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Wine Bloggers Conference 2014 – Speed Tasting i.e. Tinder for Wines

Speed tasting. It’s one of the unique events of the Wine Bloggers Conference that’s always explained to you if you’ve never heard of the WBC before, kind of like the warning nod of the hangover to the newly legal. It’s always described as “speed dating but with wine” – though in this case, it’s only a one-way road of looking at your date in disgust. So there’s a plus, and it’s sort of like a Tinder swipe-left-or-right sort of situation.

In the essence of the Live Wine Blogging event, you have 50 minutes to taste through 10 wines. In each 5-minute session, the winery representative pours you wine and gives you a bit of a quick overview before moving on to the next table. It’s somewhat encouraged that you live tweet about the wine (hence the official event title “Live Wine Blogging”), but some opted to take notes (and perhaps blog about it later), and some decided that the event was too intense that they just ate fries at the adjoining restaurant instead.

It’s intense as it sounds. I opted for just taking notes for the white wine session on the Friday, but decided to go for the tweet-route for the reds on the next day. The former option seemed quite fine and dare I say relaxed, but the latter method was amusingly stressful. It’s a difficult task to sufficiently taste a wine, form a succinct tweet about it (“shit, is this witty enough?!”), snap a picture of the wine for later, and listen to the wine reps who are feeding you information while you desperately attempt to listen. There are more wine reps than there are tables, so it’s a random grab bag – so maybe you’ll get that one winery that decided to bring their 100-dollar Chardonnays, or maybe you’ll get three vapid Grenache Blancs in a row. Adult loot bag!

Attempted to do formal tasting notes at first and then I decided nah. Prepare yourself for messy and partially boring tasting notes that don’t make sense half the time.

speedtasting

The whites:

1) 2012 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Viognier

Youthful – mostly aromatic stone fruit. Oaked, which adds to the hedonism factor. Perhaps served slightly too cool but helps the warming alcohol. Fantastic amount of acid to balance to voluptuous fruit. Vanilla, white peach. 2012 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Viognier


2) 2011 Scratchpad Central Coast Chardonnay

Youthful. Slightly subdued and not aromatic, which isn’t surprising for Chardonnay. Fruit is mostly tropical with stone fruit. Malolactic fermentation adds body and complexity to otherwise simple aromas. Easy-going, but I guess that’s what the label seems to be going for anyways.

2011 Scratchpad Central Coast Chardonnay


3) 2012 Pacific Rim Columbia Valley Dry Riesling

Vague stone fruits and floral aromas – weirdly not super aromatic for Riesling. Described as “dry” but definitely on the sweeter side of dry. Zippy front-palate. Citrus and green melon on the palate as well. Slightly disjointed – sort of electric but hollow. Something is missing, sort of like a sparkling that’s gone still.

2012 Pacific Rim Columbia Valley Dry Riesling


4) 2013 Urban Legend Capay Valley Grenache Blanc

Vague notes of melon, citrus, and floral. Neutral palate on template, and most of the complexity comes from the pillowy texture. Savoury, low-ish acid.

2013 Urban Legend Capay Valley Grenache Blanc


5) 2012 Uproot Grenache Blanc

The labels for Uproot are designed to have these hip visual codes for tasting notes – so it’s described to us that there are aromas dominated by petrol and bubble gum, i.e. what I’m pretty sure was a Ke$ha music video at one point. As per the last wine – a pillowy texture as per Grenache Blanc. I’m pleased at the attempt at something both petrolly and bubble gum-y.

2012 Uproot Grenache Blanc


6) 2013 Charles Krug St. Helena – Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Zippy grapefruit, an obvious refreshing greenness we’d expect, like asparagus or something. There’s a whisper of spritz on the palate (probably stainless steel fermentation?) which makes up for the lower acid, compared to say a Savvy B from the Loire or New Zealand.

2013 Charles Krug St. Helena - Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc


7) 2013 Oro Bello Chardonnay

One of the vocally unanimous favourite wines of the table. Juicy, fruity depth, and an interesting hint of meaty smokiness. Something about it reminds me of something I’ve smelt in beer. It’s somewhere in between a ripe white Burgundy and a Californian Chardonnay. Pretty stoked that it’s not full of that creamed corn character. Yumz.

2013 Oro Bello Chardonnay


8) 2013 Agnitio Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

The nose isn’t as aromatic as I expected – the palate is much more intense. Fresh acid, and any greenness is subtle and well-woven. We learn that the wine has seen some neutral oak, which is perhaps why it’s a bit of a quieter Savvy B.

2013 Agnitio Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc


9) 2012 Maryhill Columbia Valley Aurelia

Roussanne and Marsanne, if I remember correctly. Mostly neutral with body. There’s an interesting shadow of savoury character, and perhaps my palate is screwed up at this point but there seems to be a weird tannic or disjointed hot character. Ripe stone fruit, cream, savoury mid-palate.

2012 Maryhill Columbia Valley Aurelia


10) NV Yorkville Cuvée Brut

We were promised that it was something we’ve never had before – the template for the sparkling wines is somewhat of a Crémant de Bordeaux sort of thing as is made from native Bordeaux grapes. More savoury that fruity, which is nice, but the nose has an interesting berry-like fruitiness. Though not overly toasty there is some of that character on the palate. Persistent and lively mousse.

NV Yorkville Cuvée Brut


The reds:

1) 2011 Main & Geary Dry Creek Zinfandel


2011 Main & Geary Dry Creek Valley ZInfandel


2) 2011 Cornerstone Cellars “The Cornerstone”

2011 Cornerstone Cellars "The Cornerstone"


3) 2012 White Hart Pinot Noir


2012 White Hart Pinot Noir


4) 2012 Banfi Centine Toscana


2012 Banfi Centine Toscana


5) 2008 Satrapezo Saperavi


2008 Satrapezo Saperavi


6) 2013 Marani Saperavi


2013 Marani Saperavi


7) 2012 Aridus Syrah


2012 Aridus Syrah


8) 2011 Charles Krug Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Except I don’t go to the gym so

2011 Charles Krug Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon


9) 2011 Ottimino Russian River Zinfandel


2011 Ottimino Russian River Zinfandel


10) 2011 Casey Flat Ranch Estate Red Wine


2011 Casey Flat Ranch Estate Red Wine


11) 2012 Gypsy Canyon “The Collector’s” Pinot Noir


2012 Gypsy Canyon "The Collector's" Pinot Noir

Josh

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