Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The palate, it is a-changin'

I daresay my palate is changing, perhaps with the season, the advent of fall. Usually a fan of big wines -- mainly New World, although I do love me some Spanish wines like no other -- I'm feeling a shift toward lighter, but more complex wines. Perhaps I can blame it on Derrick Schneider a bit, but after just two of his classes, I don't think I can really chalk it up to him.

I went up to El Dorado County tasting recently and, while I wasn't surprised to find some Grenache and Mouvedre I liked (from David Girard), it was interesting to note that the bottles I bought of those varietals were of a much lighter variety than what I usually gravitate to. Don't get me wrong, they had every bit as much flavor, but weren't as weighty and oakey as what I used to prefer.Even Twisted Oak's allocated new release River of Skulls that I'm sipping on now (quite appropriate this close to Halloween), isn't the massive wine I expected, but rather a very well-balanced blend of cocoa, clove, and raspberry with a surprisingly silky mouthfeel.

So I came home from wine class last week really wanting a wine that tasted as light but complex as some of those that we sampled in class, but the bottle of Dry Creek Zin we opened didn't exactly fit the bill (b/f Brian does not share my changing palate). Some of the more unusual -- at least to me -- and in my book, the best wines we've tasted in the Cal extension course have all been white. They include the '04 Stephane Tissot Les Graviers Chardonnay from Jura, with its vegetal, kerosene & mineral aromas, high acidity and flavors of lemon; the '07 Domaine des Cassagnole Reserve Selection Gros Manseng from Gascogne which gave off yeasty, chemical aromas and lemon & apple flavors on the palate; and the '04 Domaine de la Charriere Cuvee Clos St. Jacques from Jasnieres, a Chenin Blanc with notes of roses under a chemical veil that jumped out of the glass, but was exceptionally balanced with a long finish. The Jasnieres turned off other folks in the class who couldn't get past the unique smell, but I relished its unusual qualities.

So as much as I hate to see summer go (and for the Bay Area, September & October is our summer!), I'll welcome in fall as it seems to be waking up new taste buds and experiences.


Derrick said...

Well, I won't claim credit for the palate change, but I'm glad to know you're digging the wine class wines.