In the first week of June I did the WSET Diploma D4 exam “Sparkling Wines”. Prior the exam I have spent a period of intensive studying and tasting sparkling wines.
The D4 exam combines two parts: theory questions and blind tasting -similar to the D5 exam Fortified Wines-. Unit 4 as well as unit 5 have 90 minutes-exam.
Both exams are strictly timed.
How does the WSET online study work?
The Sparkling Wines online course runs for 5 weeks. The course includes a D4 e-book, individual and group activities, quizzes and tasting assignments.
To be well prepared for your exam it is important to do your homework. Start studying early, at least a few weeks before your test. The benefit of good planning is to make your exam less stressful and more successful.
Every week for half an hour are chat sessions for questions to be answered by your educator. And if you have any questions coming up during the course you can always send a DM or a Chat message.
By the end of the online course there is a feedback theory test and a tasting test. Both tests give you the opportunity to see if your are ready for the exam.
The D4 theory and tasting exams are scheduled in one day.
For the tasting exam bring your glasses with you! For the D5 (Fortified Wines) I forgot to bring them with me, shame on me.
Turn off your telephone and store all your belongings in your bag and leave it in the “bag area” in the exam room.
There will be a clock or timer that counts down in seconds, minutes and hours.
In bocca al lupo! Good luck on your exam.
Exam open response questions
The open questions can be difficult. You should aim to follow the question structure and answer in sentences and linkages between the sections, rather than simply writing a bulleted list.
It is important to read the question carefully and to highlight the keywords.
Allow some time before the end of the exam to review and refine your answers.
Exam blind tasting
Another part of the exam is blind tasting. The WSET Diploma D4 exam that have three wines to be evaluated, require us to identify characteristics in the wines.
The evaluation is always based on the SAT of WSET. SAT stands for Systematic Approach of Tasting. It analyzes a wine based on appearance, smell and taste (primary, secondary and tertiary aromas and flavours) and it draws a conclusion based on these key features.
Follow up questions are included in the blind tasting exam. You must guess the style of wine and the region of origin for extra bonus points.
Result Exam D4
Now I am awaiting my results. I have no idea if I have passed the exam. Waiting is the hardest part. Every day is one step closer to the results but it seems million miles. For the results we must wait until mid August.
I just have to cross fingers and hope for a good result.
Langlois Chateau in the Loire Valley
Last May I visited a wonderful winery in the Loire Valley “Langlois Chateau”. Especially for my D4 study I decided to visit Langlois Chateau for a guided tour and tasting.
Crémant de Loire is the regional appellation for sparkling wines of Anjou, Saumur and Touraine. Loire Valley is the second largest producer of Sparkling Wines in France. The winery Langlois Chateau is located in the heart of Saumur.
In the Loire Valley you have the opportunity to visit the winery Langlois Chateau where you will learn more about the production process and its various steps.
A local guide is more than happy to welcome you as a guest.
The visit will give you an idea of how the wonderful sparkling wines are produced while you have the opportunity to taste a few glasses of Crémant de Loir Sparkling Wines.
Prowein in Düsseldorf is a hot spot full of “wine” inspiration. It is one of the most important wine and spirits fair in Central Europe. Prowein always takes place on 3 days from Sunday till Tuesday.
After two years of cancellation in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, ProWein returned to Düsseldorf on 15-17 May, 2022.
This year I have decided to visit the international wine fair again. I only had one day of the fair to spend. It was an intense day and perhaps not enough to do everything, but I enjoyed it very much.
Personally, Prowein gives me the opportunity to discover different wines and wineries of the world. For me, tasting as much as possible is fun and it the best way to learn about wines.
I started tasting wines from Trentino and I ended up with Tempranillo and Verdejo wines from Casilla y Léon. I cannot remember exactly how much different wines I have tasted but the ones I remember were wines from the New World, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.
Powerful dry wines with high tannin levels, high alcohol and fruit concentration such as Barolo and Médoc were one of my favorites!
And here are some of my favorite images I took while visiting ProWein:
Outstanding wines from Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons.
Interesting to try different California Chardonnay’s aged with oak chips in stainless steel. One Chardonnay tasted different from the next. From apples, lemons to something sweeter.
Having the opportunity to taste many Champagnes is amazing. Vintage Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006. A Champagne only made from Chardonnay grapes. Cheers!
