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Epcot – Wine Seminars
Each time my wife and I have visited the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, held from the end of September to mid November, for some reason we have never managed to attend one of the many complimentary wine seminars that are held throughout the festival. This was partly due to having family with us, and so not wanting to waste time queuing, and partly down to the locations of the seminars, which from memory seemed to vary in location daily. This year however we corrected that anomaly! Not only were we on our own, but even more importantly the wine seminars now have their own home, situated in the Festival Centre – the former ‘Wonders of Life’ building that used to house ‘Body Wars’ and ‘Cranium Command’.
Within the Festival Centre are two seminar areas, the Estate and the Vineyard, which each hold approximately 100 guests. We arrived at our first seminar with about 35 minutes to spare, which was quite fortunate as we soon realised that some of the attendees are almost ‘professional’; dashing from one seminar to the next when the timings are in their favour. Seminars last for approximately 30 mins and so when a 2 o’clock seminar ends quite a few of the participants will head straight for the queue for the 3 o’clock! We however paced ourselves, attending just one seminar per day.
Our first experience was a presentation on the Key Australian Wine Regions. The talk was given by the US Account Executive from Fosters Wines. Here we sampled two white wines and two reds, whilst learning something of the way wine is produced in Australia. Most Australian wines are blended and this is why the use of the Bin numbering system is so prevalent as it enables producers to maintain the quality from year to year.
We also attended a seminar on Argentinean ‘Wines of Distinction’. Our samples here were a Bodega Norton Torrontes, (a white wine not normally available in the USA, although it can be found in England), Trivento Syrah Select and a Kaiken Malbec (Kaiken being an Argentinean company owned by a Chilean winery! )
However probably the most interesting, certainly in historical terms, was the presentation given by the St Clements Vineyard of California. Founded in the late 1800’s, wine production ceased in 1902. Back then, in the days of prohibition, the vineyard was owned by a doctor who kept wine stocks in his cellar, and thanks to a loophole in the laws was able to ‘prescribe’ wines for his patients. We were ‘treated’ to two white wines; their single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and their Chardonnay, plus two reds; a Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2003 Merlot.
If you are visiting Epcot during the annual Food and Wine Festival then, in addition to the obvious sampling of worldwide food and drink on a ‘paid for’ basis, if you wish to take ‘pot luck’ at a free seminar it is, in my opinion, well worth the wait, both in terms of knowledge gained and the quality of wines sampled. It is also worth noting that many of the wines presented for sampling can be purchased at the stalls within the Festival Centre should you wish to take a bottle (or two) back to your villa.
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