Saturday, December 9, 2017

Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 3, 2017


bigstock-box-of-wine-on-the-plain-backg-26760620.jpgHello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included the newest releases from one of my favorite Pinot producers in California, Kutch Wines. I’ve told Jamie’s story at length here on Vinography, so I’ll skip the long version and simply say that the guy has been making some of the most exciting Pinot Noir in California, and now is doing the same thing with Chardonnay. These wines are not even released to his mailing list yet, so now’s your chance to get in line.

In addition, I’ve got another Pinot Noir from Foursight Wines in Anderson Valley, expressed with their usual delicacy. Their Sauvignon Blanc is also worth drinking.

kutch_sonoma_coast_bottle_no_vintage.jpgLast but not least, I’ve got a Mosel Riesling from a producer that I’m not familiar with, but they might know something about making Riesling since they’ve been doing it in the little town of Kesten since 1767, climbing the precariously steep slopes of broken slate to farm their vines. And at less than $20 it’s worth looking for.

All these and more below. Enjoy.

2016 Foursight Wines “Charles Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California
Palest greenish gold in color, this wine smells of Asian pears and golden delicious apples. In the mouth, crisp and snappy apple and pear flavors have a cool wet chalkboard minerality and a nice clean finish that has a whiff of white flowers. 12.8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2016 Kutch Wines Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, California
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, lemon pith and white flowers. In the mouth, beautifully bright and juicy flavors of lemon pith and white flowers have a faintly sappy SweetTart sourness that makes the mouth water as notes of saline and lemon oil linger in the finish. Outstanding. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 9.5. Cost: $50.

2014 Meirer “Kesten” Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany
Light greenish gold in color, this wine smells of crushed stones, sea air, and star fruit. In the mouth, lightly sweet flavors of star fruit, green apple and mandarin orange zest crackle with acidity. Nice floral notes linger in the finish. 8% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $19. click to buy.

2015 Foursight Wines “Clone 5” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California
Light ruby in color, only a few shades darker than a rosé, this wine smells of raspberry and raspberry leaf strained through freshly turned earth. In the mouth, sweetish flavors of raspberry pastilles and cherries have a wonderful juicy brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Only the faintest, barely perceptible wisp of tannins tickle the edges of the mouth, while notes of green herbs linger in the finish. 14.4% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $52. click to buy.

2016 Kutch Wines Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of green willow bark, raspberry and cherry. In the mouth, crystalline flavors of cherry and raspberry have a wonderful purity to them, and are draped in a light blanket of suede-like tannins. Beautifully long and finishes with a touch of herbs. 12.1% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $45.

2016 Kutch Wines “Bohan Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of green herbs and wet earth and red berries. In the mouth, suede-like tannins lightly grip otherwise silky flavors of raspberry, cherry and earth. Gorgeous acidity brings with it a touch of citrus peel brightness that combines with earth and freshly chopped herbs in the finish. 11.3% alcohol Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $70.

2016 Kutch Wines “Signal Ridge Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Mendocino Ridge, Mendocino County, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of redcurrant and raspberries and green wood bark. In the mouth, silky flavors of raspberry and redcurrant mix with darker notes of earth and herbs as ever-so-faint tannins brush the edges of the mouth. Gorgeous acidity and length with a wonderful minerality to it. 12% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $65.

2016 Kutch Wines “McDougall Ranch” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry and dried flowers. In the mouth, gorgeously juicy raspberry and cherry flavors have a faint gauzy texture of tannins. Beautiful cherry notes linger in the finish with hints of herbs. Excellent acidity. 12% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $65.

2016 Kutch Wines “Falstaff Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California
Light garnet in color, this wine smells of green herbs and raspberries and raspberry leaf. In the mouth, wonderfully bright cherry and raspberry flavors have a beautiful aromatic sweetness to them and a touch of cedar. Lightly tacky tannins linger in the finish along with notes of dried flowers and cherry cordials. Fantastic. This bottling isn’t usually my favorite of Kutch’s wines, but this year it’s shining. 12% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $65.


from Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 3, 2017


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Friday, December 8, 2017

Drinking the Past as California Burns


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Light night, even as flames roared through the chaparral of Southern California, I attended a wine tasting event to benefit fire relief in Northern California. The mood was quite somber as many of us reflected on how far from complete are the relief efforts in our own back yard, let alone what will be needed when the maelstrom settles in Southern California.

