The Society of Wine Educators

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The Society of Wine Educators is a membership-based nonprofit organization focused on providing wine and spirits education along with the conferral of several certifications. The Society is internationally recognized, and its programs are highly regarded both for their quality and relevance to the industry. 

The mission of the SWE is to set the standard for quality and responsible wine and spirits education and professional certification. 

The Bitter Truth: A Taste-Along SWEbinar (This Wednesday)

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This Wednesday, September 28th at 7:00 pm central time, we are pleased to offer a command performance our taste-along webinar: The Bitter Truth—A Taste-Along Webinar, presented by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE. This session will focus on Italian Spirit Amari,  and you are invited to taste-along (but feel free to join us without a flight of amari in front of you – you’ll still have a great time and learn a lot)!

This webinar will focus on some of the most fascinating, historical, and complex spirits on the face of the earth—Italian spirit amari. We’ll learn all about Aperol, Campari, Cynar, Averna, and Fernet-Branca: their stories and histories, their “secret” ingredients (as far as we know), their tasting profiles, and the most popular cocktails based upon each one.

Click here for a Grocery list: grocery-list-the-bitter-truth-italian-amari

Click here to download the session handout: handout-the-bitter-truth-italian-amari

Be sure and join us for a sweet Wednesday evening dedicated to bitters!

Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on this link: Wednesday September 28th – 7:00 pm central time: The Bitter Truth – a taste-along webinar featuring Italian spirit amari. Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date. There is no need to register in advance.

When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your name, and click “enter room.” Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity. We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but it is still a good idea to log on early!

  • If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time (just click on the link).
  • If you are having any trouble with your Adobe Connect connection, please see our SWEbinar Trouble-shooting page. If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here for the 2016 – 2017 SWEbinar Calendar

SWE’s SWEbinar series is unique in that it is offered free-of-charge, and open to the public! We also try to accommodate all schedules by offering sessions on weekdays and weekends, as well as daytime and evening hours. Sessions last for about one hour, and are live, interactive events.  If you have a topic you would like to see addressed, or a time-of-day that would work for you, please let our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles know via email at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Guest Post: Vinifera is the new Black

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Today we have a guest blog post from Elizabeth Miller, who takes a step back and looks at Vitis Vinifera from the “big picture” point of view. Read on – its very interesting!

Congratulations wine regions of America, you made it!  You’ve graduated from being an emerging wine region and are now enjoying widespread commercial success and the respect you deserve.

How did you do it?  By mastering Vitis vinifera.

In the American wine industry, vinifera is the new black.  A wine lover might take this for granted, until he or she realizes the bounty of non-vinifera native grapes growing on the American land mass.  Despite this, it seems that only through mastering the imported vinifera that a wine region earns commercial success and respect.  I must ask: why does making it in America mean making vinifera?

Vinifera in a Land of ‘Other’

From sea to shining sea, the Lower 48 is a deluge of wine grapes, with the widest variety of wild grapes on the globe.  Of the eight species of grapevines in the Vitis genus noted for wine, six are native to North America, while only vinifera is native to Europe.  Despite the numbers game, the powerhouse species from across the pond is viewed as the most legitimate amongst all the grapevines in America.

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The Path to Success

America is now producing more wine than ever, and wine is made in all 50 states. Since the 1960s the modern industry has been born anew and grown rapidly.  In my research in preparation for an upcoming Society of Wine Educators webinar “Emerging Regions of the US”, a pattern became quite clear…

First, Vitis vinifera is planted in a young wine region.  This decision is greeted with a mix of optimism and skepticism, and many people are dubious that vinifera can grow in a particular place or climate.  Over time, viticulturists and winemakers learn about how vinifera interacts with a specific place, how best to cultivate it, and what authentic palate will be expressed from the region’s terroir.  Then the magic happens!  Articles are written, gold medals are bestowed, and the emerging region starts seeing sales in larger markets—first state, national, maybe even international!

Sometimes this path to success has a pioneer.  In the 1800s, Agoston Haraszthy introduced many new vinifera varieties to California, and 125 of them are still found in California today, earning him the title “Father of Modern Viticulture in California.”  We know how it turned out for California!

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On the opposite coast, Dr. Konstantin Frank advocated for planting vinifera in the cold region of upstate New York in the 1960s, despite opposition.  Riesling became an early winner.  As I discussed in a recent Society of Wine Educators webinar, “I’m in a New York State of Wine”, the state rapidly grew and achieved national renown just a few decades later.

Many states are poised to leap into the limelight… with vinifera in hand.  Grapevines have grown naturally in Texas along rivers and streams for thousands of years.  The industry began on a commercial scale in the 1970s and today it’s ranked sixth nationally in number of wineries.  The land bears one of the most diverse arrays of grapevines on earth, yet, the commercial industry is 99% vinifera!

What’s Going On?

