Conference Recaps 2017

We had a wonderful time at the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, held August 10-12, 2016 at the lovely Red Lion Hotel on the River, located on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon!

Keynote Speaker Paul Hobbs

Keynote Speaker Paul Hobbs

The pre-conference activities included CWE Boot Camp and the CSE Preview, certification exams, a tour of Willamette Valley Wine Country, and a tour of Portland Craft Breweries. On Thursday morning, our opening keynote Speaker, Paul Hobbs, told us the story of his experience in the global wine industry. This was followed by three days of over 60 unique and fascinating speakers and topics ranging from a Basque Adventure, the wines of Lombardy, Orange wines, even a “Great Pinot Noir Global Cage Match.”

During Conference, we welcomed in Connor Best, CSW; Margie Ferree-Jones, CWE; and Pamela Connors, CSS, CSW as our newest board members, presented Lucia Volk, CWE with the Banfi Award, and began a new tradition of awarding a lifetime achievement award, to be known as the Lembeck Award, to its first recipients—Bill and Harriet Lembeck.

Below you will find some pictures, presentations, and handouts provided by our wonderful speakers—the next best thing to being there!

Roger Bohmrich, MX

Roger Bohmrich, MW

The Crystalline Beauty of Riesling: A Comparison of Global Styles—presented by Roger Bohmrich, MW: On Saturday afternoon, Roger Bohmrich, MW presented a comprehensive class of Riesling. The session began with a discussion of the characteristics of the Riesling vine and its suitability to various climates. Next, the class focused on the wines themselves: highly aromatic, highly acidic, sometimes dry and sometimes with a bit of RS, but almost never blended with other grapes.

As an introduction to the tasting portion of the class, Roger presented a taxonomy of Riesling styles—ranging from cool climate “just ripe”  wines through intermediate and warm climates all the way up through ice wines and wines produced with botrytis-affected grapes. The tasting portion of the session began with New World Riesling, and included wines from Australia (Eden Valley and Clare Valley), Oregon (Willamette Valley), Washington State (Columbia Valley), Canada (Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula) and New York State (Finger Lakes).

The next portion of the tasting featured the benchmark Rieslings from the Old World. This tasting included wines from Germany (the Mosel, Rheingau, and Rheinhessen regions), Austria (the Wachau and Kamptal areas), and France (Alsace). For details of the wines and the slides of Roger’s session, click here: The Crystalline Beauty of Riesling-Bohmrich-SWE 2017

Alan Tardi

Alan Tardi

Way Beyond Bubbles: Terroir, Tradition and Technique in Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG—presented by Alan Tardi: On Saturday morning, Alan Tardi told the story of the modern history of Prosecco, from 1876 when enologist Giovanni Battista Cerletti founded the Scuola Enologico in Conegliano, through the 1948 creation of the Bellini cocktail (Prosecco and fresh peach nectar) at Harry’s Bar in Venice, and all the way to the creation of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG in 2009.

The session continued with in-depth discussion of the climate, soils, and topography of some of the more specific Prosecco-producing areas such as Conegliano, the Rive di Farra di Soligo (in Valdobbiadene), and the Cartizze Sub-zone. The tasting included many interesting styles of Prosecco, including tranquile (non-sparkling), those using a percentage of indigenous grape varieties, several single-vineyard wines, and wines that underwent the second fermentation in the bottle (including one bottled “col fondo” [without disgorgement]). For more details, see the presentation here: Prosecco-Way Beyond Bubbles-Presented by Alan Tardi

Sam Scmitt, CS, CSS, CWE

Sam Scmitt, CS, CSS, CWE

Taking Root: The Renaissance of Chardonnay in Oregon’s Willamette Valley—presented by Sam Schmitt, CS, CSS, CWE: On Friday morning, Sam Schmitt, CS, CSS, CWE, told the story of Chardonnay in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The class began with a discussion of the geologic history of Oregon and the formation of the soils—marine sediment, volcanic basalt, Missoula alluvial, and windblown loess—for which the area is now known.

The class then focused on the history of Chardonnay in Oregon, and revealed on surprising note: that the narrative that early Willamette Chardonnay was a failure is a great over generalization and exaggeration. Rather, the truth is that Chardonnay in Oregon experienced a long learning curve to determine what viticultural and winemaking procedures worked best for the grape in Oregon—similar to the process for “perfecting” the “Oregon style” of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. The truth is, many early examples of Oregon Chardonnay were excellent.

