Posts Filed Under on the road

Wine Writers Symposium 2010: The Final Shot

Vinted on April 30, 2010 binned in on the road, wine industry events

This is not just the final shot in terms of my coverage of the event, but literally the event’s “final shot” – below is the group photograph that we took at the conclusion of the 2010 Professional Wine Writers Symposium, with the attendees, speakers, and panel members lined up outside of the conference area at the posh Meadowood resort.

I’m pretty sure that the photo was taken by the uber-talented Steven Rothfeld, which probably explains why it makes a crowd of people that includes disreputables like me, Alfonso Cevola, “Papa” Charlie Olken, Steve Heimoff, and Alder Yarrow look respectable.  Well, that and the majority of attendees and speakers who are all actually respectable.

I’m including it only for my own purposes of completeness and nostalgia, though I hope it provides some interesting “oh, I didn’t know that so-and-so was so tall / short / handsome / hot / not-so-hot” moments.  The who’s-who list is below the group photo.  Click to embiggen…

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Southern Hospitality? (Sampling VA’s Loudoun County Wineries)

Vinted on August 24, 2009 binned in commentary, on the road, wine review

Virginia, as the marketing slogan goes, is for Lovers.

VA may soon be for wine lovers, especially if you’re fond of Old World style  Cabernet Franc.

VA is not necessarily for wine writers, however.

Those are the tidbits of knowledge that I came away with anyway, after touring a handful of Loudoun County wineries with a group of other bloggers, sponsored by Reston Limousine.

To be fair, before I start making pronouncements on the state of wine in D.C.’s wine country – and I will make pronouncements about D.C.’s wine country, of course – my tour visited only a handful of wineries in the Harmony Cluster.  While it’s situated in close proximity to D.C. and Reston, Loudoun County gets particularly rural particularly quickly, and if you’re planning on a tour of the area’s wineries you could hardly do better than to hire someone else to navigate the narrow, twisting, unpaved roads between wineries, which I imagine would be harrowing to navigate in poor weather, darkness, or when you’re hammered.  Not that you’d do that, right?  Right?!??

I did come away quite impressed with Reston Limo, who sponsored our trip and offer public tours of the area’s wine trail.  Our driver was big enough to have been on NFL offensive lineman, and thankfully was quite funny, approachable, and talented (he possesses a very good singing voice, and is able to create – I am not making this up – cursive renditions of your name created from a piece of twisted wire).  So I came away from the tour fairly impressed by Reston Limousine.

The Loudoun country wineries, on the other hand, did not all impress me…

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Postcard from Germany: A House Divided

Vinted on May 27, 2009 binned in best of, commentary, german wine, on the road

High-end Mosel wine producers are (slowly) battling for the identity – and the future – of German Riesling.

“We don’t aim to produce perfection,” Annegret Reh-Gartner told me over lunch at Schloss Marienlay, a beautiful estate on the Ruwer in Germany’s famed Mosel region.

Annegret is the driving force behind Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, a Mosel wine icon with roots dating back to 1349, and now one of only a handful of producers with vineyard holdings on the Mosel as well as its tributaries, the Saar and Ruwer.  She is welcoming and open, the only things that hint at her family’s wealth (her father is probably one of the richest people in all of Germany, and their family holds several expensive vineyard areas in the region) are her keen sense of style and the impressive stone building housing our lunch table.

We aim to produce personalities.  You need soul.”

She states her views on Mosel wine matter-of-factly, with a surety that comes from clearly having considered the matter deeply.  Despite being affable, warm, and small, she cuts an imposing figure when talking about the state of Mosel Riesling, even when seated.  When she mentions the future of Mosel wine, her voice never raises but it does quicken.

“We can’t limit ourselves to super, well-balanced wines with residual sugar.  We have to catch mice with bacon.”  By mice, Annegret means the modern German wine consumer – Wine drinkers in Germany have rebelled against the explosion of cheap, bad, cloyingly sweet wines that plagued the reputation of German wines for decades.  But instead of seeking out good, well-balanced wines from quality estates, those consumers have nearly abandoned sweet wines from Germany altogether, and are voting with their wallets in favor of bone-dry Rieslings…
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Postcard From Germany: A Bike Without Wheels?

Vinted on May 22, 2009 binned in commentary, german wine, on the road

Personally speaking, I don’t believe in a Hell.  But if there is a hell, I imagine that it would strongly resemble US Airways Flight 703 from Frankfurt Germany to Philadelphia on May 21, 2009, sharing the back of the plane with about fifteen of the most obnoxious German airline passengers ever to assemble in one place for eight and half consecutive hours. 

And by “one place,” I mean directly over seat 36C, where they poured brandy into each other’s plastic cups of Coke-a-Cola and showered the passenger in between them (that’s me) with spittle as they discussed their lives at an ever-increasing volume, all the while leaning heavily on the back of my seat to ensure that I achieved as little sleep as possible.

And so that’s how my press junket to Germany, compliments of Destination Riesling, ended – in stark contrast to the wonderful people that I’d met (both winemakers, hosts, and fellow travelers) the four days prior to my return flight (which I’ve dubbed “Operation Belästigen die Amerikanischen” or “Bother the tiny American”) during which I traveled through Germany’s Rheinhessen, Pfalz, and Mosel winegrowing regions with four members of the press and a guide from the German Wine Institute.

My return trip aside (and even that was so comically bad that I started laughing about it already), I’ve returned Stateside much richer for the experience, in the level of knowledge I’ve gained about the state of German winemaking (much more to come on that in the next few days), the people I’ve met, and the intimate deep-dive tasting I’ve had with Riesling wines (some readers might recall that I picked a Rheinhessen sparkling Riesling Sekt as the #1 most interesting wine I’d tasted in 2008, and which convinced me beyond a doubt that Riesling is the most noble white wine grape variety, period)…

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