The famous classifications of Bordeaux (discussed in our Meeting of the Minds webinar on June 22nd) are based on properties – privately owned land entities whose boundaries are subject to change. Of more significance to French wine as a whole, though, are the land classifications based on the notion of the cru or ‘growth’: an entity which rarely coincides, Bordeaux excepted, with private property boundaries and which thus might be considered a community asset. Crus also function as terroir units, in effect – and yet their definition ranges widely depending on the region in question. In Burgundy, they coincide with climats and lieux-dits; in Champagne, they coincide with whole villages or communes; while in other regions (such as Languedoc and the Rhône) multi-village appellations are considered to be crus. Is this satisfactory – or a blemish in France’s wine administration? What, too, of the hierarchisation of crus into ‘Premier’ and ‘Grand’ – of colossal economic significance in Burgundy and Champagne, but much less so in Alsace, and actively discouraged by INAO in other regions. Should Burgundy be regarded as a model for the rest of France, or might other regions be best advised to ‘keep it simple’ and avoid the dangers of entrenched classification systems?
Joining Andrew Jefford to discuss these and other questions concerning classification are:
Robin Kick MW is originally from the Chicago area, Robin is a Master of Wine who is presently based in Lugano, Switzerland, where she works as an independent wine consultant, wine judge, journalist and educator. In the 20+ years of working in the wine business, she has held a number of different positions including wine auction specialist for Christie’s in Beverly Hills, California and fine wine buyer for a pre-eminent London-based wine merchant with an award-winning Burgundy list. In 2014, after many years of study and a successful dissertation on whole cluster fermentation in Pinot Noir from the Côte d’Or, she became a Master of Wine. Her main wine passions are Burgundy, Champagne, northern Italy, particularly Piedmont, Switzerland and Jerez.
Jon Bonné is one of the leading American voices on wine and food. He covers dining across the country and around the globe, including for Resy and American Express, and spent nearly a decade as the wine editor and chief wine critic of The San Francisco Chronicle, where he co-edited its award-winning Food & Wine section. He also has served as the lifestyle editor and wine columnist for MSNBC, the U.S. columnist for Decanter magazine, and the wine consultant for JetBlue Airways. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious Roederer Award for wine writing — the most ever won by an American — and has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation nearly a dozen times. Bonné is also the author of The New California Wine (2013), The New Wine Rules (2017), and has spent the past eight years completing his next book, The New French Wine, due out in spring 2023.
Charles Curtis MW is an author, journalist, and consultant. He is the former Head of Wine for Christie’s auction house in both Asia and the Americas. He joined Christie’s in 2008 from Moet Hennessy USA, where he was Director of Wine and Spirit Education. In 2012 he set up his fine wine consultancy WineAlpha to provide advice on varied topics of interest to wine collectors and the trade. His first book, The Original Grand Crus of Burgundy, was released in 2014, and the second, Vintage Champagne 1899 – 2019 in 2020. He is a board member of the Institute of Masters of Wine, North America and the Appraiser’s Association of America, and is a frequent contributor to Decanter magazine and other publications. He began his professional career as a chef, training at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, and apprenticing there at the Crillon Hotel and at other restaurants. He hung up his toque at the age of thirty to pursue a career in wine.
Join WSG Academic Advisor Andrew Jefford as he talks to Laura Catena, Managing Director of Catena Zapata, one of contemporary Argentina’s most celebrated and innovative wine-creating companies.
Laura’s initial ambition was to help people – hence her medical studies and her continuing work as an emergency and paediatric physician in San Francisco. From the mid-1990s, though, the energetic and dynamic Laura has combined her medical career with driving the family wine business forward in partnership with her father Nicolas Catena Zapata.
She has been a leading figure in Argentinian wines’ move to ever-higher vineyards, and its search for single-site, terroir-expressive wines. Her is a leading voice, too, in arguing that it is time to move beyond conventional Old World/New World thinking towards a wine scene in which each hemisphere is accorded parity of status -- so that expressive differences between the world's wine regions can be better explored, enjoyed and celebrated.
WSG Membership Manager Mary Kirk welcomes Andrew Jefford, WSG’s Academic Advisor and one of the world’s finest wine writers to discuss the release of his new book “Drinking with the Valkyries”.
Andrew also leads the WSG Confidential events, hosting and interviewing personalities in the wine world, but this time the tables are turned and you will have an opportunity to learn a bit more about Andrew: his story, his thoughts and his writings.
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to listen and ask questions to Andrew, a very thoughtful and distinguished wine writer who is also part of the WSG family!
As a member of the Wine Scholar Guild, enjoy an exclusive discount to Andrew's book here.
Join WSG Academic Advisor Andrew Jefford on July 27, at 12 noon ET as he welcomes Elaine Chukan Brown, Executive Editor US for JancisRobinson.com for a passionate discussion about her life, her career and what lies ahead!
