First Palate Press Article: The Eisch-off!

Palate Press - The Online Wine Magazine As I mentioned in my last post, the new online wine magazine Palate Press has launched and with it today, my first article hits the virtual presses!

There’s already been a tremendous response to the magazine’s first couple weeks and I’m thrilled to be adding my vinorary contribution to the mix: Eisch Breathable Crystal…is it real or just another wine gimmick?  Find out at Palate Press!

Palate Press – The Online Wine Magazine

Palate Press - The Online Wine MagazineSome of you delicious readers may already know that I have become one of the founding contributing writers to  a new wine magazine called Palate Press (Twitter). It’s tagline is “The Online Wine Magazine” and indeed, it is!

Founded by David Honig (Twitter) of 2 Days per Bottle and The 89 Project, it stridently aims to be The Huffington Post or TechCrunch of the online wine world. He’s brought together many of the leading wine bloggers from around the world to participate and site drops today!! Look for my first article on a stemware showdown the week of September 26th.

Now go check it out!

WBC09: Twisted Wine Bloggers' Conference Rundown

2009 North American Wine Bloggers' ConferenceThe recovery is almost over…I have managed to survive another incredibly awesome North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference, once again headquartered at the Flamingo in Santa Rosa (Sonoma Valley). The 4 days of vino-frenzy began with a trek out to Murphys in the longtime wine region of Calaveras County, where some Twisted wine fun was had by a few  lucky bloggers who made the trek.  Hosted by El Jefe (Twitter) & Scott (Twitter) of Twisted Oak & Newsome-Harlow, we visited the tasting rooms of Hatcher, Newsome-Harlow, Tanner and finished up at the TO tasting room with some Renner wines.

Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers AllianceThe next day we awoke to more perfect weather, some sleepy eyes and a large interest in hitting the road, as my fellow vinopanions and myself had a 3 hour drive to Sonoma.  We made it in the nick of time, registered very smoothly and got a great goody bag of fun before the 2nd annual Live Wine Blogging (Speed Blogging, Wine Speed Dating, etc) got rolling.  It was here that the conference hit a major snag…imminently crashable wifi.  We were only able to get about 2 minutes of connectivity before we lost our connection…after finding out that it was partly due to a DNoS attack, the joke was that Parker was on the offensive again! After the American Wine Blogger Awards ceremony, we rebooted the Live Blogging and had another blast of a time.  Wines from Snows Lake and Tandem kicked my booty for wines of the session.  Following that was a the Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines, a very tasty dinner courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism & Sonoma Valley Vintners and the official afterparty tasting by the Russian River Valley Winegrowers.  Wow and that was just Day 1!

I began Day two in surprisingly better shape than the last two…go vino-power!  Sleepy wine bloggers dragged their butts into shuttles and headed over to Napa for a full day and evening of wine events, powered by Napa Valley Vintners. First stop was the iconic CIA at Greystone for a few keynotes talks, including a fantastic one by Barry Schuler (Twitter) of AOL fame and current Meteor vintner in Napa.  We piled back in the shuttles and mine ended up at one of my favorites, Cuvaison, in their newly finished facility in Carneros.  There we had lunch and a great discussion about Napa Green with President, Jay Schuppert.  We then headed to Staglin for a Vintners’ Panel, followed by the Napa Grand Tasting at Quintessa.  We finished off the our time in Napa having a great meal and blending session at Conn Creek.  Kept warm on the way home courtesy of some Mutineer Obsello Green Fairy, we finished the whole day with an outstanding tasting of Portuguese wine, courtesy of ViniPortugal (Twitter).

Winegrowers of Dry Creek ValleyDay 3 started with some educational breakout sessions, including a good one by newly crowned Murphy-Goode Job winner, Hardy Wallace (Twitter) and Lisa de Bruin (Twitter)and co., talking about video blogging. We bid farewell to the conference as we darted out for the last event(s) of the day, but man, were they good final events!  We dined under the trees and umbrellas with an outstanding meal at Dry Creek Vineyard, which also featured some fine wines from Gustafson and Rued.  The lunch and subsequent goodie bags and treats were courtesy of the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley.  Following that, I chose to attend the vineyard walk at Michel Schlumberger (Twitter), courtesy of Sonoma Vineyard Walks.  It was led by the inimitable Judd Wallenbrock (Twitter) and Jim Morris (Twitter) and company…very good times and good wines!

Open Wine ConsortiumExhausted, we headed back to our less vinous lives and left the wonderful Sonoma Valley.  What an incredible time and I don’t think that I can thank organizers Joel Vincent (Twitter) of Open Wine Consortium and Allan Wright of Zephyr Wine Adventures nearly enough for such a great weekend.  Another big thank you goes out to the conference sponsors, without which this conference would not only be incredibly expensive, but actually lack existence!

