Merci, Gracias, Thank You

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The glow from the Wine Bloggers Conference only starts to fade when the excitement for the next conference takes over.  I still have very fond memories of the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference.  One of the reasons the fondness does not dissipate is the generosity of this wine community.

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I would like to thank all of the sponsors of the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference for supporting such a fantastic conference.  I would also like to thank every single donor to the scholarship fund.  I would not have been to attend without your support.  I was able to form new relationships and deepen existing ones.

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I was also able to learn how to be a better wine writer and learn more about Albarino, and Turbiana.  I never knew Lugana existed until this conference!  I have never been able to do a comparative tasting of Albarino.  These learning experiences were fantastic!

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I would like to thank the Selection Committee for choosing me.  It was an honor to be chosen and a delight to attend.  Last, and certainly not least, I would like to thank Thea Dwelle for all of her hard work in getting donations for the scholarship.

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Lovely Lugana/Learning/Achieving My Purpose for WBC

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As our surroundings inform us, the wines of this region are informed by Lake Garda.  The lake is north of Lugana.  The soils are comprised of stratified clay so the soils are hard and compact when dry and heavy when wet.  The further south you go, the sandier the soil becomes.

The clay has positive ions and, because of the polarity of water, the vines can actually pull up some of the degraded minerals!  Many of the wines had a fascinating saline minerality.  I have never experienced this in a wine before and it intrigued me!

The grape that reigns supreme in Lugana is Turbiana.  Every single wine we tasted made from 100% Turbiana grapes.

Wine # 1

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This wine had great body and acidity.  Anjou Pear, Meyer Lemon, and Golden Delicious.  This was mouthwateringly delicious.  If you find this wine, buy it.  You will congratulate yourself!

Wine # 2

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This wine was delicate in aroma and a bit staid in flavor.  Elegant and classy.  This lady will not give up too much!  She is mysterious and alluring.  The aromas were of a fruit orchard in spring right as the blossoms begin to show.  Peach, Apple, and Pear blossoms.

Wine # 3

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This wine was less acidic than the previous wines.  It smelled of green pear skin, and golden apple peel.  The flavors were all green and yellow pear for me.  There was a hint of salinity on the finish and it was fascinating!

Wine # 4

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This wine went tropical for me.  Banana and Tangerine on the aromas.  It was very exotic and made me think more of Hawaii than Italy.  Isn’t it wonderful when a wine transports you to a far off place?  The flavors were toasted vanilla and lemon-lime.  This wine knows who it is and is not shy about it.

 

Wine # 5

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This wine went all earth and spice for me.  There were many layers of minerality that I did not have time to explore.  A hint of saffron and turmeric.  This wine had scandalously fun and intriguing acids playing with the flavors.

Wine # 6

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This wine was juicy in a way the others were not.  I smelled honeyed pineapple and daisies and immediately fell in love.  The flavors were golden pear and apple.  This wine was juicier than the rest.  There was a hint of petrol on the mid-palate that was delightful.  Drinking this wine was like biting into a perfectly ripe and juicy pear.  The sad thing about this wine is that it is not imported.

Speed Wine Dating…..Red Round/Check out Wine 6, 8, and 10!

These are the wines I tasted for the second session of Wine Speed Dating!

Wine # 1

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Conundrum 2015 Red, $25, P.O.H. Rating 4.8

This wine is a blend of Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  I immediately through of tri tip or grilled ribs to have with this wine.

Wine # 2

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Cliff Lede 2014 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. $78, P.O.H. Rating 4.8

This wine was fantastic in every way!  I lust it!  This wine reminds me of the classic James Bond characters!

Wine # 3

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La Segreta 2016 Nero D’Avola.  $15, P.O.H. Rating 5.0

Black Olive Tapenade on the nose.  Silky and smooth.  Everyday drinker with a meaty profile.

Wine # 4

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Jack 2015 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. $125 P.O.H. No Rating

This wine had tannins for days and could definitely be laid down for many years.

