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!



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!



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”,

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



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.)



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.



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.



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!



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.”



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

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Conference Preview: Tasting History and the Stories Behind the Wines



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.



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

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.


Conference Preview: Antonio Carpenè and the Birth of Prosecco



Today we have a conference preview about a session about the rise of Prosecco—and so much more. Read on to hear a bit of the story of the fascinating “Father of Prosecco” – and don’t miss the part about that time when he named his children after the elements. Now, that’s a good story!

It was a dream in 1868 that gave rise to Carpenè Malvolti—a dream that became Prosecco.

Antonio Carpenè is the father of Prosecco.  He fought to unify Italy under Garibaldi at the battle of Bezzecca, and then went on to study chemistry at the University of Pavia.

For Antonio Carpenè, chemistry held the secrets of the future and he dedicated his life to the pursuit of that future. He named his first son Rubidium and his second, Etile (Ethyl)—who went on to manage the wine company he founded (and was the first to put the term “Prosecco” on a wine label.  But when Antonio suggested that another child be named Oenocyanin, after the pigment in grape skins, his wife rebelled.  That daughter became Mary—who, out of respect for her father, later named her first son Iridium.



It was his love of chemistry and the patria of Conegliano that brought him to the world of wine.  Antonio believed that wine, more than any other product, completely expressed the character and quality of a place and he dedicated himself to spreading this message throughout his native land.  Despite his position as a professor at the legendary University of Bologna, he preferred to give Chemistry lectures on a chair in the local piazze around the Veneto, so that every man in the street could benefit from his knowledge.

In addition to founding Carpenè Malvolti, the first modern winery in the Veneto—and the winery that created the style and character that is Prosecco today—he also founded the Instituto Conegliano, now the largest technical winemaking school in the world, and a leader in oenology and viticulture in Italy. The school celebrated its 140th anniversary last year.

Over succeeding generations, the Carpenè family has led the way for the wines of Italy: they founded the Italian Institute of Sparkling Wine, pushed for legislative protection for wine regions and production methods, played key roles in Federvini, the national wine association, and today chair the Technical High School Institute for New Technology to improve education and the use of High Tech in the world of Italian food and wine.

Rosanna Carpenè is now the fifth generation of her family to serve as president of the company, and she continues to drive it forward by marketing her wines in more than fifty countries, and producing a range of products from Prosecco Superiore to Brandy, Grappa, and Classic Method sparkling wines.



And she has plans for the future…the winery is now completely renovating more than five acres of property in the heart of Conegliano, modernizing the production facility, and contributing to the community by constructing a new public piazza in the heart of the city.  The piazza will celebrate the story of Antonio Carpenè and his contributions to the world of Italian wine, culture, and science.

In this year’s conference, managing director Domenico Scimone will explore this history, culture, and wines of this region, with special attention to the leadership of Antonio Carpenè—the father of Prosecco. The session, entitled “Antonio Carpenè and the Birth of Prosecco” will be held on Friday, August 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm as part of the Society of Wine Educator’s 41st  Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon. See you there!


Conference Preview: International Pinot Noir Styles – A Comparative Blind Tasting Seminar



Today we have a conference preview from Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW. Eric tells us about his upcoming session titled, “International Pinot Noir Styles – A Comparative Blind Tasting Seminar” to be presented as part of SWE’s upcoming 41st Annual Conference:

International Pinot Noir Styles – A Comparative Blind Tasting Seminar

Conducted by: Eric Hemer, CWE, MS, MW – Senior VP, Corporate Director of Wine Education, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of America

This informal yet informative seminar will focus on Pinot Noir from around the world, including high quality, representative examples from regions such as Burgundy, Austria, California, Oregon, New Zealand and Australia, among others. In all, eight wines will be tasted in a blind format. We will start with an introduction to the variety, including historical background, viti/vini, and current, pertinent information. While tasting each wine, gentle audience participation will be encouraged. Each wine will be revealed after tasting and information on the producer, region of origin and viti/vini will be discussed. Handouts with details on each wine will be provided, and the PowerPoint presentation will be made available to all on the SWE website after the conference has concluded.

Eric’s session, “International Pinot Noir Styles – A Comparative Blind Tasting Seminar” will be held on Thursday,  August 10th, 2017 at 2:45 pm as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held August 10 through 12 in Portland, Oregon.



