wines of 2019

Vanessa Da Silva’s Top 10 Wines of 2019 (So Far!)

With 2019 more than half over, we asked Vanessa Da Silva, this year’s Outstanding Alumni Award winner for Outstanding Sommelier, to share her top 10 wines of the year (so far!) As the Sommelier at Ninety Acres Farm in New Jersey, she serves her guests wines that she truly loves from experiences and knowledge gained throughout her career.

After a recent trip to New Zealand as one of only 18 Sommeliers in the world to be invited to the New Zealand Wine Sommit, she was inspired to learn more about the amazing wines produced in the country. Below, you’ll find 4 delicious bottles from the up-and-coming wine country, plus wines like the “not always easy to like” Viognier and the “herbal and complex” Syrah!

Check out what she said were her favorite wines of the year, and be sure to pick up a bottle that’ll easily impress!

wines

2015 Millton Clos Samuel Viognier Gisborne, New Zealand

Viognier isn’t always the easiest variety to like. It’s often overly aromatic and can lack acidity making it feel heavy on the palate. This Viognier blew me away! It is intense and complex with layers of appealing aromatics and flavors, the bright acidity perfectly balances the residual sugar in this late-harvest wine.  Millton Vineyards is a unique & magical place—James Millton is an adamant believer in Biodynamics and the vineyards are as alive with life as the wine is. This wine was an absolute gem and I have no doubt that it will age for decades to come.

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2016 Lingua Franca The Plough Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon

Winemaker Thomas Savre at Lingua Franca makes wine of precision, care, and soul. They are compelling, complex and balanced— delicious now and yet still have so much potential to age. This Cuvee, the Plough, is made in homage to the vineyard workers, to the people who keep this winery moving.  If you haven’t tried these wines yet, you should!

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2017 Smockshop Spring Ephemeral Grenache Columbia Gorge, Oregon

Hiyu Wine Farm is an experience which will seep into you and engulf your senses and it is a must-visit for any Biodynamic wine lover. Hiyu goes beyond solely Biodynamics, and also incorporates practices of permaculture and animals living among the vines into their charming farm. This wine smells like where it is from more than any I’ve tasted this year. You can practically smell the spring herbs growing in the vineyard, the just ripe red fruit aromas smell as though growing wild in surrounding forest. The structure on the palate is refreshing and up lifting like the breeze across the vineyard as you look towards Mt. Hood. This is a wine that encompasses your senses and brings you to the farm it came from. I can’t help but smile every time I have the opportunity to serve it.

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2013 Quartz Reef Methode Traditionnelle Central Otago, New Zealand

Rudi Bauer, winemaker at Quartz Reef, let this sparkling wine sit on the lees for over 4.5 years! This makes him both a bit of a madman and an absolute genius! Rudi is humble despite being one of the foremost winemakers in Central Otago— he is originally from Austria, having come to New Zealand over 30-years ago for what was supposed to be a 6-month stage. Rudi believes wholeheartedly in Biodynamics and the wines are full of passion, authenticity to where they’re coming from, and vibrantly delicious. This sparkling wine is 91% Chardonnay, 9% Pinot Noir from a vineyard in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago. This wine is mouthwatering with layers of citrus fruit, fresh brioche, and poached orchard fruits—not to be missed!

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2013 Element Syrah Finger Lakes, New York

Element winery makes a compelling case for cool climate varieties from the Finger Lakes. One of my favorite is this Syrah! It is savory, herbal, complex, and still showing incredible youth despite being nearly 6-years old. Element winery takes great care in making wines that are genuine to the Finger Lakes, take a minimalist (nothing added, nothing taken away) approach to winemaking, and allow their wine the time they need before being released. This 2013 is the current release of Element Syrah, it is stunning and still has a lot of life in it!

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2012 Te Mata Elston Chardonnay Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Te Mata estate was first planted in 1892! They are located at the heart of Hawke’s Bay GI, the Havelock Hills. Te Mata is part of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand and looks not only at their environmental impact, but also takes into account social and economic sustainability.  The Elston Chardonnay is all about balance and elegance, spending 10-months on its lees in barrel, Elston shows lovely richness while maintaining a strong backbone of freshness. I had the opportunity to taste several vintages while in New Zealand, and can say with confidence that it is delicious in its youth, and stunning as it ages.

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2009 Dry River Craighall Riesling Martinborough, New Zealand

Martinborough GI is a small winegrowing area renowned for its Pinot Noir in the Wairarapa GI on the North Island of New Zealand. Martinborough comes across as an agricultural valley, where there is a wonderful sense of camaraderie among winegrowers. Dry River has deep roots in the area and they farm in a way which is sustainable to their site, and seek to preserve rather than ‘enhance’ wine. This riesling comes from their Craighill vineyard and is layered with citrus blossom tones, citrus zest, juicy pit fruits, and undertones of savory earth tones. The Dry River rieslings are mouthwatering and refreshing in their youth, but really compelling with age.