The wines improved overall over the decades as many different clones and selections of the Chardonnay grape were planted. Some of these hailed from France, others from UC Davis, and many were promulgated by the founders of the Oregon wine industry, from David Lett to Bethel Heights. For more details on the session, as well as the wines included in the tasting, see the presentation here: Taking Root —Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley-presented by Sam Schmitt

Tim Gaiser, MS

Tim Gaiser, MS

Insight: Best Practices for Teaching Professional Tasting—presented by Tim Gaiser, MS:  On Friday morning, Tim Gaiser, MS shared the results of his recent survey on the best practices for teaching and coaching students in professional-level wine tasting. The session began with a discussion of best practices in teaching a tasting grid. Some of the advice (paraphrased) was as follows: use repetition until the “grid” becomes second nature, use “PRAT” (pace, rhythm, and timing), and record one’s self going through the exercise.

The session moved on to a conversation about improving memory of specific aromas, tastes, flavors,  structural elements, and faults. Best practices for teaching these elements included the following (paraphrased as): start with extreme examples and work towards the middle, use an internal visual scale, and experience the basic fruits (cherry, apple, plum) at various stages (fresh, cut, dried, bruised, stewed).

For more details, including the actual quotations and their attributions, see Tim’s presentation: Insight-Best Practices for Teaching Professional Tasting-presented by Tim Gaiser, MS

Discriminating Taste: Zinfandel—a Study in Terroir—presented by ZAP: This session brought together three winemakers from three areas of California (Mendocino, Paso Robles, and Napa Valley)—each showcasing a few of their favorite single-vineyard Zinfandels.

For starters, Rich Parducci of McNab Ridge Wine Company shared three wines from Mendocino. The wines included vineyard-specific wines from Medocino’s Bliss Vineyard, Kamet Vineyard, and Cononiah Vineyard. Next up was Doug Beckett of Peachy Canyon Winery in Paso Robles. The wines Doug brought showcased the terroir of Paso’s Dante Dusi Vineyard, Bailey Vineyard, and David Block Vineyard. The session concluded with a round of three Napa Valley wines presented by Tres Goetting of Robert Biale Vineyards. These wines showcased the Hayne Vineyard, Tip Top Vineyards and the Grande Vineyard of Napa Valley. This was a deep dive into some specific, unique terroirs of California. For more information, see the presentation: Discriminating Taste Zinfandel – a Study in Terroir – presented by ZAP

Mike Cohen, CWE

Mike Cohen, CWE

The Chemistry of Wine Tasting—presented by Mike Cohen, CWE: On Saturday morning, Mike Cohen, CWE presented a detailed class about the chemistry and physiology of wine tasting. To start things off, there was a discussion of the chemical properties of wine, such as acids, sugars, alcohols, and polyphenols.

Next, the physiology of sensory perception in sight, smell, and taste was discussed. Finally, the session covered the brain’s role in sensory perception and the various factors—including the physical, chemical, biological, and psychological—that influence the sensory perception of wine. For more information, see Mike’s presentation: The Chemistry of Wine Tasting-presented by Mike Cohen, CWE

Paul Poux, CSW

Paul Poux, CSW

Sicily: Past, Present, and Future—presented by Paul Poux, CSW: Paul’s Saturday morning session began with the history of Sicily, from the Romans through the Byzantines and the Bourbons and all the way up to the Kingdom of Italy. Wine production, of course, was a part of all of this history, and this has resulted in Sicily as a leader in Italian wine production—the fourth-largest producer of wine in all of Italy’s twenty regions.

After this introduction, the wine tasting portion of the session began, starting with a selection of delightful white wines made from mostly local white grapes, including Catarratto, Grillo, Zibibbo, and Carricante. Geographical indications included the Sicily (Sicilia) DOC and Contea di Sclafani DOC as well as several IGTs.  The next wines, mostly reds, included those made from the following interesting grapes: Frappato, Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, and Perricone. The red tasting included wines from the Sicily (Sicilia), Noto, and Etna Rosso DOCs.

