May 2020 Steven Spurrier and George Taber will return to Napa for the Judgment of Napa – a modern-day interpretation of the famed 1976 event with a focus on giving the public a chance to be part of the judgment. Full itinerary, video and ticket link here. 50 VIP guests paying $15,000 will have the opportunity to participate in the blind tasting curated by Masters of Wine Peter Marks and Matt Deller and sit side-by-side with the men behind the original event. 50 additional guests purchasing $1,500 tickets will be part of the reception, watching the tasting while enjoying other highly credible wines. This special event is being put together by Angela Duerr of luxury concierge service Cultured Vine and will launch a series of one-of-a-kind experiences in Northern California wine country.
I am delighted and honoured to be joining a distinguished group of speakers at the 1st Annual Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture Minister’s Conference – March 3 and 4 at the Halifax Convention Centre, Nova Scotia.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Farming for the Future – Thriving in a Changing World.” There will be local, national and international speakers addressing key issues and opportunities in agriculture – from innovation to labour and climate change.
I will be a keynote speaker discussing International Wine Marketing Strategies for 2020, and will also be participating on a Climate Change Panel along with Dr. Evan Fraser, Director Arrell Food Institute/University of Guelph, and Olivier Humbrecht MW and Winemaker/Owner Zind Humbrecht, Turckheim, France discussing “From Resilience to Opportunities” with respect to the global wine industry.
Say tuned for my follow-up report!
Conference details: https://www.perennia.ca/agriconference/
Tempestuous Chef Marco Pierre White has just launched a three-night food experience at Alladale Wilderness Reserve in the Scottish Highlands which will set you back £6,910. The ‘Spring Gastronomy Experience’ is being offered by Satopia Travel.
In its promotional material for the four-day culinary adventure, Satopia Travel dubs Pierre White “the Godfather of modern British cooking”.
The experience includes meals created by the outspoken chef, a tour around the Alladale Wilderness Reserve, and accommodation in a recently refurbished Victorian manor with Laura Ashley interiors.
White was the youngest ever chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, scooping his third at Restaurant Marco Pierre White at the Hyde Park Hotel in 1994 when he was just 33.
Since retiring from the kitchen, White has opened over 40 restaurants in the UK.
Russell Crowe is set to play Chef Marco Pierre White in a forthcoming biopic about the chef. The actor has also written the script and will be producing the film.
Satopia Travel Website:
Alladale Wilderness Reserve Website:
Cognac continues to evolve globally given the interest in craft cocktails, particularly in pre-prohibition cocktails. With the United States being the first cognac market (102.4 million cognac bottles imported in 2019) it has diversified the many ways cognac can be consumed, from sipping it neat to using it as the base for trendy and originating cocktails. A recent study by Beverage Dynamics points to millennials spending up for premium spirits and cocktails. In the past 12 months, spirits priced $25 and up have increased in sales by 13.2%.
With millennials favoring the full imbibing experience—with an emphasis on ingredients — bartenders and stirrers are shifting with the trends.
COGNAC EDUCATORS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY SHARED TRENDS THEY CURRENTLY SEE AND PREDICT FOR 2020
LESS DRINKING, HIGHER QUALITY
Dan Nicolaescu, Beverage Director of Brandy Library and Copper and Oak (New York, NY)
It is my experience that, generally speaking, people are drinking less but of higher quality. I see interest in trying cognac growing steadily, especially towards neat pours. It seems that preferences steer toward cognacs with a lighter wood influence but fairly well developed, in the 10-25 years range.
As far as cocktails go, I can envision bartenders focusing on quality by using small quantities of high-quality old cognac as an accent in a drink. It can provide unique flavors to the final product and is also more financially sensible.
MODERN MIXOLOGY SIMPLIFIED
Miguel F. Lancha, ThinkGoodGroup Cocktail Director (Washington, DC)
One trend that I have seen working with cognac is younger bartenders are showing an interest in wanting to learn about it, whether it’s at a bar training session or an industry seminar.
The interest in classic cocktails has been around for a while now, but many bartenders are going back to being more flexible and creative with cocktails. I see an opportunity for guests to be more exposed to cognac by trying drinks that combine it with cool techniques. Bartenders are continuing to modify the textures and structures of drink components by clarifying, carbonating, making a slushy, etc. They’re doing it in a way that’s not in your face or over the top, which is intriguing guests and exposing them up to Cognac in cocktails.
PRESENTATION WITH LEVITY
Kellie Thorn, Hugh Acheson Restaurants Beverage Director (Atlanta, GA)
While we are still having a hard time getting guests to order cognac on its own the way they do whiskey, we are seeing a lot of cognac cocktails sell.
I think that the key to reaching a younger audience is presenting the spirit and category with some levity. I obviously love the heritage and tradition behind these spirits, but we should approach it with a little irreverence.
Split your pour of cognac neat with some amaro, think of more tropical applications, add it to your spritz build, and in general make cognac feel like something that doesn’t have to have a lot of pomp and circumstance around it to enjoy it.
Joseph Erhmann of Elixir, Elixir to Go and Cocktail Ambassadors (San Francisco, CA)
There is an opportunity for cognac to take advantage of its great flavor intensity by mixing shorter pours (.5-1 ounce) with light mixers, like the multitude of uniquely flavored tonics to make low- ABV drinks. I particularly like a VSOP with Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic and expressed lemon oil or a young, fruity VS with a dry grapefruit soda like Q Grapefruit.