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2015 The Boneline Iridium Canterbury, New Zealand

The Boneline is a small estate in Canterbury, New Zealand. The Boneline takes its name from the nearby K-T Boundary line and each label features a fossil found within the nearby Waipara river. The Boneline is a unique place where the Southern Alps provide a rain shadow and there is bountiful sunshine, warm dry westerly winds and cool southerly winds that provide for long glorious vintages. Biodiversity reigns here and vines grow among pigs and sheep, native scrub provides shelter for geckos and native birds. And the wine is just as stunning! The Boneline has just been made available in the US as of July 2019, and I cannot urge you enough to find & try some. This Iridium is a red blend of primarily Cabernet Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is a melody of deep dark fruit, savory spice, and herbal earth tones— it is alluring, delicious, and will linger on your mind!

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2015 Marc Delienne Abbaye Road Fleurie, Beaujolais

Marc Delienne works organically, and practices biodynamics on a small 12 acre estate in Fleurie, Beaujolais. He believes in minimal intervention and allows the wine to speak for itself. He uses goblet training, ambient yeast, whole cluster fermentation, no racking, no fining nor filtering, aging in foudre or concrete, and very little sulfur.  His wines are soulful, with deep complex flavors that linger in the palate, and a soft mouth-feel. They are everything that Gamay should be!

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2016 Syncline Mourvèdre Horse Heaven Hills, Washington

James and Poppie Mantone run Syncline Winery with their family along the Columbia river within the Columbia Gorge AVA. They believe in biodynamics to help their vineyard thrive and take care to observe the health of their soils, wines, and employees. They have sworn-off the manipulation of wines, a sentiment which I love! They focus on Rhône varietals, and the wine they produce is both soulful and satisfying. This Mourvèdre has high tones of juicy red berries, black pepper, cured meat, and petrichor. You don’t often see varietal Mourvèdre, but Syncline is making a very compelling case for it.

dorothy

Women’s History Month: The Legacy of Our Founder

Since the early 1980’s, Women’s History Month marks a time to recognize, honor and celebrate the achievements of women around the world throughout the month of March. There are so many prevalent women in the world of food to thank for shaping the culinary and hospitality industry as we know it today. To acknowledge the importance of this month—not just as Women’s History Month, but also as the 35th Anniversary of the school’s founding and our annual Founder’s Day celebrations—we are proud to pay tribute to the life and legacy of our Founder, Dorothy Cann Hamilton. The everlasting effect she has had on both the school and the food industry can still be felt today. Below, learn about the legacy of Dorothy and use her spirit as your guiding light as you begin your new career.

In 1984 across America and the world, everything was changing. Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart made the first untethered space walk, while Steve Jobs sold the first Apple Macintosh computer to the public back on Earth. President Ronald Reagan defeated Walter F. Mondale with 59% of the popular vote, and as many of the achievements of men were being widely recognized, a culinary revolution was beginning on the corner of Broadway and Grand street. This would later give way to culinary giants & thought leaders like Bobby Flay, Dan Barber, Christina Tosi and so many more.

1984Since 1984, thousands of chefs, culinary & pastry professionals, sommeliers and industry leaders have received their education at the International Culinary Center, founded as The French Culinary Institute. The school’s reputation and graduate success can be credited to our Founder Dorothy Cann Hamilton’s original vision—to establish a culinary school that would educate aspiring chefs in a fast-paced program that got them into the workforce quickly and well prepared.

It all began while studying at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England, during which Dorothy made frequent trips to France that exposed her to the world of French cuisine. After spending time in the Peace Corps in Thailand following college, she ventured back to New York City to work with her father, the Founder of the Apex Technical School. During this time, she continued her education, attaining a Masters in Business Administration from NYU. With a deep love of food at her core, it was then that she envisioned a way to bring her passion for food and education together.

It’s hard to imagine there was ever a time in New York City without a variety of cuisines at your fingertips—before you could order from virtually any restaurant on Seamless. A time before the Michelin Guide was even handing out stars in America. But, it’s true. There was indeed a time when the diversity of food culture was absent and the infamy of chefs did not yet exist. Dorothy’s vision for culinary education began to take shape alongside the evolution of cuisine and dining in New York City during the late 80’s and 90’s.

Many have said this before, but Dorothy was a true visionary. Known for her ability to identify what was missing and find a way to fill in the gaps, she brought a limitless creativity and resourcefulness to any problem. She identified a void in the culinary education of chefs in America—all over the world chefs were being trained in the codified techniques of French, but there was no true equivalent in the US.

dorothy w deansOnly someone with Dorothy’s determination and fearless spirit could bring the right people together to make this happen. From gathering a roster of legendary deans—Jacques Pépin, Alain Sailhac, André Soltner and Jacques Torres—to the support of industry giants like Julia Child, some of the most well known chefs in the world joined her dream, believing in what she set out to accomplish. That was the special thing about Dorothy; she had a keen ability to connect people from all walks of life. Dorothy didn’t just have a seat at the table—she was the one that built the table for the culinary world. Her gravitas and ability to connect those around her was her superpower. For this reason, many sought out her mentorship, helping numerous individuals launch their own careers, businesses and ideas in the food industry and beyond.