For more details on the presentation and the wines, see Paul’s presentation here: Sicily-Past Present and Future-presented by Paul Poux

Michael Schafer, CSW

Michael Schafer, CSW

Amazing Alsace—presented by Michael Schafer, CSW: Bright and early Friday morning, Michael Schafer, CSW presented a session on the Amazing wines of Alsace. The session began with the story of the history of the Alsace area, from the “golden age” of 1600s, through the tumultuous times surrounding the World Wars, to liberation and the present day.

The story of the wines of Alsace—the vineyards, the wine route, the terroir, and the AOCs—followed. Next, the specific styles of wine produced in Alsace—from Alsace AOC, Crémant d’Alsace, Vendage Tardive,  and Sélection de Grains Nobles (SGN) to Alsace Grand Cru. For more information, as well as a listing of the spectacular wines, see Michael’s presentation: Amazing Alsace-presented by Michael Schafer, CSW

Digging into Unique Terroir—a  panel discussion moderation by Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW: This session presented an impressive line-up of panelists—in a discussion all about terroir. To start things off, a working definition of terroir was agreed upon as follows: Terroir is “the total natural environment of any viticultural site” according to the Oxford Companion to Wine. Terroir includes site specifics such as climate (Cool, moderate, warm, hot, based upon sunshine, precipitation, temperature), geomorphology (elevation, slope, aspect, bodies of water) and soil (type, drainage, mineral content, pH). The combination of these, plus choice of variety gives the site its own unique terroir, as expressed in the specific wines produced therein.

Next up, the individual panelists each discussed a specific place, aspects of its terroir, and the impact of terroir on the wines of the area. Panelists included Anaud Weyrich (discussing California’s Anderson Valley), István Szepsy, Jr (on Tokaj, Hungary), Toshio Ueno on Japan, Gustavo Rearte (on Pago de Arínzano [Navarra, Spain] and Mendoza, Argentina), MayMattia-Aliah (Alto-Adige), Bob Bath (Cariñena), and Marcke Lhyle on Paso Robles. For more information see the session presentation: Digging Into Unique Terroirs-presented by Eric Hemer and panel

Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE

Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE

Exploring the Backroads of the Côte d’Or (part 2)—presented by Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE: Back by popular demand, Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE brought us another installment of his journey along the “backroads” of the wine and regions of the Côte d’Or. Don led the class on a tour that began in the village of Monthélie, located somewhat between Meursault and Volnay.

The next stops included Auxey-Duresses (often described as a “junior Meursault”), Saint-Aubin (bordering both Puligny- and Chassagne-Montrachet), and Santenay (one of the Côte d’Or’s southernmost wine villages).

For more details, including information on the wines and producers featured in this session, see Don’s presentation: The Backroads of la Cote d’Or – presented by Don Kinnan

The Creation of a Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port—presented by Chris Forbes: Chris began this session with an overview of the 827-kilometer- (514-mile-) long Douro River—beginning in Spain and flowing through Portugal on its way to the Atlantic. The area along the river includes the three subzones of the Porto DOC—the Baixa Corgo, the Cima Corgo, and the Douro Superior—as well as the Taylor-Fladgate Estates which are located in the area’s prime Port-producing spots.

Next, the maturation process and final blending of Taylor Fladgate’s flagship Tawny Ports, accomplished in the winery’s lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia the discussed. The majority of these outstanding spend a minimum of ten to fifty years in oak barrels. The tasting demonstrated the process of aging and blending mature Tawny Ports by showcasing individual samples of various aged components and then the final blends. The tasting included Taylor Fladgate 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-year-old (blends) as well as the 1967 and an 1896 Single Harvest Tawny barrel sample that has never been tasted outside of the winery! For more information, see Chris’ presentation: The Creation of a Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port—presented by Chris Forbes

Rosé, Brosé, Frosé class

Rosé, Brosé, Frosé class

Rosé, Brosé, Frosé!!! New to rosé? Get Familiar with some of the Basics—presented by Sharron McCarthy, CSW: On Saturday morning, Sharron McCarthy, CSW presented a session highlighting high-quality rosé wines from around the world. The session started with the facts and stats that prove that rosé is clearly positioned as a segment leader and a growing market. For instance, as concerns rosé, according to Nielsen, rosé outpaces the overall wine category for the summer of 2017, and the trend is predicted to extend well beyond the summer.

As for brosé, according to columnist Richard Whitman, “Despite rumors to the contrary, manly men drink rosé!” And who can resist frozen rosé—frosé—the hottest new drink of the season!

