malolactic fermentation in a glass-sided barrel 

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WSET Diploma Unit 1 and 2 Class Topics and Wines

Although the timing of the Unit 1-2 classes may change from year to year, here is a typical sequence for our fall classes, including wines poured. When we offer the course in the spring, we include the Unit 2 classes only; students in spring Unit 2 courses can attend the following fall's unit 1 classes.

Assigned textbook pages should be read before class. "Bird" below refers to Understanding Wine Technology by David Bird, which is required reading for the class (and which we give students as part of their start-up costs).

Week 1- Introduction and Overview. Blind tasting simulating WSET blind tastings.

Week 2- Unit 2. Text pages 1-5, 25-36 (Clonal selection; vineyard siting; climate and weather; soil types, components and nutrition).

Wines: Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris/ Grigio

  • an Alto Adige or Friuli Pinot Grigio
  • an Alsace Pinot Gris
  • an Austrian Riesling
  • an Australian (Clare Valley) Riesling
  • a Trocken German Riesling
  • an Alsace Gewurztraminer

Week 3- Unit 1- Global Business. Various materials. Blind tasting.

Week 4- Unit 2. Text pages 23-24, 37-47. Bird, chapters 1 & 2 (Rootstocks; vine propagation and grafting; row orientation; trellising; canopy management).

Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Chenin Blanc

  • a NZ Sauvignon Blanc
  • a South African Sauvignon Blanc
  • a Sancerre or Pouilly Fume
  • a Savennieres
  • an Australian (Hunter Valley) Semillon
  • a white Graves/ Pessac Leognan

Week 5- Unit 1- Local Business. Various materials. Blind tasting.

Week 6- Unit 2. Text, pages 48-57 (winter pruning; vine diseases and pests; pest management).

Wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Ugni Blanc

  • an Italian Trebbiano or a SW France Ugni Blanc
  • an Alsace Pinot Blanc
  • an Unoaked NZ or Australian Chardonnay
  • a premium California Chardonnay
  • a Premier Cru or Grand Cru Cote de Beaune Chardonnay
  • an Australian Chardonnay blend (e.g., Chardonnay- Semillon)

Week 7- Unit 1- Marketing. Various materials. Blind tasting.

Week 8- Unit 2. Text, pages 58-67 (soil management and weed control; sustainable viticulture).

Wines: Muscat and Viognier

  • a Vin de Pays Viognier
  • a Condrieu
  • an Alsace Muscat Ottonel
  • a Muscat de Alexandria (e.g., Rivesaltes)
  • a Muscat Petit Grains
  • a second Muscat Petit Grains, different style

Week 9- Unit 2. Text, pages 68-77; Bird, chapters 3-4 (Winemaking and grape processing).

Wines: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Zinfandel

  • a Barbera
  • an IGT Sangiovese
  • a Brunello di Montalcino
  • a Nebbiolo from Valtellina
  • a Barolo or Barbaresco
  • a premium California Zinfandel

Week 10- Unit 2. Text, pages 78-87; Bird, chapters 5-9 (Grape processing; fermentation; red wine making; oak ageing).

Wines: Pinot Noir and Tempranillo

  • a village-level red Burgundy
  • a California Pinot Noir
  • a Premier Cru or Grand Cru red Burgundy
  • a NZ Pinot Noir (e.g., Central Otago)
  • a tempranillo from Southern or Central Spain
  • a Rioja Gran Reserva

Week 11- Unit 2. Text, pages 88-94; Bird, chapters 10-12 (clarification, filtration and fining agents).

Wines: Syrah and Grenache

  • a Tavel
  • a Grenache from Southern or Central Spain
  • a Cotes du Rhone
  • a Chateauneuf du Pape
  • a premium Australian Shiraz
  • a Cote-Rotie or red Hemitage

Week 12- Unit 2. Text, pages 95-101; Bird, chapters 13-16 (wine stabilization and bottling).

Wines: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

  • a Pomerol or St. Emilion
  • a premium Washington state Merlot
  • a Chinon or Bourgueil
  • a premium, Cabernet-dominant left-bank Bordeaux
  • a premium Napa cabernet or Bordeaux blend
  • a premium Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon

The multiple-choice Unit 2 exam is offered on an evening at the end of Unit 2 classes, as well as on the morning of any date on which the Unit 5, 6 and 4 exams are offered. We also offer the exam on additional dates based on convenience for the students who need to take it. See our schedule for course and exam dates.


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