What is France’s greatest undiscovered wine region? Where do you find the greatest value for money in French wine? Where would you look around France to find potential fine-wine quality at affordable wine prices? Three questions … and from me the same answer to each: South West France.
Discover the South West, arguably one of the most mysterious and least well known regions of France. With over 130 grape varieties and 29 different appellations it is home to a fascinating array of varieties wine styles. In this session we will concentrate on the area to the North and East of Toulouse covering the appellations of Gaillac, Marcillac and Cahors. If you want to know the difference between Malbec and Fer Servadou or Mauzac and Loin de l’Oeil sign up for a voyage through this fascinating corner of France.
Matthew has more than 30 years experience in the wine trade, from importing and distribution to running a supermarket wine department. He passed the Master of Wine exam in 1996 achieving the Bollinger Medal for the best tasting paper and the Listel Scholarship for the best Vinification paper. He has been actively involved with the Institute ever since, either as Practical Examiner, seminar lecturer or mentor.
Since starting his own wine education business in 2008 the majority of his time is spent teaching and sharing his extensive knowledge of wine.
He has been a mentor to many MW students over the years and continues to help them fine tune the tasting skills needed to succeed in the Practical exam.
He is now a regular on judging panels for wine competitions, Panel Chair for the International Wine Challenge and co-President of the Sud de France Top 50 in China. Matthew is also the current Practical Chair of the MW Education Committee.
This wine map of Southwest France has been designed by Wine Scholar Guild to illustrate the French Wine Scholar™ study & certification program.
This map is made available for individuals to use for their own learning and edification. Any use of this map in online or print publications, presentations, apps or any other media is strictly forbidden without obtaining written permission.
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.
Armagnac is finally having its moment! The latest 2016 numbers from the BNIA, the Inter professional Bureau for Armagnac (http://www.armagnac.fr/en), shows the US firmly leading as the Number 1 export market for Armagnac, with sales growing 33% by volume and 19% in value. What was once France’s best kept secret is now everyone favorite new spirit discovery! Bartenders, importers, restaurants and retailers have all embraced this small region producing the world’s oldest brandy.
With annual production still hovering around the 6 million-bottle mark, Armagnac is the original artisanal craft spirit. 20% of distillation in the region still takes place by roving distillers that criss-cross the countryside, traveling from farm to farm to distill their wines in the late fall. Maturation takes places in century-old cellars lined with 400L barrels mostly produced from the local oak. Tucked away in the dusty corners of the cellars, you will find hand-blown bottles holding vintage Armagnac, dating back to the late 19th century in some cases.
Join May Matta-Aliah, the official BNIA Armagnac Educator who has been working with the region since 2009, for an informational webinar about Armagnac. May will provide some historical background on Armagnac then bring it to the modern day to discuss some of the trends and changes that the region has been witnessing in the last decade. Finally May will share some delicious Armagnac cocktail recipes with you to inspire you not only to enjoy the spirit neat but to have some fun mixing it up.
May is a New York based wine educator and President of In the Grape. She is a seasoned presenter, an accredited educator, and brings over 15 years of experience and knowledge to all her work. Since 2009 May has represented Armagnac in the US as the Official Ambassador to the region.
May is a firm believer in making wine and spirits education accessible to everyone from wine and spirits trade professionals to curious appreciators. Her experience includes a long-standing affiliation with the prestigious International Wine Center, where she has been teaching the classes of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, to frequently sold-out consumer classes at a variety of venues around New York City.
She has designed and taught custom courses to industry organizations and presented at large trade conferences such as Tales of the Cocktail, San Antonio Cocktail Classic, New York Wine Expo, Society of Wine Educator Annual Conference and the French Wine Society Annual Conference.
May’s numerous accreditations include the Diploma in Wines & Spirits from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), she is a French Wine Scholar (FWS) from the Wine Scholar Guild, as well as the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) through the Society of Wine Educators.
Southwest France (Sud Ouest) is best known for what it isn’t. Frankly, and unfortunately, it’s not widely recognized at all. With an accompanying eye-roll, I must report that many people have asked me – quite genuinely – “where is Southwest France?”!
Let’s get positioned on the map. Sud Ouest is the deepest rural France, la France profonde. “In terroir terms, it’s a big area and rather difficult to generalise about, but most of the high-quality vineyard zones…owe their existence to the slopes created by rivers coming down either from the Massif Central, or from the Pyrenees. The overall zone is the Aquitaine Basin, and almost all of the soils…have been developed from sedimentary rocks of various kinds, or by the action of the rivers themselves.”(1)
Meeting Andrew Jefford today could easily lead one to believe that he was born knowing enormous volumes of information about the wines of the world, and has always been able to explain them in the manner of a poet laureate. As the leader of a 2016 Wine Scholar Guild study tour of Southwest France, his presentation (with global parallels) to a small but diverse group of educators and wine professionals was quite natural, charming, articulate, insightful, and generous.
Group feedback about Andrew includes these admirable qualities: knowledgeable about local context, well prepared, flexible and adaptive, clear "voice" (speaking and writing), exceedingly patient, gifted at capturing the essence of ideas with beautiful words, an amazing ability to write great tasting notes in record time, erudite yet accessible. In short, it is a privilege to be tutored in person while traveling with Andrew Jefford.
The Wine Scholar Guild is offering a 5-days study tour to the Southwest wine region of France on October 16-21, 2016. Instruction is provided by famed wine journalist and Southwest expert Andrew Jefford.
While we think every wine lover and Francophile should take that tour, here are 7 great reasons to tour Southwest France: