Click here to view a print-only
version without photographs.
Wine Country Ontario ● Kevin Ecock
Sedlescombe Vineyard ● Gilbert Winfield
Languedoc ● Helen Savage
De Martino Carmenère Tasting ● Lindsay Oram
Travels in Argentina ● Susan Hulme MW
Florida Wine ● Paul Quinn
Plaimont ● Helen Savage
Cognac Educator Programme ● Peter Edwards
Château de Fesles Tasting ● Richard Bampfield MW
Working Freelance ● Laura Clay
Chile Sponsored Tasting Programme ● Linda Simpson
It has been a difficult year for many of us, with many challenges so it helps to take stock of our situation as wine educators and also to remember some of the benefits of doing the work we do.
The advice of our chairman is to stay optimistic and be creative in seeking out opportunities. Reading Laura Clay’s piece on freelancing, you will probably find yourself nodding in agreement and hopefully you will also come to the conclusion that the pros far outweigh the cons.
For one thing there is the pleasure of continued education: Lindsay Oram reports on the De Martino Carmenère seminar and tasting and Peter Edwards describes an educational visit to Cognac.
And of course there is the exciting aspect of foreign travel which brings to life, in all its vibrant intensity, a particular region or place. My own visit to Argentina and Chile (to be reported in the next edition) were personal highlights of 2011. We also have excellent reports from the Languedoc, Gascony, Florida and Ontario. Closer to home, Gilbert Winfield’s visit to Sedlescombe forms the background for his reflections on bio-dynamic and natural wines.
It's good to remind ourselves that what we do is fun, both for us and for the public. In these bleak economic times we all need some of that. Here’s wishing you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.
© Susan Hulme MW 2011
Please forgive the brief and possibly hasty column this time – partly due to the fact that the advice given below genuinely works and partly because I have an important vintage brandy butter tasting to attend (in my dreams). My main message is “Remain positive”. If one spends too much time reading newspapers or listening to the news, one could easily become depressed by the constant reminders of the economic crisis and, more, the signs that the situation will probably get even worse.
Those of us who are self-employed must, more than ever, concentrate on the areas we can influence rather than those that are outside our control. Is there more we could be doing for existing clients? Are there local hotels / restaurants that require help with staff training? Do some of those same hotels and restaurants need help with their wine lists? Or help planning events for the quieter evenings of the week? And could some of those local socialites who are cutting down on eating out be entertained by wine evenings at home?
It is interesting too that the WSET continues to see impressive growth in numbers taking its courses. Admittedly, much of this growth is coming from outside the UK, but it does reflect a growing need/demand for wine education in general.
It seems to me that successful business people succeed whatever the economic environment because they adapt accordingly. We as wine educators can do the same.
May 2012 bring increased work opportunities and, of course, a steady supply of fine bottles of wine........and brandy butter.
© Richard Bampfield MW 2011
Last month I paid a visit back to where I was first introduced to wine. France, Germany, Italy?
In 1982 I accepted a scholarship to take an MSc in Geography at McMaster University in Ontario. The college is in steel town Hamilton, halfway between Toronto and Niagara. I was big into karst geomorphology at the time. In other words I was a caver looking for some international experience! The Geography department at McMaster was at the cutting edge of karst research and had a dating laboratory to die for (that’s ‘dating’ as in Uranium Thorium decays, reverse magnetic poles, radio carbon, isotopes ….!).
For the Christmas of 1983 a few of us decided to fly to Puerto Rico and explore the Rio Camuy cave system. It’s a big cave and flows under the giant Arecibo radio telescope. A major part of our challenge was to negotiate a few miles of underground canals without a boat. We designed flotation devices that incorporated empty bags from boxed wines. We sewed these into a cut-proof fabric with shoulder straps. A bag at the back could be inflated by a colleague while the front could be inflated by the wearer. Foolishly we used bags that had previously held wine. We sourced these by joining a tour to a winery near St. Catherines in wine country on the Niagara escarpment. They worked brilliantly but, as we had used old bags, every time we deflated them in the tight confines of a cave we were enveloped into personal, and gag-inducing, spaces filled by old oxidized wine aromas. Yes, my introduction to wine is a memorable one!
As soon as I qualified from McMaster I joined the wine trade back in Ireland– caves don’t pay. I continued to visit Ontario and always found myself drifting down into its developing wine country. I say ‘developing’ because grape growing was well established in the late 1980’s and many of the wineries that are familiar landmarks today had already been put together. On the whole, though, they were relatively small and the trade was dominated by a few large concerns intent on making wine in defiance of the unique challenges that Ontario offered. Thus pure vinifera was seen as something the small guys dabbled in! The extremely cold winters with consequent spring and autumnal difficulties were ameliorated by the bigger wineries by the use of labrusca vines, hybrids and crosses and also by some truly weird wine making practices.
Nevertheless, by the beginning of the 1990’s the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) had been established as a quality mark to guarantee both appellation and the stated varietal. Following years of confusion, grubbing up and federal supports, declining sales of Ontario wine finally reversed. By about 1991 labrusca vines had been banned, VQA principles had been widely adopted and structural problems associated with keeping vinifera vines alive during extremely cold winters had been solved. Then Inniskillin won the Citadel d’Or, prix d’honneur, at VinExpo Bordeaux for its Vidal Icewine 1989. Ontario had arrived as a producer of small quantities of high quality wine.
In the early 1990’s there were about 70 wineries operating in Canada. 90% of these were in Ontario. Today that number has risen to 400 wineries across the country. While Ontario continues to hold the lion’s share of these there is a substantial industry in British Columbia with smaller enterprises in Quebec and Nova Scotia. The world of wine is now familiar with Canadian Icewine and the Canadian industry can proudly point to a very interesting grape stock with everything from Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Vidal and Gewurztraminer working well beside Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Baco Noir and many, many others.
While my focus this year was on two particular wineries on the Niagara Peninsula, Ontario has four other regions.:- Pelee Island is the most southerly and has its vineyards out in Lake Eyrie; Lake Eyrie North Shore; Prince Edward County, north of Toronto on the northern side of Lake Ontario; Toronto and York.
The Niagara Peninsula has a dolomitic limestone escarpment cresting along it. At its extremity, Niagara Falls gracefully flows over its edge! In front of it, facing east and stretching away from the Falls in the direction of Toronto, there is a series of mapped sub-appellations based on soils, rock and local climate variations. The region is bounded to the east by Lake Ontario. Thus names such as Short Hills Bench, in the case of Henry of Pelham below, or St David’s Bench with Château des Charmes are important indicators as to what the grapes are capable of. Each of these appellations is defined as a cool climate grape growing area and has been mapped with great precision. This is all legally certified by the VQA authorities. Currently Wines of Canada tells us that there are 13,600 acres of land planted with 32 varietals on the Niagara Peninsula.