Look for more posts from the WBC09 (Twitter Search) in the weeks to come, as I go into more detail about certain wine adventures that I had throughout the weekend.  Right now however, I’m headed out on vacation for a week+ from the day and night job with the Lady, relaxing at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain in the Arizona desert.  I’m greatly looking forward to (almost) completely disconnecting and enjoying fine food, workouts, cigars and of course, *wine*.Woot!

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WBC09: Live Wine Blogging!

It’s baaaaackkkkk!  Today on this first day at the 2nd Annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Santa Rosa, we’re revisiting one of the most popular events…live wine blogging or speed-dating for lushes!  20 wineries/wines/winemakers, 6 minutes, 20+ tables of thirsty wine bloggers…GO!!

’08 Fisheye California Pinot Grigio $7

(Premium 3L cask box as well $15)

C: Lightest yellow

N: Lighter lemon and tropical fruits on the nose, very bright

P: Offdry, with a fuller mouth from that RS, but god yellow apple and pineapple, particularly in the finish.  Good quaffer for spicy fish or Thai.

NV Pinot Evil Vin de Pays de l’ìle de Beaute Pinot Noir

3L, $20

C: Medium Ruby

N: Very candied, almost artificial sweet cherry scents, whoa.  Not my thing.

P: Very plasticy candied cherry and blueberry.  Not my thing.

’07 Cupcake Vineyard Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon

Adam Richardson, Winemaker

C: dark ruby

N: Good plush black cherry with some earthiness underneath and cassis

P: Also good cherry here, but more juicy Bing cherry with a round tannin and easy good finish.

‘o5 Snows Lake Vineyard Red Hills Two

72% Cab Sauv, 28% Cab Franc, $45

C: Very dark, almost inky garnet

N: Very good here, with dusty red fruit of cherry and juicy raspberry, then also some mint, new leather and cardamon, quite good.

P: Full, very nicely balanced, with wonderful red/black fruit, some slight fresh earth and that good leather starting to come through in the finish.  Quite good, great round tannin and good acid.  Best so far!

’07 Line 39 Lake County Petite Sirah

$10, all wines from portfolio are $10, at BevMo 5c sale right now!

C:  Inky violet, violet edges

N: Good blue fruit here, also with some black underneath with a slight bramble and some lighter saddle soap

P: Good coating mouthfeel here, with more chalky feel on the backend, that same great blue and black fruit is here as well, with more of a black cherry finish.  Very good value and QPR!

’07 Cline Contra Costa County Ancient Vines Mourvèdre

25% new oak, $16, recipe from The Girl & The Fig on the peel-out back label!

C: Medium dark ruby

N: Some sulfur here, but blows off.  Then good black fruit, very dark, with some more savory herbs.

P: Coating, mouthfeel here too, with great pepper and some blue, almost more cobbler type finish that goes for quite some time and finishes with good acidity.  Nice.

’07 Tandem Medocino Ridge Manchester Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay

Winemaker/owner Greg La Follette from Flowers, etc

C: Medium golden yellow

N: Huge bouquet here of great lemon bar, great florals here as well, great tropical fruit of melon, pineapple and kiwi. Great.

P: Creamy, yet crisp mouthfeel here, showing a very tight balance between having an ML-driven, barrel-fermented styled Chard, yet still with great acid that makes this have tremendous complexity.  Good tropical fruit here with tons of pear and yellow apple.  Outstanding, long finish with a lemon twist.  Best white so far!

’07 Foggy Ridge San Francisco Bay Chardonnay

Farmed organic, certified, hopefully next year, 100% barrel-fermented, glass stopper instead of cork. $18

C: lighter yellow

N: Kiwi, melon here, with a bit of a sweeter cream, underneath

P: Big juicy pear here, with good acid, but creaminess is driving a bit more of the balance right now, finishing more of a yellow apple.

’06 Clif Family Napa Valley Gary’s Improv Syrah

300 cs, Sarah Gott winemaker, $35,

C: Inky violet

N: Blue/black fruit with some charr and rosemary here, as well as some flint, interestingly. More austere style.

P: Very cool black fruit here, continuing with some of that char here as well, followed by great fresh garden herbs of that rosemary and others and very long black fruited finish with some charred earth, continuing to be austere yet balanced here too.  Good!

’07 Benovia Anderson Valley Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir

$55, second vintage

C: Medium ruby

N: Outstanding nose here, of bright red fruit, but then a deep underlay of good fresh earth, a little bit of spice and mushroom quality

P: Fuller mouth than expected with a sweeter quality to the plush plush red and blue fruit, with that same good earth, but the fruit is sweeter than I like.

