SCI 03 W — The Geology and Wines of California and France
We will explore the geologic setting of wine regions in California and France and, with comparative tastings, form the basis for understanding why certain grapes seem to prosper and others do not. As we delve into the geologic history of wine country, we will also learn about the geography, the wines, the names, and the history of numerous wine regions in California and France.
By the end of the course, we will have gained a better understanding of why wines are a reflection of “place” and have firsthand knowledge of many of the tastes that result. Our tastings will compare both Old World (France) and New World (California) wines: Burgundy and California’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; Loire varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc; northern and southern Rhône wines such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and others; plus Bordeaux blends from California and France made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varietals.
To participate in tasting discussions, students will spend approximately $160–$200 on Californian and French wines. Students will taste the wines in advance of the optional online videoconferencing sessions (which will be recorded and posted). During these sessions, students will compare notes with the instructors and invited winemakers to discuss their experiences with the terroir, grape varieties, winemaking styles, and taste sensations.
DAVID G. HOWELL
David G. Howell is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geological Society of America. He has been working with Napa Valley vintners for more than 30 years and is the co-author of The Winemaker’s Dance: Exploring Terroir in the Napa Valley. Along with Douglas Posson, Howell leads wine and geology tours in California and France. After retiring from the US Geological Survey, Howell was an adjunct professor in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences from 2005 to 2009. He received a PhD from UC Santa Barbara and has authored more than 150 scientific articles.
Former Research Geologist, US Geological Survey
Douglas Posson gathers and compiles data and information on wines. He is a co-founder of the US Global Change Research Program and led the US Geological Survey’s Arctic data team that received the Presidential Design Achievement Award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Visiting France annually for the past 35 years, he has explored the geography, terroir, food, and especially the wines throughout all of France. Together with geologist David Howell, Posson leads wine and geology tours of wine regions in California and France.
Owner, Hexagonvins; IT Leader and Former Regional Director, US Geological Survey
Textbooks for this course:
(Required) Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson, The World Atlas of Wine, 8th Edition (ISBN 978-1784726188)