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. 

Conference Preview: Comparing the Finest Expressions of Port Wine—Vintage and Colheita

Photo via http://www.sogevinus.com/caves-2/?lang=en

Photo via http://www.sogevinus.com/caves

Today we have a conference preview from Tania Oliveira and Paul Wagner. Tania and Paul will be presenting a session, complete with a side-by-side tasting of Portugal’s two greatest wines: Vintage Port and Colheita Port. This looks to be a fabulous wine tasting opportunity!   

When it comes to teaching Port, we don’t always do a great job.  Sure, we teach people about Vintage Port in all its glory, but somehow we fall short when it comes to the other styles, like Colheita Port.  And at this year’s conference, Tania Oliveira plans to set the record straight.

There are two fundamental styles of Port – Ruby and Tawny – and both styles are produced from a blend of classic Portuguese grape varieties: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (known as Tempranillo in Spain), Tinta Cão, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Amarela, among others. (My personal favorite is Bastardo. I’ve never understood why someone hasn’t produce a dessert wine from this grape and called it “Sweet Bastardo”).

The grapes for all Port production are grown in the mountainous Douro Valley, arguably the world’s first demarcated wine appellation (1756).  Running from north central Spain to its outlet in Oporto, the Douro River and its tributaries carve deep valleys through the Marão and Montemuro Mountains where vineyards are planted on steep, terraced slopes in schistous soils.

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The process for growing grapes for Ruby and Tawny Port is entirely same. But, the change becomes clear in the production process.

Ruby Ports are bottle-aged and fruit focused. As young wines, they spend only two years in barrel before bottling to capture lively fruit and spice tones.  The very best Ruby Ports are deeply concentrated wines that can age for decades. Made only in declared vintages – a few times in each decade – Vintage Ports are identified early in their lives and represent the best (and most expensive) style of Ruby Port.

Tawny Ports, on the other hand, are driven by complexity from extended aging in oak. Unlike Ruby Ports, Tawny Ports develop complex, mature aromas and flavors of toffee, dried fruits and toasted nuts. Simpler Tawny Ports are blended and released after three years in barrel. More complex styles are Tawny Ports with “an indication of age,” labelled as ten, twenty, thirty and even forty years old.

The greatest and most complex of all Tawny Ports are Colheita Ports: single harvest Tawny Ports aged for a minimum of seven years in cask – though many spend much longer in barrel. Despite the minimum seven year aging period, top producers that specialize in Colheita Ports choose not to bottle their wines until they receive an order, as indicated by the bottling date on the back label.  This means wines spend decades, or even longer in barrel before being bottled.

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There’s something inexplicably seductive about roaming a cask-lined cellar of Colheita Ports and stumbling upon one marked with your birth year in chalk – you just want to reach out and hug it.

While Ruby and Vintage Ports should be consumed within a few days of opening, Tawny and Colheita Ports can live for weeks after popping the cork. This makes them much more successful as wines in a restaurant setting, and at home. It’s a rare couple that can finish a bottle of Vintage Port over two or three days, but a bottle of Colheita Port from the year they were married can be enjoyed over many memorable dinners in the course of a few weeks.

Unlike many other styles of Port, which are bottled in modern bottling lines, Colheita Ports are usually hand bottled in the Port houses of Vila Nova de Gaia – each bottle hand-filled, hand-corked, and hand-labelled.

At this year’s conference, Tania Oliveira of Sogevinus will offer a selection of Vintage and Tawny Ports as her seminar explores the relationship between Portugal’s two greatest wines. This session will be held on Friday, August 11 at 4:45 pm as part of SWE’s Annual Conference.

 

Conference Preview: What Makes Oregon so Special?

Photo via: http://www.rexhill.com/

Photo via: http://www.rexhill.com/

Today we have a Conference Session Preview from Carrie Kalscheuer, CWE. Carrie tells us about her upcoming session , What Makes Oregon so Special: An Oregon Primer.

