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TRADE SECRETS The Language of A OLFACTORY TRAINING HELPS WINEMAKERS VALIDATE TERROIR story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong Smell n important part of any winemaker's job is identifying aromas in wine—a task that is much harder than isolat- ing individual aromas in perfume due to wine's low alcohol content. On average, winemakers work with about 50 aromas while perfumers must memorize 30 times that number. Olfactory expert Alexandre Schmitt's expertise includes a laser-like ability to focus and a vast memory of aromas. Cameron Vawter, Director of Production for Dana Estates, looks on. 96 / the tasting panel / august 2012 The synergies between these two profes- sions are the stock in trade of olfactory expert Alexandre Schmitt, a perfumer who specializes in training winemakers to identify aromas and to relate them to wine. Schmitt studied his craft at the Institut Supérieur International du Parfum in Versailles, and his early career consisted largely of developing fragrances for house- hold products and cosmetics. It wasn't until he met winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet, the iconic technical director of Château Pétrus for more than four decades, that he forged a connection to wine, one that he developed under the guidance of Berrouet over a period of 12 years and parlayed into a unique global consulting practice, Wines & Flavors. Schmitt's olfactory training is in high demand in California, where he leads sen- sory workshops and conducts advanced seminars with winemakers in Napa, the Central Valley and Paso Robles several times a year. He offers progressive levels of training that begin with Level I, which introduces the basic aromatic descriptors of wine. His Level II workshops focus on defects in wine, barrel and oak aromas, and Level III is a further exploration of grape varieties and the synergy of aromas in blends of up to four compounds.