On my recent visit I caught up with family and ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, (AWE members really do get around!) I also took in two important wineries, Henry of Pelham and Château des Charmes, with whom I have had a long ‘watching brief’.
Henry of Pelham has, by Canadian standards, a lengthy history. The current owners are the three Speck brothers, Paul (President), Matthew (VP and Viticulturist) and Daniel (VP and Sales and Marketing). When I met Paul he told me how their father had in the 1980’s bought some land that had been in his family’s name since 1794. A cousin of the family, Paul told me, had put this block up, “as a ‘fire sale’ situation in the early 1980’s when interest rates were very high and the economy was in even worse shape than it is today. My father was approaching retirement. He had been running a private school in Toronto and bought the land probably out of sentimentality.” The land was a 65 acre block across the road from the current winery. It had been in a the family name since Paul’s great, great, great grandfather was granted it for services to the Crown in defending Upper Canada.
In the 1980’s Paul readily admits that his father, or family, knew nothing about either grape growing, or wine making, and to a large extent learnt everything from assimilation, trial and error and the help of knowledgeable neighbours. Paul accepts that, “they had no idea what they were doing!” Paul, and as it happens his two brother also, took philosophy at college. Their father passed away in the early 1990’s without really knowing whether the venture would “even progress past the incubation stage.” The first idea was to build a small 5,000 square foot winery and see what happened.
Today Henry of Pelham still operates on the site of the original land purchase, is an 85,000 case winery and produces a traditional Family Estate range of premium labels and more recently two further labels, Sibling Rivalry and The Housewine Company, designed as contemporary and lifestyle wines. The company now owns 225 acres of premium land, with 170 acres under vine and much of the remainder devoted to wetland restoration and woodland preservation.
Cuvée Catharine Rose Brut
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, bottle ferment; well made and very satisfying tart strawberry effect.
Henry of Pelham Family Estate 2010 Chardonnay
Stainless ferment with lies ageing. Initial delicate nature fills out on palate with fine herbal edges. Cool climate style.
Speck Family Reserve 2009 Chardonnay
From 1988 shovel planted vines! Wonderful bouquet. Bright, alert, strong and generous wine.
Speck Family Reserve 2007 Riesling
Vines planted in 1984. Very intense and noticeably ‘different’. Tight wine with well integrated acid, rich herbs and light smoke. Excellent.
Henry of Pelham Family Estate 2007 Pinot Noir Reserve
Rich, full and well developed nose. Lots of furry elements show good deal of rusticity on palate. Great food wine. Ontario does Pinot Noir very well!
Speck Family Reserve 2007 Cabernet Merlot
Well developed wine, big tannins are softening. Juicy, deep seated palate; exciting.
Henry of Pelham 2009 Baco Noir Reserve
I’m a great Baco Noir (1894 crossing of Folle Blanche and an unknown vitis riparia) fan and this is one that anyone who wants to know what Baco can achieve should try. Immense ruby purple. Vibrant and terrifyingly deep bouquet of brambles and dark forest fruit. Everything here is packed with berries and jams in a soft and generous way. Watch out for the perfumes. They captivate!
Henry of Pelham Family Estate 2008 Riesling Icewine
Unique bouquet with intense floral notes that are highly aromatic, lively, rich and deep. This continues seamlessly to the palate where young citrus and crunchy mineral elements combine well with a rich and piercing acidity. This is a baby. Everything here works well and continues to a finish that promises a great and long future.
Château des Charmes is very different to Henry of Pelham. In many respects they offer an excellent counterpoint to one another in that Ontario has many very fine, small to medium sized, family estates and now also has a few, very fine, large sized family estates also. ‘Large’ carries responsibility and the Bosc family who own and run Château des Charmes have always impressed me with their ambition and attention to detail. They are large. Currently they farm 280 acres of vineyard in four separate vineyards in two sub-appellations, St. Davids Bench and Four Mile Creek, of Niagara on the Lake.
Fifteen years ago I imported wine from Château des Charmes to Ireland. I chose their wines because they had the capacity, quality, family history and potential to succeed. I met with current President and CEO of the group, and Chairman of The Canadian Vintners Association, Paul-Andre Bosc and asked him for his views on Canadian wines and those of Ontario in particular.
Paul speaks with authority and passion. He is immensely proud of the Bosc tradition of vineyard innovation and experimentation. On vineyards: “We don’t manage our vineyards to turn a profit. We do that in the winery.” The Bosc vineyards are tile drained every 2.5 meters and are all equipped with anti-frost windmills. Of the 14 varietals they have planted the Bosc’s consider Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Gamay their workhorse varietals. Amazing then that they actually produce an Ice Wine from Savagnin, bottle an intriguing Chardonnay Musque and make a fair fist at producing a well spiced Gewurztraminer! He’s a great believer in allowing the market place decide, “whether you’re on the right track or not. It may as long as 5 to 10 years though!”
The Bosc’s have been lifelong supporters of Sustainable Viticulture. They have never used herbicides on their land but do reserve the right to spray insecticide when it is deemed necessary. “Our climate can be very humid. It can be a virtual bug incubator! We only spray with great precision.” He makes the point that all of his vineyards teem with life from deep in the ground right up into the canopies. He equally makes the point that, “we’re not always a cool climate area. Last year it was so warm that we picked Merlot at 25brix. This year we had an inch of rain last night and the Cabernet hasn’t been harvested yet! But, we do need to be good environmental custodians. I don’t want to hear my son ask me, ‘Hey Dad, you killed the land?! ”
In his role with the Canadian Vintners Association he continues to raise national issues with Federal government. “The fragmentation of the internal market is, in my view, the greatest barrier to this industries success. We only have 33 million citizens but we have 13 distinct Liquor Board jurisdictions. We are not allowed to sell a case of wine to a visitor here at the winery in Ontario and ship it across Provincial boundaries.” Paul likens this to telling a Burgundian that he cannot ship to Paris!
Château des Charmes has no further expansion plans. “No, this is as big as I want to get. I’m a wine grower. If we grow any further we will need to be run by accountants. There is no shame in defining your talent as finite. Incrementally the cost of expansion now would be too much. Millions of dollars are not available and both at home and abroad the market is being shared by more and more wineries than ever before. The only real future growth will be to create a wine style that is new to anything that has gone before.”
Château des Charmes 2009 Aligote
Clean as a whistle this wine pays homage to Paul Bosc’s French heritage. Excellent expression on the nose; mineral driven palate. Crisp and dry this cries out for a plate of oysters.
Château des Charmes 2009 Chardonnay Musqué
This is unoaked so as to express its Musqué properties. The effect is a highly unusual sense of a spiced honeysuckle. It’s also big and expressive on the palate with a fine acidity.