It is, however, not so easy to remain somber while tasting pieces of California history, especially when they are in spectacular shape, as some of the gems below were. Even up until about five years ago, many of these wines (the Diamond Creek wines excepted) could be bought for a song. Or more specifically $25 to $45 on web sites such as WineBid.Com.

But thanks to growing interest and publicity, not the least of which was the spectacular wine program that Kelli White and her husband Scott Brenner put together at Press Restaurant in Napa, these wines have become both more sought-after, and consequently, more expensive.

Tasting such wines is a privilege and a treat, especially when some of them are older than yourself. The alchemy of time can work wonderful magic on well made wines, and transform them into flavors and aromas that are amazing.

And of course, time is also an enemy of these delicate bottles. Not all the wines were in perfect shape. Some far from it. But as many say, after 20 years there are no good wines, only good bottles. Each bottle, even in an unopened case of wine, will age differently, and those differences become magnified with time. And that’s before sunlight, oxygen, cork taint, brettanomyces, rot, heat and other dangers set in.

But when you get a bottle that has not only survived such vicissitudes, but grown profound, the experience can be quite moving. Tasting wine older than oneself can lean towards profundity, when it is not merely delicious.

Here are a few old gems from California, cracked open to celebrate the state, and to collect some badly needed funds for fire relief, to which I was happy to contribute.

IMG_9017.JPG1982 Diamond Creek “Red Rock Terrace” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Dark ruby with brown edges, this wine smells of wet felt and herbs. In the mouth, tight tannins clench around herbs, a touch of smoked meets and dirt. Angular and narrow in its expression, there’s still some beauty in the austerity. Rain and heavy crops meant tougher harvest this year. Tasted out of magnum. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $195. click to buy.

IMG_9018.JPG1982 Diamond Creek “Gravelly Meadow” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium to dark ruby tinged with coffee, this wine smells of herbs and dried fruit and graphite. In the mouth, pencil lead and dried fruit are balanced by dried herbs and wrapped tightly in a skein of muscular tannins. Good acidity and a long finish help this austere wine, but it remains tightly wound and narrow in its expression. A tricky vintage dodging the rain. Tasted out of magnum. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $300. click to buy.

IMG_9019.JPG1982 Diamond Creek “Volcanic Hill” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Brownish brick red in color, this wine smells of graphite and leather and earth. In the mouth, tight muscular tannins wrap around a core of earth and green herbs and fried fruit. Angular and somewhat unforgiving. Were this wine 20 years younger I’d say give it more time, but sadly I fear it will not improve. Not an easy vintage. Tasted out of magnum. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $120. click to buy.

IMG_9020.JPG1989 Joseph Phelps “Insignia” Red Blend, Napa Valley
A strong medium ruby in the glass, showing the time dilation effects of such a large format bottle, this wine smells of dried herbs and leather. In the mouth, the wine is tight and angular, with a SweetTart sourness of cherry and leather and herbs. Not the best of vintages thanks to rain during harvest, and, well, it shows. Tasted out of a 5-liter bottle. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $175. click to buy.

IMG_9016.JPG1985 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium ruby in the glass with only a bit of orange hue at the rim, this wine smells of smoked meats and graphite and leather. In the mouth, herbs, graphite and leather wrap around the fading core of dried red fruit. Fine grained tannins hang at the edges of perception. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $85. click to buy.

IMG_9015.JPG1975 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A light coffee mocha color in the glass with lots of sediment, this wine smells of dirt and dried fruits. In the mouth, the wine simply tastes muddy, dried out and tired. This bottle is dead. A shame, because I’ve had some fantastic bottles of this wine. Score: around 6. Cost: $282. click to buy.

