Tuesday night I continued my mission to five hundred, with my new schedule of courses I would be studying the old world wines, exclusively, tasting up to 10 wines a night and learning a lot about a few regions in France, Italy and Spain.

We began by getting the lowdown on Champagne: Timelines of important events in the region like detailing the church’s role and chronologically making our way to Prohibition. After an intense amount of history was condensed into an hour, we jumped into the climate and specificities of the region; this was in hopes of getting the class acquainted with an historic region and then being able to taste our way through a couple selections the professor had imported.

We tasted two variations on a theme, both being Champagne, the first from Agrapart & Fils “Les 7 Crus” was a co-operative effort, and the second bottle hailing from R.H. Coutier, a smaller producer (Récoltant Manipulant, or RM, as it appears on the label), growing their own grapes as well as making their own wine.

Agrapart & Fils “ Les 7 Crus” blanc de blancs was straw in color with a moderately intense nose of green apples, vanilla, some toasted notes and a fainter smell of ripe pear. On the palate it was dry with medium high acidity, medium body and lengthy finish, yielding more apple and toasted bread notes.

R.H. Coutier’s Champagne was a mixture of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, showcasing a little more development in the bottle as the straw colored sparkler was redolent of mushroom (fungal notes) and ripe red apple. On the palate, it was dry with a touch of residual sugar, teeming with medium acidity painted on the sides of my tongue and medium finish length showcasing more ripe apple, bit of crushed rock and some almond.

A good caliber of Champagne in this sampler and definitely a lot more wonderful wines to come from the class as I look forward to another eleven classes left in the course—it should also help me achieve the five hundred mark a little easier than making up a lot of tasting ground late in the year.

Deuxième Classe:  Bordeaux

On Wednesday, I had my second course of the week and this one tested me on all things Bordeaux, as well as my ability to catch any of the Ducks game (vs. St. Louis), it is as if the classes have little regard for my hockey games. Luckily, I have many phone apps to help me to follow my team.

The class is four weeks long, each class showcasing six different Bordeaux and tailoring all imparted knowledge from the region’s topography, to the climate of the different appellations—and everything in between.

After copious notes were jotted down, it was time to taste; six glasses filled with wines ranging from hue/clarity to vintage (2005 -2008). The wines included: 08 Chateau Mylord, 05 Chateau Croix-Mouton, 05 Chateau Plaisance, 08 Chateau Haut Sociondo, 05 Chateau Cap de Faugeres and 08 Chateau Les Tours Seguy.

The lineup was designed as an introduction for the sake of our innocent palates, however it proved to be overwhelming. By the end of the tasting, the drying tannins roughed up my tongue, with a feeling similar to scraping your tongue in between your teeth vigorously.

I have too many tasting notes to bore you with, but some of the wines, even at the introductory level were interesting, like the nose of the “Cuvee Alix” by Chateau Plaisance which fell victim to Brettanomyces (not that I have a problem with the funk but it can be considered a flaw). Brettanomyces is a yeast strand that provides an odor equivalent of barnyard, bandages, and other off odors. Another standout was the Chateau Cap de Fagueres, which had the body of a heavyweight boxer with pronounced notes of dark chocolate, vanilla and blackberry on the nose and an even greater concentration on the palate of black cherry—still youthful after six years of bottle age.

By the end of the course, my teeth turned a darker shade of purple and my tongue had been fatigued, but I know I must work harder on combating palate fatigue if I am going to stand a chance at the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux tasting next Saturday. As for the hockey game it finished on a big note too—the Ducks won 7-4 and Bobby Ryan had an at-home hat trick. I now see a vision of 487 wines in my future like a mountaineer pulling into view of a target peak after getting over the first low hill.