I had an interesting and mostly fun time last weekend at the 2009 Boston Wine Expo. I volunteered both days taking tickets at wine seminars (classes). When you volunteer at the Expo, in exchange they give you 2 free tickets to the Grand Tasting (value $85 each) for each volunteer shift. So I received 2 x 2 = 4 free tickets for my volunteering and was able to give these 4 tickets to friends to enjoy the Expo.
The first day volunteering was quite well-organized and I received my assignments when I arrived. I took tickets at the following seminars: Champagne Brunch, Rioja and Jerez: Spain’s Wine Royalty, and 2005 Bordeaux ‘The Greatest Vintage Ever!’. A problem with collecting tickets at the seminars is that you often have to leave halfway through the seminar to collect tickets at the next seminar. This was the case the the Rioja and Jerez seminar hosted by the very energetic Doug Frost. I was super enjoying his talk about the history of Spanish wines when I had to get up and leave. Ah, well.
But then I was able to participate in the 2005 Bordeaux seminar hosted by the Bordeaux négociant house Aquitaine Wine Company. This company specializes in distributing wines from less-famous, under-the-radar, more-affordable Bordeaux chateaux. Co-owner Margaret Calvet presented, and available to taste from her company were 18 wines, some quite fine, a very generous tasting. In fact, the class got a bit rowdy after a while, and I actually had to tell a group of 4 women to pipe down as they were partying too hardy.
There were 2 great after-Expo parties but I didn’t attend either of these as I knew I needed to catch the 7:09AM train Sunday morning, as I needed to be back into Boston for a 10:15AM seminar. It turned out I didn’t even have to collect the tickets for that seminar as it was free to the trade only. Argh. However, it turn out to be a super interesting seminar about Biodynamic Agriculture given by Montinore Estate (Willamette Valley, Oregon) winemaker Rudy Marchesi. Mr. Marchesi stressed that he uses biodynamic methods in his vineyards because they work, not because it’s his pagan religion. He stated that, yes, plants have feelings, which I hadn’t heard since the talk from Olivier Humbrecht at Gordon’s last year. When you listen to biodynamic adherents explaining their methods and the results, it’s so clear to me that this is the way to grow happy vines.
I caught a cold or virus from any of 10,000 (?) people but am getting over it now. Also I believe spending so much time running between the World Trade Center and the Seaport hotel in sub-freezing, near zero degrees F weather and generally being nerved up impacted my immune system somewhat.
I saw wine wunderkind and gadfly Gary Vaynerchuk at the Wine Library booth on Sunday and he gave me a t-shirt. He was his usual ebullient, friendly self. I also remembered him mentioning in passing on a WLTV episode that ‘Gary’ is not his actual first name. His real (Russian) name starts with a G and ends with a Y, but is not Gary. Can you guess what it is? First person to guess correctly in a comment will receive a copy of Al Franken’s book The Truth (with jokes) if you want it.
On Sunday with my Press Pass I was able to taste a few wines at the Grand Tasting with my friends. I paid special attention to wines of Greece and wines of New York state. I was curious to taste Retsina again, having experienced the pine-resin influenced Greek wine in the past and found it to be pretty much not palatable. At the Expo, I tasted Retsina from maker Achaia Clauss which was created purely for export to American market, with MUCH less pine-resin influence.
I tasted some great wines from New York state from Dr. Konstantin Frank, including the exotic Rkatsiteli, which is as delicious as it is unusual.
It’s with pleasure that I post here that my blog, Bloviatrix, has been added to the Wine Alltop web site which lists top wine blogs in the wine blogosphere. I’m not totally sure what the definition of a ‘top’ wine blog is, but I am grateful for the addition. I do recognize many great wine blogs listed there that I do read regularly – check out my wine blog Blogroll. This will give me impetus to post more regularly, which I know is an important quality of any good blog.
Joe Roberts, the 1WineDude, has published a handy primer for those interested in learning how to experience wine like a Wine Geek, that is, for maximal mindfulness and enjoyment. It is called How to Taste Like a Wine Geek. It is useful for novices and also for more experienced wine enthusiasts who want to take a more systematic approach to experiencing wine. If I were teaching a class on wine appreciation, it would be a fine accompaniment/teaching tool. It is 42 pages long and available for the nominal fee of $7.95 in .PDF form and you can purchase it on the 1WineDude site or you can even order it here and use your Paypal account: (Full disclosure – I receive an affiliate percentage of each copy ordered below).
The guide is visually elegant and uncluttered and has really neat wine-related quotes on most pages. Joe, who has attained the Certified Specialist of Wine qualification from the U.S.-based Society of Wine Educators, among other qualifications, has distilled a great deal of wine education and experience into these 42 pages. He covers sniffing, swirling, swishing, slurping, the finish, as well as other aspects of wine appreciation not having to do with physically tasting, such as how to build your wine tasting vocabulary. All in all, a neat guide.