Viticulture in Oregon was present as early as the mid-1800s. However, it wasn’t until Pinot Noir was first planted in the 1960’s that Oregon began to capture the greater wine world’s attention. Today, Oregon is a leader in Pinot Noir production with other varieties growing in importance. Chardonnay in particular has made significant strides in quality and sophistication in the last decade.

What makes Oregon so special?

  • Location, location, location –Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay grow beautifully in Oregon’s cool climate regions, which sit between the North 42nd and 46th parallels. The 45th parallel in both hemispheres offers conditions for delicate grapes to develop balanced, concurrent, ripening of sugar, acid, tannin and flavor.
  • Geologic history and soils – Oregon’s exciting geologic history is filled with grand-scale natural phenomenon– volcanic eruptions, shifting tectonic plates and skyscraper-high flood waters. Over the course of millennia, these events have defined not only the beautiful topography and landscape of Oregon, but also its unique soils, which bring complexity to many fine wines.
  • Climate – Oregon summers are filled with abundant sunshine, yet nights remain cool, sometimes with temperature swings approaching 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This strong diurnal swing allows grapes to achieve daytime ripening while retaining vital acidity during the night, creating a natural balance within the grape. Oregon is probably better known for its abundant rainfall, most of which falls during winter and spring. This abundance of water allows for the dry farming of vineyards all across the state, forcing vines to develop deep taproots, which contribute to complexity and phenolic development.
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Building from this natural ideal are the winemaking pioneers of the Oregon wine industry. Throughout its brief history, Oregon’s vintners have observed and experimented with systems for producing internationally acclaimed, sustainably-grown wines. In this seminar, we’ll discuss the ways in which Oregon has evolved from its humble roots into an acclaimed growing region that has become a benchmark for quality wine. We’ll conclude the seminar with a tasting of Pinot Noir from REX HILL’s Jacob Hart Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains AVA of the Willamette Valley. Showcasing vintages ranging between 2001 and 2015, the tasting discussion will focus on vintage variation, viticulture techniques and the choices made by winemakers and viticulturists in response to Oregon’s weather challenges.

Carrie’s session, What Makes Oregon so Special: An Oregon Primer will be held on Saturday, August 12 at 8:45 am as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon.

Carrie KalscheuerAbout the speaker: Carrie Kalscheuer CWE, is the Director of Sales & Education at A to Z Wineworks/REX HILL. Carrie joined A to Z Wineworks in 2010 after a decade in the wine industry focusing on wine education. She initially managed direct sales for the boutique REX HILL label, developing a knowledgeable hospitality staff while growing sales by a full 50%. Carrie now supports both direct and national sales and offers her enthusiasm and knowledge to teach about Oregon wines and A to Z’s brands around the country.

In addition to a degree in Philosophy, Carrie has earned multiple certifications, including Certified Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educators, Level 2, Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and Level 3, Advanced Certification with Distinction through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

Save the Date: Hooray for Vouvray Loire Valley Taste-Along SWEbinar!

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Save the date(s)! 

  • Saturday, July 15, 10:00 am central time
  • Wednesday, July 19, 7:00 pm central time

Save the dates for our next taste-along webinar – Hooray for Vouvray: A Lore Valley taste-along SWEbinar!

From the Pays Nantais to Pouilly-Fumé and Vouvray, the Loire Valley produces some of the most interesting, delicious, and diverse wines on earth! Join us as we celebrate Bastille Day in the best of all possible ways – with French wine in hand! This session should last about an hour and will cover the climate and terroir of the Loire Valley as well as a close-up look at Crémant de Loire, Muscadet, Vouvray, Pouilly-Fumé and Bourguiel. We hope you’ll join us and taste along, but this session will be fun and educational even without the wine!

Click here for a copy of the: Wine List and Tasting Order – Hooray for Vouvray

For more information, including login instructions, click here. Please email our Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, with any questions: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

Conference Preview: Rosé, Brosé, Frosé!!!

