Posts Filed Under wine industry events

I Hope Steve Heimoff Kicks My Ass (Thoughts on the Wine Bloggers Tasting Challenge)

Vinted on October 20, 2008 binned in commentary, wine bloggers conference, wine industry events

You know what?

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?


Cheers!
(images: steveheimoff.com, winebloggersconference.org, umass.edu)

How to Tell When a Wine Guy Knows His Stuff (Teikoku CA Wine Tasting)

Vinted on September 26, 2008 binned in wine industry events, wine tasting


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 [email protected]


Cheers! (images: winecompliments.com)


4

September Wine Events!

Vinted on September 13, 2008 binned in pennsylvania, wine industry events, wine tasting

It’s that time of month again… time to hip you Philly-area peeps onto some excellent wine-related events coming up this month!

First up are two wine & food pairing events in West Chester, PA. I will be trying to get my butt to these events – hope to see YOU there!

===================================

Tuesday, September 16
at Doc Magrogan’s in West Chester, PA
from 6-8pm, $35

  • Tuna Thai Chili Glaze with Seaweed Salad and Wasabi Sauce with Banyan Gewurztraminer
  • Smoked Salmon Quesadilla with Goats Cheese with Piko Sauvignon Blanc
  • Blackened Seafood Cannelloni with Tomato Salsa with Evohe Garnacha
  • Roast Pork with Port Wine Sauce and Toast with Hobo Cabernet Sauvignon

Space is limited, reserve now! Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House (West Chester PA), Ph: 610 429 4046, www.docmagrogans.com

more below…

===================================

Thursday, September 25
at Blush in Bryn Mawr, PA
from 6-8pm, $45

The food menu is being created but the following wines will be poured:

  • Banyan Gewurztraminer
  • Optima Chardonnay
  • Evohe Garnacha
  • Folk Machine – The Long Drive (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Valdigue, Madera Syrah)

Plus, Blush is offering: 10% off any purchase graciously extended to any guest wishing to dine with us or relax at the bar after the event. Space is limited, reserve now! Blush, 24 North Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, Phone: 610-527-7700, www.dineatblush.com

===================================

Also happening this month: the next twitter taste live event, at 7PM on September 18th (click through for my take on the TTL events)! I will be joining the hosts, BinEndsWine.com, LIVE (along with some other east coast wine bloggers) at Wine 2.0 in NYC for the event. Head on over to the recently new-&-improved twittertastelive.com for the skinny. Check it!

Cheers!
(images: thcphotography.com, dineatblush.com)

Ethics and Wine Blogging (or "Ouch! I’ve Got a Neck Cramp From All This Navel-Gazing!")

Vinted on August 29, 2008 binned in commentary, wine industry events

Oooooooooooooohhhhh boy.

Seems I can’t go a week these days without getting embroiled in one wine blogging controversy or another.

Let’s see… how do I recap this so it’s not mind-numbingly boring for people who came here thinking they might be reading about wine?

See, apparently, that’s not what wine bloggers like to do anymore (I know… I didn’t get the memo, either!). Instead, they talk about themselves… which will be cool to do during the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma, but isn’t so cool to do on wine blogs themselves.

Where readers come to, well, read about wine stuff.

And not to read about wine blogger navel gazing stuff.

But… in this case I will need to talk a bit about wine blogging because it actually involves YOU – the readers of wine blogs (I know this is difficult now… but someday, I think you’ll forgive me, and our relationship will grow stronger… and we’ll finally take that get-away-from-it-all trip to Vancouver tat we’ve been planning… just the two of us…).

Whoops. Sorry, got distracted.

Let’s recap: Regular 1WD dot com readers will recall that I was part of an innovative blogging experiment, headed up by Jeff over at GoodGrape.com, to be among a select group of bloggers to taste the innagural release of Rockaway Vineyard, a new allocated California Cab.

Apparently, a bunch of other wine bloggers didn’t like that.

Tom Wark (fermentation.typepad.com) and Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast (www.steveheimoff.com) in particular both questioned the ethics of the experiment participants for agreeing to write about Rockaway as a condition of taking part in the experiment (and receiving an advanced sample of the wine). Tim over at Winecast.net has a great summary of the whole thing, which you can check out here.

The funny thing is, no one who’s written about the ethics of the experiment has yet to validate their assumptions with either Rockaway or the participants.

Whoops…


I tried to clear things up on Tom’s blog in his comments, but let’s just say it ain’t easy convincing a group of green cheese lovers that the moon is made of rock. Even when you’ve got a sample stone in your hand.

For those of you who still care (sorry, I’m trying to make it as “non-boring” as possible), I actually have a Code of Ethics that’s been posted on my site for well over a year. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t violated by me taking part in this experiment. Sure, I agreed to write an article, but I agreed that with my editor (Jeff at Good Grape), not with a winery. And I didn’t see anything wrong in an editor stipulating receipt of an article as grounds for participation.

I mean…. DUUUUUUH…. wouldn’t a journalist get fired for consistently not producing articles for an editor by a deadline? If not, then I’ve changed my mind, and I really do want to be a journalist! Sounds like a sweet gig!

Instead of talking about ethics, maybe wine bloggers should be talking about Journalism 101 and Reading Comprehension? Or (egads!), wine?

Anyway – now you’ve got the background, and you’ve got my take, and you’ve got my Code of Ethics. And that is important, to me at least – I’m writing this blog because it’s fun, but mostly because I genuinely love sharing wine knowledge with you. I’m certainly not writing it for other wine bloggers (though they’re more than welcome to participate).

I trust that you’re smart people, and all-grown-up adults (at least, I hope so considering you’re reading a blog about an alcoholic beverage…), and therefore I trust that you can make up your own minds about my ethics.

Which reminds me…

THANK YOU to those who have contacted me with your words of encouragement and support. It’s literally kept me from hanging up my bloggin’ spurs these past couple of weeks. And for that, you have my (possibly non-journalistic and unethical) gratitude, always!

Cheers!
(image: calgarysun.com)

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