Taking my #wine kung fu to the next level: #WSET II & Napa Valley Wine Academy

October 10, 2015

406064_562298363799327_175257724_nI have been immersing myself in the study of #wine in a semi-systematic manner for much of the last 8 years.  Indeed, #Vinopanion‘s 8 year anniversary with @WineLog is approaching in the middle of this month. Yet I have slowly realized that something is lacking in my devotion to the knowledge of the vinous delights: focus, structure and external credibility. You’d think that a trained scientist would have recognized this long ago and I did notice these thoughts in the back of my mind a few years back.  But they were always battered back by “where’s the time?” and “I’m still receiving plenty of media travel & event invites,” along with “my wine consulting services continue to expand.” Then I reached last year and I started to recognize some clear patterns in my wine work. While I had plenty of media opportunities and my fellow wine colleagues were continuing to get work, I could see that the pace of my own trade offers beginning to slow down. It was then that I noticed that most of my colleagues began to sport letters after their names on their business cards: they were taking certified educational courses to formalize their wine training. I needed to set up my wine game. It was then that I contacted the good people at Napa Valley Wine Academy (FB, Tw): “help!”

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Hall Wines Cabernet Cookoff tastes great, gives help

August 22, 2015

11855799_868280449915926_2336774847356483997_nWe’re a little late on our coverage of this fine event, but we did want to send out hearty Vinopanion props to Hall Wines (WL, FB, Tw, IG, YT) and their highly enjoyable 6th Annual Cabernet Cookoff charity #foodie and #wine event this past April. Fifteen Napa Valley and San Francisco based chef teams competed to see which one could most favorably pair their small bite with the 2012 Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvigon and the 2012 Hall Napa County Coeur Cabernet Sauvignon red wines.  To whet the almost 700 attendees’ palates, the festivities were kicked off with a glass of the delicious 2012 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  On this particularly hot April day, the SB was quite a treat, with its juicy citrus acidity, rounded out with some tropical fruit and floral notes, and finishing with some zingy minerality.  Following the SB intro, the Lady and I headed into the array of tents to taste through the many culinary delights on prep.

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#NapaQuake: A harvest of recovery

September 11, 2014

Over two weeks have passed since a significant earthquake hit Napa and the surrounding cities, at 3:20am Sunday morning 08/24/14. Named the South Napa earthquake by USGS, the 6.0 quake hit Napa particularly hard, despite what could be considered a quake of intermediate intensity.  Due to the east-west nature of the quake movement, “river valley sediments,” and the fact that the rupture “propagated NNW” in direction, the bulk of the quake’s energy was sent “NNW towards Napa,” according to USGS scientists.  All of these factors resulted in very significant damage that was almost entirely localized to the city of Napa, especially to its historic downtown and to the southwest neighborhood of Browns Valley, my childhood neighborhood and still where my parents reside (ShakeMap copyright USGS).  The Lady and I live about 1 mile NE of Browns Valley, on aforementioned river valley sediment/silt, in fact. It is for these reasons that it can be hard for even other Bay Area residents to understand just how much this earthquake has affected our dear valley. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this natural disaster is that has hit in the middle of an early harvest, so the Valley must recover while still going through its annual vinous renewal.

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Domaine Chandon & étoile: #Napa’s Classic, Stars

August 13, 2014

The Chevalière of the French bubbly scene in Napa is the elegant and indomitable, Domaine Chandon (WLFBTw).  It is the first French foray into domestic bubbly by the esteemed Moët & Chandon in 1973; the producer of arguably the most famous Champagne in the world: Dom Pérignon. Indeed, when many consumers think of sparkling wine in the US, they think of the name “Chandon.”  And it is at this beautiful estate, biking distance from our home, that we happily enjoyed media passes for their étoile Prestige Tour, followed by lunch at their in-house resto, also named étoile.  We attended courtesy of the winery, and oh!, what a visit it was…

Find all the tasty deets, after the jump!

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#SpainLove: Gloria Ferrer’s 22nd Annual Catalan Festival 07/19/14 & 07/20/2014

July 16, 2014

As my lovely #Vinopanion readers already know, I am a *huge* fan of Spain, Spanish culture, food, and of course, #wine!  Indeed, I have had the great fortune to attend media trips to both the Navarra and Murcia wine regions of that Iberian country, and I just hosted two events for #MurciaWine at #WBC14 last weekend.  The Lady Beth Fontaine (Tw) also attended the Murcia trip and we are constantly on the prowl for Spanish culture here in the US (including the fantastic Zuzu in our Napa hometown).  Indeed, our very first trip together to Europe was an epic tour through Spain, finishing with some downtime in the equally beautiful land of Portugal.  It was on this very trip that we discovered our most beloved city in all of this fair world: Barcelona. The jewel of Catalan culture has bewitched us ever since, with its glorious and unique districts, tapas crawls, #Cava sparkling wine, and many MANY amazing sites, architecture and museums. This brings us to the featured event of this love story to Catalunya y España:

The Gloria Ferrer 22nd Annual Catalan Festival, happening this weekend in Sonoma, CA! All the deets, after the leap!

