Entering a construction zone: winecase.ca

Earlier this year, I announced proudly that The Wine Case was going to move from its wordpress.com incarnation to its own domain and location: winecase.ca. It took a little longer than expected, but now, thanks to David Honig of Palatepress, the address is now active and the posts have moved to their new location.

We’re still fiddling around with the code a bit, and I have to redo the blogroll and realign the widgets, but the essentials are there already.

For a short while, as the transition takes place, I’ll keep notifying about new posts here. But when things are fully settled, I’ll start posting exclusively on winecase.ca, which should be joined very soon by a cousin blog, foodcase.ca. Because after all, as one of my friends put it, one cannot blog by wine alone…

Thank you for your patience and, I’m sure, your enthusiasm about this evolution of The Wine Case.

Advertisements
Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 2:46 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

A season of wine conferences: Santa Rosa or Dallas anyone? Lisbon maybe?

Next Friday, July 24, 2009, the second edition of the Wine Bloggers Conference will get started at the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, California (again). Last year’s inaugural conference was a sold out event, with some 170 participants, and this year is sold out again, at an increased capacity of 250.

The conference program brings back the best stuff from last year (like the Live Wine Blogging) and adds to it, with the presentation of the American Wine Blog Awards, and a day in Napa Valley. Keynote speakers include Barry Schuler of AOL fame (and Meteor Vineyard) and Jim Gordon, editor of Wines & Vines, and after parties will feature wines from Russian River and Portugal. Wish I could attend, but late July is family vacation. I’ll wave hello from the shores of the Great Lakes.

Can’t make it to WBC and still looking forward to a wine conference? How about heading to Dallas, Texas, on August 15, for the first DrinkLocalWine.com conference? The goal of the one-day event is to showcase the evolution of the Texas wine industry, which now boasts some 177 wineries. One more proof that you really shouldn’t think of California wine and American wine as synonyms. I’ll miss that one too, but will try to follow the tweet-up/live blogging event featuring 40 of the Lone Star state’s best cuvées, which is set to conclude the event.

The one conference I’m still hoping I can make it too is the second European Wine Bloggers Conference, taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, October 30 to November 1. I certainly wouldn’t mind polishing up and updating my knowledge of Portuguese wines, and meeting with the very interesting, multinational group of bloggers who gather there (the word “European” refers to the location of the conference, but bloggers can come from anywhere). The program includes a visit to the cork forests, guided by natural cork producer Amorim, which in itself should be worth the trip for any wine geek.

And if I don’t make it to this one either, there will be other gatherings in the new year. TasteCamp should move to the Finger Lakes, while the American Wine Bloggers conference will be heading to Washington State. More opportunities to discover wine regions and their production. Last year, at the first Wine Bloggers Conference, I loved the opportunity to learn more about Sonoma Wines, and especially Dry Creek, where I had the chance, during and after the conference, to visit Preston and Quivira, two very solid producers of sunny, intense, well-defined wines. Just that made the trip worthwhile.

Everybody’s talking about natural wines – thanks, Saignée!

How do you celebrate a year of blogging? With a month of blogging, of course.

A special month of blogging, I mean. Like the 31 days of Natural Wine put together by Cory Cartwright of Saignée, one of the most interesting wine blogs around. He asked a number of other voices of the online wine world to contribute their thoughts on natural wine, every day of that feast of a month.

Alice Feiring, Jeremy Parzen of Do Bianchi, Amy Atwood from My Daily Wine, Brooklyn Guy and a bunch of others have been contributing, and it’s quite an interesting bunch of reads. Everything from a visit to Nicolas Joly, the biodynamic pope himself, to discussions of sulfur in wine, to a very… honest tasting of the latest Bonny Doon wines by Mr Saignée himself.

