Posts Filed Under wine industry events

Rocks & Riesling Proves That Rangen Riesling Rocks

Vinted on August 17, 2016 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, wine industry events, wine review

Rocks & Riesling 2016

So… we were talking about Riesling Rendezvous 2016, before we were so rudely interrupted by about a week of “real life.”

RR 2016 provides some concurrent sessions, during which you can listen about and, usually, taste wines from particular Riesling-producing regions. I happened to get signed up for what was called “Rocks & Riesling: Exploring Alsace’s Diverse Terroirs” with the entertaining and informative Thierry Fritsch, head oenologist and chief wine educator with Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vines d’Alsace (or CIVA).

Rocks & riesling slide

Courtesy of Wines of Alsace

Fritsch walked us through twelve wines from across most of the narrow expanse of Alsace, and did so expertly and humorously. I found his slide attempting to match Riesling wine attributes with particular Alsatian soils quite useful (see inset pic).

But I’m not here to talk about any of that, because this is, well, me. I’m only going to focus on one of Alsace’s Grand Cru terroirs, and only two wines. Because those two wines convinced me that when it comes to Alsatian Riesling, I don’t know what the hell I am doing; I am a mere babe crawling his way out of Rangen Riesling-soaked diapers, my friends…

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Seaside Rendezvous, Part Deux (Highlights From Riesling Rendezvous 2016)

Riesling Rendezvous seaside

Seaside rendezvous, anyone?

I, along with three or four other people (ok, it’s not that bad, it just feels that bad), profess to love Riesling, so much so that I actually purchase it with my own hard-earned cash. So I’m not the kind of wine writer to turn down a media invite to the Seattle-hosted Riesling Rendezvous event when it rotates back stateside (alternating in other years with Europe and Australia).

This is my second stint attending RR, and between the 2013 incarnation and this one, held in mid-July 2016, I can give you a rough idea of what positive and negative trends have emerged in Riesling-world.

Winners:

  1. The state of Riesling, in general. The quality of Riesling fine wines, overall, has rarely been as high as it is right now. Emerging Riesling regions, such as Canada and the U.S. Midwest, are really starting to hold their own with the likes Austria, the Finger Lakes, and even Germany.
  2. The standard-bearers. Alsace, Germany, and Austria – probably the holy trinity of Riesling in terms of what we consider as fine wine standards – showed up and showed off big time at RR 2016. More to come on Alsace in particular in a separate post.

Losers:

  1. Terroir. Seriously. RR 2016 repeated the panel format of RR 2013, when several dry Rieslings were tasted blind by a panel of experts, as well as a room full of wine media, producers, industry folk, and avid consumers. This format was then repeated for off-dry/sweet Rieslings from around the globe. There were many excellent wines in the lineups, but the trouble came whenever the expert panelists (and the the very knowledgeable audience members) attempted to guess where each wine originated.Our success rates? Maybe 30%. And that’s being generous. The majority of the time, winemakers couldn’t successfully identify their own wines.To me, that suggests that a) several dozen people who do wine (and in some cases, Riesling) for a living don’t know what they’re doing, which seems incredibly unlikely, or b) the quality of Riesling winemaking in general is one the rise, causing a bit of non-threatening conformity, which does seem extremely likely, and c) the common notion among wine peeps that Riesling is a lightning rod grape for the expression of terroir has been significantly overstated. Discuss among yourselves…

Following are what I considered several highlights (about 15 wines, if I’m still able to count correctly) from those panel tastings, so start paying close attention, you Riesling warrior acid-freaks…

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And Then, There Was Mojo (Highlights From Sonoma County Barrel Auction 2016)

Vinted on August 3, 2016 binned in on the road, wine industry events, wine review

Sonoma County Barrel Auction 1

Personally, I didn’t need any more evidence that Sonoma generally has its mojo working and is making some of the best wines ever to come out of the region. But I got a thoroughly inundating reminder of that when I visited the second (2016) incarnation of the Sonoma County Barrel Auction as a media guest this past April (and yes, I’m just getting around to writing about it now).

Auction-wise, it seems to me t hat most of the initial kinks have been worked out; the event was entertaining, and the group of MSs and MWs (several of which I’m happy to call friends… which shows you just how crazy the wine biz really is… Doug, I owe you for sharing your liquor, buddy!) that they brought in to the vet the one-of-a-kind entries did a stellar job in teasing out the region’s best.

Sonoma County Barrel Auction preview tasting

I suppose that the SoCoBA is the Sonoma counterpoint to Premiere Napa Valley. And in many ways, it compares favorably to PNV, though it does so in Sonoma’s more down-home, farmer-centric style. In my view, there were so many excellent wines on offer over the two days of tastings held at the event, that I’m going to have to keep the descriptions short-and-sweet. Hopefully these highlights will clue you in on a producer or two (or four) that hadn’t been on your California wine radar, but probably ought to be.

And, yeah, it’s mostly Pinot (get over it), but there are a handful of nice surprises in here…

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