Today I am at the 2011 North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia. And you may be asking yourself, “Why the hell is there a wine bloggers conference in Virginia?” Well, there is actually some very tasty wine made here… it doesn’t all come from California. I haven’t had a chance to taste much Virginian wine yet, but I’ve had some. In fact, this morning I tasted Virginian viognier, cabernet franc and even a nebbiolo that were really nice, all from Barboursville Winery. And we’re about to taste more wine from Virginia and other regions.
Live blogging at these conferences is like a speed dating version of wine tasting. A producer comes to our table and gives us a sample of their wine, tells us about it and we can write about it, all within a couple minutes. It’s really fast. This is my third year doing it and the first year I took it really seriously and tried to get detailed notes on all the wines, but now I know better and I just have fun with it. I’ll highlight a couple wines that stand out.
We are actually doing two live blogging sessions, one today and one tomorrow. The one today is all white, rose’ and sparkling wines.
So far we’ve already had a couple sessions. Jancis Robinson gave the keynote to get the event rolling, and she had great advice for aspiring wine writers, as one would expect from her. Here’s a picture of the scene for that.
After that, I attended a session on aromas in wine wherein we practiced our craft of detecting aromas in wine with six wines and a tray full of comparative aromas. This is always a fun exercise and something you can’t practice too much, if you want to better your wine assessment abilities. Here’s a picture of the aroma tray.
Alright… so bring on the live blogging! I’ll be updating this post as the tasting goes on.
First up, is wine from Texas! WTF?! It’s the 2009 Viviana from Llano Estacado Winery, which is mad from a blend of gewurztraminer, riesling, viognier and muscat canelli. It’s very aromatic with a touch of honey, lychee and herbal aromatics. It smells like it would be sweet, but it is a dry wine. The flavor profile is focused on citrus. It’s crisp and refreshing and much better than you’d expect from a hot, dry place like Texas. Nice job! The suggested retail price is $22.95.
The next wine is a rose’. (Note: I’m typing this on my iPad and it takes too long to dig out the special character for the ‘ over the e). This wine is from Chateau Morrisette. It has a nice delicate, lime and mineral aroma. The flavors bring a hint of strawberry, but it’s dry not sweet, along with apple and citrus. This one is from Virginia. It’s another nice wine.
Next up is the Boxwood Estate Rose’ which is made from juice pulled off from their red wines. This one is another lime and mineral story on the nose. In the mouth it’s a touch of apricot, a touch of pear and a touch of citrus. Nothing too intense. This one comes from Middleburg, Virginia.
Back to the white wines, this is a viognier from Baboursville Vineyards. I actually tasted this wine earlier today and it’s a really nice one. Viognier does very nicely in the Virginia area. This is a nice aromatic wine with good floral characteristics as well as some citrus. On the palate, it’s very citrusy. Sometimes viognier can be a bit oily in mouthfeel and sometimes a bit more crisp, this one is on the crisp side. It’s great. I love it!
Tabarrini Adarmando is the next wine, and it’s Italian. So, we’re leaving the country now. This is a deep golden color. It has a nice deep aroma with notes of petrol and hay and other herbal aromatics. The palate brings some cooked pear flavors and citrus, with nice intensity. It’s a fun wine.
Now we’re coming back to Virginia for another viognier from Michael Shaps. The aromas are floral in nature (of course) and I’d say, lanolin. The palate has a really nice crispness with great acidity and citrus flavors. This particular wine comes from a bottle, but the producer says they are also doing a bag-in-box wine that retails for the equivalent of $7.50 a bottle! I can say that the one from this bottle is great. I’d like to try the one in the box too.
Jefferson Vineyards brings the next wine, a Pinot Gris. It’s grown on land that was at one time owned by Thomas Jefferson. It smells nice a crisp with lime aromas, and it tastes crisp too, with lime and mineral flavors. It retails for $18.95.
OK, so we’re tasting some California wine while we’re here. This is a sauvignon blanc from Sivas-Sonoma, which is part of the Sabastiani family. This is a nice, grassy and grapefruit smelling sauvignon blanc which has outstanding aromatics. The palate is grapefruit, apple and mineral. It’s very nice. Much better than many Californian sauvignon blanks that I’ve tasted.
The next wine is from Maycas, and it’s a chardonnay from the Limari region in Chile. This is an oaken chardonnay, in French oak. It’s a very crisp chardonnay, with nice citrus flavors making it apparent that it didn’t undergo malolactic fermentation. A+
Coming back to Virginia, the next wine is the 2010 Verdejo from Keswick Vineyards – which is the only Virginian verdejo you can buy. It’s a delicate wine on the nose, with soft citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s crisp with delicate citrus and mineral flavors.
Tarara Winery in Leesburg presented the next wine, which is a blend of chardonnay and viognier. This vineyard is right off the Potomac River and they try to show that terroir in this wine. It has very herbal aroma. The acidity in this wine is bright. There’s an herbal flavor in this wine too. It’s a big angular, but distinctive and interesting.
The final wine of this tasting is from The Williamsburg Winery, and it’s their 2009 Chardonnay. It’s a burgundian-style chardonnay made with a combination of stainless steel and oak fermentation. The oak aromas are light, definitely not overdone. The palate is approachable and had a nice balance of fruit and earthy flavors. It retails for $14, which is a great deal for this wine. It’s a nice one and a great food wine.
And that’s all for this tasting. Cheers!