To understand why the imported Vitis vinifera has emerged as the king in a sea of native species, we can look at several factors:

  • Vinifera is tried and true.  Humans are known to have interacted with vinifera as far back as the Neolithic period.  The Latin root of the word literally means “wine-bearing.”  The idiosyncrasies of making wine with vinifera have been fine-tuned for several thousand years.  Physiologically, its skin thickness, sugar, alcohol content, and phenolic compounds make for a readily fermentable and universally palatable product.
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    American wine traditions came from Europe.  The “old world” has been drinking wine and creating traditions for centuries.  When European settlers came to the American continent, they brought their vinifera with them.  While initial plantings of vinifera in the untested American climates resulted in many early failures, the sense of the superiority of vinifera as a wine grape remained.  Traditions like the 1855 Bordeaux classification were in essence effective marketing schemes.  They contributed to the sense that the apex of viticultural excellence reaches back to medieval Europe and Vitis vinifera.

  • Other vitis species taste different.  In the early days of American wine, settlers didn’t appreciate just how different American grapevine species were.  They tried to make wine from the native grapes but found their flavors and textures off-putting and unfamiliar.  Vitis labrusca, in particular was deemed “foxy”, and not in the good way.  The early misunderstanding of native species left a lingering and tainted reputation, and today some consumers and sommeliers will not even pay a wine produced from a native grape variety.
  • Native grape cultivation is fairly new.  In the global race of grape cultivation, vinifera has a several thousand-year head start.  In contrast, the identification of native grape species in America has only occurred in the last few hundred years.  Due to the low demand for these native grapes, there is very little incentive to study them, and very few are in commercial cultivation.  Until native grapes’ viticulture, vinification and styles are understood, only vinifera will be viewed as legitimate.
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The Future of Vitis in America

Undeniably, Vitis vinifera has carried many American wine regions from obscurity to international fame.  Yet, what might the Vitis scene be of the future?

Might an influential native grape emerge?  A possibility could be Norton, a grape cultivar from Vitis aestivalis, grown widely through the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. It has even begun to be grown in California.  Norton’s cultivation dates back to the early 1800s, and it’s a candidate for a real contender on a global stage.  It produces deeply-colored red wine with mouth-filling texture, ages very well, and has been compared to Zinfandel.  It is also the cornerstone of the Missouri wine industry, whose current reputation pales in comparison to its pre-Prohibition standing when it was the second-largest wine-producing state in the nation!  Could a non-vinifera grape like Norton find market power for itself and for Missouri?

Another thing to consider is what happens when Vitis vinifera fails. From the 1990s through the start of the millennium, the Colorado industry grew quickly.  Its winemakers have enjoyed a growing reputation for Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Unfortunately, that time also saw several fierce damaging freezes in a land of brutal winters, finicky springs, and some of the highest elevation vineyards in the Western hemisphere.  Grape growers are now looking at more resilient hybrids which can produce great wines but are unfamiliar to Americans.  Might a larger market embrace them, and then Colorado, in the future?

For the foreseeable future, though, Vitis vinifera is staying in style!

Elizabeth Miller is the General Manager of Vintology Wine & Spirits and the Associate Director the Westchester Wine School in Westchester County, NY.  She will present a SWEbinar “Emerging Regions of the US” on Wednesday, December 7th, and 7:00 pm central time.  Her blog ‘Girl Meets Vine’ is found at http://www.elizabethmillerwine.com/girlmeetsvine.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information!

 

Guest Post: A Trip to the Ramona Valley AVA

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Today we have a guest post from SWE member Jan Crocker. Jan has just completed our CSW Online Prep Class and is planning on taking her CSW exam next month. Wish her luck!

Jan works on the “front line” of the wine industry as a beverage steward in an upscale grocer in Southern California. Read on as Jan shares about her recent trip to the Ramona Valley AVA.

Whenever I discuss California wine with wine shoppers at work, nearly all mention Temecula, since it’s extremely familiar to oenophiles in Orange County, California. I can also count on several folks each day singing the praises of the Napa Valley (“isn’t that where the greatest wines in the world come from?” they invariably comment), as well as Paso Robles and Sonoma.

However, because I relish exploring obscure wine varieties and regions—that’s why I’ve been a wine nerd for more than 15 years, after all—I’m genuinely excited about watching the emergence of a certain young American Viticultural Area that’s fast gaining acclaim among local wine writers, professionals and judges.

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With that, I’ll present the 162nd AVA in the United States: the Ramona Valley AVA.

As the third AVA in the sizable South Coast “super AVA” at 33.1 degrees north, the Ramona Valley celebrated its 10th anniversary in January 2016. The region itself is 14.5 miles long and nine and a half miles wide, and is home to 25 bonded wineries within its 89,000 acres over 139 square miles. (Note to wine nerds everywhere: the other two AVAs located within the South Coast AVA are the San Pascual Valley, founded in 1981, and the Temecula Valley, founded in 1986.)

