Epcot's
2004 International
Food & Wine Festival

Wine School

Program | Lunch Menu | Review


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Tour and Tasting of Napa Valley Appellation

Wonders of Life VIP Lounge, Future World

Hosted by Peter Marks, COPIA

PROGRAM


10 -11 a.m.
2002 Cuvaison Chardonnay $25.00
2003 Trefethen Riesling $18.00
2002 Acacia Pinot Noir $25.00
2001 Cosentino Pinot Noir $34.00
2001 Darioush Syrah $64.00

11- Noon
2001 Atlas Peak Sangiovese $14.00
2000 Catacula Lake Zinfandel $15.00

Tastings of prime Cabernet regions
(all blends of cabernet grapes and
various other cabernet-type grapes)
2001 Chimney Rock from the Stag's Leap Region $48.00
2001 Robert Mondavi from the Oakville Region $40.00
2001 Mount Veeder from the Mount Veeder Region $40.00
2001 Cain Five from the Spring Mountain region $85.00

Lunch

Tarragon & thyme seared boneless squab breast with creamy goat cheese and lentils with spinach and sour dough truffle croutons

Green salad with citrus fruits, fire-roasted tomatoes and almonds with apricot vinaigrette

Beef filet with cabernet demi-glace, parmigiano-reggiano risotto with foie gras and truffle, pan-roasted chioggia (mini) beets and patty pan squash

Riesling cake (with chocolate filling) and cassis champagne sorbet and fresh raspberries

2001 Honig Sauvignon Blanc $14.00
2000 Swanson Merlot from the Oakville region $30.00

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Vintages and growing conditions

1993 BV (Beaulieu Vinyards) Tapestry
about $35 when released,
but probably not available any more generally
1997 BV Tapestry $70.00
1998 BV Tapestry $45.00

2000 Berringer Howell Mountain Cabernet $80.00
2000 Berringer St Helena Valley Cabernet $80.00


Review

by

Gloria Konsler


My husband Gary and I did the Napa Valley Wine School at Epcot on October 30. It started at 9 a.m. and ran until just after 3 p.m. Lots and lots of fun!

We arrived at Epcot about 8:30 and parked at the far end of the very first row of regular parking, a quick walk into the park with no need for a tram. One thing Disney did not do too well with this particular wine school was to tell you where to meet. We knew it started at 9 a.m. in the Wonders of Life VIP Lounge (wherever the devil that was!), but we didn't know exactly how to get there. We tried to "crash" the line marked "Princesses Breakfast" to get into the park before the regular opening. Fortunately the Cast Members manning the "Princesses gate" knew what we were supposed to do. They sent us over to Guest Relations where another CM was holding up a "Napa Wine School" sign. There were three other couples there and just as we got there she asked the first two couples to follow her -- that the "car" was waiting. We and the other couple waited about 10 minutes for the next "car." Imagine our surprise when we were ushered backstage to a waiting white town car and were driven all the way from the front of the park, behind all the pavilions on the right, behind all the World Showcase pavilions and then to the back of the Wonders of Life pavilion. There we were escorted to a small elevator, which took us to the lounge which overlooked the closed (but lighted) pavilion. The main part of the lounge windows were directly in front of the entrance to "The Making of Me" movie.

The lounge is circus-themed with very bright colors and a big red and white striped circus tent in the middle. A breakfast buffet was set with danish, croissants, muffins and beautiful sliced fruit. There was also coffee, teas, orange juice, water and sodas -- a lovely continental breakfast.

About 9:30 we were taken to a "classroom" with convention-type tables set with five glasses of wine. We were introduced to Peter Marks, who was our lecturer for the day. Marks was from COPIA, which, according to their literature, is "a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit cultural center and museum whose mission is to investigate and celebrate the culture of the collective table through wine, food and the arts." We then viewed a 12-minute film on Napa Valley and Napa winemakers.

Then, on to the tastings! Mind you, it was now all of 10 a.m. and we were sitting with five filled glasses in front of us and another four that haven't been filled yet. Peter said not to worry, that the palate is more sensitive in the mornings and we' would be able to taste all that much better. Unless, he added, we had had black coffee in the lounge (I nodded my head "yes!"), in which case we had fried our taste buds. He suggested we drink some water and eat a cracker before tasting. Without going into the specifics of the wines, it was interesting that there was only one white and three reds. They ranged in price from $18 for Trefethen Riesling --very dry and one of our favorites! -- to a Darioush Syrah at $64, also very nice.

Interesting fact: During prohibition, the California vintners used to ship thousands of pounds of "wine bricks" across the United States. These bricks were made from grape mash that was kiln-dried. They where shipped with a label that said something like "Do Not Add Water," but, of course, the whole idea was to add water, reconstitute the mash and then make wine at home.

This tasting took about an hour and after a 15 minute break, we came back for tasting #2. Two wines (a Sangiovese and a Zinfandel) were presented to highlight two different Napa regions. This was followed by four Cabernet Sauvignons. All were 2001 wines, two were $40 a bottle, one was $48 and one was $85. Obviously, the whole idea was to show that the same varietal, the same year, different regions, different vintners could all look, smell and taste very different. Interestingly enough, the majority preferred the $48 wine, with the two $40 wines coming in next, and the $85 wine dead last. Marks didn't say the $85 wine was "bad," but he went on to explain how some wines can develop an "off" taste if there is not proper sanitation in the winery (no health risk because of the alcohol content). So it was pretty obvious he didn't think this was a great wine either, despite the price.

Another interesting fact: Robert Mondavi is/was one of the vintners who wasn't all that concerned about "sanitizing" the winery. He thought some of the "outside influences" that get into wines make them more interesting. Hmmmmm...

Lunch time! And I was VERY glad I'd only been drinking a sip of this and a sip of that. I also noticed that Marks had been "spitting" the great majority of his wine. No wonder he could still walk straight and speak coherently!

We had no idea whether lunch would be ham sandwiches and chips or something really elegant, but when they pulled back the sides of the "circus tent" you knew it was going to be pretty darned good -- and it was! Plus we had two more wines -- a wonderful $14 Sauvignon Blanc (Honig) that everyone raved about and a 2000 Swanson Merlot ($30) that was just OK. It's a good thing the classroom was like a refrigerator or I would have curled up for a nap on one of the padded benches in the lounge. But in the name of my education, I sacrificed and subjected myself to five more wines.

The first tasting of the afternoon featured three different vintages of BV Tapestry, a 1993 (an OK year), a 1997 (a good year), and a 1998 (a not so good year). But, of course, you had no idea which was which year -- that was the whole idea of the exercise, to see if you could match the wines with the years by how good you thought they were. I'm happy to say that, without conferring, Gary and I both matched the wines and years the same and we were right on the money. Maybe I learned something after all! By the way, the 1998 (not so good) Tapestry was $45 and the 1997 (very good) was $70. Oh, what a difference a few too many tannins make!

The last two wines of the day were two $80 Beringer reds, one from grapes grown in the mountains and one from grapes grown on the valley floor. Give me "valley floor" any day! About 2/3 of the class preferred the softer valley floor wine, while the other third preferred the deeper, stronger, heartier "mountain grown" wine. Very interesting because I thought that stuff was really nasty -- so much for the educated palate.

At the conclusion of the program, we each received a COPIA "wine diploma" -- a nice finishing touch. And with that our wine school ended and we were driven back to either the International Gateway or to the front gate in our town cars -- such class!

It really was a great "school." Peter Marks made the wines fun -- he was not a bit pretentious, and he was a very interesting and engaging speaker. The six hours just flew by, and Gary and I both said we'd do one of the other schools again in a minute if we could work it into our schedules.