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Detailed Curriculum

Detailed Curriculum

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The core curriculum - the 8 recorded weminars listed below are taught by lead-instructor, Thierry Meyer (scroll down for webinar abstracts):

  • 01: Alsace History: An Introduction to the Region and its History

  • 02: Geology and Climate: Ripening Grapes Under a Blue Sky

  • 03: The Why of the 7 (or actually 13) Grapes of Alsace: Building Varietal Quality Hierarchies

  • 04: Alsace Terroirs: The Why of What's Where

  • 05: Beyond the Whites: Alsace Sparkling, Rosé and Red Wines

  • 06: Vintage Alsace: Great Vintages & Alsace Cult Wines

  • 07: Who’s Who: Names You Need to Know

  • 08: Alsace Gewurztraminer: Understanding Liquid Spice

A panel of distinguished guest lecturers will present different sides to multi-faceted Alsace in the lectures listed below:

  • 09: Alsace Late Harvest and SGN: From the Land of Sweet and Honey
    with Etienne Hugel
  • 10: Alsace Wine and Food: A Match Made in Heaven
    with Sue Style
  • 11: Winemaking in Alsace: Traditional, Organic and Biodynamic
    with Olivier Humbrecht, Master of Wine
  • 12: Alsace and the Multi-Faceted Vigneron: An Overview of the Structure & Economics of the Alsace Wine Industry
    with Thierry Fritsch
  • 13: Alsace Riesling: A Wine Carved in Stone
    with David Schildknecht
  • 14: Alsace, The Gifted Non-Conformist
    with Andrew Jefford

Webinar Abstracts:

  • 01: Alsace History: An Introduction to the Region and its History

Alsace is uniquely positioned in North-East France, between the Vosges Mountains and the German border. Cut off topographically from the rest of France and wide open to the Rhine and its people, Alsace has developed a unique culture and wine tradition that is an amalgamation of both Teutonic and Gallic influences.  Literally, the lay of the land has shaped its viticultural history. Find out how a mountain and a river shaped destiny.

  • 02: Geology and Climate: Ripening Grapes Under a Blue Sky

Alsace’s geological history has created an enormous diversity of soil types, each with their own ability to retain and filter water. This dynamic results in vintage variation by vineyard within any given growing season. Couple this with Alsace’s unique climate and we’ve got a recipe for fine wine that is not duplicable anywhere else on planet earth. In this webinar, we’ll discuss all the factors that allow Alsace to ripen grapes under a blue sky while conveying a “sense of place”.

  • 03: The Why of the 7 (or actually 13) Grapes of Alsace: Building Varietal Quality Hierarchies

In 1840, there were over 150 different grape varieties growing in the Rhine River Valley and the plantings were often indiscriminant. Alsace whittled down its plethora of grapes to 13 and then focused communication on seven, integrating them into a varietal quality hierarchy. In addition to single-varietal wines, blends appeared as Gentil and Edelzwicker and now again as “vins de terroir”…complex co-planted, co-harvested and co-fermented bottlings that some believe give even greater voice to the soil. In this seminar we focus on the building blocks that give structure to the wines of Alsace.

  • 04: Alsace Terroirs: The Why of What's Where

Time to dig deeper! We will look at the historical record and link quality to specific plots within specific villages. We’ll discuss the lieux dits and communal designations within the Alsace AOC and then focus on the 51 Grands Crus. Can they be clustered into groups by soil type? Location? Altitude? Dominant Grape Variety? Which defy all “the rules”? In this seminar, we will dissect terroir.

  • 05: Beyond the Whites: Alsace Sparkling, Rosé and Red Wines

There are 500 producers making Crémant d’Alsace in a tradition that dates back to the 19th century. It represents the most popular sparkling AOC wines produced in France outside of Champagne. We’ll discuss its regional typicity as well as its different possible styles. Then, we’ll shift direction and analyze the rosés and reds. Their colors and structures reflect their terroir of origin, but also the thumbprint of the producer. There is much more to Alsace than still whites and they are just as expressive and impressive!

  • 06: Vintage Alsace: Great Vintages & Alsace Cult Wines

Vintage variation is reflected in ripeness and acidity levels,  yields and disease pressure. It also depends on vine growing and winemaking choices as required by the specific locations and soils within Alsace. It’s a complex and multi-faceted subject. In this seminar, we’ll review the past decade with an eye to the most-favored terroirs and the most successful grape variety, then we’ll discuss the classic vintages and those that have earned placement within the Hall of Fame.

