Posts Filed Under wine industry events
Over the next two insane weeks, I’ll be waving to the Midwesterners among you from 30,000 feet as I fly back and forth across our great country twice in order to lend my taste buds (and, no doubt, subsequently further increase not only my frequent flier mileage but also my dental hygiene and surgical fees) to two Left Coast wine competitions.
First, there’s my second stint at the venerable Critics Challenge wine comp., held in (stay classy) San Diego (San Diego is still there, right?), the 11th year for that event, which is unique in its assembly of judges who are pretty much exclusively in the wine journalism/critic biz.
This will be followed shortly (as in, a few days) by my first stint at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, as part of a group of seventeen newly-minted judges joining the cadre at SFIWC this year, its 34th (see inset pic on that as reported by SOMM Journal earlier this month).
The thing that tickles me Provence-rosé-pink about all of this is not so much that I am getting wined, dined and paid for doing something so cool (ok, that does, in fact, tickle me a bit Provence-rosé-pink now that I think about it), but that I know so many of the other judges, and am fortunate enough to call several of them friends. Technically, these are business trips for me, but they are hardly the kind of business trips about which one could complain, particularly when compared to some of the locales, efforts, and intensely driven personalities I frequented in my corporate life (ever been to Hackettstown, NJ; Slough, England; or Stupino, Russia? No? Well, take it from me, you don’t want to be in too much of a hurry to visit).
Let’s just say I’m not complaining!
More to come from all of that (if you’ve got requests on what you’d like to see in terms of coverage out of those comps., shout it out).
This Summer, I’ll once again become an honorary Cretan.
For starters, next week I’ll be working with Wines of Crete in leading two trade and media educational seminars and tastings on the native grape varieties of the twelve recognized PDO and PGI designations of one of Greece’s largest and most dynamic (and challenged!) winemaking regions. The tastings will be blind, and will focus almost entirely on the varieties themselves, most of which will be totally unfamiliar even to the geekiest of wine geeks. fro that perspective alone, it ought to get very interesting, particularly at the lunches and tastings that will follow the seminars. Anyway, those events are invitation-only, so if you can go, you already know about it, and I look forward to you heckling me in NYC or D.C.!
I am fairly sure I got that gig because I’m one of the few U.S.-based wine people who’ve actually been to Crete and then said anything about it. As some of you reading this might recall, when I first visited the island in 2012, it was on assignment for an article idea I’d agreed with the now-defunct glossy Sommelier Journal. After SJ went belly-up, I’d briefly contemplated posting that article here on 1WD, but the voice and tone was tailored for SJ’s glossy style, and just didn’t fit the frenetic psychosis of my normal style of writing on these virtual pages.
So instead I reached out to the new SOMM Journal, and I’m happy to report that the Crete feature will appear in the August issue of that newly revitalized masthead (assuming they don’t also go belly-up this Summer; it’s not likely with their much expanded readership base, but hey, anything’s possible in the print world right now).
More to come on all of that that when the article (which focuses on the island’s most progressive producers, and the ironies in Crete’s battle to get its fine wines – which once ruled the Mediterranean commerce world – onto the modern global marketplace) finally sees the light of day, a year later than originally planned. Welcome to the wine biz, right?
Despite the simple title, I did, in fact, have serious reservations about the subject of today’s featured juice. After all, technically I tasted it while being “on the clock” for a paying gig with Wines of Rioja (now ended), which had me wondering just how impartial of a judgment I could make about it.
But there are tasting moments so formative, so elemental, that sometimes you have to go with your gut and trust in the intelligence and goodwill of the Global Interwebs to forgive you if you stray into a gray-ish, conflict-of-interest no-man’s land. Also, now that the gig is several weeks behind me, I felt we had enough “distance” to give this thing a proper airing here.
The vino causing me such temporary consternation was the clean-up hitter of the trade panel tasting I moderated as part of the recent sold-out series of Rioja Week events in New York. We had a great group of winemaker panelists, and tasted some fascinating juice (including a rare look at a nearly extinct Spanish grape, Maturana, given a bold, modern treatment by Dinastia Vivanco). I think most of you appreciate the fact that I call things as I see them, and would tell you (despite the paycheck) if the wines were under-performing, but in this case we had easy jobs on the stage that day; everything in the tasting lineup was showing nicely.
Including that clean-up hitter, which happened to be a spry fifty years young…
Read the rest of this stuff »