Eric Asimov

 

 

 

If you are a wine lover, you are definitely familiar with Eric Asimov. We wine bloggers were lucky enough to get a chance to hear him and learned how he began his career.

Sorry that this video bounces around a bit as people kept moving to get closer to him.

Gretchen Neuman, VinoVerve.com Editor, September 8, 2011

Jancis Speaks

This year’s Wine Bloggers’Conference showed me how much the consequence of our craft* has risen. The keynote speakers were major wine personalities, Jancis Robinson, OBE, MW, wine writer for the Financial Times and JancisRobinson.com who also advises the QEII on her wine cellar and Eric Asimov of the New York Times.

I am periodically going to publish bits and pieces that I thought were cool from these speeches.

This is Jancis Robinson talking about the evolution of her website and the decision to use a subscription model.  I like it because there is not great master plan involved which makes me feel like even I could manage to accomplish greatness… Although she was already a Master of Wine at the time, so I guess there goes my dream again.

 

 

 

* Please slap me if I use such a phrase again.  I felt like an actor dissecting their oeuvre, which usually makes me want to vomit.

 

Gretchen Neuman, VinoVerve Editor, September 1, 2011

Jefferson Vineyards – History


After visiting Monticello, it makes perfect sense that my first stop the next day was the Jefferson Vineyards. The property was originally part of Monticello and granted to Filipo Mazzei so he could develop a vineyard. Jefferson had been disappointed by his attempts to produce wine grapes so he brought in Mazzei, a Venetian viticulturist to take over the effort. This is a story about timing being essential. Luckily, the dream lives on at this winery.

Jefferson Vineyards
1353 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
434-977-3042

Gretchen Neuman, VinoVerve Editor August 30, 2011

Mountain Mama

West Virginia always makes me think of a John Denver song. Not one in particular, just all of them in general. And I got to go there on my way home from the annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference.

Yes, I am looking at the states that I am visiting out of order. Why? because some of them I will visit both coming and going… I will get to them… eventually. It has been a bad month for me.

Anywho…

West Virginia.

The original plan didn’t include me driving through many of the parts of West Virginia that I wanted to visit.  Doesn’t that figure. The Greenbrier for instance. A great resort and home of a bunker for the government in case of Armageddon (the real one… not the California car version).  Given my new used fancy ve-hickle that was acquired two days before I hit the road, I was able to re-configure my trip.  White Sulpher Springs was now on the list.  Unfortunately, there was a golf tournament at the Greenbrier, so I couldn’t saunter into the  lobby of the resort.  Still, the area was quite beautiful.

On the other hand, the town of Matewan the subject of the movie by John Sayles was still not on my route.  It seems awfully small so maybe it was for the best.  I didn’t make it to anywhere  in Bloody Mingo.  I blame the Baldwin-Felts agents.

Even, even worse?  I didn’t get to taste any West Virginia wine.

Why?

Very simply bad timing.  I didn’t enter the state until nearly 6:30 pm and most of the wineries close before 6:00pm. sigh.  These wineries were along my route and I hope to lay my hands on some of those wines very soon.

Watts Roost Vineyard — located closest to my entrance into the state had already closed for the evening.  Given the number of tourists in town for the golf tournement, I am sure they were glad to close for the evening.  Still, they are producing wines from Chambourcin, Leon Millot and Vidal Blanc as well as elderberry, blueberry and blackberry wines that I would like to try.

Wolf Creek Winery — Also located in the Greenbrier Valley and is planted with twelve acres of Marechal Foch, Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc and have medals from the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (bronze), an International Eastern Wine Competition bronze and the Charleston Wine And All That Jazz Medal (Note: be careful there is more than one Wolf Creek Winery in the midwest).
Daniel Vineyards — Found further west, near Beckley, Dr. Daniel has planted 114 varietals on his property.  The wines seem to have received multiple medals from multiple competitions.  The downside?  They don’t ship. Boo.
Fisher Ridge — This winery was never going to be a good road trip stop for me as they are by appt. only.  Next time I am going through West Virginia I will try to plan better.  Also, they have no website. bummer.
Toscano in Appalachia — This winery is also by appt.  and while they have a website, it is just a single page with no additional information about the kinds of wines that they are producing (though from the name I am guessing something Italianish).
Winetree Vineyards — This winery sounded fantastic growing a mix of vinifera and hybrid grapes (or at least producing wines from them as I am a bit skeptical on the idea of a West Virginia Cabernet Sauvignon).
I promise that the next time I am in the state, I will get there earlier in the day.

