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Ep 333: Richard Betts, Former Master Somm, Shows What Moral Fortitude REALLY Looks Like

Wine for Normal People

Release Date: 07/07/2020

Ep 343: The Exquisite Wines of Alsace with Thierry Fritsch of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA) show art Ep 343: The Exquisite Wines of Alsace with Thierry Fritsch of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA)

Wine for Normal People

We welcome Thierry Fritsch, the head oenologist and chief wine educator of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA), the regional wine regulatory and promotional body of the Alsace wine region. Thierry tells us about Alsace -- its wines, its terroir, and its rich history, as well as exciting new developments in the works.

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Ep 342: Jane Anson on her book Ep 342: Jane Anson on her book "Inside Bordeaux", a fresh look at this classic region

Wine for Normal People

Jane Anson, award-winning writer, the foremost authority on Bordeaux, and one of the nicest, most talented people in wine, returns to the show to discuss her opus, Inside Bordeaux, a must-have book that took years to research and write. It provides a comprehensive look at the region’s true strengths – it’s terroir, farming, grapes, and land, rather than pretty buildings and rich people. It's a fresh look at this famed region and shows why Bordeaux is and always will be a great wine power.

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Ep 341: The Grape Miniseries -- Gamay show art Ep 341: The Grape Miniseries -- Gamay

Wine for Normal People

This week we return to our grape miniseries to cover an old Burgundian variety, one of the 20 kids of Gouais Blanc and Pinot, that emerged around the 1300s. We cover its fascinating history; we talk about how it survived defamation by Dukes, centuries later became one of the most popular wines in the world (Beaujolais Nouveau), fell from grace, and now is securing its place as a serious, multifaceted grape that makes complex, interesting wines (especially in its home of Beaujolais, France).

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Ep 185, The Remake: 7 Types of (Non-Winery) Wine Clubs show art Ep 185, The Remake: 7 Types of (Non-Winery) Wine Clubs

Wine for Normal People

Of all the shows in the catalog, one has always stuck out as not really fitting in so this week we’re scrapping the old 185 and we’re replacing it with something that is related but more timely, relevant and just plain better!!

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Ep 340: UK Wine and its Past, Present, and Future show art Ep 340: UK Wine and its Past, Present, and Future

Wine for Normal People

Although limited in availability, English wine is rising in popularity. Climate change, bedrock soil that's similar to Champagne and Chablis, and growers with know-how have changed England from a producer of mainly plonk wine into a viable wine nation, with sparkling wine leading the charge. Access in the US is limited, so admittedly this is more of an academic exercise, but in the show we discuss the history, as well as the present, and bright future of UK wine. 

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Ep 339: Puglia, Italy -- New World Wine From an Old World Country show art Ep 339: Puglia, Italy -- New World Wine From an Old World Country

Wine for Normal People

In this show we tackle the heel of Italy’s boot (and the area that covers a part of the calf!): Puglia (pool-YA), which is in a transition from a bulk wine area to a quality wine area. Taking cues from New World winemakers, with whom they had a lot in common from a terroir POV, Puglia are modernizing and making better wines than ever before. We give an overview of what to try.

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Ep 338: Glassware and Gadgets Revisited show art Ep 338: Glassware and Gadgets Revisited

Wine for Normal People

We haven't done a show on this topic for a long time, so here's the 2020 update. We cover what to look for in glassware, decanters, wine fridges, wine openers, preservation systems and more. This is the skinny on what you need and what you don't (and why!).

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Ep 337: Feudi di San Gregorio and the Unrivaled Wines of Campania, Italy show art Ep 337: Feudi di San Gregorio and the Unrivaled Wines of Campania, Italy

Wine for Normal People

Dr. Antonio Capaldo, with his brilliance and razor-sharp humor, joins me to discuss the beautiful wines of Campania, Italy -- one of my all-time favorite regions. He is the Chairman of Feudi di San Gregorio and shares his insights on the region, its appellations, what makes the land and grapes special, and the bright future Campania has ahead of it.

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Ep 336: Santorini, Greece and it's divine white of Assyrtiko show art Ep 336: Santorini, Greece and it's divine white of Assyrtiko

Wine for Normal People

Santorini is one of Greek wine's guiding lights. The wines from this ancient volcanic island are unlike any other – exhibiting fullness, smoky minerality, and acidity that you won’t find elsewhere. The whites of Assyrtiko are among the best Greece has to offer. The fascinating history and legacy of viticulture will transport you to this lovely Mediterranean paradise. In this show, we take you on the ultimate armchair travel destination: the island of Santorini, a Greek paradise!

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Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer show art Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer

Wine for Normal People

Gewurztraminer is one of the most distinctive grapes and makes one of the most overtly perfumed, full bodied whites in existence. The lychee, rose, citrus, incense, and smokey notes can be intoxicatingly fantastic or WAY too much. We discuss the grape's origins, its diva personality, and how to get the best wine for you based on the style you prefer.

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After studying geology and gaining a BS, an MS and nearly a JD, Richard Betts discovered a love of wine. He served as the wine director at The Little Nell in Aspen from 2000 to 2008, and while there, in all his spare time, in 2003, Richard was the 9th person to ever pass the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Masters Exam on the first attempt.

Richard co-founded the wine labels Betts & Scholl in 2003 and Scarpetta in 2006 and founded Sombra Mezcal in 2006. Today, Richard runs Komos Tequila and Superbird Paloma (in a beautiful can), My Essential Wines, and the wine from Barossa in South Australia,  “An Approach To Relaxation.”

 

Richard is the New York Times best-selling author of “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert” and “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All.”  And after nearly two decades as a Master Sommelier, and feeling disillusioned by the lack of evolution in the organization, Richard has altered the wine world forever, by being the first person to resign as a Master Sommelier. He is here to tell us about his journey and his decision.

Here are the show notes:

  • Richard covers his background and his path towards becoming a Master Sommelier. He takes on a journey of what it was like for him in the early 2000s and how the Court of Master Sommeliers of that time fostered his love of learning and wine
  • We talk about Richard’s growing concerns about the Court of Master Sommeliers over time and then we delve into the two major issues that made him quit the organization:
    • The Cheating Scandal of 2018, in which a Master Sommelier gave away answers to the blind tasting portion of the exam to several people in California, and then the Board revoked all certifications of the credential around the world with no explanation or apology.
    • The apathy of the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers to the Black Lives Matter Movement, and their veto of a statement of inclusivity to remain “neutral.”
  • Richard tells us how he quit the organization and the painful and extensive steps he took to try to fix things before he made this drastic step.

To editorialize: Richard is a hero in the wine world. He has left an indelible mark that screams “I value integrity over status and exclusivity.” His moral compass, intelligence, and down-to-earth style and, ultimately, its lack of fit with the Court should have us all questioning why we give so much deference to those with the credential, when it is a reductive look at one’s ability to take an exam well, not to be the best wine professional s/he can be.

 

Bravo to Richard. He is a hero and a model for us all.

Here is a link to his resignation letter.

 

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