The 13th annual Nantucket Wine Festival will take place on gorgeous Nantucket island off the coast of southern Massachusetts on May 13-19, 2009. This should be a luxurious and edifying experience for those able to attend this wonderful event. I’ve been fortunate enough to vacation on Nantucket island in the past and it is truly a unique and beautiful atmosphere and ideal for this kind of find wine and culinary festival. As per press release, the highlights this year include:
- Expansion of last year’s tremendously popular luncheon symposium program. The equivalent of a graduate course in advanced wine philosophy, the symposia features an hour-long tasting and discussion, followed by a luncheon of exquisite food paired with the wines of the participating vignerons.
- Sultans of Sonoma Coast: San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker of the Year Ehren Jordan will be joined by two other star winemakers, David Hirsch and Andy Peay, as they explain the attributes of California’s hottest new viticultural region, the Sonoma Coast.
- The Nantucket Historical Association Auction Dinner, held at the White Elephant Hotel and featuring the culinary talents of Daniel Bruce of Meritage at the Boston Harbor Hotel, who is celebrating 20 years of winemaker dinners at the Boston Wine Festival, and the king of all Spanish wine, Jorge Ordóñez of Fine Estates from Spain, the winner of last year’s Luminary of the Year award. The auction is always exciting and this year promises even more excitement as the centerpiece of the auction will be an 1870 Barrister’s bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, considered by man to be the finest example of pre-phylloxera claret.
- Towle’s Hill, a one-man show by former Nantucketer Mark Kenward, which chronicles over 150 years of history at one of California’s oldest wineries, Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma.
- The Nantucket Wine Festival has been famous for the number of great winemakers who visit us in May, and this year’s array of winemakers is absolutely stunning, featuring many of the best talents in the world of wine. Ehren Jordan, owner of Failla Vineyards and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year; Ray Coursen, owner/winemaker of Elyse Vineyards and the winner of the NWF’s 2009 Luminary of the Year award; Jean-Luc Pépin, Directeur Commercial, Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé; Jean-Charles Thomas, Head Winemaker, Maison Louis Latour; John Kolasa, General Manager, Château Rauzan-Segla and Château Canon; Rob and Maria Sinskey, owners, Robert Sinskey Vineyards; Jorge Ordóñez, president and founder, Fine Estates from Spain and the winner of the NWF’s 2008 Luminary of the Year award; Jim Clendenen, owner/winemaker of Au Bon Climat.
- The Festival’s signature event, The Grand Tasting, will be held for the 3rd year at the historic Nantucket Yacht Club.
El Jefe (Jeff Stai) of El Bloggio Torcido (the Twisted Oak Winery blog) has presented an interesting Wine Blogging Wednesday theme this month: Wine for Breakfast! Or, more accurately, Wine with Breakfast Food. No sparkling wines, nor dessert wines are allowed – only dry red or white table wines. I do love breakfast foods of all sorts but don’t generally think of the wine pairing possibilities. I decided to make some sort of omelet (which may end up being scrambled eggs, depending on which pan I’m using) and didn’t have any idea of suitable wine pairing so I decided to use the Wine & Food Matcher applet on Natalie MacLean’s site, Nat Decants. I plugged in Eggs, then Omelet, and out popped its matching wine: Frascati. Cool – um, what is Frascati? Ah, a nice Italian white wine made in the environs of Rome, Italy! And quite conveniently my most local of local wine stores, Groton Market, had a very reasonably priced example for $7.99, namely the Cantine San Marco Frascati Superiore Secco “CRIO 10” 2007. And what grapes are in this wine? Well, some unusual, indigenous grape varieties…
“Da uve Malvasia Puntinata del Lazio, Bellone, Trebbiano
Toscano e Malvasia di Candia con percentuali più consistenti per i primi
due, autoctoni tipici di questa regione.”
There is a nice map of the Frascati DOC on Wein-Plus.com. Zoom out on the map to see its proximity to Rome. Frascati the white wine that has been made for a *very long time* from grapes grown on volcanic soils near Rome. It can be dry or sweet, still or sparkling. My example is dry (Secco) and still. So how well did this wine and food pairing fare? I think, quite well. The wine is quite light-bodied but full of citrus flavors and acidity, and perfect with ‘light’ dishes such as my red pepper and cheese omelet with cranberry-orange scone. This wine is quite a bargain and I do recommend it!
I’m excited to report that I will be attending the Boston Wine Expo again this year. Last year was my first time attending and I wrote up a pretty detailed blog post about my experiences. This year I will be volunteering on both days of the event taking tickets at Seminars. This makes me quite happy as I am very into wine education (evidenced by my frequent blog postings about wine classes at Gordon’s Fine Wine and Culinary Center). I consider this a plum volunteer assignment. I also was gratefully able to garner a Press Pass for Sunday, thanks to this here (mostly wine) blog, but this will be redundant with my volunteer duty that day. Still, I may sport my Press Badge as a unique wine-writer accessory.
I hope to see many of my fellow Boston-area wine lovers there!