Located about 35 miles northeast of San Diego in north-central San Diego County, the Ramona Valley is a destination famed for its balmy climate throughout the year. On the other hand, the area is no stranger to scorching summers, with daytime temperatures often above the century mark. Winters, by contrast, are brisk, with afternoons reaching the mid-60s and nights often dipping below freezing. Small wonder: Ramona is exactly 25 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, and 25 miles west of the Colorado Desert. Rainfall is moderate, with roughly 16 inches each year.

Julian, the historic burg famed for its apple pies and winters with light snow, is a mere 22 miles east of Ramona and more than 4,200 feet above sea level.  (That’s why I describe the Ramona Valley’s climate as “Mediterranean, with an asterisk.”)

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Grapes thrive as a result of the Ramona Valley’s vineyard elevation: about 1,400 feet above sea level. At least two of the region’s wineries sit at nearly 2,000 feet at elevation.

Indeed, the Ramona Valley’s neighboring mountains, hills, and rocks are a force in defining the character of the region’s wines. The Cuyamaca Mountains, Mount Palomar, and Vulcan Mountain are the “high points” of the steep inclines surrounding the valley. At the western portion of the region, 2,800’ Mount Woodson does its part as a rain shadow by keeping the Pacific Ocean’s trademark fog and chill at bay.

Let’s get back to those rocks.

During each of the four visits my husband and I have made to Ramona, we’ve never failed to be wowed by the huge boulders and striking rock formations along picturesque Highway 67, the only path leading into the region. On our first trip in early 2015, I hummed “The Flintstones” theme as we approached those monster rocks, since many of them resemble Bedrock, the cartoon’s setting. The closeness of those boulders, however, kept us alert: We fervently hoped that we’d be spared one of our home state’s signature earthquakes during our drive.

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Granite dominates the geological landscape, either in its original form as rocks or boulders or within the region’s loamy soil as decomposed granite. (During our four days in the region this August, we also spotted milky and rose quartz, as well as some tiny flakes of pyrite, during our “personal tours” of the 11 vineyards we visited.)

Granite’s presence also makes itself known in Ramona Valley wines: Of the 100 or so wines from the region that my husband and I have tasted in the last year and a half, all have an elegant flintiness and a backbone of minerality that’s riveting.

Southern California’s “soft chaparral” is the garrigue that shows up in Ramona Valley’s wines, reds especially. Many of my tasting notes include “sage and rosemary,” so it’s no mystery  to find that flora in the region’s natural landscape, along with wild oak, toyon, chamise and numerous species of cacti.

Local winemakers embrace the Ramona Valley’s terroir, planting varieties that develop deep flavors as they echo the area’s climate, soil types and ever-present breezes. John Saunders, the proprietor/vineyard manager/winemaker at Poppaea Winery, mentioned that a few local enologists have identified “at least 11 different microclimates” within the 139-square-foot valley, so the range of wine grapes compatible to those potential “mini-AVAs” is broad – and speaks to the stunning diversity of the region.

Red varieties flourish, especially those with their roots (no pun intended) in France, Italy and Spain. To that point, two wineries – Poppaea Winery and Principe de Tricase – are planted to white and red varieties spanning the length of Italy. Not surprisingly, Tempranillo craves the region’s sunshine and wide diurnal swings.

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Other growers and winemakers opt for Rhone varietals, as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier flourish in similar conditions in the Ramona Valley: rocky and barren soils, ample sunshine and a steady, moderating breeze, albeit without the destructiveness of the mistral. Woof ‘n Rose Winery was planted to Grenache Noir in 2004, with consultation from fifth-generation winemaker Marc Perrin of Château de Beaucastel—as well as Grenache rootstock from the French vineyard. Ramona Syrahs showcase a brooding, deep style much like their Cornas or St. Joseph cousins; those from Ramona Ranch Winery and Eagles Nest both offer elegant, haunting scents and flavors with earthiness and garrigue.

Wine fans searching for varieties above and beyond their tried-and-true classics will have a field day with offerings from the region. During our four days in the Ramona Valley, my husband and I visited 11 of the region’s 25 wineries, tasted 82 current releases – and had the good fortune to try six varieties we’d never before had the opportunity to taste: Alicante Bouschet, Refosco, Aleatico, Fiano, Sangrantino and Bolizao. Tannat, the pride of Madiran, is a featured variety at Ramona Ranch Winery, one of the wines my husband and I enjoyed thoroughly.

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There’s no wonder why proprietors Marilyn and Steven Kahle at Woof ‘n Rose take pride in their Alicante Bouschet, the gorgeous teinturier: It’s generous, opulent, complex and undeniably enjoyable – and, my husband and I thought, a varietal that red fans would love if they tried it.

Speaking of Refosco: When was the last time we wine fans tasted one other than from their original northern Italian homes of Friuli or Trentino? Mike Kopp, proprietor/vineyard manager/winemaker at Kohill, offered us a barrel tasting of his signature Refosco, which nearly brought us to our knees.