Speaker Biography: Eric Hemer began his career at Southern Wine & Spirits (SWS) in 1988 as an On-Premise Wine Consultant in Palm Beach County, Florida. He went into management in 1990 and held various positions over the years, culminating in General Manager for American Wine and Spirits of Florida.

In 1998, as similar positions were created around the country at SWS, he was appointed Educational Director for SWS of Florida, a return to his original interest in fine wine. Hemer passed the Certified Wine Educator examination in 1999, the Master Sommelier examination in 2003 and the Master of Wine examination in 2013. In 2014, he was promoted to his current position of Senior Vice-President, Corporate Director of Wine Education for SWS of America and today oversees wine educational endeavors in 46 markets across the US and Canada with the new company, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of America.

Eric is actively involved in wine education with numerous affiliated organizations as well, teaching at The Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Florida International University in Miami, acting as consulting sommelier and speaker for Chef Jean-Pierre’s Culinary School in Ft. Lauderdale, and is deeply involved in courses, lectures and examinations around the country with the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Institute of Masters of Wine, the Society of Wine Educators, and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.

Moonshine University Presents: BBQ and Bourbon Pairings!



The air gets a little smokier in May as Americans fire up the grill for National Barbecue Month. For this summertime exercise, the team at Moonshine University, the epicenter of bourbon, looked at BBQ sauces from all over the U.S. and did a big taste testing to see which bourbons paired the best with each sauce. Let that stew in your work jealousy for a while. The Moonshine team tried each sauce with both pork and chicken and then narrowed down what bourbons to match to based off the initial tasting notes of the sauce. Here’s Moonshine University’s top BBQ and bourbon pairings.

Alabama White Sauce: This mayonnaise-based sauce hails from northern Alabama. Beyond mayo, this sauce includes: apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper. We found the sauce to be very mayonnaise forward, much like ranch dressing with a slight vinegar tinge.

  • Bourbon Pairing: Booker’s – The higher proof of the Booker’s was mellowed out by the oil in the sauce, letting a lot of the flavors in the bourbon to come out in a way they didn’t on its own. We thought dialing back the alcohol burn really opened the bourbon and since the sauce wasn’t wildly flavorful, we didn’t feel anything was lost in the bourbon or in the sauce. It was a nice juxtaposition pairing : the mellowness of the sauce, with the boldness of the bourbon.

 South Carolina Mustard Sauce: This sauce, as the name would indicate, is a mustard-based sauce instead of your typical ketchup or tomato base. The flavor profile is like many of the red barbecue sauces, sweet and spicy. We loved this sauce. It was slightly sweet, a little tangy, and carried a nice balance between apple cider vinegar and mustard. It was loudly exclaimed by a member of the tasting panel, “Ain’t nothing wrong with that sauce!”

  • Bourbon Pairing: Maker’s Mark – Maker’s Mark was a perfect complement to this sauce. The sweetness of the bourbon matched the sweetness of the sauce just right and both flavor profiles complemented each other perfectly. Every time you took a sip after a bite or a bite after a sip, different flavors popped out, often blending together to create a tangy mustard with a sweet, subtle oak flavor. Leaving a light candy flavor aftertaste.


Texas BBQ Sauce: While Texas has many different regions that all prepare their meat differently, we’re going to focus on the sauce. Texas BBQ sauce is one of the styles people traditionally think of when they think of BBQ sauce. It’s a tomato-based sauce sweetened with molasses or brown sugar. The sauce we ended up with was a mild sauce and not very spicy at all. It was very tomato forward with black pepper and other spices coming in mid-palate and leaving us with a spicy finish.

  • Bourbon Pairing: Woodford Reserve – We found that Woodford Reserve was the right proof and flavor profile to complement this sauce. The proof added a little heat to the somewhat mild sauce, so the kick up in spiciness was a nice addition. Not to mention the rye notes that come out in Woodford rounded out the sauce and gave it a spicy flavor throughout. The spiciness of the rye in the bourbon pair perfectly with the spices in the BBQ sauce. It is a combo that really brought out the best in each other.

