Last week, ICE Director of Wine and Beverage Studies Richard Vayda dug into the ICE wine cellar and uncovered a few gems for tasting in the one-of-a-kind Reserves from the ICE Cellar tasting class.

He presented the wine tasting class with a trove of wines that would be nearly impossible to find in stores now. He shared that, “These are all wines you can no longer find through normal distribution.” Richard focused on classic high-quality French wines and served Taittinger 1995 Comtes de Champagne, Antonin Guyon 2002 Meursaults Charmes Premier Cru Les Charmes Dessus, Trimbach 2000 Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre Gewürztraminer, Joseph Drouhin 2002 Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru, E. Guigal 1998 Côte Brune La Turque, Château Gruaud Larose 1996 Saint Julien Deuzieme Cru Classé and Château Lafaurie 1999 Premier Cru Classé Peyraguey. The only New World wine in the bunch was Patz & Hall 2006 Carneros Pinot Noir. The wines’ prices were valued at $50-$450.

Just for an example of how special these wines are, Richard said that most Champagne is marked NV for non-vintage, as in most years the grapes are blended from a variety of years. Champagnes with a specific vintage (made from grapes grown all in the same year) are usually only made about three times in a decade and the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne is usually only made once every ten years.

The class was also a chance to learn about some of the finer points of wine such as storage, corked wines and decanting. For older wines, such as those featured in the class, decanting the wine from the bottle into the new vessel is the easiest way to get rid of sediment. Also, older wines are the most like to be “corked” — a phenomenon where the cork has given the wine an off, musty note. One of the wines in class had this musty note, giving Vayda a chance to discuss how winemakers have learned to prevent corking and how fewer wines are now affected.

To really explore the flavor profiles of the wines, Richard also tried a variety of cheese pairings to find the best match for each wine. It was fascinating how the flavors of the wines changed with each cheese, and vice versa.

The class was the perfect chance for oenophiles to sample some incredible rare wines and hidden gems hiding in the ICE cellars, without breaking the bank or having to tap into their own reserves.

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