Sicilian wines! Grillo is a widely planted Sicilian white grape. The grape is well suited to hot and dry climates. Grillo is used commonly in a variety of still white wines.
The Nero d’Avola instead is a renowned indigenous red grape variety in Sicily. The grape is also known as “Calabrese”. This grape loves heat as well, just like the Grillo. The wine has character. It is a strong and medium to full bodied red wine.
Wines from the PIWI grape varieties. Ever heard of it? I didn’t, until I met Enrico from Cantina Terre di Ger in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. PIWI grapes are fungal resistant. The wines taste good or even excellent.
The Verdejo wines from Rueda in the Castilla Y León region (Spain) are popular white wines around the world. I explored some nice wines from an organic and unique bodega.
The atmosphere at ProWein is welcoming, personable and educative. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and to talk about wine and business.
See you next year!
The heroic grape harvest season of the Glera falls between the end of September and early October in Refrontolo. Refrontolo is a small town in the heart of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene and the Colli di Conegliano region.
Glera is the principal white grape variety of the prosecco sparkling wine. It is a late ripening grape variety. They are green and have a thin skin. The grape is classified as semi-aromatic with a high acidity, making it perfect for prosecco wine production.
The “vendemmia” in the province of Treviso is one of the most fascinating time of the year. It is a busy period when it comes to local harvest festivals and feasts.
Many tourists visit Italy especially in the fall season to discover the best (new) wines and food the region has to offer.
Summer 2021 in Italy was a warm growing season for the grapes. Warmer than average summer. The grapes didn’t suffer from water stress and sunburn, fortunately.
The quality of the grapes is superior this year. Due to the warm weather conditions the berries have accumulated more sugar than usual. The grapes are in good health and excellent in balance of sugar-acidity.
They say vintage 2021 is an outstanding wine year for prosecco. Good news for fans of this wine. Cheers!
Production process Prosecco Superiore
The area Conegliano Valdobbiadene is situated between Venice and the Dolomites.
All the grapes have to be hand picked. The vines are planted on hills with narrow ridges and steep slopes. This makes mechanized harvest impossible.
After picking, the tractor driver brings the next load to the winery for fermentation. But before they are unloaded, they are weighed by the winemaker in order to check that they do not exceed the production limits fixed for each vineyard every year.
The grapes are pressed gently in absence of oxygen and any skin contact.
The freshly pressed fruit juice is the must. The sugar concentration and the acid content will be measured before fermentation starts. Corrections/additions of yeast or acids can be needed and sulfites (SO2), are always be added during the wine making process.
Metodo Charmat / Martinotti
Prosecco is an Italian DOC and DOCG white sparkling wine.
The tank method “Metodo Charmat or Martinotti” is a very common method to make prosecco. The first fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to keep the fruity flavors in the wine.
While the second fermentation takes place, the large tank is sealed to prevent CO2 from escaping. This is a slow process.
The longer and slower the winemaking process, the more delicate the prosecco wine will be.
There are different qualities in prosecco. Production and quality of the grapes are definitely Superiore at Toffoli. Therefor their DOCG Superiore prosecco is often more expensive over the standard DOC.
Mind that prosecco is a wine to drink young, ideally within one year of its production. It is not a wine for storing.
Strada del Prosecco / Prosecco road
The Strada del Prosecco is Italy’s oldest wine route. At first it linked the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene but now it winds its way through more communities between the towns Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
The area has a number of biking,- hiking trails and good restaurants to eat. It is a unique and magnificent place where past and present come together.
Since 2019 the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene hills are UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visitors are welcome at winery Toffoli to taste their wines. It is recommended to call or e-mail in advance to book a date and time.
The prosecco wine tasting takes place at the winery. Before you taste the wines the wine maker will guide you through his vineyards and the wine cellar.
Family Toffoli is happy to welcome you in Refrontolo!
Online wine tasting
A Taste of Veneto! is a unique wine experience with the winemaker himself Sante Toffoli and an Italian sommelier.
This online tour and tasting is the perfect way to get to know the winery and the wines from Veneto.
The tasting can be organized at any date and time of your choice. All wines from Toffoli will be sent from our distribution centre in Holland.
Getting excited? For more information about this online wine experience visit my website “A Taste of Veneto!” *
* I do not organize online tastings anymore.
Acciderba is Tuscan dialect. In Italian they say “accidenti” which means in English “wow” or “gosh”.
