How do I most enjoy a glass of wine? With a leisurely meal, always. On a warm afternoon sitting in the shade after finishing the yard work. Give me a glass of red wine on a chilly evening as I watch the flames of a fire in the fireplace and I’m a happy gal. I like to take my time with a glass of wine; to pay attention to how it changes in the glass over time.
Well, that’s not how Live Blogging works. It involves a noisy, crowed room filled with wine bloggers seated at tables with a winery representative at each table. A bell sounds and the winery representatives begin pouring their wine while giving us the vintage date, varietal composition, fermentation and aging details along with the alcohol level of the wine he or she is pouring. As we listen and taste the wine we must also take a photo (in focus, please) of the wine bottle label and optimize that photo before composing a tweet that includes something close to a coherent thought on the wine. All of this must all occur in under 5 minutes after which time a bell sounds and the winery representatives move to the next table. We are greeted by a new winery representative and the cycle continues. In all we taste 10 wines before the session concludes.
Without a doubt it must be equally challenging for those intrepid winery representatives to pour their wine while repeating the same details at table after table in that noisy room. At the same time they answer our questions, undoubtedly the same ones asked a prior tables, all while smiling enthusiastically. When there is a spare moment they hand us printed literature about the winery along with their social media information. They pause long enough for us to take photos. It’s a challenging process that is repeated twice during the Wine Bloggers Conference – once for white wine and rosé then again for red wines.
So, this is how it goes during Live Wine Blogging sessions at the Wine Bloggers Conference. We all know that it is coming when we register for the Conference. Some attendees revel in the fast pace, others dread it. Not everyone attends these sessions, but we always do because it takes considerable time and effort (and $$) on the part of the wineries who attend and pour wine for us. We appreciate their effort.
This year we decided to dedicate a blog post to the Live Wine Blogging experience. You will be amazed by the eclectic mix of wines we had the opportunity to taste. So, hang on to your wine glass, here’s a sampling of what we tasted.
2015 Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir — pressing at cold temperatures results in no coloration from the skins of the Pinot Noir grape. Fermentation follows in stainless steel with aging on the lees for 6 months. The result is a crisp white wine with mineral, floral and stone fruit notes. 13.7% abv. $24. This wine will surprise you. Estate vineyards are located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and farming practices are LIVE Certified Sustainable and Certified Salmon Safe.
2015 Troon Vineyard Blue Label Longue Carabine —this blend of Marsanne, Viognier, Vermentino, Riesling, Roussanne and Sauvignon Blanc is foot-trodden before being pressed. Alcoholic fermentation takes place with native yeast. This wine shows a brilliant combination of body, texture and flavors. 13% abv. $35. It is an excellent example of the interesting wines coming from the Applegate Valley AVA in southern Oregon. Vineyards are LIVE Certified Sustainable.
Corner 103 Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc — 100% Sauvignon Blanc harvested from a low yielding, hillside vineyard. Stainless steel fermentation and aging produces a bright wine with generous tropical fruit flavors. 14.4% abv. $25. If you prefer citrusy, tropical fruit flavors to grassy, gooseberry flavors in Sauvignon Blanc then you will love this wine.
2001 Lucas Chardonnay — yes, 2001 is the correct vintage. This wine proves elegant, lively Chardonnay produced in Lodi is not only possible but age worthy as well. It was 1/3 barrel fermented and 2/3 fermented in stainless steel. It is still lovely, complex and flavorful. The Lucas Winery is the result of David Lucas’ home winemaking that evolved into a commercial winery. He and wife Heather Pyle-Lucas craft elegant Zinfandel and Chardonnay in an old world style. Their Zin-Star Zinfandel vineyard is farmed organically and certified by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Look for their wines.
2015 Bokisch Vineyards Albariño Terra Alta Vineyard — Markus and Liz Bokisch have a passion for Spanish varietal wines and the Lodi AVA has proven to have the perfect soils and climate for Spanish varieties. This complex, aromatic Alabriño is brimming with citrus blossom aromas followed by white peach flavors, juicy acidity and dusty minerality. This wine carries the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing label and is certified by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). 12.5% abv. $18
2013 Windrun Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills — sourced from the Lafond Vineyard and comprised of 5 Pinot Noir clones. Fermentation in open top tanks was followed by aging in neutral 500L puncheons. Ken Brown is the winemaker. This Pinot Noir has great depth of flavor with red and dark berry flavors and an earthiness that blends seamlessly with the smooth tannins. So elegant. This was our second taste of this wine and we loved it as much this time as when we first tasted it. 14.3% abv. $30.
2014 Troon Vineyard Blue Label Malbec, Rogue Valley — you know the drill from the prior Troon wine…foot trodden, native yeast fermentation. Malbec is sourced 50% from the Varner-Traul Vineyard in the Rogue Valley and 50% from Troon Estate Vineyard in Applegate Valley. This wine is dense, dark and brooding with plenty of tannins. 14.4% abv. $40.
There you have it. After all is said and done is the stress of speed tasting worth it? Yes! The opportunity to taste a wide variety of wine from many regions is too good to pass up. We never know what will be poured. For sure the host wine region is always well represented, but there are always surprises from other wine regions as well.
Thank you to every winery that participated.