Elaine Chukan Brown serves as Executive Editor US for JancisRobinson.com, and is a James Beard nominee in Journalism. Brown is responsible for reporting on the California wine scene and expanding the site’s coverage of U.S. wineries and sustainability topics, as well as climate action and social responsibility in the context of wine. In 2020/1 IWSC and VinItaly awarded Brown Wine Communicator of the Year, and The Hue Society named them the Legend in Wine Education.
In 2022, WINWSA in China listed Brown as one of the 50-most Influential Women in Wine. Brown also leads seminars and does public speaking on wine, personal empowerment, and social justice and has done so in countries around the world. Prior to their career in wine, Brown was an academic philosopher, but first they were a commercial salmon fisherman running their own business in Bristol Bay, Alaska.
WSG Academic Advisor Andrew Jefford welcomes Gigondas appellation President and leading winegrower Louis Barruol of Chateau de Saint Cosme to the latest in our Wine Scholar Guild Live series: an hour of discussion with leading figures in today's wine world. In addition to his groundbreaking work in Gigondas, Louis also knows the length of the Rhone very well via his 'St Cosme' micro-negociant wines -- and he has partnered with Rick Rainey and Justin Boyette to create Forge Cellars in New York State's Finger Lakes region.
Don't miss the chance to listen to the views of one of France's most thoughtful, provocative and internationally minded winegrowers!
Louis Barruol is the descendant of a family of wine growers who have made wine since 1490. After spending his childhood in Gigondas, he graduated in Economy and Agro-economy at Universities of Montpellier and Paris. He took over the family property Château de Saint Cosme in Gigondas in 1992, aged 23. He then launched a negociant business called « Saint Cosme » in 1997 and began to develop partnerships with other growers all over the Rhone valley, especially the Northern Rhone.
In 2011 he created Forge Cellars on Seneca Lake in the Fingers Lakes region of New York State with friend Rick Rainey : they began to plant vineyards, build a cellar, vinify and explore the potential of hundreds of plots. This work continues. In 2019, Louis bought the Château de Rouanne in Vinsobres, southern Rhone : an extraordinary 136-acre property located on the best slope of the appellation. He has been President of the Gigondas appellation since 2017.
Louis is now 52. He played a lot of competition rugby and he plays the cello. He is married to Cherry and they have three children : James, Jenny and Alix.
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.
It is a regular occurrence, even for the most accomplished wine aficionado: a loss of words to describe exactly what’s going on in the glass. Try as we might, the language of wine will always be a tricky landscape to navigate. But, as educators and students of wine, it is a necessity. Whether scratched into a notepad or typed into a report, tasting notes help us commit our experience to memory, and serve as a vital avenue for sensory translation.
Nonetheless, issues abound when it comes to finding a common understanding of these experiences.
In this edition of our Great Debate series, Andrew Jefford — wine writer and the Wine Scholar Guild’s Academic Advisor — is joined by William Kelley, wine critic for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, to discuss a host of issues facing the language of wine and its primary vehicle of communication: the celebrated (or maligned, depending on your point of view) tasting note.
“A good tasting note should communicate as relatably and usefully as possible the character and perceived quality of the wine,” notes Kelley, who reviews roughly 5,000 wines annually from Burgundy and Champagne for his publication. However, he cautions, “it is a very limiting genre.”
By and large, Jefford agrees, but he also calls for “an equivalent of the ‘natural wine’ movement for wine writing” to refresh the possibilities and broaden the perspectives of wine language worldwide.
In the end, this debate is a fascinating look into the process of crafting tasting notes from two of the industry’s most accomplished practitioners. But both admit that there remains plenty of open area for discussion on how to best utilize language to communicate the magic (or lack thereof) in the glass.
Our fifth edition of WSG Live features the Chilean terroir consultant Dr. Pedro Parra.
Since earning his doctorate in 2004 in Terroirs Viticoles from the Ecole d'Agriculture de Grignon (now part of AgroParisTech), Pedro has travelled the world consulting for many of today's leading wineries, including Liger-Belair and Roulot in Burgundy, Biondi-Santi and Argiano in Montalcino, Quintessa in Napa, Marengo in Barolo, Comando G in Gredos and Altos Los Hormigas in Mendoza.
His approach to soil studies is unique, combining as it does scientific analyses and detailed site mapping with an intuitive understanding and original reasoning, and always validating his insights with tasting in his quest for minerality (a term he uses freely), tension and freshness.
Since 2013, too, he has made his own wines in his native Chile, in Itata.
Join Andrew Jefford on TUESDAY, May 18th at 12:00 noon ET for a passionate discussion about Pedro's work and his ideas surrounding terroir!