Taking my #wine kung fu to the next level: #WSET II & Napa Valley Wine Academy

406064_562298363799327_175257724_nI have been immersing myself in the study of #wine in a semi-systematic manner for much of the last 8 years.  Indeed, #Vinopanion‘s 8 year anniversary with @WineLog is approaching in the middle of this month. Yet I have slowly realized that something is lacking in my devotion to the knowledge of the vinous delights: focus, structure and external credibility. You’d think that a trained scientist would have recognized this long ago and I did notice these thoughts in the back of my mind a few years back.  But they were always battered back by “where’s the time?” and “I’m still receiving plenty of media travel & event invites,” along with “my wine consulting services continue to expand.” Then I reached last year and I started to recognize some clear patterns in my wine work. While I had plenty of media opportunities and my fellow wine colleagues were continuing to get work, I could see that the pace of my own trade offers beginning to slow down. It was then that I noticed that most of my colleagues began to sport letters after their names on their business cards: they were taking certified educational courses to formalize their wine training. I needed to set up my wine game. It was then that I contacted the good people at Napa Valley Wine Academy (FB, Tw): “help!”

Our-certification-menu-logoThe Napa Valley Wine Academy (NVWA) was founded in 2011 by longtime wine industry veterans, R. Christian Oggenfuss, D.W.S., F.W.S., I.W.P and Catherine Bugue, D.W.S., IWP. As residents of Northern California wine country, they both perceived a lack of true connection between the schools that offered wine and spirits training and the actual regions about which they taught…and thus a fine beverage academy in the Napa Valley was born!  Featuring industry educational luminaries including Master of Wines Peter Marks and Tim Hanni, as well as Master Sommelier Tim Gaiser; they are truly “one foot in the classroom and the other in the vineyards.” The NVWA has experienced tremendous industry support and strong early success, prompting them to expand to satellite locations around the US in Tampa, Florida and Santa Barbara, CA; as well as online. 

IMG_5975The NVWA instructors are spread across all of the major industry certifications, allowing the Academy to provide a full service range of official beverage certifications, including wine, spirits, saké, and beverage service, and region-specific courses. All courses and examinations are given by the academy itself, making it a one-stop educational experience, unlike many other piecemeal organizations. I have chosen to start my wine and beverage education in the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (FB, Tw, YT, NVWA) program, starting with the WSET II Award, courtesy of the NVWA.  More on those adventures later however, as I need to get studying for my first exam! ¡Salud!

WBC11 Hits Virginia with Le Wine Buffs in Tow

2011 North American Wine Bloggers' ConferenceAt this point, my regular readers should know quite well about my participation in the cra cra known as the North American Wine Bloggers’ Conferences (Twitter, WineLog).  We’re coming up on the 4th in this great series, after the huge success in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  This year we’re invading Charlottesville, Virginia for our very first time plundering the wine life on the right coast (and East Coast wine bloggers rejoice).  The state of Virginia has been exceptionally supportive and I’m looking forward to learning a ton about 5th largest wine producing state in the Union.  Between the Keynote from Jancis Robinson (Twitter), the Virginia Wine (Twitter) Reception at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for dinner on Friday, another Keynote from Eric Asimov (Twitter) and the annual Vineyard walks in the local wine country, #WBC11 looks to be just as stunning a time as years’ past.

Le Wine Buff - EnjoyBordeaux.comThis year my trip is courtesy of the CIVB’s Enjoy Bordeaux (Twitter, WineLog) campaign, as Le Wine Buff.  We’ll be pouring two phenomenal Bordeaux during my favorite sessions at the conference, the Live Blogging Reds & Whites.  Fellow ‘Buff Erin McGrath (Twitter, WineLog) and I will be pouring the 2009 Château Le Gay Bordeaux Festival Rosé and the 2007 Château Edmus Saint-Émilion Grand Cru (which I adore).  Oh, and we’ll definitely have some more tasty Bordeaux to try during the annual Unconference, of course.

You can find our wines listed again below, as well as a growing list of wines after the Sponsors that I’ve tried at the conference as I get them up there, tagged with “WBC11” so that you can list them in your own WineLog.  So come find us at the event if you’re lucky enough to attend or follow our adventures online as we invade Virginia!

Le Wine Buff wines at WBC11:

2009 Château Le Gay Bordeaux Festival Rosé

Color: Strawberry pink

Nose: Tons of fresh juicy strawberry here with some slight citrus.

Palate: Crisp and easy quaffer, this also has great strawberry and orange peel

on the light to medium palate.

 2007 Château Edmus Saint-Émilion Grand Cru

Color: Darker ruby core, medium ruby edges

Nose: Loam, char and fresh cigar box here with bigger fresh anise and further darker fruits underneath.  Flint on the edges adds to the dried roses. Good.

Palate: Medium to full, with great fresh tobacco and flint to start off, then digs deep into dark fruit and anise to complement the medium fine drier tannins and juicier acidity.  Heads into great earthiness and more tobacco and char towards the long, black, cardamon finish.  Very good: KeeperWK, OldWorldWK.

All wines tasted at WBC11 (growing in real-time):

[winelist query=”WBC11″ num=”150″]

Today's Bordeaux is in New York City?!

Today's Bordeaux 2010 - EnjoyBordeaux.com My regular readers know that the Enjoy Bordeaux Le Wine Buff’s took NYC by storm a couple months back, helping host the Snooth and Ziff Davis TechEnology event, back at the end of March.  It was there that we battled the East Coast urban prejudices against affordable, quality Bordeaux and taught them who’s boss.  Well the Buffs are headed back the East Coast to jury the 2011 Today’s Bordeaux: Top 45 Affordable Bordeaux Under $45 and I have to say, it’s gonna be great.  For when Bordeaux hits the Big Apple, it’s sure to be culinary and vino awesomeness!

