I’m back! I’ve been out of the drinking scene for over a month now. On Monday night I got back into the swing of things at the harvest class at ENO. Located in the Inter-Continental Hotel at 505 N. Michigan Avenue, ENO is a classy yet comfortable wine bar. With a great selection of flights on their menu (and not just wine flights, but cheese and chocolate too,) they focus not only on serving great wine, but educating as well.
The staff at ENO is helpful and knowlegeable — but their focus on education goes beyond helping you choose just the right flight to relax with after work. They offer wine classes on a regular basis.
The ENO-Versity harvest class I attended focused on one of the final stages in the wine-making process — blending. Sara the “Wine Librarian” led the class and talked about the blending process, how it happens, and why blending wine from different grapes is necessary to produce the best possible product.
We then tasted three different finished wines from the Paso Robles region of California — syrah, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon. Of course, as is usually the case, these were all blends, as opposed to being 100% syrah, etc. After that, it was our turn.
Sara poured us each three unblended wines, also a syrah, a merlot, and a cab, also all from Paso Robles. After tasting each of these individual wines, Sara instructed us to come up with our own blend. We had to mentally mix and match the different characteristics of the wines and take a stab at what might make our perfect blend.
For my first attempt, I decided to base it around the cab, since that was my favorite of the 3 wines, so I went with 70% cab. The merlot had some nice fruit flavors and a good amount of tannin that I figured would add some structure, so I added 20% merlot. The last 10% went to the syrah to add some pepper and spice — to add some character.
Ok, I might not have put that much thought into it, but it was definitely fun to try it. After we each decided on a blend, Sara proceeded to put them together for us. In just a few minutes, I was tasting my own cuvee. I must say, it wasn’t bad!
We each had a chance to try a 2nd blend. I thought about just tweaking my first blend, but then decided to try something completely different. This time the blend was 50% syrah, 30% cab and 20% merlot. This produced a completely different glass of wine — but it was still good. I had a hard time deciding which blend I liked better.
I finally decided to stick with my first blend. I named it Chateau Noah, after mine and SheSips’ son. It was a lot of fun. The class was informative, entertaining, and a great way to unwind after work. Best of all, everyone in the class got to pick their favorite of their two blends and Sara is going to mix up a whole bottle! In just a couple of days, I’ll be stopping by ENO to pick up the one and only bottle of Chateau Noah!
So let out your inner wine geek and bring a few friends to one of the upcoming harvest week events:
Wednesday 9/15 7:30-9:30pm: ENO welcomes Joy Sterling, owner of Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma County for a night of bubbles. SHe will be pouring the Classic Brut and Russian River Cuvee along with the Wedding Cuvee from a 3L bottle.
Thursday 9/16 4pm-12am: ENO Senior Wine Director Scott Harney will be pouring Chatter Creek Wnery’s Lonesome Dove Syrah as a sample from the winery located in the Yakima Valley in Washington. You won’t find this wine anywhere else in Chicago for an affordable $12/glass.
Friday 9/17 1pm-1am: ENO will be debuting a new ENO wine to include a new vintage of Hill Family Estates’ “Origin” Bordeaux blend. The Hill Family Estates’ “Origin” is full of blackberry fruit followed with just enough toast and tannin to hold it up for a long finish, along with licorice and coffee notes after it opens up. It’s only at ENO for $15/glass.
Saturday 9/18 1pm-1am: ENO finishes Harvest Week by pouring it big — wine from 3L bottles that is. ENO will offer several wine varietals from various wine regions, all at an affordable price and from very large format bottles. Wines will start at $12/glass.