Pretty in Pink–Salmon & Pinot Noir: Father’s Day for Our Super Heroes

Since the Alaskan Copper River Salmon we found for Father’s Day was out of our budget at $33 pound, we made do with some fresh King salmon, simply prepared and lightly grilled with lemon, olive oil, pepper, and kosher salt.

And it was lovely, served with asparagus and basmati rice, for my husband, son and 90 year old father-in-law. The wine I chose was a 2006 Michel-Schlumberger pinot noir “Le Fou” and for dessert, I made a fresh strawberry and blueberry gallette with vanilla quark and vanilla ice cream which we enjoyed with a Penfold’s port. Yummy!

A little more about the wine: at the end of the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, I went with a group to Michel-Schlumberger for a vineyard walk and wine tasting.  M-S is located in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma, a region most famous for its zinfandels, but M-S specializes in Bordeaux blends as well as a rhone blend and a small amount of pinot noir–a grape that very few people grow in Dry Creek, hence the name of the wine “Le Fou” or “The Fool.” Very generously, M-S gave us a 50% discount on any wine we chose to purchase that day. I invested in a case, most of which is gone, save a bottle or two of The Fool –since I bought 6 that day! (I think it retails around $30 so we got it for $15).

“Le Fou” grows on a steep slope in the most western portion of Dry Creek Valley,  on an eastern facing slope, a spot where the coastal fog creeps in and cools the vines making it possible to grow this “prickly” grape. The alcohol levels are still a bit high for a pinot (14.6% it says on the bottle) but the wine is nicely balanced–it doesn’t come across as too hot.

Be sure to serve this red wine (like all reds)  at cellar temp, not room temp. (That means in the low 60s not the 80s!)

What I like most is how complex it is: this pinot noir is not one of those simple one note strawberry pinots; it has a lot of bramble berries–raspberry, certainly, and blackberry, even a hit of blueberry (ok, not a bramble but a bush…) and some solid fresh cherry. There’s a bit of earth but it’s not very “truffley” –it’s actually more minerally.  The finish is long and rich.  It has nice body but it’s still a pinot, not a pinot passing as a full bodied wine.

What I also like about the Michel-Schlumberger is the care they take of the land: they have sheep, a pond, nesting birds, a “kitchen” garden, bees, and more. While they are not certified anything, they are sustainable by practice and by heart. I am looking forward to visiting the vineyard again this July with my 7 year old son!

I last tasted the 2006 M-S pinot noir in December during the pinot noir tweet up. I brought a bottle to a fundrasier for WEV (Women’s Economic Ventures), a holiday fair where I helped pour wine. This wine was clearly a favorite and I actually had to set the bottle aside to make sure I got some! I also brought this wine to a tasting at Burning Man; there were some amazing wines there and this one held its own. People were pleasantly surprised to discover it was a pinot noir from Dry Creek!

Not surprisingly, the color isn’t as pretty as it was years ago–it’s going a bit coral around the edges–but it is still pretty in pink.

Read on for our 2009 Father’s Day salmon dinner and wine!

Pretty in Pink Father's Day Celebration for Our Super Hero In the Pink Drink for Pre-Dad’s Day Celebration: Here’s MY SuperHero, sneaking in a nap between chapters of Melvin Beederman, Super Hero, one of their favorite chapter books to read and reread. And reread again. We couldn’t recommend Melvin more. The Dad comes highly recommended too. For the Big Monkey, aka Dad to the Small Boy, catching some extra shut-eye is a favorite weekend pastime. So is putting some sockeye salmon on the grill! Thank goodne … Read More

via Wine Predator

A Tale of a Few Conferences: EWBC 09, NAWBC 08 & 09, plus tech tales from WordCamp SF 08, 09 & LA 09, MacWorld 09

I’m not sure whether Reno Walsh, one of the organizers for the Wine Bloggers Conferences, saw the video above yet where I talk about some of my experiences in a video by BKWine at the European Wine Bloggers Conference which I attended as a guest of Enoforum Wines, but he recently emailed me for feedback comparing the EWBC and the NAWBC. (You can also watch the video here:

As others might be interested in hearing some notes comparing and contrasting the various blogging and tech conferences I’ve attended in the past 18 months, I thought I’d expand a little, edit a little, and post those notes here–with an emphasis on the three Wine Bloggers Conferences I’ve attended of course.

Overall I suspect what’s MOST IMPORTANT to me and to many of my fellow tech oriented conference attendees is reliable wireless–being able to get on-line to tweet, blog, facebook, all that fun social media stuff when we want, are inspired or have the time.

