Given the whirlwind of activity during and after the Wine Bloggers Conference, I am way behind on collecting my thoughts and making sense of my notes and scribbles from the various conference tastings.
Rather than post my thoughts in chronological order like the real bloggers/writers do, I am going to take the creative (A.D.D.) approach to recapping my experiences at WBC and just post randomly as I go thru my notes.
Wine Bloggers Conference – Day 1 Recap
Meet the Sponsors – I liked the informal format of the ‘meet the sponsors’ session, which provided a chance to chat with the winery folks and ask questions. I did take tasting notes on each of the wines I tried as I walked around, but I just don’t feel like trying to decipher my scribbles. Instead, I will summarize by saying that Bonny Doon totally stood out. I’m not trying to shortchange other wineries that were there, but it is amazing how Randall Graham’s wines stand out so prominently among other wines when tasted in this type of setting. The crew from Bonny Doon, along with Randall himself, were pouring their Le Cigare Volent as well as the Ca’ Del Solo Albarino from their Biodynamic Ca’ Del Solo vineyard. Crisp, floral, citrus. Damn good.
Live Blogging – Although I did post a quick note from the Living Blogging session on Friday afternoon, I am providing more detail below to provide context for those who read this blog and aren’t familiar with the concept.
The intent of the live blogging session is to provide a forum for tasting wines from various wineries, in succession, and blogging/twittering about the wines real-time as we taste them. Since this is my first year attending WBC, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Live Blogging session. Based on the description of several bloggers who attended last year, I expected absolute ‘chaos’ – winemakers roving about from table to table pouring their wine at a furious pace, uttering a few talking points about their wine just as the timer went off for them to run to the next table to repeat for another group.
The group of ~275 attendees were split up in to ~21 tables. The winery folks would then have six minutes at each table to present one of their wines – which included providing an overview, pouring and answering questions.
Rather than pure chaos, I would define the session as ‘managed chaos’ – speed dating meets wine tasting, blogging and Twittering – sort of.
My initial strategy was to take notes on my blackberry and Twitter (tweet) them, but my phone didn’t have a good connection in the conference room. And, I also noticed the majority of others were using their laptops, so I went with Plan B and pulled out my laptop. Since this is my first WBC, I wanted to be in the ‘cool club,’ so I followed the pack and attempted to type my notes on my laptop while I tasted, pretended to be listening to the winery person and tried to ask questions. (Next year I’m going back to the ‘smart club’ and will be hand writing my tasting notes in my notebook).
Aside from the fact that wireless didn’t want to cooperate, coupled with a gross spit bucket that was nearly overflowing, I liked the madness of the Live Blogging session. On the ‘process improvement’ side, I feel that six minutes just isn’t enough time to adequately learn about and evaluate a wine. For me, wine is more than a six-minute taste and informational session. Instead, it’s about the story behind the wine, and actually having enough time to enjoy the nuances of that particular wine. It’s hard for a winemaker (or winery rep) to tell ‘the story’ behind their wine and winery and fully share their passion in six-minute increments.
I lost count of the total number of wines we tasted during the Live Blogging session. I believe we tasted 10 different wines during the actual session, then a handful more when it was over as I walked around pouring from various bottles that were left on other tables.
Live Blogging Highlights – The comedic relief highlight was Greg La Follette from Tandem Vineyards arriving at our table wearing a pair of denim overalls with a cool silky blue shirt underneath. As an accompaniment to his outfit, I noticed what appeared to be a flute sticking out of his pocket. Yes, he had a silver flute in his pocket. (WBC regret #1 – not taking a photo of the flute in the pocket).
Being an enthusiast of smart-ass, crude boarding school humor, I asked him, “Is that a flute in your pocket, or are you just happy to be here?” This comment is of course a reference to one of my favorite crude comedy films, American Pie. Mr. La Follette noted that the instrument showing sticking out of his pocket was indeed a flute that he plays from time to time. Unfortunately (or fortunately), only one other person at table 13 ‘got it’ – and she busted out laughing hysterically! (Thanks Marcy for getting it!)
My favorite wine of the session was the Benovia 2007 Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyards. Although Benovia is located in the Russian River Valley, this Pinot was made with fruit from the Savoy vineyard located in Mendocino County in the Anderson Valley. I believe we were told that the Savoy vineyard is farmed organically. (The fresh, lively Pinot’s coming out of the Anderson Valley are quite impressive). My first tasting note on this one, “big cherry cola.” The cherry cola aromas jumped out of the glass, followed by notes of red berries and earth. I liked the structure of this wine, and feel it will be even better in a couple of years. Just 370 cases produced. Unfined, unfiltered. Native yeasts for fermentation. At $55/bottle, this one is at the high end of my price point scale.
Wine Bloggers Conference – Day 2 Recap
Wine Bloggers Conference – Day 3 Recap
Consolidated Recap and a few other highlights, riffs, ramblings, and observations will be posted later tonight …
Here are a few other excellent WBC recaps while you await my masterpiece:
- Russ from Winehiker – A Foundation for Raising the Collective Spirit
- Kori from Wine Peeps – Highlights from 2009 WBC
- Marcy from Come For The Wine – Diary of a Newbie
- Gwendolyn from Art Predator
- Ed from Wine Tonite! – WBC Highlights