Certified Sommelier Exam

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Gamay (Beaujolais)

BUBBLEGUM, BANANA, STRONG CRUSHED GRANITE, strawberry, black cherry, violets, pear drop

Riesling

HIGH ACID, SLATE, PETROL, RS, apricot, peach, lime, lime zest (NW), lime blossom, linear texture

Albarino (Rias Baixas)

JUICYFRUIT GUM, ORANGE OIL, CREAMY TEXTURE, SOMETIMES SLIGHTLY OXIDATIVE (BLANCHED ALMONDS), fresh ripe peach, bright finish

Gruner Veltliner

LENTILS, RADISH, CELERY, WHITE PEPPER, watercress, lime blossom, lime, under-ripe stone fruit, subtle, bitterness on finish

Merlot

PLUM, BLACKBERRY, CHOCOLATE, fern leaf, round shape/texture

Chardonnay

HAZELNUT, SOFT CHEESE RIND, BUTTER/DIACETYL (NW), golden apple, lemon, pineapple (NW), rich texture

Malbec (Argentina)

BLUEBERRY, GREEN COFFEE BEAN, MAGENTA/ELECTRIC PINK RIM, ripe plum, blackberry, violets, bright acid

Cabernet Franc (Loire)

TART RED RASPBERRY, JALAPENO, STEMMY/TWIGGY, MARIJUANA, black currant, red currant, green bell pepper, cut grass, violets, tart finish, pronounced earth, brettanomyces is often encountered

Cabernet Sauvignon

BLACK PLUM, GREEN BELL PEPPER, TOBACCO, SAGE, black currant, edgy texture

Sauvignon Blanc

GRASS, JALAPENO, GOOSEBERRY, grapefruit, tarragon & chervil (OW), passionfruit (NW)

Pinot Noir

CRANBERRY, VIOLETS, BLACK TEA, TOMATO LEAF, black cherry, red cherry, cola nut, strawberry

Tempranillo (Rioja Riserva/Gran Riserva)

STEWED FRUITS, DESSICATED FRUITS, SWEET & SOUR (CHINESE RESTAURANT AROMA), tart red raspberry, tobacco, dill, bay leaf, ripe strawberries, coconut, MP acid, M-MP alcohol

Gewurztraminer (Alsace)

LYCHEE, CANDIED GINGER, BITTER FINISH, rose, potpourri, grapefruit pith

Syrah/Shiraz

SMOKED MEATS/BACON FAT, LEATHER, VIOLETS, raspberry, blackberry, freshly cracked pepper, sometimes blueberry

Grenache

DEHYDRATED STRAWBERRIES, BLACK PEPPER, RAISINS, GRENADINE, OXIDATIVE, SWEETNESS TO THE FRUIT ON THE FINISH, strawberry jam, raspberry, black cherry, powdered sugar

Chenin Blanc (Loire)

BRUISED RED APPLE (OXIDATIVE), CHAMOMILE, WASABI, WET WOOL, PRONOUNCED CHALK/LIMESTONE, honey, tangerine, high acid

Sangiovese (Tuscany)

SOUR RED CHERRY, CHERRY PITH, LEAFY UNDERBRUSH, HIGH ACID, licorice root, fennel, black tea

Pinot Gris (Alsace)

SWEET PEAR, POTTING SOIL, SMALL AMOUNTS OF RS, WHITE FLOWERS, white mushrooms, green apple, honey, slightly bitter finish

Viognier

FRUIT LOOPS, ORANGE PEEL, VANILLA, M-MM ACIDITY, peach apricot, mandarin orange, orange blossom, honeysuckle, mango, weighty texture, bitter finish

Muscat

ORANGE CANDY, ROSE PETAL

Pinot Grigio (Italy)

PEANUT SHELL, FLAT BEER, lemon rind, melon, bitter finish

Nebbiolo

DRIED SOUR RED CHERRY, TRUFFLE, FENNEL, HIGH TANNIN, CINNAMON, MARASCHINO CHERRY, tar, dried rose petal, red licorice, anise, mushroom, clay, high acid, MP-H alcohol

Zinfandel

PLUM SKIN, BLUEBERRY JAM, PEPPERCORN, PEACH YOGURT, cranberry, blackberry pie, high alcohol

Listrac & Moulis

- Lesser appellations
- Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines
- No classified growths

Margaux

- Largest AOC in Haut Medoc
- Wines know for ELEGANCE and FINESSE
- 1 First Growth (Chateau Margaux)
- Other notables: Chateau Palmer, Giscours, Brane- Cantenac