The discussion moved to the many ways rosé is produced, including maceration, vin gris, saignée, and blending; as well as a discussion of some of the many leading rosé-producing regions of the world. The tasting included a variety of rosé wines produced using a range of grape varieties and production methods, and included rosés from all over the world. For a list of the wines and more information, see Sharron’s presentation: Rose, Brose, Frose – presented by Sharron McCarthy, CSW

The line-up of New Wave California Boutique Sparkling Wines

The line-up of New Wave California Boutique Sparkling Wines

The New Wave of Boutique California Sparkling Wines—presented by David Glancy, MS: Friday afternoon, David Glancy, MS gave a fascinating session on the “new wave” of boutique sparkling wines being produced in California. The session started with a history of sparkling wine in California, which began (amazingly enough) with Agostin Haraszthy, who built California’s first ʺChampagne Cavesʺ in Sonoma County 1862, and Paul Masson, who was known as the “Champagne King of California” beginning in 1905.

The discussion then turned to the wave of French investment in California sparkling wines with such examples of Moët & Chandon (Chandon based in California), G.H. Mumm & Co (Mumm Napa), Louis Roederer (Roederer Estate), and Taittinger (Domaine Carneros). Historic California “born and bred” sparkling wine producers—still producing outstanding wines—include Schramsberg, Iron Horse, and Scharffenberger.

The tasting portion of the class included some unique wines—a sparkling Tempranillo from  Capay Valley Vineyards (located in Yolo County’s Capay Valley AVA) and Flying Goat Crémant 2014 Brut (known as “Goat Bubbles) from Santa Maria Valley in San Luis Obispo County. Other outstanding wines included   Riverbench Blanc de Blancs Brut (Santa Maria Valley) 2014 produced using 100% Chardonnay, and Sea Smoke Blanc de Noirs Brut (Sta. Rita Hills) 2013 produced using 100% Pinot Noir. For more details on the session and the wines, see David’s presentation: The New Wave of California Boutique Sparkling Wines – presented by David Glancy

Ed Korry, CHE, CWE, CSS

Ed Korry, CHE, CWE, CSS

Dessert Wines: Nectar of the Gods—presented by Ed Korry, CHE, CWE, CSS:  On Saturday afternoon, Ed Korry, CHE, CWE, CSS presented a fascinating session on dessert wines. Starting with a discussion of the various production styles that produce dessert wines—including late harvest, dosage, arresting fermentation, ice wine, botrytis, and others—the session then moved on to a tasting and discussion of nine dessert wines. The first wine, Czar de José Duarte DOP Pico Vinho Licoroso 2009 Superior Meio Doce, was introduced by a discussion on the Pico DOP and the definition of vihho licoroso (as produced in the Pico DOP).

The next wine, Domaine Monemvassia PDO Malvasia Monemvassia-Malvasia 2010 (Greece) was preceded by a discussion on the history and progreny of the Malvasia grape variety. With just over 9,000 total bottles of the wine produced, this was a special tasting indeed.

The session continued on with the tasting of several Malvasia-based wines, including examples from Lipari (Italy) and Sitges (Spain). Other tastings and areas of discussion included Madeira and the sweet wines of the Roussillon. For more information, see Ed’s presentation: Nectar of the Gods-presented by Ed Korry

100 Varieties of Lodi and Growing—presented by Stuart Spencer: This session began with an overview of Lodi grape growers, which today include over 85 wineries and 750 growers farming over 100 varieties of vinifera grapes on more than 110,000 acres of vineyards. The reasons that Lodi is able to grow so many difference grape varieties successfully include its Mediterranean Climate, its diverse soils, support for polyculture (diversity of agriculture),  and the innovative spirit of the growers.  The session next turned to a study and tasting of some of the more unique grapes of Lodi, including Vermentino, Picpoul Blanc, Kerner, Albariño, Cinsaut, Graciano, and Toreldego (among others). For more information, see Stuart’s presentation here: 100 Varieties of Lodi and Counting-presented by Stuart Spencer and the Lodi Winegrape Commission

Stuart Spencer

Stuart Spencer

Lodi Native—presented by Stuart Spencer: The Lodi Native project is a collaborative project of six winegrowers of like mind, living and working in the Lodi AVA—particularly Lodi’s historic Mokelumne River sub-AVA.  Their mission is to turn the spotlight on the region’s heritage plantings—many of them dating back to the late 1800s—through sensible viticulture and minimalist winemaking practices. The focus is on Zinfandel, but on the taste of vineyards rather than varietal character or brand.