Wine # 5

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2006 Cain Five Spring Mountain.  $150 older vintage $130 current vintage.  P.O.H. No Rating

This is a blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot, and 6% Malbec.  My note on this wine……..Take me to dinner and then take me to bed!

Wine # 6

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Troon Vineyards M * T.  $50, P.O.H. Rating 5.2

This is not wine, it is love!  It is a co-ferment of 52.1% Tannat, 45.8% Malbec, and 2.1% Tempranillo.  This is a beautiful dancing menage a trois!  I WANT CASES OF THIS!

Wine # 7

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St. Supery 2015 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. $42, P.O.H. Scale 4.9

Estate grown, BOLD and sensual.  Skip the date and slip into something a little more comfortable.

Wine # 8

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Acumen 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. $60, P.O.H. Rating 6.5

Lovely and alluring aromatics.  Silky smooth, red fruit.  I am no longer speed dating, I am headed to Vegas with this Fella for a shot gun wedding!  I implore you to drink this wine!

Wine # 9

I am not going to list this wine.  I hated it.  Though made well enough, it was NOT at all to my taste.

Want to hear something great?  The last winery brought TWO bottles for us to taste and I thought both were delicious so onward and upward!

Wine # 10

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2015 Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel. $19, P.O.H. Rating 5.5

This is quintessential Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.  No frills, just the delicious fruit.  It kind of broke my heart since I used to live and work near here and never went.

Wine # 11

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2015 Pedroncelli Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel. $30, P.O.H. rating 4.8

Great fruit and beautiful structure.  This wine is fun AND delicious!

Speed Wine Dating….I Mean Tasting….No, I Mean Dating/LOOK AT THE LAST ONE!

Speed Wine Dating…..I Mean Tasting…..I Mean Dating/ LOOK AT THE LAST ONE!

One of the highlights of the Wine Bloggers Conference for me is when we get to do the speed wine tasting event.  It is really like speed dating.  You sit at a numbered table and you get 5 minutes with a producer.  In those five minutes the winery representative has to pour and explain their wine, answer any questions the wine bloggers have, and we can tweet about the wines via live stream.

One of the things I love about tasting this way is feels more visceral than a normal tasting.  You simply do not have time to really develop thoughts to their conclusion.  The other thing I love about this exercise is that you are poured wines you may not necessarily taste if you were choosing what wines you wanted to taste.

Here are the white wines I tasted.

Wine # 1

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Rebel Coast 2016 Cannabis Infused Sauvignon Blanc.  P.O.H. Rating None Given

Due to legal restrictions, all alcohol had been removed.  This is a new venture and after asking several times, one of the founders of the project said they were looking to price the “wine” in the $65-$69 range.

Wine # 2

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Ledson 2016 Viognier. $32, P.O.H. Rating 4.5

Approximately 600 cases produced and only sold at the winery.  This wine had great acidity and was worthy of aging.  The mouthfeel was nice and lush.  Honeysuckle and White Peach Blossom dominated the aromas and flavors.

Wine # 3

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Naked Cowboy 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. $32, P.O.H. Rating 4.0

Great aromas!  Citrus and Grapefruit.  They recommended pairing with oysters.  BRILLIANT IDEA!  The finish was long and lovely.  The acid made itself present from the mid-palate through the finish.  Gimmicky Label, but it is what is on the inside that counts.  $32 a bottle.  P.O.H. Rating 4.0

Wine # 4

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Matthiasson 2015 White Wine.  $40, P.O.H. No Rating

White Blend.  Beautiful weight and texture.  Nice acidity with the Sauvignon Blanc showing strongly on the finish.  50% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Ribolla gialla, 20% Semillon, 5% Tocai friulano.

Wine # 5

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Jardesca $30, P.O.H. Rating 4.8

This delightful and refreshing beverage is made with three wines and then a double distilled grape eau du vie is added along with 10 botanicals.  This is perfect for entertaining.  There is no need to anything to it unless you want to.  We added some mint and orange peel and BAM!  It was delicious.  I LOVED THIS!