Pauillac

- Considered the epitome of "claret"
- Wines balance POWER and FINESSE
- 3 First Growths: Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild

Saint-Julien

- Smallest commune, but 11 classified growths
- Styles combine ELEGANCE and STURDINESS
- 5 Second Growths: Ducru-Beaucaillou, Leoville-Las-Cases, Leoville-Poyferre, Leoville- Barton, Gruard-Larose

Graves & Pessac-Leognan

- Appellation for red AND dry whites
- No ranking; all designated Cru Classe
- Pessac-Leognan AC in northern part

Right Bank Communes (Bordeaux)

- Saint-Emillion (PGCC's are Ausone and Cheval Blanc)
- Pomerol (Petrus, Le Pin, La Fleur Petrus, La Conseillante, Vieux-Chateau-Certan, Trotanoy)

Right Bank Grapes (Bordeaux)

70% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 5% minor varietals

Sauternes

- Sits in Graves
- World famous botrytis dessert wines
- Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
- Dry wines labeled as Graves Blanc or Bordeaux Blanc

Saint-Estephe

- Northernmost commune of the Haut-Medoc
- Wines are RUSTIC, STURDY, FULL-BODIED
- 5 classified growths, including 2nd growths (Cos d'Estournel and Montrose)

Left Bank Communes (Bordeaux)

- Haut Medoc
- Saint-Estephe
- Pauillac
- Saint-Julien
- Listrac & Moulis
- Margaux
- Graves
- Pessac-Leognan
- Sauternes

Left Bank Grapes (Bordeaux)

Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (70%); Merlot, minor varietals (30%)

Medoc First Growths

- Lafite-Rothschild
- Latour
- Mouton-Rothschild
- Margaux
- Haut-Brion

Chablis

- AOC for whites only
- exclusively Chardonnay
- limestone ove Kimmeridgian Clay (think crushed oyster shells)
- region susceptible to late frost
- Grand Cru sites have SW exposure

Chablis Grand Crus (7)

- Vaudesir
- Valmur
- Les Preuses
- Grenouilles
- Bougros
- Les Clos
- Blanchot
- Highest minimum alcohol of Chablis ACs

Cotes de Nuits Appellations (11)

- Marsannay
- Fixin
- Gevrey-Chambertin (8 Grand Crus)
- Morey St. Denis (5 Grand Crus)
- Chambolle-Musigny (2 Grand Crus)
- Vougeot (1 Grand Cru)
- Flagey Echezeaux (2 Grand Crus)
- Vosnee-Romanee (6 Grand Crus)
- Nuits St. Georges (Premier Cru only)
- Hautes Cote de Nuits
- Cote de Nuits Villages
- All Grand Cru in Cotes de Nuits are RED, except Corton (Beaune)

Cotes de Beaune ACs (7 main)

- Aloxe Corton (red Grand Cru is Corton, white Grand Cru is Corton Charlemagne)
- Beaune (Premier Cru only)
- Pommard (Premier Cru only)
- Volnay (Premier Cru only)
- Puligny-Motrachet (4 Grand Cru*)
- Chassagne-Montrachet (4 Grand Cru*)
*2 overlap; 6 total Grand Crus

Cote Challonaise ACs

- Bourgogne Aligote Bouzeron (Aligote)
- Rully (AC & Premier Cru)
- Mercurey (AC & Premier Cru)
- Givry (AC & Premier Cru)
- Montagny AC (white only)
- Premier Cru if more than 11.5% alcohol

Maconnais ACs

- Macon
- Macon-Superieur
- Macon-Villages
- Saint-Veran
- Pouilly-Loche
- Pouilly-Vinzelles
- Pouilly-Fuisse

Beaujolais ACs (5)

- Beaujolais AC
- Beaujolais Nouveau AC
- Beaujolais-Superieur AC
- Beaujolais Villages AC
- Beaujolais Cru AC

Beaujolais Cru ACs (10)

- Saint Amour
- Julienas
- Chenas
- Chiroubles
- Moulin a Vent
- Fleurie
- Morgon
- Regnie
- Brouilly
- Cote de Brouilly

Burgundy (Climate)

- Semi-continental (four seasons; climate issues like frost, rain at harvest, hail)

Basis for Burgundy AOC

Terroir

Soil in Cote d'Or

Limestone (best whites) and Marl (best reds)