Château des Charmes 2007 Chardonnay St Davids Bench Vineyard
Light gold, rich toasty light vanilla, excellent depth and fill on the palate. This is quite delicate and yet has a very ripe attack. Finish needs food to drag it out.
Château des Charmes 2007 Pinot Noir Paul Bosc Estate
Good varietally accurate and driven wine. Fine earth and clay influence, soft mid palate firms up well at the finish.
The Boscs believe in using closures as an extension of the wine making process. Therefore stainless steel equates to stelvin while oaking equates to cork.
Château des Charmes 2007 Savagnin St Davids Bench Ice Wine
Big Mediterranean style with citrus and a real feel of Halloween fruits! Palate opens out well with a well stitched acidity holding it all together. This is ‘bigger’ than a Riesling would be. As with many ice wines from Ontario the sweetness levels are both off the Richer scale and yet very much under control!
Salty nuts would go a treat with this.
© Kevin Ecock 2011
Wine Country Ontario - More than a bag in the box!
Our visit to Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard on 13th November must have been well viewed by whoever is in charge of the weather, as we had a day of uninterrupted glorious November sun; a little chilly, sure, but as clement as we could have hoped for. I know that Oscar Wilde has said that “Conversation about the weather is the last resort of the unimaginative”, but it is important if you compare the appeal of a rain-soaked tramp through a sodden English vineyard (which had been my experience up till then) to the pleasant autumn glow of “the awesome countryside of the Sussex High Weald”, (to quote Bill Green of Slow Food, my fellow organizer) that we got yesterday.
Our hosts Irma and Susan were welcoming as anything, and the tour and tasting were well appreciated. We even managed to fill the coach exactly (not an easy task, with people joining and cancelling right up to the evening before), which made it as cost-effective as possible, and went back with the coach clinking occasionally from the purchases of various member of the group.
Not everything was perfect, though. Our coach driver had had his mobile stolen the evening before (by someone in a party of rugby players he was chauffeuring, of all people; shame on you)! Still, we got there using alternate navigation (my phone), with the customary detour down a wrong turning, which, I feel, adds spice to all successful vineyard visits!
Perhaps here is the answer: I am no die-hard zealot of biodynamic viticulture above all others, nor, infectious though it is, do I share Doug Wregg’s or Isabelle Legeron’s unequivocal enthusiasm for ‘Natural wines’, but I am certainly very appreciative of natural ways of making wine like biodynamic, and organic, and I do have a little booklet called “When wine tastes best. A biodynamic calendar for wine drinkers” in my office. Consulting this today, I find that the 13th November was a root day, all day. Root and leaf are the days in the biodynamic calendar on which wines are supposed to taste flatter, while flower and fruit days invigorate aromas and flavours.
So there it is: The biodynamic calendar really is the new wine drinker’s bible! As a scientist by education, I am of course sceptical. However, I am impressed with this empirical endorsement of the calendar. Ideally I would have arranged the visit on a fruit or flower day; practicalities like Slow Food’s calendar also have to be taken into account, though, and yesterday was the day decided on. At least the 13th didn’t fall on a Friday; who knows, that might have caused other problems.
I still consider Sedlescombe Vineyard’s wines to be some of the best around, and we had a fantastic trip and superbly hosted tour of an unique English vineyard. We learned about organic and biodynamic viticulture, and more than we were expecting about biodynamic wine tasting. There are plenty of fruit and flower days coming up in the next few months. Let’s go to Sedlescombe again then and see the difference!
Bodiam Brut – Lightly fruity, tangerines. Lovely ripe palate, with moreish tangy acidity, and fresh finish. Not confected, like some English fizzes.
Old Vine 2010 (Reichensteiner, biodynamic) – Spicy, delicate, very dry. Rather lean, in fact; easy, perhaps even dilute.
First Release 2010 (Bacchus, Solaris, Rivaner, biodynamic) – Fuller than previousl more tropical. Clean, fresh, with ripe fruit fullness, but a little subdued.
Bodiam Harvest 2010 (Reichensteiner, Seyval Blanc, biodynamic) – Full, round. Less residual sugar than First Release, but lower acidity, so the result is leaner, but round’.
Rosé 2010 (Regent) – Made from biodynamic grapes, but cultured yeast, so not certified biodynamic. Lovely delicate white stone fruit, sour cherries. A hint of spice. Dry, but not very, delicious.
Regent Red 2009 (Regent, organic) – Rather grassy and herbaceous, strawberries, peppers. Palate light, as the fruit is lean. I am not a great fan of English reds and this one isn’t converting me.
Apple wine – Very wine-like, dilute cider flavours, light, low alcohol
Apple & Blackberry – Light and simple, true to its ingredients, pleasant sweetness.
Eldeberry – Dry, simple fruit. Tart and astringent bitter palate. Not my favourite
Black Cherry Wine – Much rounder, sweeter, shouts black cherries at you, with good acidity. A lovely drink, the 14% alcohol not showing. Very useful, I should think, for tasting demos.
13th Nov 2011
I went to Languedoc three times in 2011. The first visit was in the bright cold of January, for Millésime Bio, the now huge, but extraordinary egalitarian organic wine fair, held in Montpellier. I returned in May for a couple of days with clients who’d won a wine tasting completion run for Majestic. I took them to stay at L’Hospitalet, Gérard Bertrand’s posh ranch in La Clape and also to the Paul Mas winery at Domaine Nicole. And then I was back for a week with clients of my own to enjoy some glorious October sunshine and to investigate the distinctively different terroirs of Hérault.
Each visit gave a glimpse of three very different sides of Languedoc and each raised enough issues to prompt me to clamber onto my soapbox. So here goes.
Let’s begin with the organic scene. Languedoc is the engine of the French organic movement. The rate of conversion to organic is almost exponential. Millésime Bio is nearly four times the size it was when I first visited a few years ago. Some of those who have jumped on the bandwagon are believers, passionate and green to their fingertips, others undoubtedly see it as an extra, fairly easily achieved, marketing tool. They have learned to talk the talk, if the occasion demands it, but true eco-warriors are scared to death that the fragile good name of organic viticulture is being compromised by those whose bottom line is quantity over quality.
Biodynamics is becoming more popular too. It offers a green haven to some purists, especially those who want to claim that they are doing something positive – they then portray organics as a negative approach – all about not doing certain things in the vineyard; but they are disconcerted by the kind of mystical, fundamentalist preaching of Nicolas Joly and his friends and would really rather prefer a new kind of more empirically-testable, Steiner-free form of biodynamics. Real tensions are growing in the organic movement in Languedoc and it is far from easy to predict where they will lead.
