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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#OleWinos Final Day: Tilenus/Estefanía & the little #wine valley that could

June 8, 2015

IMG_5408The final day of our brilliant #OleWinos trip was spent in a little appellation in the northern part of Spain, tucked in between still snowy mountains (if only we had that snow and rain in California!): DO Bierzo (WL, FB, Tw). Our group was finishing up our stay across Spain, hosted by high end #wine group MGWines Group (WL, FB, Tw), in the small, but lovely & ancient, Roman-era town of Ponferrada.  It was here that we would visit the previously known property of Bodegas Estafanía (WL, FB), now known better by its main label, Tilenus. Named for the Celtic god, later appropriated by the Romans for their own Mars god of war, their label features a Roman coin that was once found in their very old vine vineyards. It is those very vineyards that sparked an image of ancientness themselves in my mind, with their Dantesque hand-vines reaching towards the sky, during our soggy visit to their longtime home.

More details after the leap!

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#OleWinos: MGWines Group’s Lavia rocks the A+ #wine

May 23, 2015

We continued our #OleWinos adventure with host MGWines Group (WL, FB, Tw), at their stellar Bodegas Lavia (WL, FB, Tw) #wine estate in the Bullas DO (WL, FB). You might remember that I visited DO Bullas a couple years back during our #Murcia8 journey. It was wonderful to be back and to visit a new part of this small Spanish appellation, the smallest in the Murcia region of Spain.  It is here that MGWines found the latest jewel in their basket of unique, fine wineries across the multitude of Spanish wine regions.  Our host for this trip was again, winemaker Sebastien Boudon.  He splits his time between Sierra Salinas and Lavia, which are about 100 km apart from each other.  The rain and clouds followed us to Lavia as well, but that didn’t stop us from taking in the striking mountainous surroundings of the Lavia estate.

More details after the leap!

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#OleWinos: Alicante Love at Bodegas Sierra Salinas

April 29, 2015

DSCN0963As mentioned in my intro post, I recently took another trip across the globe to my favorite foreign country of Spain.  This time I had the great fortune to be hosted by MGWines Group (WL, FB, Tw) in order to tour their luxury #wine properties located across their country. The trip was quite handily organized by Kraynick Consulting. Our first full day was set in the coastal city and wine Denominacion de Origen (DO) of Alicante (WL, FB, Tw, IG, YT).  Here were found the unique estate and affordable wine gems from Bodegas Sierra Salinas (WL, FB).

More details after the leap!

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A tasty stay at Lula Cellars: Mendocino & Anderson Valley #wine

April 14, 2015

It’s funny how life can connect the dots sometimes, leading to a lovely and serendipitous experience.  This was one of those times (or extended weekends, for that matter). Late last year I was contacted about a possible media stay at the rustic estate of a fine pinot producer in the Anderson Valley AVAMendocino County (WLFBTw) is one of the coolest wine regions in California (if not the coolest), and also happens to be where I married the Lady (Tw) almost 15 years ago. Courtesy of Chalkboard Communications and the hospitality of Jeff Hansen and Dan Reed, we were able to both stay at and visit this region for the first time in 15 years, and taste through the very impressive wines from Jeff and Lula Cellars (WLFB).  Yum! Philo is a *very* small town (Pop: 349), tucked along CA-128 about 30 miles from SE of the seaside village of Mendocino.  It also happens to be the heart of the ANderson Valley and Mendocino County wine regions, with over 20 wineries and wine tasting rooms in extremely close proximity to “downtown”.

The full recap, after the leap!

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Guest Post: #Vinopanion Roy Jurgens visits Paso Robles

January 12, 2015

It is quite the rare occasion here at Vinopanion (WL, FB, Tw, IG) when we greenlight a guest post. But, recently a Vinopanion reader contacted us about possible recommendations for a lovely planned trip to Paso Robles Wine Country (WL, FB, Tw). We had been in Paso again earlier in the year, for my Wildflower Triathlon. One of our favourites that trip was Proulx Wines (WL, FB, IG) along Vineyard Drive, which Roy Jurgens and his Lady (and pooch!) were also able to visit. Proulx’ array of estate dry rosés really rocked our vinous world.  I asked Roy for a recap of their own favorite Rhone-styled wineries and he sent back a fantastic, thorough recap.  So now, let’s let Vinopanion Roy Jurgens take it away, with their tour of Paso food and wines!

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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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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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#Wine: The Side Gig

June 12, 2013

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.

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