I was itching to share this exciting news earlier when I got my exam result 4 days ago. YEAH!!! That felt so good after the 8 weeks of nervously waiting, wondering and mentally preparing for another trip to resit the exam, etc., just so that I can drink more quality wines, eat a variety of ethnic foods, and bring the foods which I can’t get here. But I don’t need to, because I have passed WSET Level 3 Advanced!! The next step is a Diploma, which hadn’t been on my bucket list but completing level 3 sort of gave an ambition to go further, “Hmm, why not?”
Of course, as soon as I got home, I picked a good bottle to celebrate from my cellar, which is now quite well-stocked after several wine trips here and there and it was Chateau Kalpak BBK 2011, one of which I got from the last Thracian wine trip, which I’m meant to write about! I opened this one, saving Chateau Kalpak for better foods, since the platter quickly thrown together wasn’t worth the big bottle, so I thought. I don’t mean that spicy avocado and apple salsa and anchovy olive tapenade, – thanks, Joolz for sending me the anchovies all the way from London – dukkah dip on top of the cheeses you would probably recognise aren’t good enough but it’s just that I wasn’t mentally prepared for the precious wine because I was so excited! Luckily the cheeses I’d brought from London were still surviving, solving my cravings for cheese. This wine is a blend of Merlot, C. Sauvignon, C.Franc, Petit Verdot and Kalecik Karasi, which creates a dance with delicate spices on the palate.
Back to the exam, a big toast and thanks to Chris Scott, my tutor for his excellent tuition and support. How I chose his course is quite a long story, I mean long in the sense that it was a lovely coincidence that I’d been listening to his podcast show, UK wine show for a long time without knowing his establishment, Thirty Fifty (thirtyfifty.co.uk). Trying to find the right course that was best suited for my unusual circumstances brought me to his course and his reply gave me the confidence to go ahead. Also, I can’t deny that my connection to Australia and New Zealand slightly influenced my decision!
Anyway, to start off, sitting in the class listening to the same voice as the podcast was quite strange at the beginning. Coming from an engineer background, he is very straightforward and methodical, which helped a lot with memorising such vast information in an efficient way and mastering the tasting technique. The extra materials thoughtfully put together by him were an exclusive bonus, which helped towards the exam. His thorough knowledge and years of wine trading and teaching combined with his geekiness and humour made what might have been a stressful and daunting course very entertaining. One day he brought in his Coravin for an experiment and we got to have a go at it and though it was interesting, I don’t think I’d ever buy one. He also went over the must-know parts repeatedly during each lesson so they just register automatically and visually with his body language.
If you want to find more about him, check out this interview on London Wine Girl. As said in the interview, he is really devoted to helping people learn about and enjoy wine. Well-read, well-researched, long experience in the wine business, he really knows what he is doing and you can feel his passion. One of the best things would probably be his down-to-earth and fun approach to wine. Good wines should be the ones you like, not what others say, but with a bit of knowledge and training, you can get much more out of a glass. I agree, Chris.
The most memorable wines from the course? Off the top of my head, one is Aglianico from Campania, which is powerful with blinding acidity and mouth-drying tannins. It was taken aback by the unexpected savoury flavours that were like nothing I’d tasted before. The second is Grüner Veltliner, the refreshing and aromatic white grape from Austria. I’ll seek out those two from now on.
Ok, this is for today. Until the day when Turkish wines are included in the WSET course…. Cheers!