Meanwhile, it is no surprise that Majestic have fallen head over heels in love with Paul Mas. The range is sure-footed, imaginative and attractively-priced. Gérard Betrand similarly merits his high profile on the wine shelves. They both show that it is possible to construct a powerfully competitive brand in the south of France from fruit grown on sites that has failed to excite in other hands. They demand and achieve high standards, and are happy to align themselves, at least partly, with the organic bandwagon.
In stark contrast, I gather (I hope reliably – my source is a good and recent one) that the spirit is so low among some grape growers with vineyards on the vast plain of Languedoc that they feel that it is an unequal and uneconomic struggle trying to manage them all; but they are prepared to declare a crop as if they were. For sake of argument, this means that that they might specify that they will harvest up to 60 hectolitres from each of their 10 hectares. In reality they abandon five hectares and take 120 hectolitres from each of the remaining five. The price they receive is the same and it’s a lot less work. No one seems prepared to blow the whistle on this.
While it is thus little wonder that the quality of some of the cheaper Languedoc wines remains lamentable, Paul Mas and Gérard Bertrand show that it need not be so.
And then there’s Picpoul de Pinet. One of the most refreshingly honest voices in the Languedoc is that of Cyril Payon the director of l’Ormarine, the co-op in Pinet itself, which is a shining example of how a well-run co-op can raise standards and provide reasonable returns for its growers. Payon, who is also the president of the oenologists of France, argues that a wine like Picpoul needs to sell (in France) at no more than €4 a bottle. “At that price it’s accessible to everyone and gives them something they really want. Our aim is to understand how to make better wine without raising prices.” And, he argues, there is no point trying to pretend that Picpoul can be grander than it really is. To age it in oak, for example, would only serve to emphasise the slightly bitter character of a wine made from small berries with, for a white grape, decidedly thick skins.
In an area as large and geographically diverse as Languedoc it is inevitable and proper that there should be a vast variety of wine styles and a corresponding range of prices, but the confusion today in France’s second-oldest commercial wine region (assuming that Provence beats it by a short head) suggests that while enormous changes for the better have been made in the last generation or two, it still does not seem to have recovered from the consequences of the disastrous expansion of planting in the region in the late nineteenth century.
© Helen Savage 2011
trends in all directions
The De Martino Chilean Carmenère tasting run by the Circle of Wine Writers in October produced some interesting facts about this lesser-known variety. The last tasting I can remember going to dedicated to Carmenère was one in 2002, run by Errazuriz and Hatch Mansfield. I wondered if the findings and conclusions differed between both tastings, so I dug out the notes from that tasting to compare the findings.
Firstly some general revision on Carmenère; it ripens very late and in Chile this means 3-4 weeks after Merlot and 1 -2 weeks after Cabernet Sauvignon. Carmenère has a thick skin, thus giving high levels of tannin and deep colour. The tannins, however, ripen before the green,herbal pyrazine flavours disappear so there can be some bitterness on the finish. The wines have a high pH and, therefore, low acidity; wines are powerful, but can lack structure and elegance.
The vine has high vigour, and if not enough of the crop is set the vine can overproduce leaves and not ripen the fruit, so in several cases higher yields have led to improved fruit quality. The vine suffers from coulure, and bunch thinning is not such an important viticulture tool for this variety. It is perhaps strange that Carmenère and Merlot were once confused when you consider the differences between the plants. The growing tips, leaves, berry and cluster shapes are all different; as is the colour of the leaves in autumn. Merlot has low instances of coulure, medium-to-high basal bud fertility, and low-to-high vigour. Carmenère, on the other hand, has problems with coulure, and has medium-to-very high vigour, as mentioned before.
Basal bud fertility is low in Carmenère, meaning cane, rather than spur, pruning gives better results i.e. a single canopy in low vigour sites and a divided canopy such as Lyre or Scott Henry in medium vigour sites. Cover crops are used to compete for nutrients and water. However it must be remembered that these findings are based on Chilean vineyards;while Carmenère is grown in other countries, such as Italy, USA and France, by far the major plantings are in Chile. Another consideration is that the variety was only really identified in Chile in 1994, so there has been less than 20 years research. Current plantings in Chile are 8,827 ha representing about 8% of the plantings of wine grapes.
Perhaps the character that springs to mind with Carmenère is the green flavour caused by 2 Methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine which are still present even after the tannins have ripened. From the 2 tastings, several theories on how to lessen these effects have been put forward, mainly based on viticulture. In fact the only vinification theory was from the Errazuriz tasting that suggested use of oak to ‘mask’ the green flavours.
In the work by Errazuriz, climate was found to be important with a cooler (Winkler 11) climate being most effective in giving a long hang time to ‘burn off’ and minimize the green flavours - it is flavour rather than tannin ripeness that dictates picking date. Their research favoured the Acongagua Valley (Winkler 11) as it has a long, cool growing season with an early spring and late autumn allowing long hang time with little threat of rain. The wind is funnelled from the Pacific into the valley giving cool conditions with plenty of sun to ripen the grapes thus giving picking dates of 1 month later than some other regions. The cooler climate theory was born out by De Martino, who favoured Maipo, also Winkler 11.
Actual temperature was found to be important by De Martino, with the optimum being an average maximum temperature in the warmest month, January, of no more 27-28 degrees. If the site is too hot, alcohol goes up and the balance in the wine disappears.
Although this did not mean that other areas had no success with Carmenère, Errazuriz generally found that vineyards in cooler sites, such as Casablanca (Winkler 1), there was often insufficient heat to burn off the vegetal characters. In areas such as Curico (Winkler 111) the heavy soils along with a shorter, hotter ripening period with late rains do not allow the long hang time required to soften the green flavours.
De Martino has done more research into soil type and nutrient content. They have found that the optimum soil has rock 1.3-1.8 metres below the surface and clay content of around 18%. Soils with rock closer to the surface tend to have a higher sand content and, therefore, are too free-draining; while not suitable for Carmenère, they are suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon. Indeed De Martino believe that sandy soil emphasises the ‘greenness’ of Carmenère as water and nutrients drain away leaving the plant deficient. Sandy soils in the higher yielding Central Valley tend also to have high pH, which comes through in the wine. Given that Carmenère already has high pH, this is another reason why it should not be planted on this soil type.
Due to the high vigour of the variety, organic material should be <2%, meaning that plantings should be avoided on the alluvial plains, making granite Coastal range terraces a better choice. Errazuriz findings on soil were slightly different, in that sandy, stony and well-drained soils were believed to soften green flavours.
The tasting showed that, undoubtedly, the style of De Martino Carmenère has undergone a seismic shift over the last 14 years. Everything (with the exception of the unchangeable things such as weather and rainfall) has changed - from harvest date, use of cold maceration, fermentation tanks, and yeast selection, length of ferment and maceration, length of ageing, maturation vessel, bleeding and acid addition. For the point of comparison I compared the 1997, 2002 and 2010 vintages below as stylistically these showed the major changes in style. The wines, all from Maipo Valley were the 1997 Santa Ines Legado de Armida and the 2002 and 2010 De Martino Alto de Piedra.
