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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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Mendocino’s medicine-o

What terrible timing it was for the recent fires in California to start wreaking havoc around the same time as I started the California Wine Appellation Specialist course. It's so unfortunate that a recent masterclass helped surge personal interest in a wine region that went relatively ignored during my WSET diploma studies, only for the terrible news to ensue. I hope that by learning more about the region I'm doing a part to support them - and thusly I may also retract my decision to not attend this year's Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa? Sigh. We'll see. Testing my just-in-time schedule, I rushed out of the door from work to make it to class, being the last of the group that was on time,...

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“Backroads of California”

I can't believe I even made it to this masterclass, because tickets to these GuildSomm events usually sell out quicker than it takes today's somm to name their favourite natural wine producer. Then again, I guess it's a California-themed one held in, well, California, so perhaps everyone else in this city is just more familiar with these tipples. I've lived here for around a year, so a masterclass titled "Backroads of California" implies that the theme is the vinous road less travelled - but considering this state was a quasi-neglected region during my WSET diploma studies, you could imagine how badly this information stuck. That being said, our presenter, Kelli White - author of Napa Valley Then & Now - was a fantastic guide who eventually tipped the scale in my mind...

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Aesop’s wines aren’t fables

I just asked an artist whether or not deadlines interfered with his creative process. His response was that it did a little, but the only thing I can confirm is that I suck at giving myself writing deadlines, and that the thought of deadlines often smothers any inkling of inspiration. Also: I'm not an artist. A stroke of lucky meetings led me to samples of Aesop, whose wines are so limited that the locales in which it's offered can be counted on one jittery hand. One half of Aesop is a designer, and the other half is a winemaker. It's odd how cleanly this translates to the wines, whose impressions of creativity can be both experienced by both the eye and the tongue. Are they called...

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On Vinebox and vials

What entices me about wine startup Vinebox is their potential solution to my half-concerns on purchasing full bottles of wine. (I get that you might be scoffing - not at the their idea, but at the notion that I have genuine concerns about sipping every last drop out of a bottle like a greedy sink drain.) The concept is simple: Vinebox sends you a flight of three wines they've sourced from different producers, catered to the wine colour of your preference and the kind of wine drinker you are - "adventurous", "classic", or "newcomer" - that way, you can have your own alcoholic Dating Game experience and possibly re-order the ones that tickled your fancy in all of their tubular glory, since the leading facet appears in the form of a patented...

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Zweigelts and Blau-jobs

TFW you're at work on a Saturday evening and continue with some extra writing because you're motivated during stupid hours of the night, only to be invited out to an event starting at 2:30AM on the night we jump forward for the wretched anti-event of Daylight Saving Time. The next day brought about a cornucopia of beers, jello shots, wine, wine, hot tubs, wine, vodka, and musical numbers. My level of verve is that of a flowery warm-climate Viognier lazily draped on a tongue-shaped couch, unlike Austria's zesty Zwiegelt and Blaufränkisch, both who have demanding spirits that seem like they're trying to convince you to like them. C'mon, energy! I haven't had much Zweigelt, Austria's most widely planted grape and lovechild of Blaufränkisch and Saint Laurent - the only ones that come to mind are Canada's attempts. Styles...

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28 bottles of Nebbiolo to warm your lonely frigid heart on Valentine’s Day

For 2013's Valentine's Day, my 20-year-old collegiate self suggested Gewurztraminer to pair with Chinese takeout and Adele; Muscadet to pair with tears and oysters; French rosé to pair with loneliness; and Asti for guilty pleasures. I might be suggesting Nebbiolo this time around, but let it be known that I'm still as happily unkempt as the last of those 2013 pairings. Good job, past self. My university persona regrets almost nothing: maybe one moment involving that necklace MacGyvered from a nondescript sabred sparkling wine cork, some wire, and two mismatching chains. I wore this everywhere for a good chunk of time. Alas. Amongst what I would expect are the inevitable and seasonal release of tedious yet informative wine-and-chocolate-pairing articles (We get it! Port! Zinfandel! Go away!), here's a loose attempt to...

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Pairing fumes with Italy’s Fumin

No - I didn't misspell "Furmint", Hungary's distictive superstar producing fierce white wines. Fumin is missing Furmint's "T" and "R" - and trust me - many of us would gladly remove the "U" and "M" and be left with "FIN". And we all know there has purportedly been too much "P" to remove. Like major historic and tumultuous events that get recorded in textbooks but that people now choose to ignore, Italy's Valle d'Aosta is a region that always seems like a brief whisper of an afterthought in most wine reference books I've read, and a region which has its indigenous Fumin, a black grape with the potential to create cherry-scented, dark-fruited, and muscly wines that are sometimes added to blends for colour and brawn. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity to buy...

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2016 was questionable, so here are 20 wines to pair with 2017

I ended a past blog post - themed: a review of 2015 - with the words "Welcome, 2016. I will cut you." Though I feel like I did personally make some substantial dents in this crunchy titanium can of a year, the general consensus seems to be that we created a blueprint for goodness, but then said blueprint was stolen, lit on fire, and then puréed with an unwashed beige-coloured towel embroidered with the words "~fUcK yOu~", styled in Comic Sans MS. I won't fill this post with hopes for 2017 so that I don't build myself a bigger bowl of disappointment, but instead will list wines that remind me of an upwards trend of hope, a vague connection to the vapid consolation of Pantone's Color of...

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Souzãoberry Fields Forever: hang time with Portuguese grapes in Lodi

Of the mad scientist-viticulturist laboratory that is Lodi, California, we've touched upon southern French varieties; grapes classically grown in cooler areas of Europe like Germany and Austria; and Lodian odes to Spanish wines. We reached the part of the conference where we would end up on one of twenty-or-so different excursions - and to complete the circle of a trip, or at least extend the semi-circle or whatever - I eventually decided to go on the excursion that hinted at a visit to a winery with a heavy lean towards Portuguese grape varieties. What the fuck is Souzão, anyways? Let's whip out a tome and read the following paragraph in our Jancis voices. (She is, by the way, in the running for being my...

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