Archived entries for WBC12

Wente, Garnet and Renwood WTIS Virtual Tasting

Last week, I participated in a virtual tasting scheduled as the welcome reception for the Wine Technology Industry Symposium (WTIS) showcase.  WineTwits, who always does a wonderful job with these tastings, recruited Wente Vineyards, Garnet Vineyards and Renwood Winery to participate.  We had the chance to try one wine from each vineyard.

It was quite the reunion with some of my favorite wine bloggers in participation and quickly the conversation feed launched into some great memories of past Wine Blogger’s Conferences (#wbc) and other opportunities we’ve had to get together over the years.  But the tasting began and we had the chance to focus in on three value wines under $20.

  • 2012 Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay (Livermore Valley – $13) – I tasted almond, pear, apple, lemon and toasted oak in this creamy goodness.  Half of the wine is barrel fermented in neutral American, French and Hungarian Oak with the other half fermented in stainless steel.  A very nice, well balanced wine for this price point.
  • 2011 Garnet Vineyards Pinot Noir (Monterey, $14.99) – Quite the steal for a Pinot Noir under $15.  This wine had a complexity not usually found at this price point with black cherry, black tea, plum, pine, cranberry and baking spice.  I asked Allison Crowe, the winemaker, and it is not yet available in Texas – I am sure hoping that will change.
  • 2010 Renwood Winery Premier Old Vine Zinfandel (Amador, $19.99) – had notes of molasses, fig, blueberry, pepper, herb and vanilla.  It was a little hot for me, but definitely got rave reviews from many of the bloggers.  This one begged for food that I didn’t have to match.

If you happen to see any of these in the Dallas area, definitely pick up a bottle and give them a shot.


Super Bowl: Santorini Style

 

It was time for the Super Bowl game and we were invited to a friend’s house for an impromptu get together.  It was a sunny day with weather in the 60’s, I knew we’d have some rich snacks, and since I am never one to follow the beaten path, I grabbed some sample wines from Santorini.  These wines impressed me when I tried them at the Wine Bloggers Conference (#wbc12) in Portland and I was ready to give them the focus that they deserved.

It’s funny how things come full circle. I’m asked often about my favorite wine experience ever.  Mine happened to come while I was in Greece before I knew anything about wine.  My husband had just received his MBA and we hadn’t seen much of each other while he was in school.  We decided that we would take a vacation that we couldn’t afford and visited Turkey and then some of the Greek Islands.  One day we were on Santorini with our trusted Foder’s book in tow.  Most of the restaurants that had four stars had price tags that matched the number of stars given, except for one which had the single “$” sign next to it.  We soon found ourselves in a courtyard with a Greek family who served us fresh fish, Greek salad, hummus and the most wonderful crisp and dry wine that I’ve ever had.  It was amazing and still tops my list of wine/food experiences.

Santorini, while also an island, is a Greek wine region located in the southern Cyclades Islands of the Aegean Sea.  The wines became famous because of the Assyrtiko wines, the island’s flagship grape, commonly referred to as a “white grape in red’s clothing” because of the full-bodied and age-worthy wines produced.

We tried several wines including:

  • Domaine Sigalas, Assyrtiko White 2011 – a delightful white with minerality and notes of citrus.  This was definitely a crowd favorite and one that I will seek out in the future. As it opened, I liked it more and more.
  • Santorini Nykteri 2010 – Nykteri means “working the night away” in Greek as it was traditionally harvested at night due to the hot temperatures.  I tasted citrus, nuttiness, pear and notes of flowers.  This wine begged for food that would stand up to its finish.  Our salty snacks didn’t do it justice.
  • Vin Santo Boutari 06 – this is a sweet wine produced from sun-dried grapes. I tasted maple, dried raisins, caramel and honey.  I immediately craved Baklava.

These wines not only were drinkable today, but have the ability to age.  Based on this experience, I’m going to invest in a few bottles and see what happens in the next decade.  Or on second thought, maybe I’ll drink them today.

