New England Wine Academy is please to host April's monthly Academy class: Get Your Gamay On, which of course focuses on a single grape from multiple regions in Central France - Gamay.
Gamay is the grape of Beaujolais, but is also the grape of parts of the Loire and elsewhere. Having a well-deserved renaissance, Gamay is a cultivar that has been maligned and heralded depending on where you look in history and who you ask. But for this class Brian Mitchell will dive deep into the wine, discuss the regions, styles and why it should be in your glass.
We have once again partnered with our friends at the Wise Old Dog to offer a tasting kit to go along with the class.
You can purchase the kit at this link. Six Bottle Sampler: 'Up Your Gamay' ($100)
And for more info and to register for the Academy class on April 21 (FOR JUST $10) - follow this link.
Thanks and see you on the 21st.
Here is just a friendly reminder about some key courses and registration dates for anyone looking to enroll in certain classes. I mention these as a few of the courses are only offered on a limited basis, and as we approach the latter part of the WSET Academic Calendar (ends July 31), it is important to keep these in mind if you wish to participate.
Please keep in mind that all registrations must be made 8 days prior to the start date of the course. You can find full details by clicking on the "Classes" tab on the website. Also keep in mind that NEWA offers returning student discounts on Levels 2 and 3, corporate rates for groups of 10 or more, and a free 1 year access to the Brainscape study site with each enrollment.
WSET Level 1 SAKE
This course has two options before the end of July:
WSET LEvel 1 WINE
This course has three options before the end of July:
WSET Level 2 Wine
This course has multiple dates still available, but the next classes are:
Click here to view the course page and register
WSET Level 3 WINE
Four sessions remain in this academic year:
WSET Level 2 SPIRITS
There are just two sessions left for this course:
Yes, sometimes I do talk about things other than wine...and a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Sean Lawson of Lawson Finest Liquids in Vermont, and we discussed his extraordinary beers among other things. All this was in conjunction with an event that I participated in, and we were fortunate enough to have some fantastic seasonal additions to our line-up as well as a few of the classics.
The one thing I will mention about these beers is that I (along with a lot of other folks) are often fatigued by the over-hopped and thick-hazy IPA styles that seem to be everywhere. Interesting to taste, but often tough to drink. I know there is a lot of popularity in these beers, but sometimes you just need something with more balance rather than just being in your face. Lawson's has this balance factor across the range of styles. Sean and I discuss this in the videos below, but I think it is a key factor in his success and the lasting popularity of his beers They are balanced and very drinkable - even above 8% abv, which means you can have more than one, and people will come back for them again, and again.
I broke the discussion into two parts: first part focuses on the back-story and general knowledge of Lawson's, and the second part dives into some of the beers as we taste a selection. Enjoy.
Speaking Session Part 1 with Sean Lawson
Speaking Session Part 2 with Sean Lawson
It was not that long ago (about 15 years in fact) that Australian wines dominated the shelves of American wine shops. So what happened? Well, a couple things...
First, critter labels. This is the category of wines known for the animals on the labels rather than the actual producer. Many of these labels became popular in the early 2000s, mimicking and following the big driver brands coming out of Australia at the time. Unfortunately, many of these wines were not only low in price but tended to be low in quality as well. Easy drinking and popular (some would say trendy) but their abundance started to shift with the Australian's focus on other markets - but more on that in a minute.
The other things that changed in the early 2000s, was that Americans had been enamoured with Shiraz in the late 90s for a period of time, but then Sideways the movie came out, and not only put a slow knife in the back of Merlot, but it also had a ripple effect on other grapes, as well. Pinot Noir has dominated shelves for years (and I am not arguing about this too much as I love Pinot Noir), but it has resulted in a lot of Americans thinking that Pinot Noir should taste more like Cab Sauv rather than elegant Pinot Noir. A lot of this has to do with the fact that many large commercial producers tend to add grapes (like all that leftover Syrah and Merlot out there) to their Pinot Noir in order to build up the color, tannins and body (all things good quality Pinot Noir tends to not have too much of), in order to satisfy a middle ground of styles and consumer interest. Blah
The other big thing that happened was that the Australians took their eye off the American market for a minute. China became a massive market for the Australians and life was good for a number of years. Then a couple of things happened: climate change induced fires, and some dumb-ass Aussie politician blaming Covid on the Chinese.
Massive wildfires over a number of years, caused by an increase in temps and a lack of water, has severely damaged the output of Australian vineyards the past decade. They still make wine, and plenty of it, but the fight for increasingly precious water resources has put an immense amount of pressure on the high volume producers in marginal areas of production. Oh, and then there was that politician, whose comments basically cut the Chinese pipe-line off overnight. Countless containers of Australian wine were exported to China for years, and there were expensive campaigns to promote Australian wine across China - much of paid for by the Australian Wine Bureau. But, essentially that ended as a comment-turned-insult has led to a change in attitude among the Chinese drinking public.
Today, we are seeing a slow shift back in attention back to Australian wine, and why not? They have great vineyards, many of which are very old and produce extraordinary wine. The value of the wine is relatively stable and on par with our own wine costs, if not better. And the wines taste like what Americans like to drink.
Personally, I think a whole generation of young wine professionals has missed out on the opportunity to really explore what Australia has to offer and take advantage of offering their clients and guests some fantastic wines. Unfortunately this is due to the fact that the Australians shifted their focus away from the US market for a long time, and so they have themselves to blame, in part. But, we as a drinking community and as a professional wine community really owe it to ourselves to revisit Australian wines and (re)discover the beauty and depth that is achievable in the country. They do have some of the oldest vines on the planet, diverse climatic regions, easy to understand labels, and all the grapes we like to drink - and then some (hello Semillon!)
Here is my short list of what you can do this weekend to become better acquainted with Australian wines...
1 - Watch this video
2 - Listen to this Podcast
3 - Go to your local wine shop and have them order in some Vasse Felix Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Margaret River Region in Western Australia. There are several levels to choose from. You can get the Filius range for about $20-25, or step to the Premier range for about $35-40, per bottle. Either way these wines are fantastic. Well made and from a region that is literally at the end of the Earth. The Margaret River is located at the cross-roads of the Indian and Southern Oceans, have ancient soils and historical vines. Their chief winemaker is Virginia Willcock who has been at the winery for 29 years, and really knows the terroir, the vines, and how to make the best of these elements translate to extraordinary wine. Take advantage of this and enjoy something different, yet familiar.
ABOUT THE Author
Brian Mitchell runs The New England Wine Academy, and is responsible for the content of this blog. With 30 years of drinks industry experience, Brian has learned a few things, but everyday he is learning more. This blog helps to bring that knowledge to you.