roamin’ holiday

So what’s the deal with climate change? Hot topic, would you say? Wowza…. I’m on fire…. (Quick, get the extinguisher!) The Climwine conference hosted at our school is three days of 15-30 minutes presentations by the world’s experts on grape and wine sustainability in the context of climate change. My notes on the discussions range from “It’s complicated!” to “We’re screwed!” (or something) as we listen to climatologists and viticulturists explaining in detail what it means for grape growing regions as average temperatures are rising. It’s actually scary stuff – at the rate we’re going, the world will look dramatically different during our lifetimes. The solutions for wines proposed include moving back to gobelet vines (free-form, see the pic below from Châteauneuf), changing to new warm climate varietals, and starting irrigation programs (many countries in Europe do not currently allow it). Lots of food for thought – clearly water consumption is going to become even more important.

The opening speaker sets the tone for the climate change conference. My notes from said session. Fortunately the Sauternes tastings take the sting away - this is a new logo that represents all the different aromas that you can get from a Sauternes sweet wine. The two vines at the top are the same vine, two weeks apart - they're growing quickly! (....thank you global warming?) Our final class before the break on French accounting, and the lovely distraction of this church door.

The opening speaker sets the tone for the climate change conference. My notes from said session echo said tone much more precisely. Fortunately the Sauternes tastings take the sting away – the new logo represents all the different aromas that one can get from a Sauternes sweet wine. The two vines at the top are the same vine, two weeks apart – they’re growing quickly! (This is totally normal and not due to global warming.) Our final class before the break is on French accounting, and the lovely distraction of this church door.

Read More

a prime(u)r on bordeaux wines

this guy is my hero

this guy is my style icon

I see him standing in front of the Cahors booth, burgundy-trouser-clad and scarf elegantly draped, modish black-framed glasses resting on top of his head, holding back his chin-length salt-n-pepa locks. He casually swirls the wine around in his mouth, gesticulating with glass in hand, and nodding emphatically at his friend (presumably) in appreciation for what he is tasting. And then I see it; a liquid Arc de Triomphe that leaps from his lips and dives into the spit bucket on the floor one foot away from the tip of his pointed shoe, with barely an errant splash; clothing, countenance and dignity intact. I am immediately and intensely jealous. Read More

game of rhônes

I’m in a race. Not a foot race….pffft. (I can’t seem to get past the carb-loading part.) It’s on a wine app I discovered almost two years ago. Vivino lets me keep track of wines I’ve tasted, by rating and reviewing them. Some people can remember tastes and smells easily (I’m not one of them), so this tool helps me keep track of what I’ve tried, and prompts my own sensory memories with my notes. I made the mistake of introducing this app to my original wine mentor, and though I had a year head-start on him, he’s rapidly closing the gap on me, while I’m scrambling to stay ahead of him. This wine tasting thing is getting cut-throat!

Vivino2

Like any good aunt, I’m starting my nephew young. And Philippe’s ranking is already out of date….now somewhere in the 280s, he’s catching up fast. Quick… fetch me some wine!

Read More

the belles of st emilion

Internet watch: it is now 14 days since the technician was here. Me: 0; French administration in the service sector: 1.

Making sure we know a little about what we're tasting.

Making sure we know a little about what we’re tasting.

There’s no accounting for taste. We start the week out with an introduction to our audit teams. There are three different companies and six different teams involved, to identify what’s going on with the fiscal numbers from real wine estates in the Bordeaux area. We have almost two months to complete the work, so you can imagine that it’s going to be complex. The first half of the exercise will be to decipher the French documentation and accounting style and identify a few areas worth further analysis. I’m going to need a few drinks for this one… Fortunately, there’s an international wine dinner schedule early in the week. This is our opportunity to a) drink wines not from Bordeaux, which is harder to come by than you may expect, if you’re located in Canada or the US, where availability of a wide variety is the norm. And b) mingle with the other wine students here at the school. It’s my first time drinking Russian wine (no, no, not vodka), so truly an international experience! Read More

a bordelaise thanksgiving

My (already decent-sized) family is lucky enough to have lots of relatives on both maternal and paternal branches of the family tree, so Thanksgiving weekend typically has two massive feasts: the Chinese side on the Saturday, followed by the Taylor side on the Sunday (and a day of yoga pants and recovery on the Monday). Some of my friends have been able to join in the festivities when, for whatever reason, I have deemed them to be ‘homeless’ on Thanksgiving (not allowed where I come from). This holiday – the one time of the year to simply be grateful for food, family and friends – has always been a time I make sure to be home.  Up until now.  This is the first time I’ve not made it back to Canada with my family for Thanksgiving. Read More