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. Join Andrew Jefford for a passionate discussion about Pedro's work and his ideas surrounding terroir!
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.
Few, if any, moments in wine are more dramatic than when a producer decides it is time to pick fruit. Whether they rely upon a Brix reading, a visual cue from the grape seeds, or the finely tuned instrument of their own palate, making the call to harvest a plot of grapes is a decision fraught with consequence. Get it exactly right and you can have a legendary vintage. Get it wrong, and nothing that follows from the vine to the winery to the bottle can make up for an ill-timed harvest.
“Ripeness is balance at its apogee,” notes Julia Harding, a Master of Wine, wine critic, contributor to JancisRobinson.com, and the co-author of the often-referenced book Wine Grapes. Yet given the frequency with which “ripeness” and “balance” are used as terms in wine discussion, it is worth our time to take a step back and try to find a consensus on what they actually are (or even, if they are the same thing), and the ramifications this may hold for our sensory perception.
As we discovered, defining where that apogee of balance lies can be exceedingly difficult. Balance “resists codification,” says wine writer and Wine Scholar Guild Academic Advisor Andrew Jefford. “It varies culturally; it varies by individual; it varies by region and by variety.”
For our latest Great Debate, Andrew Jefford and Julia Harding tackle the finer points of ripeness and balance in wine. Their back-and-forth covers a lot of ground: how to decipher balance on the palate, the differences between tasting wine and drinking a wine, putting the value of alcohol levels into context, the role climate change is playing in defining our sense of taste, and even the dangers of allowing one’s intellect to override the sensual response. All of it, Jefford suggests, is in a quest for, what he calls, “resonance.”
While we may not have arrived at any convenient new truisms, in the end, wine’s remarkable ability to reveal the harmony of nature is — at least for now — something we can all agree on.
As Hugh Johnson first grasped in the late 1960s, there is no greater tool to wine understanding than fine cartography: the chance to read a landscape from a single sheet of paper. More and more wine regions around the world, moreover, are now refining the manner in which both growers and producers are able to express terroir via geological and topographical surveys, and high-quality mapping is an essential adjunct to this. No contemporary cartographer has had more impact on today's wine world than Alessandro Masnaghetti: the guest on our third edition of WSG Live.
Alessandro began his career in wine as a taster -- for the influential Luigi Veronelli, and then later for Vinum and l'Espresso, as well as for La Revue des Vins de France. He is the only Italian founder member of the Grand Jury Européen. Since 2007, though, he has gone back to a former passion of his, cartography, on the basis that "the true essence of journalism lies not in purveying opinions but in carrying out research and in-depth analysis". His magnificent maps of the Langhe and of Chianti Classico have led to new ways of thinking about these classic regions, and he has also mapped both Valpolicella and Bordeaux. He is currently engaged on a major, long-term project to map California's wine regions for Antonio Galloni's Vinous.
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 2019 vintage in France.
The beat goes on. The 2019 vintage in France marked five continuous years (since 2015) of warmer-than-average weather. Global warming is with us and accelerating – but so far, for the wine growers of France, it has been merciful.
Did you enjoy reading the Great Debate on Natural Wines by Simon Woolf and Andrew Jefford?
We are following up their written debate with a WSG Live, and encourage participants to share their opinion or ask their questions directly to Simon and Andrew.
So take a look at the debate again before you watch this episode of WSG Live!
Simon J Woolf is an award-winning English author and wine writer, currently based in The Netherlands.
An acknowledged expert on the developing niche of natural wine, he's written for Decanter magazine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, World of Fine Wine and Noble Rot, and many other publications. Simon is the editor of The Morning Claret, an online wine magazine which specialises in natural, biodynamic, organic and orange wine.
Simon's first book "Amber Revolution - How the world learned to love orange wine" was published in 2018, and won the Roederer Wine book of the year award in 2019. Simon has also won numerous awards for his magazine features and online columns.
Simon travels regularly to countries such as Georgia, Slovenia, Italy and Portugal, where he continues to research the stories and traditions behind artisan winemaking. His second book, Foot Trodden, a collaboration with photographer and wine communicator Ryan Opaz, was published in October 2021. It is described as a journey deep into the soul of Portuguese wine.
Simon is also active as a presenter, editor, wine judge and translator.
WSG’s Academic Advisor and one of the world’s finest wine writers.
Few consumer products in the world are more steadfastly focused on origin than wine. Think of the last great bottle of wine you enjoyed and, odds are, its place of origin featured prominently on the label.
Known as appellations, these defined areas of wine production have fostered a fanatical faithfulness to origin across the industry. Whether it is a Chianti Classico or a Chambolle-Musigny, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch, how we interpret wine often comes down to how we interpret the place of origin.