Wine # 6

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Gloria Ferrer 2010 Anniversary Sparkling.  $40 P.O.H. Rating  5.0

This wine was released in July and is made with 100% estate fruit.  It is 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay.  It had shy aromatics that were subtle and delicate.  It had spent 5.5 years on yeast in the bottle.  Creamy texture and bready aromas.  They call it “Anniversary” as it was created to celebrate all of life’s fun anniversaries.  If you can find it, buy it.

Wine # 7

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Lugana Ottella, My notes are missing on this wine and the next one.  The page was torn out of my notebook.  IT IS A MYSTERY!  I remember sighing a deep sigh of contentment after I smelled this wine and being a little upset that I could not linger of this wine loner.  Other than those memories, have nothing.

Wine # 8

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Mount Beautiful 2015 Chardonnay.  $22, P.O.H. Rating 4.8

50% new French oak and 50% stainless steel fermentation.  Pleasant aromas.  I bit more oak than I like, however, the integration was fantastic.  Oak and Chardonnay are not my favorite marriage in the world.  However, this one is so well integrated, I had to love it.

Wine # 9

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Antica 2015 A26 Chardonnay. $55, P.O.H. Rating 4.2

I loved the minerality and structure of this Chardonnay.  Great fruit from pear, nectarine, and peach.  This wine is a beautiful expression of Chardonnay

Wine # 10

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Hanna 2016 Russian River Sauvignon Blanc. $19,  P.O.H. Rating 6.0
This is Sauvignon Blanc like I have never experienced.  TAKE ALL OF MY MONEY!  To make a wine this amazing, you MUST be dogmatic about the quality of your vineyard and grapes.  This wine is BOLD, SEXY, CONFIDENT, DRAMATIC, and FRESH.  I aspire to be like this wine!  If you see this, just spend every extra dollar you have on as many bottles as you can buy!

What do I want? WINE! When do I want it? NOW!/ Why I applied for a Wine Bloggers Scholarship

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Evaluating Wine at WBC 2015 Photo credit to @MattMcGinnis of penandtellus.com

Having already attended a Wine Bloggers Conference (Finger Lakes 2015), I had a little more understanding of what I was looking for at the conference this year. I wanted to deepen existing connections, make new ones, and learn about wines I had never heard of before or have had limited exposure to.

I cut my wine teeth working at wineries in Healdsburg. I know a lot about wines from Sonoma County. I also worked for a wine sales company for about a year and I sold many wines from Sonoma County and Napa County in my time there. To say I am familiar with these areas is an understatement.

I remember at the 2015 WBC that there were a number of opportunities to try wines from Italy, Germany, and France, so I decided this year I would take advantage of those opportunities. In 2015, I was more interested in finding the best Finger Lakes wines that I could since I had just move to New York. I wanted to know that my newly adopted home had some amazing wines to brag about.

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Lakeside Vines soaking up the sun

My commitment was to try and better understand a region I had previously known about but not yet truly tasted through, and to find a varietal or region that I had no prior knowledge of.

Stay tuned to see if I was successful……….

An Intellectual and Sensory Nirvana/Beringer Deconstructed, Constructed, Then Reversed!

Lampyridae Vineayard. Photo taken from http://www.beringer.com

 

The blessings of Bacchus hath rained down upon me through His fabulous servant, @BrixChick_Liza, who could not attend this amazing tasting due to a scheduling conflict. She decided I was worthy to take her place.   Let me describe the happy adventure that followed.

The only thing I knew about this tasting before I arrived was there would be a wine from the 1984 vintage. I was excited! Little did I know the sensory delights that awaited me. This was the most intellectual tasting I have ever done. It was brilliantly executed to intrigue the mind in every way possible.

We were led through the tasting by Mark Beringer, Chief Winemaker, who wanted to showcase the Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The current price point on their 2013 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is $170 per bottle. To help us understand how the Private Reserve is crafted, we tasted through four Single Vineyard Designates that usually comprise part of the Private Reserve.