Champagne Grapes

- Chardonnay
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Meunier

Champagne Location

90km northeast of Paris

Airen

Most widely planted grape in the world

Primary Spanish White Varietals

- Airen
- Viura (Macabeo)
- Chardonnay
- Verdejo
- Albarino

Primary Spanish Red Varietals

- Tempranillo (Tinto Fino, etc.)
- Carinena
- Garnacha
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Mencia
- Monastrell

Cava Varietals

- Xarel-lo
- Macabeo
- Parellada
- Chardonnay

Spanish Wine Classifications

- Vino de Mesa (VdM)
- Vino de la Tierra (VdIT): 60% from region
- Denominacion de Origen (DO)
- Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa, DOC, DOQ): Rioja and Priorat in 1988; Ridera del Duero pending
- DO Pagos: single estates only

DO Pagos Estates

- Dominio de Valdepusa, Finca Elez, Pago Guijoso, Dehesa del Carrizal (Toledo), Senorio de Arinzano (Navarra), Bodegas Otazu (Navarra)

Noble

Aged 12 months in bottle or barrel

Anejo

Aged 24 months in bottle or barrel

Rias Biaxas

- Maritime climate
- 90% Albarino planted

Rias Biaxas Sub-Zones

- Val do Salnes
- O Rosal
- Condado do Tea
- Soutomaiort
- Ribeira do Ulla

Rueda

Produces aromatic whites from Verdejo plus Sauvignon Blanc and Viura

Ribera del Duero

- West of Rioja on the River Duero
- Red wines from Tempranillo (Tinto del Pais) and Bordeaux varietals
- Wines are richer and fuller than Rioja wines with good aging potential

Northwest Spain: Notable Regions

- Galicia (Rias Biaxas)
- Toro
- Rueda
- Ribera del Duero

North Central Spain: Notable Regions

- Rioja DOCa (sub-zones are Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Baja)
- Navarra

North Central Spain: Primary White Varietals

- Viura
- Malvasia
- Garnacha Blanca
- Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo

North Central Spain: Primary Red Varietals

- Tempranillo
- Graciano
- Mazuelo (Carinena)

Red Rioja Quality Levels & Requirements

- Vino Joven: no aging requirements
- Vino de Crianza: one year in barrels, one year further aging
- Reserva: one year in barrels, two years further aging
- Gran Reserva: two years in barrels, three years further aging

Navarra

- Borders Rioja
- Known for Rosado wines
- Five sub-districts
- Reds based on Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet, Merlot
- Whites based on Viura with Malvasia and Chardonnay

Rioja DOCa Sub-Zones

- Rioja Alta
- Rioja Alavesa
- Rioja Baja

Northeast Spain

- Regions: Penedes and Priorat DOCa
- Mediterranean
- Home of Catalunya and Barcelona

Penedes

- Center of Cava production
- Traditional Whites: Parellada, Xarel-lo, Macabeo
- Traditional Reds: Garnacha, Monstrell, Ull de Liebre

Penedes Sub-Districts

- Baix Penedes
- Medio Penedes
- Alta Penedes

Priorat DOCa

- Rugged mountainous region
- Dry temperate climate
- Stony schistous soild
- Varietals: Garnacha, Carinena, Cabernet

South Spain

- Castilla: La Mancha
- Whites from Airen (63%)
- Reds from Cencibel (Tempranillo)
- Large elevated central plateau
- Arid climate with temperature extremes

Valdepenas

Most important DO in Southern Spain

Sherry Grape Varietals

- Palomino (95% of all plantings)
- Pedro Ximenez
- Moscatel: along with PX, used to sweeten blended wines and to add color

Sherry Soil Types

- Albariza
- Barros
- Arenas

Sherry Vinification

- Harvest in early September
- Palomino grapes pressed immediately
- Pedro Ximenez grapes sun dried (Soleo) for use in sweetening agents
- Fortification with neutral grape spirit

Fino vs. Oloroso Sherry

- Finos fortified to 15.5% (let the flor grow)
- Oloroso fortified to 18% (NO intention to let the flor grow)

Solera system

- A method of fractional blending wherein old wine is periodically refreshed with younger wine (no more than 1/3) to ensure consistency
- Wine is taken from a cask in one criadera and blended into a cask fro the next

Biologically-aged Sherry Styles & Descriptions

- Fino: lightest; fortified to 15.5%
- Manzanilla: a delicate style of Fino aged only in the coastal town of Sanlucar de Barrameda
- Amontillado: a Fino that has been left in cask for additional aging and develops a rich, nutty flaor; usually dry, minimum 3 years in Solera and 3 years in cask