While the general concept around the world is the same, the approach certainly is not. In the European sense, appellations define not only the boundaries of a region but the permissible production of wine (including grape varieties, yields, winemaking techniques and more).
“It is better to call non-European systems of this sort ‘Geographical Indications,’ since outside Europe it is generally only a producing zone which is defined,” says wine writer and Wine Scholar Guild Academic Advisor, Andrew Jefford. “Grape varieties and production methods are left up to the producer, and are a matter of free choice.”
Studying the differences and similarities among appellations, as well as their traditions and modifications, can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment — or frustration.
“The tail is vigorously wagging the dog,” says wine writer Robert Joseph, who is also a producer and wine analyst. He notes that too many places lack the distinction required to make appellations practical, useful and relevant to today’s consumer. Add in the not-so-little wrinkle of climate change, and the very purpose of appellations going forward becomes a rousing debate.
So: are appellations too “rooted to the spot” to be useful in a changing world? Or do they still offer producers the best chance to market their wines on a crowded global marketplace? We sat down with Andrew Jefford and Robert Joseph and hashed it out.
Forbes Spirit quotes Wine Scholar Guild as one of the best ways to learn about wine.
Wineindustryadvisor.com reports on the launch of a new version of WSG's Bourgogne Master-Level Program.
French newspaper DNA reports on the very first panel tasting using the Architecture of Taste research project’s tasting grid, organized in Colmar, France.
Harpers reports on the unveiling of a new project aimed at developing a new way to assess wine.
Cellar Asia discusses online wine education programs available in China.
Wineindustryadvisor.com reports on the creation of the Golden Vines Wine Scholar Guild Scholarships for BAME/BIPOC students.
The Drinks Business reports on the launch of the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist certification program in collaboration with Lustau.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine discuss the diversity of wine courses and certification programs.
Interview of WSG President Julien Camus in the French newspaper EAV/PHR.
Vino Joy News reports on the appointment by WSG of Corinne Mui as WSG Ambassador for Asia, its fastest-growing market so far, to drive its regional growth.
The Drinks Business reports on the launch of WSG's new IWS Prep course
Wineindustryadvisor.com reports on the launch of IWS Prep, WSG's new foundation-level programming on the wines of Italy
Wineindustryadvisor.com reports on WSG's three new online education series: "Meeting of the Minds" panel discussions, "WSG Live" interviews and "The Great Debate articles.
Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen from Forbes.com talk with Rick Fisher about the Spanish Wine Scholar program and its online version.
Foster's Daily Democrat discusses online wine education opportunities and reports on our upcoming 5-week, intensive French Wine Scholar online program starting April 6th.
SWS Education Director Rick Fisher talks about on one of Spain’s most popular white grapes - Albariño!
The Wine Industry Advisor reports on WSG's Program Providers of the Year and Top Exam Scorers for 2019
The Drinks Business mention the new Spanish Wine Scholar program in their top 6 ways to become a wine expert in 2020.
Marisa D'Vari from Forbes.com covers Wine Scholar Guild programs and study trips
NeatPour.com compares wine & sommelier certification programs and covers Wine Scholar Guild
The Grapevine Magazine reports on the global launch of WSG's Spanish Wine Scholar study & certification program.
The Wine Industry Advisor reports on the global launch of WSG's Spanish Wine Scholar study & certification program.
Somm Journal reports on the launch of the Spanish Wine Scholar study & certification program.
The Wine Industry Advisor reports on the endorsement by Wines from Spain of WSG's Spanish Wine Scholar study & certification program.
Harpers reports on the launch of the Spanish Wine Scholar study & certification program.
WSG Education Director Lisa Airey discusses different job opportunities within the wine industry and how to get those jobs.
Rick discusses an exciting new Spanish wine education program being offered by the Wine Scholar Guild. He also talks about the joys of Garnacha Tinta, the ever-increasing popularity of Rías Baixas wines in the American marketplace, and a few of his favorite regions to visit in Spain.
WineTitles Media reports about award-winning journalist Andrew Jefford joining the Wine Scholar Guild as Academic Advisor
Wine Scholar Guild is added among the "Internationally Recognized" wine education providers along with WSET, IMW and CMS
Drinks Business reports on the launch of the Spanish Wine Scholar program
Wine Scholar Guild prgrams are discussed in Wine Enthusiast in an article on "A Guide To Wine Certification Programs"
Drinks Business reports on Patrick Schmitt MW joining the panel of instructors teaching WSG's Champagne Master-Level Program
The 1st Wine Scholar Guild educator trip to Italy makes the Italian news on RAI, Italian national TV.
Drinks Business reports about the French Wine Society rebranding as Wine Scholar Guild
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