Paper 3, Mock Exam
My mentor Siobhan hosted a mock for us a week or so ago. I’ve been busy, so just getting around to writing up my thoughts.
Paper 3 is the anything goes paper. Sparkling, Rosé, Fortified, Sweet, plus maybe some more red and white for good measure.
Usually the questions focus on winemaking and quality.
Full list of the wines, along with my overview calls at the end of the newsletter.
Question 1 - Two Sparkling Wines
Both very pale in colour, both smell of apples and pears.
If they look like Prosecco and taste like Prosecco then highly likely they’re Prosecco. Correct deduction.
But, here’s the interesting thing to remember about Prosecco; Residual Sugar (RS) is not linked to quality. Boring DOC Prosecco can be dryer than sweeter posh versions.
I had W1 as a DOC Prosecco because of a higher RS with more fruit, while I had W2 as a slightly direr, more austere DOCG Prosecco. An argument that seemed like sensible reasoning to me.
W1 was in fact a Cartizze DOCG Prosecco, around £30 per bottle from Merotto! Categorised as ‘dry’ with around 25gp/l RS1, ripe textured, plush and fleshy on second taste. W2 was just a DOC Prosecco from The Wine Society, lesser quality in principle, but drier, less fruit, definitely more linear, lighter and simpler.
A lot of Paper 3 is being able to determine quality, but when all Prosecco ostensibly tastes the same, this is really something that is going to throw me off over and over again.
Question 3 - Two Red Wines - Same Region
Both bright purple, smell like bubblegum and fresh cherry.
Right, this is a real kicker for me. If it smells like Beaujolais and tastes like Beaujolais then it’s highly likely they're, you guessed it, Beaujolais. Obviously I talked myself out of that.
The first one had that immediate whack of carbonic maceration; bubblegum, playful, tinned fruit. Yet, the second had more texture, structure, and depth, some french oak. I decided that we were playing around with Garnacha2, something young and then something more grown up.
I nailed the quality with this pair, but was off on my origin, because I didn’t trust my instincts. I was shoehorning3 around somewhere in Rioja in the end.
Red wines are difficult.
One Final Mistake - Tokaji & Sauternes
There’s a thing you can do at home, called triangle tasting, where you taste three wine samples, two glasses of Wine 1, and one glass of Wine 2.
The idea is to train yourself to spot the difference between two similar wines. You practice picking out which of the three wines is the odd wine out.
I should do that with Sauternes and Tokaji. I think I’ve got a 100% hit rate at the moment for deciding it’s always the wrong one. I can immediately taste either, and make an incorrect argument for the other.
Wine 7 was Chateau Guiraud, Sauternes, 2013, and as you can imagine I decided it was Tokaji. I need to go back and re-look at those. Half bottles and a Coravin should fix that.
That’s about that. Not too bad all things considered.
Below the paywall are all the wines, how I identified them, and some final thoughts and Further Reading on Sauternes, Tokaji, and Vin Doux Naturel.