 


Dallas Wine Chick Celebrates Three Year (Almost) Anniversary Featuring Richard Simmons

 

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I was just gearing up to write the three year anniversary column for the launch of Dallas Wine Chick.  I was excited that this little blog had grown substantially over the past 1,000 plus days and was going to give a big shout out to you, my readers, for making this such a great community.

Then the Klout notice hit my inbox.  To be honest, I usually don’t pay much attention to Klout, especially since it goes to my personal Yahoo account, which I check about once a week.  Those who know me know that there are much faster ways to find me via email.  But, I clicked and saw that I had a pretty high score of 63.  I needed to investigate why.  When I clicked on my list of influential subjects, here were some of the highlights:

  • Shiraz (okay, that seems right)
  • Dining (well, maybe I do eat out more than I should)
  • Oregon (get that from the Wine Bloggers Conference – #wbc12)
  • Vancouver (that is where the next Wine Bloggers Conference is scheduled and I can’t go due to a pre-scheduled family vacation – #wbc13, so that’s on point)
  • Facebook (um… okay? Maybe from the Dallas Wine Chick Facebook page?)
  • Shoes (well, that’s probably true.  I have a Jimmy Choo problem)
  • Dallas (on target)
  • Training (workouts maybe?)
  • Riesling (on point)
  • Tequila (I think they got the wrong Ofenloch)
  • College (since I haven’t been there since 1992, I think this must be because of my love for Auburn)
  • Richard Simmons (come again?)

Richard Simmons?  After writing a column a week for three years almost exclusively about wine, I get Klout for Richard Simmons?  Now I’m not knocking Milton Teagle Simmons, a.k.a., Richard, and what he’s done to get lots of overweight people to exercise, but I can’t connect the dots of Sweatin’ to the Oldies to a chick in Dallas who really likes wine.  So, how did this happen?

I went to Dallas Wine Chick and searched for Richard Simmons.  Perhaps I had too much to drink one night and slipped something past my editor?  Nope.  I went to Twitter and searched for Richard’s name.  Nope.  Tried again on Facebook and I just couldn’t find it.  I guess I’ll never know what crazy algorithm brought Richard and me together.

So on behalf of the two of us as of February 1, here’s wishing the Dallas Wine Chick blog a very happy birthday.  And, most of all, thank you for your support, comments and helping make this a great little community.


Post Conference Tour: #WBC12, Carlton Without Handcuffs

And then it was over.  Just like that.  But thankfully my post trip was about to begin.  The town of Carlton, where I had spent the #cuffedincarlton wine tour trip, was willing to have a group of us back for a two-day excursion with some of my most favorite wine bloggers.  We were picked up by the rocking party bus from the Doubletree with Motown music, couches and comfy seating where we were transported to Carlton’s “Walk in the Park” event featuring more than 30 Oregon wineries.  The event brought together some of Yamhill County’s best wineries and gave me the opportunity to spend some extra quality time with some of the people behind my favorite wines. 

 

A special shout out to Ken  Morrison from K&M, who was such an avid student on how to Tweet and was kind enough to continue the crazy chicken legacy.  BTW, he and his partner, Mauro Hernandez, make some pretty rocking Pinots that I can’t wait to receive once the weather breaks in Texas and my shipment arrives.

Lynn and Amy generously hosted us at Republic of Jam for cocktails and fabulous appetizers.  It was so fun to see the store that has become such a destination point and their vision brought to life.   I loved the craft cocktails made with so many of their products; they were just delicious. 

We had dinner at the Horse Radish, well those did that didn’t have a pork allergy (Carlton definitely loves its pork products), but they gave me a really nice salad and I was able to sneak across the street for a great turkey sandwich that I snuck into the hotel James Bond style.  I was able to share a bottle of Retour, one of my favorite Pinot Noirs who is owned by a dear friend of mine.

