Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nitty Gritty Scop: Danger No Floor

There is a distinct disconnect between wine bloggers and the wine industry.  I’d like to think that each path will eventually merge, or at least meet up for a glass, but from what I experienced recently at the 2011 North American Wine Bloggers Conference, Charlottesville, VA that meet and greet seems rather unlikely at this particular moment in time.  As my brother informed me today though, “you have high hopes teen.”  Indeed I do.
I refuse to write a diatribe; long, unbroken paragraphs about what everyone else is writing--lame.  Instead, I want to relate my first impressions of events, only because first impressions can be skewed, often quite funny and sometimes downright insulting, but I can always argue, hey, it was just a first impression, don’t take it seriously.  Or should we?
First Impressions #WBC11
International Wine Tasting Night:  queue Disney World’s, “it’s a small world, after all, it’s a small world after all.”  Insert creepy puppets.
Registration and Meet the Sponsors:  fantastic, lots of meet and greet or just plain gawking.
JR’s keynote:  American wine bloggers suck
Friday Breakout Sessions:  hmmm, where’s dinner? I should have stayed w the hubs in the room for a quick shag like he wanted.  But noooo, I had to be on time.
Monticello Meet the Winemakers:  So earthy…no, that’s body odor.  Hey, I’d rather suck in a little ass—it’s more preferable than perfume (this is especially for that gauche blogger at the Tom Work panel Sunday.) And by the way Tom, you were at fault.  Perspired profusely, but damn, those winemakers are hardcore.  Have to give them credit for not keeling over in the heat. True farmers.
Seriously, hot shrimp and grits? It’s frakking 103 degrees! But that iced tea was kick ass.
The Other 46 Tasting:  for reals? Oh, there’s baguette and packaged cheese. Lovely.
Wine Bloggers:  cliquish, rude, like to drink, passionate wine writers, weird, lacking tasting etiquette, need a serious wardrobe overhaul…some really cool people.
Virginia Wine Industry’s History, Geology and Business Climate:  LOVE Gabriele Rausse.  Really, Mr. VAtech guy, Virginia’s geology isn’t related to winemaking?  Really?  Jesus. David King:  tourism!
Local Vineyards:  Fantastic!  Hospitality went beyond what I was expecting.  Pippin Hill was the bomb and Veritas winemaker Andy was a blast! Did you know he was a neurologist?
EA: got a much-needed 20 minute nap, latter half was good.
Cognac:  Before dinner? Really? They seemed nice, I felt bad.  Rep was trying to speak w a defective audio system while one “blogger” in suspenders had his back to her during her entire speech.  Hello, she’s giving away free cognac! Krikey.
Somm emcee:  if only he was an MS, then I could say, “hey, it’s kinda funny that the majority of MSs I know, what they lack in height they make up for in ebullience. (we’re both from Jersey, I can say this.)
Meeting the award winners in a panel discussion would have been nice, to learn what they do and how they do it, but no.
Rioja Crawl:  the best:  Feast! You guys rocked.  They normally close at 6pm, but they boogied until way after midnight.  True food and wine artisan troopers.
Saturday night “after party”:  I brought a magnum of 2004 Chateau Montelena Cab, 1998 Justin Syrah and 2008 A Tribute to Grace Grenache.  I opened Justin first, went around pouring and I got to someone who is well-known in the blogging circles and his response, “what is it? Sure.” It was late, he’s older. Bridget, Kitty, Jen—good times!

Random, disembodied first-impressionisms:
Where’s the journalism?  And for that matter, where’s the beef?  (that’s funny, I’m not a big beef eater.)
The pompousness polluted the air, but again, just glad it wasn’t perfume.
Couldn’t we have had serious glasses?
Wine bloggers blogging is like my telling you I stubbed my toe.  (no, seriously, I stubbed my toe.)
Tweeting at the conference seemed surreal, as though I was transported back to grammar school and we’re passing notes about Johnny and doesn’t his hair look so absolutely dreamy today.  But whatever, I’ve never been overly verbose.
Do you spit, or swallow?
The wine industry is incredibly small, whether you’re in it or writing about it.  I appreciated every wine rep and winemaker who attended.  That cost them money, just like it cost me.  It’s tough to pour your life’s work for people who aren’t spitting.  There was a lot of wine at this conference and only a handful of folks were spitting.
There were several bloggers who reached out and made efforts to truly make my experience worthwhile—thank you, you know who you are.  Let’s put all my bitching into context:  first impressions only.  And at the end of the day, it was MY choice to attend, MY responsibility to reach out.  And if I didn’t get what I wanted, it is MY fault.  But I think I have a better understanding of how to make it better for me:  without a doubt, reach out to folks before the conference, arrange lunch or coffee.  And by all means, say hello to as many people as possible.  No one will remember you if you don’t take that first step, you know, make an impression—Find your Voice!
PS Scop:  There should be a caption on future badges that says something like:  I’m a wbc newbie, please for the love of wine, someone talk to me before I bust some caps in all your asses. Something like that.


Friday, July 22, 2011

It's no Willows Lodge

Wine Bloggers Conference 2011.
Interesting and super nice folks, wine-centric, majority are crazy about Virginia wines.  And for good reason.  (more on Virginia wines a little later.)

I'm saving most info and thoughts for later in the weekend--I need to hit registration downstairs in minutes.  But I will confess that there will be a "Nitty Gritty Scop" post.  Oh yes, there will be.

