6. Wines of Greece Tasting: When I tell people that the Wines of Greece tasting was a real highlight of the Wine Bloggers Conference, many people are taken aback, still traumatized by memories of Retsina. This tasting, however, left no doubt as to the potential of Greek wines today. Sunny whites from Santorini, rich reds made from barely pronounceable varieties like Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro, eye-poppingly vivacious dessert wines — taken together, they put to rest the notion that Greeks don’t make great wine. More specifics on this tasting to come.
7. Ghost Town Tasting: One evening, we headed to the site of Fairview, a gold-mining boom town which was subsequently abandoned. Little remains today, but the site made for a spectacular progressive wine tasting. We meandered along gently rolling paths from tent to tent, tasting an array of delicious wines, the cloud-capped peak of Old Baldy (above) watching over us in the distance. Some favorites:
- 2012 Gehringer Brothers Gewürztraminer-Schönburger: This 50/50 blend had a nose of caramel popcorn that made me positively shiver with anticipation. I was not disappointed. I wrote, “Dry, spicy, fruity, aromatic — yes. Yum.”
- 2012 Oliver Twist “Oliver’s Choice” Kerner: I’ve written positively about Kerner before, and this example also proved delightful. It smelled of honeysuckle, rubber and funk, and it tasted fruity, savory, spicy and exotic. Unusual and great fun.
- 2012 Tinhorn Creek 2Bench Rosé: This blend of 51% Cabernet Franc and 49% Syrah had a beautiful aroma which made me think of strawberry-topped crème brûlée. The flavor profile was exactly what I look for in a rosé: fruity, juicy, zesty and dry.
- 2010 Stoneboat Vineyards Pinotage: I never thought a wine made from this South African variety would make my list of favorite anything, but this British Columbian Pinotage had a richly creamy red fruit aroma, a velvety texture, ample red fruit on the palate, rustic acids and a non-overpowering vegetal note. The best Pinotages I’ve had in recent memory.
- 2005 Fairview Cellars “Two Hoots”: The winery currently sells the 2010 vintage of this Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend, and if that’s all you can find, buy it and lay it down for a couple more years. The 2005 sucked me right in with a very deep, jammy aroma, and despite the rich fruit, its structure managed to be tight and focused. Delicious, especially considering that this is a wine “priced for daily consumption.”
8. The Feet of God!: Jon makes a superlative Argentinean Malbec called “Hand of God,” which you should snap up immediately should you be fortunate enough to come across a bottle. It has a richly dark, plummy aroma, some zingy acids and powerful focus. But Jon’s bright-orange shoes stole the show, especially in the black light of the bus. “Those are the feet of God!” a gleefully stentorian Jon pronounced.
9. The Inniskillin Ice Wine Presentation: This presentation felt too salesy, but it proceeded smoothly enough until this PowerPoint slide hit the screen. Then there it was, in giant font, the biggest whopper I’d heard since Eric Holder denied being involved in the subpoena of news media phone records. One half a ton (please forgive the American spelling) of grapes in every bottle of ice wine. Zow.
Now I’m just guessing here, but I think that would mean the entire grape harvest of North America would have to be diverted to Inniskillin. A couple of alert audience members questioned the speaker, and I tweeted my incredulity about the numbers. Nk’Mip Cellars responded to my tweet, writing, “Our bad. Our winemaker Randy Picton advises its more like 500, 375ml bottles. Thanks for checking in.”
Two bottles, 500 bottles… it’s just a rounding error, really.
10. Lambrusco Tasting in the Riunite RV: There came a time on the last evening of the Wine Bloggers Conference when the pull of the Riunite RV finally became irresistible. I collected some of my favorite people at the conference, including noted Vancouver-based wine writer Kristof Gillese and Steve and Jane of the well-regarded 2 Hollywood Winos blog, pulled them out of a perfectly lovely Jordan Winery after party, and headed down to the hotel’s parking lot. The Riunite RV gleamed under the lot’s lights, and we climbed aboard.
Inside, we discovered two leather sofas and a distressingly red queen-size bed, along with plenty of swag such as red-and-white Riunite-emblazoned sunglasses. The Riunite rep encouraged me to try a Lambrusco and beef jerky pairing. And by God, if in that moment — in that wonderfully ridiculous RV, after days of carefully contemplating dozens and dozens of serious wines — that sweet/salty pairing wasn’t perfectly delicious, my name isn’t Odd Bacchus.