Melba Allen, of the wine blog Melba’s Wine Discoveries and Travels, is one of the leading women in the wine industry today. Originally from Texas, her love affair with wine began when she was living in Paris as a young model and discovered that she had an incredibly acute palate and sensory memory. Her interest in wine grew into a career and she has spent the majority of her adult life living and working in the wine industry in France.
A member of the Union des Sommeliers de France, Melba has earned a ‘Sommelier Conseil’ diploma from the University du Vin of Suze-la-Rousse and an advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust of London. In addition to her own studies, she teaches others at the European International Management Institute in Paris.
As a speaker at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and a member of the Blogger/Media Fam Trip in Italy, we caught up with Melba and asked her what she is most excited to learn, what it’s like being a part of the of the French wine industry and what advice she has for wine travelers to France.
The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?
Although I’ve been to Tuscany, Veneto and Naples, Umbria is a region in which I’ve only read about and have yet to visit. I’ve heard and read many great things about the food and the people and am looking forward to discovering them and their wines so that I can better share my experiences with my public.
What experiences with wine are you most excited to share at the conference in Italy, and what are you most looking forward to learning?
I’ve not tried the Orvieto whites nor the Rosso di Montefalco, so both of these styles of wines are high on my list of things to experience and learn more about…
Living and working in France, you are surrounded by legendary chateaus and wines on a daily basis. When you’re not working, what other wine destinations to you like to travel to?
Living and working in the Wine Industry in France is great. Most of the people we meet are very kind and passionate about what they do. That passion is very contagious and passes quite freely from the winemaker to whoever is listening. We tend to work mostly on a daily basis with small Domains because of their availability, meaning that you can always find a family member ready to talk with you. We particularly like working with Family owned properties where everyone in the family is involved from A to Z. Because of the many years of hard work and constant self-doubt, I usually try to focus my blogs on many of these smaller Properties. Houses like Michel Picard here in Burgundy, or Château de la Gardine of Châteauneuf-du-Pape of Château de Clapier of Luberon in the Southern Rhône, to Château Charmail, Haut Médoc in Bordeaux and Domaine Cazes in Rousillon.
When we are not working, we organize approximately once every two months either at our house or the neighbors, tastings of wines coming from all over the world. Our neighbors and friends are happy, because that get to travel with us through the wine that they taste. We’ve had wine coming from the Penedès in Spain, to the Hill country of Texas. This is fun, because everyone gets to participate by bringing a wine that they find interesting and where we all taste blindly. After the tasting, we then sit down to dinner together to finish off the bottles during a delicious meal. I don’t blog about this because it is very personal and some of the people are quite sensitive to having their life story published for everyone to read. But one day, I will probably write a fiction about these very special moments.
For many people, tasting and touring through France is the apex of wine travel. What advice do you have for wine travellers visiting France?
My advice to Wine travelers in France is because each wine region is so completely different; don’t try to do all the regions at once. Take the time to enjoy each region one at a time, even if it means that you will probably have to come back.
Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?
As mentioned before, being that I have very little knowledge of these wines, the Orvieto whites and the Rosso di Montefalco for starters. But if there are indigenous grapes of good quality, I would be very interested in discovering them too!
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