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    Our Recent Top Exam Scorers

    Bordeaux

    Noelle Harman

    Congratulations to Noelle Harman for passing the Bordeaux Master Level program with highest honors!

    About Noelle:

    After a 10 year career as a tax attorney, I came to the decision that life was too short to continue in a career that I wasn’t passionate about.  (Thankfully, I have a very supportive spouse too!)  I’m now a full-time wine academic and wine blogger.  My blog, Outwines, focuses primarily on wine study and education – using study habits that I developed in law school (outlines for wine . . . Outwines).

    I’m planning to professionally teach or write about wine – ideally a combination of both.  Last summer, I began teaching WSET Level 2 classes and the Italian Wine Scholar course.  Currently, I am working to establish the Italian Wine Scholar course program in southern California.  

    In 2014, I enrolled in the FWS course with a wonderful instructor, Regina Daigneault.  I credit the FWS program for kickstarting my serious interest in wine - I had no idea that there was so much to learn and appreciate about wine beyond just what’s in the glass!  History, geography, soil, climate, laws, viticulture, etc.  After earning highest honors on the FWS exam, I was hooked on the pursuit of further wine education.

    Since then, I’ve passed WSET Level 3 with distinction and have taken the Rhône Master Level course through the Wine Scholar Guild.  I also recently passed the Italian Wine Scholar course with highest honors.

    I’m currently a WSET Diploma candidate with the Neptune School of Wine.  In the past, I struggled to wrap my brain around Bordeaux.  I knew I needed to have a better grasp of the region if I was going to be successful with my Diploma studies.  And there’s no better in-depth course of study then the Wine Scholar Guild’s Master Level programs.

    After completing the ML Bordeaux program, I have a much better understanding of the region and anticipate that this will help me greatly with the rest of my Diploma – and any further studies.

    In addition to learning more about Bordeaux, the ML program has also helped me better appreciate the wines from this region.  Thanks to the amazing webinars that are part of the program, I now know where to look for better value wines from this region too!  Overall, the Bordeaux ML program has given me the confidence to challenge myself more frequently and dig deeper when studying some of these great wine regions of the world.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial There’s no better in-depth course of study than the Wine Scholar Guild’s Master Level programs.
    • Position Wine Blogger, outwines.blog
    • Certifications WSET Level 3, FWS with highest honors, IWS with highest honors, Rhone Master Level
    Read more...

    Bruce Smoller, Bordeaux ML

    Congratulations to Bruce Smoller for passing the Bordeaux Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Bruce:

    I am simply an amateur with a passion for learning about wine.  The genesis for the interest probably arose from my days of living relatively close to Napa Valley and making trips there to taste and to learn.  Over the years, I have developed a passion for learning everything that I can about the field.  I use my knowledge solely to throw good dinner parties and to pick out the “perfect” wines to accompany the dinners I share with my wife and my friends.

    I have passed each of the following programs: French Wine Scholar, Italian Wine Scholar, Master level programs in Burgundy, Rhone Valley and Bordeaux. (I will be enrolling in the Loire Valley course and going on the travel program this spring).
    I have also passed the Napa Valley Wine Expert course from the Napa Valley Wine Academy and short courses from the Swiss Wine Academy and Wines of South Africa. I am currently enrolled in the Wines of Australia course from the Sydney Wine Academy (while awaiting the start of the Loire program).
    Each of these courses (including the Bordeaux Master program) has enabled me to appreciate another group of wines and to learn about regions we had all heard about, but knew surprising little about.

    I will begin the Loire Valley Master program in late March (I think) and will be participating on the tour to the region in June.  Again, it will be fun to learn about an area that I am surprisingly uneducated about. 

    Bordeaux is an especially fun curriculum to have learned about. Virtually everyone knows about wines from Bordeaux and lots of folks can “throw around” the names and reputations of the “first growths” with relative ease. However, there is so much more to Bordeaux than those few wineries and it was great fun to learn about all of the dimensions of Bordeaux. In recent months, my dinner parties have featured more Bordeaux wines than in the past, stealing some of the spotlight from Burgundies. (I do not think that they will ever surpass Burgundies in my heart, though). Each night at dinner, my wife and I spend a while discussing the subtleties and the context about whatever wines we are tasting, including most recently, lots of Bordeaux wines.
    It is possible that when I retire from my day job, I may attempt to find a position somewhere in the wine education field. This has truly become a passion of mine.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Bordeaux is an especially fun curriculum to have learned about
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    • Certifications FWS, IWS, Burgundy ML, Rhone Valley ML
    Read more...

    Brandon Boudreau, Bordeaux ML


    Congratulations to Brandon Boudreau for passing the Bordeaux Master Level exam with highest honors!

