Let's face it: Bordeaux is struggling. A recurring theme during my latest visit was producers lamenting declining sales, despite their wines tasting rather delicious. In January, the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture reported that more than 1,320 winegrowers were facing financial challenges – a situation that prompted the agriculture ministry to allocate €57 million to support the uprooting of nearly 10,000 hectares of vines in the region.
“The couple at number 12 wants to see you,” my assistant told me, returning from what I immediately knew was going to reveal itself as a tricky table to please. At the time, I was managing the wine list of a charming modern-British restaurant with rooms in the New Forest, a fairytale-like national park about two hours’ drive southwest of London. The gentleman at number 12 couldn’t believe how a young waiter, wearing a bright pink shirt and a denim tie, could possibly offer him proper guidance on a wine list boasting over 400 entries.
Zaza Kbilashvili's workshop lies in the village of Vardisubani, a short distance west of Telavi, the cultural centre of Kakheti wine country in Eastern Georgia. From the outside, Zaza’s home might seem unassuming, but once through the gate, its rustic yet elegant and bucolic appeal unfolds. A narrow path leads to Zaza’s workshop in the rear of the main building, surrounded by a lush vibrant garden, blooming flower pots, and an overall warm and inviting atmosphere.
Wine is fermented grape juice…in theory. However, in practice, modern wine may be made by using a wide array of compounds aimed at facilitating the winemaking process, enhancing the product’s organoleptic qualities, or simply fixing problems before or after they arise.
Ferran Adrià’s legendary restaurant El Bulli defined modernist cuisine. The restaurant had an undeniable influence on haute cuisine trends both in Spain and across the globe. For 13 years, its wine programme was led by sommelier Ferran Centelles. Ferran continues to work with Adrià at the elBullifoundation, a creativity centre of culinary and wine-focused scholarship that was created in 2011 after the restaurant’s closure.
Sherry producers like to say they deal with two types of terroir.
“First,” says Fermin Hidalgo, owner of leading Sanlúcar de Barrameda-based Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana, “the ‘classic’ terroir we all know: climate, soil, etc. The second terroir is the one related to the wineries… Biological ageing is part of our terroir.”
Pascaline Lepeltier is one of the world’s most respected and modern sommeliers and restaurateurs. Her list of accolades and professional achievements is endless. In 2018, she was the first woman ever to obtain the Meilleure Ouvrière de France in sommellerie (this is a very prestigious award that loosely translates to "best tradesperson of France") and the same year, she was named Best Sommelier of France. 2018 was action-packed for Pascaline as she also featured in popular wine-themed movie Somm 3.
“We have a very particular history,” says Miguel Aguirre, vineyard manager at Premier Cru Sauternes estate, Château La Tour Blanche. “After his death, our last owner gave the estate to the French State asking to open a free school in return for his gift. That is why you see so many young people around here. Every year we get about 150 students who come here to learn about the wine trade and wine production.”
Water: the source of life
Since our return to Alsace ten years ago, my wife Céline, my daughter Zoé and I never tire of walking the countless hiking trails that crisscross the Vosges, often offering breathtaking panoramas of the mountains and the Alsace plain. On the days when the sky is at its purest, even the snow-covered summits of the Alps can be seen in the distance on the horizon.
Without Joker, could Batman ever be a real superhero? Or Sherlock Holmes the world’s greatest detective, if criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty wasn’t a threat to his very own life? All heroes have nemeses, and vitis vinifera – certainly a real hero to many a wine lover – has one too: phylloxera.
The Etruscans were the first to produce wine in northern Italy; beginning with wild varieties, they cultivated vines in Piedmont centuries before the Romans arrived. Nevertheless, it was the Romans who advanced commercial winemaking, significantly increasing the area under vine and using props, trellises and ‘Greek presses’ to dependably supply the empire’s domestic and trading needs.
Earlier last month, I ran my first webinar for Wine Scholar Guild (WSG) — an overview of what it means to be a wine journalist and what it takes to turn this into a viable and successful career choice. Ahead of a series of stories I’m going to be regularly writing for the blog and a brand-new podcast due to launch later this year (more on this further down), the webinar’s topic was the ideal means to introduce myself to the WSG audience.
Uncovering the Secrets of Burgundy's Winemaking Tradition through Immersive Exhibitions, Workshops and Tastings...
Prioratans have a saying: Si ets calatà, de les pedres treuràs pa. Pero si ets a Priorati, treuràs vi. It means “The Catalan people make bread from stones, but the Prioratans make wine.” Their llicorella rock soils provide the kind of struggle that produces some of the most sought-after wines in the world. Enclosed within the Montsant Mountains, two hours from Barcelona, the Priorat is a tiny wine region whose fame is overshadowed only by the powerful beauty of its landscape.
The vintage chart and harvest report provided by the Wine Scholar Guild give you the ranking for every French wine region and vintage from 2000 to today. The most recent vintage report is published two years following the vintage, i.e. the 2021 vintage report was published in 2023.
Andrew Jefford gives us his insight about the 2021 vintage in France. Andrew is an award-winning author and columnist of Decanter and World of Fine Wine, Co-Chair of Decanter World Wine Awards; Vice-Chair of Decanter Asia Wine Awards as well as Wine Scholar Guild Academic Advisor, gives us
From April 16-21, 2023, Wine Scholar Guild will land on the shores of southern Spain to host a special session of our internationally-recognized Spanish Wine Scholar® study and certification program in the beautiful coastal town of Málaga. If the spectacular weather and roughly 112 miles/180 kilometers of coastline are not enough to entice you, then consider some of the other top reasons to visit and study in one of Spain’s most beautiful cities. See more about this unique opportunity to study Spanish wines with WSG in Spain here.
On a blistering June day, my suitcase rattling over the hot cobblestones, I made my way by through the village of Amboise in the Loire Valley, where my tour with the Wine Scholar Guild was about to begin. That night, in an 18th century hotel decorated in a style my spouse describes as “manic grandma,” the group toasted our safe arrival and talked about what had brought each of us there. Though we were a diverse set—with wine professionals from all over the map, and a handful of enthusiasts outside the industry—we all seemed to agree on one thing
Curious about Wine Scholar Guild trips, dear reader? I’m no expert on wine tourism, but I have been fortunate enough to go on five (!) WSG trips: Alsace, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, and Rhône. Below I share my thoughts on why these trips were so great and why I keep coming back for more.
Taurasi, Southern Italy’s greatest red wine, has enjoyed a spectacular and highly distinctive history. The wine is capable of extremely lengthy cellaring, as examples from the 1940s and 1950s prove even today; in fact versions from the 1928 and 1934 vintages are still
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WSA Wine Academy
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