The Dirt on Spain

PrioratThis Friday (July 11, 2014) at noon central time, I’ll be offering a free-to-the-public, live-on-line webinar all about “The Dirt on Spain.” Sub-titled “A terroir-tinged trip through the tierra of Spain,” this session will look at five of Spain’s wine regions that have a particular link to the unique physical geography, climate, or soil of the region.

Here is a taste of what we’ll be covering!

Priorat: Priorat is a dynamic wine region in Catalonia – and one of the smallest wine regions in Spain. If you look at a map you’ll see that Priorat is close to the Mediterranean Sea. The sea’s influence on the hot, dusty climate, however is minimal, due to the position of the Catalan Coastal Range. Rainfall here is so low that it is equal to dry, dusty Montilla-Moriles down in Andalucía.

The famous llicorella soils, the steep, terraced vineyards, and legendary low yields lend rich, deep, concentration to the Garnacha-based wines of Priorat.

rias baixasRías Baxias: The name Rías Baixas means “’low rías” and was chosen because of the coastal inlets that characterize the landscape. Rías are a type of estuary, and if you don’t remember what an estuary is, it is a place where a river runs into the sea. The river running into the sea forms an area of “brackish” water, which means a mix of salt and fresh water.

The drowning of river valleys along a stretch of coast and formation of rías results in an extremely irregular and indented coastline. San Francisco Bay, Charleston Harbor, and Chesapeake Bay are all examples of this type of “drowned river valley” estuary. Other types of estuaries include lagoons and fjords.

Rías Baixas, known for its crisp, fruity, floral-scented white wines based on the Albariño grape variety, is perhaps the best-known wine region in Galicia. The maritime climate in Galicia has led to its nickname as “Green Spain. It rains quite a bit here – as high as 71 inches per year.

Rioja MapRioja: The Rioja DOCa is located to the south of the Sierra Cantabrian Mountain. The Rioja Alavesa sub-region is tucked into the foothills of these mountains, and benefits from the altitude (1,300–3,930ft/400–1,200m), and the chalky clay and limestone soils on the slopes and terraces.

The Sierra de la Demanda, part of the western section of the larger Sistema Ibérico, runs through along the southern edge of the Rioja Alta. The Rioja Baja region sits at at lower elevations, and as a result is drier, and flatter than its neighbors to the west. The soils also differ significantly; the chalk content is minimal, with larger proportions of silt and alluvial components as well as ferrous-clay. Drought is also a real threat.

We’ll also be covering Jerez and Ribera del Duero. For more information, including the link and login information for the session, click here.

The Bubbly Professor is…”Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas   missjane@prodigy.net

 

 

Start the Weekend with a Saturday Webinar!

Swebinar in the grassIt’s a rare sighting of a Saturday SWEbinar!!

This Saturday – June 7, 2104 – at 10:00 am central time – the Society of Wine Educators is offerring a Saturday morning SWEbinar all about the grapes and places of Italian Wine! This is a special weekend version in response to many requests for evening and weekend SWEbinars, and while we’re not sure what kind of a turn out we’ll receive, we are giving it a go!

This session, called “The Italian Grape Game” will be led by our little ol’ me – The Bubbly Professor, aka  “Miss Jane” Nickles. This session will be a lively way for you to test your knowledge of Italy’s wines and wine regions. You are advised to read and study chapter 10 of the CSW Study Guide in advance – this is glass-to-glass competition!

And don’t forget to ask about “Vice President Lenny,” who you’ll be meeting at the session. Vice President Lenny is here to help you learn the Italian wine regions – trust us on this one!

Login instructions and a link to the online classroom are located below. If you’d like to be sent a reminder about the session on Saturday morning, or have any other questions about our SWEbinar series, please contact jane at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org.

See you Saturday!

Vice President Lenny...you just have to tune it to find out what he's all about! (No, he is NOT supposed to look Italian.)

Vice President Lenny…you just have to tune it to find out what he’s all about! (No, he is NOT supposed to look Italian.)