She cared deeply about education and the success of her students. From creating the renowned TV series Chef’s Story—later a podcast on Heritage Radio Network, featuring candid conversations with the biggest names in the industryto her blog, and eventually book, Love What You Do, Dorothy was passionate about setting people up for success in their careers. Dorothy wasn’t afraid of failure; rather, it was another way for her to learn and educate others. Her desire to continue to learn allowed her to embrace new educational pursuits for the school, establishing ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program and Olive Oil Sommelier Certification programs in recent years. It was her passion for education that inspired the recent addition of a Professional Development Scholarship for industry professionals to continue the pursuit of their education at ICC.

Today, we hope that each student who walks through our doors charts their own successful career with Dorothy in mind. Her vision, passion for food and the culinary industry, as well as her innovative spirit can be applied to everything that you do.

Barrel of Sherry

Certified Sherry Wine Specialist Seminar

Lustau, maker of top quality Sherries, presents a brand new wine certification available to all wine students and professionals: the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist. Offered by Lucas Payà, Certified Sherry Educator and Lustau’s Brand Educator, this brief course offers Intermediate Level study material that has been reviewed and approved by the Regulatory Council of Jerez.

After many successful SOLD OUT workshops, ICC has partnered with Lustau again to host the certification seminar this April. Register today to reserve your seat!

Monday, April 22
3:30pm-6:00pm
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St, 5th Floor | New York, NY 10013

Cost: $35 per person

EVENT DETAILS

The program consists of a 2.5-hour class that includes:

    • Instruction on the history, geography, climate, viticulture, wine-making, and wine styles.  When studying the styles of sherry, students will learn about their differences, pairings, and best ways to serve.
    • A tasting of 6 wines, including all the basic styles (Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, and Dulce).
    • A 28-question test, graded after the course to award the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist recognition to those with a passing score of 20 or higher.

The Certificate of Achievement will be signed by both Lustau’s CEO and César Saldaña, Director of the Regulatory Council of Jerez. They will be numbered and a list of those that passed the course will be shared with the Regulatory Council.  A Certificate of Recognition will be issued to those that do not achieve the passing grade but only signed by Lustau.

Attendees must be at least 21 years of age.

wine being poured

A Brief History of Israeli Wine-Making

Arie HochbergThis month, Arie Hochberg of Israeli Wine Direct stopped by to share his knowledge of Israeli wine. With a passion to broaden people’s understanding of wines from Israel, Arie guided an audience of wine professionals, enthusiasts, and educators through a tasting of six wines from his portfolio of boutique winemakers and vineyards in Israel, including both Kosher and non-kosher wines.

Consider exploring this an Israeli wine for your next bottle of vino and read below to hear what we learned about the vast history of wine-making in Israel!

Biblical Times

corksIsraeli’s wine history dates back centuries and continues to evolve today. Produced in the Middle East for over 5,000 years, wine is even mentioned in the bible—Noah is attributed as the man who discovered the wine making process. When King David reigned around 3000 BCE—the same David depicted in Michelangelo’s infamous sculpture in Florence, Italy—he was said to have an extensive wine cellar where he employed a man to select his wines for his meals (could this be the first sommelier?).

Around 600 CE, wine was prohibited and most of the vineyards were uprooted across Israel. During this time, only wines made in Monasteries and Jewish communities for sacramental purposes were allowed. Shortly after this, wine-making was resurrected, only to be toppled again by the Ottoman empire which spanned an astonishing 400 years, from 1517-1917, in Israel .

In 1848, after hundreds of years of lost history, the first recorded winery was opened by Yitzhak Shor. Used only for religion purposes, it wasn’t until 1882 when French born Baron Edmond James de Rothschild laid the foundation for today’s modern wine industry in Israel.

The Turning Point

wineThe Rothschild family, known best as the family behind famed Chateau Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux, France, can also be credited with many of the advancements in wine-making seen in Israel. Not only did they invest in an Israeli vineyard, but they also commissioned a study on the land of Israel to understand how to make quality wine in the country. This was the turning point for the cultivation of the wine industry in Israel.

Following Rothschild, wine-making in Israel took off. The Carmel Wine Company was founded in 1895 to sell the wines of Rishon LeZion and Zichron Ya’akov, both famous for their wines, further establishing modern day wines of Israel.

