And The Winner Is…

The 2019 US Wine Tasting Team: Californians Gwendolyn Alley and Sue Hill, and Texans Jacob Fergus and Taylor Robertson; photo taken by Sarah Fergus with my iPhone.

After 21 hours of travel, I returned from Paris to Los Angeles two days ago on Tuesday after two weeks in France where Sue and I competed along with two Texans for the US Wine Tasting Team in the World Wine Tasting Championship held at Chateau Chambord, one of the world’s most impressive castles, located in Loire, France.

Organized and sponsored in part by La Revue du vin de France, the challenge faced by 28 teams from around the world? To taste and identify six white wines and six red wines.

official photo from the organizers

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California vs. France #MerlotMe with squash, chard, pasta #WinePW

Many wines have days devoted to them, and some regions or states have months. For example, California’s month was in September and the final Thursday in August is Cabernet Day.

Coming up, we’ve got–

As Sue and I would be competing in a blind tasting in France today Oct 12, before we left we decided to test ourselves — could we tell the difference between Merlot from the US and France? Continue reading

A Biodynamic Checklist for Pilgrims to Champagne and Loire

Sue and Gwendolyn on the TGV to Champagne -- super fast! Only 30 minutes from the main Paris airport to Reims!

On the TGV to Champagne — super fast! Only 30 minutes from the main Paris airport to Reims! photo c. by Gwendolyn Alley

With the World Wine Tasting Championship coming up this Saturday Oct 12 at Chateau Chambord in the beautiful green Loire Valley in France, the US Team has arrived and is preparing!

Well, at least you think we’d be!

Instead, Sue and I spent four nights in the Champagne region visiting biodynamic producers, vineyards, cellars, and tasting biodynamic still and champagne wines, then we drove to the Loire where we have been tasting — you guessed it– biodynamic cremant and still wines!

Biodynamic wines, while varietally correct, do not always taste like a typical wine. Bonus: you can enjoy more of them as they also do not give a hangover unless you drink WAY too much!

We did spend one evening at a friend’s opening many bottles from around the world with an emphasis on France and older unusual vintages. We did really well with our tasting notes, according to the somm who hosted the small dinner party and tasting.

Practice makes permanent: a few of the wines we tasted and studied last weekend… the Condrieu was a favorite of mine!

What’s wrong with this? Well nothing to be honest! We feel like we already won by winning a place on the US team and thereby winning our plane tickets and accommodations at Chateau  Chambord!

Instead of trying to travel and taste as widely as possible in France of commercial and typical wines, we’ve been Pilgrims on a journey to biodynamic Champagne and Loire.

We’ve lots of notes and photos for many articles to come but for now, I offer up–

A Biodynamic Checklist for Pilgrims — and a quick photo journey to whet your appetite for what’s to come: Continue reading

Beautiful Abruzzo: 3 Montepulciano and 1 Trebbiano with simple Italian cuisine #ItalianFWT

 

Stretching from the Adriatic Sea to the jagged Apennines mountains, Abruzzo has the most national parks and fore­sts of any region in Italy. Famous for being green and frequently referred to as “the lung” of Italy, Abruzzo’s rivers cut through from the mountains through the hills where the wine grows. Continue reading

September 2019 in Ventura County Vineyards: Focus on Grenache

 

Gorgeous grenache grapes from Rich Vineyard, Upper Ojai, Ventura County came in on Grenache Day to Santa Paula’s Clos des Amis.

Harvest continues this September in Ventura County, with both reds and white grapes coming in — and when the heat spikes, like it did a few times this month, many grapes come in at once and it’s all hands on deck!

And on Grenache Day September 20, 2019 wouldn’t you know that a few bins of grenache of the upper Ojai Rich Vineyard arrived to be sorted and processed!

Clos des Amis owners and winemakers Bruce Freeman and Gretel Mays Compton and I celebrated Grenache Day by opening and tasting three bottles Continue reading

Tablas Creek: California’s Leader for Rhone Inspired Biodynamic Wines #CaliforniaWineMonth

Founded in 1989 by Robert Haas on the west side of the 101 highway which bisects the West coast and runs through Paso Robles, today Tablas Creek pioneers and leads in Rhone, biodynamic, and social media practices — which is why we are featuring Tablas Creek on this day in September during the 2019 California Wine Month.

Read about these California Wine Month features here:  Napa’s Italian grape leader Castello di Amorosa and Charles Krug, Napa innovator and pioneer.

Tablas Creek has some seriously deep roots on both sides of the Atlantic: the winery brings together Château de Beaucastel ‘s Perrin family — one of Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s legendary estates firsts mentioned in 1549 and run by the Perrin’s since 1909 — with the Haas family of Vineyard Brands.

In France, the Perrins pioneered organic farming and the planting of Mourvedre and other traditional varieties. In 2014, sons Jean-Pierre and Francois Perrin won the “Man of the Year” award from Decanter in 2014, and induction into the prestigious Primum Familiae Vini (First Families of Wine).

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A Visit to Charles Krug, Napa Valley’s Oldest Wine Estate #CaliforniaWineMonth

wine glasses awaiting tasters near an original Charles Krug winery building

  • Which wine estate is recognized as the oldest in California’s most famous wine region?
  • Which wine estate hosted the first tastings in their own tasting room in California’s most famous wine region?

If you answered Napa Valley’s Charles Krug to both questions, you’re correct! I didn’t know until I visited that Charles Krug is a pioneering person and an iconic winery located in the midst of Napa Valley near St Helena that makes fabulous Cabernet Sauvignon based wines!

And since September is California Wine Month, it’s the perfect time to call attention to this historic winery, owned by the Mondavi family since 1943.

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