Although heat-loving red varieties have a joyous home in the Ramona Valley, many whites do as well. Wine fans who enjoy their Chardonnays most when they’re flinty and zesty will appreciate the mineral influence of Mount Woodson and the nearby Cuyamacas; the elegant Chards featured at Lenora and Eagles Nest showcase that sculpted, sinewy quality as a counterpart to the variety’s richness.

Our Guest Blogger: Jan Crocker!

Our Guest Blogger: Jan Crocker!

It’s impossible to overlook how well Mother Nature took care of us during our four days during the first week of August. During each of our visits to the 11 wineries, every proprietor, winemaker and vineyard manager gushed over the gorgeous weather that week—sunny, of course, but with soft breezes. It’s usually blazing hot, “about 100 degrees at this time of year,” our winery hosts pointed out. “But it’s only in the high eighties. Isn’t it beautiful?”

We couldn’t have agreed more. And the Ramona Valley AVA’s future looks equally gorgeous – with the distinct likelihood that California wine fans will soon discover its current excellence and stunning future.

Photo Credits: Jan Crocker

Are you interested in being a guest blogger or a guest SWEbinar presenter for SWE?  Click here for more information!

 

 

Welcome to the World, Willcox AVA!

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Welcome to the World, Willcox AVA!

On September 12, 2016, the TTB announced the establishment of the Willcox American Viticultural Area (AVA). This 526,000-acre area is located in southeastern Arizona within Graham and Cochise Counties. The Willcox AVA is not located within or adjacent to any other viticultural areas.

A range of grapes are grown in the area, with a major nod to Bordeaux and Mediterranean varieties. Some of the stars of the region seem to be Viognier, Tempranillo, and Mourvèdre. There are currently approximately 21 commercial vineyards, 18 wineries, and a total of 454 acres planted to vine (with 650 additional acres planned for the near future) within the Willcox AVA area. The newly-established AVA status will be effective as of October 12, 2016.

Willcox is Arizona’s second AVA.  The first, the Sonoita AVA, was established in 1984. Sonoita, located south of Tucson, is just one county over and about a one-hour drive from the Willcox AVA.  The Sonoita AVA is unique in that it includes vineyards at elevations of up to 5,000 feet above sea level; these are some of the highest-elevation vineyards in North America.

The new Willcox AVA is a relatively flat area located within a broad, shallow basin surrounded by higher mountains and mountain ranges. These include the Chiricahua Mountains, Dos Cabezas, Pinalenos, Dragoon, Little Dragoon, and Winchester Mountains. Over time, the geologic activity of the region has moved or disrupted many of the streams, creeks, and rivers of the area, creating a “closed basin.” This closed basin is reliant upon rainfall to re-charge its underlying aquifer, as opposed to the area surrounding it which has year-round (or seasonal) creeks and streams.

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The soils of the Willcox AVA are mainly alluvial and colluvial and composed of loam made up of nearly equal parts sand, silt, and clay. These loamy soils retain enough water to hydrate the vines while allowing sufficient drainage through to the aquifer. The soils are referred to as the Tubac, Sonoita, Forrest, and Frye soil types, and are not found to a great extent in the area surrounding the AVA.

This area of southeast Arizona is known to have a dry (arid) climate, with the most significant amounts of rainfall typically occurring in July and August. This aridity places stress on the vines during much of the growing season, slowing vegetative growth and adding complexity to the grapes.

Consumers should begin to see wines labeled with the Willcox AVA available within the next two years. Also of note: wine growers in Arizona have a third AVA in the works—the Chiricahua Foothills. This petition has not yet been “accepted as perfected” by the TTB, but it should be interesting to see what develops in the future!

Welcome to the world, Willcox AVA!

post authored by Jane A. Nickles…your blog administrator

Saturday SWEbinar: Another Road Trip through Italy – the Back Roads

A trip through the back roads of Italy!

A trip through the back roads of Italy!

This Saturday, September 17th at 11:00 am central time (yes, 11:00) we are pleased to offer a new SWEbinar: Another Road Trip through Italy: the Back Roads –  hosted by Lisa Boissier, CWE!! Are you up for another road trip through Italy with Lisa Boissier? This week, we’ll be touring around Italy’s back roads while stopping in some of the smaller towns and sipping some of the lesser-known wines of Italy. We’ll be sure and stop for some Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Schiava from Trentino-Alto Adige, and Bonarda dell’Oltrepo Pavesa. Pack your bags and put on your sunglasses – Lisa is driving again!

Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on this link: Saturday, September 17th – 11:00 am central time (yes, 11): Another Road Trip through Italy – the Backroads, presented by Lisa Boissier, CWE. Link will go “live” a few hours before the scheduled date. There is no need to register in advance.

Handouts: Click here to download Lisa’s handout for this session: handout-back-roads-though-italy-by-lisa-boissier.  Click here for Lisa’s companion piece: back-roads-italian-wine-guide

When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your name, and click “enter room.” Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity. We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but it is still a good idea to log on early!