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Today we have a conference preview from Sharron McCarty, CSW. Sharron has been a top-rated presenter at many of our past conferences, so you don’t want to miss this session! Sharron tells us about the exploding popularity of rosé wines, and gives us a preview of her upcoming conference session!  

I hope you can join us in Portland for Rosé, Brosé, Frosé!!!  Rosé is a hot topic! Aaccording to a recent Nielsen poll (03/25/17), rosé is THE fastest growing wine segment, leading in both dollar volume growth (+47.3%) and case volume growth (+21.8%)!

Did you know that more men are ordering rosé at lunch than ever before?  Lighter styled rosés are becoming the brosé of the wine world as more and more of our bro’s are enjoying them at lunch…suggesting you can drink a couple of glasses and still go back and finish the work day rather than falling asleep at your desk!  Adding rosé to frozen (frosé’) cocktails has become quite popular too.

Rosés offer a wide spectrum of colors and styles from a variety of different grapes and regions, and range from bone dry to sweet.  During our session, we will explore the many ways of producing rosé, including direct press and saignée, and look at the impact of the production method on the finished wine. Along the way, we’ll look at some of the most intriguing grapes in the world, and the wines they produce ranging in color from pale “onion skin” or “eye of the partridge” to almost purple.

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While winemaker Nicolas Quille’ will not be able to participate in person, here are his comments on three of the sensuous rosé he produces at Pacific Rim—Unparalleled Provence Rosé, Rainstorm Oregon Pinot Noir Rosé, and  Eufloria Washington Aromatic Rosé.   They are quite different and reflect what Nicolas sees as the 3 main styles that knowledgeable consumers should have in mind when buying:

  • Unparalleled Provence Rosé is a classic direct press rosé which means it is made from red grapes primarily that are pressed with minimal skin contact. The result is a lightly colored wine (onion skin to pale pink) that is fermented dry. This is the gold standard of high quality rosés in the world. Quille says he makes this wine with a family estate in the South of France because they know how to make a luxurious rosé and because it fits his Unparalleled line perfectly (marquee region, classic style & family estate relationship). As is common in the region, this is a blend of Grenache and Syrah (95% red grapes) with a touch of Rolle (aka Vermentino).
  • Rainstorm Pinot Noir Rosé from Oregon is also a direct press wine with a touch (10% or so) of saignée juice. Saignée (bleeding) is a technique where the juice is put in contact with the skin for a short period of time (24 hours is common) in a tank and the colored juice is withdrawn out of the tank. Many view the saignée technique as less qualitative especially when it is a byproduct of red winemaking and when the winemaker attempts to lower the juice to skin ratio of his red fermenters (more skin and less juice resulting in concentrating the red wine). Rainstorm is a little deeper in color than Unparalleled from the saignée and more fruity (red fruit). This type of rosé is common in Burgundy and in Sancerre.
  • Eufloria by Pacific Rim Rosé is a blend of aromatic white grapes (the four nobles of Alsace: Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer) that is “pinked” with a little red wine. The wine has a slight bit of residual sugar. The “pinking” method is common in the new world and in Champagne. This is a nice way to produce an aromatic rosé with a bright pink color.

The rosé craze is on, expanding beyond its seasonality—rose has become a mainstay…join us on the rose bandwagon to taste a broad selection of intriguing rosés from around the world (12 wines)!

Sharron’s session, “Rosé, Brosé, Frosé!” will be presented on Saturday 12, 2017, at 10:30 am as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon.

 

 

Welcome to the World! The Rioja DOCa Approves a new Sub-category

Logo via: http://es.riojawine.com

Logo via: http://es.riojawine.com

Yesterday—June 7, 2017—the Consejo Regulador of the Rioja DOCa approved a new “Single Vineyard” sub-classification of Rioja wines.  The new category is described in Spanish as Viñedos Singulares (which translates literally to “singular [unique] vineyards”).

