Live blogging EWBC 2009: Charles Metcalf’s Grand Tasting of Portugal

 Charles Metcalf tasting at European Wine Bloggers ConferenceNext up at the European Wine Bloggers Conference: Charles Metcalf’s Grand tasting of Portugal. Metcalf wrote a book on wine and food in Portugal which makes him somewhat of an expert and certianly a worthwhile guide for a tasting of a variety of Portuguese wines. Certainly he has a lovely accent.

Organizer Ryan Opaz asked Metcalf to present wines that really tell a story about Portugal. As a wine writer from the UK, he’s trying to present a greater understanding of the unknown wines of Portugal.Which means there will be no wines from the Douro.

WINE #1: We’re starting with a sparkling alvarino, similar to the spanish albarino, from the vino verde region. Forgive me if I buthcer some spellings especially as I am live blogging very unfamiliar wines, regions, and who knows what else!

Thankfully, we’re assisted with the site which tells me I am tasting a Coto De Mamoelas Bruto Reserva Alvarinho 2006. It’s similar to albarino, and it’s quite aromatic. Aha! It’s a vino verde–in that that’s a blend. Here’s my ignorance showing–hope it’s a a sweet slip, showing my naivete. Metcalf's tasting

It’s only 11.5%! If I could find this wine, I would.

So many firsts this trip! Just today I’ve tasted about 6 new varieties, maybe more.

WINE #2: Next up, a wine from Covela which is in vino verde country but just on the verge near the Douro. It’s a biodynamic vineyard (I don’t think he’s said whether it’s Demeter certified or not).

This wine is avesso, chardonnay, and gewertraminer and since he uses non-traditional vino verde grapes, he can’t call it that.  He also makes an oaked white; this unoaked white is light, refreshing, aromatic and pleasant. Metcalf calls it harmonious and I would agree. Continue reading

EWBC Session on the Future of Social Wine Media: new tech, media & publishing

Ryan Opaz of is moderating a panel on “Social Media Brand Future: New Technologies, New Media, and Publishing” with Esteban Cabezas, Marcio Ferreira, and Evelyn  Resnick.

It’s a time of disruption, certainly, as marketing professionals and the products they represent try to find their way in a topsy-turvy world where they no longer get to tell consumers what to think about a product and what to do. Consumers can find out for themselves and expect to be part of a conversation. But how can, how will this all play out?

With help from folks like Ryan Opaz who is bridging the gap by organizing events like the EWBC, suggests Esteban Cabezas of the Wine Academy of Spain. And more people like him (and Esteban too!). We have to get personal, he also says. And that can be uncomfortable for businesses.

Consumers go to the net looking for help in finding find their wine nirvana. Wine bloggers help them do this, points out a woman in the audience.

What’s the role of the wine writer versus the role of the wine blogger? Both are “publishing.”

Big debate raging on who is  a professional wine blogger and what that might mean.

As Jo Diaz put it in a tweet, “wineries are having a hard time making sense of all of this media power. Who owns the rights to tell consumers what they’ll like?”

Check out which is Jo Diaz on twitter for more of her tweets about this session and others. She’s a great tweeter and caught some of the finer points of today’s discussion. She’s also blogging from the conference so go to Jo Diaz’s blog what she’s seeing and saying!

EWBC Day 1: Able Grape’s Doug Cook on search friendliness or, how to help your audience find you

How can you bring quality traffic to your site by assisting search engines in finding it? That’s the topic for the next session at the European Wine Bloggers Conference with Doug Cook of Able Grape’s presentation on Search Engine Friendliness conveniently available for you to see on his site, Able Grape. I will be live blogging as best I can depending on my access to the internet.

Is more traffic better? Doug Cook asks.

No. Traffic that engages your site is better.  Does your audience see what you offer as adding value to the web or spamming you?

So how can you reach the people who want to hear what you have to say? How do you connect with people who want to connect with you?

First you have to understand the “long Tail” of search. Lots have been written about this concept. That’s because it really is key and important. When people are searching for something, they will each use a combination of terms which they think will get them what they need. When they land on your site with their search, if they don’t see what they’re looking for, they’re gone, onto the next site which may offer them their holy grail. They are NOT going to search your site to find what you know is there but they don’t know how to find.

So if you want good traffic with meaningful interactions what do you do? Continue reading

EWBC: Session 1 Winery & Wine Blog Relations; Session 2 Monetising

The European Wine Bloggers Conference, like the American ones I attended in Santa Rose in 2008 and 2009,  is a confluence of various wine oriented businesses including wineries, importers and distribut0rs, not just wine bloggers.