North Carolina BBQ Sauce: The Carolinas know their BBQ and it’s evident by the showing of 3 different styles of sauces on this list.  The ketchup-based version would fall under the realm of a ‘traditional’ type of sauce.  This particular sauce was very sweet, had notes of molasses and was mild, but had a rich umami, or meaty, character to it.

  • Bourbon Pairing: Buffalo Trace – After taking a bite of BBQ with this North Carolina sauce on it and taking a sip of Buffalo Trace, something magical happens. This relationship birthed a completely new flavor that we didn’t pick out of the sauce or bourbon individually.  The two together brought out a smoky and oaky character that was fantastic. Plus, the bourbon lessened the intensity of the sweetness and allowed a caramel note to pop out. The flavors blended well with one another creating an entirely new, sauce and flavor.


Eastern Carolina BBQ Sauce: This other offering from the Carolinas comes from the coast. This vinegar-based sauce is generally spicy.  Starting with vinegar instead of ketchup, this sauce is much thinner than all the others on this list, however everyone on the tasting panel was big fan of spicy and a big fan of this sauce.  It was vinegary, hot, spicy, bold with big flavors.  Overall a great and well-balanced sauce.

  • Bourbon Whiskey Pairing: Bulleit Rye – This is the only whiskey on our list that isn’t a bourbon, but when we tasted the sauce we knew what would pair perfectly, Bulleit Rye. Bulleit Rye has big, bold flavors that can hold up to the sauce.  Bulleit Rye has a delightful dill note, that when coupled with the sauce, gives the experience an almost pickle back note.  Generally, not something that would be desired, but with BBQ it’s a perfect flavor that gets created.  The bold flavor of the sauce and whiskey balance each other out and complemented each other perfectly.

Memphis BBQ Sauce: Memphis knows a thing or two about BBQ as well and is one of the most popular styles of BBQ. This sauce is a ketchup-based sauce that is generally sweet, peppery and a little peppery. Everyone enjoyed this style of sauce quite a bit. It hit every part of the mouth with a good flavor and it had a wide breadth of characteristics, not to mention the really nice pepper and coriander notes.

  • Bourbon Pairing: Wild Turkey 101 – A sauce with that much going on needs to be paired with a bourbon that has a whole lot going on too but in the same smooth, well-balanced way. That’s how we paired Wild Turkey 101 with this sauce. The Wild Turkey amplified all the best parts of the Memphis style sauce by adding nice, fruit notes, a subtle smoky note and gave the whole combination a full umami experience.  The 101 proof of the Wild Turkey was cut back by the sauce letting the flavors really come out. The combination also produced a delightful, sweet and spicy finish that lingered enjoyable on the tongue.


The debate about which region has the best BBQ will carry on for years to come. Personally, we like them all. But the same debate happens in the bourbon industry as well. Again, no favorites here. But the Moonshine U tasting panel tried to find common ground by pairing two of our favorite things together into something we can all agree on. Cheers to National BBQ Month!

About Moonshine University: Moonshine University was founded by David Dafoe in 2013. The bourbon epicenter opened its doors on the Distilled Spirits Beverage Campus in Louisville, Kentucky to educate entrepreneurs on how to launch a successful distilling business from concept, to distilling, to bottling.  Moonshine University houses the Stave & Thief Society, a bourbon certification program. It was established to promote Kentucky’s distinguished bourbon culture. Stave & Thief Society will lead bourbon enthusiasts, restaurants, bars, hotels and retail employees to become Executive Bourbon Stewards through a standardized training program.

Thanks to Moonshine University for the press release. Photo credits: Phil Icsman.


Conference Preview: Romanée-Conti Anyone?



Today we have a conference preview from Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE, who tells us about his upcoming session, ““Exploring the Backroads of the Cote d’Or (Part 2),” to be presented as part of the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, to be held August  10 to 12, 2017, in Portland, Oregon.

When is the last time you had a glass of Romanée-Conti?  When is the next time you will have a glass?  For most of us, those are easy answers—NEVER!

Burgundy’s crown jewel unfortunately is affordable only to the rich and famous, and that leaves most of us out.  At $12,000 a bottle for recent releases, Romanée-Conti is slightly outside my budget.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t regularly satisfy my addiction to fine Burgundy wines, both reds and whites.  The secret is to seek out less famous and less glamorous appellations, or as we have phrased it, “explore the backroads of La Côte d’Or.”