    About Brandon:
    I would say I'm an aspiring wine professional who is enthusiastic about every second of the process. I am very lucky to have found my passion at a young age, as I find fine wine to be absolutely fascinating. Last year in 2017 I caught the wine bug after attending wine classes at a modest wine shop. I have been consumed by a hunger to become successful in this sector. Knowing full well how competitive the fine wine sector is in terms of jobs compared to individuals interested in holding those coveted positions, I knew it was important to distinguish myself. Last year I was awarded the Merendino Scholarship which has opened incredible doors including paying for expensive exams and aiding in my studying abroad. This lead to being recruited recently at the Georgian Room a Forbes 5 Star restaurant located in Sea Island, GA.


    
I have passed the Certified Sommelier exam in Nov 2017 which I was the highest scorer in my class which earned me a Waltor Clore scholarship. I passed my Certified Specialist of Wine also in Nov 2017. As well I just passed the French Wine Scholar Exam in Aug 2018 with Honors.
    I choose the FWS and Bordeaux ML exam because of my particular interest in the regions specifically. Also our cellar at the Cloister is quite heavy in French wines specifically those from Bordeaux. I do plan to enroll in the Certified Wine Educator and Advanced Sommelier exams at some point and I do think these exams are keeping me sharp and on point. This is how I sold the Wine Scholar Guild ML programs to my scholarship when I applied for money.


    Next year I want to focus more on becoming an expert of topics that fascinate me and less on the broadness of the world of wine, bringing my studies to a more finite approach. I want to specifically study some of the most renowned, historic, and expensive regions in the world to an expert’s degree. The Wine Scholar Guild has proven to me to be very well organized and thorough as seen in my recent studies for their “French Wine Scholar” exam. The Wine Scholar Guild offers master level program that seem very comprehensive. I believe becoming the master of specifically Bordeaux and Burgundy is something that not only I am driven enough to tackle but would also make me appear more attractive to future potential positions within the resort group or outside of it especially being how rich the Cloister's cellar is with both Bordeaux and Burgundy. In addition the aforementioned two master level exams I believe will also be fantastic stepping stones for eventually applying to take the Certified Wine Educator and/or Advanced Level Sommelier exam courses.


    The ML programs were brilliant because it introduced me to people like Charles Curtis MW and Andrew Jefford whose lectures were compelling. Their passion was contagious. Having a program so rich with information coupled with leading renowned experts is a beautiful equation for enriching students like myself.



    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Having a program so rich with information coupled with leading renowned experts is a beautiful equation for enriching students like myself.
    • Position Sommelier at Georgian Room in Sea Island, GA
    • Certifications Certified Sommelier (CMS), Certified Specialist of Wine CSW, FWS
    Read more...

    Kevin Shaffer, Bordeaux ML


    Congratulations to Kevin Shaffer for passing the Bordeaux Master Level exam with highest honors!


    About Kevin:

    My interest in wine started while I was living at home after graduating from college. My father had a wine cellar that contained mostly classified Bordeaux wines from the 1960s and 1970s. Every Sunday evening my father would retrieve a dusty bottle from the cellar for dinner and these intensely perfumed wines ignited my passion for wine. I began to read about wine (Robert Parker was a big influence) and I eventually landed a sales rep position in 2001 with a company specializing in the wines from Portugal.

    My education in wine took off when I moved to a start up fine wine company based in Manhattan called David Bowler Wine. While at this company I was exposed to many of the great wines of Europe, particularly France.  I have been lucky to travel to wine regions in many countries, including Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and the USA. My current position with Vintage Imports has me covering key accounts throughout New Jersey and I see myself in this role for many years to come.

    I have passed several other programs from the Wine Scholar Guild, including FWS, IWS, ML Bourgogne, and ML Champagne. My initial reason for taking the programs was to prepare for the WSET Diploma program, which I am currently enrolled in. I love the ML programs because of the scope and depth they provide. The instructors, many of whom are Masters of Wine, are excellent and provide invaluable insight. Plus, the material is presented in a format that is more enjoyable to study than a typical textbook.  I recently started the ML Alsace program and I look forward to completing all the ML programs offered for France.

    The ML level programs have inspired me to want to learn more about wine regions all over the world. For anyone aspiring to reach the pinnacle of the industry, such as Master of Wine, the ML programs are a great way to prepare.




    Additional Info

    • Testimonial For anyone aspiring to reach the pinnacle of the industry, such as Master of Wine, the ML programs are a great way to prepare.
    • Position Key Accounts Manager at Vintage Imports (Bristol, PA)
    • Certifications FWS, IWS, ML Champagne, ML Bourgogne
    Read more...

    Jeffrey G. Jones

    Congrats to Jeffrey G. Jones for passing the Bordeaux Master-Level exam with the highest honors!