The detailed list of winemaking protocols is intended to keep the focus on sensible viticulture and minimalist winemaking practices, and include the following: native yeast fermentation, no acidification or de-acidification, no use of oak amendments (such as dust, chips, or staves), no new oak, no use of Mega-purple, and no tannin additions (among many others). For more information, see Stuart’s presentation here: Lodi Native-presented by Stuart Spencer and the Lodi Winegrape Commission

Understanding and Comparing Recent Bordeaux Vintages—presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW and Linda Lawry, DWS, CWE: Friday morning’s class on the recent Bordeaux vintages gave attendees the rare opportunity to compare and contrast wines from three Châteaux— Château Brown (Pessac-Léognan), Château Lafon-Rochet (4th Growth Saint-Estèphe), and Clos de l’Oratoire (Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé)—across three vintages (2010, 2012, and 2014).

Mary and Linda led the class through the details of each vintage as pertains to the character of the growing season (rain, temperatures, vegetative cycle) and how those characteristics may have impacted with vines (large bunches vs. small bunches, degree of concentration, ripeness). Finally, it was revealed how the vintage conditions (along with winemaking, of course) could impact the wines, and the class was invited to “taste along” and see if they could detect the vintage character in the wines.  For more information on the vintages and the wines, see the session presentation: Understanding and Comparing Recent Bordeaux Vintages—presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams and Linda Lawry

Linda Lawry and Mary Gorman

Linda Lawry and Mary Gorman

Navigating the Changeable Bordeaux Classifications—presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW and Linda Lawry, DWS, CWE: Thursday afternoon’s class on the classifications of Bordeaux began with an overview of the main versions—including the 1855 Classification of Médoc & Sauternes, the 1953 Graves Classification (updated in 1955), Saint Émilion Classification (1955), the Crus Bourgeois de Médoc, and the Crus Artisans du Médoc. Of these lofty groupings, the Saint Émilion Classification and the Crus Bourgeois de Médoc have the requirement to be updated at regular intervals. To a serious wine student, this sounds suspiciously like “it changes all the time!”

There is certainly some truth to that, but Mary and Linda spent the next hour or so discussing the history and philosophy behind these ever-changing classifications. The most recent changes were discussed in detail, and a tasting of representative wines accompanied the class. For all of the latest information on these ever-evolving classifications, as well as a list of the wines tasted, please see the presentation slides: Navigating the Changeable Bordeaux Classifications—presented by Mary Gorman-McAdams and Linda Lawry

Carrie Kalscheur, CWE

Carrie Kalscheur, CWE

What Makes Oregon So Special—presented by Carrie Kalscheuer, CWE: On Saturday morning, Carrie Kalscheur, CWE led a session on the people, places, and things that make Oregon so special. The session began with a discussion of the various wine growing regions located throughout the state, which can be grouped as follows: border regions, north Willamette Valley, south Willamette Valley, Rogue Valley and Umpqua Valley.

This was followed by a discussion of the leading grape varieties of Oregon—Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Syrah. These grapes are well-known in Oregon, but wine students might be surprised to learn that a total of 72 wine grape varieties are grown in Oregon!

The class then moved onto the unique, geological history of Oregon—beginning with the time period when Oregon was still part of the sea, moving through the Missoula floods and a time of active volcanoes. All of these forces contributed to the loess, volcanic, and marine sedimentary soils that dominate the vineyards of Oregon today. For more information, see the session presentation: What Makes Oregon Special-presented by Carrie Kalscheuer

Jim Clarke

Jim Clarke

Chenin Blanc – South Africa’s Flagship Grape?—presented by Jim Clarke: Jim Clarke, Marketing Manager for Wines of South Africa (WOSA) began this fascinating session with a discussion of the role of Chenin Blanc in the wines of South Africa. Chenin Blanc is both a historical grape variety and a leading grape in South Africa’s modern wine industry. South Africa has more plantings of Chenin Blanc than any other country in the world, and it accounts for over 18% of present vineyard plantings in SA.