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#CabFestNV: An Inaugural Celebration of King Cab

May 9, 2014

There are plenty of #wine fests these days, celebrating this region or that grape varietal, indeed the Napa Valley has plenty of its own festivals throughout the year.  When you think of the Napa Valley in particular, what wine comes to mind….umm, yeah CABERNET SAUVIGNON.  And then strangely, you realize that there is no festival that celebrates King Cab here in the Val. That is…until this year!  The newly relaunched Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater (FB, Tw) hosted the very first wine festival devoted to Napa Valley Cab, #CabFestNV 2014, in March of this year.  We were fortunate enough to attend all three days on a media pass and we were very impressed by the inaugural festival.

More recap deets after the leap!

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Underground Cellar: new #wine marketplace, win a #winecation!

April 16, 2014

As mentioned previously on these vinous epages, the Lady and I have happily ensconced ourselves back in the wine country of our roots.  Our move to #NapaMode has been just about as cool as anyone might ever dream…yes, living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, point zero for #wine & #foodie heaven definitely has its benefits, I won’t blathe.  One thing that we’ve come to learn in this fine place is that you can’t get anything DONE during the weekends, however!  Apparently, when one is surrounded by beautiful land to traverse by bike, foot, or DeLorean; wine to sip and food to savor, you just kinda want to do that every day that you’re not in the grind.  Huh…who’da thunk? 😉

That said…what if you were here on a vacation…that’s free…and filled with free food & wine activities? Why, a #winecation is just the antidote for getting your guilt-free glutton-on! The new wine marketplace Underground Cellar (FB, Tw) has you covered!

More details after the leap!

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Ovation TV presents The Art of: #Wine Country

April 4, 2014

An interesting piece of news crossed my vino desk this week, coming to us from the Ovation (FB, Tw, YT) cable television network.  The Art of series, covering the bleeding edge of non-traditional art,  is in its third season on Ovation. The new season will cover a topic near and dear to VinopanionWineLog.net: wine country.  “The Art Of”: Wine Country” will premiere this Sunday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. ET. This half hour episode will cover the intersection of #food, #wine, and of course #art within the context of our very own wine country.  Longtime Vinopanion favorites Artesa Vineyard and Winery will be featured, alongside Sonoma Valley Lasseter Family Winery (WL, FB, Tw) and famed Napa farm to fork chef pioneer, Cindy Pawlcyn (FB, Tw). Check it out this weekend!  #theartof

A special video preview of the Artesa segment alongside Vinopanion wine reviews after the break!

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Bubbly: Côté Mas sparkling #wine BrandLive tasting

March 17, 2014

Tomorrow evening at 4PM PDT (03/18/14), I have the very fun opportunity to taste through some new sparkling #wine releases from France that clearly break the affordable mark.  Well-respected Languedoc producer Domaines Paul Mas (WLFBTw) and BrandLive have teamed up to bring Mas’ Limoux AOP sparklers from his Côté Mas label. For centuries, the Mas family has been producing renowned wines from across the Languedoc, with fourth generation patriarch Jean-Claude Mas (Tw) leading the charge since taking over the family company in 2000. Tomorrow night we get to taste his affordable bubbly from two of the AOC from the commune Limoux.

More info after the leap!

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Concha y Toro kicks out a range of great Chilean #wine

February 5, 2014

 Chilean #wine has exploded in the US and around the world over the last decade+. Indeed, during the Lady and my vacation to awesome Belize late last year, we were surrounded by the Wines of Chile, with very few exceptions. While the wines that most of us enjoy in the US are at the very affordable level, say <$12, I have also tasted through some great upper-end Chilean wine tastingsof late, which showed off what the finer, more boutique end of the fine wine range can do from this country. Late last year, I had the chance to attend two tastings that spanned the breadth of wine Chilean wine powerhouse of Concha y Toro (WLFBTwYT).  From affordable to supercrazypremium, these wines showed consistent quality, regardless of their actual price.

I’ll break it down after the jump!

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