The first “all hands” event of the recent Wine Blogger Conference became fondly known as “speed dating.” The concept: Each participating winery got to pour one wine for each table. They had 5 minutes to tell us about it and let us taste it, then they had to move on to the next table. This turned into an exercise in endurance and speed for those of us sitting at the tables. Not to mention, the art of typing fast, trying not to have wine spilled on you lap top, and trying to hear above the din of nearly 200 people talking and typing loudly! I tried to Twitter my tasting notes and take notes for my blog at the same time. Others seemed to concentrate more on Twitter, as our tasting became the 2nd most talked about thing on Twitter, second only to chatter about Obama. I think that 14 wineries participated, but due to a bit of confusion on all parts, only 13 came to our table.
First up: the 2005 Bink Pinot Noir from Yorkville Island in Mendocino. Earthy, red fruit, strawberries, raspberries, tannic, bright fruit, red, anise.
2005 Clos Le Chance Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from St. Martin California. 1200 cases made. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Reserved nose. Pepper, earth, tannic, needs time, definitely decant this one, currants, dark fruit, black fruit. Retails for $30.
2006 Boho Chardonnay in a box. Box made of recycled material and printed with soy based ink. 4 bottles to a box, retails for $24. Apple, pineapple, light, crisp, tropical, simple. Good for the price point, for a party.
2007 James David 2007. Retails for $18. 100% Muscat. 105 cases. Winery produces a total of 1400-1500 cases currently, looking to expand to 2500. Honey, apricot, tropical, dry, light, crisp, lime, peach, nice apple.
2006 Twisted Oak The Spaniard. We already know I love this one. I even saved my glass of it and took it back to my room to drink after the tasting. I spit everything else out. Cherries, very smooth, brown sugar, caramelized, red raspberries, drinking beautifully, red fruit, some vanilla, nice structure, really smooth and well integrated fruit and spices.
2006 Dark Horse 2006 Zinfandel. 3500 cases. Winery has been around for 5 years, Dry Creek Valley. Cherries, dark fruit, anise, spice, pepper, blackberries, excellent fruit, quite nice. Really enjoyed this one.
2006 Small Vines Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. Biodynamic estate. 144 cases produced. Retails for $65. Really bright cherries, raspberries, spice, earth, leather, rose petals, nice structure, tart fruit. Wonderful wine. I wanted to drink this one.
2007 Cupcake Vineyards Chardonnay. 6-8 months in barrels. Hails from the Central Coast, retails for $11.99. Lemon, crisp, light, apple, pineapple. I couldn’t believe this one saw any time in oak. This would be the perfect party wine.
2007 Kanzler Pinot Noir. Barrel sample. So far it’s spent 12 months in French Oak. Estate grown, approximately 400 cases. Will retail for $48 and will be released in Spring 2009. Hails from one of the oldest vineyards in the Sebastapol AVA. Dark fruit, black cherries, licorice, gorgeous structure, cherries, raspberries, tannic, fabulous, wonderful wine.
2007 Lionheart Roussanne. 275 cases, made at Crushpad from grapes from McGinely Vineyard in Santa Barbara. Aged in neutral French oak. Tropical, pineapple, caramelizied something, crisp, lime, citrus. Would be great with seafood, especially crab.
2006 Sean Minor 4 Bears Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. 15000 cases total for the winery. This is the 4th vintage. Named after their 4 children. Aged in 50/50 new and old oak. Retails for $17. Big and fruit forward. Black and red fruit, tobacco, candied cherry, tannic, red fruit, raspberries, really big fruit. Great value table wine.
Yellow Blue Tetra Pak Malbec. 1 liter package retails for $10.99. Organic. From Mendoza. Big black fruit, blackberries, spice, very fruit forward.
2004 Bonterra The McNabb. 60% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Petite Sirah. Organically grown. Retails for $45. Blackberries, blueberries, plums, really nice fruit on the nose, spice, roses, tannic, leather, earth, dark fruit. Nicely done.
My overall impression of this event came out in favor of needing more time with each wine. By the time the winery/winermaker/representative poured around the table and you tried to ask a few questions about the wine, it was time for the next wine and you hadn’t even tasted. Lucky for me, there were a few extra glasses on our table because at times I had 3 wines I needed to taste and evaluate. I thought that if each wine had been given 8 minutes, that would have been the perfect amount of time. I did like the idea of tasting all the wines in rapid succession though, and it definitely got the crowd going for the weekend.