Next, the class moved to a discussion of the “Wine of Origin” scheme for geographical indications in South Africa, which are designated as regions, districts, wards, estates, and single vineyards. This was followed by the tastings. Selections included Chenin Blanc-based blends such as Mullineux White Blend 2015 (74% Chenin Blanc) and Momento Chenin Blanc-Verdelho 2015. This was followed by a discussion of the Chenin Blanc Association’s six recognized styles of Chenin Blanc: fresh & fruity, rich & ripe (unwooded), rich & ripe (wooded), rich & ripe (slightly sweet), sweet, and sparkling. The session concluded with a tasting of more South African Chenin, including L’Avenir Single block Chenin Blanc 2015, and Raats Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2016. For more information, see Jim’s presentation: Chenin Blanc – South Africa’s Flagship Grape—presented by Jim Clarke

May Matta-Aliah

May Matta-Aliah

The Wines of Alto Adige—a Trifecta of Pure Pinot Perfection—presented by May Matta-Aliah, DWS, CWE: May’s session began with an overview of the Alto Adige/ Südtirol (South Tyrol) region. Many attendees were surprised to learn that the region was once a part of Austria, then it was annexed by Italy, and that in 1939 the inhabitants were given the choice to either become part of Italy or Germany!

Despite the tumultuous history, wine has been produced in the region for thousands of years—by some estimates since 500 BCE. These days, the area boasts over 13,000 acres of vineyards and 5,000 wine growers. The area enjoys 300 sunny days a year, a mix of soils, a large diurnal temperature variance and vineyards planted as high as 3,300 feet above sea level.

The tasting included three wines based on Pinot Bianco, three wines based on Pinot Grigio, and three wines based on Pinot Nero—a true trifecta! For more information, see May’s presentation: Alto Adige-Trifecta of Pure Pinot Perfection-presesnted by May Matta-Aliah

Kathy Falbo

Kathy Falbo

You had me at Merlot—presented by Kathy Falbo, CSW: This session began with an overview of both the Merlot grape variety (its name is French for “little black bird” and it is the most widely planted grape in Bordeaux) and the Long Island Wine Region. Key facts about Long Island include its maritime climate, impressive size (118 miles long by 23 miles wide), diverse soils, and prime location at 43°N latitude.

All of this information was interspersed with comparative tastings the placed Merlot-based wines from Long Island against wines from of the world’s most impressive Merlot, including wines from Saint-Émilion, Columbia Valley, Sonoma County, and Green Valley (Solano County).  For more information, see Kathy’s presentation: You had me at Merlot – presented by Kathy Falbo

Bob Madill

Bob Madill, CS

The Finger Lakes on the Wild Side—presented by Lorraine Hems, CS, CWE, and Bob Madill, CS: On Friday morning, Lorraine and Bob began their session by describing the location, history, and terroir of the Finger Lakes wine region of New York. Many attendees were interested to learn that there are actually 11 Finger Lakes and that they vary quite a bit in depth, topography, and the soils that surround them.

One interesting factor in the climate—particularly around the deeper lakes such as Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake—is the influence of the “lake effect.” The lake effect (which can be “calculated” based on the distance from a Great Lake [Lake Ontario], the distance from a Finger Lake and the rise in elevation) helps moderate the potential extremes of the area’s mostly continent climate.

The Finger Lakes AVA currently has 9,500 acres of vines and more than 130 wineries. Only about 23% of the vines are planted to vinifera grapes—but of those, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir are among the leaders.  The session concluded with a tasting of some of the Finger Lakes finest wines, including a dry rosé from Billsboro Winery, a sparkling wine from Dr. Konstantin Frank, Bellangelo barrel-fermented Bench Riesling, and Red Newt Cellars “Limited Engagement” Gewürztraminer, among others. For more information, see Lorraine and Bob’s presentation: The Finger Lakes on the Wild Side—presented by Lorraine Hems and Bob Madill

Suzanne Hoffman

Suzanne Hoffman

A Taste of History: Piemonte Wines, Families, and the Historic Women behind them—presented by Valerie Caruso, CWE, FWS, and Suzanne Hoffman: This session was based, in part, on the stories and photography of the historic wine making families of Piedmont, as documented by Suzanne Hoffman in her book “Labor of Love: Wine Family Women of Piedmont.” Throughout the session attendees were delighted to hear Suzanne read some of the stories from her book, accompanied by delicious wines—as well as wine information and commentary from Valerie Caruso.

