This past weekend my fellow Cellarblogger Erica and I spent a fun wine filled weekend in Charlottesville, VA with about 300 other wine bloggers from all over the US and several international folks at the 4th annual Wine Blogger Conference. This was our first time attending this event, and it was a blast! Because there are so many things that we want to highlight, we're breaking up our posts and will be posting recaps of the various events we attended.
On Friday, the first official day of the conference, we arrived later than we planned due to traffice, but were able to catch the tail end of the Keynote speaker, Jancis Robinson, (voted first-ever Wine Website of the Year in the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers Awards 2010), who writes weekly for The Financial Times, and bi-monthly for a column that is syndicated around the world. She is also editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine and co-author with Hugh Johnson of The World Atlas of Wine.
After the keynote, we went right into the breakout sessions. The 3 choices for the first session were:
1) Aromas of Wine with Winebow Wines
2) Millennials and Wine
3) Online Technologies and Wine
They all sounded great, but I opted for the Aromas of Wine session and was promptly greeted with a tray full of aromas and 6 glasses of wine (3 whites, 3 reds). Since we only had an hour, the pace moved very quickly.
Initial discussion was around the 5 senses: Sight, Hearing, Touch, Smell, and Taste. Our speaker, Sheri Sauter Morano talked about how memory, experience and expectations affect how you taste a wine. She also talked about how our senses change with weather, age, PMS (for the women), etc...and mentioned that humans can only process 4 flavors at any given time. After the discussion was done we moved onto the actual aromas and wine. For each wine we were told to try to identify the grape variety, identify the region the wine was from, and assign at least one Aroma to the wine (to include ones that weren't on the tray if needed). We then talked about what some of the classic descriptors are for Whites and Reds, and I was very surprised not to see Pepper listed as one of the descriptors of Cabernet Francs. Instead, they used Tea Leaves, Lead Pencil, Mint and Cassis. For Viognier (the now official Virginia Varietal), the descriptors listed were Peach, Apricot, Floral, and Mango.
After we had some time to taste, smell, and guess....we went over each wine to see how our answers compared. I hate to say, but if this was an actual test, I would have failed! I only guessed one varietal correct, but on the aromas, I got almost all of them the same as Sheris! The wines we tasted were:
1) 2010 Tiefenbrunner Pino Grigiot from Italy that had Lemon and Grapefruit aromas
2) 2010 Lois Gruner Veltliner from Austria that had lemon, fruit and pepper aromas
3) 2010 Clean Slate Reisling from Germany that had Peach, Lime, Apricot aromas
4) 2007 Bodgas Protos Crianza (Tempranillo) Ribera Del Duero from Spain that had Cherries, Dill, Vanilla, Earth aromas to it
5) 2008 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec from Argentina that had Violet, Vanilla, Chocolate, Black Raspberry aromas
6) 2008 Cousino-Macul Antiguas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from Chile that had Black Currants, Vanilla, Cherries and a hint of Mint aromas
All in all, it was a really fun session, although I wished we had more time to sniff, swirl and sip!
The next session we went to was the Drinking Local session (because I really though the Legalities of Wine session might just be a bit too dry for me). This was a panel discussion about the virtues and challenges of drinking local. We had (from Left to Right in the pic below):
Lenn Thompson, founder of New York Cork Report
Dave McIntyre, wine writer for the Washington Post and founding member of DrinkLocalWine.com; and
Rémy Charest, blogger at The Wine Case in Canada.
The panel was moderated by Frank Morgan, a VA wine blogger at Drink What You Like. It was interesting to hear the perspective of bloggers from other areas. Some of the discussions centered around the issues of drinking local vs. eating local and the seeming disconnect between the two. There was also discussion about how to celebrate and spread the word about your own local region, and the difference between getting local beers vs. local wines into restaurants. All in all a fun discussion!
Next up....our HOT trip to Monticello....Live Wine Blogging/Speed Tasting....Mystery Bus Tours....and the How- many-wine-glasses-can-you-get-on-a-table wine dinner!