Palo Cortado

- A dry style of Sherry that has characteristics of both Fino/Amontillado and Oloroso
- Develops limited flor

Oxidative Sherry Styles & Descriptions

- Palo Cortado: only partially oxidative, develops limited flor
- Oloroso: rich style fortified to 18% and usually long-aged; start dry but almost all are sweetened and sold as Cream Sherries

Sherry Classifications

- VOS (Very Old Sherry)
- VORS (Very Old Rare Sherry)
- Anada
- Almacenistas

VOS

- Very Old Sherry
- Aged 20 years (average minimum age)

VORS

- Very Old Rare Sherry
- Aged 30 years (average minimum age)

Anada

-Vintage dated sherries

Almacenistas

- A single Solera sherry bottled unblended and produced in small quantities

Portugal DOC Regions

- 33 total
- Important ones are Minho (Vinho Verde), Dao, Bairrada, Porto & Douro, Borba, Alentejo, Madeira

Portugal Wine Quality Levels

- Vinho de Mesa: table wines
- Vinho Regional (VR); similar to VdP
- IPR: similar to VDQS or IGT
- Denominacao de Origem Controlada (DOC)
- Garrafeira: reserve wines

Portugal White Varietals

Trajadura, Alvarinho, Loureiro, Gouveio, Encruzado, Maria Gomez, Fernao Pires, Arinto, Roupeiro

Portugal Red Varietals

Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo), Aragonez (Tempranillo), Baga, Ramisco, Trincadeira, Castelao Frances, Joao de Santarem, Periquita

Vinho Verde

- Red, white, and rose wines produced in the Minho province (9 sub-districts)
- Bottled young to undergo malolactic fermentation in the bottle (thus, have a prickle or bubble to it)
- Best whites are from Alvarinho or Loureiro

Douro

- Only a small percentage of grapes grown may be used for Port production
- DOC status for table wines earned in 1982
- Grapes: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca

Dao

- Terraced vineyards on granite slopes
- 90% red; 10% white
- 12 approved grape varieties
- By law, 20% minimum of red wines must be from Touriga Nacional
- Predominant white grapes are Arinto and Encruzado

Bairrada

- Clay-based soils with chalk
- Sparkling wines from Maria Gomez and Bical
- Red wines must contain a minimum of 50% Baga grape (normally 80%)
- Predominant white grape is Maria Gomez

Regions of Southern Portugal

- Lisboa (formerly Estramadura, Atlantic influenced climate)
- Tejo (formerly Alentejo, Periquita grape, white wines from chalky soils)
- Colares (Ramisco grape, ungrafted vines grown in sand)
- Algarve (red and white, 4 DO districts

Schist

A form of slate with strata which allow the vine roots to penetrate and grow (common in Douro for grapes used in Port)

Port

- Arrested fermentation fortified wine
- Vineyards planted on steep slopes (up to 60 degrees) with schist soils

White Port Varietals

- Arinto, Codega, Malvasia Fino, Malvasia Corada, Rabigato, Vioshino

Red Port Varietals

- Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Baroca, Mourisco Tinto, Sousao

Pipe

Traditional Port cask holding 500 liters (440L of wine added to 110L of aguardente)

Aguardente

- Neutral grape spirit at 77% alcohol added to port wine

Port Styles

- Tawny Port:
- Ruby Port

Ruby Port & Styles

- Aged in glass, may be ready to drink on release OR aged further in bottle
- Sees less oxygen than Tawny, so it doesn't lose its color
- Vintage Port, LBV Port (4-6 years), Single Quinta Port, Reserve Port

Tawny Port

- Aged in wood, ready to drink on release
- Sees oxygen in the barrel and, thus, loses its color
- Aged Tawny Port (with indication of age)

Vintage Port

- Accounts for less than 3% of all port
- Most expensive, BUT easiest to produce (2 years wood aging)
- Produced from top quintas
- Vintages must be declared and approved by IVP

Late Bottled Vintage Port

- Produced in non-declared vintages
- Fruit sourced from top quintas
- Aged 4-6 years in casks
- Vintage and bottling years must be declared on label
- Some are age-worthy

Single Quinta Port

- Fruits sourced from BEST quintas
- Usually produced in non-declared vintages
- Ageworthy, excellent values