Modern Times

winesAfter many tumultuous years in the 1900’s where wine-making in Israel halted, it was finally revamped in the 1970s. This remains the turning point that many reference as when modern wine-making techniques were brought to Israel. Finally, wine was being made and consumed for enjoyment, rather than just religious purposes. For the first time since Rothschild in 1882, Israel’s climate and soil was studied again to better understand the terroir and create great wine reflective of the region.

Today, there are over 250 boutique and 70 commercial wineries thanks to the boom of wine-making in the 1990’s spanning 13,585 acres of vineyards. 60,000 tons of grapes are harvested each year, of which 11,400 tons are Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

While only 65 million bottles of wine are produced per year—comparatively, Germany’s 252,000 acres of vineyards produce 1.3 billion bottles—Israel is definitely among one of the up and coming countries producing wines of note today!

Further Reading and Sources:

“Château Lafite Rothschild | Domaines Barons De Rothschild (Lafite).” Domaines Barons De Rothschild Lafite Chteaux Et Vignobles De Bordeaux, 2016, www.lafite.com/en/chateau-lafite-rothschild/.

Garret, Dylan. “Decoding Israeli Wine.” Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 20 Nov. 2015, www.winemag.com/2011/07/25/decoding-israeli-wine/.

Hochberg, Arie. “Wines of Israel Lecture.”  21 Feb. 2019, New York, International Culinary Center.

Menenberg, Aaron. “Thirteen Israeli Wines That Will Change Your Worldview.” The Tower, 2018, www.thetower.org/article/thirteen-israeli-wines-that-will-change-your-worldview/.

Montefiore, Adam. “Rothchild’s Kosher Commitment.” Israeli Wines Pride of Israel, 2017, winesisrael.com/en/4788/rothschilds-kosher-commitment/.

Harris plating

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time In Pastry School At ICC

By: Harris Inskeep, Professional Pastry Arts ’19

My name is Harris Inskeep and I am a recent graduate of the Professional Pastry Arts Program at ICC. Before I joined the pastry program at ICC, I was a kindergarten teacher in New York. Although I loved my job, I was starting to feel like there was something else out there for me and that there was no better time than now to explore my passion for baking. Until I had started the program, baking had just been something I did for fun at home. I would make birthday cakes for friends or whip up cookies whenever I had the chance. Really, I was just an amateur baker that had learned what I knew from watching my mom and aunt in the kitchen.

Leaving my fulfilling job was not easy to do, but I knew that if I didn’t take this chance now, when would I? So in August of 2018, instead of setting up my classroom for 30 little ones to come into, I was setting up my mise en place in the pastry kitchens at ICC and beginning what would soon become the most rewarding chance on life I’d taken yet!

About to start the Professional Pastry Arts Program at ICC? Here are 4 things I wish I’d known when I was starting the program.

The six months that I spent in the kitchens at ICC for the Professional Pastry Arts program were some of the most fun, educational, and invigorating months of my life. From the very first day I walked into the building to my last, I learned so many essential skills from my various chef instructors and classmates; and although the amount of new techniques, habits and experiences through my time in school were invaluable, there are a few things I wish I had known before I started to make my time even more impactful. ICC prides itself on offering students a fully comprehensive educational journey. It is a school that graduates true professionals and prepares its students to be successful wherever they go after school. Not only does ICC accomplish this by offering a 600-hour jam-packed hands-on curriculum as well as extremely talented and experienced chef instructors it goes above and beyond by offering a number of out-of-kitchen  opportunities.

If you’re ready to begin your pastry education at ICC, my first piece of advice is this: Don’t miss any opportunity to observe a demo, attend a field trip, get extra practice in a workshop, or volunteer. Next, make sure you take it upon yourself to practice at home, if possible, You may be there to learn all about the world of pastry or how to decorate the most beautiful cake, but don’t underestimate the power of getting to know all of the amazing chef instructors throughout the building. Finally, when given the chance to flex your creativity, incorporate something you struggled with— you’ll be grateful later!

1. Don’t Miss Out

When I started at ICC, I attended the demonstrations that related to pastry, but I didn’t always participate in the culinary demos and  was far too nervous to volunteer. This was my first mistake. How many times in your life will you get the chance to sit in the same room as some of the most celebrated and innovative chefs from all around the world, hear about their journey, ask them questions and get insight into their lives? Attending demos is an incredible way to learn about the diverse paths within the food industry.rankly, you can learn more about what to expect when you start working by attending demos and asking questions than by just attending class.

Harris volunteeringIn addition, ICC is always looking for volunteers to help out when chefs come to visit the school. Instead of having your first time working under a professional chef be day 1 on the job, take advantage of your status as a student and give it a try! You don’t need to know how to do everything before you volunteer. Just come prepared to try your best, use what you know, and ask questions when you need help. Volunteering will not only boost your confidence, it will also give you a glimpse into what it will feel like to work for a chef. What better time to learn than when you’re in school!

