This morning, as I’m getting ready to head out to the vineyards of the Sonoma region, meeting people at Emeritus and Littorai, for starters, I’m still recovering a bit from the terrific weekend we’ve all had here at the very first North American Wine Bloggers Conference, which practically took over the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, CA over the weekend. Good sessions, great discussions with a host of fellow wine bloggers, a pretty successful unconference about issues that directly concerned the bloggers at hand (ethics, finding your niche, rating systems, negative reviews, etc.).
Now, since Saturday, through that busy schedule, I’ve been wondering how to blog about the whole thing, and getting a bit of writers’ block from all the possibilities. I’m sure I’ll have several posts about the whole thing going online in the next few days, including a more detailed report about the walk a small group of us took through Quivira‘s beautiful biodynamically-farmed vineyard, thanks to Zephyr Wine Adventures, a conference sponsor that, it has to be said, promoted and organized the conference in good part to promote their vineyard walks.
But in the meantime, I just wanted to point out a few of the most interesting and surprising wines I tasted throughout the weekend, whether we tasted them at the sponsored tastings or in more informal contexts. It’s a short list, for the moment, and I’ll come back with more.
For instance, about all the Sonoma tastings we had, I’ll only point out, for the moment two curiosities: a beautiful Arneis by Seghesio Family vineyards, a rich, lively version of this Piedmont white, and an old-vine Alicante Bouchet from Coppola, which was fruity, well-structured, refreshing and very much unique.
Between Sonoma tastings, we also had a New Zealand tasting, where I got tired by all the same-tasting sauvignon blancs, among which, however, I managed to find a pearl: the Gunn Estate, which was minerally, citrussy and fresh, withouth excessive herbal/grapefruit flavors. Delicious. Gunn’s refreshing chardonnay and well-balanced syrah were also very good, as was a 2001 Hans merlot-cabernet sauvignon that felt remarkably young and classy and well-structured, with a bordeaux-like nose of coffee and blackcurrant, with a touch of spice and tobacco.
Friday night, Lenn Thompson of the Lenndevours blog and Melissa Dobson, the Lenndevours Finger Lakes correspondent and a blogger in her own right, had organized an informal tasting of wines from New York, while Craig Camp of the Wine Camp blog had brought wines from Oregon, his current home base. Pinotblogger Josh Hermsmeyer was kind enough to welcome us at his home for this fun rendez-vous.
Among the many nice wines I tasted, a 2004 Wölffer Estate Cabernet Franc, from the Hamptons, on Long Island, particularly stood out. Beautiful cab franc flavors, with a nice sweet pepper and red fruit on the nose, great structure, and built for aging. World-class, no doubt about it.
From Oregon, I just had to taste the Scott Paul wines, which I’d heard lovely things about. Indeed, the 2006 pinot noir I tasted (sorry, didn’t write down which cuvée) was subtle, with beautiful red cherries and violets on the nose, reasonable alcohol (13.8%) and a lot of elegance. I want to taste more wines from this guy.
From England, by the Flamingo poolside, a couple of bottles of Balfour Brut Rosé, brought by Winesleuth Denise Medrano, popped open to applause. Very quaffable, with nice bubbles. No, not quite champagne, but well-done, with nice red fruit aromas. Cheers, indeed.
At that same poolside gathering, I have to say that the lovely, refreshing, intensely aromatic (apricots, clover and spice) late vintage wine from Vignoble des Négondos, an organic winery from Québec, did quite well and had a few fellow bloggers running over with their glasses to get some. I was quite proud to show the cool wines that can come from my home.
OK. Now, I have to run to the vineyards. But much more on all this later.