The series brings forward all sorts of questions about the concept of natural wines – a rather vague category that includes, depending on who you speak to, everything from sustainable winemaking to biodynamics and no-sulfur wines. In French, the moniker “vin naturel” has been more closely defined by the likes of Thierry Puzelat, Marcel Lapierre and such as no-sulfur wines (rather often made with carbonic maceration). In the US, that would be closest to “organic wine”, although the fact that sulfites must be totally absent from certified US organic wines (even the naturally occuring sulfites), making it an even more extreme category. Translating “organic wine” back to “vin bio”, in France, leads to another category altogether. And don’t get me started on the various “sustainable” winegrowing and winemaking programs established in the US and New Zealand, among others. (This Wine Business article will give you an idea of the concepts and regulations involved.)

What’s right or wrong with these categories? I’m certainly in favor of any move towards more careful, ecologically-friendly wine-growing and towards making wines whose ingredient list is limited to grapes, period. But I don’t think adding a little sulfur is a heresy, or that one single approach has all the answers. It does make for a very interesting discussion, though… More than enough for 31 days.

TasteCamp in Long Island: I AM drinking merlot

I can say one thing about last weekend’s TasteCamp East, organized by Lenn Thompson for a group of about 15 bloggers (see the whole list here, with very personal notes from Dale Cruse) who enthusiastically went around the vineyards of Long Island. I’ve never had so much merlot in so little time.

Actually, I can say two things about TasteCamp East: I’ve never had so much merlot, and never before had I enjoyed it that much.

img_3899

Bud break on a merlot vine at Shinn Estate Vineyards

It’s not that I’ve never had good merlot – or at least, good merlot-based blends. For instance, I’ve enjoyed many good and some great Pomerols or Saint-Émilions where merlot was playing a leading role. But I tend to find more to please me in the Médoc, with cabernet sauvignon in the forefront. And years of being disappointed again and again by flabby or imprecise or just undistinguished varietal bottlings from the likes of California and Chile just brought my enthusiasm for merlot very close to ground level. 

So what was I doing in Long Island, where merlot is king? (more…)

TasteCamp East: adventures in Long Island wines

Well, here I am at The Greenporter Hotel in Greenport, NY, on the Eastern end of Long Island, for a meeting of wine bloggers called TasteCamp East.

The event is organized by Lenn Thompson, one of the top wine bloggers and an expert on the wines of New York and, more specifically, Long Island, where he lives – and obviously, drinks. (more…)

When Robert Parker can’t get his facts (or his ethical guidelines) straight

I was appalled and incensed, Friday evening, when I read a post by Robert Parker himself on the eRobertParker forum. I don’t often agree with Mr Parker’s taste, but I do have respect for what he’s accomplished and for the energy he’s put into advocating wine.

I’ve lost a lot of that respect, now, after an attack he has made on wine bloggers and on the Wine Bloggers Conference and those who organized it. And it’s not a question of opinion. Even as he accuses wine bloggers of spreading falsehoods, Mr Parker has evidently not even bothered to check any facts on what he states in his forum post.

Let me quote him. (more…)

Wine Blogging Wednesday 56: a Kosher Wine from Utiel-Requena

It’s always nice when Wine Blogging Wednesdays lead us off the beaten track, and allows us to expand our views on the world of wine. I mean, drink AND learn? How could you go wrong?

WBW 56 is certainly such an opportunity, with the kosher wines theme thought out by the Corkdork, just in time for Passover. 

It allowed me to realize that there are dozens of kosher wines available at the Société des alcools du Québec, our good old State monopoly for wine and spirits. Wines ranging from Concord grape Manischewitz to 100-dollar bottles of Burgundy from a négociant called Roberto Cohen. Lots of wines from Israel, of course, but also from France, California, Italy, Australia, Argentina and Spain.

That’s where I picked my kosher wine from, a wine from the Utiel-Requena appellation, near Valencia, called Makor. Makor is made by by Elvi Wines, a Spanish producer entirely dedicated to making kosher wines from various Spanish regions (Priorat and Rioja, among others) and even from Chile. 

