Posts Tagged ‘WSET’

Julia Trustram Eve is i/c EWP!

Thought I should record a few reflections about the tasting that I went to with my friend James at WSET’s headquarters on Bermondsey Street, near London Bridge, on Thursday.

A pleasant surprise was that we were tutored by Julia Trustram Eve who is the head honcho of English Wine Producers – the marketing arm of the English Wine industry – http://www.englishwineproducers.com/

Julia was formidably knowledgeable and gave a whistlestop tour of the history of the industry, with us tasting eight wines along the way.  But more than the history, she was keen to talk about the future of the industry which, as most people will agree, has changed out of all recognition over the last decade or two and looks decidedly rosé.  (I can’t claim that gag as I my own, but was one of the better ones from the nice man from Yorkshire sat opposite me who enjoyed his one-twos with the tutor probably more than anyone else.  You can judge for yourself what the other gags were like).

I can’t be bothered to relive the tasting moments but I diligently Tweeted them as they exploded onto my tastebuds.  Perhaps you’d be so good as to go and look over the other side of the blog?!

Only one Sussex wine on the list though.  Boooooo Julia.

But credit where it’s due, probably the wine of the night was the Camel Valley Darnibole Bacchus 2010.  It was utterly goosebericious.  And as we commented on our table, quite different from a Bacchus you’d taste at Chapel Down.  Camel Valley’s rendition was much weightier and had a smokier complexity.  Yum.

Most interesting industry fact I gleaned was that last year EWP decided against any sort of regional or quality descriptor for English sparkling wines.  No truck was had with Ridgview’s order of Merret, or Coates & Seeley’s Britagne or Mark Driver (at Rathfinny)’s ‘Downland’ soubriquet

The word from JTE was that she didn’t think that the industry was ‘quite at that point’.  The subtext, I would hazard a guess, is that the big English sparkling brand names are quite happy promoting themselves thank you very much and don’t see the need to follow the Champenois or the Bordelais and market a regional brand.  They want to stake out a share of the premium market for their own label. 

How butch.


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Ted Bacon and Ken Maitland are The Essential Wine School

On Wednesday I got a chance to go along to the launch event of The Essential Wine School at Sussex Coast College.

This is the baby of Ken Maitland and Ted Bacon, two experienced hands when it comes to wine: Ken was for years the Registrar of the WSET awards programme and Ted, a retired banker is a WSET diploma holder, trained at Plumpton College.  They are both Associates of the Institute of Wines & Spirits.

The company presents itself as an independent educator intending to offer WSET format courses to consumers and the trade, and will cater for corporate functions too.  See their website at www.essentialwineschool.com for further information.

The college, where the Essential Wine School will do much of its teaching was a good space for tasting – light and with all the necessary technology.  And if the quality of the wines on offer at the launch were anything to go by, then Ken and Ted’s gift vouchers are a good Christmas option for those friends or family who you know enjoy a glass or two but are tricky to buy for.

I was interested to try the Premier Cru Rully; I particularly enjoyed the fairly priced Mâcon Villages that they served; and the Luis Canas Rioja Reserva 2003 was delicious (as it should be at £17.99 a bottle, from our friend on The Ridge: Ian Jarman).

I’m sure they won’t be surprised that I was a bit disappointed to be greeted not with a pukka Sussex sparkling, but with that tired old French brand… 

And I would have been happier being taught with wine in the glass sooner.  But despite these minor quibbles Ken and Ted were good hosts and clearly have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share.

It is great to be able to support new businesses as they set out in what are choppy economic waters.  And it’s particularly pleasing to be able to be cross-party about it all (as my new wine friends have dabbled in local politics for the red team). 

Ken and Ted are raring to go on this new and exciting adventure.  Now all that’s needed is to get them a spot at Liberal Democrat Conference, seeing as they seem so comfortable wearing those funky yellow lanyards! 

Hey – what are friends for?!

Check out their 60 second interview for Sussex Wine List on the blog’s own channel.  There should be a link on the Twitter feed opposite…

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My experience of Sussex wine is limited to Nyetimber and Ridgeview – both of which I have enjoyed immensely. When I studied for my WSET exams from 1977 to 1980, it was Dornfelder or Rondo – so I am glad to see how the English wine industry has changed!

I wish you every success with the blog.”

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So we did indeed have the Trinity 2009 from Chapel Down last night – 12% vol, and priced at £11.99; a blend of Rondo, Pinot Noir and Pinot Noir Precoce grapes.

I deliberately tried not to re-read the info that I had about it so that I could compare my own tasting notes to those of Chapel Down – and the winemaker there, Andrew Parley.

Throughout this blog I will be posting tasting notes more or less in the format that I learned from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.  Take a look at their ‘Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine’ here.

The only real difference will be the record of the wine on the nose.  When I went on to do training at the École du Vin de Bordeaux, one of our tutors, Sabine Sylvestrini, taught us that the French tend to look for a first, and then a second nose.   The first is as the wine sits still in the glass; the second is after it’s had a bit of a swirl.  I actually agree that there can be considerable differences between the first and second nose on a wine, so I’m incorporating that into my tasting note style.

Here’s a picture of Sabine – just for the hell of it.  We were doing an exercise creating our own Left and Right Bank Bordeaux blends.  But I digress…  Here we go with my tasting note –

Clear, bright, medium+ ruby colour; had a little bit of a spritz

Clean, medium intensity; youthful; first aromas – red cherries, red plums, liquorice, cinnamon; second nose, strawberries and cream, blueberry jam

Dry, medium+ acidity; medium‾ tannins; medium alcohol, medium+ body; medium flavour intensity – flavours of fresh red (and stone) fruit, particularly raspberries and unripe nectarines, a little bit of leather there; medium length

Very good; high-priced (ie £10-15); drink now – won’t keep for ages.

Chapel Down’s own note
‘The nose has plums, brambles and hints of cherry and liquorice.  This wine has a soft round palate, smooth tannins, plenty of fruit and a touch of spiciness on the finish’.

Not so very different then in our respective takes.  I thought this was a soft, velvety wine in the mouth.  I am not a big red Burgundy fan myself but this wine is at a level of quality that gives the Burgundians a good run for their money.  We had it with pan-fried, thyme-crusted pork chops and home made roasted chips; a lemon-dressed salad, and a mustard mayo on the side.

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