Looking forward to the discussions today, especially "Drink Local".  I'm dying to know what everyone thinks of the issue.

Talk soon,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bare Feet Sipping

So I had my first virtual tasting through Twitter last Wednesday.  Needless to say, I couldn't find the correct wines, but found some comparable, my old machine couldn't keep up with the volume of tweets (I swear it groaned at one point), waking at 5am and staying awake for a 7-9pm tasting wasn't working out too well, so by 8:30 my contacts were sticking to my eyeballs and I lost interest.  (Not with the wines, mind you.)

Nonetheless, it was fun to be a small part of a larger picture, and, best of all, I didn't have to get dressed up--bare feet ya'll--awesome!!!  I jotted down my overall perceptions of each wine below.  what the? (so I'm sitting here minding my own business and I start hearing this eerie, high-pitched "music" and damnit if it isn't a little bastard of a mosquito! I hate these damn things.  And by the way, I'm still on my quest to find wines that when consumed regularly, will repel the little monsters, not unlike vampires and garlic.)

Very quick as to why Viognier does well here:  the grapes are thick-skinned with loose clusters, which means that works in the humidor we call the Virginia countryside.  Anyhell, my wines, from my own Virginia Viognier private dancer tasting:

Horton Vineyards, 2010 Viognier Orange County
Bright, pale gold.  The wine doesn't jump out of the glass and shout “hello” like most Viogniers, rather its scents lure your beak into the glass, gently, with fragrances of sage blossom honey, lightly roasted pineapple and a touch of lime.  Palate structure is racy, with lemon/lime notes and honeyed spice.  The Horton finishes with a tang of gasoline (not petrol), which, I gotta say, I'm digging.  I've heard only good things about winemakers Dennis and Sharon Horton.  A fabulous Viognier. (And as a side note, I didn’t finish the entire bottle—ha! So I corked it, placed it back in the fridge and I opened it last night, just to see, and it held up alright.  I used the rest for a pasta dish.) Verra nice.

Keswick Vineyards, 2005 Viognier Monticello
I thought trying a 2005 against all the young studs would be enlightening to the possible longevity of Virginia Viognier, so here goes:
Yellow-gold in the glass, which generally means the wine has some age.  But is she wearing it well?  Nose is definitely honeyed mangoes and peaches, acids are present, taking a supporting role, but there is an older vanilla scent, not bad, could just be the inevitable approaching.  The finish lingered well, with the taste of peaches on my tongue.  So quite an interesting older wine from Al and Cindy Schornberg, and at 6 years, I think the 2005 could have a few more years left in her.  Nicely done.

All in all a fun evening, although I did lurk on the Twitter.  (is that correct terminology?)  So this upcoming weekend is the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville and I must say I'm quite excited.  No more lurking! This will be a live blogging and tweeting event.  I also plan to get some feedback on a paper my geologist friend and I have been tooling around, concerning Virginia's burgeoning wine evolution and if its terroir can support it.  We'll see what happens.

later gator,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Snow in dark places

Hmmm... what to drink upon discovering a snowy white hair in the nostril?

That's easy, my friend Angela's A Tribute to Grace 2008 Grenache, Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard, bottle 1909 of 2112.  Wine teaches us how to live...gracefully.



Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sea of Change, #44

Been a couple weeks since a post, so let's get up to speed, shall we:
--since moving back to the east coast, we had our first, multi-family vaca in LBI this past week.
--the very first night, my little 12 year old Doberman, Sara Belle, became sick and passed away 3 July.
--stayed most of the week for the kids, but just couldn't do it anymore and left just one day early.
--back at the house we rented for Sara, but now every room is just a painful reminder of her absence.
--this coming Monday will be the first time since 1997 that I'll be alone, (her brother Jacob passed in 2009)without the little pitter-patter of Doberman paws dancing on the floors.

I honestly thought it would be somewhat less painful with Sara.  When we let Jacob go, I immediately had to have Sara physically with us, so we picked her up and walked around Jacob's favourite park.  I still had her, we still were a family, Jacob being with us in spirit.  Sara was always the Hubbs':  they were Search and Rescue partners for years.  But I suppose since she retired, we spent more time together, especially since we moved.  We had a routine:  wake up with Hubbs, quick pee break, then back to bed.  Rise at 0630, eat breakfast, head out for our walk soon after.  Pee break and walk around 1200, then a snack.  Dinner about 1600, then out again for her evening walk. She slept with us, she went just about everywhere with us and if she couldn't, we just didn't go.  We stayed home a lot.

And now she's gone and I'm realizing I'm no longer a dog mom.  I've got a little identity crisis going on in the Burg.  My good friend Eric reminded me of one of my earlier posts:  "Pain Births Clarity", and it really is true because I feel I'm shitting diamonds right about now.

Anyhell, life must go on, right?  Shit.  So tonight, on the evening before my first day quite alone, I plan to have a bottle which was gifted to me by my good friend Mike, who is the proud writer of http://www.ediblebabies.com/.  He gave it to me on a previous birthday, which is just around the corner, but I want this bottle because he attached a bandaid to it, so hopefully it'll give me a little "fix".  Foxen, Tinaquaic Vineyard 2005 Cabernet Franc.

Godspeed Sara Belle.
I love you.