The 2004 vintage, which I tasted for the WBW, is made from 50% bobal, a native grape from Utiel-Requena, along with 20% tempranillo and 30% cabernet sauvignon. And that’s where the label is strangely not quite… kosher, as it only insists on bobal, without mentioning the other grapes.

Whatever’s in there, it sure packs a punch. The wine is dark purple, with intense aromas and flavors of black fruit (blackberry and, especially, plums), smooth tannins and an almost creamy texture. Not a light and subtle wine, but a simple and fun one.

Without knowing that it was a kosher wine, I wouldn’t have guessed. Which is a great thing, really: you wouldn’t want kosher wines to be some sub-class of wine. So it’s all good. And it’s even great with refried-bean enchiladas, as the intensity of the wine competes nicely with the starchy texture of the beans – and the tomato sauce, and the cheese. Not a classic kosher meal. But let’s all be open and enjoy the good things.

Blog rankings: what a Wine Blogging Wednesday can do for your blog.

I got contacted, last week, by the folks at information portal Wikio, asking me if I wanted to have a chance to post an exclusive preview of the new rankings for top food and wine blogs compiled at the end of March. I’d come up over 30 spots since the previous rankings, they said, so they figured I would probably be happy to toot my horn a bit.

Sure, I said, why not, all the while keeping in mind the limitations in blog rankings that others have previously pointed to. Now, technical issues kept me from getting the rankings in time to write my “exclusive” post on time, and now the new rankings are out for March, and I’ve gone up from 111th rank in January to 61st in February to a smashing 27th place in late March.

Woohoo, right? Weeeeellll…

The key things you have to keep in mind about this ranking are that, first, it works on an opt-in basis (The Pour, Vinography, Fermentation and many other popular blogs are not in the list because they haven’t linked up to Wikio) and that, second, it works on the basis of links, rather than traffic per se. “The position of a blog in the Wikio ranking depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs.”, it says at the bottom of the page, adding that how recent these links are is also a factor.

Now, what did I do in February and March? I hosted the 55th Wine Blogging Wednesday, on a theme called North vs South. This collective wine tasting event is very popular, meaning that several wine bloggers always relay what the new theme is, and that the dozens who actually take part then link to your blog as they post their contribution on the theme in question. So that makes for a lot of links over these last two months, for me.

Same kind of thing happened to David McDuff, who hosted WBW 54, about Piedmont, and whose blog climbed all the way up to 12th place before falling back a bit to 19th place last month. I expect to start slipping back down next month. No regrets or surprises: it’s perfectly normal that less people will link to my blog next month, compared to the central blogging event that is Wine Blogging Wednesday. WBW brought me a lot of traffic, and I’ll only keep part of it on a recurring basis, as is always the case when something makes your traffic stats spike suddenly.

So what does that do for me? Well, judging from my stats, it has brought me some extra traffic. So thanks, Wikio. But am I the 27th most read and most important blog on the Internet? No way. I just had a really good couple of months, thanks to the WBW.

Wine Blogging Wednesday 55: North vs South – a bipolar roundup

It’s always fascinating to see the many ways people can interpret a proposition. So what did the participants in the 55th Wine Blogging Wednesday make of this idea of confronting North vs South?

From Michigan Riesling to Tasmania Pinot Noir, from Spanish Garnacha to Tennessee Chambourcin, there sure were a lot of possible pairings (and threesomes, and foursomes) put together by the 33 participants who took up the challenge. Three of those, I’m happy to say, were first timers in the world of Wine Blogging Wednesday (this one, this one and this one), showing how the concept is still going strong and breaking new ground. (more…)

The sweeter side of things: check out The Tawny Times

While I’m waiting for the latecomers to Wine Blogging Wednesday 55 to send in their posts, so I can prepare my round-up, I rummaged through my tasting notes from the Salon des vins de Québec, and decided to put a bit of them online… on another blog.

But Rémy, you may ask, don’t you have enough already with The Wine Case and that French blog of yours? In fact, yes, but when you get a really sweet offer…

The sweet offer in question (more…)