Login Instructions: At the appointed time, just click on the link. (Links will be attached to the date and time announcement of each session in the list below and will go “live” a few days before the scheduled date.) When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your name, and click “enter room.” Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity. We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering more SWEbinars, but it is still a good idea to log on early!

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time.

To join the session, just click on the link: Saturday, June 7 – 1o:oo am Central Time – The Italian Grape Game, based on Chapter 10 in the CSW Study Guide, hosted by Jane A. Nickles, CSS, CWE

Click here to see the SWEbinar schedule for the rest of 2014!

Long Time Gonna Study This!

LTGSTLong time gonna study this!

No…this is not the Bubbly Professor slipping up and using poor grammar…rather, it is a mnemonic device for the method I’ve been using for the past several decades to introduce and teach the incredibly huge subject of all the regional wines of the world!

Long Time Gonna Study This is my of remembering the 5 most important things you need to know about any wine region in order to really understand (and not just “memorize”) the facts and figures, grapes and places, and other details concerning a specific region of the wine world.  The letters stand for: Location, Terroir, Grapes, Styles, and Terminology.

This is not the “easy way out” for studying. This is, however, a very effective study technique as it gives meaning and context to what you are studying, and as I’ve said so many times before…your brain just does not like (and is not good at) fixing random words and numbers into long-term memory. What your brain is really good at remembering are things that are personal, contextual, spatial, funny, surprising, physical, humorous, and (surprise!) sexual in nature.

So…how do we use this knowledge to make our wine studies more effective? We make our studies more contextual (the background story), spatial (how this location relates to other locations), physical (taste the wine, look at the label, pick up the bottle even if you can’t afford to buy it), personal (draw a map, say the words out loud, visit the region).

As for sexual, well, having a love affair with a brooding winemaker from New Zealand – or just thinking about it  - that can’t hurt either… Alas, if a trip to Central Otago is not in your near future, there are other ways…never forget the very fine line between wine and romance!

Here is a more detailed explanation of the use of the LTGST study method:

LTGST terroir 2Location:

  • We need to know – where is this area located?
  • Get specific - latitude, proximity to well-known cities and landmarks, and location in relation to other wine regions.
  • Research the topography – rivers, lakes, oceans, mountain ranges.
  • The best way to do this is trace a map, get to googling and draw in the cities, mountains, and rivers. By doing so you are making your studies more physical, which as we know will greatly improve your memory of the topic.

Terroir:

  • What is the local climate, soil, topography, etc and how does it affect the wine?
  • Knowing the details on the location (mountains, rivers, oceans) will translate into a better understanding of the terroir (see how that works)?

Grapes:

  • What grapes are grown there?
  • Are they blends, or single varietals?
  • Understanding the location, which leads to a better contextualization of the terroir, will lead to better understanding of what grapes grown in a certain location and why. There’s a darn good reason Alsace grows mainly white grapes and Bordeaux can grow botrytis-affected Semillon so well, and they have everything to do with location and terroir!

LTGST terminologyStyles:

  • After we know the overall climate and the grape varieties that are grown in a certain region, we’re ready to study the types of wines made in a region.
  • What styles of wine do they produce? Dry, sweet, still, sparkling?
  • What unique production techniques create these wines?

Terminology:

  • What terms do you need to understand the wines and their labels?
  • Some regions, such as Bordeaux and Burgundy, have a vocabulary all of their own and this list can get very long indeed, others are much simpler.

So there you have it…the LTGST method of studying the wines of the world. Like I said earlier in this post, it is certainly not quick or easy, but I guarantee you it’s effective.

Good luck with your studies, and please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or success with this method!

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas   missjane@prodigy.net

Miss Jane’s Online CSW Review Class

SWEbinar MayMiss Jane (aka the Bubbly Professor), as part of her “day job” as the Director of Education for the Society of Wine Educators, will be offering a second session of SWE’s guided, 12-week, online review course for CSW Candidates, starting on June 16th.

