I promise you, once this month is through, I will not be reporting about wines from my study sessions. I hope instead to be reviewing while tasting wines in Buenos Aires at restaurants, social gatherings, and the many summer dinner parties I will be having in my house while happily slaving over a parrilla.
When studying at my home, the length of my attention span is not so enduring. Sometimes I find I would enjoy cleaning house more than studying, maybe doing laundry, or more girly things, like giving myself a manicure or pedicure. I might just take the dog out on a second walk. So to avoid any distractions, yesterday I went to a fellow classmate’s and friend’s home to do some group study. Remember last time, I think I was studying Burgundy? Well, it is a couple weeks later, and yes, I am still studying France. So over Champagne, no, unfortunately not drinking, just reading about Champagne, we snacked on some great local blue cheese, cured ham and crackers. The brain needs a significant amount of carbohydrates in order to function well. However, this form of snacking can only eventually lead to wine-drinking, which might contradict the whole snacking and brain-function thing, but it makes three more hours of wine study bearable.
Once we eventually made our way to reviewing Andalucía, Spain, we were ready for something a little more than mineral water. One of our projects for class is to prepare a tasting menu of Mediterranean foods and accompanying Mediterranean wines and then also offer Argentina wine to pair with the same foods. Obviously the best way to see a pairing’s potential is to practice. There is nothing wrong with a little multi-tastking. We thought we might try the Argentine wine we plan to use for our last course, biscotti and Vin Santo (Italians traditionally dip the biscotti into the wine).
The Argentine wine? A 2012 Patruele Tardio de Abril Chardonnay from Valle de Tulum, from the provincial of San Juan. Notice it is called “Tardio de Abril”, or late April. Harvest in Argentina begins in March, so a late harvest would be in April and the grapes from this wine were from much later in April. During this time of the year, the Chardonnay grapes would have a higher sugar concentration, and might even have a shriveled, slightly brown appearance. The high sugar concentration, paired with lower water content, make for super concentrated, sweet wines. When these grapes are brought to the bodega for fermentation and pressed, because the sugars are so high, it is challenging to even start fermentation. High sugar levels or what they refer to in wine-speak as the Brix level, is actually toxic to yeast. Special strains of yeast that can withstand higher Brix levels are inoculated in to the must (grape juice). What happens after a controlled, slow fermentation, however, is the alcohol which is produced is also toxic for the yeast. Once a certain amount of sugars have been consumed by the yeast and alcohol is created as a bi-product, they actually drown and die. ¡Pobrecitos! What sacrifice all for our enjoyment! Next time you make a toast, maybe take a moment to thank the yeasts.
The result of their sacrifice was the very interesting Patruele Tardio de Abril Chardonnay. This is a great wine if you want to skip dessert and still enjoy something sweet and chilled. The aromas were very characteristic of a late harvest with hints of honey, ripe honeydew, and caramel apples. The flavors were rich and the texture like satin. It tasted like sugary, baked apple slices, that ripe honeydew which was on the nose and the flavor of honey lingered on the front of my tongue. This would even be a great wine during cold winter nights when you are looking for a relaxing night cap. Ok, back to more studying.