Live Wine Blogging

Almost two weeks ago (already?) I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference as most of you know by now. (Hopefully this post will be far less volatile than previous post on the Conference—which I never thought would get much traction, but apparently it did.)


Blurry shot of Bandit Pinot Grigio. I did not have time to focus.

At both Conferences that I have attended, the “Live Wine Blogging” event has intrigued me. Basically, the premise is very similar to speed dating (although I have never done speed dating since, frankly, I did not think my fragile ego could handle it): You sit with several other bloggers and every five minutes, another wine comes to your table. Sometimes it is poured by the wine maker, but most often it is someone else from the winery (usually one of the marketing types), but in that five minutes, they give all 8-10 people a splash, then a brief spiel about the wine, and then they try to answer any questions that may surface (if they can actually hear you—it gets quite loud).

As tasters, we are supposed to be “live” blogging (I am not entirely sure what that means—am I “dead” or “un-live” blogging now?) by either tweeting or putting a post up on our blog instantly.


He told me his name, but I forgot. It was something like Alejandro Johnson, really.

All in all, it is a pretty high pressured atmosphere,. The problem is that I am not all that great under pressure: I still have the “record” for the lowest career basketball free throw percentage at my high school (I keep checking hoping to see it broken), and I almost passed out when both of my sons were born (I get queasy opening a bottle of ketchup).

On top of that, I normally take a bit of time composing my tasting notes as I tend to like to use complete sentences and, well, make sense. I also tend to take a lot more time tasting the wine before I compose a note—I usually do not write one at home until the last glass of the bottle, after a bit of time with the wine. At my recent trip to the Cargasacchi/Loring tasting room, it took me over two hours to go through about seven wines.

I did enjoy the Live Blogging event, but I really needed a drink after it was done.

Other bloggers (including Wilfred Wong) trying to get their photo on.

Other bloggers (including Wilfred Wong) trying to get their photo on.

One last thing: I started to peter out near the end as you will see in my notes (I tried to rally for the last one, but I only have nine tasting notes for the ten wines). I am not sure if this was due to the pressure or the heat—it was really hot in the room.

In the spirit of “Live Blogging” (whatever it means), here are my pretty much unadulterated notes from the event (I only edited them slightly for spelling, unclear abbreviations, and idiotic statements).

What are your thoughts on tasting notes? Are they helpful? Do you gloss right over them? Only look for grammatical errors?

Any thoughts on the 100 point scale?

Bandit Wines Pinot Grigio: Recyclable package. $9/1 liter. Very light color. Melon and honeysuckle. Big and rich. I was ready to hate it because, well, I usually do not like Grigio, and this is inexpensive, and well, Grigio. But I actually like it. Good QPR. 85-87.


$20? Buy it!

Laetitia Blanc de Noir: Bubbles! $20. Great acidity. SIP certified. A bit of brioche and a great finish. $20? That’s stupid. Buy some. 88-90.

2012 Consilience Viognier: 75% Viognier, 10% Grenache Blanc. Nice Viognier: floral nose with apricot. Round and soft fruit, but good acid as well. This is quite good. 87-89.

2013 Rios de Chile Sauvignon Blanc: Retail $9. A bit too tart, but a good price and a good appetizer wine. 5000 Cases. 85-87.


Lisa Mattson of Jordan.

2012 Jordan Chardonnay: $30 Russian River Chard sourced from 8 vineyards in Russian River Valley. 5 months of French oak, both new and used. Very balanced style. Not overly fruity and certainly restrained oak. Jordan is a leader in Chard and this is why. 90-92.

2013 Buttonwood Zingy Sauvignon Blanc: $20 Santa Ynez Valley. More Sauv Blanc? Ugh. This is actually good, though. More of a Sancerre style in that it does not try to smack you upside the head with tartness. Very Good.

2013 Aridus Malvasia Bianca: $28 Magnificent nose 100% Malvasia Bianca. Very interesting wine, unlike pretty much any wine you’ve had.

2013 Danza del Sol Vermentino: $28. At this point I have lost so much bodily fluid that I am drinking just in the hope of staying hydrated.

2013 Grassini Sauvignon Blanc: $28. Another SB that I can live with. A bit too flinty perhaps and at $30? A bit steep, but it is cold and it feels great on my forehead. 86-88.

There's bottle #10! It was so hot in there, I had another use for it....

There’s bottle #10! It was so hot in there, I had another use for it….


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Sparkling Wine, Vermentino, Viognier, WBC14, Wine, Wine Bloggers Conference and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Live Wine Blogging

  1. I thoroughly enjoy reading your synopsis of WBC14. All of the blogs I am reading regarding the conference scare me a bit. I am glad I waited and am now registered for WBC15. I, too, like to sit with wine when I am tasting it to blog. I like to take my time and learn from the wine. Fast paced or overly social situations deter me from writing and instead I like to just enjoy them. I am not sure how I would do in speed tasting but with just a couple notes on each I am sure I could come up with something… perhaps tennis balls and fresh cut garden hose! Ha!


  2. dwdirwin says:

    Not too bad! Kind of started falling apart in the middle but you rallied on the last one-er, next to last one 🙂 I am horrible!!!! under pressure- my mind goes blank, so you are way ahead of me.


  3. I admire the endurance! I’ll seek out some of the inexpensive labels you mentioned to try myself. You may feel differently, but I think your notes are very good! Although I am good under pressure, my palate isn’t. I need to really sip, savor and repeat for about an hour. Then I write for 2x as long – I’m a newbie so call me self conscious. Moreover, I tend to my words quite vigilantly, otherwise, my diplomacy goes out the window. If I ever attend one of these conferences with winemakers present, I’ll need body guards or worse yet, no one will serve me. Enjoy all your WBC14 posts!


  4. Antisocial Patty says:

    I was worried about you and the heat stroke, but the “but it is cold and it feels great on my forehead” made me chuckle. Always a good quality for wine! It’s really interesting seeing the various perspectives from different bloggers. The whole experience sounds amazing and overwhelming at the same time.


  5. talkavino says:

    This was a very enjoyable exercise to me – I agree it is very different with the regular tasting when you have time to spend with the wine – but in the live blogging format you are forced to decide on the wine within the allotted time…


    • Really, five minutes with a wine is a lot of time, the real challenge is getting the attention of the pourer and trying to get all the info you want/need. I always want to know the price, while others are focused on the alcohol content. With all the questions flying around–that’s where it gets hectic.


  6. Well done! I think I’d have a panic attack…


  7. I was just talking about my “Twitter strategy” last night with wifey. I’m not good at it. My Tweets are dry and boring. This is strange as I am really good at one-liners in person. Twitter is about one liners. Wifey pointed out that my best one-liners come after a few drinks. Hmm…. Guess my Tweeting will move from the morning coffee to the evening cocktail.


  8. I did some live blogging at a Ridge event a couple of years ago. Man it was nerve wrecking!


  9. cyardin says:

    For the ‘Laetitia Blanc de Noir’, I don’t understand the reference to brioche? I love my brioche (incredibly hard to find in any Australian bakery, let alone those professing to being boulangeries), but don’t get how it sits with a good wine.


  10. jimvanbergen says:

    Enjoyed your postmortem on this insane experience. I managed to tweet my tastings, or MOST of them I should say, as I did have wifi problems during the process.

    Adore this quote: “I did enjoy the Live Blogging event, but I really needed a drink after it was done.” Could not agree more. (instead of dumping everything, I held on to two of my favorites during the tasting and enjoyed them at length after we were done.)


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