A New Wine Academy

By mthomas

Fully refreshed from a lovely week with the family in Crete I am determined to catch up with marking, writing, emails etc. At some point I will try and review the various wines I tasted although I was not overly impressed with most from Crete itself. For me it is lagging behind Santorini and other regions in terms of quality consistency. The local olive oil can’t be faulted though.

Lots has been going on in the wine world since I last blogged including the ‘retirement’ of Gary Vaynerchuk (pictured above left) and the eruption of Etna. Gary will be greatly missed, despite his use of rating scales whilst simultaneously denouncing them, because of his energy and unstuffy approach to wine. If you haven’t ever watched any of his videos check them out asap.

Below is a press release from the Antique Wine Company announcing a new ‘Academy’ offering wine courses. One aim of is to provide information on courses (see education and wine courses page here) so it seemed sensible to post this. A brief disclaimer is that I am not in any way connected to them, although I would happily deliver sessions on psychology if asked (and declare it…), and I haven’t seen the full timetable or  curriculum. Anyway here it is…

The Antique Wine Company, well known for the buying and selling of fine and rare wines, announced today, the launch of its AWC Wine Academy. The company who set a new Guinness World Record last week for the sale of the most expensive bottle of white wine in the world (an 1811 Château d’Yquem), is creating the wine school in response to first hand evidence of their clients desire to extend their wine knowledge and a general growing trend to know more about the subject.

While many people might feel intimidated in attempting to learn about wine, the AWC Wine Academy seeks to break down those barriers by offering courses that are structured and informative, yet relaxed and entertaining in their delivery.

Conveniently situated in the plush, central London district of Marylebone, the AWC Wine Academy aims to establish itself as a centre of excellence in the métier of wine, both within its locality and further afield, across London and both nationally and internationally.

Having appointed the respected, award-winning wine journalist John Stimpfig as Director of the AWC Wine Academy, the school is already setting a precedent in the quality of its teaching. It has secured a range of highly regarded wine specialists, such as Tim Atkin MW, one of the world’s most celebrated wine authorities, as well as other respected MWs and experienced wine professionals, as guest tutors.

Stephen Williams, Managing Director of The Antique Wine Company, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer such high quality courses that will be run by high calibre tutors, who are current leading experts in the wine field. The aim of the AWC Wine Academy is to become a central resource for the wine industry, not only teaching those with little or no prior knowledge of wine, but those also working in the industry, who wish to progress and extend their knowledge of the subject. We would like to offer professional training for example, for the hospitality industry, where there is an inherent need, here and abroad.”

As an adjunct to the Antique Wine Company, the AWC Wine Academy has unrivalled access to some of the best chateaux and winemakers in the world. This only strengthens their offering and participants in the courses are able to benefit from this, by visits to esteemed vineyards and winemakers, as well as through unique tastings on-site.

The first series of courses led by Tim Atkin MW begin on September 21, 2011. Titled: Essential Wine Tasting Techniques for Beginners, the course offers a jump start in wine knowledge from a wine expert who is not only knowledgeable on the subject of wine, but who can communicate it in an informative, yet genial way.

Highlights include: classic tasting techniques, blind tastings, top tips and trade secrets, describing wine and assessing quality, understanding different wine styles, grape varieties, countries, regions and price points, food and wine matching and serving tips and techniques.

Running over four weeks the evening sessions will begin at 7 pm and run until 8.30 pm, culminating in the re-tasting of wines sampled during the session and food matching, which will end at 9 pm. The course cost is £360 per person for four weekly sessions.

For more information and to book a course, contact Deborah Ives, Director of AWC Wine Academy Operations: Tel: +44 (0)20 3219 5588 or Email:

To view all available courses go to:

Hopefully Etna will settle down over coming days but I couldn’t help marvelling at some of the images. They reminded me of John Martin’s work which is soon to be displayed at Tate Britain in a show aptly entitled ‘Apocalypse’ (21st September 2011 to 15th January 2012).




Rare Bottles Released by Collectors

By mthomas

I have heard from a couple of retailers recently and although I tend to avoid plugging offers it seems appropriate in this instance. They are relatively small operations and the wine they are offering is likely to be of interest to people concerned about terroir and accessing good quality individual bottles from Burgundy and the Rhone with solid provenance. The also have something to ‘say’ about the psychology and economics of collecting wine.

First is a tranche of Armand Rousseau’s finest being offered by the antique wine company. These wines have come from one cellar, the owner of which had (and still retains) a direct allocation with the producer. They have mixed cases such as one from 1985;
1985 – 75cl – 1bt – Chambertin
1985 – 75cl – 1bt – Charmes Chambertin
1985 – 75cl – 4bt – Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques
1985 – 75cl – 6bt – Clos de la Roche
The only catch is the £7500 you would have to find to indulge in such wonderful wines.

More affordable but equally interesting are wines available from Corky’sWine (possibly the worst name for a fine wine retailer I am aware of – apart from the connotations of wine being corky, it could also read as Corky Swine!). However, the wine available here includes superb Rhones such as The Roasted Slopes mixed case of Cote Roties;
1997 Chapoutier Côte Rôtie La Mordorée
1998 Guigal Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis
2001 Michel Ogier Côte-Rôtie
2000 Rene Rostaing Côte-Rôtie Côte Blonde
1999 J M Gérin Côte Rôtie les Grandes Places
1998 Tardieu-Laurent Côte Rôtie
Not cheap at £390 (and out of my league as I have had to curtail spending to buy a new car) but some wonderful wines available in mixed cases. These too are the result of someone collecting with a passion but finding themselves with a surplus. Below is an extract from the site explaining the rationale of offering mixed cases rather than auctioning off the collection;

“The reason is the personal affection that is felt for the wines themselves, those who have made them, and those who have sold them. These wines need to go to ‘good homes’. To be bought, in other words, by those who would cherish them and enjoy them in the way, he believes, their producers intended: with food and friends, for personal pleasure and to learn more about terroir and the craft of great wine creation.”

I hope to share the full story of these wines with you in a post in a few weeks.

In the meantime consider Beverland (2006) who suggests that ‘authenticity’ is a ‘cornerstone of contemporary marketing practice’. After looking at 20 ‘ultra-premium’ wineries and interviewing wine drinkers, six key attributes of ‘authenticity’ were identified:
1. heritage and pedigree
2. stylistic consistency
3. quality commitments
4. relationship to place
5. method of production
6. downplaying of commercial motives
These attributes resonated with consumers but were both ‘real and stylized versions of the truth’.

I also hope to update the research page of the site soon as I have been sent so many new references to papers and books about wine and psychology.