2. Practice at Home

Because the 600-hour curriculum is filled with all the fundamental skills & techniques a professional needs to know,, you’ll only get a chance to make things a few times  before moving on to the next lesson. For this reason, it’s so worth it to take these recipes home and test them out in a new environment. Every chef will tell you it takes hundreds of times doing the same thing to even begin to master it. The school exposes you to so many classic and modern techniques but it’s worth it to take it upon yourself to practice things you want to master at home. You want to make a genoise that doesn’t come out thin or dense? Practice your folding at home! You want your buttercream to be smooth and clean? Mask a cake in your tiny New York apartment! Your macarons didn’t have feet when you baked them in class? Try again in your oven! At the very least, your friends, family and or roommates will be grateful.

The best part of trying these recipes at home isn’t even that you’ll be a genoise master the next day. Rather, it’s that you’ll very well take it out of the oven and realize something completely new went wrong this time. This is the magic! Trying recipes at home without a chef instructor demonstrating for you first is how you’ll identify the real questions. By attempting to make things on my own, I became a more curious student and was really able to take advantage of the talent and experience in front of me each day by preparing questions for my chef instructors.

3. Get To Know As Many Chefs As You Can

harris w instructorsSpeaking of questions, hopefully you’ll have tons of them! Maybe you’re having friends over for dinner and you want to make a juicy chicken. Or, your family needs advice on how to finally make a turkey for Thanksgiving that isn’t dry. Don’t forget that you’re in a building with so many different kinds of chefs! Get to know the chefs in culinary, bread or the cake programs. You never know where your passions will take you while at ICC, but by getting to know chefs that may not be your instructors, you will inevitably build a larger network and learn more than you might have signed up for.

4. Do What You Struggle With

Harris platingIn the first few levels of the Professional Pastry Arts program, much of what you will do is right from the textbooks.However, as you accumulate more skill and learn advanced techniques, you will have opportunities to show off your individual talents through recipe development and showpiece work. It’s tempting to want to produce something flawless and keep it safe by doing something you feel comfortable with. I suggest pushing yourself to try something you might not be as good at. Tempering chocolate isn’t your strong suit? Don’t skip out on it this is your chance to practice with the help of a professional chef as your teacher! Incorporate tempered chocolate into your dessert for restaurant day! This is especially true for the skills that are more difficult to practice at home.

Interested in the Professional Pastry Arts program? You owe it to yourself to visit the school that has been home to icons and thought leaders like Jacques Torres, Ron Ben-Israel, Christina Tosi and many more! Click here to schedule a tour to see our kitchens in action, meet with chef-instructors, career services, financial aid, and speak with our admissions team about your personal career goals.

Friuli wine

Friuli Venezia Giulia— What to Know About This Lesser Known Wine Region

wineFriuli Venezia Giulia, the north-eastern most region in Italy—with coastal lands, mountains, and characteristic rocky soil—is perfect for wine-making. Though the fifth smallest region in Italy, it produced 18.2 million cases of wine in 2017 alone. Friuli Venezia Giulia is most well-known for their white wines, which happen to be some of the best that Italy produces. Amazingly, 77% of the 18.2 million cases were white wines in 2017.

Friuli Venezia Giulia is also a highly complex region. For thousands of years many different empires battled to control the region, which has resulted in a diverse culture that contributes to the environment where the wine is grown. Between the Romans, Venetians, French, Austrians, Italians, and many more, each have left their mark and changed the development of wine produced in this region.

Cristina from VIASToday, the wines continue to evolve and change throughout the region. Even though many consider it the best white wine region in Italy, there are many other characteristics that contribute to its great wine-making success. So, what makes this small region in Italy so unique? Read below to find out what Vias Imports taught us about the region.

Soil

The soil of Friuli Venezia Giulia, particularly in the Collio region, is known as Ponca in the Friulano dialect, or Flysch in specific geological terms. This soil is found throughout the region and is comprised of marls (chalky clay) and sandstone, two substances which make soil very rocky. Rich in calcium carbonate and alkalinity, the soil helps to give the strong mineral notes and aromatic complexity in many of the wines from this region.

Even though Ponca contributes to the region’s most desired wines, it does have its downfalls. In rainier years it becomes prone to landslides and can destroy entire sections of vineyards in an instant.

Despite it’s notorious difficulty, winemakers have a particular fondness for it due to its ability to produce wines so unique to the region: rich in texture, high in acidity, but still balanced through the acidity.

Climate

The region is characterized by a unique geographic location; on the edge of the Mediterranean climate, marked by the meeting of the Julian Alps mountains and the Adriatic sea. The climate can change in any area of the region at any moment, which can make for unique vintage’s and an ever-changing growing process.

Each of the growing areas in the region tend to have a wide variety of climates, which makes for varying wines. In the Collio DOC near the Slovenian border, the hilly land protects the vines from the cold winds and the close proximity to the Adriatic Sea helps to contribute to a mild and temperate climate. These temperature fluctuations heat and cool the soil which helps to ripen the vines to perfection, making for one of the most unique growing areas in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Native Grape Varieties

students at the wine tastingMany of the growing areas have grapes that are native to the region. Although many wine growing regions also have native grape varieties, the history of Friuli Venezia Giulia is what makes the native grapes so interesting.