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Chabot Vineyard.  Photo from http://www.beringer.com

We began with the 2014 Chabot Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  This vineyard is located in the Saint Helena A.V.A. and they nickname it “Glass Mountain” due to the amount of obsidian glass in the vineyards. The glass is chemically inert so it doesn’t add any characteristics to the wine but it does act as an impediment for growth for the vines and also radiates heat during the night. This wine was brambly with tannins galore. I would lay this wine down for at least five more years.

We moved on to the 2014 Lampyridae Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which is located in the Mount Veeder A.V.A. According to Mark, this vineyard is closer to Sonoma fruit than it is Napa fruit due to it’s aspect, and the full sun that it enjoys. This wine was a touch softer than the Chabot Vineyard, and I would still lay it down for five years. I get chills thinking about what a little age will do to these wines!

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Marston Vineyard.  Photo from http://www.beringer.com

We then tasted the 2014 Marston Vineyard which hales from the Spring Mountain A.V.A. This wine engrossed me from the first smell. The vineyard is difficult and the ripening us uneven. Mark explained that there can be unripe and overripe fruit in the same row and they have to do multiple picks to get all the fruit at peak ripeness. I am glad that they take the extra care. This wine is going to by harmonious and symphonic given time.

The last of the vineyard designate wines was the 2014 Bancroft Vineyard from Howell Mountain. Howell Mountain fruit is the backbone of the Private Reserve. The soil is volcanic and elements ash come through the wine. It is subtle and adds layers of complexity that will continue to evolve. The current flavors are brown paper and leather dancing through an exuberant berry soiree.

Now that we had tasted these wines we had a better understanding of the pedigree of the Private Reserve.   I was intrigued by the fact that we were tasting youngest to oldest and that the oldest Private Reserve was 33 years old, compared to the 3 year old 2014. The wines had been opened about 90 minutes prior to our tasting.

We began with the 2014 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is lovely and complicated. It has a nice firm structure as well as a velvety mouthfeel. The tannins are perfect for a wine that wants aging. This wine is a bit staid, figuring out who it wants to be. The finish has serious staying power. I’d love a case and lay it down for five years and then open a bottle every year and see how it develops.

We jumped back in time a decade and tasted the 2004 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This vintage was a smaller crop, with a heat spike in June which caused an earlier than normal harvest. This wine had aromas and flavors of brown leaves, petrol, sandalwood, cedar, and a hint of anise. I love this woodsy and exotic representation of Cabernet Sauvignon. The mouthfeel is solid and also approachable. The structure is spot on! The flavors come to a climax and then they execute a perfect exit on the finish, slow and steady.

We made a break for the 1990’s and sipped the 1994 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a lovely bouquet. It evoked memories of dried flowers, fern, plum, and cedar.   This wine is dreamy in a visceral way. Instead of bringing you to a dreamland, it pulls you into it’s flavors and aromas and you almost “watch” the interplay between them. There were flavors of leather, cigar tobacco, and pipe smoke. This wine possesses layer upon layer of intricate and nuanced aromas and flavors. I got lost in this wine in the most delightful way.

We then went back to that magical decade of the 1980’s (It is magical because I am of the 1983 vintage). The 1984 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon had great acidity and structure. This wine ages incredibly well! This is the beauty of well crafted wine. It allowed us to taste from youngest to oldest. The bouquet on this wine was a scintillating mixture of stewed purple plum, black cherry, apricot, and the faintest hint of cola. The flavors were leather, pipe tobacco, scotch, and cedar. I want to live in this wine.

It was such a pleasure to taste wines that are meant to age and to see them as they have evolved over the decades.  This was a once in a lifetime wine experience and I am so grateful to have been able to take part in it.

4 Euro Short, TWO MORE PLEASE!

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This one time, in Paris, I was at a corner café new Notre Dame.  I was having a glass of wine with my friend Jordan who I was staying with.  A fair amount of the cafes in Paris have a 10 Euro minimum to take a card.  This cafe, however, had a 16 Euro minimum.  We were at a total of 12 Euro….SO WE GOT TWO MORE GLASSES.

May you always have the extra money you need for wine (I am stealing this life blessing for me, too!  It is hard being a poor college student!)

Cheers,

Mykha’el