In order to qualify as a Rioja Viñedo Singular, a particular estate must first apply to the Consejo Regulador. The application must describe the natural features of the estate that differentiate it from the surrounding vineyards. Estates that earn the classification will be subject to approved yields that will be 20% lower than those allowed for the general DOCa. Only manual harvesting will be allowed, and the wines will be subject to two quality control analyses (including one performed just prior to market release).

It was also announced that new regulations for bottle aging—to apply to the reserva and gran reserva designations on Rioja DOCa wines will come into effect in 2019 (more information on these changes will be reported as it becomes available).

In the same press release, the Consejo Regulador of the Rioja DOCa revealed that they are still working on the identification of approved subzones as well as the use of certain approved village names in conjunction with the Rioja DOCa designation.  They also intend to allow for the production of white and rosé sparkling wines (made using the traditional production method and sur lie aged in the bottle for a minimum of 15 month). Both of these initiatives are still in the planning stage.

References/for more information:

Guest Post: Everything’s Coming up Rosés!

Photo credit: Linda Coco

Photo credit: Linda Coco

Today we have a book review from a guest blogger, Linda Coco. In honor of National Rosé Day (coming up soon on the second Saturday in June), Linda brings us a review of a new book on rosé wine by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW.

Rosé Wine—The Guide to Drinking Pink by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW.176 pages, published by Sterling Epicure (2017).

Everything’s coming up rosés!

Ahhh, spring has sprung and is hopscotching into summer. I love this time of year when all things are made new again, at least here in the northern hemisphere. Mother Nature dons a brand new wardrobe, draping herself in vibrant shades of green accessorized with colorful pops of flowers. I, too, eagerly pack away my winter drabs and delight in sporting sundresses, shorts and sandals.

After a long Montana winter, my palate is also ready for an overhaul. I start craving lighter fare and lighter wines, especially rosés which start debuting in May for May Day, Mother’s Day and the Kentucky Derby. While those thoroughbred derby horses compete in The Run for the Roses, I, in my quest to drink pink, Run for the Rosés!

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In this season of thinking pink, I am tickled pink to highlight a new book by Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, a Master of Wine who just released her second publication, ROSÉ WINE: The Guide to Drinking Pink. This book debuts in perfect timing with rosé’s renewed popularity. There’s a pink revolution happening, and rosé is rising above its reputation for being sweet and seasonal. It’s also bounding over gender boundaries. Rosé earned a reputation as being a frilly, feminine wine reserved for females, but men now account for 45% of all rosé consumed in the United States. Shall we call it Brosé?

Simonetti-Bryan expounds upon this rosé revolution in the first chapter then goes on to explain the making of rosé and the tasting of rosé using the FIVE S’s: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip and Savor.  As in her first book, The One Minute Wine Master, Jennifer includes a quiz to help identify styles of rosé that you are likely to enjoy based on a generalized assessment of your taste and scent preferences.

The next chapters are dedicated to the four different rosé styles: BLUSH, CRISP, FRUITY and RICH. Under each style section, Jennifer features wines made in that style accompanied by a photo of the bottle or label. Detailed tasting notes and information about the winery or winemaker are included. Over 70 rosés are highlighted from areas around the globe. From the palest pink to the deepest magenta, you’ll delight in seeing the world through rosé colored glasses, all the while vicariously traveling around the world in 80 rosés!

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The book concludes with a helpful resource section that contains a food pairing guide, a pronunciation guide and a quick reference wine checklist of all the wines featured, categorized per rosé style.

Punctuated with fun facts, lovely photos and helpful graphs, ROSÉ WINE: A Guide to Drinking Pink is a precise 176-page primer on pink. It’s especially suitable for those new to drinking rosé (or to those who heretofore have shunned it!). As a wine educator, I appreciate the approachable and friendly tone in which it is written.

Bravo to Jennifer-Simonetti-Bryan, the passionate promoter of pink! Let’s raise our pink drinks and clink our glasses of rosé together in celebratory cheers!

