April was a busy month full of changes and new opportunities. One of the things I love doing is attending educational seminars and tastings so that I am constantly learning and honing my craft. In April I attended several tastings including Austrian, Provence Rose, and Hungarian wines. I also did an extensive two day seminar on sensory evaluation and identifying wine aromatic molecules with sensory master, Alexandre Schmitt. My two favorite events in April were the Furmint USA tasting hosted by the Napa Valley Wine Academy and the Wine & Flavors Seminar taught by Alexandre Schmitt.
Wow! This seminar was life changing. Alexandre Schmitt is from Bourdeaux, France. He graduated in Chemistry at the University of Sciences in Bourdeaux, and in Perfumery at the ISIPCA at Versailles, France. He worked as a creator of perfumes in Paris and London and taught perfumery before transitioning into the wine industry. He now teaches olfaction at the Bourdeaux Oenology University and consults for many winemakers and top wineries around the world. His client list includes: Chateau Petrus, Chateau d'Yquem, Chateau Margaux, Opus One, Robert Mondavi Winery, Dominus Estate, Bodegas Miguel Torres, Joseph Phelps, Dalla Vale, Laffort Espana, Radoux, Taransaud, and so many more. He only offers his seminars in Napa once a year so I jumped on the opportunity as soon as it became available. He is crazy talented at what he does and is often referred to as "the nose" within the wine industry.
I took his Level 2: Aromatic Molecules seminar in St. Helena at ETS Laboratories. This was a two day seminar. We went through wine defects, barrel aromas, flowers, types of wood, fruits, spices, and balsamic notes. It was incredibly eye opening; other sensory classes I have taken before have never gotten into the nitty gritty details of each chemical compound like this seminar did. As wine professionals we breakdown a wine by identifying the aromas we are picking up but we usually do not break down the specific molecule and describe it further. That is exactly what we did during these two days. For example, to simply say vanilla or cedar is being lazy and elementary. We each had to share what that vanilla felt like. Was is warm? Was it oily? Was it sweet? Creamy? Artificial or Natural? Was it Vanilla or Vanillin? As there are many different types of vanilla and levels that can be perceived. Was the cedar cool? Was it resinous? Dry? Wet? And so on...
I can't wait for Alexandre to come back to Napa next year. You bet I will be taking all the other levels he offers. You cannot get training and teaching like this anywhere else. He is the best in his category and his classes are worth the investment! I implore those seeking to sharpen their sensory skills to take his seminars. The way you think about smelling will be changed forever. For more information check out his site https://www.wineandflavors.com/en/ and sign up for his newsletter to be the first to know of a course near you.