  • If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time (just click on the link).
  • If you are having any trouble with your Adobe Connect connection, please see our SWEbinar Trouble-shooting page.

If you have any questions, please contact Jane Nickles: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Click here for the 2016 – 2017 SWEbinar Calendar

SWE’s SWEbinar series is unique in that it is offered free-of-charge, and open to the public! We also try to accommodate all schedules by offering sessions on weekdays and weekends, as well as daytime and evening hours. Sessions last for about one hour, and are live, interactive events.  If you have a topic you would like to see addressed, or a time-of-day that would work for you, please let our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles know via email at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 Conference Recaps: Saturday Evening

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Saturday evening, August 13, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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What’s so Great about Oak, presented by Bob Sechrist: This session began with the attendees discovering that oak and references to oak are most likely all around them. For proof, just look at the back of a dime, the cork in your wine bottle, or the wooden buttons on your sweater!

Oak is a common fixture in the production of wine as well, and oak actually shares many characteristics with grapes. While they certainly may look different, the two plants both share the following characteristics: both are keystone species, inter-species crosses are common, they are widely distributed, they are non-specialized, they are native to the Northern Hemisphere, and occupy many ecological niches. In terms of culture, they are both prized by humans, historically significant, highly symbolic, and integral to Western Civilization.

Oak has become the leading wood for use in wine barrels due to its unique structure. This includes a tight grain which permits a gradual extraction of wood flavors and minimized wine loss through evaporation. Oak is also resilient, enabling staves to be bent into the curved shapes required by barrels without breaking. Oak is also high in tannin, which is an important flavor component as well as an effective preservative.

This session progressed into even more fascinating topics such as the world’s best oak forests and the typical characteristics found in their wood, the specifics of oak flavor and aroma compounds, the parts and construction of a barrel, and oak alternatives to barrel use in wine production. For more information on this session, click here to download the slide show: whats-so-great-about-oak-presented-by-robert-sechrist-csw

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Exploring the Back Roads of the Côte d’Or, presented by Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE: This session was introduced as a program about Burgundy’s “Blue Collar Wines.” This means a focus on wines that are high on value and (perhaps) low on glamor–but delicious all the same! The reason some otherwise very fine wines are lower in glamor does not necessarily correlate to quality, but more so to location, difficulty in pronunciation (and it accompany lack of popularity), less celebrity, fewer “star” producers, and less distribution.

The region discussed included Marsannay (the northernmost village appellation in the Côte d’Or, Fixin (Gevrey-Chambertin’s “little brother”), Pernand-Vergelesses (which includes 8 premiers crus as well as one-third of the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard), and Savigny-les-Beaune (the second-largest red wine producing village in the Côte de Beaune, after Beaune). For more information on these regions and the wines served during the session, click here to download the slide show: the-backroads-of-the-cote-dor-presented-by-don-kinnan-cwe

Alluring Italy—Wicked Wines, Celestial Cheeses, presented by Sharron McCarthy, CSW: This session began with an overview of Italian wines including the regions, classifications, and amazing diversity of grapes that make up Italian wine. Also included in the discussion was the range of cheese produced by Italy. Then, the session progressed into a tasting of “wicked” Italian wines paired with a selection of “celestial” Italian cheeses.

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The first paring featured a wine from the Veneto, Cantine Maschio Sparkling Rosé produced from Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Raboso grapes. This wine was paired with Quadrello di Bufala cheese from Lombardy. This was followed by a crisp, dry 100%Vermentino La Pettegola from the Toscana IGT paired Pantaleo, a semi-hard goat’s milk cheese from Sardinia. Selections from Tuscany included Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and Summus Estate Bottled Toscana IGT—a deep, ruby red blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Cheeses paired with the Tuscan wines included Pecorino Toscano (sheep’s milk) and Fontina Val d’Aosta.

Wines and cheeses from Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, and Veneto followed, including a delectable Amarone della Valpolicella. To wrap things up, a classic sweet-and-savory pairing was demonstrated using Florus Moscadello di Montalcino late harvest dessert with serve with Gorgonzola Dolce. For more information on the wicked wines and celestial cheeses of Italy, download the session slide show here: alluring-italy-wicked-wines-celestial-cheeses-presented-by-sharron-mccarthy-csw Sharron also has an overview of Italian wines available for download here: overview-of-italy-2016-sharron-mccarthy

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 Conference Recaps: Saturday Afternoon

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Saturday afternoon, August 13, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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A Side of Bourgogne Yet to be Discovered – presented by Jay Youmans, CWE, MW: Did you know that within each subregion of Bourgogne, there are many appellations that remain relatively obscure to the US Market?  In this session, attendees were able to examine a good number of these lesser-known AOCs and just what it is about them that merits consideration by the US—both trade and consumer.