Linda rose photo by lindaLinda Coco, CSW is a “Roads Scholar” with a passion for road-tripping across the great state of Montana and beyond, learning all she can about the people and places she explores. When not behind the wheel, she enjoys cooking, writing, and hosting wine tastings for her vivacious group of oenophile friends, “The Wining Women of Whitefish”. She’s a self-proclaimed “edutainer”, aiming to entertain while educating, because learning about wine ought to be fun! Share in the fun at her blog, “It’s a WINEderful Life”, https://lilianacabana.wordpress.com.

Conference Preview: Long Island—More than Just Billy Joel, the Hamptons, or Montauk

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Today we have a guest post from Kathy Falbo, CSW. Kathy tells us about her love for Long Island Merlot, and gives us a preview of her upcoming conference session!

“In a single generation, Long Island winemakers have proved that applying passion and skill to the natural advantages of soil and climate can produce wines of harmony and finesse. Few other regions of the world have come so far, so fast.” – Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator Magazine

The Long Island Wine Region is over 40 years in the making, and one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country. Yet, still so many people are unfamiliar with its world class wines. Just 75 miles or so from New York City, you can find yourself amidst the beautiful, tranquil country side with rows of vineyards, wineries, antique shops, bed and breakfast destinations, beautiful beaches, and local farm stands.

As a native long Islander and having grown up in Long Island, I am so proud to have this beautiful wine region in my own back yard. (Ok, well, not exactly in my own back yard, but about an hour’s drive away.)

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The history of this island doesn’t go back as far as you may think. In geological terms, Long Island was born yesterday. It’s fish like formation (so appropriate for the island) took place around 11,000 years ago when colliding mountains, shifting sea levels, pounding waves and Titian Canadian glaciers formed a glacial moraine. Long Island is surrounded by an outwash plain produced about 20,000 years ago by Wisconsin Glacier.

The maritime climate, surrounding bodies of water and the well-drained loamy soils are perfect for growing wine grapes.  Especially on the North Fork where the days are sunnier, warmer and longer than on the South Fork. The North Fork is where you will find most Long Islands vineyards, and some of the most amazing sunsets!

Long Island wines can be identified by their distinct, unique, elegant styles and characteristics that distinguish them from wines made anywhere else.

With over 700 acres planted, Merlot is the most widely planted red grape variety in Long Island.  Long Island Merlot is attracting a lot of attention, as it really seems to be emerging. In fact, it is considered by many of the locals as being the best red grape for this area.

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Long Island Merlots are often complex with amazing structure and crisp acidity, making them easy to drink on their own, and extremely food friendly. The maritime climate, long days, cool nights, terroir, cool ocean breezes, and well drained soils give way to fully ripened fruit with plenty of minerality, and graphic notes.

Sharing a similar latitude and maritime climate as France, it is not unlikely to hear a Long Island Merlot being compared to right bank Bordeaux. Though we really are a region all of our own, producing unique, award winning wines.

Did Merlot lose some of its popularity in 2004 after the movie “Sideways?” Just ask any wine professional and most will tell you, yes! Being in wine sales for Paumanok Vineyards (the Native American name for Long Island), it is disturbing to me every time I hear, “Merlot isn’t poplar,” or “Merlot doesn’t sell here!”

Despite the decline in popularity, Merlot is still the 4th most popular wine in America and is rapidly regaining the respect it deserves.

It is my mission to not only help people recognize how far we’ve come as a young wine region, but to understand the quality of all wines coming out of Long Island, and raise awareness of the age worthy, elegant, and delicious merlot and merlot blends we are producing.

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I hope you can join me at SWE’s upcoming annual conference, on Saturday August 12th as we look further in to what makes Long Island wines so special. We will compare the different profiles and expressions of Merlot from three of the top producers in Long Island, as well as three other regions in the country.

About the Author: Kathy was born and raised in Long Island.  After 37 years in the dental industry, Kathy’s passion (and thirst, if you will) for wine ignited after a trip to Napa in 2010. After returning from that Napa trip, Kathy began taking some novice wine classes in NYC., and headed to Long Islands wine region for wine tasting every chance she got.

