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North vs. south

For over a century, the unanimity of the Champagne region has been called into question. Separated by departmental lines (départements being administrative regions in France), the Côte des Bar in the southern Aube department was often considered as that distant cousin who always embarrasses themselves at parties. The big houses of “mainland” Champagne in the northern Marne department did indeed buy loads of grapes from

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Some of the most exciting opportunities within the job market lie within the wine industry. They represent careers which span a remarkably diverse range of talent which among them include winemaking, marketing, consulting, journalism, chemistry, and software development. It is no secret that the recent pandemic has played a very pivotal role in the landscape of the job market. This has been especially true where

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Have you ever been required to give a group presentation and you were extremely nervous? You may have lost your train of thought, stuttered, repeated yourself, or misspoke? This more than likely resulted in an experience you would rather forget. Presenting in front of a group of any size can be

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The term natural wine conjures a plethora of reactions. To some it symbolizes a cultural movement towards honest winemaking, to others it is merely a fad for funky wines. The term is as vague as it is vast.

There are some who believe natural should refer only to zero-zero wines (wines that have no added sulfites and apply a minimalist winemaking approach). However, the term is more generally understood as an umbrella status which encompasses any wine made with an attention to the ecosystem and biodiversity, low intervention vinification, and an authentic representation of terroir.

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This short article is a follow up to my webinar for WSG of 7th June, 2022. It is primarily a reference piece which aims to give more detailed information than the power point format allows. It includes full listings of the Rive sub-zones, terroir areas identified in studies of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene denomination and lists of producers currently bottling Rive wines.

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Dining in the Barolo and Barbaresco Zones

Wine professionals and consumers share a similar aspiration when they visit a wine region; they want to enjoy the area’s best dining experiences so they can pair their favorite local wines with the territory’s typical food offerings.

While commonplace throughout Italy, this situation is nowhere more prominent than in Piedmont, especially in the region’s southern Langhe district. Lunch or dinner in the Barolo and Barbaresco production zones here is more than a simple pleasure; this is wine, and food pairing elevated to an art form.

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Reinventing Abruzzo: Rising Stars

For much of the wine history of Abruzzo, large cooperatives established a perception that the region’s wines were pleasant and technically correct, but offered little in the way of excellence. Today, the image of Abruzzese wine has taken on a new light, as dozens of smaller producers are crafting more sophisticated offerings that not only display superior complexity, but also offer greater elegance and aging potential as compared with the typical wines of the past.

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Bordeaux. Burgundy. Barolo. Rioja. Just the mere mention of any one of these wine regions conjures images of the world’s best wines all sharing the ability to age for decades. The wines of Rioja have earned their place amongst this elite group; and whilst consumer tastes may swing like a clock’s pendulum, the practice of aging wines in Rioja helps define its successful past, present, and future.

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Most wine lovers live to eat, so at best wine tourism is also a gastrotourism. The restaurant scene is Champagne is not quite as bubbly as the name suggests, but thanks to champagne houses’ entertaining and champagne tourism, the region has many fine restaurants: L’Assiette Champenois with three Michelin stars, Les Crayères and Racine with two stars and a handful of one-star places. Outside the top restaurants, the local cuisine is rather traditional, so do not expect gastronomic triumphs all around. It is worthwhile getting to know the best places in advance. Here are my 10 favourite addresses around Reims and Epernay.

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The vintage chart and harvest reports provided by the Wine Scholar Guild gives you the ranking for every French wine region and vintage from 2000 to today.

Andrew Jefford, award-winning author and columnist in every issue of Decanter and World of Fine Wine, Co-Chair Decanter World Wine Awards; Vice-Chair Decanter Asia Wine Awards as well as Wine Scholar Guild Academic Advisor, gives us his insight about the 2020 vintage in France.

The COVID pandemic made 2020 difficult in France as elsewhere in the world, but France’s winegowers had every reason to feel a sense of relief and gratitude as the year ended. Their future prosperity depends on both the quantity and the quality of each year’s harvest. Every French wine region was satisfied with quantities in 2020 and thrilled with quality. Sales may have been difficult in 2020 with the restaurant trade in abeyance and export markets disrupted, but after the run of good to great French vintages since 2015, no one had cause to complain about stocks.

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Finally, we have reached the end of the winemaking year. 

In the vineyard, soil health is a common topic of discussion now that the vines are dormant.  This is a great time to dig soil pits and send samples off to discover more about the composition of the soil layers around the root system of the vines. 

Soil pH plays a large part in the health of a vineyard as it controls nutrient uptake.  Even if the soil contains plenty of a particular nutrient, if soil pH is wrong, that nutrient might not be available in a form that the plant can use.  This can lead to micronutrient deficiencies or toxicities. For this reason, it is very important to manage the soil pH.

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At the start of November, areas with long growing seasons are still wrapping up harvest, but most wineries in the northern hemisphere have brought their grapes into the winery.  An exception to this rule is any fruit being left out for ice wine production.

Ice Wine Production

Grapes destined for ice wine production must hang on the vine until temperatures reach a consistent 20°F/-7°C or below. Only at this point, can the frozen berries be harvested.

November begins with a lot of activity in the winery and ends with everyone taking a collective sigh of relief.  The growing season is at an end and most wine production professionals can take a moment to reconnect with their families and friends and take a well-deserved vacation. 

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