Beginning with the far north of Bourgogne, undiscovered regions include Saint-Bris AOC which produces a white wine based on Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris, Petit Chablis with its Chardonnay, and Irancy which produces red with based on Pinot Noir with up to 10% César.

Among the Côte d’Or, regions, some standout “undiscovered” regions include the AOC of the Hautes Côtes de Nuits; the attendees were able to sample a white wine from this AOC as well as red wines from Auxey Duresses, Givry Premier Cru, Monthélie, and Fixin.

The area of the Côte Chalonnaise includes the “undiscovered” areas of Bouzeron, known for its Aligoté, as well as the AOCs of Givry, Mercurey, Rully, and Montagny (which provided another delicious white wine for the group to try). The Mâconnais contains the familiar regions of Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran, but as this class found out, the AOCs of Pouilly-Loché, Pouilly-Vinzelles, and Viré-Clessé produce delicious wines as well! For more information on the undiscovered AOCs of Bourgogne, and details on the wines served at the session, click here to download the slideshow: a-side-of-bourgogne-yet-to-be-discovered-presented-by-jay-youmans-mw

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International Bordeaux Blends—Blind Tasting Seminar, presented by Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW:  This session began with a discussion of the history of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety, beginning with its origin in (assumed) early eighteenth century France (in Bordeaux’s Médoc), all the way through the prolific grapes off-spring varieties of Marselan, Centurian, and Ruby Cabernet.

The physical characteristics of the grape (high vigor, late budding, thick-skinned, high tannin) and growing areas were discussed (France, followed by Chile, California, Australia, China, and Argentina). Following this, the grape’s most popular blending partner were examined; the most important being Merlot, followed by Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenère, Shiraz, and Sangiovese.

Then, the blind tasting began. Ten Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from around the world, in vintages ranging from 2009 to 2013 were tasted blind, followed by a discussion of the wine’s major characteristics and flavor attributes. After each discussion, the attendees were invited to decide whether the wines was New World or Old World, give a possible region of origin, and guestimate the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the wine. For more information on the session and the wines included in the tasting, download the slide show here:  international-bordeaux-blends-blind-tasting-and-seminar-presented-by-eric-hemer-cwe-ms-mw

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Wines of Ningxia China: Old World, New World, or Unique presented by Houghton Lee and Tommy Lam: Located somewhat in central China, Ningxia is a young a fast-growing wine region. International grape varieties were first brought to the area in 1982 and there are now 85 operating wineries and over 87,000 commercial acres of vines. China’s first geographically protected wine region, the Eastern Foot of Helan Mountain, is located in Ningxia.

The leading white grape varieties of Ningxia are Chardonnay, Italian Riesling, Riesling, and Vidal. Red grapes are more widely planted than white varieties and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir (among others).

The tasting portion of the session began with Kanaan Winery Riesling 2013 and Legacy Peak Chardonnay 2014. From there, the tasting focused on red varieties beginning with Sha-Po-Tou Winery’s Cabernet Gernischt 2013, Domaine Pushance Marselan 2014, and Chateau Zhihui Yuanshi “Son of Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. For more information on the Ningxia wine region and the wines tasting at the session, click here to download the: wines-of-ningxia-china-presented-by-hougton-lee-and-tommy-lam

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

2016 Conference Recaps: Italy Focus

SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held in August of 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC, had some amazing sessions on Italy!

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Diamonds in the Rough: The Many Faces of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco was presented by Alan Tardi. Alan began his session by acknowledging that Prosecco has recently skyrocketed to international fame, becoming (by some counts) the world’s most popular sparkling wine. But while everyone knows Prosecco, and people all over the world enjoy a Bellini or a Spritz…very few people know what Prosecco really is.

2009 was a decisive year for Prosecco. By this time they wine was well known throughout the world and growing rapidly in popularity, but there was some confusion, as the name was not officially recognized outside of Italy and was not legally tied to its specific area of origin, which left it wide open to counterfeit and abuse.  As such, three things occurred in 2009: the new Prosecco DOC was created, the classic Prosecco territory of Conegliano Valdobbiadene was upgraded to DOCG status, and the name of the principal grape variety—Prosecco—was changed to Glera (an historical synonym) so the well-known name could be specifically applied to the region.

The tasting portion of the session included an interesting range of wines produced within the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco area—including still (tranquillo) wines such as Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG “Canto Fermo” Tranquillo 2015, a Gregoletto 100% Verdiso (produced under the Colli Trevigiani IGT), and the parcel-specific “Particella 68” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2015 Brut from Sorelle Bronca. For more information on the session and the wines, click here to download the slide show: diamonds-in-the-rough-the-many-faces-of-prosecco-docg-presented-by-alan-tardi

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Liguria—Italy’s Unsung Region was presented by Susannah Gold, CSS, CSW:   Have you heard of Liguria? It is a very narrow strip of land between the Ligurian Sea, the Alps and the Apennines—bordered by France to the west, Piedmont to the north, and Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany to the east. Perhaps its best-known feature is the Cinque Terre.

