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Warm up with Winter Wine Seminars in Taos

Hilltop Pinot Noir Vineyard
Hilltop Pinot Noir Vineyard
Photo by Jim Hammond

Few wine events can compete with the longevity and popularity of the Taos Winter Wine Festival. Now in its 28th year the festival draws wineries from around the world to the picturesque town of Taos, New Mexico. Other attractions are the local restaurants that offer wine dinners and the wine seminars held at the beautiful El Monte Sagrado resort and the Taos Ski Valley resort center. The festival runs from January 29th until February 2nd in and around Taos.

Wine Seminars

These are the most fun seminars one can attend since wines are sampled as part of the education. Attendance is held to forty participants per seminar so reserving early is the watchword. The following seminars are held at El Monte Sagrado Resort on Thursday and Friday, January 30th and 31st.

Imagine doing a vertical tasting of the highly regarded Justin Isosceles wines after tasting the component varietals of this Bordeaux blend from California’s central coast. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes are skillfully blended into this cult wine and attendees learn about the art of blending. Blending is accomplished by fermenting the three grapes and placing them in separate barrels, typically aged for up to one year and then blended into the finished wine. But what percentages of each grape will make the best blend? That is the art of blending.

Ever wondered what distinguishes an Old World versus New World style? One will be tested to identify a Montrachet from a Santa Rita Chardonnay. Montrachet is France’s most exclusive Chardonnay wine. The four pairs of wine are sampled to decide which one is domestic and which one is from France. Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman will host this event.

Does the shape and style of a wine glass affect what the wine will taste like? Riedel makes a highly regarded series of wine glasses for the most popular red and white grape types. The Riedel Vinum XL Red Wine tasting set is used to illustrate how they influence Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah wines. Best of all, attendees get to keep the glasses.

A master class in tasting Napa Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the Diamond Mountain, Rutherford, St. Helena and Stag’s Leap regions will demonstrate the influence of terroir on these wines. In Napa, location, location, location applies to wines as well as real-estate.

On Saturday there are two seminars help at the Taos Ski Valley resort center. One is a vertical tasting of Chateau Beaucastel Châteauneuf de Pape wines hosted by Joe Spellman and the festival executive director Greg O’Byrne. Later a sampling of Rhone varietals from two of California’s leading Rhone varietal wine producers will compare different vintages of Syrah as well as Grenache and Roussane.

To learn more about this wine event tune in to The Spirits of New Mexico radio program on Saturday, January 25th at 11:30am on KIVA-The Rock of Talk 1600AM and 95.9FM. The Taos Winter Wine Festival executive director, Greg O’Byrne, will discuss the highlights of this year’s event.

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