Friday October 24, 2008 at 3:30 PM PT!
The event is now over, but you can get a recap of the feed from the event below.
What do you, me, and the upcoming first-ever North American Wine Bloggers Conference (Oct. 24-26 2008 – yes, it’s on a weekend, presumably because none of us wine bloggers make any money blogging so we have day jobs during the week) have in common?
I dunno, either.
Uhm…. We’re all carbon-based life forms consisting mostly of water, that like to drink wine?
Other than that, I’m not really sure. And okay, conferences technically don’t drink wine; conference attendees drink wine.
Anyway, this week I’m off to the Flamingo Resort in the greater Sonoma area to take part in the 2008 WBC. What this means is that you can expect to see some poorly scheduled and erratic posting activity from me over the next 10 days as I try to capture at least some of what the WBC event is all about. Plus, I’ve got some time off in Sonoma after the WBC to hang out with Mrs. Dudette and the little Dude-el. Family QT, here I come!
I’m not sure exactly which parts of the 2008 WBC I’m going to cover. I’m sure that the event is going to be a blast for us wine bloggers, and I expect a good number of my wine blogging colleagues to cover the event in detail. What you shouldn’t expect from me during the next week and half are any boring recaps of the WBC breakout topics. Nothing against my fellow wine bloggers or the WBC organizers (who have done a fantastic job with the agenda), but I just can’t imagine the average wine-drinking dude or dudette 1WineDude.com reader has much interest in reading about how to monetize wine blogs, or the waxing philosphic of how wine blogging can achieve media credibility.
Hell, I’m a wine blogger and I barely care about those topics. But… I think that you might care about some of the other awesome stuff that is going down at the WBC this week (click here for details).
What you can expect from me during the next week and half:
For more on the Wine Bloggers Conference agenda and setup, check out winebloggersconference.org. For detail on just how much wine is going to be put in front of us during the conference, check out WBC coordinator Allan Wright‘s interview at WineBizRadio.com. Let’s just say we will almost always be presented with the option to refuse some wine during the weekend.
(images: 1WineDude.com, maps.google.com)
I hope that Steve Heimoff kicks my ass.
Not literally, of course (hey, I didn’t study a bit of Wing Chun for nothin’!), but tastingly. (Is tastingly a word? Ah, who cares – adverbs kick ass!).
Who is Steve, and why should I want him to kick ass? And how does this relate to wine? Well… it’s… complicated…
It actually has to do with the first-ever North American Wine Bloggers Conference being held this week in Sonoma, which both Steve amd I are attending (more on that later in the week). At about 5PM PT on Friday, some of the attendees will be taking part in a Wine Bloggers’ Blind Tasting Challenge – as described by the conference organizers:
Bloggers will test their skills in identifying grape varietals and regions. Because we will have only local Sonoma wines, the competition will focus on identifying the type of grape, determining the vintage year or AVA within Sonoma County, matching the wine to the label description, etc. This will be a social exercise with small groups sitting around tables and will be done in rounds, going from easy to hard. Ultimately, one winner will be crowned as the “Wine Blogger Top Taster”.
The last sentence is the one that seems to be causing some controversy among some of the wine blogging community. The controversial piece being the media coverage planned for this portion of the conference, the reaction to which you can read in detail in this not-so-safe-for-work discussion on the Wine Bloggers Conference group at OpenWineConsortium.org (title: “What Bullsh*t is this? So much for the Wine Bloggers Conference“).
The competition itself is meant to be friendly, with (hopefully) some fun moments with the media on hand to capture it all. The counter argument is that the media coverage will in effect exploit a community that has had its fair share of media exploitation already this year.
And it’s my hope that Steve (remember him?) takes part in the competition and kicks our blogging asses.
Because that would show us bloggers (myself included) that we have a lot yet to learn about wine and the art of tasting it, and eloquently writing about it. It’s easy for us to lose sight of that and get caught up in the ‘side show’ media elements of blogging. It’s great to have an opinion, but we also need to know what we’re talking about – and for wine, that foundation is built in tasting. As Lao Tzu said, “the great way is easy, but people chose the side paths…”
Oh, yeah, regarding Steve - he’s an author and long-time wine writer for Wine Enthusiast, and he is also a wine blogger. As such, he straddles the ‘newer’ and ‘older’ worlds of blogging and traditional wine media in a unique way. He’s a good blogger, too, in that he’s smart and opinionated enough to get people thinking about, talking about, and sometimes really, really not liking his takes on the world of wine. Steve and I have traded both barbs and compliments on-line, and I’ve got a lot of respect and patience for him – and I’m looking forward to meeting him in Sonoma, because I’d love to interview him about his take on the future of wine writing.