Ribolla Gialla, a tart wine with a hint of salinity, is one of the ancient native varietals from the region, first mentioned in a medieval deed of sale dated to 1299. Long considered one of Italy’s greatest wines, it was appreciated by the nobility of Germany and Venice in the 13th century.

The most beloved wine of the Friulan people, aptly named Friulano or Tocai Friulano, has been a part of the wine-making tradition in this region for centuries. Evidence of this indigenous grape in Friuli dates back to the 12th century. Originally, many thought it was from Hungary, while others argue that it originated in Italy. Interestingly, experts recently found a wedding document that confirmed the grape came from Italy. In 1632, countess Aurora Formentini went to Hungary to marry Prince Adam Batthyany, and brought him “300 grapes of Tocai” as a wedding gift. The native Friulano grape has grassy aromas, similar to Sauvignon Blanc, although they are not related. It has fresh, ripe fruity flavors, that are balanced by herbaceous notes.

Prosecco

Prosecco is More Complex Than You Think

Champagne and Prosecco are undoubtedly the two most popular, iconic, and widely recognized sparkling wines in the world. Prosecco can often be seen as an imitation to Champagne, but they are actually very different wines with different public images. While Champagne is seen as a luxury and expensive, Prosecco is perceived as casual and inexpensive. While 307 million bottles of Champagne were sold in 2017, Prosecco had a staggering 510 million bottles sold, proving the rising popularity of Prosecco among consumers.

This month, Alan Tardi, award-winning wine author, joined us for an enlightening discussion comparing Champagne and Prosecco. He taught us about the obvious differences, while focusing on the many fundamental aspects the two wines have in common. Prosecco is commonly perceived as Champagne’s imitation, but they are actually very different wines. Fundamentally, they have different grape varieties, growing areas, and even production methods. Through the tasting, we understood what makes Champagne and Prosecco unique wine categories, while also showcasing the commonalities that they share. Read below to find out more about the similarities and differences of two of the most famous sparkling wines!

Prosecco being poured

Alan Tardi

In The Beginning...

Attendee looking at wineWhile Champagne and Prosecco achieved their fame and notoriety as sparkling wines, both originated as still wines when they were invented hundreds of years ago. There are many wines in the world that are direct imitations of Champagne, like Cava, Cremant and Franciacorta, but it is important to know that Prosecco developed along its own separate parallel path to become its own distinct wine.

Growing Area

The growing areas of both regions are highly diversified and complex, with major distinctions between each part. But, that is where the similarities seem to end! There is only one Champagne appellation, but there are three for Prosecco. These appellations include Colli Asolani DOCG, Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, and Prosecco DOC.

Prosecco map

Transition from Sweet to Brut

Prosecco being pouredBoth Champagne and Prosecco began as sweet wines, and they both made their major US debut inside of a cocktail. Champagne Cocktail and Champagne Punch was introduced during the first half of the 19th century, while Prosecco via the Bellini was introduced in the 1970s. Even though Prosecco was introduced and is known as a brunch-y drink, there are many different styles of Prosecco. These styles include sweet, bone-dry, sparkling, still, and unfiltered, and can all be used and enjoyed in different ways.

Barrel of Sherry

Certified Sherry Wine Specialist Seminar

Lustau, maker of top quality Sherries, presents a brand new wine certification available to all wine students and aficionados: the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist. Offered by Lucas Payà, Certified Sherry Educator and Lustau’s Brand Educator, this brief course offers Intermediate Level study material that has been reviewed and approved by the Regulatory Council of Jerez.

After many successful SOLD OUT workshops, ICC has partnered with Lustau again to host certification classes in both NY and CA. Buy your tickets below!

Saturday, October 6th
10:00am-12:30pm
International Culinary Center
700 West Hamilton Ave | Campbell, CA 95008

Cost: $40 per person

Thursday, November 15th
3:30pm-6:00pm
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St, 5th Floor | New York, NY 10013

Cost: $35 per person

EVENT DETAILS

The program consists of a 2.5-hour class that includes:

    • Instruction on the history, geography, climate, viticulture, wine-making, and wine styles.  When studying the styles of sherry, students will learn about their differences, pairings, and best ways to serve.
    • A tasting of 6 wines, including all the basic styles (Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, and Dulce).
    • A 28-question test, graded after the course to award the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist recognition to those with a passing score of 20 or higher.

The Certificate of Achievement will be signed by both Lustau’s CEO and César Saldaña, Director of the Regulatory Council of Jerez. They will be numbered and a list of those that passed the course will be shared with the Regulatory Council.  A Certificate of Recognition will be issued to those that do not achieve the passing grade but only signed by Lustau.