The Wine Bloggers Conferences have failed on this three times now. Thankfully, at the EWBC, my host Enoforum Wines came through by providing Jo Diaz and I portable wireless devices which come with minutes. Jo used hers extensively; I had better luck getting on-line in my hotel rooms then she did–I admit I wasted way too much time on it, especially at the hotel where the EWBC was held. Too often I was trying to get on-line when I would have preferred attending the conference. I did end up paying for internet my last night in Lisbon: 12 hours for about $25 US.

At MacWorld in SF last January 2009 I found it was somewhat reliable around the Moscone conference center but my best bet was getting a press pass and getting online there–they knew enough to make sur ethat if anyone could get on-line it should be the press! I imagine they’ll ahve it dialed in for 2010–not sure yet if I’ll be there to see.

SF WordCamp 2008 and 2009 had PLENTY so we could all have as many windows open doing as much as we wanted all at the same time. Somehow they’ve been able to handle the needs of 700 tweeters blogging and bloggers tweeting; unfortunately, LA WordCamp did not quite have enough but the main problem was that we got kicked off if we didn’t upload anything after 10 minutes. I tracked down someone who could address that so the wireless worked much better in the afternoon.

IN DEPTH ED: At EWBC, I loved the day where we went on the cork forest tour with lunch and tastings followed by a visit to a cork plant. The day offered less drinking and tasting but lots of learning and camaraderie. This intensive, deep learning experience that really stuck with me, and others as well.

GRAND TASTING: As I mentioned in the video, I loved the grand hosted tasting Charles Metcalf did at EWBC. This should be a part of every WBC. Since the next WBC is in Walla Walla Washington, maybe they should have someone who really knows Washington and/or Oregon and/or Canadian wines. Or hey, why not Metcalf and Portuguese wines? Metcalf was fabulously entertaining…and I’d love to taste more Portuguese wines!

SESSIONS: At the EWBC 09, I admit I was very jetlagged Saturday morning and trying to get on-line in my hotel room,  and so I missed the first morning sessions Saturday. I missed Friday’s sessions completely as I arrived Friday evening for dinner (about 11pm). I feel like I got more out of the conference sessions themselves at the NAWBC. I think they were more sophisticated, but then again I could have been too jetlagged to get much. I learned more from the sessions in 2008 but then I was still very new to blogging, social media, and wine back then (I’m still new but not nearly!)

SESSIONS 2 I missed Wine Academy of Spain Esteban Cabeza’s sherry, port and madeira tasting on Friday at EWBC as I was enroute but he kindly gave me a brief tutorial. These wines blew my mind.  The NAWBC should definitely consider having him do his presentation at the NAWBC in WA as these wines are unknown and unappreciated by many in the US.  I am still puzzling over madeira and sherry. Maybe if they were more appreciated here, good ones could be found more easily. (I just found an excellent Solera 1847 oloroso sherry from a local Henry Wine Group distributer. He admitted I couldn’t even buy it around here–I was able to buy it via a tasting at a local restaurant). It’d be great to have some American examples as well–I’d love to try Twisted Oak’s Pig Stai with a Port from Portugal.

KEYNOTES I loved the NAWBC keynotes in 2008 (Alice Feiring and Gary Vaynerchuk) and 2009  I enjoyed having a lunchtime keynote or morning like in 2009–Barry Schuler was unexpectedly brilliant.

BEST? I appreciated in 2009 just relaxing and enjoying the incredible dinner and wine and more intimate gathering and company at Pine Ridge after a long stimulating day instead of having a keynote! The meal at Pine Ridge was one of the best I’ve had in my life.

GIFT BAGS The gift bags at EWBC were slim compared to NAWBC but a lot of the stuff in the NAWBC bag was just “stuff” that I basically recycled.

BRINGING IT HOME 1: Since I live in California and can drive there and back, I’ve been able to bring lots of wine home, open bottles to taste with more leisure and samples.  At EWBC I didn’t know how to get any of the wines and bring them back. I went to a grocery store and was overwhelmed and didn’t see much that I had tasted. While in Portugal, I tasted all these amazing wines that now I can’t find in my hometown in California!

BRINGING IT HOME 2 One of the best things a winery did in my three conferences: Michel-Schlumberger gave bloggers who went there on the wine hike a 50% discount; most people on the tour took them up on the offer. I’d encourage the wineries to go even deeper with discounts knowing that we’ll tweet, talk, taste, blog about the wines. So in the gift bags, maybe have a coupon code for deeply discounted wines. Not everyone is swimming in free samples (or wants to be).

