This week I got to spend two glorious days tasting wines with four master somms…just me and 59 other students. We were sitting for our first level with the Court of Masters. The days were filled with rapid-fire lectures on the major wine regions of the world and their grapes and soils. They also covered production of still, sparkling, and fortified wines, distilled spirits, beer and sake. The lectures were more review than lessons. Any student attending without first mastering the basics of wine would not have passed the test at the end of the two days. Fortunately, most of the students came prepared.
In between lectures we tasted through several flights of wine. While we evaluated them, the master somms gave us firm guidance in both description and deduction. The wines really came to life when listening to the flavor and structure descriptions of the masters. I’ve never tasted such an aromatic Alsatian Pinot Gris, Domaine Pfister, 2011 nor such a crisp and flinty Chablis, Domaine Oudin, 2013.
At the end of the second day, we sat for our test, a 70 question multiple choice on wine and spirits. It was very straight forward and basic. Most people passed. I came away with a pin, but more than that, I came away with the poetry that evolves when a skilled artist speaks of her or his beloved medium. They truly are Masters.