When I started this blog in 2013, I had big ideas of posting once a week, maybe even twice. I had started on the wine journey, getting ready to do WSET 3 and learning all I could about wine. I worked part time at a wine shop to learn and taste while studying AND working full time at another job. I quit said full time job to become a store manager at a boutique shop, where I remained for almost 5 years. Fast forward to completing my diploma in 2017, becoming first an Italian Wine Ambassador through the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) in 2016, then reaching the pinnacle of the organization and becoming an Italian Wine Expert (IWE), one of only 15 in the world, in April of 2018. By June 2021, I had also completed the Italian Wine Scholar program, all self study online.
Since I started on this wine journey, I’ve always worked on the retail side of things, and because of that, I have rich relationships with the people on the import and distribution side of things, as it is them we buy from. I do get really excited about tasting new Italian wines from native grapes that I have only studied or read about. Being part of the VIA family allowed me to taste many wines I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, and being in a market that is not a government monopoly has allowed importers to bring in whatever they like, which translates to the consumer here having a great deal of choice in wines! The advantage of living where I do is that there is literally boatloads of wine here and if you can’t find something you like, there is a problem…
For me, I’ve been asked lately if I’ve tasted anything new and exciting and up until last night, my answer was always ‘no’. Nothing at least I wanted to write about here. Yeah, I’ll admit, it’s been tough…I’ve lost a bit of the passion and fire I once had. Not being able to have walk around tastings in the store, specific themed classroom educational tastings (which I would be leading), or even reps pouring samples for the customers has taken its toll on me mentally. For me, it’s been nothing but pure sales for two years now. The passion is waning and the blog posts are few and far between.
Could I do some online education? Yes, probably, but the logistics of setting all that up, not to mention making sure students have wine is a nightmare. Logistically speaking, even though we are one country, we cannot ship from province to province, which (and I’m gonna say it) is stupid. I can’t accept samples from other countries as I’m not an importer or distributor. I can’t do wine exchanges with people from other countries. It’s infuriating.
So you might be asking, “what happened last night?” Well, I do have some like-minded people in my life who are OK to get together and OK to actually taste and drink wine with each other EVEN AT THE SAME TABLE!!!
Vintage champagne was on the menu and with only five of us in the group, it’s all about getting a good 5 oz of wine to really enjoy in the glass. The object of the group is aged wine, or premium wines that we wouldn’t (& couldn’t) purchase ourselves. So we pool our money, source them out and then purchase them.
Krug is six generations of family, starting in 1843. 2004 reveals the vibrant story of a fresh year, so this bottle is nicknamed “Luminous Freshness”. This Krug 2004 we got for a great deal, each of us paying $65 each to enjoy 5 oz. This seems expensive, but trust me, in a restaurant, you’d pay 10x this I’m sure. A blend of 39% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 24% Meunier, the acid level on this champagne was crazy high! It had a fine mousse and full flavours of brioche, pastry, lemon chiffon, quince & mandarin. To be honest, it could’ve benefitted from more time. At almost 18 years old, it was still young. Don’t get me wrong, it was very good and I can now say that I’ve tasted vintage Krug (I had previously tasted Krug Grande Cuvee Brut at my friends 70th birthday party in 2018).
Maison Bruno Paillard always had the desire to create a champagne different from any other; extremely pure. If you look at their website, the labels have changed, but the traditions have remained the same. Grand Cru fruit and low dosage. This 1996 Bruno Paillard was a surprise as it was in the cellar of one of our members. Not really knowing what he paid for it, he charged us $35 each. What??? At 25 years old, the bubbles weren’t as plenty as the Krug, but the acidity was still there. Unlike the blend in Krug, this was a Blanc de Blancs, therefore 100% Chardonnay. Darker in colour (whites become darker with age), this was just gorgeous with sponge toffee, caramel, truffle popcorn, hints of mushroom and even some beautiful floral notes that we got out of Bev’s Conterno Giacomo specialized glass. So much of a surprise here that this was my clear winner. So yeah…in the last (many) months, this has been one of the most exciting things I’ve tasted lately. And I think with this group, the passion just might return…Santé.