haut Médoc
- 2001 Ch. Haut Bailly; Cru Classé, Graves
- 1996 Léoville Barton; 2nd Growth, St Julien
RHÔNE, NORTH & SOUTH
- 2009 Ch.Neuf du Pape Blanc (Beaucastel)
- 2004 Ch. Grillet
- 2012 Coudoulet de Beaucastel (Côtes du Rhône)
- 1998 Père Usseglio Cuvée de Mon Aieul (Ch.Neuf du Pape)
- 2010 Crozes-Hermitage (Alain Graillot)
- 2010 Cornas Les Ruchets (Jean-Luc Colombo)
- 2006 Côte Rôtie Rose-Pourpre (Pierre Gaillard)
- 1997 Hermitage (Chave)
- 2016 Chablis Les Grand Terroirs (Dom. Samuel Billaud)
- 2008 Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent (Dom.W.Fèvre)
- 2008 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir (Dom. W.Fèvre)
- 2016 Bourgogne Les Sétilles (Olivier Leflaive)
- 2016 Chassagne-Montrachet (Fontaine Gagnard)
- 2014 Chass-Montrachet 1er Cru Chenevottes (Philppe Colin)
- 2016 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Folatières (Olivier Leflaive)
- 2011 Chevalier-Montr. Grand Cru La Cabotte (Bouchard Père & Fils)
- 2014 Fleurie La Madone (Aviron)
- 2012 Mercurey Clos des Montaigu (Patrick Guillot)
- 2002 Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Chênes (Lafarge)
- 2012 Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes (Fourrier)
- 2002 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Combe d’Orveaux (Clavelier)
- 2000 Bonnes-Mares Grand Cru (Drouhin Laroze)
Fine Wine Evenings Synopses
Regions: Champagne and Alsace
Tasting: Revision of Tasting Technique
- Champagne & Tasting Sparkling Wines
- Influence of black versus white grapes
- Blanc de Blancs / Pure Chardonnay
- Non-vintage versus vintage wines
- Vintage versus ‘Luxury’ cuvées
- Alsace & White wine tasting reminders
- Riesling & Gewurztraminer
- Dry, off-dry, sweet wines
Regions: Loire and Bordeaux 1 (White)
Tasting: Note-taking, general principles; acidity.
- Tasting Technique – an orderly pattern of observation.
- Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chenin Blanc.
- Loire and white Bordeaux
- Vocabulary of acidity and alcohol.
- Different balances of white wine: bone dry to intensely sweet.
- The role of acidity in these different styles, grapes, origins.
Regions: Bordeaux 2: Claret
Tasting: Detailed anatomy of notemaking; tannin and texture.
- Tasting Techinique – Anatomy of notemaking
- Cabernet Suvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
- Bordeaux: Right Bank (Merlot +) v Left Bank (Cabernet +)
- The vocabulary of tannin, and texture
- Blind Tasting: comparing Style and Quality
- ‘extreme’ winemaking, winemaker as ‘interpreter’
- Bordeaux across the ages
Regions: Rhône Valley , North and South
Tasting: ‘aroma’ versus ‘bouquet’, notions of ‘maturity’ & ‘readiness’
- Tasting Techique – aroma versus bouquet, tannin and texture
- [Marsanne / Roussanne] Muscat; Grenache, Syrah
- Southern Rhône, Northern Rhône
- Alcohol levels
- New oak ….. or not
- Notions of ‘maturity’, and ‘readiness to drink’
Regions: Burgundy 1 (white)
Tasting: Style versus quality.
- Tasting Technique – Style versus Quality versus Age
- White Burgundy: Chablis, Mâconnais, Côte de Beaune
- Burgundy calibration: Village, 1er Cru, Grand Cru
- Oak impressions
- Terroir as quality and style
- Youth versus age
Regions: Burgundy 2 (red)
Tasting: Blind tasting; description versus assessment.
- Tasting Technique – a summary
- Pinot Noir
- Red Burgundy
- Blind Tasting – description / quality assessment / preference
- Burgundy classification: precision …. and incoherence
- Burgundy across the ages