Drink, Drank, Dump
One of the favorite events to happen at the Wine Blogger Conference is something called Live Blogging. I called it Wine Speed Dating. It is an hour long fast-paced event where ten winemakers present and pour one wine from their portfolio. They have 5 minutes to talk it, pour it and answer questions. While we taste, take a picture of the bottle, comment, ask questions and then blog about it. If it sounds crazy, it is. There were two of these sessions one day apart. The first was for white and rosé wines, and the latter was for red wines.
As a newbie, I was confounded by the process, but all of the “regulars” were so excited. Perhaps that is because I am a wine ponderer. Or maybe because most everyone was going to microblog the session using Twitter and I really do not understand nor use Twitter that much. Honestly, my first reaction when this was explained to me was this is a drinking game, not a tasting experience. But I was wrong as there is more dumping than drinking as the bloggers are “all in” with their phone in one hand and glass in the other.
What the heck. I go with it; only I am going to use Instagram instead of Twitter.
Live Blogging: White and Rosé
“Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. We are about to begin”, announces Allan, the conference coordinator. Followed by, “Winemakers, please find your first table. Let’s go folks!” The room is buzzing with excitement, yet I feel like a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming semi-truck barreling down the road. My table mates are looking for the Jardesca rep as you do not want to get a late start. She arrives just before we hear Allan shout an emphatic “GO!”
The next sixty minutes pass like a tornado in the Kansas dustbowl. Dump buckets are full. Glasses are everywhere. Some bloggers are scanning back over their posts as others head out to the hallway where all twenty-five winemakers are pouring. As I look back on my Instagram feed, I have to laugh. I was so incredibly bad at this. At my table, everyone is gone but Tim Lemke from CheapWineRatings.com. He sat there with his Macbook finessing and finetuning his single post of the entire event. Live and learn, Rick live and learn.
10 Wines – All White
Jardesca White Aperitiva
It is a blend of three white wines with Viognier as the main component. It is then fortified with Eau de Vie (a grape distilled spirit) and then “enlivened” (their word) with California inspired botanicals. Serve it on the rocks and can be further enhanced by adding a garnish (we had mint and orange peel) or it can be made into a spritzer (seltzer or prosecco).
It was delicious and quite refreshing. Definitely a drink for hot summer days. But be careful it goes down way too easy, and at 17% alcohol, it could be a bumpy ride.
Gloria Ferrer Anniversary Cuvée
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards is Sonoma Carneros’ original sparkling wine house. This cuvée comes from Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes assembled from 14 separately fermented lots of wine from the 2010 vintage.
It is an elegant wine that is also easy to drink and refreshing.
“Tiny bubbles.” – That is all I reported on my Instagram feed. We are only at wine number two, and clearly, I am overwhelmed by this process as I can not quickly pull any notes from my brain. I liked it a lot that I know.
67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay.
Lugana DOC is an appellation on the southern shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy near Verona between Milan and Venice. The DOC’s producers make their wines exclusively from the Turbiana varietal. Ninety percent of all Lugana wines are intended to be drunk while young. However, wines made from this varietal is one of the few Italian native whites capable of aging. I did sample a 10-year-old Lugana at an earlier event, and it was magical however very rare to find in the US.
It is a wine with a pale straw yellow color and greenish highlights; its nose is delicately floral, with a hint of almonds, while on the palate it is fresh, pleasantly citrus-like with a long finish.
Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury Chardonnay 2015
Mt. Beautiful lies in the heart of the newly formed North Canterbury region on the South Island of New Zealand. The Kaikoura Seaward Mountains lie to the North, and the vineyard rests under its namesake, Mt. Beautiful.
The nose is ripe apple and mild peach. It is medium-bodied with a creamy texture.
It is here in this event that the synapses are disconnecting. Live blogging is really not easy in spite of what everyone told me. I have not been over-served, having maybe six sips of wine and dumped the remaining. I am completely overwhelmed, and I am fumbling to stay on course. From here on out my notes are sketchy at best and I am doing the remaining wines a disservice. So where noted, the information comes from their website. I should practice this evaluation process before next year’s conference.
