WBC NA 2008: Day 3 Brief (P)reCap

Waking up on Day 3, Sunday, of the WBC was definitely harder to do than the the last! Wine Bloggers ConferenceLate night Oak Room tastings in the Flamingo, plus even MORE shenanigans afterward with other kids including Anthony (Twitter) from Farmstead and El Jefe (Twitter) from Twisted Oak led this blogger to be feeling a wee bit tired in the morning!  Earth WaterBut, a little water and more promises of wine can do wonders to a lad when he’s down!

The following is intended as a brief breakdown of the last half-day of the conference, whereby I’ll follow-up in the coming weeks with more posts that will detail virtually all of the events.

First up on the agenda was the innovative Unconference, where the bloggers take over!  Tables were setup around the room and each table had a blogger-defined topic to discuss for 15 minutes or so.  Since I, ahem, was not present to help decide those topics, I chose to go to Table 74, the Organic Flow table.  Here we discussed whatever topics might arise and, courtesy of Lenn (Twitter) of Lenndevours, we decided that it was time (somewhere in the world) to try some more wine!  Lenn had a bunch of leftover New York wine and we proceeded to open those suckers up!  I mainly stuck with the ’07 Rooster Hill Finger Lakes Dry Riesling.  I found it to be a pretty good example of the varietal, with very crisp and dry peach and pear aromas and flavors.

Following the Unconference, I suddenly realized that it was time to check out and madly dashed back to the room to pack.  That squared away, I strolled back to the main part of the conference and proceeded into the final lunch and tasting, the Luxe Sonoma Tasting. This was a chance for (mainly) smaller Sonoma wineries to show their wares.  It included wineries such as Flowers, Siduri, Blue Rock, Jordan, and Montemaggiore.  It also included one of my favorite small producers from this valley, Medlock Ames.

Medlock AmesMy palate was introduced to Medlock Ames at the Wine 2.0 event, New Release Only, last November. There I tasted their ’03 Bell Mountain Cab, a tremendously good wine, one of the few 5/5 stars that I have ever given.  Chris Medlock (or was it Ames?) was pouring their soon-to-be-released ’04 Cab and it is another absolute stunner.  Just as with the ’03, this had a phenomenal balance and was deeply complex, with various shades of fruit, silky but strong tannins and great acidity.  What a beautiful wine.

Levendi WineryLast up on the day and weekend’s activities was the secret rendezvous at the Wine Spies party, a few miles down the road.  This was being put on in conjunction with Cruvee (my Cruvee profile) and intended to broaden the blogger knowledge about the two wine sites and particularly, Levendi Winery.

Alas, I had to meet the Lady in the East Bay for yet another event that weekend and I headed out and back to the real world. I am still having trouble comprehending the incredible time that I had at this event…it was just so life-changing and surreal that it’s a bit hard to believe that I actually attended such a brilliant weekend in the sunny Fall, there in the Sonoma Valley.

Open Wine ConsortiumI can’t thank the organizers enough! Joel Vincent (Twitter) from Open Wine Consortium and Allan Wright from Zephyr Adventures did an unreal job of pulling this together in just a few months.  Thank you both, as well as all of the great sponsers!  Look forward to many more posts in the coming weeks that will go into more detail about the many events that I attended this past weekend.

As always, if you’d like to list the wines that I tasted at the WBC in your own WineLog, they are all tagged with “WBC2008NA“.  A couple of them are listed below.  Enjoy and please leave a comment telling me about your own WBC or wine-related experiences of late!

Rooster Hill Finger Lakes Dry Riesling 2007

Medlock Ames Alexander Valley Bell Mountain Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

WBC NA 2008: Day 2 Brief (P)reCap

I’m sitting in the second of the Breakout Sessions at the very first North American Wine Bloggers Conference here in 2008 at the Hotel Flamingo.  Wine Bloggers ConferenceI’ve already had yet another whirlwind of a day at the conference and would like to give you all a little taste of what I’ve been fortunate to enjoy today and have yet to enjoy for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.

After waking up in a surprisingly good mood and feeling a very nice lack of exhaustion, I got ready for one of the many highlights of this conference the Vineyard Walks. There were a lot of hikes to choose from and I have to admit, I had a tough decision to make.  I decided to do Dry Creek Valley II, a vineyard hike, lunch and paired lunch at Quivira Vineyards & Winery.  QuiviraQuivira is a smallish operation, producing only about 12-13,000 cases annually.  They are a leader in organic biodynamic farming and winegrowing.  I actualy chose this walk because of some very favorable wines that I tasted durign the “unofficial” Dry Creek Valley tasting that was held in Suite 301 the night before and a great conversation that I had with Nancy, the General Manager for the winery.  I chose correctly!  It was a briliiant learning experience for myself and the others that partook of this tour.  We learned from the source of the wines himself, winemaker and a very unique personality, Steven Canter.

