28 July, 2009

2009 Wine Bloggers Conference - Day 1 - Review

On Friday, June 24, I set off to attend the 2nd annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma County, California. Friday started off around 1PM with a casual hotel lunch and informal tasting. This was an opportunity for all of the blogger attendees to walk around, get settled, find power for laptops, get wine glasses, meet our peers and then casually walk around to visit with the event sponsors. Most, if not all of the local sponsors staffed their areas with both PR reps and a winemaker or grower. It's very nice to speak with artisans about their craft, art and their product. I've listed/linked several of them below.

A quick note for our sponsors:

I can't thank all of winemakers/vintners and sponsors enough. They each made the effort to make us feel like royalty, took care of our needs, fed us in a generally great fashion!!! and spent time chatting and answering our numerous questions THANK YOU! Please take a minute and check them out.

A couple of standouts in this tasting:

From the DO Rueda reps (not sure the reps actually made the trip from Spain) was the 2008 Blanco Nieva Verdejo. This is what I'd expect when ordering a glass of house white in a "bodega typico" in Spain. Refreshing, cool, crisp green melon and mineral notes. Very nice balance. While many of the other Verdejo lables were also very nice on the nose and on the first contact, this one had a perfect amount of smoothness and flavor concentration on the finish. The others did not.

At approx 2PM we settled in for the presentation of the 2009 American Wine Blog Awards. Good fun to see our peers get the recognition they deserve. Bravo and Kudos well earned to all of the winners. See our previous post on the results.

After that wrapped up, we moved straight to the live-blogging portion of the day. We all called this "speed-dating" or "speed tasting." With 22 tables and 6-8 bloggers per table, vintners and wineries spent 6 minutes with each table, pouring and then discussing the wine they presented for our review. This was a BLAST! We had so little time to think about fluffy adjectives and over analyze the wine and that proved to be very challenging and rewarding at the same time. See our previous post for the reviews and discussion, or lack thereof. FUN, FUN, FUN! Looking forward to double this next year..perhaps one white and one red session. Awesome!

After that wrapped, I checked into the hotel, schlepped bags upstairs and then joined several folks for some impromptu tasting at their patio. The Crushpad boys did a couple of really nice things. A Sta. Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir that was more like Russian River (strange, but true). It had a really strawberry jammy nose and just when I expected it to hit me hard, it didn't. It was ALMOST reserved. Surprised the hell out of me and was actually the first Sta. Lucia Highlands Pinot that I actually enjoyed. Ok..there, I admitted it. They also poured a silky Rousanne that was crisp, creamy and lemony vanilla in a glass. Lovely.

Wow...time for more tasting - The poolside grand tasting was a presentation of approx 25 wineries/vintners each pouring 3-6 wines of their choice for our review consideration. Wow...so many wines, so little time. Unfortunately, I mode it only partially thru the tasting (I'll post a couple of reviews of some selects from this) and then they rushed us off for dinner. Now that's a shame. Forced us to leave great tasting stuff poolside, for, and this is my only complaint of the weekend, for the "Hotel Rubber Chicken." Bummer.

I broke on out and headed to Riviera just a couple of blocks away for a proper dinner. Thanks GP for firing up the kitchen and saving the night! Papardelle Bolognese FTW!

..Day 2, Saturday....

...more to come.

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