Chief Winemaker David Baverstock lead a wine seminar for students at the Hyde Park campus and recounts this experience in our latest blog post.
On April 11, I made a return visit to the CIA in the company of Blanche Orbe, Brand Manager for Esporão in the States. We made sure to get there early as on a previous visit with Viniportugal, I arrived an hour late and you just don’t do that when someone like Michael Weiss is waiting to receive you! Michael is one of the two professors of wine studies at the CIA, a larger than life figure (6 foot seven!) who is largely responsible for the standards of excellence that have been achieved at the campus, and a stickler for discipline and punctuality.
We were given a personal tour of the Hyde Park campus by Michael and it is one very impressive setup. The 170 acre campus provides students with 41 kitchens and bakeshops, 5 public restaurants, lecture halls, demonstration theaters, computer labs and an extensive culinary library. The CIA is the world’s premier culinary college producing chefs and sommeliers who have been trained to the highest levels of excellence. It was originally founded in 1946 in New Haven to provide culinary training and careers for returning World War two veterans. It grew rapidly and in 1972, the college moved to its expansive main campus in Hyde Park, NY. The first associate degree program in culinary arts was introduced in 1971, followed by an associated degree in baking and pastry arts in 1990. In 1995, the college opened a location at Greystone in the Napa Valley, followed by San Antonio in Texas in 2007, and finally, a campus in Singapore in 2010. Today, the CIA enrolls nearly 2,800 students from virtually every US state, and 30 foreign countries, in its degree and certificate programs.
So it was against this backdrop that we presented a seminar on Esporão, covering both the Alentejo estate and the Quinta dos Murças project in the Douro, and a tasting of 8 of our top wines to some 90 students who were to sit their enology exams the following day. It was held in the Danny Kaye theater, a huge auditorium and quite a daunting experience for me as it reminded me of times long gone when I was on the other side of the podium as a student, studying winemaking in Australia. The highlight was undoubtedly the tasting, as the wines showed extremely well and the students were asked by Michael and Steve Koplan, the other professor in wine studies, to give their impressions on the wines and also to try and match the wine with food. As the students came from all over the world, some of the food pairings were pretty interesting! It was very interactive with Michael provoking the students to try and come up with ever more detailed and exciting descriptions for aromas and flavor sensations, I think I learned a lot! I also encouraged the students to ask as many general wine questions as possible knowing that they had their wine exams the following day and I could help them with winemaking details.
It was a very rewarding experience and great to think that Esporão had been given such an important opportunity to make an impact and influence many of the future top world chefs and sommeliers.