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Monday, July 14, 2014

Dr. Harry Oldman on the Wine Bloggers Conference

With the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference wrapping up over the weekend, I heard from Dr. Harry Oldman, my extern. I was actually looking forward to attending this year, but my wife was in Panama for a conference and I had to stay home with Ben. Having never attended a WBC, I don't have a whole lot to say about the event, but Dr. Oldman was insistent on chiming in. I know I shouldn't give the crotchety old guy the attention he wants, but I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinions.

So, apparently the Wine Bloggers Conference was held this past weekend in Santa Barbara County. I don't consider myself a blogger (more of a human chameleon that can become a master at whatever I choose), so the big event wasn't on my calendar. You know how I found out about the conference? I saw it all over the news. ABC, CNN, FOX and NBC all picked up on the story. It was all Bill O'Reilly and Brian Williams were talking about over the weekend. Even Wine Spectator published a special issue on the conference that arrived this morning.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Listening and responding to customers...

Yesterday saw the release of a new California sparkling wine called Under the Wire. Haven't heard of it? That's not surprising considering that the release of its initial two wines totaled 120 cases. The new winery is brought to you by Morgan Twain-Peterson and Chris Cottrell, both of slightly more recognized Bedrock Wine Co. Bedrock is known for producing an array of syrahs, zinfandels, and red and white blends from heritage vineyards found in all corners of California. Twain-Peterson, along with a group of other like-mind producers (along with his Ravenswood co-founding father) actually established a non-profit organization, The Historic Vineyard Society (HVS), devoted to preserve California's precious old-vine vineyards.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Capital Grille's Generous Pour

A few weeks ago, I attended a preview event for Capital Grille's The Generous Pour (TGP) event at the Denver location. The premise of the 7-week event (July 7 - August 31) is that the restaurant chain is offering guests unlimited pours of seven different wines or $25 per person. Sounds like a good deal. The restaurant's website states that the selection includes "five highly acclaimed wines, two exclusive premieres, and all seven hand selected by our Master Sommelier." Diners can buy just one bottle or sample all seven through the course of a meal. The premise sounded interesting, so I made plans to attend to see what it was all about.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The hail damage in Burgundy is sad, but...

Earlier this week, a violent hailstorm destroyed vineyards in Burgundy. Most wine media outlets reported on the storm. Over on WineBerserkers.com, terms like "heartbreaking" and "gut wrenching" were used in reaction to the news that 80-90% of the crop will be lost in certain vineyards. Yes, the crop destruction is sad when you think about the loss of income for hard-working farmers and their families, especially when hail destroyed a good chunk of the 2013 crop. Bottles of award-winning wine were aborted before anyone could even enjoy their existence. However, after reading the headlines and pondering for a second, the news made me smile.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The first flying winemaker...


The consultant winemaker has always been important. Many people have a vision and the means to start a winery, but not the winemaking skill. Perhaps the best example would be Robert Mondavi. Mondavi was not a winemaker. He always hired winemakers to make his wine. For many years, his sons were the chief winemakers. Many other now-famous winemakers have also passed through the doors at Mondavi.

However, the role of a consultant winemaker is not that of a person that oversees the day-to-day operations at a winery, but stops in a few times throughout the year to offer an outside perspective. Napa Valley and Bordeaux are two places where wineries heavily rely on the advice of consultants

In the 1990s, the idea of the consultant winemaker took on an even bigger role as more people got bitten by the vintners bug and established producers wanted to make a splash by adding a big name winemaker to the payroll. As certain winemakers' fame began to rise, the concept of the flying winemaker took shape. Flying around the world and consulting for dozens if not hundreds of wineries, the likes of Michel Rolland, Stéphane Derenoncourt, Paul Hobbs and Nick Goldschmidt, have developed a reputation for being a guarantee of producing high-quality, expensive wines. Rolland has become the poster child for the flying winemaker moniker, he has also been cited as a reason for the development of the international style of wine.

But Rolland wasn't the first winemaker to hop on a plane to go to work. Warren Winiarski, himself the son of a amateur winemaker (and for what it's worth, his surname literally means "son of a winemaker) was the first winemaker at the aforementioned Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa. He was also, perhaps, the first flying winemaker in the United States.

Friday, April 18, 2014

2014 Colorado Governor's Cup results

Two weekends ago, the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board (CWIDB, and for which I work part-time) held the Governor’s Cup Colorado Wine Competition. This year was the fourth incarnation of the largest, and most prestigious, statewide commercial wine competition (actually the First Lady's Choice was awarded the first year because the Governor had not given consent to use the title). The 2014 Governor’s Cup was awarded to Canyon Wind Cellars’ 2012 Petit Verdot from the Grand Valley AVA. The past two years saw cabernet franc coming out on top, but even before this result I was starting to think that petit verdot might be the best cultivar for Colorado producers. This year also marks the inaugural "Governor's Cup Case." Modeled after the Virginia Governor's Cup Case, the top twelve wines will be the wines that the CWIDB use for the next 12 months for its marketing and educational endeavors.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dr. Oldman channels Oprah to expose a doping scandal that will rock the wine world...

After his surprising Boxing Day interview, Dr. Harry Oldman thought that today would be the perfect day to share his next interview with us.

I had so much fun with my interview with my anonymous wine critic friend (though I hope the interview wasn't the real reason he is no longer a critic...), that I thought I'd try my hand again at asking another famous wine personality some tough questions. Bobby P and I go all the way back to his early days as the world's first blogger, a camp which I too have fallen into. Together, Bob and I would take on the heathens of the wine world on Prodigy's Wine Forum. It had been some time since we last talked, but I've long defended him from the many sheep of the Interwebs. When Bob agreed to sit down with me I decided that I had better improve my interview skills, so I watched countless hours of the best interviewer I could think of: Oprah. I've followed Oprah from her very start on AM Chicago, but spending a week straight of watching reruns gave me all the insight I'd need to make this a newsworthy interview sure to cause a ripple in the space-time-wine-blogger continuum. One day, I am sure that this interview will be as talked about as any interview Oprah did with Tom Cruise, Lance Armstrong or Lindsay Lohan. Make sure that you are sitting, because what I'm about to share with you will knock your tastevins off!