By Michael Peck
On January 27, 2015, the Anderson Wine Club team took first place in the New York regional trials of the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup, the prestigious amateur wine tasting competition. Poets & Quants covered their victory over teams from NYU, Columbia, Wharton, Stanford and other b-schools, which qualified them to move on in June to the final competition at Château Lafite Rothschild in the Bordeaux region of France.
AWC team member Michael Peck (’15) reported back that, although Anderson did not take home a trophy from France (that distinction went to the all-Hong Kong team from Imperial College London), he and his teammates greatly expanded their wine education, made new connections and cemented their personal and professional bonds with each other.
Peck caught us up on all that has happened in the lives of AWC teammates Margot Bloch (’15), Brooke Matthias (’15), Meredith Roman (’16) and Rex White (’15) since their trip abroad.
The Left Bank Bordeaux Cup was a defining experience of our time at UCLA Anderson. We’ll never forget the time we spent together both in France and leading up to the final competition.
In Bordeaux, we took in the wine culture of the region, learned in depth about climate and geology from the local experts, and experienced French hospitality from numerous châteaux owners. It was fascinating to compare the different winemaking and business philosophies we were exposed to, and we came away with a myriad perspectives on the industry.
Interacting with the other students was a major highlight, and it was fun to discover which schools and nationalities we tended to get along with the best. We were a clear favorite of the French teams, whom we bonded with readily. Our French accents improved immensely, and we got a taste of the different professional interests of the teams from Harvard, Cambridge, MIT, Kedge (from Bordeaux) and Dauphine (Paris).
Across the board, the other students and people we met from the Commanderie du Bontemps — which brings together the principal winegrowers, brokers and merchants in Bordeaux — were impressed that our team had come all the way from Los Angeles. We had fascinating conversations about the differences between Californian and French wine, and several opportunities to share how UCLA has encouraged our diverse, non-traditional MBA paths.
The crowning moment came following the competition: Seated at one long, 150-person table in the middle of the cellar at Château Lafite Rothschild, Baron Eric de Rothschild requested our team stand and deliver a song a cappella. Rather than sing a national anthem or old classic, we thought we’d give them a taste of “Uptown Funk” (the MIT team sang with us in American solidarity). Before we sat down, we led everyone in a UCLA 8-clap, which Baron Rothschild loved; so I’m proud to say that we were almost certainly the first visitors to bring the 8-clap to Château Lafite Rothschild.
While Veronique Dausse, director of Château Phélan Ségur in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, memorably said that we couldn’t have won the New York preliminary without being talented, I want to call attention to the incredible amount of support and luck that took us to Bordeaux: luck in the crucial, insightful support we received from our NYC alumni, K&L Wines, the L.A. chapter of the Commanderie du Bordeaux and UCLA Anderson — and also just pure test-taking luck.
I'm thrilled to say that we are all fully employed here in L.A., absorbed with new jobs and internships. Margot is the new COO of the Rustic Canyon Restaurant Group, focusing on expanding the Sweet Rose Creamery chain. Brooke is staying very close to the wine industry as the new Associate Wine Director of Club W, where she will soon be up to her ears in fresh grapes, buying and blending newly harvested lots during the 2015 vintage. Rex is returning to the corporate finance and strategy team at AECOM, a global civil engineering firm (he loves traveling, so hopefully there are a few work trips in his future). Meredith is enjoying her summer at the Wonderful Company, previously known as Roll Global.
After we returned from France, I married, and now I am almost a month into my role as associate brand manager at Pabst Brewing Company.
Our team will always be close. Without a doubt, our experience has given each of us a skill or perspective to carry throughout our careers, and we sincerely hope that our example will carve a path for future Anderson students to excel in the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup, to continue to plant the UCLA flag internationally, and to thrive in non-traditional MBA career paths.
AWC’s trip to compete in the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup in France was generously funded, in part, by UCLA Anderson Student Affairs, Office of Alumni Relations, the Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Center for Global Management.