    About Jeffrey G. Jones:

    ''My enthusiasm for wine began years ago in college. I have been a life-long student of wine, especially those of Bordeaux.

    For me, the study of wines ties together the disciplines of chemistry, agriculture, cooking, geology, and history.  I love the fact that, although one can learn many aspects about wine, there are always new dimensions to explore.

    My master-level studies forced me to explore in some depth topics that I had not concentrated on in my independent studies. I appreciate this “rounding out” of my knowledge of Bordeaux.  Also, the studies provided new foundations in which to understand concepts of terroir and philosophy of wine-making. Thank you!''

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial My master-level studies forced me to explore in some depth topics that I had not concentrated on in my independent studies
    • Position Wine Enthusiast
    Read more...

    Chad Watkins

    Congratulations to Chad Watkins for successfully passing the Bordeaux Master-Level exam with the highest honors!

    About Chad:

    ''I have been working in the wine industry for almost 10 years. I spent a year studying history and French language in Strasbourg, France. It was here I fell in love with wine. There are few wines better, à mon avis, than a brilliant Alsatian Riesling. Sadly I came back to the US where good Alsatian Riesling is hard to find. But, I couldn’t get rid of my love for wine, a topic that blends many of my great passions: history, geography, language, food. I began working wine retail to learn as much as I could. I tasted as much as I could, as often as I could and never turned down an opportunity which has led me to Bordeaux, Piedmont, Napa and back to Alsace to learn about wine. A few years ago I grew weary of retail and aspired to do more writing and education. This led me to start my own company, (Un)Common Grape, with the focus of helping people understand wine and make it a greater part of their everyday lives. This has been a hard road but is still my passion and my goal. Recently, an opportunity arose for me to learn more about the wholesale side of the business and I accepted a position as Brand Manager for The Winebow Group, specializing in Greek and Australian wines, two areas I am eager to learn about. Ultimately, I still hope to unify all these experiences to contribute to the wine education community allowing others to share their experiences with wine and talk about it in ways that make sense to them.

    Apart from the Alsace ML course that I took last year, I have also completed my Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators and have just begun sitting for my Diploma of Wine Studies with the WSET. Several years ago I also traveled to Napa Valley with the Napa Valley Vintners to complete their Wine Educators’ Academy, making me a Certified Napa Educator. I have continued this relationship and am now a Brand Ambassador for them. I also sat a similar course in Bordeaux at the CIVB in 2009.

    I hope to continue my studies with the Wine Scholar Guild with more ML classes and will look at beginning to study Italian and Spanish wine as well as these are countries I know less about. However, my ultimate goal is to enroll in the MW program in the next 5 years. I see any wine education as valuable to this end.

    Obviously, the ML program covered very similar material to the week I spent in Bordeaux, but that was several years ago and this was not only a good refresher, but as the wine industry is constantly evolving and changing, current information is always key. There was, for example, just starting to be a conversation about the Chinese market, but nowhere near what we understand today. The need for constant conversation and learning is so important in this industry, courses like the ML are vital.

    As a wine professional, it’s important to me to have the right information at my fingertips. Especially in my market (NY/NJ) having to take the time to look something up or giving incomplete information is not only inefficient, but can sometimes come across unprofessional. It’s important to me that I know what I am talking about and can answer questions about wines quickly and accurately. Additionally, for me in particular as a younger professional, having courses like the ML program has given me lots of respect because of the knowledge I’ve gained and the ability that gives me to talk intelligibly about wines to other wine professionals and consumers.''

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial For me in particular as a younger professional, having courses like the ML program has given me lots of respect because of the knowledge I’ve gained and the ability that gives me to talk intelligibly about wines to other wine professionals and consumers.
    • Position Brand Manager for The Winebow Group, specializing in Greek and Australian wines.
    • Certifications Certified Specialist of Wine CSW, Alsace Master Level.
    Read more...

    Mak HF George

    Congratulations to George HF Mak for passing the Bordeaux Master-Level exam with the honors!

    About George:

    ''I am a wine enthusiast with special interest in Bordeaux, one of the most famous and prestigious wine region of the world. The sub region which made me fell in love with Bordeaux and wine in general, is Sauternes. I would claim myself as a sweet wine, and especially Sauternes, fanatic.

    I would like to be a wine educator specialized in Bordeaux wine in future, as I want every wine lover to explore what’s ‘true Bordeaux’ and share my passions on its great wine with them. That’s why I am training myself up by studying WSET Level 4 Diploma and Certified Wine Educator.

    I would state French Wine Scholar is the start of my passion to wine education as French Wine, for me, is the mother to the great wines of the world. The program is so eye opening to this general consumer who believed Syrah is from Burgundy back then, to dedicate himself to this career.

