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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 Nova Scotian bubbles, mature Friulano, and aged Californian Chardonnay

It's an odd feeling - I've spent a decent spoonful of my adult life working outside of Canada, enough that I have to think twice about which boxes and lines I have to fill out on forms. Also very real: living through the lengthy process of waiting at the DMV, and wondering whether I should list my height in centimetres to throw the workers off, only to realize that it's probably best not to potentially risk going back to the end of the line. Can Fahrenheit not? Wine availability, politics, and markets are markedly different in Vancouver compared to San Francisco, and keeping my nose close to both is a bit of a challenge, especially with the constantly evolving wine scene in Canada. During a visit back home, my mission of going to...

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My neck, my Bacchus

Most of the wine people I know got into its magical world after tasting some kind of superlative bottle that made them orgasm right into the industry. Like, we get it: you had a teaspoon of 1982 Bordeaux and wept. I literally had canned cranberry sauce with a corner store sandwich just a few weeks ago that was so good that it made me re-evaluate my life, so I guess I understand you. As much as I say that Marechal Foch is better as a drag name than it is a wine grape, and that most Canadian Cabernet Sauvignon is best used to remove dead skin off the soles of your feet, I absolutely live for the weird unorthodox shit. After waking up at...

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Getting Harney in Lodi

After the magic that was Acquiesce (everything's magic after ingesting wine but the wines were good), our pre-excursion group meandered to the Lizzy James vineyard, sipped some Zin, and then went to Harney Lane winery. I remember how distracted I get in vineyards, simultaneously trying to soak in all the personal stories and vineyard information while trying to find refuge for my naked round head. Sunscreen's a no-no since it fucks with everyone's nasal cavity, and so is eucalypt-scented shaving cream, where in specific cases I've made people sniff my fresh head at tastings just to make sure I've done no sin. I attempted to kneel behind someone's outrageously large clown hat. My "I'm actually here!" montage lasted longer during my...

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The time has come for you to lip-sting for… your… life.

I imagine that the Venn diagram representing the overlapping sets of people who are familiar with Picpoul and people who watch RuPaul's Drag Race is smaller than those who drink Prosecco and watch the Bachelor, but if you happen to find yourself in the middle of this precious diagram, we need to be best friends immediately. One half of said diagram would be able to tell you that Picpoul is the southern French grape that can release lemony power and body, and therefore purportedly translates to "lip-stinger"; the other half of the diagram would be able to tell you that the premiere to RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars season 2 was amazing. I did not drink Picpoul that night but instead watched the episode at a bar...

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It must have been clove, but it’s over now: Speed Wine Tasting at WBC16

I used to love the hectic clusterfuck of the two Wine Bloggers Conference speed tasting events, each involving twenty or so different tables and winery principals that rotate tables every five minutes for a total of ten sessions. Every micro-meeting involves at least a pour of a wine followed by a spiel, while we each have to: absorb as much information as we can; taste and take notes; desperately yell out questions as if the internet doesn't exist; take blurry bottle shots; and perhaps come up with a witty tweet. I've mostly given up on giving my 110% on the whole shebang, but hey: I tried. Newcomers to the conference were all "well, this isn't so bad!" I side-eyed in tacit protest but actually mostly agreed. I'm...

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Is it too late now to say Syrah-ry?

I have a substantial place in my heart for New World Syrah. Though my favourite is probably British Columbia's Nichol, My first (legal) bottle was the 2007 vintage of BC's Burrowing Owl - a 19th birthday gift from my best friend, and a winery from BC whose wines have the tendency to puff their chests across grape varieties. Like, yeah, we get it - your Pinot is weirdly thick and you have Freudian tannins. Anyways: a American Syrah seminar at a Rhone Rangers tasting in Presidio, San Francisco (feat. Arizona!). I remember zoning out for a split second only to come back to my senses when a winemaker made a joke about pH levels and the entire room burst out in laughter. Is this heaven or hell? The seminar was...

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