The families and wine estates discussed included Deltetto (and their Spumante Brut Reserve produced using Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir), Matteo Correggia (and their Roero Arneis), and Marenco (and their 100% Albarossa produced under the Piemonte DOC). For more information on the wines presented click here: Wines and Producers – A Taste of Piedmont History – Suzanne Hoffman and Valerie Caruso

Nora Favelukes

Nora Favelukes

Valpolicella Ripasso: A Fresh Look at this Unique Style—This session, presented by Nora Favelukes on Saturday afternoon, began with an overview of the Valpolicella Region. The area contains three distinct zones: Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Valpantena, and Valpolicella Orientali (sometimes referred to simply as “Valpolicella”). The area has 18,770 acres of vineyards and 2,347 grape growers.

The distinct “ripasso” style of Valpolicella is produced using a second fermentation (a “ripasso” or “re-pass”) of a newly-fermented Valpolicella wine on a bed of pomace left over from the fermentation of a Valpolicella wine that will become Recioto or Amarone. This unique style of wine received DOC (PDO) designation in 2010.

Further information on the grapes, terroir, and wine styles of the region was interspersed with tastings of Valpolicella Ripasso, which included such diverse wines as Cesari “Mara” 2015, Corte Figaretto “Acini Ameni” 2015, and Remo Fari “Montecornoa” 2014. For more information, see Nora’s presentation: Valpolicella Ripasso A Fresh Look at this Unique Style – presented by Nora Favelukes

Eric Hemer, CWE, MS. MW

Eric Hemer, CWE, MS. MW

International Pinot Noir Styles, a Comparative Blind Tasting—presented by Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW: This session started off with a brief history of Pinot Noir—since its earliest written mention in 1375 by Duc Philippe le Hardi of Burgundy to its current status as the world’s tenth most planted variety (at 290,000 acres worldwide). Next, its physical characteristics were discussed—small, tight, bunches and thin-skinned berries with lower levels of phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins and tannin.

Next, the lesion included a lesson on the primary growing regions of Pinot Noir—France (76,000 acres (32,000 acres in Champagne, 26,000 in Burgundy, 16,000 in Côte d’Or), the United States (74,000 acres (38,000 in California, 14,500 in Willamette Valley), Germany (29,000 acres), New Zealand: (11,000 acres), Italy (10,000 acres), and Australia (8,700 acres).

A blind tasting of paired wines followed. The wines included world-class Pinot Noir from Savoie (France), New York’s Finger Lakes, Alto Adige (Italy), Marlborough (New Zealand), Alsace (France), Santa Maria Valley (California), Gevry-Chambertin (Burgundy, France), and the Dundee Hills or Oregon. For more information on the session and the wines, download Eric’s presentation: International Pinot Noir Styles, a Comparative Blind Tasting—presented by Eric Hemer

John Reilly, CSS, CE

John Reilly, CSS, CE

Oregon Pinot Noir via Burgundy, California, and back again—presented by John Rielly CSW, CSS: On Thursday afternoon, John Reilly offered a blind tasting of Pinot Noir concentrating on wines with a sense of place from Burgundy, California, and Oregon.

Wines from France included Château de Marsannay Gevrey-Chambertin and Château du Marsannay “Grand Vin de Bourgogne” Marsannay. California wines included Rochioli Vineyards Pinot Noir—Russian River Vineyard and Sanford Winery “La Rinconada” Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. Oregon was represented by Maison Roy & Files “Petite Incline” Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Westrey Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley. For more information on the wines, the wineries, and the growing regions, see John’s presentation: Oregon Pinot Noir via Burgundy, California, and back again—presented by John Rielly

The Wines of Lombardy session, presented by Susannah Gold, began with a discussion of the history, geography, and wine designations (DOC/DOCG/IGT) of the northern Italian region of Lombardy. The first wine discussed was Franciacorta, Lombardy’s traditional method sparkling wine, followed by a tasting of Berlucchi Winery’s “61” Franciacorta brut. Other areas discussed (and wines tasted) included the Lugana DOC (and its unique Turbiana grape variety),   Valcalepio DOC (bianco), San Martino della Battaglia DOC (using the Tuchì [Friulano] grape), and Valtènesi Chiaretto DOC, among others. For more details, see Susannah’s presentation: Wines of Lombardy presented by Susannah Gold

  • If you are a SWE 2017 Conference speaker and you would like us to post a recap of your session, please contact Jane Nickles, our Director of Education and Certification, at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

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