The winemaker, Marcelo Retamal, is a very brave man; he described the 2002 as a ‘Pamela Anderson’ wine, pumped up and over the top, the style of wine that after a glass becomes tiring, the type of wine loved by certain wine critics. His preference changed to Gwyneth Paltrow, altogether more refined and elegant so he decided to change his wine style to something he preferred and liked drinking, and I agree with him.
But with all this said was I bowled over by the charms of Carmenère? Well not really, I can’t see this variety being in my top 10. I keep thinking that when widely grown in Bordeaux the variety was used as part of a blend, and for me, I think that Carmenère prefers to be with others rather than travelling alone.
© Lindsay Oram 2011
CWW De Martino Chilean Carmenère tasting
In September I was invited to be an international judge in the prestigious bi-annual Vinandino wine competition held in San Juan and Mendoza in Argentina. After the competition finished I was determined to see something more of Argentina on this my second visit to the country. This time I added a couple of days in the exciting capital Buenos Aires and a few more days visiting a magical place I had longed to see for some time, Cafayate, the beautiful area in the far north west of Argentina towards the border with Chile and Bolivia. Cafayate is the home of Argentina’s native aromatic grape variety, Torrontes and it is one of those places that has always held a special draw for me. It more than lived up to my expectations with its brilliant bluebird-blue skies, almost blindingly bright sunlight and its dramatic canyons.
I had been invited as a guest of Michel Torino Winery to visit their Bodega El Esteco and stay in their delightful boutique hotel and spa. The distances in South America take some getting used to as having flown the two hours or so from Buenos Aires to Salta, itself a well-known tourist attraction, it was then another three-hour drive to Cafayate. My considerate host, Michel Torino, had sent a driver, Luis to collect me. In case you are thinking of visiting they do this for their hotel guests too.
I had arrived on a Sunday, the winemaking team’s day off, so I was invited to enjoy complimentary spa treatments at their shiny new hotel spa where they use purified local clay and minerals in their treatments. My massage and facial were just perfect after a week of judging wines! I was in my element. The breathtaking beauty of the
setting, the tasteful comfort of the hotel, together with the feeling of peace and the wonderful, heady, scent of orange blossom, made the whole thing a magical and unforgettable experience.
The next day I met viticulturist Francisco Xavier Tellechea, the vineyard manager, who showed me around. After finishing his studies in Mendoza in 2006, he had spent 6 months working in the Languedoc. In 2009 he moved to Peru for 1½years where he made both wine and Pisco.
Cafayate’s location between two rivers explains its name – it means 'box of water' in Cacán (the Calchaquí language). Since then I have heard two other possible translations for the name Cafayate, but ‘box of water’ is both poetic and accurate as Cafayate is supplied by two rivers - the Chuscha, which originates in the Andes and provides water for most of the year, and the Loro Huasi which supplies the nearby Transito, Torino’s organic estate. Cafayate looks very dramatic, as it is surrounded by two mountain ranges, the Calchaqui to the West and Aconguicha to the East. The Calchaqui Mountains, it is said, hold back the clouds so the Calchaqui Valley is very dry with only 180-200 mm of rainfall per annum, a contrast to the very wet Lerma Valley. Here though, a soft north wind helps to dry the vines and prevent problems with rot.
Francisco explained that Cafayate has one of the best climates in Argentina. It is very consistent from year to year with no frost, hail or storms. It is a fresh climate with a temperature that drops dramatically at night and is one of the sunniest places in Argentina with 320 days of sunlight a year. In summertime there is rain but no more than 200 mm a year. If it rains one day, that same day generally has sun and wind to help dry out the vines thereby helping to reduce vine disease. In winter the average temperature goes down to 6oC during the day.
The Torino Cafayate vineyards are located at the bottom of the mountains at an altitude of between 1700 and 2000 metres. This gives a big diurnal difference in temperature - the daytime temperature in the growing season is between 28 – 34oC but at night it drops to 14oC.
I asked Francisco why cool nights are so important for the vine and he replied that the plant can breathe more deeply when it is cooler, and as it inhales more deeply it develops more aromatics and aromatic precursors.
They have 480 ha of vines here and two key varieties are of course the speciality of the region, Torrontes and Cabernet Sauvignon. These are both late-ripening varieties.
Viticulture - in defence of pergola training
The low rainfall means irrigation is essential and at Cafayate they operate two irrigation systems, flood and drip (introduced in 1997 and used for all subsequent plantings, including 80 ha of new vineyards last December). The irrigation water comes from the two aforementioned rivers, the Chuscha and the Loro Huasi.
As far as vine training is concerned they have had VSP (vertical shoot positioning) since 1982 but they also have the more traditional pergola system for some vineyards, and for some of the best ones too!
The indigenous Torrontes is now proven to be a hybrid between Criolla and Muscat of Alexandria. There are three Torrontes clones in Argentina but only one predominates - Torrontes Riojano - which is the most popular clone in all districts of Argentina. Its parents are Criolla Chica (Mission in USA), and Muscat of Alexandria. This clone is highly aromatic and complex with nuances that the other two clones do not have.
Actually Criolla Chica may not be a “clone” of what we know as Mission but may be a mutation of Black Muscat. If this is true, then both parents of Torrontes are Muscat varieties! Perhaps Jancis Robinson and her team will have got to the bottom of this in their forthcoming updated edition of 'Vines, Grapes and Wines'.
Torrontes San Juanino is planted in the San Juan district. It shares its parentage with Riojano but the flavours are like a very straightforward Muscat without any tropical fruit or banana/apricot nuances. It is very simple although viticulturally it is similar to Riojano.
Torrontes Mendocino is from Mendoza. This clone is the least preferred of the three because the flavours are more neutral - hardly anyone plants it anymore. Only one parent is known: Muscat of Alexandria so if this is the case, then this “clone” is not really a clone at all but a separate variety.
Randle Johnson, consultant winemaker at Colume, believes that the cooler climate of Cafayate and the Calchaqui Valley in general magnifies the Muscat aromas of Torrontes. The compounds which cause these aromas (called turpenes) are also present in, amongst others, Viognier, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer all of which excel in cool climates. He says the grapes for the best Argentinean Torrontes brands are almost all sourced from Cafayate, making them much in demand and more expensive.
I asked Francisco, as Michel Torino is one of the biggest producers of Torrentes, how to get the best out of the variety. He said the balance between canopy and production must be right and they need to remove leaves to allow air to circulate. In addition, Torrentes needs to ripen fully and must be harvested quickly in the cold early morning so to preserve the delicate aromatics; the berries should be transported in small boxes to avoid damaging them and the winery should be nearby.
