What I wished for with EDW, based on their ‘fun yet serious about wine’ website offer, was to enjoy 3 fabulous classroom days in the pursuit of WSET Level 2 in Winchester with a small group of like-minded wine worshippers.
WSET level 2 – what might surprise or delight me?
Over the past 30-40 years I’ve drunk a lot of wine as an exceedingly keen amateur contributing in no insignificant way to the global wine economy, but I have become set in my wine styles which was starting to feel a bit restrictive and was unimaginative; I was reaching for the same old bottles which were nice, but I began to think surely there’s more out there, but how can I find out? What else could I like, or what might surprise and delight me? Perhaps I’d discover wines I really didn’t like, but I at least I’d understand why.
WSET level 2 – Hoping for some magic.
With EDW I wanted to discover much more about wine and how to understand what’s likely to be in a bottle, and how it got there, before the cork comes out. I also wanted to bust wine myths and broaden my own narrow perceptions of styles, producing countries and production methods. As soon as I committed to the course, I craved, and eagerly anticipated mind-and-palette challenging days which would draw me further into the dark art of the grape. I hoped for some magic, perhaps a few tales of the unexpected…and, not least, to sample some wines from across the globe.
WSET level 2 – A globe-trotting journey.
So, 3 days of wine tasting?…What’s not to like? This was a globe-trotting journey, a joy to participate in, and a grand adventure. It’s also wonderfully intense for both mind and palette. You get to taste some 45 wines from around the globe; there is an incredible array of wine styles and Erica clearly invests a lot of time and care in her selections for the course. Some of my preconceptions and ridiculous wine prejudices were banished for good. I thought I didn’t like German, Australian, USA or English wine, and it appears I was totally wrong – and I’m delighted that I was wrong; wrongness sprouted from memories 30 + years ago at wines which made me wince. But I wince no more. There are too many wines to mention, but a couple of shout outs for me on the course were an English (Hampshire no less) Cottonworth Classic Cuvee Brut which was a dry sparkling delight, with fine mousse and lovely biscuity and bready notes on the nose and palate. On a hot afternoon that was a stunner. Just add strawberries and a picnic rug to sleep on when the bottles are empty. Another big favourite was a 2013 Atamisque Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza, Argentina which was bursting with jammy black fruits and very full bodied; just needed a log fire and a few good stories for a perfect night in; greedily consume on your own, it’s not for sharing. Another one you could share (though only just) with food and friends was a 2012 Peay Estate ‘Ama’ Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast in California which delighted with red stewed fruits with hints of spice and mushroom. I even made friends with Rieslings from Australia and Germany, a feat I previously feared impossible.
WSET Level 2 – Falling in love with Chardonnay.
Most importantly, the labels on a bottle now have more life and meaning in them; since finishing the course, I’m an avid label reader and can imagine what’s likely to be inside which has opened up my wine choice exponentially. However, I’m more picky about where I buy wine from and I take a lot more care about sourcing wine. Even my next holiday is going to be vineyard and/or wine based – either a quick jaunt to Portugal, Douro or a more full on tour of Chile as it seems I’ve fallen in love with Chardonnay from Casablanca. I’d never have contemplated any of this without the course, and it does seem that an old dog can actually learn new tricks. And what lovely treats you get as a reward!
Admittedly, I had some pretty big hopes and wishes for the course. I always think a good learning experience sticks around for a while stealing your thoughts away now and again, whereas a great learning experience is transformational. Enjoy Discovering Wine was, truly, one of those transformational, world-class, learning experiences so generously and expertly delivered with passion, knowledge, care, dedication and humour. Over the 3 days Erica and Nicky shared their art with grace, ease and fun, and I did indeed refer to them as Bacchanalian Goddesses. I still mean it. They are. Everyone in the EDW camp is responsive, knowledgeable and a delight to communicate with from start to finish. I hoped for magic and tales of the unexpected. I got both in massive vat loads – new French oak of course!