Matt Kemberling

9 Things I learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference

9 Things I learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference

So it’s been just over a month since we were out in California for the 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference. Once again we had a great time and learned much about being better bloggers and how we can better understand our place in the wine industry. Here’s a list of 9 things I learned while at this year’s conference.

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#WBC17 Live Blogging Day 2 – Red Wines

#WBC17 Live Blogging Day 2 – Red Wines

The live blogging for day 2 will be starting in just a few minutes.  Like we did yesterday, we’ll be posting about the wines that are poured at our table.  Check in soon for more details.

1. 1000 Stories 2015 Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel – This is the flagship wine for the winery. Bourbon and vanilla come through predominantly on the nose. The finish is smokey and charred with a healthy dose of spice on the mid-palate. This particular batch is number 35. Each batch will be different from batch to batch.

2. Paradise Ridge 2015 Pinot Noir – Cherry and vanilla on the nose are light and airy. The flavors are cherry and a nice oak. Ample fruit is present throughout. This Pinot Noir is slightly lower in alcohol at just over 13%. A very nice sample.

3. Gracianna 2015 Reserve Pinot Noir – This vintage is the third Pinot Noir made by the winery. The nose is light with subtle cherry, leather and vanilla. There is a very nice spice that comes through on finish. Overall a very nice example of Pinot Noir.

4. Missouri Wine pouring the Stone Hill Winery 2015 Norton – One of the 135 wineries in the state, this wine is incredibly dark. Aged in a combination of American, French, and Hungarian oak. Blueberries and baking spices come through on the nose. Fresh and fruity flavors come through on the front and mid-palate. The finish is tannic and broad sweeping.

5. Theopolis Vineyards 2015 Petite Sirah – This vineyard specializes in Petite Sirah and the 2015 doesn’t disappoint. The nose is fresh and bursting with dark berries and a nice vanilla. Big red fruits and berries come through on the flavors. The tannins are bold and grippy right now, but with more time it will transform into a supple profile.

6. Donelan Wines 2013 Cuvée Moriah – This wine is a Grenache based wine with a splash of Syrah added in. This ode to chateauneuf is lighter in color than some of the previous wines, but it doesn’t lack in flavor. It starts with a nice dried fruit with secondary characteristics of dried herbs and an earthy mid-palate. The finish has a nice tannin balance. Definitely a wine with character.

7. The Hilt Wines 2015 Pinot Noir – The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard that is just 13 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Coffee and cocoa come through on the nose. Ample red fruit flavors and a juicy mid-palate make this a mouthwatering wine that is easy drinking and approachable. And for the price point of $45, it is definitely enjoyable.

8. Wagner Family of Wine 2015 Conundrum Red – This wine is Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The color is dark and the nose is straightforward with vanilla and dried fruit. Dark fruits and vanilla come through as the predominant flavors. Mild tannins come through and have a slightly fruit-sweet finish.

9. Cliff Lede Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – This Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the first we have had during this live blogging session. The nose is slightly floral (violets) with a mild cooling effect. The flavors are big and tannins bold. Cedar cigar box and a dark charred fruit finish are very present on this wine. Overall a very well balanced wine.

10. Planeta Wines La Segreta Nero D’Avola – This wine of Sicily is fruit forward and juicy. Aged completely in stainless steel, this wine is very fresh. It would be very food friendly and is quite approachable. Bottle price roughly $15.

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#WBC17 Live Blogging Day 1 – Whites & Rosés

#WBC17 Live Blogging Day 1 – Whites & Rosés

Live blogging is set to being here soon.  We’ll be using this page to document the different wines we taste throughout the event.  Check back frequently!

1. Antica 2015 Block A26 – This Chardonnay is only available in the winery. It is nicely oaked with ripe apples on the nose. The finish is toasty with a nice vibrant profile.

2. Hanna 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – The nose is zippy and citrusy. The flavors are very nice with a touch of green apple, a hint of grassy mid-palate. The winemaker has learned the nuances of this grape and tamed the wild nature into something that sings in the glass.

3. Leto Cellars 2014 Chardonnay – The nose is more pronounced and is moving into a more mature profile. The fruit was picked at the peak of freshness to get the best taste. Minimal interaction after picking helped to express the varietal characteristics in the wine. The flavors are broad sweeping and pleasing. A great family story to accompany a great wine.

4. Acumen Wine 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – 80% stainless steel and 20% new oak fermentation give this a slightly tropical banana nose. The flavors are mellow. Pears and grapefruit come through toward the end and into the finish.

5. William Hill Estate 2015 Chardonnay – Vanilla and butter come through big time on the nose. They have one of the most iconic views in the Napa Valley. It is buttery in flavor and has a nice balance of oak and fruit. The flavors are very soft and supple and has a really nice character. An excellent value for the $17 price point.

