The Wine Academy, a local tasting organization, has announced its program for the upcoming year.
Two 10-class series, one held on Thursday evenings, the other on Friday evenings, will begin Sept. 13 and 14. A minimum of nine wines from a wine area are tasted at each class, held at the Capitol Hill Club, 300 First St., SE. No more than 40 persons are accepted for any class. The fee is $15 per class, or $135 for the entire series, which concludes in May.
The Academy also is offering a "whirlwind wine course." Sessions will be held on five Monday evenings, from Sept. 17 to Oct. 22 at the Capitol Hill Club. The subjects are johannisberg riesling (one session on regular, enother on beernauslese), chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. Wine from Europe and California will be tasted. The fee is $100 for the entire course, or $25 per class.
Those who wish to enroll should make out a check to Ronald K. Zeller, Treasurer, and send it to Connie Banford, 9202 Curtis Ct., Upper Marlboro, Md. 20870. For further information call 952-0545 or 638-5080.
Also on the local schedule, the fourth wine festival at Middleburg, Va., will be held, rain or shine, this coming Saturday. A $10 ticket admits one to a seminar at the Piedmont Vineyard, films, and tours and tastings at five vineyards in the area. The festival is sponsored by the Vinifera Wine Growers Association. Anyone driving to Middleburg on Saturday will have no difficulty locating festival headquarters. For information call 703-754-8564 or 703-687-5327.
The 1976 red Bordeaux has arrived at local retail stores. Peter Allan Sichel, a respected Bordeaux merchant, reports the 1976s are "developing extremely well. They are lighter than the best 1975s, but often have better balance, more fruit and greater charm . . . An extremely good vintage, on a par with 1966." His American cousin, Peter M. F. Sichel, chooses 1964 as his comparison vintage because he finds generalities won't do, that quality varies from wine to wine. It was a very large harvest and while some of the wines are remarkable, big and full, many are maturing very early and a general lack of tannin indicates these wines may fade quickly.
Prices are high, so the Washington chapter of Les Amis du Vin conducted a blind tasting recently to learn something firsthand of the character of the wine. Eight wines were sampled and several of them were very forward. Most did possess considerable fruit, but in some cases the wines seemed awkward. In voting, La Lagune was the most favored, followed by Lafite Rothschild, Pinchon Lalande, Montrose, Grand-Puy-Ducasse, Brane Cantenac and Leoville Lascases. Chateau Garraud, a Lalande de Pomerol and the least expensive wine in the tasting, trailed badly.
The Wine Advocate, a locally produced consumer guide, assessed 1975 red Bordeaux in a recent issue. Author Robert M. Parker, Jr., particularly recommended Haut-Bages Liberal, Bradnaire-Ducru, Leoville Poyferre, La Mission Haut Brion, Conseillante, LaFleur a Pomerol and Petrus from this highly praised vintage. He reported on more than 80 wines and included a survey of zinfandel in the issue as well.
For information of subscriptions to the Wine Advocate, write 1002 Hillside View, Parkton, Md. 21120. It is published six times a year and sold by subscription only for an annual rate of $15.
The Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine offered an annual review of cabernet sauvgnon in its most recent issue. The editors pointed out that more than 30 new wineries released cabernet sauvignon since the previous year's review and indicated that even more will be appearing in time from wineries formed in 1976, 1977 and 1978. (There were two dozen new wineries last year.)
One trend the Guide has spotted is a move toward blending other grapes by winemakers who hope to "refine and improve their cabernets." Focusing on 1975 and 1976 cabernets, it found "far fewer wines of outstanding merit" than among the 1973 and 1974 wines tasted the year before. Among the highest rated were Dehlinger Winery, 1976 Somoma County; Heitz Martha's Vineyard, 1974 Napa Valley; Mayacamas Vineyards, 1974 Napa Mountain; Robert Mondavi Reserve, 1974 Napa Valley; Mount Eden Vineyards, 1976 Saratoga, Santa Clara County; Joseph Phelps Vineyards; 1975 Napa Valley, Souverain Vintage Selection, 1974 Sonoma, and Sterling Vinyards Reserve, 1974.
Prices for the Heitz and Mondavi Reserve will be $25 to $30 per bottle. ". . . California has definitely overcome its second class image," says a Detroit wine buyer, quoted in the Guide.
This publication, probably the most thorough of any published on the West Coast, is sold only by subscription. The cost is $20 for six issues a year. The address is P. O. Box 11120, San Francisco, Calif. 94101.