Posts Filed Under wine industry events
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…
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Two words: Jamon Galleria.
That’s just one of the culinary delights that you can experience at the upcoming Rioja Week Tapas Fest and Grand Tasting taking place at Weylin B. Seymour’s in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 1PM ET. The event will also feature a Casa de Tapas, a Paella and Vino Garden, a Cheese Cave, and something like 200 Rioja wines.
And three of you are going to get to go for free. Who loves ya, baby?!?
I’m excited to tell you that this month I’ve got a (paying) gig with Rioja Wines in which I will be taking part in Tapas Fest in NYC (mostly as a panel moderator for both geekified and introduction-style panel sessions about Rioja wine) as well as hosting a #RiojaBuzz Tweet Chat on April 24th at 8:30pm EST/5:30pm PST (during which we’ll start tasting through some Rioja goodness in lip-smacking anticipation of the NYC event).
I’ll naturally not be formally reviewing any Rioja juice here on 1WD until after that gig has ended. And at this point I’m not sure if I’m in it more for the excitement of how awesome this NYC event is going to be (I’ve seen the insider details on the culinary coolness that will be on hand, and my keyboard is wet from the Pavlovian salivation responses), the fact that I am getting paid, or just the chance to taste Rioja jamon again. Anyway, check out the crazy lineup for this event and you’ll see what I mean.
Now, me being me, I kind of forced my hand with the amiable Rioja Wine folks in order to get some of you at this event (you know, for moral support and all that)! So three lucky 1WD readers will get two tickets each to the Tapas Fest on May 3 at 1PM ET, along with a groovy gift bag of food-related goodies (see inset pic, total value about $150).
Wanna shot at winning? Here’s the skinny…
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Remember when I said I was heading to New Hampshire Wine Week (as a media guest)? That was back in February, and, yes, I am just now getting around to talking about it.
I’d love to tell you that delay is due to me being stupid amounts of busy (which I am), but it’s not. The delay is total aww-man-I-don’t-wanna-have-to-write-this-term-paper procrastination. Why? Because writing about NH’s consumer-facing wine event requires facing my own personal hell, which is having built a life in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and then becoming a wine lover, and having to deal with the PA Liquor Control Board.
Now, NH is also a control state, with the NHLC acting as both wholesaler and retailer for distilled liquor and wine. But NH’s progressive take on being a control state – which is driven almost entirely by the fact that it has competition, with half of its business comes from cross-border states – further solidifies PA’s status as the f*cking North Korea of U.S. wine and spirits shopping experiences. As one NHLC exec told me, “We give selection and price, and now we need to focus on service to complete the circle,” which I can basically tell you is indeed happening, after having spent time there reviewing how they stack up to PA. From profitability (all of their stores turned a profit last year) to shipping (>1K direct shippers) to associate training to wine selection/availability (14K SKUs) to fees / taxes (roughly 8%), NH makes PA look like what it really is, the single worst state in the Union in which to buy wine.
So… coming back to PA from NH is like returning to hades. It’s like the end of 2112 where that dude finds the guitar in the cave and the Priests tell him to get bent on his music and he dreams of a more progressive future and then kills himself in despair (since this came out in the `70s, I’m not considering that a spoiler), only without the suicide though with the Prog Rock (because I was listening to awesome, angry King Crimson music on the ride home). In NH, I have seen a system that, while not perfect (hey, we’re still talking about the government being involved in private enterprise, which is bizarre at its core), is like a dreamy glimpse at what PA ought to be, what it could be if only the PLCB gave a stale rat’s ass about anyone actually making, buying, or drinking wine (when only the middlemen benefit, you know the system is totally broken).
So, before I get depressed enough to grab an acoustic and head off to a cave, let’s talk about a happier topic: namely, the juice being poured at NH Wine Week 2014…
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