IMG_9013.JPG1965 Heitz Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
A light ruby with orange highlights in the glass, this wine has a stunning aroma of bacon fat, fresh herbs, and red fruit. In the mouth, gorgeously silky flavors of dried flowers, dried berries, leather and herbs have a slightly saline character that, along with fantastic acidity, makes the mouth water. Stunningly bright and delicious, this wine is in spectacular shape. This particular bottle was quite unusual, as it is actually a magnum champagne bottle, that for some reason Joe Heitz and Narsai David filled with their Cabernet in 1965. Remarkable, and about as rare a bottle of California wine as you can find these days. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $260. click to buy.

IMG_9007.JPG1969 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma
A pale coffee and ruby shade in the glass, this wine has a heady aroma of mint and wet earth. In the mouth, beautiful cedar and cherry and leather flavors linger for a long while on the palate. Excellent acidity. Score: around 9. Cost: $75 click to buy.

IMG_9012.JPG1985 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Medium brownish red in the glass with fine sediments, this wine smells of dried herbs, earth, and leather with a touch of mint. In the mouth, leathery flavors of dried fruits and dirt are quite savory and angular. There’s something to enjoy here in this wine, but it’s fleeting in its floral leatheriness and savory herbs. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.

IMG_9010.JPG1986 Silver Oak “Bonny’s” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
Medium ruby in the glass but browning considerably with lots of fine sediment, this wine smells of camphor wood and peat. In the mouth, camphor wood and moth ball flavors mix with dried fruit and leather. This bottle has not aged well and is quite nasty. Score: between 6.5 and 7. Cost: $600 (magnum). click to buy.

IMG_9008.JPG1994 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
Medium ruby in the glass with a touch of brick, this wine smells of earth and graphite and forest floor. In the mouth, dark and rich flavors of raisins, chocolate and cherry have a wonderful brightness thanks to still-excellent acidity. Great length. Tasted out of Magnum from one of California’s storied (very warm) vintages. Score: around 9. Cost: $125. click to buy.

IMG_9011.JPG1990 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
A strong medium ruby in the glass with only a bit of brick red at the rim, this wine appears yet quite youthful. It smells of graphite, mint, and dried herbs. In the mouth beautifully supple, powdery tannins support very pretty, aromatically sweet flavors of cherry, graphite, and dried herbs with a touch of mint and leather. Beautifully balanced with a long finish. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $115. click to buy.


from Drinking the Past as California Burns


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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 12/3/17


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Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

A New Age in Abruzzo
Robert Camuto catches us up

The Magic of Blanc de Blancs Champagne
It’s December, time to write about sparkling wine, everyone.

Can Money Buy Taste?
We all know the answer to that one.

The Canadian Sparkling Wine Region You Need to Know About
And not just because I say so.

Yamanashi Prefecture is a paradise for connoisseurs of wine, craft beer and whisky
With any luck I’ll verify this personally in a few weeks.

The Small Village that Houses the World’s Best Champagne
Roger Voss on Le Mesnil

The Complete Guide to Ice Wine
An excellent primer

The Ancient King Of Wine Barolo Faces Modern Challenges
Tom Mullen takes stock.

Natural Wine is a Runaway Train, and it Might be Time to Hit the Brakes
Jamie Goode observes

How to Become a Master of Wine
Almost a step-by-step guide

Jefford on Monday: Alcohol labelling – taste first, then look
Andrew suggests cognitive bias.

What Happens When a Somm Takes a Break from Drinking?
The “Sober October” chronicles

Sexual harassment in the wine trade: when will the other bottle break?
The wine and food industry are not paragons of virtue.

Life, Sustainably: Pascaline Lepeltier, Master Sommelier, On Pivoting Toward Balance
Cathy Huyghe talks with Pascaline.

5 Trends For The Future Of Wine, From Master Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier
And Cathy keeps talking with Pascaline.

Five Wine Books to Give This Holiday Season
Eric Asimov does his yearly review.