The Breakout Sessions have been very informative, especially in regards to my concerns about the ethics and credibility issues surrounding blogging, ie free wine samples, etc. I chose to attend the Wine Blogger Credibility and Wine Industry & Wine Blogger Interaction sSebastianiessions.
After the sessions are out, I will be attending the Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines followed by a very intriguing dinner at Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery with a keynote speech by Alice Feiring.

Look for more live posts in the next two days and many more brief precaps and longer recaps in the coming weeks!

WBC NA 2008: Blind Tasting Challenge

I am now about to begin the Blind Tasting Challenge (courtesy of Bagged Wine) portion of the the very first North American Wine Bloggers Conference here in 2008 at the Hotel Flamingo!  Wine Bloggers ConferenceKeep in mind all of this is live and (pretty much) not edited!!

It’s single-elimination and I’m probably out pretty quckly, heh.  It gets progressively harder though so maybe there’s a chance!

Round 1: Two whites, decide whether they are Pinot Gris, Chard, Viognier, Sauv Blanc, and Gewürtz. And I say it’s 1. Viognier.  2. Gewürtz.

Argh!  I got #2 wrong, it was Pinot Gris (and I was wavering between the two!!) for #2, but I got 1 right!  Apparently, the rules are changed to only 1 rigth answer needed to advance, so onto Round 2.

Bagged WineRound 2:  Match both wines to 2/3 of the tasting descriptions on to listed to the right. Descriptions come from the bottle and/or wine website. #1: Descr. A. #2 Descr. C.

Wow.  I got rocked on this one…Wine 1 was Description C.  Wine 2 was A.  I’m totally out on this one.  Oh well, it was fun! 🙂

Next up on the agenda…a self-paced New Zealand wine tasting session here at the Hotel Flamingo.

WBC NA 2008: Live Wineblogging!

I am about to begin the Live Wine Blogging portion of the the very first North American Wine Bloggers Conference here in 2008 at the Hotel Flamingo!  Keep in mind all of this is live and pretty much not edited!!

(Editorial post note, all of these wines have been tagged with “WBC2008NA-Live” if you would like to list them in your own WineLog!)
Wine Bloggers ConferenceWe will have ~5 minutes with each winemaker as they rotate around the tables in the room. They have that time to interact with us and talk about the single wine that they’ve chosen to share with us today.  In turn we get to write and evaluate and learn about these wines during that time and send that information out to all of you readers.

We’re Table 6:

Twisted Oak Winery1. 2006 Twisted Oak Calaveras County The Spaniard

Kind of their flagship, all Estate fruit with a mix of mainly Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha
C:Darker garnet with blacker edges

N: Closed nose at the start, but then some moke and leather come out in the fore followed by some very black fruit, peaking out from the depths

P: Full bodied and strongly tannic, but not uncomfortably so. Then wonderful blue fruit with great bright acidity and then some cobbler in the smokey finish. Great and needs more time!

Dark Horse Wine2. 2006 Dark Horse Dry Creek Valley Treborce Vineyard Zinfandel

“Wine for Cowboys!” Owner and winemaker for many other wineries until this his own endeavor.

C: Dark garnet, with violet edges

N:  Great cherry, some slight smoke and some nifty bramble underneath

P: Wonderful pepper and spice, wow.  Red fruit pops with soem black underneath.

3. 2006 Small Vines Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Small winery with husband and wife team.  Vineyard up above Occidental. Allocated, unreleased.
C:  Lighter garnet/ruby

N: Nicer dusty cherry with  some raspberry coming to the fore, then cola comes in and adds some great roundness to the bright red fruit and dust

P: Medium-bodied, with some nice silkiness in the tannin structure.  Juicy red cherry comes in quickly and adds some brightness and that fruit then gets a little tarter with the good acidity.  Finishes with more of that slightly dustiness found in the nose, most likely from the great tannins and some orange peel.  Good!

Cupcake Vineyards3. 2007 Cupcake Vineyards Central Coast Chardonnay

Vineyards in Central Coast, made in Soledad at former Golden State Vintners. Underdog Wine Merchants.
C:  Lighter straw, with sginificant legs.

N: Creaminess and some vanilla in the nose, with lemon custard and some yellow apple.

P: Great acidity that makes the mouth absolutely water with it’s wonderful yellow and green apple flavors.  Finishes creamy and with soem great smoothness and yet is crisp.  Also quite good!