Marcy and I were assigned to the Casa della Valle B&B where we met Eve and Joe, the sweetest and kindest couple that treated us like dear friends.  Joe is an avid collector of some of the most classic toys and xxx has a huge collection of antiques.  Marcy and I had a blast getting to know them, learning about how they decided to start a B&B and finding more about their collections.  We were so excited to have been assigned to the B&B so we could get to know such an interesting couple (and the breakfast absolutely rocked).

The next morning, we had a private tour with Ken Wright, who in my mind is one of the “father’s” of Oregon Pinot.  Because there have been really great discussions on other blogs by attendees of WBC12 about Oregon terrior,  I have no need to recreate my version, so I’ll just talk more about Ken’s point of view from that day.  He talked about the wines doing so well because all of the conditions are right for Pinot Noir and the depth and how where the grapes are planted matter.  He called others to task who are growing Pinot grapes on the floor of the valley making poor wines and hurting the Oregon wine industry.  Ken has earned the right to have an opinion. 

He talked about how nutrition is key to making great wine and the plant is the ultimate report card.  Ken told a great story about seeking out a farmer in Washington State who was responsible for growing a specific apple for the Japanese market who had 15-acres dedicated to doing only that.  Ken and his team visited the farmer who at the beginning of their discussion peeled one of his apples and took them on a tour of the vineyard.  When they returned, the apple had not aged a bit and was “freaking unbelievable.”  This further solidified that each plant must be allowed to take its fruit to the ultimate stage.  Microbiology and protecting the fruit is so important – not only for wine, but for the fruits and vegetables that we eat daily.

We tried two of his wines – the Ken Wright Cellars Abbott Claim, Yamhill-Carlton AVA, which was lush with stone fruit, cassis and spice.  Our next wine was the Ken Wright Cellars Carter, Eola-Amity AVA, which was much more mellow in nature with blueberry, cherry and plum.  Totally different vineyard, totally different terrior and elevation.  Cool experiment!

Our next stop was Lemelson Vineyards, a 160 acre, carbon-neutral facility, focused on producing certified organic wines.  The winery owns seven estate vineyard sites located in Yamhill-Carlton, Dundee Hills and Chehalem Mountain.  We started with a glass of 2011 Dry Riesling, which was full of tropical notes and was very enjoyable.  We then toured “the Starship Enterprise,” the winery’s gravity flow facility designed by Steve Cornish, who also designed Palmaz Vineyards (link).  After we climbed up the ladder of this high tech wonder with our glass of 2010 Tikka’s Run Pinot Gris, I didn’t time my ladder climb with the person ascending before me and ended up covered with Pinot Gris and a broken glass.  Lesson learned – make sure you get your timing right if climbing a ladder with a glass of wine in hand. 

Anthony King, the wine maker and his wife Kara, talked about the collegial community of winemakers in the region.  We then tasted some of the same wines aged in different coopers – such a cool experience and it becomes easy to see why a winemaker pays $1,100 for a high-end barrel – aromas, flavors, smells are all different.  We adjourned to the porch and had the opportunity to taste several wines (most of which I ended up ordering – you will find that was a common theme of this day).

  • We tried the 2010 Thea’s Selection Pinot Noir (which of course I had to bring a bottle to @winebratsf , that was named after Dorothy (Eric’s mom), who wanted to be called Thea.  It was earthy, cherry and full of licorice.
  • Our next wine was the 2009 Mt. Richmond Vineyard Pinot Noir, which was very floral with bright fruit.
  • The 2009 Johnson Vineyard Pinot Noir was next, which needed some bottle time, but was full of rich notes and big fruit. 
  • We moved to the 2010 Jerome Reserve Pinot Noir, which is made of a different blend every year, and was my favorite Pinot.  Big depth, dark fruit and a fabulous wine. 
  • We ended with 2009 Oeneous Dessert Riesling with figs, which was a ridiculously fantastic match.

Our next stop was lunch at Cuvee, several tart flambées prepared by Chef Gilbert Henry, which happily did not contain all pork products.  The veggie and salmon ones made me very happy.  Belle Pente, Alexana and Carlo and Julia joined us for lunch and talked briefly about the wines that were paired with the lunch. 