Antica Napa Valley A26 Chardonnay 2015
Sadly, I have zero notes and no product information from the winery. So much for those that say live blogging is easy.
FROM WEBSITE: Abundant aromas of white peach, pear, and nectarine soar from the glass, and its expressive varietal fruit, good underlying minerality, textured mouthfeel and long, subtle finish make this a sensational Chardonnay in a refined and elegant style. This wine demonstrates the potential for Chardonnay when grown on our elevated valley A26 vineyard.
Hanna Sauvignon Blanc 2016
This wine I had already tasted at the Hanna luncheon excursion on Thursday at their Alexander Valley winery. So notes were not needed, as I know this wine. When Jeff, the winemaker spoke of their Sauv. Blanc, he used his favorite line – “tame the green lion,” meaning his desire to make a wine that shied away from the typical grassy flavors and aromas that many choose to highlight in a Sauvignon Blanc. Alas, one of the flavors of which I am not fond. Perhaps that explains my liking of this wine.
It is clean and fresh with a punch of acid. On the palate, it is citrusy with just a hint of grapefruit but not too much. It is a wine I can drink all summer long. It is also sold nationally.
Leto Cellars Old Vine Chardonnay 2014
FROM WEBSITE: The complex, aromatic origins of the 2014 Leto Cellars Chardonnay started with Varozza Vineyard in St. Helena. Chardonnay vines were first planted here in the late 1960s by the Varozza family and have been dry farmed ever since. Natural fermentation and oak aging bring out aromas of baked apple pie complemented by a creamy ‘a la mode’ texture. A confident and versatile food wine, the 2014 Chardonnay shines with a natural acidity that can stand up to richer dishes like Mushroom Risotto or Lisa’s Chicken Picatta. A drink of choice among our vintners, this wine is one that you will often find in Brad’s glass after a long day at the winery. Sells for $30.00
Acumen Mountainside Sauvignon Blanc 2016
William Hill North Coast Chardonnay 2015
This is a nationally distributed commercial wine that is part of the E&J Gallo Winery family of wines. It was nice to see a wine that folks should be able to find at an affordable price anywhere in the US. This wine is pictured but not featured on their website. So look for at a retailer near you.
Dancing Coyote Grüner Veltliner 2016
From the winemaker: An exotic alternative to Sauvignon Blanc; crisp, dry and minerally with fruit flavors of lemon, lime and grapefruit and a vein of acidity on the finish. The name may be intimidating, but the wine is not. This popular Austrian grape produces medium-bodied style wines.
Whew!, That was exhausting. My palate was fried. At dinner that night I drank water, lots and lots of water!
One Last Thing: Rebel Coast Marijuana Wine
It was not part of my live blogging rotation, but after the event, I went into the outer hall to preview the other wines that were not a part of my ten bottle flight. I see a cowboy and bearded guy down the row, and they were not speaking to anyone, so I decided to take a closer look. As I approach, I see a marijuana leaf on the bottle. This is Rebel Coast Marijuana Wine which is legal in California. The caveat is that you can not have alcohol and THC (the chemical compound in cannabis responsible for a euphoric high) both in an “edible.” So after the Sauvignon Blanc wine is de-alcoholized, THC along with other flavor components are then added.
While I do not “partake,” I thought I should at least try it. To me, it did not taste like wine at all and reminded me more of an energy style drink. The goal of a glass of this beverage is to provide the same level of relaxed, unwinding feeling that one gets from a glass of wine. It is only sold in the state of California, and this is their first go at it. They were at the conference to gain feedback in hopes of making a product that will have wide appeal.
Live Blogging: Red Wines
The next day was the red wine live blogging event. I decided from the get-go that I was forgoing any microblogging. Having only five minutes with a wine was hard enough, I was going to focus on tasting. My apologies to the wineries that shared their red wines with me. The chaos and level of energy in the room made my notes illegible and more of a puzzle than a comment. A number here, a few letters there. I have no idea what any of it means today. So the image below shows the ten wines I sampled during Saturday’s live blogging event. I promise to do better in the future.
Note to self: Practice live blogging. That is all for now.