4. 2007 Kanzler Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Barrel-sample, never bottled just out from the barrel today! Kosta Browne wine of the year from WS was from this vineyard!
C: Darker ruby

N: Big bright cranberry with some smoky oak underneath.  Cola even spicy root beer, with some tart cherry at the end.

P: Slightly sweet mouth in the beginning, followed by the smokier oak and cherry cobbler.  A little sweeter than I like in my Pinots but its well done for the style.

5. 2005 bink Yorkville Highlands Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir

C: light garnet

N: Ludens cherry with some interesting rhubarb and smoky cherry

P: Great acidity with some bright red cherry then smoky oak comes in and takes over.  Some interesting mocha is also in the mid-palate. Still, more oak than I like, particularly for an ’05.

6.  2007 Lionheart Wines Santa Barbara County McGinley Vineyard Roussane

OK.  Only 26 cases…get some now!!
C: lighter golden straw

N: Great pear and peach, followed by some wonderful pineapple and blossoms of florals. Some creaminess and lemon custard here too.

P: Full-bodied with intense pineapple flavors that seem sweet and yet the wine finishes nicely crisp with a little cream underneath and further tropical fruit from the nose.  Very good!

7. 2006 Sean Minor Wines Napa Valley Four Bears Cabernet Sauvignon

Four Bears refer to the husband wife team’s four children. They’re the only two employees
C: Dark garnet, with black center

N: Dark vanilla but yet melds nicely with the smoky and dusty cherry on the nose and some interesting dried herbs.

P: Great grip with some wonderful bright blue and cherry fruit and some dusty finish with some slight earth at the end. Great QPR, could sit for awhile!

8. 2006 Boho Vineyards Central Coast Chardonnay

Very Earth-friendly boxed packaging. Better Wines Better Worlds
C: Bright yellow, with green edges

N:  Creamy vanilla, this is a “Napa Chard” style with some apples in the nose

P: Very creamy and immediately a little unctuous, but then shifts to very tart lemon peel.

9. 2004 Bonterra Vineyards Mendocino The McNab

Red blend, all organic and biodynamic certified fruit. Winemakers’ fav fruit goes into this blend.

C: Inky garnet

N: Great, great nose of anise, blackberry, some slight almost minerality in the nose a very precise melding of the red fruit at the end of red cherry center.  Great!

P: Mouth has good grip but remains round with good acidity and some undercurrents of integrated oak that provides some spice as well.  More of that great red and black fruit, no blue poking out here! Wonderful cherry in the finish along with some rhubarb.  Great stuff!

Clos LaChance10. 2005 Clos LaChance Central Coast Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

C: Inky monster

N: A little closed right now, but some spice and black fruit no red poking out at this point. Blackberry, wait, now a little cherry poking through.  Seems like a slumbering monster.

P: Mmm, great acidity on this.  Blue in the front actually.  Then some dusty char, with some some great spicy red fruit followed by some more smoke and yet it doesn’t seem to be overpowering the cherry fruit and strong grip. Good!

James David Cellars11. 2007 James David Cellars Paso Robles Muscat Blanc

Cole David!

C: Very light straw

N: HUGE bouquet of green apples with some heavy floral components of lavender and citrus fruit blossoms

P: Very full-bodied, with some nice acidity, not necessarily racy but nicely there.  Floral lavender and heavier floral aromas come out on top of the palate and hang out above the wine in your mouth. Finish takes the white fruit flavors and almost a sense of hoppiness.  Finishes with a slight chalky feel and some great minerality.  Lovely.

Whew!  Done!  Look for a more formatted and informative version in the coming couple weeks.  Now…onto the blind tasting challenge!

W—B—C—!!!

In the final week leading up to the very first North American Wine Bloggers Conference (which I first mentioned here), I wanted to give you readers a preview of what you can expect from me over the next weekend:

Wine…insanity!

2008 North American Wine Bloggers Conference

A vineyard tasting at Kick Ranch Vineyard right off the bat, live wine blogging with 14 wineries including Leon from Lionheart Wines, a New Zealand self-tasting and dinner with Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV…and that’s just the first day!!

Further sessions include prominent vineyard tours, dinner at Sonoma pioneers, Sebastiani, and the Luxe Sonoma tasting on Sunday, filled with many established and up and coming Sonoma vintners including Medlock Ames (whom I first encountered at WineTwo).

All of these writeups will come in bunches and be more on the fly than you might be used to seeing from me.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing (experiencing) them!

All of the wines that I will try this weekend at the WBC will be tagged in my WineLog with “WBC2008NA“.