Anyway, Steve probably tastes hundreds to thousands of wines per year. This is way, way above the total tasted by most wine bloggers, myself included, by a factor of… well, I hate math but I’m sure the factor would be measured exponentially (ah – another kick-ass adverb!).
Which means that if he participated in the Blind Tasting Challenge, Steve could unleash a Chuck Norris level of whoop-ass on the rest of us.
That’s a good thing.
Because sometimes, we need that to keep our progressive, opinionated, but ultimately well-meaning blogger banter in perspective. Wine has been good to us bloggers, and not a day goes by when I’m not grateful to wine in some way/shape/form.
And I’m certainly not above having my butt handed to me (as I expect to have happen at the Bind Tasting) if it means I’m going to learn something and have another opportunity to increase my debt of gratitude towards wine.
Let the ass-kickings commence!
Oh, before I go… Steve, if you’re out there reading this, you should know that a Google image search of your name turns up this little ditty… I suppose there is some resemblance… not sure if it’s you but I really, really hope it is… and if it is, do you still have the Jethro Tull-style hat?
This week, I had the pleasure of attending (yet another) amazing wine pairing dinner at the fabulous Teikoku restaurant in Newtown Sqaure, PA. I know that you’re already sick of hearing about how much I love Teikoku, so I will mention only this:
If you ever find yourself there and you notice “Pan roasted tilefish with Chestnut risotto and tempura style matsutake mushrooms” on the menu, immediately close the menu and order this dish with a bottle of Chardonnay. Immediately. You will thank me later.
The wine pairing theme of the evening was A Tour of California, and we couldn’t have had much of a better guide than wine educator Michael Walsh of Majestic Wine & Spirits. Michael had total recall of his CA geography; in fact, his level of knowledge was downright scary without being too pedantic or at all intimidating.
This got me thinking about the difference between a wine geek (who loves wine passionately and wants to share that passion with others) and a wine bore (who gets off on intimidating others with his/her wine smarties). For more detail on what makes a wine bore, check out Michael Broadbent’s excellent treatise on the subject…
Anyway, what struck me was how Michael Walsh casually used his impressive wine smarties to enhance our table’s enjoyment of the event, and not to try to overpower it. Case in point: during the event, I was chatting with fellow press guest Mary of WC Dish about a tasting of some excellent German QbA wines (more on those in a future post) that I’m currently working my way through. Michael noticed the confused look on the faces of my table mates, and chimed in (with perfect timing I might add) to clear up the confusion and quickly explain the QbA concept and pronunciation (Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiet or “quality wine from a specified region”).
I was impressed – rather than recite the entire WSET Advanced Certificate study material on the subject, he offered the perfect amount of wine info., at the perfect time, without being stuffy or overbearing. It was a style that I consider the hallmark of what constitutes the best in a wine geek!
As for the wines – here are my reviews of Michael’s picks:
06 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc (Monterey): Cooler climate grapes for CA. Grapefruit & lemon grass, but the minerality still eludes hot CA.
05 Forestville Reserve Chardonnay (Russian River Valley): Butter & oak, but somehow acidity, creaminess, & caramel save it from oak disaster
06 Esser Vineyards Pinot Noir (South Central Cost, CA): So much cherry, you might mistake it for Gamay. Spice on the nose makes it a winner.
04 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa): Cassis, currants, leather straps & – bam! – olives! A tiny bit overextracted, but who cares!
NV Merryvale Antigua (Medera, CA): Late harvest fortified Muscato. All toffee with an almost glycerin punch. Tasty, but clear your schedule.
And before I go, let me alert you to yet another fine food & wine pairing event happening at Teikoku on October 23, 2008!
Join Matthew Esser, wine educator and cellar consultant from Shiffrin Selections for an evening of Autumn wines along with Innovative food pairings from Chef Takao Iinuma to complement them
$35 Per person, reservations required.
Space is limited, RSVP now
For information and RSVP
Contact Christine Olmsted, Teikoku Restaurant Events Coordinator
@ 610-644-8270 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers! (images: winecompliments.com)