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Last year I completed 5 units of the WSET diploma – everything but unit 3 – the dreaded and very large still wine unit.  I have decided due to various commitments to do unit 3 via distance learning.  Having already completed various courses with the Open University I have no qualms about learning in this way but there is one downside – I have to source and pay for all the wines myself.  To try and offset this a bit I have decided to try and attend as many country or region specific tastings as possible.  My first event this year was Matthew Jukes 100 Best Australian Wines 2012/13 at Great Western Wines in Bath (although there were only 52 wines available, and I thought I was bad a maths).

Matthew introduced the evening and then left everyone to their own devices.  The wines were laid out on tables; some people were picking their way through a predetermined list others were just trying as many as possible.  I had an early start the next day and with a trip to Dijon looming I decided to stick with the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs (with a side-line of Riesling, of course).  Matthew was talking a small gathering through the world of Australian Chardonnay so I joined the group ready to learn about a subject that I greatly need to improve on.  And I did learn.  There were a few things I probably didn’t need to know and that hopefully won’t pop up on the exam such as who are the hottest winemakers in OZ (I won’t give that away for fear of offending), but others were useful, such as the different climates, which wines were declassified versions of top wines and therefore a bargain and also how the wines compare to those of the great Chardonnay region, Burgundy.

Chardonnay’s we tried included:

2010 Peter Lehmann EV Chardonnay, Eden Valley £12

2009 Yalumba FDW7c, Adelaide Hills £17

2009 Leeuwin Prelude Chardonnay, Margaret River £25

2011 Cherubino Chardonnay, Margaret River £28

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From there I decided to explore the Pinot Noirs of Australia.  Here there was a great variety in the styles; some were very pale and light with a delicate complexity, others seemed to scream out of the glass with big hits of red fruit and alcohol (the Paringa Peninsula is 14.5%).  This did not give me any confidence when it comes to the unit 3 blind tasting – how will I ever identify all these variations as being from Australia.  Young Australian Rieslings are generally easy – big hit of lime, some floral notes, cool and crisp with refeshing acidity levels,  (can you tell I’m a fan?).  But these Pinot Noirs were a very different matter, and clearly something I’m going to have to work on.

Pinot Noirs I tried:

2010 Tamar Ridge Kayena Vineyard Pinot Noir, Tasmania £18

2010 Paringa Peninsula Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula £26

2010 Tapanappa Foggy Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, Fleurieu Peninsula £32

2010 Yabby Lake Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula £30

One thing I found difficult was trying wines that an expert such as Matthew Jukes had declared to be a good wine and not liking them.  I felt conned!  Should I tap him on the shoulder and ask him to explain himself?  Probably best not to for someone trying to get a foothold in the industry.  It is just another case of how subjective someone’s wine taste is.  After all, they weren’t bad wines, maybe with the exception of the 2011 Jacobs Creek Classic Riesling; I just wasn’t a fan of them.  All in all it was another great educational evening provided by the guys at Great Western.

Contact Great Western Wine on – 01225 322810 or www.greatwesternwine.co.uk