Le Wine Buff - EnjoyBordeaux.comWith all of the news about the even higher prices for an extremely small number of über high-end Chateaux 2010 futures hitting all the news wires leading up to Vinexpo later this month, it might be surprising to hear that Bordeaux is actually one of the highest sources for affordable, high QPR wines.  Yet Bordeaux has thousands of producers and négociants across 60 sub-appellations, amounting to many, many labels of fine wine, most of which is squarely in the inexpensive realm of vino drinkin’.

It is just this plethora of value within BDX that the Today’s Bordeaux list aims to celebrate.  We Buffs will slave away, for 1.5 days straight, pouring poring through 150+ entries to bring you the top 100 affordable Bordeaux for 2011.  No, no, no, don’t thank us…it’s what we do.  Cheers! 😉

Enjoy Bordeaux

As Le Wine Buff for EnjoyBordeaux.com, I am paid a nominal fee for most of my participation.  I also receive free wine samples and my participation on this trip is courtesy of the CIVB and Benson Marketing.

Le Wine Buffs Survive Manhattan (and so does the city)

TechEnology - Snooth, Ziff Davis & Enjoy BordeauxSo as it turns out, New York is a pretty damn cool place!  My first time in NYC was filled with as much sightseeing, vino networking, shopping, eating and drinking as one could possibly fit into 3.5 days.  I was in the city for the first time on another adventure as Le Wine Buff for the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB)’s Enjoy Bordeaux campaign, on a fully paid business trip.  While the point of the trip was to attend the Snooth & Ziff Davis TechEnology event and talk about the full awesomeness of affordable Bordeaux wine alongside my LWB colleagues, I was determined to experience as much NYC as I could handle…and I succeeded.

TechEnology - Courtesy of Enjoy Bordeaux & CreativeFeedHeld at the new digital & design campus General Assembly, we walked to the space in Union Square from our hotel, the Martinique.  Rob Moshein, Erin McGrath (Twitter) and I hoofed it pretty quickly actually, as we were running a little late to scope out the wines and discuss them with the servers.  Once there we met up with our fellow LWB in arms, Mollie Battenhouse (Twitter), Rebecca Chapa (Twitter) and Megan Wiig.

The event was just an awesome mob of mainly younger wine and tek-oriented vino enthusiasts, with a distinct flair for networking.  I was hoping to spend more time sipping the wines as they got more air, but I was all wrapped up in interesting discussions about fascinating new intersections between wine and technology.  Indeed, the only people missing were the minds behind that digital wine ingenues at VinTank.

Tweetelier - CreativeFeedHighlights from the event for me included meeting Dr. Andrew Waterhouse, a luminary in viticulture and enology research at my alma mater, UC Dvais.  He is one of the pioneers for research around resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in wine and the subject of one of my articles for Mutineer Magazine.  Another biggie was the newly invented Tweetelier (Twitter) for that particular event, in fact!  Created by members of CreativeFeed, the creative minds behind Enjoy Bordeaux.  You attach the little transmitter to a bottle and setup the radio receiver along with the software and then BLAMMO, a unique tweet each time a bottle is poured during your event.  Simple, yet awesome.  Shopping in the Garment DistrictThe last highlight was the afterparty dinner at craft, Tom Colicchio‘s flagship restaurant, he of Top Chef fame.  It was another epic, 3+ hour long dinner, quite reminiscent of our meals while together in Bordeaux last summer. It was a tremendous meal and completely lived up to the hype. Yum!

The rest of my time in the big city was spent tearing around trying to see and taste as much of Manhattan as possible and to find the appropriate gift for the Lady.  This involved lots of coffee in small places, beautiful silence at the Public Library, oysters and bubbly with Rob at Grand Central Station, drinks in a oversized library and green-lit escalator and drizzly rain with mind-blowing lighting effects in Times Square.  Very good times and I left with a deep appreciation of the subway and taxi system of the Big Apple.

Very good times and I can’t wait to go back to judge the 2011 Today’s Bordeaux competition and select the new Top 100 Affordable Bordeaux in June.  Cheers!

Hudson New York Times Square

As Le Wine Buff for EnjoyBordeaux.com, I am paid a nominal fee for most of my participation.  I also receive free wine samples and my participation on this trip is courtesy of the CIVB.

Le Wine Buffs Take Manhattan

Le Wine Buff - Enjoy BordeauxEnjoy Bordeaux‘s Le Wine Buffs are back and we’re thirsty.

This time we’re taking on New York City and Manhattan is gonna stumble down in a vinous frenzy of affordable Bordeaux wine!  We’re the wine sponsor for this year’s TechEnology wine event held by Enjoy Bordeaux partner Snooth and tech media publishing titan Ziff Davis.  Held at the newly renovated General Assembly, the event will mix some of the icons of tech, publishing and the wine biz and look to do some serious vino mind melding.

I’m excited to be pouring and talking about these wines at the event because I think Bordeaux is coming into another renaissance of exposure for it’s thousands of high quality, affordable wines and their Chateaux, all across the greater appellation.  Much of this belief was built during our visit to Bordeaux last summer.  This event promises to be “a private, networking event recognizing the wine world’s most technologically forward people, business and practices”…and these are the peeps that need to know Bordeaux!

See you on the Right Coast vinopanions, and cheers!

As Le Wine Buff for EnjoyBordeaux.com, I am paid a nominal fee for most of my participation.  I also receive free wine samples and my participation on this trip is courtesy of the CIVB.