Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Year in Review: 2011 Uncorked and Decanted

Another fresh New Year is here; another year to live, to banish worry, doubt, and fear, to love and laugh and give [yes, I say give]! This bright New Year is given me, to live each day with zest, to daily grow and try to be, my highest and my best! I have the opportunity, once more to right some wrongs, to pray for peace, to plant a tree and sing more joyful songs! ~ William Arthur Ward

This quote from Mr. Ward, represents for me many things, but most of all it encapsulates many of my most fervent hopes for me and for you my readers in the New Year that lays ahead. It lays out my desires and resolutions, without naming any specifically, but still it emphatically affirms my resolve to go about my life in this New Year, a little differently than I did in 2011 and dare I say, I think that it's a good thing.

Another year has come and gone, it has been a fascinatingly fun year and adventurous year for me and my blog. I've seen a lot of changes, a lot of folks coming unto the wine scene and a lot of folks kicking their wine blog down the road a bit or just giving it a rest, like the newest novel, that you're suppose to love, but for some reason you can't make it past the first few chapters. But, I want to affirm to you my readers that this blog is NOT going to take any hiatus [maybe a week long vacation], it won't run away from controversial subjects, but neither will I dwell upon those subjects.

This blog will continue to be about its business and information is its business and by the way business is good. So good in fact that my traffic has increased tremendously in the last six months of 2011, averaging over ten thousand views each and every month, a fact for which I'm so very thankful. So while this blog is not the prettiest-gurl at the dance, it surely is no wall flower either, oh-no plenty of folks have asked this blog to dance to their tune, but to them I say, "nay" not now, not ever. So yes, while traffic is way up and new folks are getting subscriptions everyday, don't look for this blog to tow the politically correct party line, of culturally elite big kids on the block who believe and want you to succumb to their narrow point of view that grüner veltliner is god's gift to the wine world and other uber high-acid, fruitless, rustic, no-frills wines [red or white] are the key to a happy wine-life.

So look for this blog to continue to provide you with relevant, fresh articles about the wine-scene, wine-culture, travel and tourism, pairing ideas and finding the very best deals that can be found in the wine world. If want to get into a "rant" please check out my "fermented thoughts" page, where I'll lay siege to some of most absurd and ridiculous trends happening on the wine scene today, as I see it. I hope as each new year passes, that I can become a better writer [many of you doubt that], a better communicator of the electronic page, but don't count on it, as I've told you before, I'm NOT a classically trained journalist, nor am I an English major, nope not even an advanced amateur, just a passionate guy who likes to share his perspective on the world of wine. Please take my wine related commentary for what it's, don't try to read into, you'll just get confused, because as it has been said, "I say what I mean and mean what I say" [without apology].

Now that said, [oh-boy I do feel so much better] I want to just give you a few quick glimpses of some this blog's highlights from last year. I really got to see so much, taste more than my share of exquisite wines, I met so many great folks behind the label and met some fantastic new twitter friends, who continually amaze me, with their thoughtful, fun attitudes and funny one-liners, which always make me laugh.

1. I've come to the realization that much older, finely aged wines, can be some of the very best, most palate pleasing master-pieces that I've ever encountered. So much of the new juice you find on the market today is just too young. I will be exploring more of these wines in 2012 than I did last year and start looking for reviews of older vintages, especially older Cabernet Sauvignon. When it comes to wine, patience is indeed a virtue. A big advantage to folks who really dig Spanish wines [count me in], producers there have to age their wines much longer before release, than their counter-parts here in the U.S. Which is why you'll see many older Spanish wines on shelves, because they have just been released. However, if you want older wines produced here in the states you'll have to raid the "wine-libraries" to get at them and may have to pay big-bucks to get them [unless you know where to look].

2. I've embraced this slightly over-used maxim; you can pay more, but you won't necessarily get more". I came to this realization more fully this year than I ever had before. I know many you have a profound of Pinot Noir producers, like Kosta Browne. Don't get me wrong I love their wine, but I think it's over priced. I had my allocation all set to go, but before I hit the big red "purchase" button. But as I reflected on the Pinot Noirs I've tasted this past year, I've made the executive decision; it's time to kick all the KB's of this world to the curb. I dumped all my allocations, because I know where I can get wines [same quality] I want to drink for so much less than these high-end labels. The same folks, who hope none you will mind continuing to pay for their high-priced juice. Folks, honestly the scales have fallen from my eyes, I was blind but now I see, saving me a ton of coin along the way. You just need to know, where to look.

3. In many tastings last year and the year before, all involving the wines of Chile. I think if they play their cards right, they could become the next "gold-rush" in the wine world. The Wines of Chile are providing as a whole, solid well made wines, which are every bit as good or in some cases, better than much of the juice coming from California and selling for a price that will make your bank account very happy. Folks, the Wines of Chile come dressed to impress, the kind of wines that you know came from someone besides a chemistry set, located on a massive wine farm in central California [you know who you are]. If you consider yourself someone who really digs Pinot Noir, look for the WOC to fill your pantries, cellars and most of all your empty glass for far less than their counter parts in the Russian River Valley.