The winery Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi in Castagneto Carducci has made up the name “Acciderba” for their most important Bolgheri Rosso DOC wine – and an exquisite one it is!
The wine Acciderba is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese. After wood aging in barrique for 12 months the wine is then bottled and set to age for a further 5 months.
It is an intense red wine with a strong identity and a long finish. On the palate flavours of small blackberries, ripe red fruit and soft tannins. This wine pairs well with wild boar, old cheeses and braised beef.
Everyone has their own taste and preference, but the wine Acciderba Rosso Bolgheri DOC is one of my favorite red wines from the Bolgheri area.
Wine tasting at Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi
Wine tasting in Bolgheri is one of the not to be missed “experiences” while on a holiday in Tuscany. There are many options for a wine tasting and tour in this area with all range of possibilities and prices.
Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi is a small winery in Castagneto Carducci. Castagneto Carducci is a lovely hilltop town from where you have amazing views over the hills and the sea.
The vineyards from the winery are exposed on the slopes down towards the sea and are close to Bolgheri. The wines they make are Bolgheri Vermentino, Bolgheri Rosato and Bolgheri Rosso DOC on their family-owned 5 hectares of vineyards.
Besides making wine, Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi is also a “frantoio”, an olive oil producer.
The whole family is involved with the wine production and sale of their wines and olive oil, likely partly to account for the love and exceptional quality of the wines.
It wasn’t the first time that I have visited this wine cellar. I know the family personally. They are very welcoming, personable and friendly. The atmosphere, tour, wines and food are superb.
The wines they serve are accompanied by local cheeses and meats, such as dried ham and capocollo. Capocollo is a traditional Italian cured meat made from the neck of a pig. Both products are homemade. Their meat comes from a local organic pig farm and is cured on site by the family.
With the coronavirus pandemic, they haven’t been open to the public for a long time. A visit is well worth it if you’re in the area -send me photos from your experiences there- I’d love to see.
Hopefully they will be able to receive more guests for a wine tour and tasting in 2021.
Information for wine tasting:
Azienda Agricola Serni Fulvio Luigi
Località Le Lame 237
57022 Castagneto Carducci (LI)
Bolgheri is a hamlet in the municipality of Castagneto Carducci, in the province of Livorno, between the coastal cities Cecina and San Vincenzo. The coastline is called the Etruscan Coast “Costa degli Etruschi” or “Etruria”.
The village is famous for its Super Tuscan wines. The most important wineries are Tenuta San Guido, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Guado al Tasso.
Golfo di Baratti
The Maremma region is the land of the Etruscans. Many small towns have interesting Etruscan remains, wine roads, a mixture of woods and unspoiled walking trails.
A famous 5 km long cypress road leads you to the historic village Bolgheri. This lane is well known thanks to Giosuè Carducci in his poem “Davanti a San Guido” (In front of San Guido).
Bolgheri is dominated by its fortified castle and is worth visiting, but the main thing to see in Bolgheri is the village itself.
In the heart of this pretty little town are many wine bars and restaurants. They all serve local wines for tastings as well as by the bottle and typical Tuscan foods.
Via Lauretta 5
57022 Bolgheri (LI)
Francesco Tognoni is the owner of this wine bar. He is a wonderful host. With special care and treatment, Francesco and his team make sure you have a comfortable evening out while enjoying good wines and foods.
The prices in Bolgheri for a good glass of wine are in every location the same. Enoteca Tognoni is a cosy wine bar, really recommended. Making a reservation is necessary, especially in high season.
During the Easter holidays the whole of Italy was classified “red” from 3 – 5 April. In a red zone it is prohibited to leave your hometown except for work and health reasons.
Over the Easter period we were allowed to visit friends and families in their homes with a maximum of two visitors at a time.
Tuscany will remain under the heaviest restrictions until April 20, as I read in a newspaper. The infections are not declining.
Last Saturday I went for a bike ride and pizza dinner with my friends. It’s been weeks since we met. We’re not seeing each other often these days because we do not live in the same municipality. I live in Montepulciano. My friends have a house in Montallese and in Chiusi. Two towns in Tuscany.
Pizza is a social food. A food for family and friends. I never make a frozen pizza at home. For me a pizza is to be eaten at a pizzeria. It must be eaten immediately after it comes out of pizza oven and must be made by an expert!
Our friend in Montallese has recently installed a wood fired pizza oven in his garage. He prepared for us a variety of pizzas. Gianfranco is an Italian pizza chef!
