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SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW RHÔNE?

By Leeann Froese

Do you know Rhône Valley wines?

It turns out, I know less than I thought.

Thankfully, at a trade event earlier in September at Vancouver’s Maenam restaurant, Michelle Bouffard, president of the local chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS), hosted and presented a discovery workshop and tasting, to help bring some Rhône knowledge back to the forefront.

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40 industry professionals: sommeliers, retailers, and media representatives alike, were joined by representatives of the Rhône Valley, Laure Vaissermann and Virginie Charlier, marketing and communication director of Inter-Rhône. Upon arrival to the event, each guest cracked open a fortune cookie, and inside was the name of one of five teams named after a few of the region’s famous varietals: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Marsanne and Roussanne. Once randomly teamed up we tasted 12 wines from the Rhône Valley during a blind taste test. Our goal was to guess the appellations or varietals as part of an interactive challenge under the evocative theme “So you think you know Rhône?”

It turns out, I do not.

I was on Team Grenache, with notable trade #winelover -s including Noel Hollet, Rachel von Sturmer, Iain Philip, Ron Wilson, and Si Man Lee. I was impressed by the tasting ability and knowledge at my table, although the table discussion revealed that my team members, like me, were also not 100% confident.

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Created from a range of 21 different varietals, Rhône Valley Wine wines are renowned for their depth and distinctiveness. The reds range from round and fruit forward, to full bodied and structured; the whites are floral and fruity or full bodied and deep, and there are dry rose wines as well, that range from fresh and bright to spicy.

It’s all about the blend; and while there are many varietals, for example, most blended reds are a combination of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. The wines’ blends and flavour profiles depend on what area or village they are from and the related terroir, as well as the laws from each area as it relates to how much % of varietal is allowed in each blend.

Once we heard from Michelle about the regions, blends and laws, we blind tasted and were quizzed, with our answers submitted electronically and then displayed on a screen for all to see. I was not doing well at all, and my teammates were doing only slightly better.

I did OK on identifying the building blocks of the wines; identifying the acid, alcohol and tannin characteristics, but that is where my success ended…

Luckily the results were collected and posted by team, so no one saw that I only got a few of the questions right. I am sure that I brought my team’s score down, and here I publicly apologize to them!

Where I really fell down was aligning the wine characters to their origin. Related: I have a lot of dusting off of my WSET notes to do!

Even seasoned experts can still learn something new about Rhône Valley Wines,” said Michelle Bouffard.

I wasn’t alone; there seemed to be collective groans in the room each time an answer was revealed. The fact that so many of us got responses incorrect provided a great chance to discuss why – for example why Ventoux in the foothills offers wines so different from the full-bodied and round Gigondas wines from further south.

Some other teams did much better, voting as a group and doing very well. Congratulations to Team Marsanne on earning bragging rights!

Bouffard adds “The region’s diverse appellations, soil types and flagship varietals make it a key wine region. What really turns heads are the wines’ versatility, as they pair wonderfully with a wide range of dishes, such as Maenam’s Asian specialties.”

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After the tasting and quiz was done and the whole room seemed collectively deflated, our moods were revived by the chance to taste these wines again and openly discuss, this time knowing what we are reaching for, and also now accompanied by hand-passed bites from chef Angus An.

KEY STATISTICS ABOUT THE RHÔNE VALLEY WINES

  • Ranks 2nd among French AOC vineyards in terms of volume;
  • 388 million bottles sold in 2015;
  • Over 50% of total production is certified organic;
  • 1 bottle of Rhône Valley Wines AOC is enjoyed worldwide every 12 seconds;
  • Over 10 years, the volume of Rhône Valley Wines exports to Canada has increased by 41%;
  • In 2015, 11% (in volume) of French table wines in Canada is from Rhone Valley Wines. An overall 20% increase in BC sales of Rhone Valley Wines during 2015 to 2016.

Disclosure: As a member of CAPS BC, I was an invited guest at this event, and I thank Rhône Valley Wines for the chance to taste and learn. For more information on Rhône Valley Wines, visit www.vins-rhone.com

 

Meet Dianne Chow #withTownHall

By Leeann Froese Well its a new week to bring you an amazing person to meet #withTownHall!

If you are new to reading this blog or new to our company – we want you to know that we are proud that we have a big network, and we are continually meeting new and interesting personalities.

We want to make the world smaller by introducing people to each other - so sometimes our people #withTownHall are part of our team, sometimes they are clients, and sometimes, like this week, they are just cool people we want to introduce to the world.

This week #withTownHall, we are rolling in on #featurefriday to introduce you to a fabulous blogger and socialite, Dianne Chow.

Dianne Chow, founder, Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver 02Dianne founded her blog Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver in order to help other frugal fashionistas, foodies and #winelovers living and struggling to save in Vancouver.

