Tag Archives: Leah Hennessy

An Energizing Couple of Weeks!

 While I’m not doing so well in my New Year’s Resolution to write a blog post every week, I have had a busy January. I wanted to share a bit of what I’ve been up to the last few weeks. 

At the beginning of January I bottled the first vintage of my new wine Emma Pearl!  This is exciting because it’s a brand new wine label which I’ve had a hand in launching!  Right now it consists of a Chardonnay and Merlot, both from California’s Central Coast and it will be launching in the South east as well as some select cities out west in the next few months. 

In Mid-January I went to London for my WSET Diploma graduation.  It was my first ever visit to London and I really enjoyed it.  We did all the usual touristy things such as riding a double decked bus and visiting the sites.  One place I must mention for all you wine buffs was a little wine bar called 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen (http://www.2850.co.uk/) at which we met up with a friend, fellow Treasury Wine Estates employee, and new MW, Justin Knock.  I must say this place was fantastic!  The atmosphere was cozy and the staff extremely courteous. Above all, the wines were wonderful and we were able to enjoy them with really excellent bar foods including Charcuterie, duck rillette, and a selection of cheeses.  Another plus was that the wines poured could be ordered by the tasting selection which I really enjoyed as I was able to try many different wines from an elegant Condrieu to a robust Rioja all in the same night without drinking a full glass of each.  The location plus the stimulating conversation covering all aspects of the wine world and beyond made for one great evening.  I highly recommend visiting this place if you’re a wine fan and you find yourself in need of a drink in London! 

After London, I went to the Unifed Symposium in Sacramento where I thoroughly enjoyed my friend Leah Hennessy’s (http://millennier.com/) presentation on Marketing to Millenials from which my boss is still quoting!  If you weren’t among the privileged folks to be in the room during this I highly recommend trying to get a recording because not only was it great information that everyone in the wine industry today trying to sell wine should know, it was also a really entertaining talk complete with the best definition of the term Douche that I have ever heard! Hats off to Leah and her panel!

Next, I was off to the North American MW seminar before which I summed up my feelings in my last blog post Getting ready for the MW…Again (http://www.novacadamatre.com/?p=145).  I really didn’t know how I was going to improve my scores from the exam the year before however once I got into the seminar I really felt reenergized through the lectures, practice exams, and interactions with fellow students and of course the MW’s.  This seminar was truly exceptional with more global lectures including three fantastic and incredibly valuable tastings; One highlighting the different regions and wine styles of Australia and another focusing on wines of the Rhone valley in France and the third on the wines of Chile and Argentina. 

In the Australian tasting I reaffirmed the fact that I love Rieslings, especially Clare and Eden Valley Rieslings however I was fascinated by the Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon (see notes below).

Grosset Polish Hill 2010 Riesling, Clare Valley Australia

Zesty and Fruity

Pale lemon core with moderately intense aromas of lime zest, fresh citrus, and light hints of white flowers.  The palate is dry with high acid and moderate alcohol with refreshing flavors of limes, lemons, and jasmine with a long crisp finish.

Pewsey Vale 2005 The Contours Riesling, Eden Valley Australia

Zesty and Fruity

Medium lemon core with moderately intense aromas of Petrol, limes and white flowers.  Dry palate with high acid and moderate alcohol with complex flavors of petrol, gardinias, limes, honey, and citrus fruit zest complement a moderately long crisp finish.

Moss Wood 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia

Spicy and Smoky

Medium ruby core with moderately intense aromas of raspberries, dried herbs, cinnamon and cloves.  The palate is dry with medium + acid and alcohol around 14%.  Moderate dusty tannins with a Medium + body highlighted by flavors of oak toast, black currants, and baking spice flavors.  Medium finish.

All in all it was a wonderful seminar which I came home from energized, with a clear picture of what I need to work on over the next 4 months and positive that this year is my year with the MW exam.  I really can’t thank the MWs enough who gave their time freely to help us through the seminar this year, some of whom traveled from Australia, South Africa and London.  Now onward towards the next mile marker!!!

The Debate about Wine Competitions and Millennials

I’ve seen a few interesting blog posts the last few days.  The first was by Steve Heimhoff (http://www.steveheimoff.com/index.php/2010/05/05/this-ones-too-easy/#comments) regarding the news that a Millennial Wine Competition has been formed for this June.  Steve does not appear to be in support of the competition. The second was a response from Leah Hennessy defending the competition (http://millennier.com/2010/05/06/an-open-letter-to-mr-steve-heimoff-regarding-his-millennial-wine-competition-post/).

For the record, I am a judge in this competition.  As a Millennial professional in the wine industry, I am very excited to be involved.  I feel that we as a generation tend to trend towards different tastes than previous generations however this is not unusual, nor is it limited to wine.  According to recent surveys (whose sites I can’t find at the moment…sorry to the documentation police) our generation in France is trending away from wine as a social drink primarily because wine is seen as an older generation’s drink.  In the US the opposite trend has been seen as Leah sited in her blog.  This competition has been designed to try and discover what that taste is.  It of course will be the combined tastes of the panel of judges however it is valid in the fact that this is the first competition of its kind.  On this point I think Steve was a bit harsh, but he is entitled to his opinion.  Goodness knows if one doesn’t stir up a little controversy, then who would read a blog in the first place.

I do agree with what I feel was the underlying point of Steve’s post.  I took this to be that there are too many wine competitions in general. This point was absolutely right.  The more competitions there are the less and less the awards given actually mean.  I do not think that this applies to this particular competition because it is trying to delve down into a specific target audience as opposed to every county fair wine competition in the country.  There are very reputable wine competitions.  The problem is that the vast majority of consumers don’t know how to tell the really highly coveted medals from the rest.  A winery isn’t going to tell you if it entered the prestigious international competitions or the one down the street.  They typically will tell you that their wine is award winning.

As a winemaker, I must say it feels good to win ANY awards. It justifies in your mind the fact that you are doing a good job and this has been certified by an independent authority.   When I won my first Gold medal it felt AWESOME and I really didn’t care what competition gave it to me.  However, let’s face it; the competitions exist so that you can claim your wine has won awards to try and differentiate it from the winery down the road.  Steve’s point is that when EVERYONE wins awards they all become meaningless because everyone has them.

Talking again about the Millennial Wine Competition, I’m excited and really interested to see what comes out of it.  If the same wines that always win the awards win these as well then we can think about lumping this competition in with all the others.  However, maybe we’ll see something really different, a trend that may buck the status quo.  That would be very interesting and exciting not just as a Millennial but as a winemaker and as someone trying to sell wine to my generation.  I say lets see what happens before we start combining this competition with all the others…

To check out the competition in question go to www.nextgenwinecomp.info