Although they use Bordeaux mix and sulphur against mildew, they don't have too many problems or pests because it is so dry here. However while I was there in October (Spring in Argentina) they were spraying ant nests. They have problems with both black and red ants who regard the leaves and buds of the vine in Spring as one giant salad bowl and can eat their way through a big part of a vineyard, if left unchecked, over a weekend. The black ants tend to congregate in one place whereas the red ants are spread sporadically throughout the vineyard so are more difficult to control.
We finished our vineyard tour in the aptly named La Vieja (the Old One), planted in 1947 with Torrontes, where we met winemaker Alejandro Pepa. Alejandro had prepared an excellent tasting in one of the picturesque hotel courtyards. The tasting covered most of the Michel Torino range and included a very attractive rosé and an interesting Tannat in the Don David range as well as three very good Torrontes. The top end wines were tasted before dinner that same evening.
© Susan Hulme MW 2011
Travels in Argentina
When people visit Florida, they tend to visit the major theme parks such as Universal Studios and Disney. What most people do not realise is that just an hour up the road Florida’s largest vineyard is located, and it is a free attraction.
Lakeridge Vineyard was established in 1989 in Clermont Florida and has the largest winery in the state, home to an 80 acre estate vineyard. It also owns 450 acres at Prosperity vineyards and has 400 acres that are contracted throughout Florida and Georgia.
They produce 350,000 gallons of wine a year, 90 percent of all the wine produced in Florida. But the new facilities being built mean that they will soon be able to increase the tank capacity by 100,000 gallons. The difference between this and most vineyards that I visit is that here they grow hybrid grapes, such as the local Muscadine, producing eight different table wines and a sparkling wine.
The Muscadine grape thrives in heat and humidity and is resistant to heavy rain downpour. Lakeridge Vineyard must be doing something right as they have won over 300 awards for excellence. All of the wines that are produced here are sold every year to the American market and they have no plans to export their wines.
Southern Red, a light, sweetish wine made from Muscadine, is the best selling wine for Publix, the American equivalent of ASDA, and sells the majority of Lakeridge Vineyard wines.
Although none of these wines were my style for drinking, most of the people who were on the tour bought a few cases each.
© Paul Quinn 2011
Thirty years after the foundation of the appellation of Saint Mont, the pace of research to improve standards remains unabated. While it’s true that some French co-ops still seem to prefer to concentrate on quantity above quality, others have very different aims and produce some of the best wine in their regions. The Cave de l’Ormarine in Pinet is one such; another is La Chablisienne, the marvellous co-op of Chablis. My favourite, however, is not a single cellar but a group of co-ops that work together in Gascony to make wine worthy of the proud traditions of the land of the Three Musketeers and to market it.
Les Producteurs Plaimont have been celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Saint Mont, the appellation they created almost single-handed and still dominate, with the launch of two new flagship wines. Their technical director, Olivier Bourdet-Pees also took the opportunity to come to the UK to describe some of the ground-breaking research they’ve been doing to understand the conditions in their vineyards better and how they’re using that information to make even better wine.
They work with 1001 growers, who own around 5,000 hectares of vines. The appellation of Saint Mont itself only covers 1,200 hectares, spread on the first rolling foothills of the Pyrenees around and above 42 villages in the valley the River Adour and its tributaries.
The climate is dominated by the mighty Atlantic Ocean, less than an hour’s drive to the west, and by the high peaks of the Pyrenees, a similar distance to the south. Between April and July it rains. They are drenched with around 440mm of rainfall, which believe it or not, is well over the twice the amount I enjoy on Tyneside. But in August, just when, as the statistics show, the heavens open up here, it dries up nicely in Gascony and they can look forward to three or four months of warm, dry, settled weather, with just the occasional storm – which usually waits to land on me whenever I visit. Relatively cool nights enable the grapes to mature slowly and to develop flavour complexity.
This pattern of a damp spring and early summer followed by a long warm dry period suits the local grape varieties to perfection, according to Olivier Bourdet-Pees. They love it, especially Gros Manseng, which needs a lot of spring and summer water – a minimum of 800 to 900mm, he says. This possibly explains why crisply fragrant dry wine made from Gros Manseng, Arrufiac and Petit Courbu will probably always remain unique to Gascony, as will the the astonishingly fine sweet, but refreshingly acidic wines made from Petit Manseng. When these varieties have been trialled elsewhere their wine is never as good as that from their home soil.
Research continues in the experimental vineyard set up by the extraordinary engine of Plaimont’s success, André Dubosc. They are still trying to find more forgotten varieties and better clones of those they are already working with, at the moment: 17 white wine varieties, 21 red and 1 rosé.
The soil itself, of course, also makes a huge difference to the way the wine tastes, as Olivier and his team have been able to prove. Over the last thirty years, the Plaimont team has been trying to understand their vineyards sites better and to come up with more accurate tools for determining the conditions that best suit each grape variety. Their analysis of climate is very detailed. They have painstakingly measured the degree of each slope, its altitude and exposure in an attempt to determine the theoretical energy that the sun will deliver to the leaves of the vines during the growing season. They have discovered that the theoretical energy in kilowatt-hours (kWh) per square metre of their leaves varies in the vineyards they manage between 832 and 929 kWh.
Two factors make a big difference: whether the slope is concave or convex and the capacity of the soil to accumulate water. The amount of rainfall on a slope does not tell you enough about how a plant will grow, soil wetness matters almost as much, as every good gardener knows. They now score each site on a wetness scale.
In the past, soil conditions have been examined by digging hundreds of small pits in the vineyards, but the Plaimont team has also borrowed technology from archaeology and in true Time Team fashion, have completed a geophysical survey of all their sites. The main method they’ve used is a study of the resistivity of the soil, measured by passing a small electric current between two probes. The probes record less resistance in damp conditions, where the soil may be rich with clay, and greater resistivity where the soil is well-drained and stony.
In mid-September I returned from a 9 day, Cumbrian group vineyard holiday tour (by coach & ferry) which I'd organised to Burgundy. So, for a few days I was dealing with a suitcase full of dirty washing, arranging my vinous treasures in my wine racks, and disposing of junk mail – both snail and email, when suddenly a heading swam into view - Cognac Educator Programme. I acted swiftly and so it was that on sunny Sunday - November 13th, I flew from Gatwick to Bordeaux and, after a 90 minute drive with my three English companions, we entered the Restaurant Du Golfe near Cognac. Here we joined the rest of party, three Americans, one Chinese, three French, three German, one Japanese, one Spanish; a diverse group from presidents of spirits importing companies, educators and mixologists to a Cocktail bar owner; all about to embark on the experience of a lifetime!
