I have a theory question for you: Tokaj has a solid reputation creating sweet wines from the Aszu grapes. So why are recent trends veering toward dryer wine styles? Describe the grapes and winemaking methods used to produce the dry wines of Tokaj and describe a typical example of a dry Tokaj wine in the form of a tasting note. What are the marketing opportunities for this style of wine for the region?
These are just a few things I was thinking about when I tasted through my first dry Furmint from Hungary. My analysis of the wine follows my Top Tokaj 10.
I came across a bit of a study tip I’d like to share. If you’re studying for your WSET Diploma 3 exam and are anything like me, you’ve got sheets and sheets of notes, flashcards, maps, tasting notes (not to mention bottles and bottles of wine). But I was recently given this advice—on the cover of your notebook/folder/binder/whatever for each specific region or country, write down the Top 10 facts you think are the most important to remember for that region or country. Don’t worry about writing excessive detail (that’s what the inside of the notebooks is for), these are just bullet points of key ideas/themes/vocabulary words/etc. Then, each morning or evening, or whenever you like to pretend your studying is just a bit of light reading, review those Top 10 facts. Remind yourself why you chose them. Obviously, with some regions or countries it will be easier than others. (I’m still trying to whittle down my Top 10 Spain facts…)
How this helps: in a pinch, during the exam, if you come across a region or country you’re feeling uncomfortable with, recall those top 10 facts. Odds are, there will be something in them that will get the juices flowing and help you recall the specific details needed to answer the actual question.
I thought I’d give it a go and have been implementing this into my note-taking. Today I’m sharing my Top Jura 10.
Following, I have an analysis of a Vin Jaune, compte cheese, and a fun YouTube share to help you get just as excited about the Jura as I am. Cheers.
Larger and more spread out than the Northern Rhone, there’s no denying that we’re going to cover a good bit of detail here. With its varied terroir, the Southern Rhone comes with a larger variety of grapes grown and wine produced—good news if you want a diversified tasting experience. Indeed, most wines here are blends—red, white, and rosé, though red undeniably dominates. And, as The Oxford Companion to Wine (Fourth Edition) notes, though some winemakers do experiment with Syrah (the dominant grape of the Northern Rhone), here in the south, it’s far too warm for the grape to “ripen gracefully.” Thus, it is Grenache—at over double the planting—that is the Southern Rhone‘s most planted red wine grape.
After Alsace, the Rhone Valley is probably my next favorite French wine region. The diversity in terrain, climate, and soils, makes for a whole host of grape varieties and wine styles. Much modern winemaking in my home state of California takes its literal and figurative roots from the Rhone, so the history, along with comparative tastings, are of particular interest to me.
Today, we start with an overview of the Rhone Valley. A lot will focus on signature grape varieties of both the Northern and Southern Rhone, as well as some key terms and facts that will help us moving forward. Because my text doesn’t go into the winemaking history of the region, I’m not going to cover that in detail during this series, though I may drop an interesting anecdote here and there if it is relevant to the material being discussed. If interested, The Oxford Companion to Wine (Fourth Edition), does have a good historical synopsis. And if you’re interested in the California-French Rhone connection, I highly recommend American Rhone: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink by Patrick J. Comiskey.