Kathy’s wine career took place in 2012 when she applied for a positon with Paumanok Vineyards as a tasting room “pourer.” From there she registered with the Society of Wine Educators in 2013. Kathy went to Napa Wine Academy for their five-day prep course in April 2014, and proudly passed her CSW exam on December 15th 2014. In January of 2015 Paumanok Vineyards offered Kathy the wholesale/wine consultant position she currently holds today, and is one of the top producing representatives for Nassau and western Suffolk counties.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the World, Cape Town District!

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A new appellation for wine production was announced today: the Cape Town District of South Africa! This new appellation replaces the former regions of Cape Peninsula and Tygerberg, and as such, combines the wards of Durbanville, Philadelphia, Constantia, and Hout Bay under a single District.

There are over 30 wineries located within the new district, including some of South Africa’s most historic and best-known wineries. These include Groot Constantia, Durbanville Hills, Diemersdal, Klein Constantia, Nitida, Meerendal, and Cape Point Vineyards.

According to Rico Basson, CEO of South African wine producers’ organization Vinpro, “As a wine region, Cape Town now encapsulates a wonderful set of dynamics in terms of heritage, culture and modern wine styles. South Africa is already well-known for our wine tourism offering and this new development will add to integrating our strategy of innovative marketing.”

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The geographical indications of South Africa’s wine industry are based around a system known as the “Wine of Origin” (WO) scheme. The Wine of Origin Scheme is administered by the South African Wine and Spirit Board. The various categories of areas, from largest to smallest, are the following:

  • Geographical Units
  • Regions
  • Districts
  • Wards

The new Cape Town District is part of the Coastal Region, which is in turn contained within the Western Cape Geographical Unit.

As for wine students, this means we need to update the flashcards one more time, but on a positive note, there is one less District to memorize!

Welcome to the world, Cape Town District!

References/for more information:

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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

Welcome to the world, DO Cebreros!

Logo/photo via https://twitter.com/VinosdeCebreros

Logo/photo via https://twitter.com/VinosdeCebreros

According to an announcement in the May 17, 2017 edition of the Boletín del Estado de Castilla y León, Spain has approved a new Denominación de Origen—the DO Cebreros. The new DO is welcomed to the world with the final approval of the Propuesta de Pliego de Condiciones de la D.O.P. “Cebreros” first proposed in November of 2015.

The new DO will be the tenth for the autonomous community of Castilla y León—which currently contains the well-known DOs of Ribera del Duero, Rueda, and Bierzo, among others. The newly-promoted area of Cebreros has been producing wine under a regional Vino de la Tierra (Protected Geographical Indication/PGI) since 1989. The DO Cebreros is located entirely within the province of Ávila.  The area is known for its granite soils and warm Mediterranean climate, and the area’s vineyards are classified as Climate Regions II and III according to the Winkler Climate Index.

The newly-minted DO Cebreros is approved for dry wines in red, white, and rosé. The specifics are as follows:

  • Tinto (red wines) must be a minimum of 95% Garnacha Tinta, with the remaining 5% allowed to be Garnacha Tintorera and/or Tempranillo (or the wine may be 100%% Garnacha Tinta), with a minimum of 13% abv.
  • Rosado (rosé) wines) must be a minimum of 95% Garnacha Tinta, with the remaining 5% allowed to be Garnacha Tintorera and/or Tempranillo (or the wine may be 100%% Garnacha Tinta), with a minimum of 12% abv.
  • Blanco (white wines) must be 100% Albillo Real, with a minimum of 12% abv.

There are no oak aging requirements for any DO Cebreros wines, although oak aging is allowed and often used.

More information (and a map) of the newly-minted DO will be announced as it becomes available, and as it moves through the process of EU approvals. But for now, we would like to say “Welcome to the world, DO Cebreros!”