Aged Tawny Port

- True tawnies matured entirely in cask
- After 6 years in cask, wines take on a smooth, creamy character, fruitcake spices
- Age declarations: 10yr, 20yr, 30yr, 40yr (based on how old it "feels")

Colheita

A vintage tawny with a minimum of seven years cask aging

Madeira Grapes (Driest to Sweetest)

- Sercial
- Verdelho
- Bual
- Malmsey

Sercial & Verdelho Vinification Styles

- Dry Madeiras served chilled as aperitifs
- Alcohol is added after fermentation has been completed

Bual & Malmsey

- Medium sweet & sweet Madeiras served with dessert or cheese course
- Fermentation is stopped by addition of spirit

Estufagem

- The heating process causes maderization of the wine, caramelizing sugars and promoting oxidation
- Estufa do Sol - finest wines are cask aged in lodges exposed to the sun for many years
- Estufa - a vat or tank heated by hot water to approximately 120F for 6-12 months

85% Varietal Madeiras

- 3yr, 5yr Reserve, 10yr Special Reserve, 15yr Extra Reserve

Vintage Madeira

- Must be made from 100% of stated varietal
- Must be aged for a minimum of 20 years in wood and 2 years in bottle before release

Vintage Solera Madeira

-19th century style now illegal to produce, but still available on the market

Rainwater

Soft Verdelho-style wine created in the 18th century

Colheita Madeiras

Minimum 7 years aging from a single vintage

Northern Rhone Climate

Continental with LeMistral winds

Soils in Cote Rotie, Condrieu, and Hermitage

Steep slopes with granite soils

Soils in St. Joseph and Crozes Hermitage

Heavier, clay-oriented soils

Northern Rhone Grape Varietals

Whites: Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne
Reds: Syrah

Northern Rhone Appellations

- Cote Rotie
- Condrieu
- Chateau-Grillet
- St. Joseph
- Crozes-Hermitage
- Hermitage
- Cornas
- Saint-Peray

Cote Rotie

Red wines from Syrah with up to 20% Viognier allowed

Condrieu

White wines from Viognier

Chateau-Grillet

White wines from Viognier from small single estate

Saint-Joseph

- Red wines from minimum 90% Syrah and up to 10% Marsanne and/or Roussanne
- Whites from Marsanne and Roussanne

Crozes-Hermitage

- Red wines from Syrah with up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne
- Whites from Marsanne and Roussanne

Hermitage

- Red wines from Syrah with up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne
- Whites from Marsanne and Roussanne

Cornas

Red wines from 100% Syrah

Saint-Peray

Sparkling wines from Marsanne and Roussanne

Southern Rhone Varietals (White)

Roussanne, Clairette, Picpoul, Bourbolenc, Grenache Blanc, etc.

Southern Rhone Varietals (Red)

Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise, Terret Noir, Vaccarese, Muscardin, etc.

Southern Rhone Climate and Vineyards

- Mediterranean climate with Mistral winds
- Many vineyards planted on flat valley floor

Gigondas Soil

Alluvial clays

Chateauneuf-de-Pape Soils

- Alluvial deposits and "pudding stones"

Galets

The "pudding stones" found in Chateauneuf-de-Pape responsible for terroir

Southern Rhone Appellations

- Chateauneuf-de-Pape
- Gigondas
- Vacqueyras
- Cotes-du-Rhone
- Cotes-du-Rhone Villages
- Tavel
- Lirac
- Beaumes-de-Venise
- Vinsobres

Chateauneuf-de-Pape

- AC for reds and whites
- 13 grapes authorized
- Minimum 12.5% alcohol content
- Galets

Gigondas

Red wines with maximum with maximum 80% Grenache

Vacqueyras

Red wines from Grenache blends with Syrah, Mourvedre, Clairette, and Bourboulenc

Cotes-du-Rhone

-Base Rhone appellation
- 95% in the Southern Rhone

2009 or 2008 in Cotes-du-Rhone?

2009 Great
2008 Not so great

Cotes-du-Rhone Villages

- 18 villages with elevated status
- Red wines are predominantly Grenache

Tavel

Rose from Grenache and Cinsault

Lirac

Red wines are predominantly Grenache

Beaumes-de-Venise

- Red wines are predominantly Grenache
- Home of a famous Vin Doux Naturel

Vinsobres

Red wines with a minimum of 50% Grenache

Provence

- Well-known for quality rose wines
- Includes Southern Rhone varietals and more
- Bandol
- Cassis

See More

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