back from bordeaux where i just completed an intensive week of courses to be an "accredited tutor", i return totally impressed by the quality, structure, and ambition of l'ecole du vin de bordeaux.
organised by the civb (conseil interprofessionel du vin de bordeaux), it's aim is to educate and dessiminate information about bordeaux wines. it offers several classes at their centre in bordeaux but, for me the interesting part is that the courses i attended will enable me to teach about bordeaux wines in asia using their curriculum, documents, and support.
i find this interesting not only because the courses are very well made and cover all aspects related to the wines of bordeaux but mainly because i find this to be a very clever way for bordeaux to propagate information about its wines around the world and, ultimately, influence consumers buying decisions.
how clever. researches have shown time and again that mainstream consumers today want ready to drink wines that are easy to understand and associate with. most prefer to select wines based on varietals and find bordeaux (and france in general) complicated with its thousands of chateaux, hundreds of appellations, and, god forbid, labels not showing "what's inside the bottle".
the courses this week were very well structured to give us a wide overview of bordeaux and break some preconceptions and attract our attention to little known appellations and styles of wines from bordeaux.
in fact, we spent a disporportionate amount of time on those little known wines and learned indeed that they present the most potential for the regions and are in fact among the most accessible to mainstream wine drinkers.
the area has 57 appellations and all kinds of classifications. and so to make it simple, they have grouped those in 6 families of wines according to styles:
1) bordeaux & bordeaux superieur red wines: the simplest and basic quality, from anywhere in bordeaux;
2) medoc & graves: dominated by cabernet sauvignon, from the "right bank" of the river garonne and the estuary gironde;
3) st-emilion/fronsac/pomerol: dominated by merlot, from the left bank of the river dordogne;
4) cotes: a group of 7 regions making similar styles of wines, also on the left bank of the dordogne and to the left of the estuary gironde;
5) dry whites: dominated by sauvignon and semillon, mainly from from graves & "entre deux mers", a region between the 2 rivers garonne & dordogne;
6) sweet whites: semillon dominated, mainly from sauterne & barsac and other small regions in the banks of the drodogne river.
after our first day reviewing appellations and other particularities of the bordeaux "terroir" (climate + geographie + man actions in vineyard & cellars), we spent the whole 2nd day visiting makers of cotes wines where we had interesting tastings of superb, value for money wines. on the 3rd day, we focused a whole morning on sauvignon grapes and tasted fantastic wines made with the grape. on the after-noon of that same day, we learned about and tasted sweet wines (which are divided in 2 groups: "moelleux", lightly sweet and perfect as apperitif and "liquoreux", much sweeter and complex, perect with fois gras and cheezes). on the 4th day, we visited 2 st-emilion makers and on the 5th, we had presentations in 3 medoc makers of which the largest proportion of our time was spent with a "crus bourgeois" maker where we also tasted 10 or so wines made from other "crus bourgeois" (a regroupment of makers who pull together to make wines of higher quality).
all in all, we clearly saw that the bordeaux region is pulling together to focus on quality and make sure the wolrd knows about its diversity, paricularity, and passion.
you can see my photo collection about this course on flickr by clicking on the photo below:
i will teach bordeaux school of wine courses in hong kong and china.