’07 El Molino High School Lions Pride Pinot Noir

Only HS in the world with a winery permit, in Forestville, 1ac planted by RRVW and guest winemakers come in such as Merry Edwards, Lee Martinelli, Bob Cabral WHOA! 100% of the proceeds go back to the HS. 100 cs. $35, obviously SingleVineyard.

C: light ruby, slightly cloudy

N: Good earthy red fruit here, with plenty of dust and good complexity.

P: Good tarter cherry and dusty, slightly sweeter rhubarb here as well, followed by baking spice.  Good.

’05 Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Rockaway Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Allocation, $75, almost all gone, David Ramey

C: Very dark, inky garnet, dark ruby edges

N: Good menthol here and garden herbs of tarragon and black fruit, but the fruit here seems a bit overripe or even stewed on top.

P: Great mouthfeel, solid tannins, but while the menthol is here too, the stewed fruit comes out even stronger here.  Unfortunate.

NEW BOTTLE:

C: Same inkiness

N: Much better chalky, dusty black and blue fruit here now, with that same menthol and tarragon.

P: Same good mouthfeel, but much darker more very ripe, but not overripe fruit with great balance of acid, big, round tannin.  Good.

Help Your Favorite Wine Blogger!

Wine Bloggers' Conference Scholarship BadgeThe reach and influence of wine bloggers and wine social media mavens have exploded over the last couple of years, particularly in the last 12 months.  Major wine critics have have noticed and responded, wineries and all three tiers of the wine business oligarchy have also taken notice and begun to capitalize on that influence (or are already playing catchup).  The recent exhaustive and outstanding industry whitepaper by VinTank, Wine & Social Media is the first to encapsulate and quantify this influence and serves as a very important reference for these interactions between wine business, their consumers and the key social media mediators (human and software/websites) of these connections.  It is a groundbreaking accomplishment and a signpost of the rapid, continuing maturity of the wine social media sphere.

VinTankSome of those (human) key social mediators are your favorite wine bloggers that tirelessly catalog their personal wine explorations for all of you, their readers, in a straightforward, accessible (and free!) style. Virtually all them (99.9%) do all of this on the side and as a result of their own unstoppable passion for artisanal products that result from the equally unstoppable passion of the winemakers and winegrowers working in the wine regions of the world.

WBCLast October, an earlier signpost in on the path of wine social media maturity was constructed with the highly successful and influential inaugural Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) in both Europe and the US.  The support for the conference from both the local (Sonoma) and foreign (eg. New Zealand) wine industry was immense and delightfully surprising in its fervor…they “get it!”  While the expenses for the conference were kept almost unreasonably low compared to the activities that were offered, they remain quite significant for people who do not get paid for their efforts and need to take time out of work in order to attend.  These costs rise dramatically if you are not local to NorCal, the location of both the last WBC and this year’s WBC09, scheduled for the end of July.

WineBlogger.infoKeeping these costs in mind, a group of wine bloggers who are already registered and have paid for their conference stay (my own has be partially subsidized by WineLog) have joined together to drive a Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Fund, led by the inimitable Luscious Lush and Vinquire ambassador, Thea Dwelle (Twitter, Twitter2).  Anyone and any business may donate and all funds go into a pool that are then distributed to those needy wine bloggers who have applied for scholarship consideration.  Any blogger may also apply for consideration, including those whom may be your own favorite wine bloggers!

Wine Bloggers' Conference Scholarship BadgeWe have already received kind donations from a number of individuals and wine businesses from across the industry spectrum and the globe.  These donors include: VinTank, Cruvee, Vin65, HelloVino, Travessia, Caveman Wines, Wine Lovers Journal and Come For the Wine.  The resort and conference center that is again the site of this year’s WBC09, The Flamingo in Santa Rosa, has also generously allocated a highly discounted block of rooms for our future scholarship grantees.  Those who donate will undoubtedly receive considerable mentions and thank yous on a number of wine blogs and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Open Wine Consortium, WineTwo, Cruvee, Must Love Wine, TasteLive, etc) and have the comforting thought that they will have helped to exponentially increase the wine knowledge and sphere of influence for a needy wine blogger, as we saw with the great success of last year’s conference.  Further details and specifics can be found at our blog and website, Wine Bloggers’ Conference Scholarship.

So please, consider donating a little or a lot or whatever you can spare to our fund and become a part of the wine blogosphere!  All of us will appreciate your kind act:

Thea Dwelle: @winebratsfwine blogger and social media champion

Megan Riley Kenney: @sonadorawine blogger

Liza Swift: @brixchick_lizawine blogger

Joel Vincent: @joelvincentwine industry professional and Wine Blogger Conference Organizer

Catie McIntyre Walker: @catiewine retailer and wine blogger

Ward Kadel: @drxenowine blogger, West Coast Ambassador: WineLog.net