BLENDING: This didn’t happen at EWBC or NAWBC but I’ve noticed a lot of interest in blending and blending activities on twitter. I know some WBC participants went to Twisted Oak to do some blending before the conference and that sounded like great fun. I think it would be a blast to do a blending activity/exercise/tasting as an official part of a WBC and EWBC too. I think I would learn a lot about wine/winemaking in the process and it would be fun. We could do it as teams–not self-selected teams but random so we’d meet new people–then we could try and rate the other team’s wine and figure out what was in it!! It would be even better if we could get a bottle of the blend to take home (for free or discounted). Maybe a few of the area wineries would be interested in hosting something like that.

I sent along some other ideas as well but I think 1200 words is enough on this subject!

WBC 2009 Day 1: Live blogging & tasting, Wine Blogger Awards, Sonoma wines & more!

Art Predator ready to live blog at WBC 09I was up and at ‘em first thing Friday morning July 24 helping Zephyr Wine Adventures and Open Wine Consortium get registration going for all the excited participants of the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference.

The Flamingo Hotel lobby was hustle bustle with cases of wines rolling through for set-up in one banquet room for the sponsor reception, and lunch and more wine ready to go in another.

People recognizing each other from twitter and blog handles embraced like the old friends they’ve become via social media–even though many of them had never met in person. Others renewed friendships made at last year’s conference and all the while laptop keys were clicking and iPhones popping.

Art Predator Sports a Spicy Zin Tattoo; photo by John CorcoranAfter the first rush was registered, lunchtime was crazy in a different way: I was being pulled in so many directions!

Getting a Spice Zin tattoo from @insidesonoma…

Tasting Biodynamic wines from Bonny Doon and talking kids with winemaker and President for life Randall Grahm…

Telling the Bottle shock folks how much I enjoyed their movie and appreciated their fine cast…

Collecting a few vinfolio wine tasting books and suggesting they attach a pen to the ribbon bookmark…

Grabbing some mediocre lunch with some exceptional truffles from Sonoma County Winegrape Commission  (who needs lunch anyway when there’s truffles and so much wine to enjoy? ummm, me?)…

Checking back in to make sure registration continued to go smoothly…

Looking out for peoWBC 09 American Wine Blog Awards; Tom Wark presentingple who needed to get registered–and people crashing the party! (You know who you are! VinTank’s Asheley Bellville was certainly eyed with suspicion until we knew who she was!)

After lunch, we settled around tables for the Live Wine Blogging, but since most of us were having difficulties getting online, the American Wine Blogging Awards, organized by Tom Wark of Fermentation and sponsored by Mutineer Magazine, came first. Winners received as a trophy beautiful etched decanters by Reidel.

The winners were announced back in March so there were no surprises in who won trophies. Now who received the trophies and how they did it was a bit more fun and listening to them say a few words was well worthwhile–especially since Cellar Rat provided us with some of his stellar syrah to toast the winners with! (One of the best of the weekend, according to Ken Payton on Sunday.)

American Wine Blog Award Winners

Wineblogawards According to Tom Wark, on his blog Fermentation,

“The winners in the seven categories each had to be nominated first, then be chosen as finalists by a panel of judges, then be judged both by the public as well as by the same set of judges. There was most certainly some vetting going on.

Best Wine Writing On a Blog

Best Graphics or PresentationWBC 09 wineblogAwardsSM

Best Single Subject Blog

Best Business/Industry Blog

Best Winery Blog

Best Wine Reviews

Best Overall Blog

Alder Yarrow of Vinography acceptance speech came to us via a video due to show up on YouTube and which I will link to ASAP!

The sponsors of the American Wine Blog Awards are

Next up: Live Wine Blogging. Unfortunately, the wifi continued to be a challenge for many, including me. In fact, getting online was a challenge on and off all weekend as many of us wanted to have several windows open at a time in order to blog, tweet, and who knows what all else. The upshot is I actually lost several live blog posts as well as tweets and finally resorted to taking notes in word. Others used old fashioned pen and paper, but somehow I didn’t have any nearby when I was in need!

For the Live Blogging event, the idea was that every five minutes a new wine and winery would come to the table and pour so we could taste, tweet, and blog while listening to the wine rep who was often the wine maker. Then, rotate! Next wine please! Continue reading