At this year’s SWE Annual Conference, we will continue this exploration by delving into the Côte de Beaune.  Specifically, we will visit the villages of Monthélie, Auxey-Duresses, St-Aubin, and Santenay.  Each of these villages produces wines that are extremely popular among the locals—and these are the folks who know where true value lies in the current sea of elevated prices that affects today’s Côte d’Or wine market.

While these four villages do not boast of any grand cru sites, they are blessed with abundant premier cru and village-level vineyard acreage.  Perhaps you already know a bit about them.  Can you identify which village is the correct answer to the following questions?

Test Your Knowledge! !

  1. Its white wines are often referred to as “junior Meursault”
  2. It is the home of a special pinot noir clone and a leader in Cordon de Royat vine training.
  3. 76% of its wine production is premier cru.
  4. Its best premiers crus are extensions of Volnay-Caillerets and Volnay Clos des Chènes.


(The answers are at the end of this article)

During my session at the SWE Conference, you will learn the answers to these questions and much more—particularly just what it is that makes the wines of these villages worth seeking out.  Because of their relative obscurity compared to the “big names”, their distribution is limited in the United States.  However, thanks to the internet and on-line shopping, access is possible, unless you live in a state with prehistoric wine laws.

Here are a few village factoids to whet your appetite and impress your friends.

  • Monthélie is the smallest producer of the 4 villages, producing 49,000 cases annually, with 87% of that being red wine.
  • Auxey-Duresses produces 57,000 cases and has one third white wine and two thirds red wine.  It is also the home village of the prestigious Domaine Leroy.
  • St-Aubin has an annual wine production of 82,000 cases, with 77% being white wine.  It is the 4th largest white wine producing village in La Côte d’Or.
  • Santenay produces 140,000 cases of wine annually, with 82% being red wine.  This production gives it the #6 ranking in wine production among all La Côte d’Or villages.  It also is the home of Burgundy’s only casino.


With all of this information, you already know more about these villages than 99% of your wine geek friends.  Now all that remains is to attend the session, learn even more, and, most importantly, taste the 7 wines from these appellations.  See you there.

Answers to quiz questions:

  1. Auxey-Duresses
  2. #2: Santenay
  3. #3: St-Aubin
  4. #4: Monthélie


About the speaker, Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE: For 35 years, Don Kinnan has been engaged in the fine wine trade and for most of that period has been an active member of the SWE.  He was the co-chair of the society’s CSW-founding committee and is currently serving on the SWE Board of Directors. Don spent 20 years as Director of Corporate Education for a major fine wine importer and is presently the Burgundy Specialist and Lead Instructor of the Wine Scholar Guild’s Master Burgundy Certificate program.

Don’s session, “Exploring the Backroads of the Cote d’Or (Part 2)” will be presented on Saturday, August 12th at 3:00 pm, as part of the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, to be held August  10 to 12, 2017, in Portland, Oregon.

Photo credits: Don Kinnan; photo of Don Kinnan by Tenley Fohl Photography.

Conference Preview: Aging and Blending Taylor’s Tawny Ports



Today we have a conference preview from Adrian Bridge, the CEO of the Fladgate Partnership and The Yeatman Hotel. Adrian gives us a preview of his session entitled ““Mature Tawny Ports: The Art of Aging and Blending.”

Taylor’s aged Tawnies—10-, 20-, 30- and Over 40-Year-Old—are not only as significant a part of the business as Late-Bottled Vintage Port, but they have grown in importance, a trend which seems set to continue as more and more people discover them. Already the 20-Year-Old is the most popular pouring Port in restaurants in the US and the 10-Year-Old is the leading aged Tawny in Britain. Back home in Portugal, Taylor’s has been adding to its stocks of maturing Tawnies since the mid-1990s, so much so that Tawny stocks now top all other styles.

Aged Tawnies are blends of the wines of several different years, each batch blended to match the last (and labelled, incidentally, with an age which is a guide, not a mathematical calculation). A bottle of Taylor’s 10-Year-Old bought this year will taste the same as one bought last year and one bought in five years’ time.

Being more delicate in taste than bottle-matured Ports they start life in the same way.  What makes them different is the way they’re matured. But first, they have to be chosen.