  • 07: Who’s Who: Names You Need to Know

As with all wine regions, there is a list of producers with whom every wine student should be familiar to understand the diversity and complexity of the wines produced. In Alsace the list is long: some names are familiar, like Zind-Humbrecht, Weinbach, Deiss, Léon Beyer, Hugel, Trimbach, Klipfel, Gustave Lorentz , JB Adam, Kuentz-Bas, Arthur Metz, and Schlumberger. Others are known in only small circles, such as Patrick Meyer, Christian Binner, and  Jean-Pierre Frick. Find out why these names are among the “who’s who”!

  • 08: Alsace Gewurztraminer: Understanding Liquid Spice

Gewurztraminer achieves greatness on several special terroirs including Grands Crus Kitterlé, Zinkoepflé, Vorbourg, Goldert, Eichberg, Hengst, Brand, Mambourg, and Sporen.  What does each do to the grape?  How is its style impacted by vintage and botrytis? How do the Gewurztraminers of Alsace compare to their counterparts from around the world? What can one do to ensure that these wines shine brightly at table? How long can you keep them in the cellar ? It’s a study of sugar and spice and everything nice.

  • 09: Alsace Late Harvest and SGN: From the Land of Sweet and Honey
    with Etienne Hugel

Let’s discuss mold and mildew and all that rot, noble or not! What does Botrytis do to a grape? How does its action impact the flavors of the resulting wine, dry or sweet? What is the impact of Botrytis on dry wine? When do VT and SGN appear in the historical record? Do they have a future today? Additionally, we’ll take a look at Ice Wine and Straw Wine as they fit into the VT or SGN categories. This will be a sweet, little lecture.

  • 10: Alsace Wine and Food: A Match Made in Heaven
    with Sue Style

The wines of Alsace are famously food-friendly, well suited to both local specialties and international cuisines. We’ll discuss the signature dishes of Alsace and their traditional wine pairings.  We’ll also explore how the terroir in which a wine is grown can be a key factor in matching wines with food of any ethnicity.

  • 11: Winemaking in Alsace: Traditional, Organic and Biodynamic
    with Olivier Humbrecht, Master of Wine

Just to switch things up a bit, we’ll take our eyes off of the ground for a moment to scan the heavens. In this seminar, Olivier Humbrecht MW, will talk about winemaking practices in Alsace when guided by the sun, the moon and the stars. Biodynamic practices are not new to the region. Learn which vignerons follow this philosophy and how these practices impact both vineyard and wine.

  • 12: Alsace and the Multi-Faceted Vigneron: An Overview of the Structure & Economics of the Alsace Wine Industry
    with Thierry Fritsch

The business side of wine in Alsace is every bit as complex as its terroirs. The constraints of geological diversity coupled with the multiplicity of grape varieties translate as a retail challenge faced by single producers, négociants and co-operatives alike. We’ll examine and discuss the wine industry in Alsace from both production and distribution viewpoints. This key webinar delivered by Thierry Fritsch from CIVA will be key to understanding what to buy.

  • 13: Riesling: At Home in Alsace
    with David Schildknecht

Find out how Alsace's soils, sites, cellar approaches and vintages impact the world's most sensitive (and most profoundly tasty) receptor, Riesling, and collectively generate an unmistakable family resemblance that distinguishes Riesling in Alsace from those grown elsewhere. We'll discuss legal and other impediments to the recognition and expression of terroir, including some rendered in the name of terroir. We'll also ask whether a revival of field blends in Alsace can point the way toward another noble but non-solo role for this great grape. A list of wines will be provided for those who choose to appropriately illuminate and lubricate this presentation.

  • 14: Alsace, The Gifted Non-Conformist
    with Andrew Jefford

Talk to any wine lover around the world, and you will nearly always find they harbor enormous respect for the wines of Alsace.  Take a look at their cellars, by contrast, and mysteriously enough you'll find only a few bottles of Alsace wine alongside the stacks of Bordeaux and Burgundy.  Show the wines of Alsace to consumers and you will nearly always find they respond to them with great enthusiasm -- and yet Alsace as a region continues to under-perform on export markets.  What is going on?  Why does a region with so many great wines on offer, in so many different styles, struggle to get its message across, and build a durable bond with international wine drinkers?  Why doesn't Alsace conform?

 

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1.     Setting the Stage: An Introduction to the Region and its History

2.     Rocks, Sun, Winds and Waves: Geology and Climate

3.     The Players in the Game: Grapes and Winemaking

4.     AOC Languedoc: Fifty shades of Grès

5.     Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Languedoc AOCs

6.     The Atlantic Corridor: Go West Young Man

7.     IGP: Artiste

8.     The Dry Reds of Roussillon: CdR and CdR Villages, Collioure

9.     Vins Douxs Naturels: The Rolling Stones of the Languedoc-Roussillon

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