Gretchen Neuman, VinoVerve Editor August 22, 2011

Virginia, You Really Rolled Out The Red Carpet – WBC’11

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

The 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference exceeded my expectations.  Being a conference newcomer, I can’t say that my expectations were all that well-formed, but I overheard many a conference veteran also commenting on how impressed they were with this year’s conference.

Having now arrived home, shaken the dust from my feet and begun the process of trying to get the red wine stains out of my shirts, I thought it worth taking a moment to reflect on what I took away from the conference.

First and foremost, Virginia’s wine culture is alive and thriving and producing some very nice wine.

Second, both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the City of Charlottesville know how to welcome people in style – from the welcome signs in many shop windows in downtown Charlottesville to the warm welcome and graciousness of the winemakers and wineries, throughout the entire weekend it was clear that both Charlottesville and Virginia were really glad to host the conference.    There was even a video-taped message from the governor shown at Saturday night’s dinner.   Now, I’ve been to many conferences over the years, including ASTD’s National Conference which has several thousand participants – talk about a quick-hit tourism boom to the local economy when they show up!   And yet this is the first conference where politicians and leaders of the tourism boards as well as local industry representatives showed up.   Needless to say, I was impressed.

WBC'11 Wine Reception at Monticello

The overall highlight of the conference for me was the connection to the local community and the local wines.   Friday’s dinner and wine reception at Monticello was great fun – good food, a chance to sample wines from 32 Virigina wineries (although I didn’t even come close…) and the opportunity to tour the house and grounds of Virginia’s, and America’s, patron saint of wine, Thomas Jefferson.   Between the history and the wine I was in heaven.

The focus on Virignia wines continued into Saturday with trips to several local wineries.  We were told to get on a bus – any bus – and we wouldn’t find out where we were going until after the bus left the hotel.    As much as Gretchen and I wanted to spend the day together, we decided to split up so between us we could cover twice as many wineries.   My bus stayed fairly close to Charlottesville in Southeastern Albermarle County, visiting the Virgina WineWorks (Michael Shaps’s winery), First Colony Winery, and finished with a fairly leisurely lunch at Blenheim Winery, owned by Dave Matthews.   No, Dave wasn’t there that day, but we did get a chance to meet Blenheim’s winemaker Kirsty Harmon as well as being treated to a surprise visit from and chance to chat with Gabriele Rausse, one of Virginia’s premier winemakers.   But more to come on the wineries and the wines in upcoming posts.

Monticello, Virginia

My weekend ended with Saturday evening’s dinner, a pairing of local food and wine, as I was scheduled to leave first thing Sunday morning.  Having the chance to sit down, enjoy the wine in a slightly more leisurely fashion and paired with food made for a truly satisfying experience.   And having a number of Virignia winemakers join us at the dinner to chat about their wines and Virginia wines in general was an added bonus.

My favorites of the dinner included the Afton Mountain Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon which I found fruity, smooth and lush, and the Michael Shaps 2007 Meritage, a lovely, well structured red wine, both of which paired very well with the rib-eyes and grilled vegetables served as the main course; Horton Vineyard’s Sparkling Viognier, whose light citrus notes and effervescence were a lovely complement to the Duck Paté which started the meal, and the Gray Ghost Vineyards 2010 Adieu, a late harvest Vidal Blanc that was mellow, lush and not overly sweet in the mouth.

WBC’12 and ’13

As I hit the road Sunday morning for the drive back to Connecticut, the Twitter feed was already buzzing with the news that WBC’12 would be held in Oregon and WBC’13 in Vancouver (!).   Both great wine regions with lots to offer – and I’m confident they’ll both be great conferences.

