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    Blog

    Across the world, the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily closed classrooms and required students to learn their course material entirely from home. At the Wine Scholar Guild, many new enrollments have shifted to the online wine study option for the foreseeable future. In fact, many students now find themselves with more time on their hands as they are required to stay home and adopt “social distancing” to their daily routine.

    It is important to note that at-home learning can require very different skills not applied in a classroom setting. Whether you are new to distance learning or eager for ideas on how to improve your studying practice, we’ve compiled 12 helpful study tips to help you make the most of your at-home wine education.

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    Read Academic Advisor Andrew Jefford’s Keynote Speech to the 2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival in this specially prepared written version for the Wine Scholar Guild blog.  Andrew is happy to respond to any questions or comments you may have about this post. Use the "Comments" feature at the bottom of this page.

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    As part of a partnership between Wine Scholar Guild and Decanter, we are pleased to share with our readers this article pulled from Decanter Premium.
    WSG members enjoy a 20% discount on their Decanter Premium subscription! Get your coupon code HERE

    Over-zealous planting and heavy-handed use of oak haven’t done its reputation any favours, but Spain’s most widespread variety can make excellent wines. Sarah Jane Evans MW highlights the regions and producers helping Tempranillo reach its full potential.

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    This episode is Part 2 of a conversation with Olivier Humbrecht, MW and Andrew Jefford about Alsace. The first part covered Olivier's journey to become France's first Master of Wine, as well as the history and vineyards of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht.

    Part 2 picks up with Olivier's philosophy of non-interventionism and biodynamic principles and practices in the vineyard. In addition to Olivier's approach to farming and yield management, we discuss wine making techniques, pressing, long fermentations, and climate change.

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    The story goes that a couple of years ago, at a high society charity event in Milan a noted British rock star was served a sparkling wine that impressed him so much that he asked to be introduced to its producer who happened to be present at the event, and to whom he is reported to have said “This is the greatest Prosecco I’ve ever tasted”. The wine was in fact a metodo classico riserva made by one of Franciacorta’s top producers. The anecdote may be apocryphal, but it could easily be true. The big wide world (and not only – the misconception is also becoming common in Italy) has started to perceive anything Italian with bubbles as Prosecco, without distinction of origin or refermentation method.

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    This episode features a conversation with Andrew Jefford, of Decanter Magazine, and Wine Scholar Guild’s Academic Advisor, and Olivier Humbrecht, of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (Zind HUMbrescht) and Master of Wine.

    Done in two parts, this first half of the interview will first cover Olivier’s accomplished journey as France’s first Master of Wine, and the history and vineyards of the domaine.

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    As an accomplished wine writer — and now as the Wine Scholar Guild’s Academic Advisor — Andrew Jefford has decades of experience watching the French wine industry evolve. Here, he takes a look at the wine trends that are shaping the Champagne region, its landscape, its climate, the industry and ultimately, how winemakers are adapting in the cellar.

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    While it may not be the most glamorous subject matter, vine-training is an essential topic to understand for students of wine. The method in which a vigneron replants and manages the growth of vines has big implications on matters concerning yields, protection against weather, and the overall quality of the final wine. Furthermore, because of its effect on labor and resource deployment, vine-training can determine whether a winemaker’s operation is financially viable in the first place.

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    There have been moments in my career as a professional winophile where I’ve realized I haven’t retained a bit of information that perhaps I should have learned in grade school had I been paying attention. Everyone needs a refresher once in a while and this series of blog posts aims to fill in possible gaps of knowledge that your grade-school mind may not have realized you would use in your fabulous wine career.

    As an American student, French geography was sadly lacking in my education. An examination of the Massif Central (ma-seef cen-trale) was not taught alongside the study of The Rocky Mountains.

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    There’s no wine region I enjoy visiting more than Alsace. 

    It’s beautiful, of course – and not just the half-timbered houses around which a profusion of flowers seem to float, or the grand hillside vineyards romping up to the forested Vosges mountains, always somehow bigger and more imposing in scale than those of Burgundy. The growers are fascinating characters, too, as if their historical and geographical position, wedged between (and much fought-over by) France and Germany, has given them an independence of thought which eludes those with a more settled position in each wine culture. 

    Then there’s the wines. It’s commonplace to say that Alsace wines are underappreciated -- but it’s true. For me, no white wine region can offer more diversity and intrigue than Alsace, nor does any single regional range of white wines appeal more to my palate...

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    After a generous 2018 French-wine harvest, nature has dialed back on its beneficence by around 12% in 2019: initial estimates put the crop at around 43.4 million hl compared to 49.4 m hl last year.  That’s not disastrous, though, especially since clouds have been gathering over the export scene in the last few months: the USA has imposed 25% tariffs on French wines under 14% abv, while sales to Hong Kong (often the preferred route into China for French fine wines) dropping by 26% over the last six months of political turmoil there.  The generally hot weather of 2019, of course, may give French wines a helping hand back into the US if those tariffs linger: it wasn’t hard to produce wine over 14% this year.

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    Spain began linking wine to “place” early on. As far back as the beginning of the 20th century, the need for wine regulations became self-evident. The country was experiencing rampant wine fraud; quality wines were being diluted with bulk wine on a regular basis.

    Rioja was a leader in the charge for legislation to guarantee wine origin. In 1902, a Royal Decree defined the origin of its wines by establishing a geographical link between the name of a product and the place where it is produced. Just a little over two decades later, in 1926, the first Consejo Regulador (Regulating Council) was created in Rioja. In the years that followed, Jerez and Málaga also gained regional protection.

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