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Napa’s 2017

Napa. Its seemingly daunting wine is made up of relatively simply shaped sub-regions. The clean-cut twelve seem well-fit into a geographical puzzle compared to the overlapping Russian nesting doll appellations of every other region in California, and I am 100% here for that. I finally ended last week's mental tug-of-war on whether or not to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference in neighbouring Santa Rosa, and I've decided to go but with as much cost-cutting as possible. Though it was super fun, one of the most interesting sessions was the discussion on the recent wine country fires: the panel included George Rose, photographer; Patsy McGaughy, of Napa Valley Vintners; and Pierre Bierbent, winemaker of Signorello Estates. The descriptions and statistics of the damage were heartbreaking, including 75,000 total acres burned and 652...

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Rosé? For spring? Groundbreaking.

Seminar led by the Wine Diva, but I'm quoting diva Meryl Streep, obviously. If you didn't get that reference then why are we even friends? But really: I would wholeheartedly pair The Devil Wears Prada with a Loire wine. You'd need something light - maybe aloof - yet cutting, and dry. Also, that movie turns 10 this year? What? I've once again come a little too underdressed for such an event, but I can't help it because it's muggy, sunny, and I like mesh a little too much. Cool off with Loire wines? Probably one of the favourite French areas of from last year's Europe trip. My wallet cried. Anyways, I think my main point here is that people need to get excited about weird Chenin...

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A bored ho tastes Bordeaux (2013)

Bordeaux is in a bit of a tough spot at the moment - which isn't saying much - but it's far from being an underdog: Eric Asimov discusses this in a New York Times article in May 2010. The region in question once simultaneously exuded both normalcy and the unattainable; a seemingly conventional gateway wine to all other wines, yet having this aura of hubris and higher social status. But now that so many more wines are available, and with a new generation seeking wines that are anything but normal, it seems that less people are raising their hands for the classic French region. But I mean hey: people still whore out special bottles of Bordeaux for likes on Instagram, and a blog post on the mass-produced...

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Chenin Flair in Savennières

I'm scared and embarrassed to accept what Erin and Theran say is true, which is that I inadvertently speak with a bit of a French accent when I talk in English with other French people. Gross. If I were a travel bingo card, would that be one of the squares? Right as we arrived in Angers, our Airbnb host Julien (who created this, by the way) drove us to our designated living quarters, in the centre of the city, where seemingly ancient buildings, castles, and churches were spiffily fused with fresh energy and bright streets you could get lost in. Not unlike the vitality of a non-vintage Champagne that has a dollop of older reserve wine added to its house blend, you know? Whatever. We learned that Julien once made a...

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New York with Age; Brazil on the Page; Tuscany Backstage

There was another set of seminars: I had to choose between a study on South American wines, the range of Riesling grown in Alsace, or the aging potential of New York wines. When Brandon Seager - the Chair of the Winemaking Department at Tompkins College, Winemaker, and Finger Lakes Wine Country LGBT Ambassador (cool, I didn't even know that was a thing!) - used Brad Pitt analogies and pictures to explain the nuances of wine aging, I knew that I had chosen the right seminar. Huzzah. The wines were what I was mostly looking forward to, especially the aged ice wine, which can be quite a divisive topic when it comes to cellaring wine. Opponents of the idea believe that ice wine...

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Josh tastes 118 wines at Top Drop

If there was one unforgettable takeaway uttered by a wine god during this year's Wine Bloggers Conference, it was the keynote speaker Karen MacNeil (author of the Wine Bible) who opined - and I'm paraphrasing, here - that people should pay more attention to tasting the wines during such events. Of course, I was thrilled, because that gave me even more validation to ignore people. Ha! Key advice when the militant goal is to taste every wine during a well-curated tasting, but it's harder than it sounds because I guess I like to wave and flail at people. A regretful ode to the few tables I did not get to visit: Anthonij Rupert, Badia a Coltibuono, Elio Altare, Giusti, Latta, Montenidoli, Orofino, Scribe, Spottswoode Estate,...

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Josh tastes 41 New York wines

I can be a combination of thrifty and stubborn. If I'm spending money to fly to New York for the Wine Bloggers Conference, there's no way I'm going to waste a single sober second not writing down a tasting note. I'm getting my money's worth, y'all. Militantly shoving my head in between suits and dresses has trained me for these moments (I wonder if I was born easily?), and I planned to taste every wine in the damn room during the opening reception. Which I did, I think. Followed by cocktails, because why not gloss over my dying mouth with vodka? I obviously tasted fewer wines than that time I tasted 173 BC wines in a row, but the BC torture session was in a brightly-lit room...

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Women in Wine, Ventosa Vineyards, and Anthony Road

After the WBC15 pre-excursion to Villa Bellangelo, we travel to our living quarters. We're handed our room keys as we get off of the bus, and the front desk worker stops me as I walk through the lobby. She specifically stops me asks if I'm Josh - I say yes, obviously, and I wonder whether or not it's because she's secretly an undercover agent, and that this is the beginning of some really exciting spy film where I would discover my undiscovered penchant for leaping off buildings and using my wine knowledge to save the world. God, I need water. I know she's asking because there was some sort of logistical airplane snafu with my friend Kayla (who was also a scholarship recipient last year) which led to her having...

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Wine tastings on buses and Villa Bellangelo

Was my current alarm set to that one Vampire Weekend song on which I clicked snooze too many times? The answer is maybe. Anyways, I'm told I have like half an hour before we leave for breakfast. It's finally the day that the pre-excursion for the Wine Bloggers Conference 2015 starts - so Christine, Amy, Leeann, Sujinder and I pack up, eat breakfast at a place (i.e. delicious instant-regret-omelettes), and drive back to Elmira where some of us enjoy Gin and Tonics at the airport to revitalize our brains. Some fellow bloggers began arriving: some remember that we met last year, where I was plagued by lots of self-doubt more than the capacity to retain faces and names (ugh what a great start), and we...

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Finger Lakes: first spits and fire pits

More wine in this post, I promise! For some reason I was not tired after The Night Of No Sleep. My body knew. On a rainy morning dodging puddles and people, Christine, Amy, Leeanne, Sujinder and I bussed up to Elmira from NYC. This of course involved a cryptic and boisterous man who sat behind our group and modified the intensity of his New York accent depending on who he was talking to on the phone, including Joey, which included a mild conversation about picking up sodas at the dollar store; and then Beryl, to whom he aggressively told to check her mailbox and to "not worry about it" (severed hand?!). Obviously the world knew our NYC experience wasn't over yet, and we've accomplished...

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