This past January, I once again decided to take up legitimate guidance in perfecting my wine skills and am two thirds through the WSET Advanced Wine Certificate program which will allow me to pursue work in the wine world. I figured with the economy sagging and jobs at a premium, this would be the perfect time to fine tune my skills. This time, the course is 18 weeks long, really delving into varietals, climate, distinct regions and by combining all these elements en masse, be able to identify a type of wine in a blind tasting. There is a written exam which doesn't frighten me half as much as the tasting does. Even the experts in my class (all are in the wine industry except moi) are gun shy in declaring a glass of red as a Chilean Zinfandel or Merlot from California. My approach is to just keep drinking. I'll get it eventually.
This past week, the wine world was inundated with events that professionals from around the world were taking part in. Vinitaly, an international trade show held in Verona, Italy took place this past weekend that had companies of all shapes and sizes offering tastings to visitors while waxing poetic about their latest vintage that for those creating wine is not too unlike giving birth. The gestation period is about as long and the same devotion a parent would give raising a child are given to developing a great wine (for the most part). Something to be proud of--or at least you hope!
The event that I have been following was the Bordeaux en primeur tastings held throughout the week. Now that I am all wine-y I know (and will be tested on this) that this is like playing the stock market and hedging your bets on the future of a wine. Limited amounts of the 2008 harvest in Bordeaux are released for tasting while the wine is still in the barrel, offering customers the opportunity to invest in a wine's future. Aging is far from complete and you are basing purchases on tastings or 'scores' given to the wines and knowledge or understanding that you or an agent buying for you has of what a particular wine is capable of. These wines still have some barrel as well as bottle aging to go and well, there is the element of risk. As the production of wine, especially for premier crus, is incredibly expensive, this is a way for winemakers to raise capital in order to defray their costs. For investors, it is a way to purchase great wines (hopefully) and make considerable profits when the wine has matured and is ready for market.
I promise I am not getting all wine snobby on you. This was a way for me to review and pass along some information about our beloved France. Bordeaux is a magnificent region and should not be missed. Just trying to widen our horizons and drink some good wine in the process.
A little video from one of the Premier Crus, Château Haut-Brion
Photo credit: Brad Young@flickr