Live Wine Blogging: Day 2 — Why am I doing this, again?


I have this image of writers as people who, in order to successfully accomplish their objective, need to lock themselves away in a distant cabin with a typewriter, a heap of vodka, and not much else. That’s a pretty old-fashioned image. So what is my idea of a modern-day writer? I guess it would look like someone who holes up in their high-rise apartment with a laptop and a few bottles of artisanal liquors and bitters. But if you’re a wine writer? Well I guess you’d have a trove of wine instead.

I don’t fit this exact description but I do have a sizable stash of wine, and I do need to lock myself away when I’m truly focusing on a piece. So Live Wine Blogging? Well, I took the challenge the first day to prove to myself that I could get something out in about an hour that was semi-interesting, semi-cohesive, and maybe even a tad bit funny. (I admit, I did spend about 20 minutes on it afterwards before uploading it. I’m sorry! I’m a perfectionist.)

So on the second day, I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it—again. Crammed into a conference room with 300 other people, while wine makers spent five minutes explaining their wine to each table of ten (for a total of 50 minutes), I realized that the only thing I could hope to do was scratch the surface of anything. No serious reflections could be made. I couldn’t keep much focus. I couldn’t develop much story. I couldn’t even hear anyone half the time!

But then I realized that that was actually quite all right. I’ve got plenty of time to isolate myself off somewhere to develop an in-depth story about Schioppettino, Zibibbo, or the village of Benevento. I was at a conference to learn new things and meet new people … and learn new things from new people.

And coincidentally, just like on the first day, I again was seated next to another creative and respectable writer, with a rich and diverse portfolio behind him, also transplanted from NYC to California, and also named “Jo(h)n(athan).” This time it was John Capone, the Design & ecommerce Manager at Gundlach Bunschu winery. I should probably pay attention.

Bouncing my ideas off of intelligent and imaginative people like this, and seeing their approach to the challenge at hand, made being at the Live Wine Blogging sessions totally worth it.

So here are my “gems,” each quip contrived in 5 minutes or less, about each of the ten wines.

Urban Legend Teroldego 2010. Clarksburg. Teroldego is a red grape nearly exclusively grown in Trentino, Italy. Did you know Syrah is a direct predecessor of Teroldego? I did not, but evidently it is. Urban Legend found out about the variety 5-6 years ago and fell in love with these 20 year old vines in Clarksburg, California; now they want to spread the love. Cassis, blackberry jam, pine, smoke; fruit forward; spicy with a touch of bitterness. ☆

Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin 2012. Alexander Valley. SinZin is named after the art that appears on the label; they have making the wine for 35 years. Chocolate & strawberry jam.

Davis Bynum Jane’s Vineyard, Dijon Clone 115, Pinot noir 2012. Russian River Valley. To be released in September. First vintage was in 1973, which was the first single vintage Pinot noir ever released in RRV! Milk chocolate, moss, red licorice; quality on palate but the finish burned.

J. Lohr Falcon’s Perch, Pinot noir 2012. Monterey County (Arroyo Seco). There’s a falcon in the lone pine tree in the vineyard that keeps vine predators away. Dark, meaty, dried fig. Tastes like Syrah to me. This would be fun to put in as a ringer in a blind Syrah tasting. 😉  Super nice people, though!

Westerley Fletcher’s Red 2010. Happy Canyon. Cab 50%, Merlot 23%, Petite Verdot 23%, Cabernet Franc 4%. Bell peppers, campfire, olallieberry pie, fruit-forward and forward fruit, but acidity and tannins help. Did you know there are only six wineries in the Happy Canyon AVA? And none of them have open tasting rooms at their winery? It’s because it’s such a rural area and that type of traffic/commerce isn’t approved for that area (yet).

Happy Canyon, as seen from Grassini Family Vineyards on July 11, 2014.
Happy Canyon, as seen from Grassini Family Vineyards on July 11, 2014.
The Super Moon rising, at Grassini Family Vineyards.
The Super Moon rising, at Grassini Family Vineyards.

Main & Geary Zinfandel 2011. Dry Creek Valley. This is a BevMo wine. The label is named after the location of their flagship store in Walnut Creek that opened in 1994. Okie dokie. Purple fruit and spice. A Belt Buster.

Cornerstone Cellars Tokalon Vineyard 2011. Oakville. Cabernet, Cab Franc, Merlot. Craig Camp varies the percentages of the grapes every year. He picks early to preserve acidity in the wine. Tokalon Vineyard is located on the edge of the bench and extends to the border of Hwy 29 in Oakville. Bell pepper, cocoa, cinnamon stick and cherry jam. It probably does need 10 years, like he said. ★

White Hart Pinot noir 2012. Santa Lucia Highlands. The oldest Pinot noir vines in Santa Lucia Highlands. All I can say is, what is up with all these huge Pinots?

Banfi Centine 2012. Sangiovese 60%, Cabernet 20%, Syrah 20%. There are 600 clones of Sangiovese! So if you counted clones as separate varieties, how many different grapes grow in Italy? Anyone? Anyone? … Peppers, olives, black cherries, authentic varietal flavors. This is a big bold wine that needs age. Kind of like a European version of an Orin Swift wine.

Satrapezo Saperavi 2008. Georgia (Russia). Saperavi 100%. A Teinturier grape. I sense use of cement in the production, which I always like. Beef jerky, tomato sauce, pot roast, corn, smoke!, red cherry.

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