I just returned from a little vacation to France and Italy. My going to France was also intended to be a test for my wine. One of my nephews, Romain, is a sommelier and I visited him in Arbois, a little town in the Jura region where he started his career as a Chef Sommelier in a Michelin 2-star restaurant. Not bad for a 20-year old. He is quite talented. He was very curious to taste his uncle fermented grape juice, so I took a couple of bottles of my Pearl of Csaba wine with me.
With the rest of the family, we met him in another restaurant from the same village called La Balance where the Maitre D’, Alain, used to be the sommelier who trained him, and who had been named Best Sommelier 2013 by the prestigious French Gault & Millaud food critics. There I was with my first wine ever facing the pros. What would come out of that? I just told them to be candid and honest about their judgement. I certainly could use the feedback to figure out what to work on later this year with my second production year.
Both Romain and Alain liked the smell of the wine. About the taste, Romain like the start and the finish in the mouth, in particular the slight bitterness that he found balanced the sweeter start. He found what he calls the center of the mouth on the flat side, though. As such, this was not a surprise, as I found that myself and also because I had been told that this type of wine has this tendency to be flat. Nonetheless, he found it enjoyable. Alain found a metallic taste in the wine and some tartness as well, but he also said that he could not find any flaw in the wine. Needless to say that I was quite pleased with their assessment. It is very encouraging and it certainly gives me the motivation to experiment more and make several batches with different techniques to see what kind of differences will come out.
Beyond the sommeliers’ opinions, the wine, and the tasting, came with some surprises for me. First, when I tasted the wine over there in the Jura, everybody around the table laughed at my face as I expressed a big surprise about the taste. In my previous post, I had written that I found the wine on the dry side, somewhere between a Riesling and a Gewürztraminer. When I tasted it in France, I found a clear Muscat taste, which was very different from the taste I remembered. What caused the change? It is difficult to say. The dry taste was from the big container in which I had made the wine. The bottling may have changed the taste, but the trip to Europe could be a cause, too. After all, the wine was in my suitcase, which was checked in and spend hours in the cargo section of the plane, where usually temperatures are low. After that, it spent two weeks with me in hotel rooms in France and Italy where the temperature had been around 20 C. Maybe, the temperature fluctuations contributed. I am not complaining because, I found that the wine tasted better than before I left. Actually, my family liked the wine. In the restaurant, my wine paired nicely with all the different dishes that we had ordered. It went well with fish and poultry prepared in different recipes, which was on the table. Another surprise about how the wine would taste was in which it was served. It had more flavour in a smaller glass than a larger one. Romain also made the comment that if it were poured into a pitcher, it probably would lose a lot of its taste, because it would aerate more. I found quite interesting to realize how much.
As the chef had heard that my wife’s birthday had been two days earlier, they surprised her with this nice dessert attention:
Thank you Romain for facilitating, and many thanks to Alain and La Balance. It is a great restaurant and if you are ever in Arbois, please visit them and you will have a great meal!
The next day, I went to my parents on the other side of France and tried the wine there. I found that we served it a bit too cold and by then, we also could taste the metallic taste, but as the wine warmed up in the dining room, that taste faded out. It is intriguing and I did some research since then. All I found about wine tasting metallic was either metallic storage, which I have none so it couldn’t be the reason, or a wine served too cold although I found that remark only about red wines, while the Pearl of Csaba is a white. I tend to think the temperature is the cause.
Since I came back home here in Summerland, we tried another bottle, just to see if we could taste the same things we did in France. The taste had change somehow although it was more intermediate between the previous dry taste and the Muscat taste we found in France. This seems to confirm the bottling had some effect, but since here the temperature was rather constant, the temperature swings during the trip must have also aged the wine in some ways, too. Further, we could taste some of that bitterness towards the finish, but no metallic taste, as I took the wine directly from the cellar. Actually, the temperature may have been slightly too high. Nonetheless, this winemaking stuff is very exciting and as I have now finished the pruning and the cleaning of the vineyard, I am looking to a new harvest season with excitement.