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    Program Provider Award of Excellence Announced!

    Starting in 2014, the Wine Scholar Guild will be acknowledging its star program provider each calendar year. The award of excellence will be based on the number of students the program provider instructs over a 12-month period,  student evaluations, facilities, and the overall profile of the course offerings given by that learning institution or instructor.

    “The most important aspect of the evaluation will be the student evaluations,” states FWS President, Julien Camus. “Their satisfaction is paramount. We want students to feel enlightened, inspired and empowered. Good instructors do that!”

    “It is also important to recognize the depth and breadth of the other programs these instructors teach. It is this skill package that enables them to make accurate New World-Old World comparisons as well as to teach about France in proper contrast to other European producers,” adds Lisa Airey, FWS Education Director. “We wish to acknowledge the caliber of all that they do with this award.”

    The first Award of Excellence recipient will be announced on  January 13, 2014.

    The French Wine Scholar Study and Certification program provides current, accurate and in-depth information on the wines and wine regions of France. Developed and administrated by the Wine Scholar Guild with the support of the French Ministry of Agriculture, this specialization program  is designed for advanced students of wine, whether professionals or serious wine hobbyists.


    Elizabeth Gabay MW on Provence

    What can you tell us about Provence as you see it?

    One thing I have learned over the past 30 years is that 'Provence' has a fascinating history and is definitely not one homogeneous region. Western Provence is influenced by France, the Papacy, the Rhône and the big port of Marseille. Central Provence has, for many years, been a poor region. Much of it is still unknown with a distinct and busy coastal area and wild, rocky hills and mountains further north. Eastern Provence - my area - is more Italian/Savoy influenced. Until 1860 Turin was our capital. Ninety percent of the population lives in the coastal strip. The few remaining vineyards here (Bellet) struggle to survive in the face of urbanization. In fact, the entire Provençal wine region is punished by the high costs (land, labor) of a rich tourist market. The pressure this creates for the vigneron is extreme.

    How is Provence developing?

    Creating sub-appellations such as Côtes de Provence - Ste Victoire, Côtes de Provence - La Londe, Côtes de Provence Fréjus… and new this year Côtes de Provence - Pierrefeu (all of which we will be visiting) is a laudable move to highlight regional variations. Producers are learning how to emphasize what characteristics shine for their small area. Hopefully this will be something we can observe and discover on the trip - definitely something new - not obvious in any textbooks.

    The study tour will be looking at Western Provence, What do you envision as highlights?

    Provence is more than the sum of its parts and must be experienced as this greater whole. From purple lavender fields and silver olive groves, to white cliffs, green pine trees and red rocks that tumble into a blue sea, the region is awash in color and light. Couple this with a glass of rosé and the painter’s palette is complete.


    There is more to Provence than rosé in summer. Winters can be cold and a rich beef daube (stew) flavored with olives, oranges and herbs accompanying  pasta or polenta is delicious with a local red wine. Provençal sweet wines, sadly a style now rarely seen outside the region, make for a wonderful end to any meal when served with dried fruit, nuts and little biscuits. White wines have seen a dramatic improvement over the past 20 years. They are accented by ripe fruit plus a hint of herbs and fennel making them wonderful partners to fish.

    Big investment has helped give confidence to local winemakers. Sacha Lichine crafts the most expensive rosé in the world while Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s rosé has entered into the league table of the top 100. All of this has given recognition to a region long loved for its quiet simplicity, good food, and natural beauty. In a word, Provence is simply an “experience” from start to finish. I look forward to sharing it with you.

    Elizabeth Gabay MW, Provence resident & expert, will guide and instruct our June 2014 Provence Immersion Trip

    Registration is open. Learn more.


    Andrew Jefford on Burgundy


    Is Burgundy justifiably complex?  (Are there really noticeable differences meriting 101 different AOCs in Burgundy?)

    Yes and those differences are real.  The names of all the climats often go far back in history, to those monastic records which survived from the Middle Ages. They signify a pattern of difference that was observed during the forty or fifty harvests experienced during the lifespan of each generation. Those differences were in turn repeated and noted as the centuries unfolded. In the 1930s, when the appellation system got underway, that a body of existing practical knowledge acquired legal status via delimitation and regulation.  

    Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay here are capable of expressing differences derived from environmental factors -- soils, topography and climate -- to quite an extraordinary degree.  

    BUT, of course you will still come across near-identical wines under a range of different vineyard designations in the ranges of second-tier négociants; you will come across Grand Cru wines from one grower which are inferior to the village wines of another grower; and you will come across dull or actively unpleasant wines from 'great vineyards'.  Many people are involved in producing small quantities of Burgundy from hugely morsellated vineyards, and they aren't all very good at it.  Individual failures may not honour the potential of the place, but they don't invalidate it.  Burgundy's AOC system constitutes a set of ideals which are hard to live up to.  The conditions in this place are very special.

    What is important in the study of Burgundy...what concepts do most students find difficult to understand? What do they need to master for things to start to "click"?

    Understanding the 'burgundy pyramid' (regional wines, village wines, Premiers Crus and Grands Crus) is relatively straightforward, but the sheer mass of names you will come across is a big hurdle, and the use of lieux-dits on labels adds to that confusion.  Personally I set a lot of store by understanding the nature of each village, and the role each village occupies and plays on the Cote d'Or as a whole, and of course the very best way to do this is by travelling up and down the Cote, taking a look at the places where each village sits and how its slopes and sites work, and then tasting a few of its wines.  The only other way to come to understand burgundy intimately without travelling to the region is by tasting and drinking a lot of it, with maps and books to hand.  Of course we can talk a lot about harvest date, length of maceration and choice of oak barrels, but in a way these things are a distraction from what really matters, which is the vineyards themselves.  Once you begin to grasp their personalities, Burgundy will click.

