Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bordeaux After Work at Origin

Last Tuesday on a beautiful sunny, scorcher of a day in Toronto, I rushed home from work, threw on the most comfortable and lightweight dress I could find, bypassed the heels (as if I would subject myself to heels with the humidity flying off the charts like that), filmed a quick little intro on Bordeaux wines, and ran onto the TTC to make my way downtown to Origin on King East for the very first of four Bordeaux After Work parties. As you'll know from my previous entry introducing these exciting events, Bordeaux After Work is a series of events held by the Bordeaux Wine Council in Partnership with the iYellow Wine Club that will take place this Summer and Fall in Toronto (although other cities around Canada are holding their own Bordeaux After Work events as well) to help educate people on one of the most widely recognizable wine regions in the world.
(Some new friends and myself, Danielle Rose)
I have said it many times, and here I go saying it again, that although I've attended countless wine tastings, I still do not feel comfortable with my knowledge of wine, so when I heard about the structure of Bordeaux After Work, my ears perked up. Unlike many other wine tastings where you are tasting 50+ wines in one night that you somehow have to distinguish between, and are often struggling to get the attention of your pourer to learn a little more about what you're drinking, before they rush on to the next person in line, Bordeaux After Work is much smaller and specialized allowing you to mingle with a smaller group of 100 people, concentrate on tasting only 5 wines each night, with repeated Bordeaux events with a new selection of wines every few months. This caught my attention because lately I've been reading a lot about productivity, how we learn, and how to make ideas happen. One article on productivity that has stood out the most for me is entitled Thirty Minutes A Day by Jack Cheng, a New York based writer and designer. The article talks about the benefits of short, repeated learning over time, suggesting that we do not cram information into our heads all at once, but rather take thirty minutes out of each day to commit ourselves to learning. This approach allows us to first off, retain the information, as well as have a better understanding of it to be able to apply it to our own work. Although no, I am not taking thirty minutes of each day to learn about Bordeaux, Bordeaux After Work follows similar principals. Because I have had so much trouble retaining wine knowledge in the past, I felt that Bordeaux After Work, with their repeated events, small guest list, and only a select few wines would be the perfect opportunity for me to really put my energy into learning about wine...finally! And where better to start than the world renowned Bordeaux region.
So off I was, ready to conquer one of the first steps on my mission to become confident in my knowledge of wine. I felt prepared, having studied a little bit on the basics of Bordeaux wine and French wine in general, and I walked into the event with a game plan to film throughout the event, picking up additional tidbits and info on Bordeaux from the pourers and other attendees, and of course, jot down my own tasting notes as I went. Shortly after arriving at Origin I spotted someone I knew and parked myself and my glass of Bordeaux Rosé down next to them. I have to admit that until I spotted that familiar face, I was pretty nervous to be attending the event on my own. All my old high school social anxieties came to the surface again, and I feared that I would be wandering around the venue alone, unable to gain the courage to pull out my brand spanking new camera and film, or ask questions about the five wines being showcased. Although it seemed the opposite happened to me, I was meeting so many wonderful, warm, and interesting people, having such a spectacular time, I still came across the same problem that I had feared, there was no filming happening and my little notepad had nothing more than the date and "Bordeaux After Work" jotted across the top. I felt the stress building as I feared I would have no content for my article, but being the master procrastinator that I was, I figured later in the evening I would break away and follow through with my game plan. More introductions, more glasses of Bordeaux, more business cards, and no more info for my article...I was officially screwing myself over. It wasn't until I stepped aside to text a friend to say what an incredible time I was having that I realized that things weren't going wrong at all. In fact, the event and my article had taken a whole new direction, and one that I felt far more comfortable with.
(Wendy Co-founder and Chief Marketer of Hip Urban Girl and myself, Danielle Rose)
I realized that although wine tastings are about being exposed to new wines, new regions, and new cultures, it is more importantly providing an opportunity to socialize and network with a new group of people in an exciting and unique atmosphere. Although we all come from different backgrounds, professions, interests, and hobbies, we can all come together and break bread in a sense, through sharing this love of wine. Ironically this actually mirrors the principals of French wine. French wine is different than other wine regions of the world because they do not place the focus of their wine on the varietal (or single type of grape being used), instead they look at the entire region or what the French call terroir, the type of soil being used, farming practices, winemakers, climate, etc. It's all those factors that make French wine so diverse and so intriguing. Similarly we can look at a wine tasting and see how all the factors that go into it such as the people, food, venue, music, etc. can make up your whole wine tasting experience. Just because I wasn't placing all of my attention on studying the wine while at the event, certainly didn't mean I was missing out on a valuable experience. I did my Bordeaux research beforehand, I picked up all of the brochures that were provided, I made sure that I recorded each wine that I drank, I thoughtfully tasted each one and took note, and shared some thoughts on the wine with the company I was with. Doing those few simple things was all I needed to begin gaining confidence on Bordeaux wine. I now understand why Bordeaux wine is so well known as well as understand the basics and have the tools to be able to walk into the next Bordeaux After Work party with confidence. And better yet, I now have a new group of friends with whom I can share this knowledge and interest with!

My Favourite: Domaine de Chevalier Rose de Chevalier (2009)
Chateau Puyfromage
Chateau Boyrein (2009)
Chateau Pey La Tour
Lurton Chateau Bonnet

  • Bordeaux is the worlds major wine industry capital.
  • Bordeaux has been produced since the 1st Century AD.
  • Bordeaux is all about the blend. You will notice that Bordeaux wines are made from a blend of a few different types of grapes. This results in some very unique and distinct tasting wines.
  • The most commonly found grape varieties in Bordeaux wines are Merlot, Cab Sauv, and Cab Franc.
  • One of the reasons why Bordeaux produces such excellent wine is due to their calcium rich soil.
  • French wine is known to have a lot of character because each wine represents the region (soil, farming practices, climate, grapes, people, etc.) rather than the varietal.
  • Terroir refers to the vineyard-specific environmental differences (such as soil types, drainage, local micro-climate and sun exposure). Terroir is the biggest difference as to why the same varietals all taste differently from around the world and even from back to back vineyards. (
  • When buying Bordeaux, look for the AOC label (Appellation d'Origine Crotôlée) which guarantees a wine's authenticity and quality.
  • Serve young wines before old wines, and dry wines before sweet wines.
  • Try to decant young wines to allow the aromas to naturally come through and round out the tannins.
See you at the next Bordeaux After Work party on July 19th!

Listening To:
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication

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Never been to a wine tasting? Check out my article on a Beginners Guide to a Wine Tasting Experience.

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