Why Some Wine Writing Today Reminds Me of a Woody Allen Movie
Dorothy Gaiter says she’s seen it all before

The Thugs of the Wine Industry Respond
Juicy, this one.


from Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 12/3/17


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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 26, 2017


bigstock-box-of-wine-on-the-plain-backg-26760620.jpgHello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included one of the most successful blends of Marsanne and Viognier I’ve ever had. These two white grapes, grown on either end of the Rhone river valley in France are not often blended together, and when they are, one or the other grape variety often sticks out like a sore thumb. This white blend from Troon Vineyards in Southern Oregon, however, was delicious and beautifully balanced between the characters of these two distinctive grapes.

Also in the white department I got a bottle of Riesling from one of the top producers in Germany’s Pfalz region, Müller-Catoir, which was beginning to show some of the characteristics that older Rieslings can offer.

Moving on to reds, Troon also offered a very nice Grenache this week, but the indisputable star of this week’s tasting was the 2014 Cabernet bottling from Spottswoode, which is one of my favorite producers in Napa. This bottle is everything a good Napa Cabernet can be, powerful, refined, and delicious. Give it 5 years and watch it sing.

spottswoode_2014_cab.jpgI also tasted a couple more interesting samples from Chateau Picoron, a tiny 12 acre estate in the Cotes de Bordeaux Castillon Appellation. The estate has been producing wine since 1551, but the estate was recently purchased by a husband and wife from Australia.

All these and more below. Enjoy.

2016 Troon Vineyard “Kubli Bench Blanc – White Family Vineyard” White Blend, Southern Oregon
Light yellow-gold in color, this wine smells of fresh peaches and pears with a hint of vanilla caramel. In the mouth, wonderfully juicy pear and peach flavors mix with a bit of more exotic vanilla and herbs. Excellent acidity and length. A very successful blend of 55% Marsanne and 45% Viognier. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2013 Müller-Catoir Riesling Trocken, Pfalz, Germany
Light greenish gold in color, this wine smells of wet chalkboard and a touch of diesel fuel layered over top of mandarine orange peel. In the mouth, zingy flavors of mandarine orange, pear and wet chalkboard have a tart, mouth-tingling brightness thanks to fantastic acidity. The wine reads as dry, with very little sweetness perceptible on the palate. Refreshing and delicious. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2016 Troon Vineyard Grenache, Rogue Valley, Oregon
Light ruby in the glass, this wine smells of strawberry jam and incense. In the mouth, faint powdery tannins wrap around a core of strawberry and cedar and a touch of earth. Good acidity and length. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $25. click to buy.

2014 Chateau Picoron “Les Terrasses” Merlot, Castillon – Cotes de Bordeaux, France
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry and plum flavors. In the mouth, gorgeously juicy flavors of plum and cherry have a touch of earthy woodiness to them and a hint of mocha. Fine grained tannins and excellent acidity round out this delicious mouthful. 14% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $20.

2015 Chateau Picoron Red Blend, Castillon – Cotes de Bordeaux, France
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried cherries and black cherry fruit. In the mouth, darker notes of raisins and black cherry nevertheless remain juicy thanks to excellent acidity. Faint but muscular tannins coat the mouth and linger with a touch of earth and cherry. Riper than other wines from this producer I’ve had, and perhaps less compelling for it. Alcohol level not on label. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $20.

2014 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and tobacco leaf and a touch of pencil shavings. In the mouth, gorgeous and juicy flavors of cherry and tobacco and espresso are gripped in a muscular fist of fine-grained tannins. Fantastic acidity keeps the fruit juicy and the finish is long and aromatic with cedar and cocoa powder. Outstanding. Contains 10% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petite Verdot. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $ 190. click to buy.

2015 Bella Union Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, Napa, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of candied cherries and plums. In the mouth, very bright and juicy flavors of candied cherry and cola mix with cocoa powder and a touch of vanilla. Slightly confectionary in quality, but a crowd pleaser to be sure. The oak is quite well integrated and not overwhelming. Excellent acidity and length. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $80. click to buy.