The course will include weekly “live online” course sessions (tentatively scheduled for Wednesday evenings at 7:00 central), reading assignments, workbook assignments, and “check-out quizzes.” Required textbooks include the 2014 CSW Study Guide and Workbook. The course is free for Professional Members of SWE who have a current CSW Exam Credit.

Participants will be limited to the first 100 qualified applicants, so if you are interested in this opportunity please send an email to Miss Jane at: jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Please note that the class will take a short “hiatus” the week of August 10 -16, when we will all be at the SWE Conference!

To find out more about the Certified Specialist of Wine Program, click here to access the  SWE Website.

How (wine) Cool are You?

DevoThe world of wine is in constant change….just look how fast DOCGs were added up until a few years ago! One year we had 51, then – suddenly it seemed – we had 73. For a while there, it seemed like we would hold tight at 73 (what with all of those new European Union regulations and all…) and then we heard that a 74th DOCG was in the works!

Whether or not we get that 74th DOCG (which, in case you were wondering is proposed for “Nizza,” currently part of the Barbera del Monferrato Superiore DOCG) is yet to be determined.  However, there is no question whatsoever that there has recently been a slew of changes and updates to the world of wine.

How we have you been keeping up with these changes?  If you like to find out, try my new Bubbly Professor Quiz – “How (wine) Cool are You (March 2014 edition.)

If you’d like to study a bit, or would just like to try and keep up with all of these wine world goings-on, take a look at the “CSW Updates” page I keep over at SWE’s Blog.

Cheers, and good luck!

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas  missjane@prodigy.net

Bubbly Professor Webinars

SWEbinar CliffsideMarch 2014 SWEbinars

Each month, as part of my role as Director of Education for the Society of Wine Educators, I lead a series of webinars on “How to Pass the CSW.”  And, due to my over-appreication of bad puns, I call them “SWEbinars.” (yeah, I know.)

Over the course of 2014, I’ll be covering the entire CSW Study Guide, as well as handing out study tips, providing the “tales of the vine” behind the famous wines, and taking your comments and questions.

The second set of installments in my CSW Review Series SWEbinars is scheduled for March, 2014.

These identical sessions will cover grape varieties and viticulture – chapters 3 and 4 in the CSW Study Guide.

These sessions will be first come, first served, and each has a capacity of 100 attendees.  Suggested drink-along beverages:  Gavi di Gavi,  Pink Champagne on Ice, or Espresso.

Logon Instructions:  At the appointed time, just click on the link.  When the SWE Adobe Connect homepage appears, click on “enter as a guest,” type in your name, and click “enter room.”  Remember that each session is limited to 100 attendees, and that several of our past sessions have reached capacity.  We are hoping to avoid this issue in the future by offering each SWEbinar a minimum of three times, but its still a good idea to log on early!

booksIf you have never attended an Adobe Connet event before, it is also a good idea to test your connection ahead of time.

You can keep up with the schedule and access the webinar home site here at this page.

Click here for the 2014 SWEbinar Calendar

If you have any questions, please contact me at:  jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

Hot off the Press: The CSW Workbook is here!

This just in, via the SWE Blog, “Wine, Wit, and Wisdom”

WorkbookWhat has 180 pages, 1,700 activities, 29 wine map exercises, and 250 “practice” multiple choice quiz questions?

Need more hints?

What will help you understand CSW Study Guide and guide you to remember all sorts of “facts and figures” about wine?

Need even  more hints?

What has been professionally designed to help you learn, remember, and understand the CSW Study Guide material and give you the best training possible, in order to help you pass the CSW Exam?

Answer:  Our CSW Workbook – available NOW on the SWE Website!  This 180-page workbook has a variety of exercises, including multiple choice questions, word matching, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and true/false questions;  all designed to help you to learn  and comprehend the rather large amount of material to be found in the CSW Study Guide.  While it may sound like a lot of work, we’ve also tried to design it to be fun – after all, what’s more fun than learning about wine?

Click here for a preview of the workbook!

Click here to access the SWE Website Catalog and Store.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the CSW Workbook, please contact SWE’s Director of Education, Jane A. Nickles, at jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

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