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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 307

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Gratitude (Reflections on TasteCamp East)

Vinted on May 4, 2009 binned in on the road
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TasteCamp East, the first-ever gathering of Right Coast wine bloggers, is now freshly behind us.

I came.

I saw.

I nuked my palate tasting hundreds of wines in a two-day whirlwind tour of Long Island wine country.

You will read more ( a lot more) from me regarding my take on the current state of Long Island wine – and some very, very good wine is being made in the North Fork, and even better wine is being made in the Hamptons. 

But that is a topic for another entry on this blog.

Today, I only want to give thanksto the wineries of Long Island, for their generosity and hospitality; to Lenn Thompson, for doing the yeoman’s work of pulling together the first TasteCamp, and for providing the broadest, deepest, and most comprehensive introduction to Long Island wine that I could have ever hoped to have had; and most of all to my my fellow Right Coast wine bloggers.

After spending a few short days with that group, I’m humbled and deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to be included among the ranks of such a knowledgeable, talented, passionate and fun group.

Those aren’t just the fuzzy Kumbaya words of a slightly-inebriated wine lover – to me, they underscore an important aspect of how wine “media” are interacting with wine consumers. 

The online community of wine writers is a vibrant group, with a viability and relevance that is increasing nearly every day as a new generation of wine consumers (and those older generations that are increasingly influenced by them) not only demand a new, more immediate way of interacting with wine, but also join our blogging ranks.  These newcomers to the world of wine don’t give a crap about our pedigree, our credentials as writers, or our proven experience-levels with respect to wine (as measured in traditional ways such as certifications and the like).

They only care that we’re transparent, and that we prove consistently that we know what we’re talking about and are dedicated to passionately improving our craft and giving them solid advice.

It’s a bit of a scary prospect sometimes, because once you start to get an interactive readership on a blog, you can’t help but to want to try live up to those standards.  Knowing that you’ve got so many colleagues (and friends) on the Right Coast who are living up to those standards is, simply put, inspiring.

Much more to come, both on the topics of Long Island wine and that demanding generation of new wine lovers.  But for now, here’s to Long Island, here’s to Lenn, and here’s to many more TasteCamp meet-ups with the folks who are inspiring me!

Cheers!

Weekly Twitter Wine Mini-Reviews Round-up for 2009-05-02

Vinted on May 2, 2009 binned in twitter, wine mini-reviews
  • 07 Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc (Napa Valley): Granddaddy of modern CA wine going strong. More lemongrass & vanilla than a Vietnamese dinner. #
  • 07 Crane Lake Cabernet Sauvignon (CA): Cab?? Yeah, & I’m the Pope. Amazingly unbalanced for its low abv. To be served to your worst enemies. #
  • 05 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Blackberry & chocolate. Probably overdone, but with grilled steak you won’t mind one bit #
  • 04 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mtn. Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Sublime balance btw focused black fruit & silky tannic structure. Drool #
  • 08 MontGras Reserva Carmenère (Colchagua Valley): Black, spicy & peppery enough to stand up to blackened swordfish. Tasty, if not exciting. #
  • 06 Martin Codax Ergo (Rioja): New world in terms of forward berry fruit, old world in terms of acidity & raging, massive Rioja oakiness. #

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3 Easy Ways to Get to 100 (Wine Varieties, That Is)

Vinted on May 1, 2009 binned in learning wine, wine appreciation

Did we really tell lies
Letting in the sunshine
Did we really count to one hundred
?”

- Jon Anderson, Long Distance Runaround

If you’ve been on the “global interwebs” for any appreciable amount of time, and you like wine, you’ll already be familiar with the Wine Century Club.  If not, here’s a short primer: the WCC is an organization that seeks to promote wine appreciation by offering you bragging rights after you successfully taste 100 or more wine varieties.  Download the application, fill it in, send it to the WCC, and then you’re a member.

Of course, there is the matter of tasting the required 100 or more wine varieties. 

I’ve got a buddy who I’ve known for over 30 years (since I was five years old, actually) who is not a wine geek per se, but he does enjoy wine and he loves to learn, and he especially likes collecting categorical experiences.  He recently asked me about the Wine Century Club after seeing that I was a member, generally inquiring about how to go about tasting the 100 different wine grape varieties required to gain membership

My buddy is not the kind of guy to get daunted by a challenge like tasting 100 different wine grape varieties, but while being a fantastic idea and also clearly in the camp of spreading wine appreciation to the masses, the WCC doesn’t exactly do itself any favors in terms of encouraging membership when it publishes this sort of warning on its website:

“It’s a simple idea, but it’s not as easy to become a member as you may think. One Master Sommelier could only come up with 82. Of the thousands of applications downloaded, less than 3% are completed. If you feel up to the challenge, have a look at the application!”