2014 Sutro “Warnecke Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and oak and cassis. In the mouth, cherry, cassis and cola flavors are gripped tightly by muscular tannins and dusted with the sweet vanilla of oak. The wood, while present isn’t overwhelming, but does leave slightly drying tannins in its wake. Very good acidity. 14.8% alcohol Score: around 9. Cost: $50. click to buy.

2014 Ackerman Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville, Napa, California
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis and violets. In the mouth, rich and slightly grapey black cherry and cassis flavors have an oaky sweetness that many will love, but which I find slightly overdone. Good acidity and fine grained tannins but overall a bit sweet and ripe for my tastes. 14.1% alcohol. 140 cases produced. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $85. click to buy.


from Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 26, 2017


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Ten #WBC


10 years of Wine Blogger Conferences

10 years of Wine Blogger Conferences

A decade of anything seems significant in a world that gets its dander up about Twitter expanding from 140 to 240 characters. However, a decade needs more than even the new verbosity now found on Twitter can handle. Ironically, the decade and the event I’m thinking about was mainly documented in 140 character bursts on Twitter.

Having just attended my tenth Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC), which is all of them by-the-by, I can’t help but take some time to contemplate the changes in the conference and the industry over the last ten years. As that’s a topic worth far more Twitter can contain, it would seem that blogging about it is a rather obvious idea.

In ten years, WBC has gone from a wine hackers party of rebels in year one to a decidedly establishment event. I am sure it is more profitable now – it certainly looks that way – but the edginess is gone that existed in the early years, both of which are probably good things. If WBC could not show a profit it would have disappeared years ago. The edge is gone because the genre has matured and that’s the natural way of things. Wine blogging is not cutting edge anymore as well proven by wine blogs that have become the wine corner of the Internet’s equivalent of “newspapers of record”. I remember how exciting it was to discover Alder Yarrow’s Vinography in 2004. Then it seemed subversive, today it is a standard recognized as important by wine writers of all stripes.

In year one, 2008, the conference was controlled more by the attendees than the organizers. Held at the delightfully kitschy Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, in the heart of Sonoma wine country, at #WBC08 you were more likely to find a bigger crowd by the pool pulling corks than in the seminars. Sonoma was the perfect place to host this first year as there were a lot of rebel winemakers there too. In the evenings we took over an undecorated conference room where many dozens of bottles of wine contributed by the bloggers, not the sponsors, were shared in a free-form bacchanalia. There was no controlling this crowd and no one tried.

It cannot be forgotten that the original crew that attended the first WBC was a creation of Twitter. In those days, Twitter was more like a chat room, not at all like the behemoth it has become. We had all met each other online and had become a community before we ever met each other at #WBC08. Meeting in person all of these people that had become your friends online instantly transformed the experience into a celebration – a celebration of new friendships that continue to this day.

Perhaps sensing the un-conference in years to come, a group of us did not stay at the hotel, but at the beautiful vineyard home of @PinotBlogger (Josh Hermsmeyer). My other roommates were @LennThompson and @WineHiker (Russ Beebe). It was here that the first “going rogue” party happened, but we did not know it at the time. Dozens of wine bloggers descended on our house that night and it is impossible to guess how many bottles were opened and shared. It was a good thing the house was out in the country as I am sure any neighbors would not have been pleased.

Needless to say, after such an experience few who attended year one missed year two.

The success of the first year meant that in the years following the inmates lost control of the asylum. But this was not to last for long as soon the un-conference, so named at the first year of WBC, would return. There needed to be a place for the old guard, the hackers. Over the years, the original crew would be joined by like-minded wine bloggers as they lost their newbie status and started to understand the real value of the event. That value is the community and the event itself is simply a framework to bring us all together.

The organizers of the Wine Bloggers Conference have a real dilemma. How do you create a conference that will please both veterans and newbies? The answer is simple, you can’t. This conflict was sure to mean an un-conference would have to exist. The un-conference is not an insult to the organizers or the event, but is a natural expression of the maturity of the event and the complexity of the now wide range of people that call themselves wine bloggers. In my opinion, it adds richness and a depth to the event that keeps the veterans coming back for more.

