On April 19 the JCC Wine Group presented our initial 2007 event - a blind tasting at the Palo Alto office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP. The program was organized and presented by Ms. Mao Lecours, assisted by her husband, Eric Lecours.
Both Mao and Eric are experienced wine educators. Mao is one of the few Japanese individuals who has received the CWE (certified wine educator) qualification from the Society of Wine Educators in the US. She has also translated a wine textbook into Japanese that is being used by the UK-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust and other wine education organizations. Here in the Bay Area, Mao and Eric operate WineStyleSF, and Mao also works with Vintage Wine Merchants in the Santana Row center in San Jose - http://www.vintagewinemerchants.com/.
For the evening's program, Mao selected four white wines (two Chardonnay, one Riesling and one Sauvignon Blanc) and four red wines (a Cab, a Pinot Noir, a Merlot and a Zinfandel), each of which she felt reflected typical characteristics of each varietal. The whites and the reds were poured in separate flights of four each from bottles concealed in bags so that the audience did not know what they were. Prior to each tasting, Mao provided some comments about the key appearance, aroma and flavor characteristics of each varietal, as well as how those characteristics vary depending on the place where the grapes are grown.
Following Mao's comments, the participants were asked to taste each wine and guess both (1) the grape varietal, and (2) the place were the grapes were grown. In the case of the whites, the possible locations were Alsace, Burgundy, California, Germany, New Zealand and the Loire. In the case of the reds, the possible locations were Bordeaux (Left Bank), Bordeaux (Right Bank), Burgundy and California. The wines were then revealed and much discussion ensued. Here is a list of the wines that were tasted as well as a list of characteristics that Mao handed out:
A prize (a very nice bottle of wine!) was given out for the person who had the most correct answers -- it went to Mr. Yoshiyuki Kinoshita from Marubeni Solutions America who had a very impressive showing. There was no consensus as to the favorite wines, but it seemed that the Newton Chardonnay and the Etude Cab (both California wines and each the most expensive in its group!) had the most support.
Everyone had a very good time. Mao and Eric also arranged for some light food to accompany the wines.
Here are a few pictures from the evening, including Mao and Eric Lecours at the start of the evening, the wines we tasted and the JCC WIne Group Committee -- Mike Moyle, Hitomi Takahashi, Eric Marcks and our newest member, Hiro Miyagawa of ANA (who succeeded Kiyonori Ogawa who recently returned to Japan):