I sat across from Felix Madrid, the owner and winemaker of Carlo and Julia, who talked about naming the winery after his twin sons (now 23!).  At five, his child smelled one of the wines and remarked, “dad, this smells like perfume.”  A child after my own heart and probably a pillar in the family business.

Then we did a speed dating of sorts with a number of wineries.  I don’t think that Carlton understood how much we liked their wines and we slowed down the schedule when we insisted on buying at every stop.  We visited Carlton Cellars, Valley Emporium, Noble Pig (loved the food/wine pairings), Terra Vina, Mouvance and Troon (super interesting and non-traditional wines like meritage, zinfandel and port).  I would have loved another hour at each place.

Thank you again to the City of Carlton, “the wine capital of Oregon” for rolling out the red carpet and making this group of bloggers feel special.  Your town has so much to offer and I can say with certainty that I will be returning as soon as possible.


Day Two, Wine Bloggers Conference 2012: 42 Hours of Wine, Key Learnings and Post Parties

Bless me father, for I have sinned.  I went to bed at 2 a.m. and needed to exercise, so I did.  And based upon what is waiting around every corner of the Wine Bloggers Conference, you’ll understand why.  Here is my roomie, Liza’s, morning breakfast of a lovely French wine and Voodoo Donuts.

While I missed the first session, I started my day with a session entitled “the winery view of wine bloggers” with Sasha Kady of Kings Estate, Christopher Watkins of Ridge Vineyards and Ed Thralis of Wine Tonight.  Sasha, Christopher and Ed are well known, well respected and well integrated wine people in the world of social media and what they had to say was a validation that my many unpaid hours spent on a passion made a difference.  The conversation was two-way; because that’s what these guys know how to do well, and why they are at the top of wineries that bloggers want to engage with in a meaningful way.

We had a very quick lunch at a food truck lot in Portland, where I had a fabulous Korean taco with extra, extra, extra spicy sauce.  As someone who usually is written off on spicy, this stand complied and I was very excited – especially for $5.50.

I attended “The Art of Oregon Pinot – A Clonal Tasting, which was a total wine geek tasting that I so enjoyed.  So basically, clones are separate organisms that are genetically identical to their predecessor, which is paramount to creating wines that reflect the qualities of different clones in Oregon Pinot Noirs.  Erath hosted our clonal tasting where we discussed the different terriors in Oregon and why the clones where so different.  We tried Pinot clones from Wädenswil and Pinot Noir Pommard as well as new Pinot Noir clones developed in France and at UC Davis to address disease problems and later to isolate vineyard characteristics such as early ripening, open clusters, and small berries including “115,” which had lots of red raspberry, red fruits and tasted of black pepper; “777,” with black fruits and vegetal notes, which was described as “slutty”; the Pommard UCD 4 clone, my favorite, which stood alone as a traditional Oregon pinot; and the blend, which incorporated  spice, but was rough at a young age. 

We moved on to the “Off the Beaten Path” seminar presented by Winebow with Sheri Sauter Morano, MW, and the most humbling session of the conference.  We had a blind tasting of seven wines, which I began with confidence, but ended with the realization that I have so much to learn.  In order, we tried the following wines:

  1.  Itasad Mendi, Hondarribi Zuri 2011 – Bizkaiko Txakolina is a small denomination that covers wines in the province of Vizcaya in Spain.  The wine is full of citrus, tropical and zesty minerality that left me guessing on a new wine, grape and region.
  2. Argiolas S’elagas Nuragus di Cagliari 2010 – apple, floral, nutty, floral with stone fruit.  This Sardinian wine kept me guessing.
  3. Cousino- Macul Sauvignon Gris 2011 – Maipo Valley in Chile.  Almost candy-like with starfruit, smoky notes with a crisp acidity.  A very interesting wine.
  4. Librandi Duca San Felice Ciro Rosso Riserva 2009 – Calabria in Italy.  Earthy, mocha, red cherry, kirsch, tobacco and a bit of meat.  Lots of structure.
  5. Weingu Heinrich Zweigelt 2008 – Austria.  Strawberry, all spice, red fruit and an earthiness that was unique.
  6. Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Reserva Bonardoa 2010 – aka known as Charbono, but only in Argentina.  Plums, raspberries, spice and oak with lots of tannins. 
  7. Anima Negra An 2008 – Mallorca in Spain.  Meat, cedar, earth and leather. 

