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:
Over the last 7 years (yes, my blogo-versary was just last month!), I’ve managed to overwhelm everyone I know with my mad passion for vino. So, it might come as some surprise to casual readers that the last 1.5 years have seen a new passion start to share space alongside my wine fridge: triathlons. I have mentioned this healthy kick a couple of times here on Vinopanion, but this is the first time that those two passions have collided into a wonderful blend of health, wine, and healthy wine. I’m very happy to announce that I will be partaking in the 2014 Rodney Strong Vineyards Vineman Monte Rio Olympic Triathlon this Sunday, June 8, while proudly sponsored by none other than the kind winemaking folks over at title sponsor, Rodney Strong Vineyards (WL, FB, Tw, IG, YT)! Vineman (FB, Tw, YT) has a rich history of triathlons and multisport competitions in the Sonoma County area and this is the second year for this new USAT-sanctioned, olympic distance triathlon.
More #triathlon & #wine details after the leap!
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!
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 Vinopanion – WineLog.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!
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 (WL, FB, Tw) 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!
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 (WL, FB, Tw, YT). From affordable to supercrazypremium, these wines showed consistent quality, regardless of their actual price.
I’ll break it down after the jump!
Wine country, almost by definition; is a gorgeous, relaxing, and delicious set of regions to visit. But how does one choose which region to visit and which wineries to whet one’s vinous whistle? Sometimes you just want a gorgeous setting, with wine that is at least, enjoyable. Other times you might just want the best wine that fits your palate, surroundings be damned. And sometimes you want to go beyond just the wine and have it paired with tasty bites of foodie porn. Fortunately, you now have at least one destination that takes all of these experiences and wraps them into one 3 hour, vino/foodie heavenly wine timeout from reality: the newly launched Jordan Vineyard & Winery (FB, Tw, YT, Fl, P, WL) “Estate Tour & Tasting.”
Take a listen: monastrell wine is on the rise. Yep, I’m making a call, here in Q4 2013, that the monastrell grape will be a major #wine force across the vinous world in the next few years. Wine tends to follow cycles and loops in popularity…Napa cab is here to stay yes, ever since it blew up in the late 60’s and 70’s, but then there was chard right along with it, then zin hit, Italian varietals almost did in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but merlot did, big time. Then sideways pinot took over like a soft-handed monster, and bets on syrah didn’t pan out, while shiraz did (same grape, people). Now, riesling is on the rise, rosé is finally making it big, malbec has been charging for a few years now and
I PREDICT: monastrell throws down a hammer goblet of good quality, price, and sales.
You might have noticed that I have been a bit MIA the last couple of months. Now I realize that I said that I would be more devoted to my vino bloggie-blog this year and I was…but then life got in the way. I work a pretty busy day job, as many of you know, conducting applied research for cancer drug development at a large biotech. I do all of the wine stuff on the side, which includes ambassador positions, education, consulting, and other writing gigs.
All of that adds up to a pretty fun and busy life, not to mention fantastic quality time with the Lady, of which and whom, I absolutely adore. Recently my side-life got even busier (but healthier), by getting pulled into triathlons by my bro in-law. I competed in my first USAT sanctioned adult race earlier this year, throwing up a 03:45:02 time in what many people consider to be the most difficult Olympic length triathlon, at Wildflower 2013. Whew…that’s a lot of moving parts! But OK enough whining, let’s talk about other people with side gigs, namely, insanely talented winemakers that produce wine under their own, tiny production labels.
Ahh, Chablis! One of the only French Appellation d’origine contrôlée, AOC (official wine appellation) to sport a single grape variety for its wines, Chablis has had a tremendously long and stupendously successful history as a wine-growing region. The first grape vines were planted during the start of the Roman occupation in what is now Burgundy, and Chablis and its pristine Chardonnay grapevines now occupy the northernmost corner of this ancient wine district. It was this historic wine region that we had the joy to explore last November with Pure Chablis (FB, Tw, WL), during a winemaker dinner designed by Boulevard Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Nancy Oakes.