After a short meeting, a warm welcome by our hosts and a briefing; setting out our programme and the examination requirements, we were treated to a delicious Cognac Cocktail – Summit. A most beguiling combination of Cognac and lemonade with thin slices of fresh ginger, lime zest, cucumber peel and ice cubes. After socialising for a while and nibbling hors d’oeuvre, we were soon seated in the dining room, feasting ... the first of four gastronomic banquets with fine wines, and fine Cognacs that we were to enjoy during our brief four-night stay. They were long days crammed with visits.
After this delightful experience we sped off in our coach to Jarnac, and right by the river Charente we entered Château Courvoisier. Here we enjoyed a visit to the museum before watching a film on the story of Courvoisier followed by a tutored tasting of Cognacs and then split into two groups. For our group it was firstly a visit to the Paradis where venerable old Cognacs which have reached their optimum stage of development are stored in glass carboys. We tasted several aged Cognacs and were treated to a taste of a special blend - an assemblage of over a hundred aged eaux de vie - the oldest dating back to 1911 and the youngest - 1985. A bottle of this would set you back to the tune of £2400 euros! Then it was time to fine tune our sense of smell - sniffing and identifying various flowery and spicy scents - vanilla and violets for example; just two of the many aromas which one might encounter in Cognac. The day ended with another wonderful banquet.
On Tuesday we started with a lecture and tasting at the offices of the B.I.N.C. Lunch in a lively bistro, was followed by a ride out to Jarnac for a tour and tasting at the waterfront house of historic Delamain which, as some of you may know, has a most distinctive style and is renowned for retaining its lightness and elegance. Its proximity to the river ensures a slow maturation and a soft delicacy in the matured eaux de vie.
Then followed a visit to Cognac Paul Giraud in the heart of the Grand Champagne region - M.Girauld, unlike many growers who sell their distilled eaux de vie to the larger companies for maturation, blending and bottling, retains control of the whole cycle. His Cognacs have a distinctive style and personality as one would expect, and his range begins with 'Elegance' suitable for cocktails at 18 euros, (a bargain, as this is of XO quality) to Vielle Reserve at 62 euros; and beyond, into wallet- busting territory at 300 euros for 70 cl of Tres Rare Quadro in a crystalline carafe.
It was growing dark as we departed for our final visit to Domain Pierre Ferrand. Here, after a talk by the lively and personable owner, Alexandre Gabrielle, who hails from Burgundy, we had a visit to the farm buildings where the barrels of maturing Cognacs lay in serried ranks. Here we enjoyed tasting barrel samples. All Cognacs are matured above ground level in dark, damp, 'warehouses' so that the slight variations in temperature ensure the required thorough integration of oak. After sampling, we departed to the home of the owner, for our final Banquet in the Château de Bonbonnet. After a Jackson Punch Cognac with assorted Tapas we sat down at one huge table in the almost mediaeval kitchen, complete with an open fire and kitchen range at which the chef was presiding. We were served 'St Jacques rotie a la truffe et poireaux confits' with Pierre Ferrand Ambre Glace - straight from the freezer. But the 'Medaillon de Veau fermier aux Shitake with seasonal vegetables' which followed was accompanied by an excellent Louis Jadot 2007 Gevry-Chambertin with that sought after 'sous-bois' flavour. More Cognacs followed in ever increasing levels of sublime perfection, with the cheeses, dessert, and coffee.
Wednesday morning dawned. Departure day; but there was the matter of the examinations to attend to first! Candidates had to draw lots as to whether the main subject of our presentation was Vineyards and Distillation, or Distillation and Blending. After this we had half an hour preparation time before we sat before a panel of three judges to give our presentations. This was followed by a mild interrogation. After this, a written paper - 40 questions: multiple-choice answers. Later, we assembled for the results and the presentation of framed certificates and a photo session. We all enjoyed a relaxed buffet lunch before expressing our thanks, saying our good-byes, and dispersing to all corners of the globe.
For the participants, the Cognac education programme had ended, but our involvement with Cognac had only just begun, for we are now committed to holding four Cognac tasting events over the next two years. This challenge is not only achievable given a modicum of imagination and effort, but something to look forward to with pleasurable anticipation. After all, Cognac is wine based, and the perfect partner for wine and food-related education events and activities. I know from previous experience that sometimes a wine club will be open to a change of theme. I well remember one wine circle speaker-finder asking me for 'something different' and I obliged with a Malt Whisky nosing/tasting, on that occasion.
As I see it, being a Cognac Educator, is another 'string to my bow' and I would heartily recommend this programme to any colleague who might be interested. The course is so structured as to provide in-depth knowledge and technical details but above all, a chance to experience the warm embrace of the Cognac culture. I have the certain feeling, that before too long, I shall be returning to Cognac with happy expectations! My heartfelt thanks go to the B.I.N.C. for their dedication to our welfare, our superbly organised Cognac Educator Programme and, along with all those involved with our visits, their truly magnificent hospitality.
© Peter Edwards 2011
Cognac Educator Programme 2011
Tasting notes from the Château de Fesles tasting, October 2011,
with Chris Kissack (winedoctor.com)
1990 - Med deep gold, honied, bit oxidised, thick cut marmalade. Becoming toasty. Med sweet, v clean, pure, balanced acidity. Delicate, v fine. Not long, but complete.
1985 - pale to med gold. More floral, touch soapy, poss less ripe, notes of stone fruit. Medium, less pure than the 1990, higher acidity. Lesser vintage?
1980 - bright, yellow-gold, v youthful. Aromas a touch vegetal, white pepper. Touch of oxidation, also vegetal, high acidity. Lovely aperitif wine, but not great vintage. Really Riesling-like on palate, appley, light in alcohol. Tastes of apple purée. Medium.
1972 - golden-brown, old and vegetal, artichokes, creosote. But palate much more interesting, high acidity, yeasty, somehow real purity of flavour. Bit like tokaji, medium, beginning to dry. Appley, tarte tatin.
1970 - med gold. White pepper, vegetal, very light. Note of petrol. Bit unripe, high acidity. Not the most flattering, but really interesting. Some of the aromas almost Burgundian.
1959 - golden-brown. Smells of cider vinegar, walnuts. Lightly petillant, bit of a shock, but flavours actually q fun. Clearly old and a bit out of condition, but genuinely interesting and enjoyable.
1955 - Bright, golden-brown. Honied, walnuts, has a certain freshness. Sweet, very well balanced, acidity just right, very long on palate, lovely intensity.
1947 - deep golden-brown, really bright. Gentle aromas of butterscotch, glue, acetate. Not complex on nose, but fresh. Quite outstanding on palate, sweet, great freshness, very complete. Long, energetic, a wine that could last for ages. Palate more exciting than nose. Seriously good, a great bottle.
1943 - golden-brown. Aromas dull, but not oxidised. Medium-sweet, still fresh and lively, but without the lift of flavour of the best. A bit awkward.