Key learning here – no matter what you think you know about wine, there is a blind tasting out there to make you realize you know nothing.  And with the exception of the last wine listed, this is a fun exercise with the most expensive bottle listed at $25, but many at least $10 below that price.

After that, Rex Pickett, author of Sideways, took the stage.  Here is my picture.  I’m sure someone else will dedicate ink to his discussion.  I will not.

I wish I had more time to join the reception for the Wines of Greece, but everything was running behind and I only had about ten minutes to spend to find out I need to know more about the wines of Santorini. 

There were a few folks who bagged on the wine dinner hosted by King Estate.  Shame, shame, shame.  This was a wine dinner that brought together the best of wine, food and social media and was seamlessly organic.   We started with a salad of fennel with heirloom tomato, grilled corn and duck breast prosciutto with the 2011 NxNW Horse Heaven Hills Riesling. 

Our next course was the confit of spot prawns with a cucumber, roasted peach and opal basil with the 2011 King Estate Signature Pinot Gris, a delightful and refreshing wine that paired perfectly with the course. 

We then went to a wild Chinook salmon with garlic sausage (except for me – thank you for asking), potato gnocchi, buttered leeks and aged balsamic with 2010 King Estate Signature Pinot Noir.  Another divine match.

The next course was a roasted top loin of beef with wild mushroom, Yukon potato and shallot marmalade with the 2009 NxNW Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 

The dessert course was a lemon panna cotta with summer berries and lavender syrup with a 2010 King Estate Riesling Vin Glace.  It was a brilliant display of social media, showcasing local farmers and sources and highlighting all that Oregon has to offer.

We quickly ducked into the International Wine Night, which unfortunately probably got shorted due to the dinner running over by about 90 minutes.  Then it was time for the after-parties, which I had opt out on some as they were too numerous to attend all of them.

  • We went to the Holy Grail of Alsace Riesling party, which featured vintages from 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001 including Trimbach’s Close Ste Hune, a great single vintage Riesling.  I was lucky enough to try everything but the 2000, and it was a nice reminder of how great Alsace Grand Cru Rieslings stand the test of time.  They aren’t called “somm candy” without reason.

  • There was a vertical tasting of Oregon magnums with some that weren’t represented at the conference, so it was fun to try some new vintages.
  •  #Get Vertical by Palm Bay Wines – this was a fun opportunity to taste verticals of international wines including Bertani (Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, 1980, 1993 and 2004); Col D’Orcia (Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino DOG, 1980, 1997 and 2007);  Faustino (Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja DOC, 1964, 1982 and 1999); Jean-Luc Colombo (Jean-Luc Colombo “Les Ruchets” Cornas AOC, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2009); and Trimbach (Timbach Riesling “Cuvee Frederic Emile” Alsace AOC, 2000 and 2001).  I really wish that this wasn’t my second to the last stop as there were some great wines that I would have liked to savor more, but thank you Palm Bay Wines for the experience.

  • Jordan – this event has brought many bloggers to their knees on Sunday morning and is always the party never to miss.  Lisa brought a wide array of Jordan’s best vintages, right off of their 40th anniversary.  These were wines to remember (or perhaps some attending did not).

I’ll end this post with a full disclosure and an introduction to “Crazy Chicken.”  I travel the world for my day job and so my seven-year-old daughter asked me to bring a toy and take pictures so she can experience my journey.  The chicken has traveled with me from London to Stockholm to Singapore and finally to Portland, where he has adventures – clearly tonight he spent too much time at the after-parties (and no, those photos aren’t shared with her).  Look for him in the return to Carlton winery post-trip.




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