She proves that you can enjoy the finer things in life in Vancouver while maintaining a budget by sourcing out the best deals without sacrificing quality for quantity.

She owes her frugal mindset to her successful parents who built success from humble beginnings and never forget where they came from.

If you are itching for the hottest deals in fashion, food, wine and events you'll be sure to find it on her website or scrolling through her Twitter feed.

Not only does Dianne have a passion for saving money, but is also a published poet, an established copywriter, a skilled photographer, and a former editor-in-chief.

That being said, she knows that it's okay to splurge once and a while and keeps you up to date on all things fabulous as well.

Will you help us say hi and welcome Dianne to #withTownHall?

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter

Josh Likes Wine - Meet Josh Decolongon #withTownHall

By Leeann Froese Well its a new week to bring you an amazing person to meet #withTownHall!

If you are new to reading this blog or new to our company – we want you to know that we are proud that we have a big network, and we are continually meeting new and interesting personalities.

We want to make the world smaller by introducing people to each other - so sometimes our people #withTownHall are part of our team, sometimes they are clients, and sometimes, like this week, they are just cool people we want to introduce to the world.

This week #withTownHall, we are rolling in on #featurefriday to introduce you to a true #winelover, Joshua Decolongon.

Joshua Decolongon, founder, Josh Likes Wine 02

Josh is a wine blogger and reviewer at his site: Josh Likes Wine and a certified sommelier.

He was given a bottle of wine on his 19th birthday and he figured he should give wine a shot because he is up for everything!

At 23, Josh is a WSET Diploma graduate-the youngest (we know of) in BC. He also too k lead at the UBC Wine Tasting Club.

He loves writing whether it be an article on wine or in his journal and his love of writing brought him to the Wine Bloggers conference in 2014 on scholarship, a conference that Sujinder and I attend each year.

Josh does love wine but he also enjoys photography, science, making music, science, languages and Game of Thrones, as Josh says, "[he's] not just a pretty drunken face."

With all that being said will you help us say hi and welcome Josh to #withTownHall?

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter

Meet Madeline Puckette #withTownHall

By Leeann Froese It’s a new week to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall!

This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).

We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them. This week #withTownHall, we introduce you to Madeline Puckette.

Madeline Puckette Wine Folly

A true #winelover, Madeline is the talented genius behind Wine Folly. We choose to feature Madeline today as this week she released her #WineFollyBook aptly titled “The Essential Guide to Wine”.

Wine Folly is a culture site offering articles and videos that connect people to the world of wine. Madeline and her Wine Folly team are based in Seattle, but they travel the world over for wine.

Madeline’s roots as a graphic designer are very apparent with the website’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to consume infographics. This, paired with her extensive credentials as a wine expert and wine writer, makes Wine Folly an essential guide for the new generation of wine drinkers.

I first met Madeline in Portland at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2012, just as Wine Folly was starting to be a thing of note. She has come so far in a few short years and her progress has been nothing short of amazing. She has won critical acclaim for her humorous and clever way of educating and demystifying wine, and is a person featured in the 2015 Wine Enthusiast magazine 40 Under 40 list. #gogetit Madeline!

To Madeline: I am hungrily devouring your book and I know I am with people all over the world when I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on the launch!

Leeann Froese of Town Hall Brands reads the #winefollybook

Everyone, please say hi to Madeline and congratulate her on the launch of the Wine Folly book.

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

Wine O'Clock Now Officially Recognized Term

WineOclock At Town Hall we have a tradition of celebrating a special time of day that we, like many, call “Wine O’Clock”.

Today, we hope that wine lovers everywhere will raise a glass with us to honour that fact that the term Wine O’Clock has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary and given us an official way to talk about the appropriate time of day to enjoy a glass of wine (which is any time).

With the prevalence of the hashtag #wineoclock across social media platforms and its popularity in everyday conversation, The Oxford Univesity Press has decided to induct it on the basis that the phrase is significant, important, and will stand the test of time.

As #winelovers – we agree!

So the next time that you are checking your watch with the longing for a superb glass of wine, know that it is now officially appropriate to announce that it is Wine O’Clock.

Cheers!

Meet James Melendez With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese It's Saturday - that means it's time to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall

This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).

We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them.

This week we introduce you to James Melendez, otherwise known as James the Wine Guy.

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James is a #winelover and a really nice guy. I met him a few Wine Bloggers Conferences ago after forging an online friendship through Twitter, and am happy to share who he is with you here.

His motto is "Demystifying Wine...One Bottle at a Time". He is passionate about wine, food, travel, science & technology, and has been previously named the World's No. 1 producer of wine videos.

He uploads at least with one video per week, if not more often, midweek on or near 'Wine Wednesday'.

Check out James on his blog and  please help us say hello.  Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.