Memorable Wines From The WBC Tastings

Ξ August 2nd, 2009 | → 5 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Tasting Notes, Wine News, Winemakers, Wineries |

The wines poured freely. Moments after arriving, having checked into my room and taken the wine blogger’s holy sacraments, checking email and stats, I went to ‘Meet the Sponsors’ in the Flamingo Room. Immediately a glass found its way into my hand. I attacked the D.O. Rueda table. The bright fruit and biting acidity of the Verdejos and Sauvignon Blancs was brilliant. My style. Food friendly wines of the first order. It was hardly noon and I had already been to an apex of affordable quality and finesse.
The next inspirational wines came during the Live Wine Blogging fracas. As has been noted, the wi-fi service was down for extended periods of time. The schedule was quickly modified to give the techs time to get things working. We sat through the Wine Blogging Awards’ presentation instead, a ceremony mc’d by the capable Tom Wark. It was during this lull that an enterprising lad brought to our table one of the best domestic Syrahs I have had in recent memory. Alan Baker is his name. And he runs a blog called The Cellar Rat. The Cellar Rat Syrah is his first wine. It is a small miracle, Cornas in character, beautifully balanced, with black pepper and abundant tannin. An extraordinary pleasure. The only other Syrah I very much enjoyed last weekend, and to which Mr. Baker’s favorably compares, is that from Montemaggiore of Dry Creek Valley. But to truth to tell? Mr. Baker’s was the finer wine if only because it is less polished.
The Montemaggiore Syrah, poured later in the day at the Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines, was as beautiful and balanced, and I’d say as intellectual as the winemaker herself, Lise Ciolino. Trim, fit, and very smart, she makes wines in her own image.
With the wi-fi now hiccuping along, I also enjoyed a Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. I asked Craig Camp, General Manager, had Alice Feiring tasted their wines? He said Alice hated them! Surprising to me. (Correction. Alice tells me she has never had the opportunity to taste Cornerstone’s wines. Mr. Camp may, in fact, have said Alice wouldn’t like them owing to stylistic differences. And see Mr. Craig’s comment below. Apologies to Mr. Camp and lovely Alice.)
Although many of the wines presented at the Sonoma Grand Tasting were not to my liking (I love high acid, brutal tannins, rustic wines in the main), the Russian River After Hours Party came a bit closer to my palate. I found agreeable the wines of Joseph Swan and a most unusual Pinot from Matrix Winery, their ‘06 Nunes. Garrigue on the nose and palate, curious floral notes, lavender and rose notes in a mid to heavy body. Just fascinating. Unlike anything else I tasted in a California Pinot over the weekend.
Saturday took certain of us to Storybook Wines where I had another ‘intellectual’ wine, their ‘05 Estate Cabernet. Along with the two Syrahs already mentioned, Storybook’s ‘05 was possibly the finest Cabernet of my visit (if I do not include an older vintage wine, a beautiful 1977 Sterling in magnum brought by Doug Cook of the Able Grape for a brilliant, irregular late-night tasting).
Later Saturday afternoon, at the Grand Tasting of Napa Wines held at Quintessa, it was Quintessa’s own offering when we stepped off of our busses that pleased the hell out of me. It was their ‘Illumination’, a minerally, tart Sauvignon Blanc, lighter than air. It took me by surprise, its delicacy, its feminine esprit. Head brimming with information from a Napa Green Presentation, this wine to me was the perfect exclamation point to the day’s education. ‘Green’ in a glass!
Other notable wines from the ViniPortugal tasting included Cortes de Cima’s ‘Incognito’ and the 2003 Mouchao from Vinhos da Cavaca Dourada, a blend of Alicante Bouchet and Trincadera.
All the wines served at the Conference had their raving fans. Nothing went uncelebrated. Though my standouts are few in number, I nevertheless was moved to mention them. Does not often happen in the Golden State!
Quick update. Gary Vaynerchuk informs me he will be attending next year’s WBC in Walla Walla.


5 Responses to ' Memorable Wines From The WBC Tastings '

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  1. Craig Camp said,

    on August 3rd, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for the mention. Just for the record, I was trying to say that Alice (who I admire to no end) doesn’t like the style of wine we make. I’m not sure if she’s tasted Cornerstone or not, but big Napa Cab is not her thing. I would describe our goal as making wines that represent our region, which means they’ll be powerful, but that still have acidity and that are balanced.

  2. Mark said,

    on August 3rd, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for the round up of what was served at the conference, it has been surprisingly difficult to get info on wines that were served.

    Craig-would love to stop by and taste with your winery when I’m in Napa next week!

  3. 1WineDude said,

    on August 3rd, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    That syrah was something else – I owe you a big thanks for pointing that one out during the hectic after-after-party tasting! Cheers!

  4. Administrator said,

    on August 4th, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Hi, Joe. Yes, I simply had to drag you over for a taste. I was especially pleased with his humble reaction. Mr. Baker thought he might have made something special. I hope he is now convinced!

  5. Pea Noir said,

    on August 5th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks Ken for making note of Matrix Winery Pinot Noir – your description certainly pricked up my palate. Will go for a tasting soon.

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