It feels strange being able to settle at home and pop open a Flying Dog brewski only a few short hours after the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference, the last three installments having taken place on the Left Coast and thus requiring a not-insubstantial amount of travel to attend for us Right Coasters.
This year’s shindig was held much closer to my neck of the woods, in Charlottesville, VA, where most of the conference days hit well over 100F outside, for which I employed a strategy of frequent shirt changes and liberal application of underarm deodorant (we might need a poll of those sitting near me at any of the sessions to determine how successful I was at beating the heat). More to come on my encounters (good, bad, and thoroughly ugly) with Virginian wines in the next few days.
No doubt that this will be among several dozen blog posts on the global interwebs today talking about the results of the 2011 Wine Blog Awards, though I suspect far fewer will be discussing how the awards were judged. I can talk a little bit about that, since I was a judge for this year’s competition…
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Uhm, like what is this stuff?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine sample tasting notes via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be fun, quickly-and-easily-digestible reviews. Below is a wrap-up of the twitter reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find them so you can try them for yourself. Cheers!
- 10 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough): Fleshy/acidic, a match made in Purgatory; lovely tropical fruit & herbs offer salvation $16 B >>find this wine>>
- 07 Rutini La Rural Vino Dulce Encabezado de Malbec (Maipu): Chocolate & berry liqueur melt into dried cherry, rum & general bliss. $50 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 10 Licia Albarino (Rias Baixas): Fleshy? Yep – but also tropical, herbal & a pretty versatile, nimble performer at the dinner table. $17 B >>find this wine>>
- 06 Annie’s Lane Riesling (Clare Valley): Petrol, lime, & spice all working together far more productively than our current US Congress $15 B >>find this wine>>
- 04 Rolf Binder Halliwell (Barossa): Shiraz/Grenache; Think dried cranberry reduction sauce & venison and you’ll get really close. $17 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Pirineos Mesache Rosado (Somontano): For those who are even *thinking* about serving strawberries & balsamic at an upcoming picnic $10 B- >>find this wine>>
- 10 Protos Verdejo (Rueda): Crazy value. Tropical, herbal, floral, surprisingly complex & made for grilled octopus on hot Summer nights $10 B >>find this wine>>
- 06 Simi Merlot (Sonoma County): Right Bank Bord’x visits Sonoma & hits the gym. Tea leaf, olives, black fruit & nary an ounce of flab. $18 B >>find this wine>>
- 09 Loosen Bros. Dr.L Riesling (Mosel): The Dr is still IN, as is his impressive ability to capture Mosel soul at a great price point. $12 B >>find this wine>>
- 09 Cataldo Sauvignon (Sicilia): Badda-bing! This is creamy, grassy, lemony & just one hell of a food-versatile find for the moolah. $9 B- >>find this wine>>
- 09 Peter Mertes Platinum Late Harvest Riesling Spatlese (Rheinhessen): Not shy about the sweetness, but maybe too shy about the spice. $9 B- >>find this wine>>
- 08 Concannon Righteously Rose (Livermore Valley): Red berry & meat combo will cause a headfake, but not after U taste it w/ pancetta. $10 B- >>find this wine>>
- NV Rondel Cava Pura Raza Brut (Cava): Short on finish, but long on green apple, pear & cream – and even longer on elegant value. $9 B- >>find this wine>>
Until a little over a week ago, I’d never had a one hundred and eleven year old wine before.
And when heading out to dinner in downtown Chicago, I hadn’t expected to run into a wine that was celebrating it’s eleventy-first birthday; I mean, does anyone ever expect to run into anything celebrating 111 years on planet Earth, apart from Bilbo Baggins when you’re cracking open The Fellowship of the Ring for, like, the eightieth time? (C’mon closet LoTR geeks… you know you’ve done it…)
The scene of the crime (those words have probably started a lot of stories about Chicago…) was the new (by downtown Windy City standards) steak joint Benny’s Chop House, whose wine list is both extensive and, one could argue, extensively marked-up. My dinner-mates were not in the wine biz, but – luckily for me – had generosity and money to spare. Because I’d noticed, in Benny’s bar’s bountiful body of wines by the glass, a Madeira from 1900.
I’ve had Bordeaux of just about all stripes dating back to the `60s and even a classic from the `20s, and had the good fortune to taste German wines that pre-date my appearance on planet Earth from celebrated producers in celebrated vintages. But over 100 years old? That’s like the vinous equivalent of surfers chasing the 100-foot wave.
In what will come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever to wine geeks anywhere, much cajoling, begging and pleading to try the wine then ensued. Successfully, I should add!
While my past encounters with more storied wines of yore have never resulted in a formal review, my brush with this turn-of-the-century greatness – the 1900 D’Oliveiras Reserva Moscatel Madeira – is an experience available to you, since the wine can be found on the market without too much difficulty (though not for too little cash!), and so marks the first time I’m giving a formal review of a very, very old vinous soul…
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