Seaside Rendezvous, Part Deux (Highlights From Riesling Rendezvous 2016)

Riesling Rendezvous seaside

Seaside rendezvous, anyone?

I, along with three or four other people (ok, it’s not that bad, it just feels that bad), profess to love Riesling, so much so that I actually purchase it with my own hard-earned cash. So I’m not the kind of wine writer to turn down a media invite to the Seattle-hosted Riesling Rendezvous event when it rotates back stateside (alternating in other years with Europe and Australia).

This is my second stint attending RR, and between the 2013 incarnation and this one, held in mid-July 2016, I can give you a rough idea of what positive and negative trends have emerged in Riesling-world.

Winners:

  1. The state of Riesling, in general. The quality of Riesling fine wines, overall, has rarely been as high as it is right now. Emerging Riesling regions, such as Canada and the U.S. Midwest, are really starting to hold their own with the likes Austria, the Finger Lakes, and even Germany.
  2. The standard-bearers. Alsace, Germany, and Austria – probably the holy trinity of Riesling in terms of what we consider as fine wine standards – showed up and showed off big time at RR 2016. More to come on Alsace in particular in a separate post.

Losers:

  1. Terroir. Seriously. RR 2016 repeated the panel format of RR 2013, when several dry Rieslings were tasted blind by a panel of experts, as well as a room full of wine media, producers, industry folk, and avid consumers. This format was then repeated for off-dry/sweet Rieslings from around the globe. There were many excellent wines in the lineups, but the trouble came whenever the expert panelists (and the the very knowledgeable audience members) attempted to guess where each wine originated.Our success rates? Maybe 30%. And that’s being generous. The majority of the time, winemakers couldn’t successfully identify their own wines.To me, that suggests that a) several dozen people who do wine (and in some cases, Riesling) for a living don’t know what they’re doing, which seems incredibly unlikely, or b) the quality of Riesling winemaking in general is one the rise, causing a bit of non-threatening conformity, which does seem extremely likely, and c) the common notion among wine peeps that Riesling is a lightning rod grape for the expression of terroir has been significantly overstated. Discuss among yourselves…

Following are what I considered several highlights (about 15 wines, if I’m still able to count correctly) from those panel tastings, so start paying close attention, you Riesling warrior acid-freaks…

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For August 8, 2016

Vinted on August 8, 2016 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 11 Robert Mondavi Winery I Block Fume Blanc (Napa Valley): You lost the staring contest against its heady, floral, pure intensity. $90 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Robert Mondavi Winery Stags Leap District Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley): Not shy on explosiveness, while avoiding fruit bombing. $34 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Buckeye Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain): Like a S'more, only with heavenly blackberries instead of marshmallows. $85 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Cuvee Silex Sec (Loire): Flint Cuvee, indeed; Chenin's vivacious side on refreshing display. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 15 M. Chapoutier Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rose (Pays D'oc): Strawberry and pink grapefruit, armed & not taking any sh*t from anyone. $15 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Shadybrook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Coombsville): Bold rather than subtle, excellent rather than, well, rather than anything else $95 A >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley): Not expecting its darker, plummier presentation? You won't mind it tho $32 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Monte Tondo Soave Classico (Soave): If only there were adult lemonade stands available that sold this on hot Summer afternoons… $17 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 14 Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Ribero del Rapel Sauvignon Blanc (Colchagua): Generous, lively, and boisterous; be ready to party. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Vistalba Corte A (Mendoza): There's just so much to love here, and this one just isn't at all shy about sharing any of it. $70 A- >>find this wine<<
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And Then, There Was Mojo (Highlights From Sonoma County Barrel Auction 2016)

Vinted on August 3, 2016 binned in on the road, wine industry events, wine review

Sonoma County Barrel Auction 1

Personally, I didn’t need any more evidence that Sonoma generally has its mojo working and is making some of the best wines ever to come out of the region. But I got a thoroughly inundating reminder of that when I visited the second (2016) incarnation of the Sonoma County Barrel Auction as a media guest this past April (and yes, I’m just getting around to writing about it now).

Auction-wise, it seems to me t hat most of the initial kinks have been worked out; the event was entertaining, and the group of MSs and MWs (several of which I’m happy to call friends… which shows you just how crazy the wine biz really is… Doug, I owe you for sharing your liquor, buddy!) that they brought in to the vet the one-of-a-kind entries did a stellar job in teasing out the region’s best.

Sonoma County Barrel Auction preview tasting

I suppose that the SoCoBA is the Sonoma counterpoint to Premiere Napa Valley. And in many ways, it compares favorably to PNV, though it does so in Sonoma’s more down-home, farmer-centric style. In my view, there were so many excellent wines on offer over the two days of tastings held at the event, that I’m going to have to keep the descriptions short-and-sweet. Hopefully these highlights will clue you in on a producer or two (or four) that hadn’t been on your California wine radar, but probably ought to be.

And, yeah, it’s mostly Pinot (get over it), but there are a handful of nice surprises in here…

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