Friday, October 9, 2009

Joie De Vivre

Once again I had the pleasure of attending the French Wine Society (FWS) annual conference. Last year I was a guest, or student shall I say...and this year I volunteered as a wine pourer. Two entirely different experiences but I can definitely say that I was still able to hear the presentations and participate in the wine tastings as a volunteer. There is always so much information being presented, so much to learn, and so many wines to taste!

This year's approach was a little different than last year, instead of covering a little bit about every region of France, this year the FWS highlighted a few regions and the speakers were able to cover them in greater detail. For example, the speaker on the Burgundy region didn't just talk about the wines themselves, he went into a detailed discussion of how the wines achieve their Grand or Premier Cru status and can we, the consumers, tell the difference. Of course there were a few people that thought they could tell the difference. But the majority were honest and thought that while the history and geology of how the status is gained is interesting and honorable, the system is old and doesn't really allow entry for new winemakers. The Bordeaux speaker also spoke to the same topic. Extraordinary presentation from him! Dr Benjamin Lewin, MW wrote the book, "What Price Bordeaux" and presented wines from 1st and 2nd growths and posed questions about why the pricing of Bordeauxs can be so outrageous and how pricing is determined. Some attendees said the presentation was controversial but very informative. I agree with the later.

A couple of the lesser known regions were also covered like Jura and Cahors. The wines were delish, and I even got to take a couple of the leftovers home (a perk of being a volunteer). Only problem is that wines from those regions aren't readily available is most wine shops in this area. The organizers of the conference even had trouble getting some of those wines in the country. If the French themselves can't get the wines...we have no chance, LOL!

Another new feature at the conference was the French Wine Scholar exam and regional exams for the Rhone and Provence. Each exam consisted of a blind tasting, a regional map, and theory. After seeing the study guides and then witnessing students taking the exam, this is serious business. My Burgundy certification exam was pretty much enough for me for the year!!

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