Early in the new year samples of the 200 or so Ports from the previous harvest—from Taylor’s own quintas and from farmers with whom it has contracts (some dating back a century)—are sent down from the Douro to Vila Nova de Gaia for tasting, categorising and classifying into the various styles: potential Vintage, Late-Bottled Vintage, 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-Year-Old Tawny, and so on.

So far, so simple; but the classification tasting is anything but simple. Aged tawnies are blended not at the beginning of their life, but at the end, which means that the tasters—David Guimaraens, head winemaker and his team—are not only assessing quality now, but predicting the outcome of wines that will remain in cask for years, if not decades.

The aged Tawny process starts, then, with the tasting of the new wines—always blind, every morning over a period of several weeks at the beginning of each year. “We’re getting into the soul of the wine, really getting to know it, which is why we don’t do more than about 20 a day. It’s the only time we see all these wines together like this,” says David Guimaraens. Their notes and scores are fed into the computer and matched up to each wine’s vital statistics (origin, quantity, chemical analysis) to produce a complete profile, one sheet for each wine.

So what does make a 10-Year-Old or a 40-Year-Old? Ports selected for a 10-Year-Old Tawny are likely to be from the same group as for Late-Bottled Vintage; those destined to be 30- and Over 40-Year-Olds are likely to be from Taylor’s own quintas and to be material of Vintage Port quality which hasn’t made the final cut. A future 40-Year-Old might be slightly lighter in colour than the wines selected for the Vintage; it might be more delicate, perhaps a bit more floral; it might come from a very good part of the quinta, but one that doesn’t produce quite the intensity required for a top Vintage Port.



It follows that just as Taylor’s doesn’t have the quality to produce a Vintage Port each year, it doesn’t set aside port for 30- and Over 40-Year-Old Tawnies every year. The aim is always to have suitable material for 10- and 20-Year-Olds, but nature can thwart even this: 1993 produced no aged Tawnies; and 2002 yielded nothing suitable for 20-Year-Old and above.

Selecting the right quality and style is only the beginning. The Ports destined to be Tawnies are stored in the company’s lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia and the new temperature- and humidity-regulated facility in the Douro. Here they are nurtured and guided so that they develop in keeping with the Taylor’s Tawny style. Key elements of this are freshness, fruitiness and finesse; complexity and nuttiness, too; but always avoiding the more oxidised ‘Douro bake’ character which comes from ageing in the hot, dry conditions of the Douro and from racking and refreshing the wines infrequently.

Racking, separating the wine from its sediment (including the colouring matter; hence the final tawny colour) and aerating it, is done more often early on, gradually reducing to annually. Refreshing a Tawny—“giving it something to chew on” (to translate an evocative Portuguese expression)—is, as you might expect, the blending in of some younger Port. Both procedures are critical in the evolution of aged Tawnies.

Alongside the racking and refreshing team, another is kept busy in the cooperage repairing casks. ‘The casks stay with us forever,’ David says (as do many of the staff, as it happens). Oak is used because its tight grain allows the ideal slow oxidation, but it’s always well-seasoned, never new. The last thing anyone wants is the sweet vanilla taste of new oak; port has enough flavour and sweetness of its own. Size matters, too: most of the Tawnies are in pipes (casks of 600-640 litres), but any that need refreshing may be moved from cask to large vat to slow the ageing.

Photo via

Photo via

With selection and classification at the beginning of the year and quality control ongoing, what remains is the all-important blending in November, the quiet after the storm of the harvest period.

Blending the aged Tawnies is thus anything but whimsical or random. It requires exceptional tasting skills, but also a dab hand with a calculator. As David and his team pick their way through 50 or 60 potential components for the 10-Year-Old, lined up round the tasting room with the age of each written in front on the counter, they are calculating both the average age and the quantity that will result: 140 pipes of number three (the age of which is  seven years, ten month)—“lovely zing and bite”—76 pipes of number 27 (aged ten years eight months); four pipes of 51 (20 years three months years)—“for complexity”. It takes a couple of mornings to do the 10-Year-Old; less to do a 40-Year-Old because there are fewer possible components. But the 40-Year-Old will have a wider variation of age. The current Over 40-Year-Old may contain some wine from the 1930s, but with younger wines to bring the age to within a few years either side of 40.

Blends chosen, the blending itself is done, the finished tawnies are bottled and within months they’re shipped. The rest is our job: drinking them.