But as the conference organizers start thinking beyond 2013, I hope our experience in Virginia will encourage them to look east again.  And to help with the planning, I offer the following suggestions for potential sites for WBC’14 and beyond…

  • North Carolina – gorgeous countryside, a strong up and coming wine region, and as the centerpiece, the Biltmore Estate, which like Monticello is not only a great local landmark for an outdoor wine reception/dinner, but also boasts their own vineyard and produces some rather interesting wines themselves.
  • New York – in some ways this is the easy one.  With several great wine regions to choose from, Finger Lakes, Long Island or the Hudson River Valley, how could you go wrong with New York?  And with three-time Wine Blog Award winner Lenn Thompson and the team of the New York Cork Report on hand, I’m sure they could provide us with some great suggestions for winery visits and featured wines.
  • The Niagara Region in Ontario – personally this is one of my favorite wine regions in the Northeast.
  • And last, and perhaps more of a stretch than the others, may I also suggest Southeastern New England?   With Newport as the center, it could be a very interesting conference spanning the wines of three states, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.   Newport is a great town and summer playground and much easier to navigate than Cape Cod.   There are three wineries in the vicinity of Newport and the wineries of southeastern Connecticut and southeastern Massachusetts are only an hour away.   Newport is also home to Nancy Knowles Parker, founder and editor of the New England Wine Gazette.   A little local expertise can always come in handy…

So I throw these out as potential suggestions for the future, and in the meantime look forward to whatever the conference organizers have in store for WBC’12.

And Virginia, your southern hospitality has charmed this Yankee girl; I’ll be back … and soon.

WBC’11 – Drinking Local

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

First, let me say – great job so far to the conference organizers.  The first day of WBC’11 went off without a hitch, the sessions were all good, discussion was lively and interesting, and, despite the heat, dinner and the Virginia wine tasting at Monticello was tremendous.

Not surprisingly the breakout session that really drew me was the Drink Local panel featuring Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report and, we learned yesterday, a new board member of DrinkLocalWine.com; Rémy Charest from Quebec, who blogs at The Wine Case, and Frank Martin, wine writer for The Washington Post and founder of DrinkLocalWine.com.

The panel quickly turned into a group discussion with the full room with two topics generating the most discussion, the price of local wines, which to many consumers often feel quite expensive being in the $15-$30 range, and the locapour/locavore issue, in particular why more chefs and restaurants who say they are committed to use of local ingredients don’t also include local wines in their restaurants.

The thoughts and ideas were varied.  The panelists pointed out that too often chefs don’t go out to the wineries to source local wines, and the winemakers don’t visit the restaurants to try to place their wines.    It was also noted that many local wineries don’t produce enough volume to distribute widely in restaurants and that often in smaller markets you’ll find local restaurants serving local wines because the restaurant and the winery are both part of the same community.

Lenn Thompson pointed out that people who enjoy local wines need to be more vocal about asking for local wines when they are in restaurants.   I agree.

However, are there enough of us who truly embrace the Locapour philosophy to make a difference?   How many bloggers attending this year’s conference have featured local wines in their blog this year?   Probably more than I anticipate, but far less than should.

Should we be spending more time and energy building the Locapour movement among our neighbors – and let the restaurants follow?  Having a local wine on the menu is great, but not if I’m one of only a few people who might select it each year.

When I moved to Connecticut about 4 1/2 years ago and started down this journey of exploring my new home one winery at a time, I was absolutely amazed at how many of my colleagues at work, who had lived their entire lives in Connecticut, had no idea that Connecticut had any wineries, no less a very vibrant and thriving local wine community.  Or, if they were aware of Connecticut wine, they either thought it was all crap, or all fruit wine, or it was just Ballet of Angels, the one wine that has a fairly wide distribution across Connecticut.  They had no clue that there were over 30 wineries in all areas of the state, that several of them were no more than 30-45 minutes away, and all of them were well within a 2-hour drive from their homes.