Attendees must be at least 21 years of age.

James La Mar

Alumni Profile: James La Mar, Sommelier ’11

James La Mar is a 2011 graduate of the Intensive Sommelier Program at ICC’s Campbell, California campus. Like most students who enroll at ICC, James was looking for a career change and for something that he was passionate about. Before coming to ICC, he remarks that he was “all over the place,” mostly doing odd jobs to keep him occupied. He started with no experience, very little knowledge, and no contacts in the industry, but he knew that choosing ICC would give him the proper foundation to start and advance in the competitive world of wine.

After graduating, he spent 6 years working part time at the now closed Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits in Menlo Park, mostly helping out during the busy winter season. The store was over 100 years old and was one of the most important family owned wine shops in the history of California. He shares that he’s very glad to have been a small part of a wonderful legacy.

Fast forward to today, he now owns Grape Obsession, an apparel and accessory brand geared towards Sommeliers and wine fanatics.T Shirts from Grape Obsession James manages everything within the business, including creating designs, managing social media content, website maintenance, book keeping, sales, and everything else you can possibly imagine. With Grape Obsession, James aims to help his fellow Sommeliers show their passion through fun apparel and accessories, while helping new Sommeliers establish themselves in the industry—donating a portion of the profits to scholarships that benefit Sommeliers on their quest for knowledge and self-improvement. 

When asked about a piece of advice he would give to someone wanting to pursue an education in wine, he says “the only people who don’t succeed in life are the ones who never try.  Even if failure is a high possibility, do it anyway.  The struggle alone will make you a better person.  If you know in your heart that you want to do it, stop over thinking it and just do it.”

Before starting Grape Obsession, James tried on many different hats in the wine industry, including sales, wine retail, and even working as a sommelier and wine steward to find his best fit. He also believes that working in different parts of the industry is an important learning experience for any Sommelier, and helps to develop a sense of the bigger picture and where you fit in. Below is his take on the pros and cons of each profession in the industry.

Retail/Tasting Room

Wine retail is an especially great place in the industry if you are new to the business and still trying to figure out where you want to go.

Pros:

  • The wine buyer makes sure that you taste almost every wine that sales reps bring, which allows you to develop your palate.
  • Physically inspecting the bottles and the boxes as they come in helps put a lot of your wine theory into practice and gives a lot of needed context.
  • The hours you work would mostly be normal business hours, allowing for a decent work life balance, though you should expect to work some holidays.
  • You will be meeting a lot of wine sales reps; working in retail gives you some great contacts if you want to move into sales later on down the line.

Cons:

  • Working in the day means that you may have less opportunities to go to industry tastings and trade events that normally happen during the day on weekdays, unless you work your way into a management or wine buyer position where attending trade events is a part of your job.
  • Due to the nature of working in retail, you will be expected to work many weekends and holidays.
  • Entry pay is also lower in retail, though as you move up through management, compensation can range from average to above average.
  • Lastly, work can be humbling as you will be expected to work a cash register, lift heavy wine boxes, stock shelves, break down boxes, and clean floors, windows, and displays.

Sales & Distribution

If you have a competitive spirit, sales can be an exciting area of the industry to work in.  As a salesman, you will be responsible for motivating yourself to meet with wine buyers, taste products, make sales calls and write emails, and schedule your daily tasks weeks, sometimes months, in advance.  Being in sales is brutal especially if you are new to the game, but if you stick with it and persevere, there is a great sense of pride and accomplishment when you develop your territory and build strong lasting relationships with your buyers.

Pros:

  • This is great if you enjoy being a self-starter and working unsupervised.
  • You will have more work life balance, even though you will be extremely busy, and you will have more opportunities to see friends and family at night and on holidays.
  • There can be opportunities to travel for work to represent your brand or attend staff training trips.
  • You will be meeting frequently with clients and wine buyers, so you will be able to build a strong network within the industry.
  • You will also be responsible for supporting your accounts by leading tastings and classes on your products for their staff, which is fun as it allows you to pass on your passion for the brands you represent.
  • Earning potential is higher in sales. Because you are paid mostly by commission, you have the opportunity to make as much money as you are willing to work for.

Cons:

  • If you don’t have a strong competitive nature, sales can be difficult.
  • In sales, you will be faced with constant rejection; you will have to be able to take criticism of yourself, and the brands you represent, in stride.
  • As a sales rep, you will also be expected to be the problem solver for each of your accounts. The delivery truck missed a case of wine that your account needs for the weekend?  Stop by the warehouse and take the case directly to the account yourself.
  • You will need to check up regularly on your products at retail stores or check in with restaurants to see how they are doing on inventory. If the product is moving slowly, it is your responsibility to help the account make the product a success by offering to teach classes to the staff, making store marketing materials, etc.
  • It will also take some time before the money starts to come in, usually a few months to a year of building your territory up, so make sure you have a financial cushion when you start out.

