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travel diary: simple girl’s guide to tasting wine | chamonix, france

By March 18, 2014 europe, france, travel, travel diary

Cha Cha Cha  The Macadame - 27

God knows I love good wine.

I have been called a wine snob on many occasion. I tend to lean towards quality over quantity. I would rather have one amazing glass once a week than have wine every day. Are any of you like me in that way?

One of my favourite places in Chamonix is Cha Cha Cha. It’s a wine shop/bar/tasting room all rolled into one.

The walls are lined with drops off all sorts. From Champagnes to Whiskies you’ll find fine (and I don’t mean expensive) wines/spirits from all parts of France and beyond.

They range from just a few euros to well over the price of a car.

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Cha Cha Cha | The Macadame - 04

You can either buy a bottle for take away or drink it there with a small corkage of 8 euros.

They have so many options, you’ll be sure to find a drop you like.

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Cha Cha Cha | The Macadame - 19

Cha Cha Cha | The Macadame - 18

I love that they do wine tastings almost every night of the week. Some of their tastings include:

  • Tour de France (6 wines, 6 French wine regions)
  • Blind Tasting (for those of you, like me, that are swayed by brand or price)
  • Bordeaux (6 wines from the Bordeaux region)
  • Whiskies
  • Champagne

Every tasting is 15 euros except a few, such as Premier Cru or Champagne tasting for example. But for a fun evening out, I think this is quite reasonable. You’ll learn a lot too 🙂

Our lovely guests Dee and Rob who visited kindly gave us a voucher for a tasting at Cha Cha Cha, so when Friday night rolled around we decided to put it to good use.

We opted for the Premier Cru tasting. Premier cru is a French language wine term corresponding to “First Growth”, and which can have different meanings in different wine regions:

  • For Burgundy wine, the term is applied to classified vineyards, with Premier cru being the second-highest classification level, below that of Grand cru. 

Long story short, it’s the wine of the more premium kind.

After we met the other guests, the host explained the wines we would be tasting and what regions they came from.

Most of them came from Burgundy, which I was lucky enough to visit late last year. 

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We started with Whites.

Whites Blancs The Macadame

1. Chateau Davaney, Montagny, Clos Chaudron, 2010, Premiere Cru

My tasting notes: light, slightly buttery.

2. Famille Picard, Saint Aubin, Le Charmois, 2008, Premiere Cru

My tasting notes: buttery, honey, oaked.

3. Vaillons, Chablis, 2012, Premiere Cru

My tasting notes: minerally, fresh, bright, light , orange rum.

My favourite was No. 2.

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A bit peckish, we stopped for a cheese platter before getting onto the reds.

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Our peckishness satiated, we moved onto the Reds.

Reds Rouges The Macadame

1. Domaine Voarick, Mercurey, Clos Du Paradis, 2011, Premiere Cru

My tasting notes: robust, robust, cherry.

2. Famille Picard, Saint Aubin, Le Charmois, 2010, Premiere Cru

My tasting notes: leathery, full-bodied.

3. Michel Picard, Nuits Saint Georges, Les Vaucrains, 2008, Premiere Cru

My tasting notes: apologies, by this time I forgot to write it down & I can’t remember – I was too busy discussing Australian wine with our new friends.

My favourite was No. 1.

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Now there’s a bit of a process for tasting wine, I’m by no means an expert in this arena, but here’s the way I do it.

Colour: I like to slightly tilt the glass and hold it to the light or look at it against a white background.

What do you see? Is the wine clear, cloudy, dark? The colour will vary based on the type of wine you are tasting.

Red wines can vary greatly in colour. A young rend wine is typically a brighter red colour, you may see a hit of reddish brown. Whereas an older red wine may be a darker maroon colour. The colour of red wine also varies greatly based on the grape variatal, for example a Shiraz wine will likely be much darker than a Pinot Nior wine.

White wines range from a pale yellow to a deep gold. A Savingnon Blanc wine will be much lighter than a heavily oaked Chardonnay. White wine typically gets darker as it ages. 

Colour  The Macadame

Swirl: I like to hold the stem of the glass firmly and gently swirl in circles on a flat surface for 15 seconds. This allows oxygen to penetrate the wine and allows it to aerate, releasing vapours from the sides of the glass so you can appreciate the scent.

I like to observe the streaks of wine as they roll down the sides of the glass, this can help you determine the body of the wine.

Swirl The Macadame

Smell: I like to tip the glass and stick my nose in and inhale deeply.

I read somewhere that you can get more aroma by holding your nose a few cms above the glass after swirling. Try both and see which works best for you.

Did you know that almost all of our taste is actually smell? This is why you can’t taste food when you have a cold.

So what does it smell like? What do you enjoy about the smell? Is it fruity? floral? rich? minerally? woody? spicy? You don’t have to go into wanky terms like “fresh cut grass” or “mossy” – its just about finding something you appreciate about the smell.

Smell  The Macadame

Taste: Now you get to taste the wine. I like to sip it slowly, letting the wine spread across my tongue before swallowing. If you don’t feel like a douche, slurp some air through your lips as your sipping, this will aerate the wine further which will help to release further flavours.

What can you taste? Again, it’s just about finding something you like about the wine. I am really bad for this, if the wine isn’t a heavily oaked chardonnay or a rich and punchy red I tend to turn off. However, I am really trying to find something I appreciate about every wine I drink.

Taste  The Macadame

You’ll love Cha Cha Cha because it’s perfect for wine tastings, having a quite drink or picking up that perfect bottle to enjoy at home.

I’d love to hear any ideas you have on how you taste your wine?

Sante! (French for “Cheers”).

The Macadame. xx

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