1930 - Under wax seal, so may not be de Fesles! med golden-brown, not too deep. Bright. Orange peel, marzipan. Opens out to coconut. Medium, high acidity, very fresh. Very persistent. Totally different to 47, fresher, higher acidity, less sweet, but almost as intense and almost as long-lasting.
1924 - very deep, reddish brown. Bright. V fine aromas, acetate, walnut, really winey. Smells almost like a young Aussie Muscat, less raisiny. Sweet, still high acidity, so not as rounded as 47 or 30, but still vigorous, long and mighty impressive.
Simply unbelievable last 4 wines.
© Richard Bampfield MW 2011
Château de Fesles
After a frenetic couple of months when the ironing pile took on alpine proportions, the garden developed a ‘natural’ look and the fridge boasted nothing more than a bottle of fino, I now find I have time on my hands; time to do my accounts and meet with the accountant, time to read back issues of The Drinks Business, Decanter and Harpers and time to get to tastings, time to take stock of and re-stock the cellar. So it seems that, for those of us who work freelance, we are working when we are not working. And the fridge remains empty.
Feast or Famine
Whilst periods of famine have nothing to do with empty fridges and all to do with hanging around waiting expectantly for that email to drop into your inbox requesting a series of top-end Bordeaux tastings for the rich and famous (or Champagne or Burgundy or whatever your dream job may be), or a lengthy and lucrative trade training course or, failing that, a little tasting for 20 for the Wyre Piddle Wine Society. When it does happen, more usually the latter of these three in my case, you reply instantly and affirmatively and then what happens? Two minutes later M. Pontallier invites you to a private vertical tasting of Château Margaux (or M. Krug or M. Villaine) or you are asked to run a two hours a day wine course over a period of a week on that beautiful 5* resort in the Maldives. Sod’s Law, but rest assured dear AWE colleague, I would not hesitate for one second in asking you to step in and help me out. I would even supply directions to the Village Hall in Worcestershire.
Of course these are extreme examples and certainly only ever happen to me in my dreams, but it seems to be the case that far too often work offers come in all at once so it’s difficult to manage or on exactly the same day so that it is impossible to do.
Trials and Tribulations
During those leaner periods, what a good time for chasing bills. Indeed persuading people in some cases to pay us in the first place at all can be tricky. What we do and the product we work with is deemed as being one of life’s pleasures and perhaps therefore should not be tarnished by anything so tawdry as a bill. This is not helped, of course, by the myriad of other professionals (doctors, solicitors, accountants) who present tastings for fun and write columns for free. We have to accept that they can and do but it does nothing to help our professional status. If ever there was a reason needed to study for your MW, this would be it! Who would query paying someone with those letters after their name? For the rest of us, it is less easy to persuade potential clients that we are not just people who know a bit about wine and who enjoy a drink or two when we suggest a substantial fee (or much more likely, I suspect, a modest charge) and that just because we have the best job in the world and we love doing what we do, should not mean that we should do it for nothing.
It doesn’t come naturally to many of us to negotiate fees and then ask for them to be paid, but if you work for yourself it is something that has to be tackled. YouTube, Facebook and Ebay suddenly seem to develop a fascination and indispensability never noticed when one is busy out presenting. Sat at one’s desk (which really needs tidying), chasing invoices (which really need paying) and thinking about the course you’re running in a couple of weeks (which really needs preparing), do you find that after three hours all you’ve achieved is making a list of your favourite hits of the 70s, renewed the acquaintance of an old boyfriend (just as you remembered exactly why you dumped him) and bought something you don’t need and which will probably never arrive anyway. Am I the only AWE member who lacks a bit of self-motivation? The drive and impetus to make things happen must come entirely from within and it is sometimes difficult to find. Am I alone here? Indeed, working freelance can also be lonely. No colleagues to chat with every day, to moan to about the boss, the work-load or lack of it, no one to have a coffee with. On the other hand, you only have one coffee to make at elevenses!
The Joy of Self-employment
Surely the greatest joy of being self-employed is the diversity of work we enjoy. Following that headline, the supporting pleasures can be many: no two days are alike, no agonising daily commute, no having to wear a suit, no working with people who get up your nose or don’t pull their weight, nobody pulling your strings, no-one to account to and, of course, the freedom to pick and choose work should you be in the fortunate position of being in demand. Freedom too to be able to travel (and to justifiably claim that as a work expense), to fit work around school pick-ups and holidays, to go for country walks, shopping, the cinema without having to ask anyone for a day off.
Highs and Lows
The highs of working for oneself far outweigh the lows if the balance of work is there. If sometimes it may be lonely, then there are always your friends and colleagues in AWE to get in touch with. If sometimes bills take a long time to be paid, at least they usually do. If people with ‘proper’ jobs occasionally take work which you feel should rightfully be yours, at least they can’t always do so. If you are exhausted by work overload, at least you are working. If, on the other hand, things seem a bit on the quiet side, at least you can brush up on your CPD. And, if the worse comes to the worse, and in the end you run out of excuses not to embark upon on the pile of ironing, at least you can do so with a glass of wine close at hand and claim it to be in the name of valuable research.
© Laura Clay 2011
As we draw towards the end of the year and the last of the Chile Sponsored Tasting Programme reports drop into my In-box, I am pleased to say that the Chile Programme was met with enthusiasm and a broad cross section of members from all over the U.K. put together factual, professional and meaningful tutored tastings, reaching many palates.
Chile Sponsored Tasting Programme
A Huge Success!
Many of you have taken up the discount arrangement with the The Wine Society for members using wines for tastings to receive a very generous 20% discount on the wines.
In the words of Ewan Murray at the Wine Society, “Just to let you know that since we went live with this, 48 educators have taken advantage of the discount, ordering 3991 bottles of almost 1,000 different wines. I think we can say that this idea has worked well."
AWE and The Wine Society
Please update your Directory of Members with the following changes:
New addresses and emails
Kalessin, Canal Side, Baird Road, Ratho, Edinburgh, EH28 8RA
Mobile: 07884 028306
Laura Clay has a new email address:
17 Stork House Drive, Lambourn, Hungerford, Berks, RG17 8ND
Phone: 01488 73789 Mobile: 07738 361920
Tony Keys (Honorary Member)
PO Box 134, Bangalow, 2479 NSW, Australia
Phone: 0061(0)4381 84569
Debra Meiburg MW has a new email address: Admin@DebraMasterofWine.com
4 Russell Grove
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the AWE should contact our membership secretary Alison Moller:
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 07783 723728
Address: Little Mead, Langley Lower Green, Saffron Walden, Essex CB11 4SB
Prospective members should hold the WSET Diploma or equivalent.
AWE Inspiring News
Editor: Susan Hulme MW
Sub-editor: Laura Clay
Many thanks to Laura and all of our contributors.