With all due respect to the WCC founders, I’ve got to go ahead and disagree on that.  I think my buddy is exactly the kind of person that should be shooting for WCC membership.

In fact, it’s my belief that anyone who wants to learn more about wine should become a Wine Century Club member.

It’s not difficult at all to do this (hell, even I did it).  It just takes patience (I said it wasn’t difficult – I didn’t say it was quick).

If you’re someone who wants to learn about wine, you’d do far worse than seek out 100 different grape varieties to try – you’ve got nothing to lose except time (and a little bit of money), and you stand to gain an immeasurable amount of quality wine experience along the way.  There is no faster way to learn about wine, after all, than to taste it.

So I thought I’d offer some advice on how you can get to the 100 and join the WCC yourself.  The competitive among you (like me) won’t have any trouble motivating yourself (“I will get me 100 grape varieties, dammit!!!”), but if you need even more incentive, how about this: did you know that one of prog rock pioneers Yes’ greatest songs, Long Distance Runaround, from their landmark 1971 LP Fragile, was written about the Wine Century Club (even though the WCC wasn’t founded until decades after the album’s release)?*  How friggin’ cool is that?!??

* – This statement has not been verified by any reputable source and is probably totally false.  But Yes kicks ass, can we just agree on that?

 

Anyway, onto the advice…

3 Easy Ways to Get to 100 and Join the Wine Century Club

1) Take Stock

If you’ve been drinking wine for a while, likely you have tried more grape varieties than you realize (if you suffer from having a spouse / main squeeze that only drinks one style of wine… I feel for you but you need help if you’re gonna get crackin’ on the 100).  For WCC membership, blends count, so take a few minutes to think back on how many varieties you can check off from those blended wines.  If you’d had a Southern Rhone wine anytime in the recent past, look up that sucker on the web, because you may have tasted upwards of a dozen varieties in that one glass.

2) Take a Class

Wine classes are a great way to up your wine IQ (well… duh…), but they’re also the kind of setting where you often get to try wines that are off the beaten path.  If you don’t know much about a particular wine region, it’s a great excuse to get yourself to a wine class and get educated.  It’s also an opportunity to tick off a likely more than a few varieties on your way to the 100.

3) Take a Trip

When you travel, try wine – preferably local wine.  Tasting wine in its home region, paired with its “home” food, is really experiencing wine in its natural element, and it will seriously expand your wine knowledge.  Of course, traveling is also an opportunity to try funky local wines that might not otherwise be available to you.  Here’s an example: Italy has hundreds of wine grape varieties, so a short time in Italy would get you ticking off wine varieties on your WCC application like… well… like a thing that speedily checks stuff off applications.  Anyway, if you lived in Italy, you should be able to complete the WCC application before your twelfth birthday.

So there you have it – nothing difficult about it.  Well, nothing difficult apart from having the patience to let your wine journey unfold naturally so that you experience the wonderful world that it has to offer you…

 

 

Cheers!

(images: amazon.com ,1WineDude, melaman2.com)

TasteCamp Kicks Off in Long Island Tomorrow!

Vinted on April 30, 2009 binned in twitter

TasteCamp EAST is nigh upon us!

The entire Dude clan (minus the dog) will be en route to Long Island wine country tomorrow to spend the weekend celebrating the 5th wedding anniversary of Dude & Mrs. Dudette… oh, yeah, and also taking part in TasteCamp, a regionally-focused spin-off of the North American Wine Bloggers Conference

I’m trying very hard to figure out something better to do for celebrating my anniversary than visiting a regional wine area and tasting their wares… hmm… sorry, drawing a blank here… 

Anyway, Lenn Thompson has done a great job so far in pulling together the first-ever TasteCamp event, and I and some of my fellow Right Coast wine bloggers will be reporting (probably sporadically) from the event.  Here’s a quick list of the wineries and sponsors that will be part of the event:

I’m pretty stoked, especially to be kicking off what will hopefully be many, many more years of married bliss with Mrs. Dudette, and also to be meeting up with my wine blogging compadres in New York. More to come, but you can follow the TasteCamp happenings as reported via twitter by checking out the widget embedded below on this post.

 

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Grazr

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Cheers (and snoochie-boochies)!

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