Even if you don’t happen to be going on the cruise to Bordeaux with us this November, I hope you don’t mind hearing a bit more about it all. The fact is, I get quite a few questions about the tour while in the tasting room. Ironically, one of the questions I get directed to me as the winemaker is, “What is your responsibility on cruise?”
OK, so here’s the deal. I wouldn’t really call it a “responsibility,” but instead an “opportunity.” When we signed up to host the cruise to Bordeaux, we chose this region (rather than The Danube or Paris or…) partly because we make so many different Bordeaux varieties. But the other reason was that this is a region we wanted to learn a lot more about.
So here comes the “opportunity” as I see it. With the hosting of the cruise, we have been asked to conduct three seminars and host a wine dinner. This is one of those unique opportunities where we get to learn, teach, experience and have fun all at the time.
Maggie and I have been talking a lot about the seminars, thinking of what we would like to experience if we were guests on the ship. Since we’re traveling through the Bordeaux region, obviously we’d want to learn about Bordeaux and its history. So Seminar #1 is entirely about Bordeaux!
Given that we are in Bordeaux on the cruise and then couple that with our belief in terroir (the special and unique characters in wine associated with the special and unique climate/soil combination of the region), you know we’re going to be tasting wine. This really is the only way to learn about something…by experiencing it. Imagine looking out the window while tasting a wine from that region. Now imagine this multiple times (and believe me when I tell you that the Bordeaux region is really diverse).
So Seminar #1 is a focus on Bordeaux. Seminar #2 is an opportunity to compare and contrast Bordeaux and California. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Californians exclaim that they much prefer California wines to those of France. But truly, the relationship between the regions is more like apples and oranges. So given an opportunity to break this down for people, especially after having spent Seminar #1 experiencing and learning about Bordeaux, is one of those once in a lifetime chances. Our job is to bring our experience with making California styles of the varieties and show that both expressions (Californian and Bordeaux) and amazing and spectacular.
Our third seminar will be completely focused on how much everyone has learned over the course of tasting, traveling, eating, experiencing and living. But (and here’s the “but”), we’re not going to make this a formidable essay test or something equally scary. Instead, retention of the experience should be fun and relaxing (the only way to learn!). Thus through a series of playful games and conversation, we’ll solidify the knowledge gained on the cruise.
“But,” you ask, “how are you going to do all this?” Well, in hosting the cruise, AmaWaterways ships over 20+ cases of Madroña wine for all of the seminars and the dinner (oh, did I mention the dinner…all Madroña wine paired with incredible French cuisine! We’ve seen some of the choices for the menu and these chefs are talented!).
Now, here’s the truly exciting part. We’ve pulled out all the stops on the Madroña wines we’ve chosen to send over (Quintets, Single Vineyard wines, etc.), but our wines are so reasonable priced (compared to the normal coastal Californian regions doing this cruise) that we didn’t come close to the allowable budget. So we’ve asked if we could upgrade the seminar wines with a selection of pricier Bordeaux wines with the remainder of the budget. And they said “Yes!” (Credit is due to AmaWaterways because they could have simply pocketed the money as revenue, but they understood that we could make the experience even more amazing with a bigger budget for the French wines!)
This next week, we’ll be tasting through a selection of wines Hugh has suggested of second labels of second and third growth Bordeaux to include in the seminars. And if you don’t understand the first, second, third, fourth, fifth growth aspects of Bordeaux, don’t worry because you’re going to learn all about it on the cruise!!!
The Wrap-Up. You know we love to make and talk about wine. You know we have the experience with Bordeaux varieties. Heck, we can even get by speaking French. But the real coup is that now we’re getting excited! And that’s what ties it all together!
So all in all, this cruise doesn’t have a “responsibility.” Instead, it’s an “opportunity!” And who knows? Maybe we’ll all come back as Master Sommeliers!