Wine blog by Elaine Chukan Brown. Elaine serves as the American Specialist for JancisRobinson.com, a contributing writer with Wine & Spirits Magazine and a columnist at Wine Business Monthly. Her work has been featured in World of Fine Wine, MensHealth.com, San Francisco Magazine, Alquimie and Noble Rot, among others.
Congratulations to the 6 new Master Sommeliers recognized just this morning!
(here 5 of them – photo courtesy of the Court of Master Sommeliers)
Once more Elaine brings us bang up to date on a scandal to have hit the American Master Sommelier organisation.
6 December 2018 The Court of Master Sommeliers has welcomed six new Master Sommeliers to their ranks today. The tasting portion of the rigorous three-part exam took place yesterday, 5 December, in St Louis, Missouri, and the results were announced this morning. In total, 30 sat this round of the blind tasting exam. The six who passed – Andrey Ivanov, Douglas Kim, Mia Van de Water, Maximilian Kast, Steven McDonald (pictured below), plus Dana Gaiser – had previously passed in what turned out to be September’s breached exam. Yesterday’s blind tasting was the first of three possible special tasting exams offered by the Court following September’s breach. The second special tasting will occur in the new year, and the third alongside the regularly scheduled Master Sommelier exams already planned for next year. Each of these additional exam opportunities is proctored in the same manner as any other Master Sommelier exam. However, the Court’s board has also made clear they have increased their already strict security protocols around the blind tasting preparation procedures following September’s incident.
The press releases sent in October from the Court’s board regarding September’s security breach (see below) state that it was an exam proctor that violated the integrity of the exam, rather than any particular candidate who cheated. It does not state that any particular candidate sought to gain such …
Peking Duck being prepared for table side service at DaDong, Shanghai
Last week 30 media from 16 countries around the world traveled to Shanghai to attend a day-long media summit followed by ProWine China. Arriving a day early, we were able to spend a day touring wine bars, retail shops, importers and distributors in various neighborhoods of the city as well. I stayed on another two days in order to speak at ProWine and then take a private tour of the city. Though I’d traveled through the Shanghai airport, this my first trip into the city itself. It was fascinating and I learned an enormous amount about the local history and culture, doing wine business in China, how wine growing is progressing in China, and local cuisine. So much local cuisine. I honestly spent most of my spare time eating. It was wonderful. I’ll be writing more about aspects of the trip for various venues. In the meantime, following are insights shared along the way via Instagram while I was there in Shanghai.
Two weeks ago, Masters of Wine from 16 countries arrived in Santa Barbara to begin a ten-day trip through California wine. The Institute of Masters of Wine and the California Wine Institute worked together to coordinate and plan the trip. All together the group tasted over 600 wines from throughout the state and met over 300 producers. I was invited to attend the trip and so was lucky enough to be part of the entire tour from Santa Barbara County, through the Central Coast, up into the North Coast, and then finally culminating in San Francisco. During the Sonoma portion I also presented a seminar on the history of California wine via the lens of Chardonnay. I’ll be writing up a few portions of the trip but in the meantime here’s a look at some of the trip highlights through what I shared along the way via Instagram.
Elaine brings us bang up to date on a scandal to have hit the American Master Sommelier organisation.
The US-based chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas (CMSA) delivered shocking news this week, and has since announced a decision that will cost it dear in financial terms. A Master Sommelier proctoring last months’ exams in St Louis, Missouri leaked vital information about the wines presented in the tasting exam. As a result, the entire tasting portion of the 2018 exam was ruled invalid. Additionally, the unnamed individual who leaked the information is not only barred from all future activities of the Court, but the CMSA has also initiated legal proceedings to strip them of their title and membership of the institution. It would seem that for legal reasons the Court will remain unable to name the offending individual until after the proceedings have been completed. But the press releases associated with this major breach of protocol have stated that the CMSA has clear documentation proving the violation.
Chairman of the CMSA board Devon Broglie said in a press release, ‘I can only imagine how hard it hit everyone to learn that something they worked so hard for was tainted by the actions of a single individual.’ There is no mention of any of the candidates being suspect or subject to legal proceedings. The offending exam proctor appears to have acted alone.
The impact of this news is severe. Candidates for the exam are required to pass three sections of the exam within three years. They must first pass the theory portion, before then being allowed to proceed to the blind tasting, and service or practical exams. As long as all three sections are passed within a three-year period, candidates may pass in any combination of all three in one year, one per year, etc. For the 2018 exams, only Morgan Harris had previously passed the tasting portion and so remains unaffected by the change in results.
As I reported last month, a record 24 new MSs were announced in St Louis, but 23 of them – except for Harris who did not participate in the St Louis tasting exam – have had their recent tasting exams nullified. Their newly-minted MS titles are effectively suspended until they […].
As part of our Throwback Thursday series we are republishing this eye-witness report and highlight the ongoing need to help those whose lives were devastated by the fires a year ago.
4 October 2018 We are just coming up to the anniversary of the worst fires ever known in Northern California wine country. They have already been followed by several other severe wildfires in the state, some of them in areas where wine is made and/or grown. But in Napa and Sonoma there are still thousands of people without proper homes or jobs as a direct result of the devastation. Elaine points out that the worst-affected were the vineyard worker communities who can be directly helped via Sonoma Grape Growers and the Napa Community Foundation.
To continue reading this Throwback Thursday article, head over to JancisRobinson.com where it continues Free-for-all to read. The article glimpses at the ongoing coverage about the fires through the website. It also goes all the way back to the first report I filed with Jancis in the early morning hours as the fires started in Napa and Sonoma on the night of October 8 / 9. My daughter and I evacuated only a few hours after I sent Jancis the report. Her website became one of the first in the world to report the fires as a result. Here is the link to the article: https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/fires-sweep-through-napa-sonoma-and-beyond
On your next wine-tasting jaunt, get the inside scoop at the bar where the makers hang out
ELAINE CHUKAN BROWN
Here’s one way to explore a wine region: Find the main drag, pull over at whatever shiny tasting room catches your eye, and start swirling and sipping. It’s not the worst strategy—it can actually be a lot of fun—but there’s a more surefire way to sip ahead of the curve: Stop for a beer.
Whether you’re driving the hills of Walla Walla or revisiting Napa Valley, there’s always a spot where the who’s who of vintners and growers imbibe. “Winemakers aren’t going to tasting rooms,” says Chris Hammell, who owns Hammell Wine Alliance and also farms Santa Barbara County’s iconic Bien Nacido Vineyards. Instead, he says, they’re at their local cantina.
“If we have people in town, we take them to Babi’s,” says Hammell. For tired winemakers looking for a break from anything grape-related after a long” ….
In a new record, the Court of Master Sommeliers in the United States celebrated no fewer than 24 passes of the rigorous Master Sommelier exams on Tuesday this week in St Louis, Missouri where this year’s exams took place.
While the number of individuals to pass this year’s exams is a record, the pass rate remains relatively low. This year saw 141 individuals step forward as candidates for the Court’s highest certification (only slightly fewer than the total number of this year’s Master of Wine candidates around the world). To enter, candidates must first have passed the challenging Advanced Sommelier certification, and then, based on continuing education and mentorship, be invited to sit for the Master exams. Almost incredibly, this year’s 24 successful candidates represent together more than …
To continue reading this article, head on over to JancisRobinson.com where the article appears in full here. The article appears there free for all to read.