Andrew Chalk spent all day Sunday at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas, Texas. No he wasn’t lounging by the pool, he was hunkered down in a conference room along with a couple hundred wine professionals who trekked to Dallas for the Texas Sommelier Conference (TexSom).
Organized by the Texas Sommelier Association, the intensive two-day session attracts some of the best national palates in the wine industry. TexSom offers public and to-the-trade sessions to “promote professional wine service standards, outline paths for further wine education and certification, and to raise public awareness about the professional standards and certifications for sommeliers.” The organization also sponsors the “Texas’ Best Sommelier” competition—and if you have ever attended a seminar at this event, you’ve surely noticed a few nervous competitors wandering the halls waiting for interview sessions with some of the great masters of American wine. Their reward? Scholarships for professional certification courses.
Anywhoo, the conference room was without WiFi for most of the first day so Andrew Chalk really had to work to find a connection with more than wine to file the following reports of his first day at TexSom below the jumperoo.
It’s 9 a.m. on Sunday morning and I am in the ballroom at the Four Seasons Resort and Club at the 2010 Texas Sommelier Conference (better known as TexSom). This is perhaps one of the bestnational wine conference of the year. I am here to learn–this conference takes a no bullshark approach to wine. At the same time, I am also looking for wine finds, and during the course of the sessions, we are able to taste unusual wines.
Today, the large ballroom is full to capacity. The task of engaging the audience early on a Sunday morning falls to four experienced Master Sommeliers. Their job is to lead a master class on Chardonnay. We taste our way through eight wines from six different countries. My lasting impression is how different Chardonnay can be depending on where the grapes are grown and how the wine is made. I make my first finds. Two standouts available around town are worth looking for: 2005 Kumeu River “Mate’s Vineyard”, Auckland, New Zealand and 2008 Hanzell, Sonoma Valley, California.
The afternoon session concentrated on the French regions of Gascony, an area of France that lies to the south and west of Provence. Jewels included a 2007 Coullioure Domaine Mas Blanc “Junquets.” Coullioure is a recent Appellation Controlee (designated wine growing area) sandwiched between the Mediterranean and the Spanish border. It is so small that it is often overlooked. The red wines are made from what are often called the ‘Rhone varietals’ of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, plus some minor grapes. This wine was far and away the most popular in the flight of eight that we tasted. It is a muscular, aromatic red that would pair well with barbecue beef or roast lamb.
While we wait for WiFi and Andrew’s updates, you can peruse some of the posts from last year’s coverage of TexSom.