I had a great dinner and I really enjoyed the pizzas. It has been a long time since I have had a so good pizza. Too long…
- Pizza with spinach
- Pizza with truffle
- Pizza with anchovies
- Pizza with wurstel
The nationwide curfew from 10 PM till 5 AM is still active. In Italy we usually eat late, around 8 – 9 PM. With the current rules we eat a little earlier.
Online wine tasting
I have celebrated Easter at my home in Montepulciano.
I’ve had a fabulous evening with American people. Together we’ve tasted -virtually- some nice Tuscan wines from the winery Gattavecchi.
For more information visit the page A Taste of Tuscany!
Online wine tasting
Pasquetta was spent on running, foods and friends. We were allowed to travel.
I went to Chiusi for a 12 km run and a lunch.
Friends from Chiusi – Tuscany
A typical Tuscan Easter food is “ciaccia di Pasqua”. In Umbria they call it “torta di Pasqua”. It’s a pizza filled with cheese. La ciaccia di Pasqua is perfect for your Easter picnic.
la ciaccia di Pasqua and capocollo
Normally we eat the ciaccia with capocollo. Super delicious!
ciaccia di Pasqua
Last but not least there was a tiramisù to conclude our Pasquetta lunch.
For those who cannot travel to Tuscany I have decided to organize a new perfect stay-at-home activity: a virtual Brunello di Montalcino wine tasting!
The focus of this online tasting is on learning and having fun. I have hosted several virtual wine tastings but I can say that tasting Montalcino wines -virtually- with other tasters was a different and unforgettable experience.
“What a great experience! After receiving bottles of Pian delle Ginestre Brunello di Montalcino to cold Oslo, nine people were able to sit around a table and receive a virtual visit from Sylvia via the TV screen and Zoom. The visit included a live stream tour through beautiful Montepulciano commented by Sylvia on the go, followed by a joint wine tasting 2600 kilometers apart.
The Brunello wines are a relatively recent acquaintance to us, but we have observed that our state-owned Norwegian Vinmonopol (in Norway all trades of vines go through one state-owned company) has gradually got a good selection of Brunello wines in their temperated treasure rooms. We now understand why, but to taste a wine from such a small and dedicated winery like Tenuta Pian delle Ginestre made the experience very special.
It tasted as beautiful at it looks, forest fruits, leather and tobacco but not as intense as it blocks out a good meal, it is more like a very faithful companion. A revisit to Tuscany and a first visit in real life to Montepulciano is high on the Bucket list now” ~ Ove Sveen (Norway) 23 March, 2022
Virtual wine tasting Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
You do not need to be an expert to enjoy the wine Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Just trust your taste and senses … and relax!
During the online tasting I will provide a presentation, show a video and introduce you to the winemaker.
Vasco Rosso Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Pian delle Ginestre is a small winery run by the Natalini family. They love their land and their wines. The wines are special. They tell you the story of its territory.
In addition to the Brunello, the winemaker produces other wines like Toscano IGT and Rosso di Montalcino.
To join the tasting you need two bottles of wine: Rosso di Montalcino DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG from the line of wines Vascorosso named after the famous Italian singer Vasco Rossi.
Vasco Rosso Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
After the wine tasting you’ll have wine leftovers. This is brilliant! Because following the virtual event, you can continue to practice tasting the wines for a few days.
Interested? I’d love to hear from you!
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Today Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most known and expensive wines. Brunello is not just a drink. It is an elegant and prestigious Tuscan wine with the ability to age well for years. It is one of those wines you should have tried at least once in your life!
Consortium Brunello di Montalcino
The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. No other grapes are allowed in a Brunello wine. Brunello di Montalcino is a high tannin wine. This is one of the unique characteristics of this important wine. This wine gets better with age.
Before drinking the wine needs aeration, let it “breathe” at least 2 hours. A perfect match with this wine is steak (protein), seasoned cheeses and cured meats.
I always enjoy drinking a glass of Brunello, especially when I can share my love and passion for this wine with friends.
At present there are 250 wine producers in Montalcino. The total area is 24,000 ha of which 4,600 ha are used for viticulture. Each year around 11 million bottles of wine are produced.
Montalcino is a hilltop village surrounded by Crete Senesi and Val d’Orcia area. It is a town worth visiting. Not only for the wine but also for its unique beauty!