The tenth conference, #WBC17 was held at the Hyatt Santa Rosa, quite a contrast to the original site at the Flamingo. There is nothing kitschy about a Hyatt. Smooth and professional from start to finish, the Wine Bloggers Conference reflects the state of wine blogging today. No longer a just a bunch of wine hackers, wine blogging too has become smooth and professional. A quick look at Twitter today and you’ll find wine bloggers being whisked off, all expenses paid, to wine regions all over the world, their published words now just as coveted by wine marketers as those in the increasingly irrelevant glossy wine magazines.

Going Rogue dinner #WBC17 in Santa Rosa

Going Rogue dinner #WBC17 in Santa Rosa

There have been many WBC highlights over the years: Walla Walla, Penticton, Finger Lakes, Willamette/Portland come to mind right away. At every event, other than year two, I have been a host of a un-conference event. But it was not until #WBC11 (the fourth conference) in Virginia that my, now annual, WBC un-conference Saturday night dinner came into being. What started as a few people escaping in search of better food and air conditioning (summer in Virginia!) evolved year-after-year into a WBC tradition. I will say that none of this would have happened without my friend and un-conference dinner partner-in-crime Thea Dwelle (@LusciousLushes). I am always honored by those that attend my humble dinners, while they may not have the elegance of the events at the big corporate winery sponsors, they do have the best conversations and, if I say so myself, more interesting wines and people.

Now that the hackers have lost control of the conference itself, un-conference events are the only way left for wineries that are hackers to share their wines with WBC attendees. The costs of official sponsorship at WBC are now simply out the range of small wineries. I, for one, will refuse to give up on WBC, but from here on out you’ll only find my wines at the un-conference and, of course, at my dinner.

#WBC18 will be in Walla Walla once again. A wonderful town and wine region. However, reflecting the now corporate nature of WBC, they have planned the event in October. That means during harvest, which means actual winemakers will, at best, have a difficult time participating. I understand why the organizers are not concerned as most winery representatives that attend don’t get their hands very dirty during harvest. Marketing and sales directors will have no problem attending and, perhaps, this better represents what the conference is about today. However, I will be there at least one day. There is a dinner tradition I need to keep up.

A WBC without a un-conference would be soulless, like a wine without terroir. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to find all the wine hackers at #WBC18 on Twitter. We’ll be pulling corks with the same passion we did in year one.

See you at #wbc18alt.

Going Rogue Dinner #WBC15 in Corning New York

Going Rogue Dinner #WBC15 in Corning New York



from Ten #WBC


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I'll Drink to That: Wine Writer Patrick Comiskey


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Episode 436 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Patrick Comiskey, a wine writer for both Wine & Spirits Magazine and the Los Angeles Times. He is also the author of American Rhône: How Maverick Winemakers Changed the Way Americans Drink.

Winemakers with tons of personality and an anti-establishment vibe. Agit prop writing extolling a pioneer spirit and a new wine revolution. Wines offered with immediate drinking in mind. Fun gatherings that became semi-legendary. Extensive media excitement surrounding wines that aren’t stuffy. An inherent tension between possibly making wines that you can drink right out of the gate, and wines that might be more serious and terroir-driven. These statements might reasonably describe the current Natural Wine scene, which is flourishing right at this moment. But Patrick Comiskey never mentions Natural Wine in his interview. Instead, Patrick applies these descriptions to the Rhône Rangers movement of American winemakers using Rhône grape varieties, and his contention is that the Rhône Rangers of the 1980s pioneered an attitude and a marketing effort that has been recycled by other new entrants into the American wine market many times over. He argues, for instance, that the Anything But Chardonnay! rallying cry that brought Viognier to prominence was subsequently taken up by any number of other the possibilities vying for market share. His point is that the Rhône Rangers were a spearhead for all the market change that then followed, as drinkers moved away from a stasis of Cab/Merlot and Chard/SB. Is it true that we as consumers constantly return to the same tropes, but in new bottles? That is something you’ll have to decide for yourself as Patrick breaks down his case, and as he pulls together historical anecdotes and draws on several interviews with winemakers to add color.

