WSET Celebratory Wine Review: 2007 Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard Syrah

6 02 2012

When people ask me what kind of wine I like, I'm going to pull out this pic.

Ever since I found out that I passed my WSET Advanced course last week, I’ve been wanting to break open something truly special to celebrate.  However, sickness intervened, so rather than crack a $100+ bottle and write stuff like “smells like nothing” and “my throat hurts” in a review, I decided to wait until the congestion clouds had cleared.  This weekend I pronounced myself fit to taste and rummaged through my cellar to find a suitable victory bottle, and as soon as I came to this one, I stopped thinking about any other.  However, it’s a bottle built for the long haul, so I was faced with the quandary that every wine lover about to pull the cork on an expensive bottle has had to face:  should I open the wine now so I can try it, or will I be undercutting its long-term potential by having it too early?  After getting some savvy advice from the amazingly-informed wine community on Twitter (thanks, @peterzachar and @nwtomlee!), I turned to Cayuse’s website for the final verdict.  On their FAQ page, there was a question that said:  “How soon can I open my wines?”  Cayuse’s answer?  “A Latin saying insists, ‘There are four reasons for drinking wine: the arrival of a friend; one’s present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.'”  I opened the wine.

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WSET: Officially Advanced!!!

23 01 2012

Ten weeks and a day (but who’s counting) after I tasted and wrote my way through the Wine & Spirits Education Trust’s Advanced Exam, I officially got my results from WSET headquarters in London.  Thankfully, they were worth waiting for, on both the theory side and the tasting side:


I now have a fancy certificate (which I’m not allowed to reproduce in any form, hence the substitute pic of the boring accompanying letter above) to hang in my not-yet-built wine cellar, a somewhat-less-fancy green pin and a heck of a load off my mind…I think I was more nervous about this exam than I was when I wrote the LSAT.

An anticlimactic but hard-fought pin.

According to the WSET website, I can now work “in the drinks and hospitality industries in a supervisory capacity” (who’s hiring?  🙂 ) and, more importantly, apply to the WSET to use the “WSET Certified Advanced” logo on my letterhead and business cards!  I am totally doing this.  This has completely made my week.  I will crack and write about a suitable celebration bottle shortly, but for now I’m just going to sit back, savour the moment and thank my lucky stars that my tuition money didn’t go to waste.  Cheers!!



WSET Advanced Complete!

14 11 2011

This logo and I have had a good 2011 together.

So how many different wines did you drink over the last three weekends?  I had about 100.  From White Zinfandel to Barolo, Tokaji to Pinotage, Sherry to Port — if it was from a recognizable world wine region, I probably tasted it over 50ish classroom hours in WSET Advanced class.  The wines we tasted in the course retailed for anywhere from $10 to $100, came from 15 different countries and ran the gamut of styles, preparations and flavours.  To top it off, the WSET threw in some spirits for good measure:  in the span of an afternoon this past Saturday, I had Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados (apple-based spirit), Irish Whiskey, Single Malt Scotch, Bourbon, Dark Rum and Tequila (it would have been like a Vegas weekend were it not for the spit cups).

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Wine Review: 2009 Paolo Conterno Barbera d’Alba

9 11 2011

Not to reinforce any improper stereotypes, but I totally dig the Mafia lighting in this photo.

Well, another week, another lone post on Pop & Pour — there’s no doubt that my brief foray back into academics has taken its toll on my blogging productivity.  Thankfully, my WSET Advanced exam is this Sunday, after which my writing schedule will get back to normal (provided I haven’t given up on wine entirely by then, something I might just do if I have to read my textbook one more time).  After two weekends of boot-camp-esque Advanced training and 30+ hours of class time logged, we’ve tasted and evaluated close to 80 wines and covered off every major world wine region except Spain and Portugal (which are coming up this Saturday), as a result of which everyone’s brain is in varying degrees of pain.  My head is so WSET-laden that I have random wine words like Trincadeira (Portuguese grape variety) and bocksbeutel (odd-shaped wine bottle used in Franken, Germany) floating around the edges of my consciousness at night as I’m trying to go to sleep, and I can’t pour a straightforward glass of vino with dinner without mulling over whether it has a medium or medium-plus body or a ruby-with-some-garnet or garnet-with-some-ruby appearance.  Tonight I poured one of my favourite kinds of inexpensive wine, Barbera d’Alba from northwest Italy, and even though I was fairly familiar with the grape and the region, I still felt compelled to dive into my text to find out what my new vinous Bible had to say about them.

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Goals & Milestones

27 10 2011

Once more into the breach!

One of the things I wanted to do in 2011 (other than making sure I muddled through figuring out how to keep our first child alive — so far so good!) is get some formal wine education.  I had read a ton of books and articles, gone to tastings, talked to shop owners and, of course, drank a lot of vino, but I wanted to take things a step farther and actually get into the classroom, which prompted me to enrol in the WSET Intermediate program a few months ago.  Thankfully, I successfully completed and passed the course, coming out of the summer with my Intermediate Certificate, and I enjoyed the experience so much that I immediately signed up for the WSET Advanced class later in the year.  Well, “later in the year” is now two days away — for the next three weekends I will be shut away in a conference room downtown with other like-minded wine die-hards, trying desperately to absorb reams of technical and geographical information while simultaneously tasting 20-30 wines a day.  If my course materials are any indication, the Advanced course will be WAY more, well, advanced than the Intermediate, so if you don’t see as many PnP posts as normal until mid-November, you can assume it’s because I’m studying.  The blog will be back up to full throttle once my exam (which includes a blind tasting this time) is blissfully behind me.

Thankfully, this blog continues to get amazing support even when I’m a bit lax about regular posting.  Sometime in the next two days Pop & Pour will clock over the 10,000 (!!!) hit mark, which is both gratifying and astonishing to me.  In each month of its operation, PnP has attracted more views than the month before, and I have all of you to thank for your interest in this site.  Once the WSET is done I’ll crack and review a suitable tribute bottle to celebrate both this latest round-number hit target and the fact that school’s officially out for winter.  Cheers!

WSET: Officially Intermediate!!

2 08 2011

I’m back from a long weekend trip to the splendours of northern Alberta (note to all those who live in Grande Prairie:  buy your wine from the Costco there, and only from Costco…some crazy good deals even beyond the big labels!) and I’m ready to make up for lost blogging time.  I had planned to dive right into a new wine review tonight, but that all changed when I got a special delivery in the mail this afternoon from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust — my Intermediate exam results!  I am pleased to report that my registration for the Advanced course this October was not in vain…for some reason I’m officially forbidden from posting any image of my actual WSET certificate on the Internet, but I can post this:

Booya! Tuition money not wasted!

Admittedly, the Intermediate exam was just a multiple-choice test without a tasting component, but still, I’m pretty psyched about this.  Now all future reviews will be backed by that sliver of moral authority you get when you’re moderately qualified at something!

Actual wine talk will return tomorrow, when Oregon will have its PnP debut…I’m amazed I haven’t written it up yet, but that will soon be remedied.  Until then!

WSET Intermediate Complete!

4 06 2011

I came, I tasted 65 wines & spirits in a 3 day period, I wrote a test, and I think I passed.  I have a couple months to wait before I get my official confirmation, but WSET Intermediate is now in the books, and I cracked a special wine tonight to mark the occasion which I’ll write about tomorrow (hint:  it’s German, it’s Riesling, and it’s awesome).  In the meantime, I will again encourage anyone with a deep interest in wine to consider taking a course like this, because it really solidifies your base of knowledge and broadens your horizons (he says as he immediately goes back to his favourite region and grape right after class is over).  Until tomorrow!

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