Click here to download the Tasting Notes – Taylor Tawny Ports

Photo of Adrian Bridge via

Photo of Adrian Bridge via

About the speaker: Adrian Bridge is the CEO of the Fladgate Partnership and The Yeatman Hotel. Adrian has worked for Taylor’s since 1994 and in 2000, formally took over the role of Managing Director of the Taylor Fonseca Port Group. Having been instrumental in the group of buying the assets of Borges Port in 1998, he further expanded the company with the purchase of Croft Port and Delaforce Port in 2001, from Diageo. The subsequent reorganization of the group, to form The Fladgate Partnership, and repackaging of these brands has helped the group to become a leading supplier of Port in the major premium markets of the world. Adrian is the creative force behind The Yeatman, a project that he started in 2006. He was involved in every detail of the project: design, branding and launch of the hotel.

Adrian’s session, “Mature Tawny Ports: The Art of Aging and Blending” will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 4:45 pm as part of SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held August 10 – 12, 2017 in Portland Oregon.

Conference Preview: Teaching Insights with Tim Gaiser, MS



Today we have a conference preview from Tim Gaiser, MS. Tim has been one of the top-rated speakers at our conference for many years now, and his sessions fill up fast! This year we are lucky enough to have Tim presenting two sessions, which he will tell you about in his own words, below.

I’ll be doing two sessions at the conference this August in Portland. My first session, “Insights: Best Practices for Teaching Professional Tasting,” will focus on strategies for teaching tasting. I find teaching tasting to be one of the most rewarding things I do as a wine professional—but it can be one of the most frustrating as well. Everyone is wired differently and I need multiple strategies to teach any group, much less to coach an individual student.

These strategies include memorizing a tasting grid; improving recognition and memory of common wine aromas and flavors; calibrating structural elements (acidity, alcohol, and tannin) consistently and accurately; and deductive logic—putting sensory information together in order to make good conclusions in a blind tasting. In this past year I created a survey with the intention of collecting best practices for teaching tasting. I sent the survey to over 50 fellow Master Sommeliers and all were generous in sharing their strategies. This session will focus on strategies taken from the survey as well some of my own. To help illustrate the strategies we’ll taste through a flight of four outstanding wines. Join me as we deconstruct the best the practices of teaching professional tasting.

My second session, “Hungarian Furmint: Ancient Grape, Modern Wines”  will focus on Furmint, arguably Hungary’s greatest white grape variety. Furmint has been the primary grape used in the production of Tokaji, one of the most remarkable, historic, and complex dessert wines of the last several centuries. In the last decade a new generation of winemakers has been using Furmint to produce some of the most exciting dry white wines found anywhere. Join me as we take a tour through the history and vineyards of Tokaj and Csopak, and discover the brilliance of dry Furmint by tasting an outstanding flight of wines.


Tim Gaiser, MS

About the speaker: Tim Gaiser is an internationally renowned wine expert and lecturer. He is one of 175 individuals worldwide to ever attain the elite Master Sommelier wine title.  Over his 25-plus year career, Tim has taught thousands of students in wines and spirits classes at every level as well as developing wine education programs for restaurants, winery schools and wine distributors. He has experience in all phases of the wine industry – online, wholesale, retail, winery, and restaurant – including stints at Heitz Wine Cellars in the Napa Valley and Bix and Cypress Club restaurants in San Francisco, and Virtual Vineyards/the original

Tim has written for a number of publications including Fine Cooking Magazine and Sommelier Journal. He also writes for numerous wine and spirits clients including Champagne Perrier Jöuet, Wines of Germany and the Portuguese Cork Quality Association. Gaiser has served as the author and lead judge for the Best Young Sommelier Competition and the TopSomm Competition, the two major American sommelier competitions. Considered one of the leading wine tasters and educators, Gaiser was recently featured in the Think like a Genius Wine Master training product, created by the Everyday Genius Institute.

Tim’s first session, “Insights: Best Practices for Teaching Professional Tasting” will be held on Friday, August 11, 2017 at 8:45 am. The session on Hungarian Furmint will also be on Friday, August 11, at 3:00 pm. For more information, see the website of the 41st Conference of the Society of Wine Educators to be held on August 10 – 12, in Portland, Oregon.