Being so close to the sea, as you can imagine the area has an overall mild climate, although some spots experience abundant rain and harsh winter winds.  White grapes rule the region, with Vermentino, Bosco, Albarola, Pigato, and Bianchetta Genovese among the leading (and quite interesting) grapes of the region. Some reds are also produced, featuring (among others) the Ciliegiolo, Granaccia (aka Grenache), Ormeasco, and Rossese di Dolceacqua varieties.

Liguria has eight DOCs (one shared with Tuscany) and you can download a pdf of the rules, regulations, and main wine styles of each of these areas here: liguria-disciplinare. For more information on Liguria her wines, as well as details of the wines tasted during Susannah’s session, click here to download the liguria-italys-unsung-region-presented-by-susannah-gold-css-csw.

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Super Tuscany was presented by Paul Poux, CSW: In this interactive session, Paul Poux introduced us to a range of wines from Tuscany that included not just “Super Tuscans” but a variety of other Tuscan wines and regions that are new or reinvented.

These wines included an IGT Trebbiano from Capezzana Winery (better known for Carmignano). This was a delightful white wine described by Paul as having aromas of “almonds, yellow flowers of the field, and vanilla.” Next up was a Chianti— Melini Chianti 2013—packaged in an old-fashioned, wicker-enclosed bottle that attendees learned was known as a “fiasco.”

After a discussion on how the world-wide reputation of Chianti fell (for a short time) into quite a funk, the audience relished several of the finest examples of Chianti available, including Chianti Classico, a Chianti Classico Riserva, and a few samples of the “newest” designation of Chianti, the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione.

Following the Chiantis, several of Tuscany’s other well-known reds were presented, including Tignanello 2011 (Toscana IGT), Carmignano, Brunello di Montalcino, and Morellino di Scansano. The class ended on a high note with a sampling of two true Super Tuscans, including Ca’Marcanda Bolgheri 2011and Bolgheri Sassicaia 2011. For more information on Paul’s session, click here to download the slides: super-tuscany-presented-by-paul-poux-csw

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 Conference Recaps: Saturday Morning

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Saturday morning, August 13, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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Get Your Teutonic On, presented by Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE: The beginnings of the word Teutonic, as well as the people described by the word may be a bit hazy, but the term is used today to refer to the culture surrounding Germany and central Europe–particularly those that speak German. This covers a wide range of fascinating spirits, beers, and wines–many of which were enjoyed by the attendees of this session!

The tastings began with a unique wine known a Punkt Genau. Punkt Genau is a sparkling Grüner Veltiner from the Weinviertel region of Austria—delicious. This was followed by Stiegl Radler, an Austria beer-fruit juice concoction produced in Salzburg. Other fascinating wines in the line-up included Tramin Lagrein from Italy’s Alto Adige, Markowitsch Rosé from Austria’s Carnuntum region, and Schoffit Chasselas 2012 Vin d’Alsace.

The countries of central Europe are well-known for their spirits, as evidenced by a tasting of Blume Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, and Zirbenz–an Austrian product known as the “Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps.” For more information on getting your Teutonic on, click here to download the slide show from the session: Get Your Teutonic On – presented by Hoke Harden, CSW, CSE

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Ancient Vines, Modern Wines, presented by Ed Korry, CSS, CWE: Greece is not only known for being the cradle of viticulture and winemaking, but it is currently the 16th largest wine-producing country in the world. A combination of culture, climate, and soils–including sand from the seas and volcanic soils on the islands–contributes to the high quality and diversity of the modern wines from Greece.

This session presented the 20 main grape varieties used in Greek wines, and offered up tastings based on wine region. The first wine tasted, from Peloponnese region, was Tselepos Amalia Brut, a delicious and unique sparkling wine produced from Moschofilero grapes. This was followed by Pepagiannakos Savatiano 2014. Savatiano is a thick-skinned white grape that is mainly known for its use in Retsina, but this wine from the Markopoulo PGI was crisp and clean. The next set of wines highlighted white grape varieties of Roditis, Malagousia, Robola, and Assyrtiko (from Santorini).

A set of red wines began with Skouras Grande Cuvée, a 100% Agiorgitiko produced from grapes grown in the Peloponnese and (more specifically) Nemea regions. This was followed by wine produced using the Limniona and Xinomavro grape varieties and a red blend from the Rapsani PDO. To wrap it up, a sweet Muscat-based wine, Samos Nectar was poured. To learn more about the wines of Greece and the wines poured during the seminar, download the session slide show here: Ancient Vines, Modern Wines-presented by Edward Korry, CWE, CSS

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A Current Overview of Virginia Wines, presented by Jay Youmans, MW: It all began in the 1600’s, when settlers in Jamestown hoped that the colony of Virginia would become a major source of wine for the British Empire. We all know that didn’t quite turn out as planned, despite the exemplary efforts of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, at his Monticello Estate.