Sommelier/Wine Steward

Are you a night person?  If you are, being a Sommelier may be the career path for you.

Pros:

  • Working nights frees up hours during the day to pursue many productive facets of your life, including having ample time for exercise, running errands, going to wine industry tastings and study groups, and most importantly having time to study.
  • Guest interaction is one of the greatest benefits, as there is great joy to be found in putting the needs of others in front of your own
  • You will also have certain management responsibilities, including staff training and assisting on the floor of the restaurant, which builds up leadership experience.
  • The amount of wine you try as a Sommelier is far greater than any other job in the industry— you will constantly taste exotic wines from your vendors, during restaurant service to make sure they aren’t corked, and at many different industry trade tastings that you will be invited to.
  • As you move up into a wine buyer role as a Sommelier you can also be invited to luncheons and occasionally have opportunities to be sponsored to travel to wine country by your vendors, your employer, or industry publications.
  • You have the job of building a wine program, which allows you to be creative and develop skills in purchasing.
  • Earning potential can range from average to above average as you normally will be making tips, though as you come up in the industry and move into a wine director position, earning potential can be even greater.

Cons:

  • Working nights and holidays is a challenge for anyone in the restaurant industry. You should prepare your friends and family that you’ll be working on a completely opposite schedule than most of them.
  • Like any job in the public sector, you will be dealing with people and will need to develop finesse to serve all guests.
  • Being a Sommelier is a very social line of work— you need to be comfortable with talking to complete strangers and charming them.
  • You will need to know how to manage a team and treat everyone with respect.
  • There are non-glamorous parts of the job, like carrying 40 pound cases of wine, counting inventory, publishing a wine list, and understanding the restaurant and the needs of your guests so that you make appropriate purchasing decision

Unlike other industries where moving around from different types of work can be a detriment to your resume, the wine industry appreciates job applicants with well rounded work experience, as the skills you build in different lines of work are often transferable and show that you have a passion for everything about wine, including the parts that are sometimes difficult or uncomfortable.  It is important for any Sommelier to be well rounded and to have a variety of experience in the industry in order to succeed in the long run.

Check out Grape Obsession’s awesome apparel and accessories here: www.grapeobsession.com and be sure to follow them on social by clicking on each icon below!

Prosecco

DUELING BUBBLES: Prosecco ConVal Workshop with Alan Tardi

The two most popular sparkling wine categories in the world today are undoubtedly Champagne and Prosecco. Despite fundamental differences in image, production, process and price, the two bubblies have — surprisingly — much in common, such as their origin, history and evolutionary development of these otherwise different wines.

Monday, October 15th | 3:00-5:00pm
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St, 5th Floor | New York, NY 10013

Cost: $25 per person

*Must be at least 21 years of age and an ICC Intensive Sommelier Training Student, Graduate, or Industry Professional*

 

EVENT DETAILS

Join us for a special workshop and tasting with Alan Tardi, award-winning wine author, comparing Champagne and Prosecco—noting the obvious differences, while focusing on the many fundamental aspects the two wines have in common. Through the tasting we’ll clarify what makes Champagne and Prosecco essentially unique categories, while also showcasing the commonalities in their individual trajectories. We’ll also showcase the surprisingly diverse and complex terroir of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene area and the many different typologies within the appellation. In the end, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of both wines, and the nature of sparkling wine in general.

Some of the wines we’ll taste will be coming directly from Italy for this event, including the sneak preview of a brand-new soon-to-be-released prosecco with super-extended lees aging in autoclave.

Wines tasted will be focused on uncommon prosecchi including:

  • Still prosecco without bubbles
  • Bottle re-fermented prosecco
  • Prosecco with extended lees ageing
  • Single village and/or single vineyard prosseco from a variety of different terroirs
  • Proseccos in a variety of residual sugar levels

Examples of corresponding Champagnes will be noted, but not tasted.

Who is Alan Tardi?

AlanAlan Tardi initially became interested in wine while working as a cook and chef in some of New York’s finest establishments (Chantarelle, Lafayette, Le Madri). After opening his own restaurant in New York City in 1992, Alan began sitting in on panel tastings at the nearby offices of Wine and Spirits and eventually began writing for the magazine. In 2003, Alan moved to the village of Castiglione Falletto in the heart of the Barolo region in Piemonte, Italy, where he spent several years working in the surrounding vineyards and wineries through all phases of the growing and production process, an experience which completely changed his perspective on wine. His first book, ‘Romancing the Vine: Life, Love and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo’ (St Martins Press, 2006) won a James Beard Award for Best Wine and Spirits Book of 2006. His new book, “Champagne, Uncorked: The House of Krug and the Timeless Allure of the World’s Most Celebrated Drink” (Hachette 2016) won a Gourmand Best in the World Award in the French Wine category. Alan currently divides his time between New York and Castiglione Falletto.