Because I was trying to get online from my hotel room and had a tech there for an hour helping me, I missed this morning’s first two sessions and arrived in time to join Ken Payton, Amy Lillard, and Oscar Quevado in a discussion on Winery and Wine Blog Relations. They introduced themselves and then discussion commenced. Since the FCC has just changed the rules about disclosure, scaring wine bloggers everywhere, variations of the controversy dominated the conversation, including how do you determine who to send samples of wine to–how do you know whether a blogger has an audience at all or one that you want to reach.

In the second session I attended, Robert McIntosh moderated a session with Dan Coward, Rowan Gormley and Per Karlsson on “Monetising The Social Wine Grand.”

Once again, content is king. Offering content that people want to read and is valuable will lead to financial success of some sort–but not necessarily making money directly off your blog writing. So what do people want to read? What can you write about to develop an audience?

In a survey, readers in the Telegraph UK wanted to know what wines to buy at what price–mostly wines under $20.  Tell the consumer whether they should buy a wine or not. And give them a way to evaluate what you’re saying about the wine. But I know of several bloggers who are doing that well already. With so much wine being produced, there should be plenty of readers for all of us.

No surprise that the level of internet demand overwhelmed the resources and stopped many of us from bloggers and tweters in our tracks. Thankfully, my host Delfim Costa of Enoforum Wines came to my rescue by providing me with a “tmn” banda larga.” Somehow I am able to get on line when others can’t. Thanks Delfim! When I write and lose my content to internet snafus, I admit I get very frustrated. What’s worse is losing my writing like that tends to block the creative juices. We can’t have that now, can we??

Time for lunch and a tasting! Be back soon!

Wine Predator Arrives at the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Lisbon!

After 24 hours of travel, last night I arrived in Lisbon where Enoforum Wine’s Delfim Costa picked me up and escorted me to the VIP Hotel nearby –just in time to join in the evening’s festivities of dinner and tasting.

Most of the dishes on the buffet was new for me and I loved everything I tasted. Two kinds of octopus! Beans cooked in bacon or some variation of goodness using the flavor and fat from a pig (mmmn, bacon!)

But the real standouts of the evening were wines from Douro. The first I tasted was one that Delfim wrangled from one of the Douro Boys. It was spectacular and I swear I will find out what it was. Between us, Delfim suspected that it might be the best wine in the room. For me, it offered everything I want in a wine, especially a wine to enjoy with a meal. Keeping in mind that when I tasted it last night I was running on adrenline and no sleep having spent the previous 36 hours traveling! But my palate knows an amazing wine when one crosses it. This wine was complex–rich, full, fruit, yet also delicate notes of rose. I think I could taste a whole bottle of it and still be discovering nuances.

With my desserts, Delfim and I went in search of another red wine and some port. Well, the room was full of partially empty and completely empty bottles, but we found another red from Douro and a port (name to be inserted here soon!). Then we spied a 10 year tawny (name to be inserted here soon!), and the search was over. Delfim poured samples for me and himself as well as  his colleague Luis and Jo Diaz who organized the wine blogging contest from which I won my trip. It was a lovely tawny and I’d been hankering for some tawny for awhile so it was great to have that itch scratched. As the hour grew later, Delfim then Luis excused themselves, leaving Jo and I to talk and enjoy the tawny.

Earlier I’d watched with interest as one of the Douro Boys carried in a case. What treasures might be there? But as Jo and I were engaged in conversation, and happy with  the tawny, we continued as we were instead of joining the boisterous group at the other end of the room.

Fortunately for us, one of the Douro Boys (name to be inserted here!), brought over a white port, a very special old bottle of white port.

I am ruined. I’d never had a white port before (insert picture here!).  Now I’ve had one of the best, followed by a 1983 aged port which the Douro Boy served to us from a decanter to capture the sediments. Doubly ruined. The 1983 was fantastic–almost like Disney’s Fantasia, like a wind that purrs at times and other times pounces. It was like little cat feet dancing on my tongue. And for flavor–how to describe? Funny thing is the first descriptors are anise or licorice. I don’t like that flavor. Yet I loved it here. Jo found it too cold at first and smooth like silk satin. We both warmed ours up a little, and found more texture and more to the nose, which she described as velvet, as red and rich as a monk’s robes.

I brought the remnants of each into my room with me. When I tasted the 1983 again, it was all about SPICE SPICE SPICE! Like I had stuck my nose and my tongue into a spice cabinet! Eventually I narrowed it down to mostly cinnamon with some clove.

Come back to see the pictures, to click some links, and to see the names when I get a chance. In the meantime, here’s my first installment from the European Wine Bloggers Conference at the VIP Hotel in downtown Lisbon, Portugal!!