Listen to the stream above, or check it out on Apple Podcasts, on Stitcher, Google Play Music or check it out on YouTube.

I’ll Drink to That is the world’s most listened-to wine podcast, hosted by Levi Dalton. Levi has had a long career working as a sommelier in some of the most distinguished and acclaimed dining rooms in America. He has served wine to guests of Restaurant Daniel, Masa, and Alto, all in Manhattan. Levi has also contributed articles on wine themes to publications such as The Art of Eating, Wine & Spirits magazine, Bon Appetit online, and Eater NY. Check out his pictures on Instagram and follow him on Twitter: @leviopenswine


from I’ll Drink to That: Wine Writer Patrick Comiskey


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Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/26/17


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Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Tavel: The Fourth Wine
Meg Maker on classy rosé.  

Netherlands Poised to Gain First PDO Wine Region
Dutch wine!

Jefford on Monday: La Livinière and the lion race
Andrew Jefford backs the dark horse.

Wine-making At the Foot of Snow-covered Kazakh Mountains
Very pretty.

Giving the Champagne Flute Some Well-Deserved Love and Support
Jameson Fink likes an underdog.

Competitors Circle Amazon’s Wine Business
Liza Zimmerman reports.

Where Burgundy meets New Zealand
Elaine Brown reports on an unusual collaboration.

Time to learn Portuguese?
Jancis does her best.

Luigi Veronelli: The Italian Wine Journalist Who Fought for Passion
Catherine Todd gets to spend an evening “with” Luigi Veronelli

Wine Country Still Hurting After Fires
A long road ahead.

What Hugh saw in California
Hugh Johnson visits after the fires.

Calm down, dear
Sarah Abbott talks gender

How does a 1918 Lafite hold up in 2017? We found out in a wine tasting at UH
Lucky people get to taste old wines.

Why Zinfandel Lovers Should Head to Croatia
Not just for the wine.

Online wine auctions become $50m market
Ella Lister on the changing auction market.

En primeur wine futures system loses authority
Prices can’t go up forever.

How to digitally downsize your wine cellar
“Excess wine” — definitely a first world problem

California winemakers face life after fires
A report from a British point of view

How High Elevation Wines are Taking Spain to New Heights
Some surprising wines in here for sure.

Switzerland: Your Unexpected Next Wine Destination
Says Vogue.

Wine-loving Edina software geek wants to help you create ‘great memories’
iPad wine list guy talks to Bill Ward.

For Savennieres, Age Comes With Benefits
Eric Asimov puts Americans through the challenges of Savennieres.

Goblet of fire: how spat-out wine is being turned into spirits
Distilled from….spit?

Australian Wine That’s Crazier Than a Coconut
Rootstock is where it’s at.

Different kinds of alcohol might make you feel different emotions
This is the viral news story of the week.

Sales of dry sherry soar as hipster generation drives revival
But still good news.

Fine Wine Might Be One of the Safest Investments for Your Money
Read the caveat emptor bit at the bottom before you buy.

Hungary’s wine scene a hidden gem
Yes indeed!

New Translation of Medieval Arab Poetry in Praise of Wine to be Released
The world needs more poetry about the world’s most poetic drink.

How a Comedy Website Came to Sell Wine to Survive
A modern business story.

Anson: Fifty shades of green – Wine’s big new debate?
Everyone wants the sustainable label, for myriad reasons, some good, some bad.

Colorado Wine Lovers Have A New Hero: The State’s First Master Of Wine
And another great woman joining the ranks.

After The Worst Fire In 40 Years, Wine Still Flows In Napa Valley
Business as usual. Please visit.

Selling Your Italian Wine to the US Market – My 15 Minute Talk
This man knows of what he speaks after 40 years.


from Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 11/26/17


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