#WBC14: Speed Tasting RED #WINE


 Yesterday I explained about “speed tasting” and how it works at the Wine Bloggers Conferences, one of which was held in Santa Barbara County July 2014. As I’ve attended WBC08, 09, 10, 12, 13, and 14, I posted more than a few times about it (and a few links are in yesterday’s post).

While  today’s post gets straight to the red wines we tasted at our table (and here’s a link to all of the wines tasted), I do want to mention that I am working on posts about some of the panels and sessions, including the rather controversial one with the professional print wine writers.

Remember, while there are a few links to websites, you can click on the highlighted @followedbywineryname to go to their twitter page which will link to their website to learn more about these wines.

And here’s a pro tip: bring an envelope or folder to put the handouts from the red tasting and another from the white tasting to make it easier when you go to write-up the post! And wineries, be sure to give us some sort of hand out to help us in the those critical 5 minutes about what’s in our glass, price, twitter handle and more so we don’t need to interrupt you for these details while you are telling us your story. Or wineries: be the one to GIVE us a folder with your brand on it and suggest we put all of our notes inside! (Because while I brought the folders to the hotel, I didn’t bring them down to the tastings!)

Davis Bynum’s Pinot Noir was poured by Rodney Strong PR rep Rachel Voorhees with help from Ed Thralls (that’s Ed showing off the bottle; he is also in wine PR and is making his own Thralls Wine these days as well–pretty tasty stuff too).

For $55 I would suggest this as a very dependable PN for those full bodied PN fiends in your circle–it’s dense, dark and rich, more dark stone fruits like plum and cherry than berries.  If you ever get a chance to do a Davis Bynum session on Pinot Noir clones, jump at it!

This is a very undemanding, easy to enjoy, flexible PN for under $20. I thought it was great that Cynthia Lohr herself chose to pour for us.

Not sure what happened to the photo that usually go with my tweets, but I suspect it was just way too blurry due to lighting conditions. On the Westerly bordeaux wines,  one note about Happy Canyon is it is the furthest away from the ocean, and it can be .5 -1 degree cooler for each mile that you move closer to Los Olivos, Lompoc, or Santa Barbara. The Fletcher’s red blend is a full bodied, red blend of 50% cab, 23% merlot, 23% petit verdot, and the remainder is cab franc– that my dad would like with his steak and I could imagine sipping and taking in the bucolic Happy Canyon scene with its ranches, farms, olive orchards, and more. While I haven’t been to Westerly (yet), I did get deep into Happy Canyon during the day the conference started for a seminar on the AVAs of Santa Barbara County; it truly is a special place no matter what you’re doing there.

This wine was a fun change! We’d tasted so many Pinot Noirs over the weekend it was great to visit a zinfandel like this one: very friendly, good structure, and one that BevMo chose to pour so you should be able to find it easily at your local BevMo.

This was indeed a stunning cabernet, and I think that’s what Craig wanted to do. However, I would have enjoyed having more time with this one, and it was painful to dump it when it was time for the next wine.

But dump I did for yet another pinot noir but that was okay because the White Hart is shockingly good for $24, and even more surprising that this wine is made from some of the oldest vines in the Santa Lucia mountains, but winemaker Mike Feilis has deep connections in the area having grown up amongst the vines as the grandson of an Italian immigrant who grew wine grapes. This wine was poured with enthusiasm by Lee Nordlund, the  energetic and a happy general manager (who poured another wine for us later that knocked our socks off for the price point!) Their philosophy is to make the best wine they can make and sell it at a reasonable price–not at the highest price the market will bear. But keep in mind, he’s getting his great grapes at great prices too.

Toward the end of the tasting it can be rough to maintain any sense of a palate but this one stood out for how good it was for $12. The Banfi guys throw down a good party too…just stay out of the bathtub!

I doubt that I have ever had wine from the country of Georgia so this was a fun first–and the grapes were first for me too. What were they? Couldn’t tell you in the madhouse that is speed tasting because it was all so unfamiliar. I’m just glad that Mike slipped us two wines and not just one because I really did like wine #2..whatever it was! (Maybe Mike will comment and tell us?)

Wine #9 was also from an unusual region but one I think we will be learning more about because Scott from Aridus has the largest custom crush facility in Arizona and more people there are getting into growing wine grapes. Right now, Scott is making wine from juice from other places as well as AZ but as more of the AZ grapes mature, he will be able to make wine from his own state.  Watch for it!

If we couldn’t finish with Craig Camp’s cab blend, then this certainly worked out! While  cab predominates this bordeaux blend that is built to last, it is very accessible and juicy now with lots of cherry aromas and flavors, but minerality and acidity with a long finish. And the card you see in the image is certainly helpful and what we each need for each wine! I was able to take an open bottle of this home with me and it really pleased my husband’s palate paired with a filet mignon. This is another wine I would love to share with my dad.

Shout out to my table mates including Wilfred Wong (two days in a row!), Doug Levy, and Helene Kremer!

4 thoughts on “#WBC14: Speed Tasting RED #WINE

  1. Gwendolyn — I totally agree that during a speed tasting we can’t waste time asking about Twitter handles and all that jazz. It detracts from the time we have to interact about what is really the most important thing: the wine(s)! I also quite enjoyed Craig Camp’s Cornerstone red as well as the White Hart PN. Love how you put the tweets below the photos. Cheers!


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