Thing began to improve in the late 1800’s, and in 1873 the world began to take notice of Virginia wines when a Virginia Norton (Vitis aestivalis) wine was named the “Best Red Wine of All Nations” at the Vienna World’s Fair. Today, Virginia has seven AVAs, over 280 bonded wineries and is the 7th largest producer of vinifera grapes in the nation. The leading grape varieties include Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other notable vinifera grapes include Petit Manseng and Petit Verdot.

Starting with Thomas Jefferson, some famous people helped to shape the Virginia wine industry. Modern-day celebrities involved in Virginia wine include the very popular Dave Matthews (of the Dave Matthews band fame) and the inimitable Donald Trump (and family). Leading winemakers involved in the growth of Virginia wines include Giani Zonin (of Casa Vinicola Zonin in Italy’s Veneto)  who planted vineyards at Barboursville Vineyards in the 1970’s, and Dennis Horton (Of “Horton’s Norton” fame) who began his winemaking venture with a small home vineyard in Madison County, Virginia in 1983.

The wines tasted during the session included Michael Shaps 2014 Petit Manseng, Barboursville Vineyards 2015 Vermentino, Sunset Hills Petit Verdot and Keswick Vineyards 2014 Estate Cabernet Franc Reserve. For more information on the wines of Virginia, click here to download the slideshow from the session:A Current Overview of Virginia Wines-presented by Jay Youmans, CWE, MW

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

2016 SWE Conference Recaps: Friday Evening

The following sessions were enjoyed by all on Friday evening, August 12, 2016 as part of SWE’s 40th Annual Conference, held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC!

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Mexico: A “New” Exciting Wine Country, presented by Sandra Fernandez, CWE: Sandra’s session started with a discussion of the history of wine in Mexico, which dates back to 1200, when a type of wine was produced in the area from honey and fruit, and typically based on a red berry known as acahul. Starting in the 1500’s, vinifera vines were brought to Mexico from Spain and wine was produced in many parts of the colony then referred to as “Nueva España.” In August of 1597, the Hacienda San Lorenzo winery was founded, which is today known as Casa Madero and recognized as the oldest winery in the New World.

Fast forward to today, and Mexico has a blossoming wine industry with a total of 4,000 hectares (9,880 acres) of commercial vines, over 200 wineries, and 19.5 million liters of annual wine production.

The wine producers of modern day Mexico are spread out over eight wine regions, located mostly in the northern and central parts of the country. The leading wine region—by far—is Baja California, which surrounds the city of Ensenada. The Baja California region, located near the Pacific Coast, enjoys a Mediterranean climate and produces over 80% of Mexico’s wine. For more information on the wines of Mexico, click here to download the handout and slide show from the session:Mexico – a New and Exciting Wine Country – presented by Sandra Fernandeez

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Mindset and the Millennial Learner, presented by Sarah Malik, CSS, CWE, CWS, and Alistair Williams, PhD: Who are the Millennials? They were born in the 1980’s through the early 2000’s, are post-Baby Boomer and pre-Gen X. This means that they make up 100% of the 21–25 year old market, and they are responsible for 42% of the wine consumed in the US. In other words, they are an important market!

This session focused on how to create meaningful learning experiences for Millennials.  Some of the best practices include putting an emphasis on collaboration with others and sharing work assignments, using technology to enhance teaching, and facilitating critical thinking by using Wikis and blogs to enhance an inclusive learning assignment by allowing contribution and editing. For more ideas and information, download the session slide show here: Mindset and the Milennial Learner – presented by Sarah Malik and Alistair Williams

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Wine and Cheese, Cheese and Wine—do they make a Good Marriage? Presented by Ed Korry, CSS, CWE, and Sarah Hill: Wine and cheese are ageless companions—or so the mythology tells us! This session attempted to cut through the clichés of food and wine pairing (referred to in the session as “cacophony” – which makes sense to anyone who has ever studied the subject) and delve into the “how” and the “why” of why food and wine—and specifically cheese and wine—working well (or not working well) together.

Some of the tenants of the session included a true definition of flavor as a combination of taste, smell, tactile sensations, and chemesthesis (among other factors) and the realization that people have differing levels of sensitivity, perceptions, and even preferences to certain taste components and flavors.

In order to explore this subject via experimentation, six different wines representing six different styles of wine were poured alongside six different cheeses (representing the award-winning cheeses of Wisconsin). To wrap up the session, the “new rules” of food and wine pairing were discussed, which include “Cause and effect is real, but whether you like it or not is individualized.” For the rest of the “new rules” as well as details on the wines and cheeses presented at the session, click here to download the session PPT for: Wine and Cheese, Cheese and Wine – presented by Ed Korry and Sara Hill

We will be posting additional conference recaps in the next few days. In addition, we are building our permanent archive of notes from the 2016 SWE Conference-click here! If you are a conference speaker who would like to share your materials, please contact Jane A. Nickles at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org