    What can you learn from visiting Burgundy?

    This trip really will open up the whole region -- from Chablis itself (which arguably isn't in Burgundy at all), right down to the Mâconnais (classic white burgundy in its most accessible and most uncomplicatedly ripe guise).  We'll take a look at the Chalonnaise, always a happy hunting ground for classic burgundy flavours at a keen price.  And we'll also be looking at some of the top growers and greatest négociants in the Cote d'Or title holders to some of the finest vineyard holdings via in their own domains. And we are planning at least two vineyard walks so our students can take a look at the soil which yields legendary wines like Romanée-Conti and Montrachet.  As we drive up and down, I'll be doing my best to point out as much of interest as possible.

    There's one other thing to say here, and it is very, very important.  Burgundy (especially red burgundy) hates being bottled.  In an ideal world, all burgundy would be drunk straight from the barrel.  Obviously if you want to drink burgundy in New York, Houston or Chicago, you can't do that; bottling is an unfortunate necessity.  Our trip, though, will give students a chance to try some barrel samples.  That's truly worth doing.  

    What fascinates you most about the region and its wines?

    I guess in my heart I feel that Burgundy is the great reference for every vineyard region everywhere: the perfect model for the complex and beautiful declension of terroir.  So whenever I go to Burgundy, I feel I am going back to the source of everything... like re-reading Tolstoy or Shakespeare, or listening again to the greatest works of Bach, Beethoven or Schubert, or walking into Chartres Cathedral or St Peter's in Rome. A trip to Burgundy is always in some sense a pilgrimage.  I don't actually feel that about any other region anywhere in the world.

    Of course, as everyone always says, and always says with perfect exactitude, Burgundy is also immensely frustrating: so many bad bottles! And make no mistake, we will come across disappointing bottles in our tastings.  I now accept that it probably has to be that way, given the gross hazards of its climate and the fact that it is produced by so many hands from so many tiny patches of vineyard.  In a way, I find frustration a source of fascination nowadays, too.  You can be pleasantly surprised, as well as horribly shocked.  The best bottle of red burgundy I have drunk this year was a village wine, for example.  OK, it was Vosne (the 2001 from the old Engel domain), but there you are: not a bank-breaking bottle and it was the loveliness of red burgundy personified.  I'm sure every one of our students will have one or two moments like that during the week: tastes, flavours, experiences, insights that they will remember for the rest of their lives, and which will seal their bond with burgundy.

    Andrew Jefford, wine talent and award-winning author, will be the exlusive guide and instructor for our June 2014 Bourgogne Immersion Trip. Registration is open. Learn more.


    A Viticultural History of the Rhone…

    Yesterday marked the launch of our Rhône Master-Level study and certificate program.

    Our first webinar, presented by lead instructor Roger Bohmrich, Master of Wine, focused on the Rhône Valley’s viticultural history.

    This week, we are doing even better by giving you access to the full video recording of yesterday’s webinar!

    The program continues tomorrow… with a webinar on the Rhône’s Geology, Topography & Soils.

    It is not too late to join the program!  Learn more.


    The French Wine Scholar Program launches in Asia!

    The Wine Scholar Guild is very excited to welcome Wine & Co. as its first French Wine Scholar program provider in Asia.

    Based in Singapore, Wine & Co. is dedicated to providing pleasurable wine experiences for all and global accreditation programs for trade professionals.

    Yong Siang CHING, the principal consultant and trainer at Wine & Co. is very excited to launch FWS in Singapore. As the first person in Asia to receive the FWS post-nominal, he sees tremendous potential for others who wish to explore and gain in-depth knowledge about the wines and wine regions of France.

    As trainer at Wine & Co, CHING is glad to see more and more people taking up formalized wine courses; he believes in providing the best quality education and service. With high expectations and standards set for the team, Wine & Co. is known for its strong dynamics and innovation making it the leading wine educator in Singapore.

    Having ten years of wine industry and wine travel experience, CHING has witnessed  major changes within the Asian wine market.

    “French wine, being the most respected wine product in the world, has experienced much evolution and change in market trends over the years. The global wine market focus has shifted to Asia, especially in the fine wine arena, predominantly with regard to investment and collecting.” CHING says.

    Along with many other wine professionals, CHING is confident of the growth potential of wine education and services in Asia. “In the past few years, many people in Asia have jumped into the business without knowing much about wine. In the beginning, they did not feel the need to understand wine.  Now, with the growing literacy levels of the younger consumers,   the trade has to get educated to stay ahead.”

    “We think that this is the right time to introduce an in-depth curriculum like FWS to Asia,” states CHING. “In fact, with significant purchasing power in the emerging market in the Asian-Pacific Region,  FWS could not have arrived at a better time. It is not only great news to individuals who want to equip themselves with solid knowledge about French Wine, but also to fine wine trading companies aiming to provide their staff with serious training in order to provide a better and more relevant expertise to their customers”.

    CHING also sees the FWS as a culture bridge between the glorious traditions of French terrior and the energetic young Asian market.  “We are proud to be the first one to build such a culture bridge to encourage more and more people to join us in the magnificent world of wines.”

    For more information about WinenCo, please visit there website at http://winenco.com/


    Video Excerpts: The Art of Wine Tasting with David Glancy MS

    On Wednesday, David Glancy, Master Sommelier, presented a webinar on " The Art of Wine Tasting".

    As always, the video recording of this past webinar is available for members to replay on-demand.

    For those who’ve missed his second presentation, here are 2 excerpts of his presentation:


    Art of Wine Tasting: Sight

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    Art of Wine Tasting: Initial Conlusions of deductive bling tasting

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    To watch the entire recording and access our next live webinars, join the Wine Scholar Guild.


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