6. Dancing Coyote Wines 2016 Grüner Veltliner – A refreshing break from Chardonnay, this wine is fresh and crisp. The flavors are of fresh melon and creamed lemon. The acidity is fresh and leaves the mouth with a clean finish. Additional flavors of white peach with a slightly herbaceous note also come through.

7. Anaba Wines 2015 Turbine White – This Rhône style white is mostly Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Roussanne (with a dash of other common Rhône whites). The nose is flinty and slightly smoky. The flavors are vibrant and vivid. Tangerine and citrus come through on the mid-palate and the finish is nice minerally. This is another great refreshing break. Delicious!

8. Paradise Ridge 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – This limited production Sauvignon Blanc is 100% stainless steel. The wine itself is crisp and bright. There’s nice citrus and a light mineral flavor. The mid-palate is mildly tropical with a nice acid balance. It’s easy going and very enjoyable. Despite a loss of their winery and tasting room buildings, the vines were spared in the recent fires. Luckily they had a good supply off-site in a bonded facility that is still available for sale. Definitely one to check out.

9. Breathless Wines Blanc de Noirs – 99% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Meunier make this quite interesting. The nose is bretty and yeasty. The flavors are a bit heavy on the biscuit with a dark subtle undertone. Fruit flavors come through as well, leaning toward strawberry and a hint of kumquat.

10. Vanderpump 2016 Rosé – This Cotes de Provence may seem a little out of place here in Santa Rosa, but good wine knows no bounds. The flavors are a classic Provence rosé. A nice way to finish out the live blogging round for the day.

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A Spotlight on Vermentino of the Swan Creek AVA

A Spotlight on Vermentino of the Swan Creek AVA

Our final feature in our series of lesser known grapes is a spotlight on Vermentino. As with our other spotlight features, you can find some great examples right here in North Carolina in the Swan Creek AVA.  We go into some detail about the grape itself and review six vintages from two North Carolina wineries.

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A Spotlight on Petit Manseng in North Carolina

A Spotlight on Petit Manseng in North Carolina

Continuing with our series of bringing lesser known grapes into the spotlight, we take a deeper look at Petit Manseng. This small cluster and small berry grape make a very interesting wine that most people have never heard of. This grape has great potential here in North Carolina and there are already a few vineyards who have jumped on the Petit Manseng bandwagon. One of which is Jones von Drehle Vineyards & Winery in the Yadkin Valley.

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What We’ve Been Drinking — May 2017

What We’ve Been Drinking — May 2017

May has 31 days. And with that many days, there are plenty of opportunities to drink some great North Carolina Wine. We did just that. The weather also was quite amazing, so we ended up taking a few weekends and visiting some wineries we haven’t been able to get to in a while. Also, toward the end of the month, we celebrated a milestone birthday in the only way we know how, with wine!

Check out our featured NC Wines on our Instagram feed and be sure to leave us your feedback!

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A Spotlight on Roussanne and Petite Sirah

A Spotlight on Roussanne and Petite Sirah

Let’s take a minute to talk about two lesser known wine grapes, one red and one white. If you easily get fatigued from Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, these will be two varietals you need to try. The grapes in the spotlight are Roussanne and Petite Sirah. Both grapes are capable of producing a robust wine that can offer a welcome alternative to the more popular choices.

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What We’ve Been Drinking — April 2017

What We’ve Been Drinking — April 2017

April showers bring May flowers. The onset of spring has the vineyards starting up their growing season. We made it out and about to a few wineries this month and ended up featuring around 20 wines. We’ve already got a few plans for next month so stay tuned on social media for what we’ll be up to.

In the meantime, check out our featured NC Wines on our Instagram feed and be sure to leave us your feedback!

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What We’ve Been Drinking — March 2017

What We’ve Been Drinking — March 2017

In like a lion and out like a lamb, they say. March has come to a close and with it starts the growing season in the vineyards. The vines are starting to wake up and bud break is eminently upon us (for better or worse). Midway through the month, we were lucky enough to attend the Showcase of Fine North Carolina Wines. This showcase featured the twelve winning wines in the NC Fine Wines competition. More details on that in our post soling soon.

Check out our featured NC Wines on our Instagram feed and be sure to leave us your feedback!

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Showcase of North Carolina Fine Wines

Showcase of North Carolina Fine Wines

In mid-March, the North Carolina Fine Wines Competition took to the road and held its first showcase event. The showcase had on display all 12 of the winning wines from North Carolina. This first showcase was at the Duke mansion in Charlotte. The doors opened and the crowds made their way in to pick up their Riedel glass and make their way through the tasting sheet. Continue reading →

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