WineInk: A Virtual Taste |

WineInk: A Virtual Taste

Online at The Little Nell Wine Academy

Courtesy The Little Nell

If there is a positive to be found in the isolation imposed on the wine world in 2020, it was the evolution of virtual tastings.

As winery tasting rooms were forced to shutter due the pandemic, many launched creative Zoom-based events to showcase their wares. Next, online sales sites and shops got into the game. Today it is not only possible, but easy to get some of the world’s great wines sent to your home and share them, online, with makers and experts.

In one sense, being apart has allowed us to become closer in the world of wine.

Next week, on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 1-2 p.m., you can experience outstanding wines alongside a cadre of Master Sommeliers live on an iPad, laptop or mobile device in a virtual tasting as they explore the differences between old world and new world wines. In what is titled “A Virtual Taste Of The Little Nell Wine Academy,” wine lovers can order a selection of four wines for the event and then tune in and interact with the panel as they taste them.

As a preview to this spring’s Little Nell Wine Academy, Master Sommeliers Jay Fletcher and Dustin Wilson, Little Nell Wine Director Chris Dunaway, and Advanced Sommelier and Little Nell Food & Beverage Director Csaba Oveges, will be on hand and online to take viewers through four wines and discuss their differences and similarities.

Dustin Wilson, a former sommelier at the Little Nell who has gone on to open a series of highly acclaimed wine shops, called Verve, in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, has curated the selection of the wines to be tasted. Verve will arrange for bottles to be shipped directly to those who sign up for the Little Nell Academy tasting. For $200 you will receive four bottles along with exclusive access to the Virtual event on the 16th. Go to to register.

The tasting will feature two whites wines, a Bernard Moreau Bourgogne Blanc 2018 from France (the old world), and a Walter Scott Chardonnay ‘La Combe Verte’ 2018 from the Willamette Valley’s Eola-Amity Hills (the new world). Though these wines are made from the same grape, chardonnay, and were produced in the same vintage, 2018, there will inevitably be opportunities to compare and contrast the styles and regional variations found in each wine.

For the reds, the somms decided to evaluate a pair of Rhône style wines, the Vincent Paris Cornas “Granit 30” 2017, which is actually from Cornas in the northern Rhône wine region of France, south of Lyon. The new world contender will be a Gramercy Cellars Syrah “Lower East” 2015, which was grown 5,500 miles away in the Columbia Valley of Washington. The two winemakers Vincent Paris, who oversees one of the top biodynamic properties in the Rhone, and Greg Harrington, a former city somm and Master Sommelier who moved from Manhattan (hence the Gramercy moniker) to Washington to make wines, would make for a great discussion on their own, much less in a single tasting.

As mentioned, this virtual tasting is precursor for the 2021 edition of the actual Little Nell Wine Academy, which will take place in the Little Nell hotel from Sunday, April 11, through Wednesday, April 14.

Courtesy The Little Nell

Perhaps the premier educational wine opportunity on the planet, certainly the most enjoyable, this year’s iteration of the Academy will focus on Old World Classics vs. American Rivals with an emphasis on wines from Europe slated up against wines from the West Coast of the U.S. Many those same Master Sommeliers who will be involved in this virtual tasting will be in attendance at the Little Nell to lead the three-day event.

The Wine Academy marries a luxury experience with an educational wine utopia, bringing together interested consumers and educated wine professionals for three days that are two parts edification and one part bacchanalia. The registration fee of $3,700++ for The Little Nell Wine Academy covers the cost of the course, comprising two full-days and two half-days of presentations; a comprehensive workbook; exceptional wine and spirits; and all meals and Wine Academy activities. It is a quintessential wine experience.

This year the bulk of the events will take place in the newly inaugurated Wine Bar at the Little Nell. A perfect location for learning and tasting. To register or for more information contact The Little Nell events department at or call 970-920-6382.

One of the most anticipated things about 2021 is that we will, hopefully, once again be able to taste together. In person.

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