    I am a French Wine Scholar and Certified Specialist of Wine. I also hold several certifications for Japanese sake (for instance WSET Level 3 in Sake) as many wine lovers in Hong Kong have to know something for it. I found that the Bordeaux Master Level program complemented much in my WSET Diploma Study as it digs much deeper than what this qualification expects and covers Bordeaux, my favorite wine region, completely. The most important thing I learnt from this program is that it broke several myths for wine lovers (even experts) of Bordeaux, which one of them is that Bordeaux is of vintage but not terroir. This is totally wrong after I immersed myself in this study program and the wine immersion trip. I would ask someone to have Pichon Longueville Baron and Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande of SAME VINTAGE BLIND to break this myth.

    I am training myself up by doing WSET Level 4 Diploma and Certified Wine Educator. I believe that the contents of Bordeaux required by these qualifications would be nothing if compared to this Bordeaux Master Level Program, which tells you what the ‘true Bordeaux’ is (never, never forget those lesser regions and emerging Chateaux to find hidden gems!). In the future (next year), I would also immerse myself in the Rhone Valley Master Level study, since I believe Rhone Valley is the mother of great wines of hot climate regions (especially Australia, my dream country).

    Never forget the fundamental reason to engage in any wine study program: To enjoy the great wines from the course!''

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial I found that the Bordeaux Master Level program complemented much in my WSET Diploma Study as it digs much deeper than what this qualification expects and covers Bordeaux, my favorite wine region, completely.
    • Position Wine Enthusiast with special interest in Bordeaux.
    • Certifications WSET Level 3 in Sake, Certified Specialist of Wine CSW.
    Read more...

    Gershwin Narraidoo

    Congratulations to Gershwin Narraidoo, FWS and FWS authorized instructor for passing the Bordeaux Master Level examination with honors!

    About Gershwin:

    As a certified Bordeaux wine educator and approved instructor of FWS, Gershwin has been teaching at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami since 2011. After 14 years managing luxury resorts in Mauritius, Sydney and Miami, he became a hospitality educator in service, management, spirits and oenology.

    “I am thrilled to be an instructor for the FWS program and Johnson & Wales University being the  first and only provider to offer the course in Miami! I strongly believe that knowledge increases pleasure. My appreciation for wine education began at an early age, having studied in Australia and soon after being enlisted by the Australian government to promote Australian culture in the U.S. through wine. I have since obtained significant training in wine through the Society of Wine Educators, London Wine Spirit & Education Trust, Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux and the Wine Scholar Guild. I am passionate about wine and look forward to increasing my knowledge on French viticulture and sharing this with other wine enthusiasts.
    Completing the Bordeaux Master Level has enabled me to better appreciate Bordeaux wine through an in depth understanding of its history, geography, viticulture and culture. I look forward to enhancing my knowledge through other master levels provided by the Wine Scholar Guild”.

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial Completing the Bordeaux Master Level has enabled me to better appreciate Bordeaux wine through an in depth understanding of its history, geography, viticulture and culture.
    • Position Hospitality educator in service, management, spirits and oenology at the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami
    • Certifications Certified Bordeaux wine educator, approved instructor of FWS
    Read more...

    Erika Frey, FWS

    Congrats Erika Frey, FWS for successfully passing the Bordeaux Master-Level exam with the highest honors!

    About Erika:

    ''I am a Certified Wine Educator working in the Boston area as a wine educator for both wine professionals and consumers.  In addition, I’m a senior team member of a small retail shop specializing in small wine producers and unique selections.  I aspire to be an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide for people on their personal journeys in the world of wine.

    I am a Certified Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educations, and I’ve completed my WSET Diploma.  I will be taking my Certified Sommelier exam in July.  I started the French Wine Scholar program in 2013 and received my certification with highest honors in 2014.  Currently, I’m working through the Wine Scholar Guild’s French Master Level programs and enjoying learning about these regions and their wines in depth.  I’m looking forward to the new Italian and Spanish programs at the Wine Scholar Guild.

    My customers and students often feel a bit intimidated by Bordeaux wines.  The prices for Bordeaux vary widely, and there’s not a lot of information on labels to explain how one Bordeaux differs from another.  The Bordeaux Master Level program will help me guide my customers to find the Bordeaux wines that suit them best.  For my students, I feel better equipped to explain what makes this region particularly unique and successful.  As for myself, I’ve got much more confidence now when I’m faced with a shelf full of Bordeaux wines.''

    Additional Info

    • Testimonial My customers and students often feel a bit intimidated by Bordeaux wines.[...] I feel better equipped to explain what makes this region particularly unique and successful.
    • Position Certified Wine Educator working in the Boston area
    • Certifications FWS, WSET Diploma, Certified Wine Educator CSW
    Read more...

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