Some of my more open-minded, adventurous friends soon joined me on the wine trail and began to experience for themselves the range of wines available throughout the state.   They began to expand their palates, learning they liked a wider range of wines and grapes than they had believed, and while not all the wines were great, they found some new favorite wines right in their own backyards.

Best of all, they enjoyed the experience and the wines so much that they began planning their own trips with husbands, friends, and relatives, and now when we get together, people are including as part of their regular conversations new wineries they’ve visited, trading notes on the new wines they’ve discovered, and generally encouraging others to hit the trail.

This was the piece of the puzzle that I felt we missed at the Drinking Local Wine panel yesterday.   With all the talk of encouraging local wines into restaurants, of confronting the often long-standing mis-impressions of local wines as being bad, of encouraging state tourism boards to better promote their local wine culture, and of better marketing local wine regions to those outside the region, I didn’t hear much discussion on how we foster a local Locapour community.

I would argue that people like Gretchen or me – or indeed, many of the people attending yesterday’s panel – are the vanguard not the target audience for Locapour efforts.  Just speaking for myself, I’m already very committed to the Locapour philosophy and at any given time you’ll find 50-75% of the wines in my house are from local vineyards that I have personally visited.   I am curious about other regions and am regularly searching both the internet and the library for information about different wine regions, local wineries, reviews of local wines, blogs, etc.   And whenever and wherever I travel, I try to find time to include a visit to at least one local winery on the agenda.   And yes, I go into wine shops and restaurants and ask if they offer local wines.

But I also have almost daily conversations with neighbors and colleagues who believe the only good wines come from the West Coast, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South America.    Pointing out that even 10-12 years ago people were not embracing wines from South Africa they way they do today, or unless you were a serious wine drinker had never heard of Malbec or Tempranillo and now even the most basic restaurant wine list carries them, usually gets me a “but that’s different” response.

Really?  How is that different?  Why, if the wine comes from an emerging wine region overseas is that “different?”  Why if you’d never heard of Malbec or Tempranillo grapes before everyone seemed to be talking about them is that any different than trying a St. Croix or Marechal Foch from your local winery?

Is the real answer, my cynical side asks, because “everyone was talking about” the Malbecs and Tempranillos and few, if any, are talking about local wines?  Is it because we are snobs – even if we won’t admit it – pooh-poohing anything local because it’s familiar, and the familiar often doesn’t have the same caché as a far-off quasi-exotic location?

And is it because we are lemmings, again however much we won’t admit it, and if the wine press, the wine bloggers, and the wine “buzz” isn’t talking about wines from the “Other 46” it must be because they aren’t worth talking about?

And if that is the answer, then should we focus more time and energy on building a wine region’s buzz from within?  How do we get our neighbors, colleagues, families out on the wine trails?  How do we engage more of the bloggers?  How do we publicize the local wine community to the local community?  And then how do we get the mainstream wine community to notice?

I don’t have all the answers, but I am certainly interested in the discussion.

 

 

WBC’11 Speed Blogging – Tabarrini Winery

Marguerite Barrett

2008 Adarmando

100% Trebbiano Spoletino, from 70 year old vines.

Region: Umbria

Aged in stainless steel; no oaking

Nose: very interesting; there’s a depth to the nose without a single really strong discernible note – I picked up a bit of green pepper; Gretchen picked up honey.  The interesting thing is it changes with each breath.

Palate: Crisp, dry, with notes of grass and a hint of acidity on the finish.   Very interesting wine.

Price point: $17.00 – $22.00

Distribution across the United States; lowest price is on tabarrini.us

 

WBC’11 Speed Blogging – Barboursville Vineyards

Marguerite Barrett

2009 Virginia Vioginier Reserve

An Italian winery that has moved into Virginia.

Nose is lightly fruity with notes of melon.

Palate has more citrus with notes of pineapple and a touch of grapefruit.  Crisp and refreshing, the wine is very well balanced with a clean mouth feel, and a slight creaminess.

Price point is $20 – $22.

Currently distributed in mid-Atlantic and starting to distribute more widely.