References/for more information:

The Vinos de Cebreros logo was designed by Alfonso Giménez Ventura.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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

Conference Preview: Tasting History and the Stories Behind the Wines

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Today we have a conference preview from Valerie Caruso, DWS, CWE, FWS. Valerie will be presenting a session along with Suzanne Hoffman, the author of “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piedmont.” Read on as Valerie tells use the story behind the book, the wine, and her upcoming conference session!  

As wine professionals we can get pretty excited about tasting wines made from obscure grapes. If there’s a story behind the grape, the wine, or the winemaker, that’s even better. So when the prospect of tasting an Albarossa is presented, chances are we’re going to jump on the opportunity. Is there a story? Again, even better!

The Albarossa grape isn’t new, but was created nearly 80 years ago from another obscure grape, Chatus (once confused with Nebbiolo), crossed with Barbera. The first time Italy decided to make wine with it legally, however, was nearly 40 years later. Fast forward another 40 years and we are finding Albarossa making a valiant effort to escape obscurity through producers like not only the well-known Michele Chiarlo, but also the Marenco family of Piemonte.

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Another valiant effort has also been made to bring the stories behind great Piemonte wines into the light. I once wrote, “I always had this feeling that when I opened a bottle of Italian wine what came out was so much more – tradition, passion – and I had to know what the allure was.” When I read Suzanne Hoffman’s book, “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte, I got more than a taste of that allure. It was a full-on drink of centuries of rich, thoughtfully extracted wine history that gave me exactly what I want in a great glass of wine. And you’d better believe I want the full experience.

A virtual exploration of wines from some of the world’s most legendary producers will be paired with the author’s stories during the 41st Annual SWE Conference in Portland, OR. We’ll sip through a portion of the table of contents and recount survival stories, courage during wars, and meet heroic wine families the grandmothers, wives, daughters, sisters, and men behind the legendary labels. We’ll learn about their historical significance to the Piemonte zeitgeist of grape growing and wine making over centuries, poured into the present day but still transcending generations.

People do not only want great wine, they want a story and the story must be authentic,” (Andrea Marenco, page 261). From the Deltetto metodo classico sparkling wine through the Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo, and Moscato – even Marenco’s Albarossa – we look forward to sharing the family stories of brazen sacrifices, romances, and victories, and revere the legacy of the “Comet of Roero.” All of this is celebrated in the bottle today, and I believe it to be the full, authentic experience.

Val, along with the author, Suzanne, will present A Taste of History: Piemonte Wines, Families and the Historic Women Behind Them at the Society of Wine Educators’ 41st Annual Conference, 10 – 12 August, 2017, in Portland, Oregon. This session is scheduled for Thursday at 11:45 a.m.

Advanced, discounted copies are available at a special price for SWE conference attendees. Contact Suzanne Hoffman at www.winefamilies.com.

tasting history 2Valerie Caruso, DWS, CWE, FWS retired from the Air Force after 25 years of service, packed two suitcases, and moved to Italy for a year to study wine and Italian language. She’s a graduate of the advanced wine studies programs at international hospitality schools and culinary academies in France and Italy, a French Wine Scholar, a Certified Wine Educator, and currently serving on SWE’s Board of Directors. Val also holds the Champagne Master-Level Certificate from the Wine Scholar Guild, and WSET’s Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits. Every Thursday you can find her serving up some weekly wine “edutainment” in her podcast, Wine Two Five, along with co-host and fellow CWE Stephanie Davis, on iTunes and iHeart Radio. 

suzanneSuzanne Hoffman has a diverse international background as an engineer, attorney, entrepreneur, and writer. Born and raised in south Louisiana, she was a long-time permanent resident of Switzerland before moving to Eagle County, Colorado where she works as journalist and author. She’s a wine family expert who has captured behind-the- label stories, captivating photographs and genealogies to give the first-of- its-kind look into the world of Piemontes familial wine industry in her first book, Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piemonte. When not immersed in her labor of love of writing, Suzanne delights in alpine skiing, snowshoeing, biking, hiking, and exploring the enchanted world of wine with her husband, Dani.