Thursday 29 September 2011

Uncorked 2, Sabrage and Releasing Gas – Part 2

The Wine School – Uncorked 2: 24 September 2011

At last, the time has come and Janice kindly invites us to her modern, cool and quirky home for Part 2 of the Uncorked 2 course.
We start off with Portugal and Germany to complete the Old World wine portion of the course. We try a Vinho Verde from Portugal which is ‘summery’ and easy drinking and a Riesling from Germany which is honey-like with a kerosene character and slightly sweet which is the norm for a Riesling.

We all receive a slight scare when Cindy pulls out her sabre! J Luckily we are assured it’s only to sabrage the champagne bottle with.

Sabrage is a technique for opening a Champagne bottle with a sabre, used for ceremonial occasions. The saber is slid along the body of the bottle toward the neck. The force of the blade hitting the lip breaks the glass to separate the collar from the neck of the bottle. The cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck.

Watch the video: 

We take a break and head into the garden where Cindy demonstrates her skills and slices the top portion of the champagne bottle off like a hot knife through butter. We all get treated to a glass or 2 of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Champagne, which is dry, ‘biscuity’ and delicious.

Next we delve into New World wine from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and discover the contrast compared to that of Old World wine. New World wines differ as follows:  

·        They can be drunk sooner than Old World wines which require ageing in order for them to soften and mature in order to be drinkable.
·        They challenge convention where much science is involved with more influence from the winemaker and a higher level of hygienic measures followed.
·        Machinery is often, but not always, used for harvesting, whereas vineyards are planted in close proximity in the Old World and therefore only handpicking of the grapes is possible.  
·        The wine labels state what varietals are in the bottle as opposed to Old World  wine which merely refer to what region the wine is from.
·        There are more upfront fruit flavours as opposed to ‘earthy’ characteristics.
·         Alcohol percentages are normally higher due to increased sun exposure on the grapevines, thus ensuring higher sugar content of the grapes at harvesting, which means there is more sugar to be converted into alcohol. 

We try a 2003 Penfolds Coonawarra Shiraz from Australia, which is spicy, peppery, smooth and earthy with a cherry characteristic. I do not like the Australians when it comes to sport and cannot wait till South Africa annihilate them in the Rugby World Cup, but man, they sure do make a good Shiraz. 

Finally, after all the hype, the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc makes an appearance and it seems that the weather even turned cloudy just to ensure a momentous occasion. This is rated by some as the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world and I got to agree with that! It’s grassy, herbaceous with green pepper and although there is a lot happening with a full mouth feel, it’s balanced and the taste lingers smoothly. Sshh... I refilled my glass a couple times J   

Veronica is very intrigued by Janice’s gas powered corkscrew opener, which her husband, Sam, demonstrates the use thereof to us. There are shrieks of laughter as Veronica says “I'm finished, I need to purchase one so that I can also release gas.”  

After being around the World, we return back home to South Africa and celebrate by opening (by way of gas release) a 2008 Warwick Three Cape Ladies, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinotage, which we pair up with some Springbok and Wildebeest pates and biltong. The wine is local and lekker and stands up to the food with its complexity of pepper, spice, herbaceous and banana sniffs.  

This course has been so interesting and a wealth of information and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested. For the peeps that know nothing about wine, The Wine School also offers a course called Uncorked 1, which will put you on the right track to not looking like a poephol when purchasing or ordering wine ; )


Cindy said...

Super synopsis of the course. Love, love, love your Cloudy Bay pic :)

The Wine Oak said...

Thank you! I thought the pic was quite fitting ;)