4. Last year I had a chance to visit again with the wonderful folks on Red Mountain; this is one of my all time favorite places in Washington State, producing some of the finest selections of wine that I've ever had a chance to swirl in my glass. I'm not just talking about big-gun reds either, many of these wineries produce other outstanding white wines, like Riesling and Chardonnay. I drilled down a bit further; I had the opportunity to spend a week with the fine folks at Terra Blanca. Where I was suppose to work crush, but Mother Nature didn't cooperate, but I did get the chance to bottle wine, working on the bottling line and just like an episode of I love Lucy, I missed getting the capsule on more than a few bottles and got some hot glue on my hands. If you're not purchasing wine from these fine folks, you're missing the boat. I've slurped through many, many wines last year and I can say unequivocally that they're putting some of the best juice in a wine bottle that I've had the pleasure of tasting. Wine which in this reviewers mind, constantly over deliver on flavor and structure, compared with other wines at their same price points. I want to re-emphasize once more  that the folks who call Terra Blanca home, everyone behind the label there, from the tasting room to the crush-pad; are really grape people who deserve your patronage. Thanks again to everyone there for the peek behind the curtain and for your wonderful hospitality, during my time with you.

5. Following behind my trip to Red Mountain this year, I was contacted by a company who works with Starbucks to put images in their stores which reflect the community in which they reside. A picture I took last year, in the vineyards of the Terra Blanca [horse heaven hills in the background], was purchased to be used in a new store in Prosser, Washington. Exciting this was my first published work of any kind; nearly like having something you painted being hung some where besides the garage wall. The funny thing was that I really didn't like that picture as much they did, but hey money talks and well you know the rest. By the way, in my opinion Washington State Merlot's are by far and away some of the best I've tasted anywhere, but better than their counterparts in California.

6. I attended another Wine Bloggers Conference; this one went down in Virginia. Until the conference, I had not even seen a wine from Virginia on any shelf any where here in California, nor had ever been to a tasting of their wines. It was all new to me and made for a great experience, I met a lot of great folks and heard from some powerful voices in the wine world who respect greatly, but of course I don't always agree with their views. The conference went down on thee hottest time of 2011 [temps reaching over a 100 degrees] and many folks just melted away like a pad of butter sitting in a hot skillet. While others made the most of it, especially when the tasting opportunities were indoors, still there was an inordinate amount of carping and complaining. Some of my biggest take away’s from the event, one Virginia wines are a force to be reckoned with, strengths being Chardonnay, Vioginer [signature grape] and Cabernet Franc. Two, Virginia is primed and ready for wine related tourism, many clearly defined wine trails and destinations for the wandering wino. I would recommend going in the spring, April or May.

7. Perhaps, uh-wait no perhaps about it, my trip to the Kingdom of Navarra was the most amazing experience of 2011 hands down. The first part of my journey took me to the newly opened Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum found in Bilbao, Spain. This folks is a fantastic city and I loved it so much, I didn't really want to leave. The next part of the trip took me into the interior of the Kingdom of Navarra [northern Spain, near the border of France]. Our group, which was dubbed the "Navarra-Five" stayed in the historic city of Pamplona. This folks is also another amazing city so rich and full of life, history and of course the home of the event made famous via Ernest Hemmingway, the Running of the Bulls. But folks don't miss this; on the outskirts of this now very famous city is some of the very best wines on planet earth. No, I'm not kidding, it's no bull the wines I tasted in Navarra are some of the very best wines you'll ever encounter, wines with a soul. The Tapas bars and the places serving Jamón ibérico; are the happening hot-spots each and every night, you can get an entire bottle of rosado for two euros, for the ladies the shopping is quite good. A great city and wine region I would recommend exploring in the off-season [skip July]. 

8. Lastly looking back travel was a plentiful item on my plate last year, I had a chance to visit Rome for the first time last year, wow what an amazing city. I got to see Sorrento another stunner, I spent a few days in Barcelona [again wowed] and spent just a half day on the island of Palma de Mallorca, great wine, beautiful beaches and again a fantastic city, rich with an abundant history. I was also able to walk down the streets of history via the ruins of Pompeii, a city devastated by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and frozen in time AD 79, seeing it first hand proves beyond any doubt, that people really are not all that much different one century to the next. We all want the same things, a place to live in security, a place of freedom, a place to call home.

Those are just a few of the highlights from last year, there far too many to appear here, as I've already ran far too long. But one of my biggest highlights; is as always this blog where I have a place to share my adventures, my thoughts and impressions about this grape big world we all share. Big thanks to everyone I met this year in person and via Twitter, for everyone who has stopped by this blog to say hello and big thanks to all the wonderful wine producers who bottle their passion and share it with all of us. I know to some it's just fermented grape juice, but I think it's more than the sum of it parts, it [wine] has a way to connect us all together. You can choose to ignore or pooh-pooh that notion if you like, but I think you're missing the boat. As I get ready to embark upon another journey, back to Italy to explore yet another amazing region that appears to be "flying under the radar" I want to say to each and every reader, thanks it was a great year. Until next time, continue to sip long and prosper cheers!

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D'Vine Wine Time said...

I really enjoy your blog! I've Been following for about
a year & you have some great insight on good, value wines. Thnx for the effort! From one fellow wino to another, - "Cheers"!
D'Vine Wine Time

Bill Eyer said...

Hey D'Vine Wine Time,

Always great to hear from a new friend, so you're one of my 10 readers huh? Ha, well thanks for the kind comments and for taking the time to stop-by now and then.



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