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2020 – A Year in Blogging

January 17, 2021 Leave a comment

Talk-a-Vino2020 was a unique year – don’t think anyone would try to dispute that. Let me acknowledge this by doing something I have never done before – a look back at what happened here on the Talk-a-Vino pages during the past year.

It is interesting that in terms of the number of posts, 2020 was about the same as the prior 3 years – I averaged about 70 posts throughout the whole year or about 6 posts per month on average. Might be a decent amount, but in my most active years, such as 2014, for example, I had about 200 posts in the year, which would average close to 17 per month. Yes, the numbers are a stubborn thing.

Leaving stats aside, a couple of things happened for this blog for the first time. This blog made it to the two of the Top 100 wine blog lists – Top 101 wine writers of 2020 at Corked Wines, and Top 100 wine blogs at Feedspot. Unique and quite happy developments, I have to say – it is nice to be recognized even in the 11th year of blogging.

Many things were “much less” during 2020 – for example, I attended only 3 wine tasting events in person – Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux, Georgian Wine tasting, and Tre Bicchieri. Since the beginning of March, there were, obviously, no trade tastings of any kind. The samples still kept coming, albeit in much smaller amounts compared to the previous years. Delicious discoveries were still made such as wines of Casarena and Mythic from Argentina, amazingly drinkable California Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, superb Oregon finds from Alit and Utopia Vineyard.

Then, of course, there were zooms. “To Zoom” became a new verb, meaning to “see each other in the videoconference”. In the old days, “to Skype” was the thing, but 2020 was the year of Zoom. Zooms with wine lovers stuck in their houses, zooms with winemakers equally desperate for the conversation, zooms with friends. A very unique year. There will be more zooms in 2021, at least in the first half of the year, whether we want it or not.

I decided to bring back some of the old series, trying to instill some timing and order into my blogging – I’m talking about continuing Wine Quiz and Wednesday’s Meritage series. Wine Quiz was exactly as the name says, posts with a set of wine-related questions. when the series was active, those were weekly posts on Saturdays. I now realized that I can’t run those on the weekly basis, however, once every two weeks or so should be possible, so the series is back. I used to have a good number of responders for all the quizzes, which is not the case now, but hey, I still have fun writing those posts, so the series will continue.

Wednesday’s Meritage posts were born without any connection with #WineWednesday – the idea was simply to compile interesting wine news and articles and offer it in a concise format to my readers, keeping them informed of interesting happenings in the wine world. Again, by design, those were supposed to be weekly posts – now they are “best effort” – once I accumulate enough of the good newsworthy content, the post is coming out – but the series is back.

I still managed to produce traditional posts such as April 1st Wine News and Updates, a summary of my best wine experience of 2020, and even snuck one of the most memorable tastings ever before the quarantine was besieged upon us – the OTBN 2020.

That about sums up the year 2020 here at Talk-a-Vino. There were lots of great wines back in 2020 which didn’t make it – yet! – to the blog posts – I will do my best to rectify that, as good wines are always worth a conversation.

That’s all I have for you, my friends. How was your 2020? Cheers!

Retrospective: 11 Years of Top Wines

January 5, 2021 2 comments

While I was working on the Top Wines list of 2020, it almost hit me – 2020 was the 11th year the list of the top wine experiences of the year was produced.

In every Top Wines post, I make an effort to explain my approach to the creation of the top wines list – it is all based on emotions solicited by the wine. The easier it is to recall the wine and relive the moment, the better it is.

I often state that the order of the wines is not so important (this is how I want it to be, but it is usually not the case – the order has meaning) – with the exception of wine #1. Wine #1, the Top Wine of the Year, is always the most memorable. For a few years, I even had difficulties deciding on just one top wine, so I had multiples of wine #1. Strange, I know – but I always have a simple excuse – this is my blog…

All of the Top Wines lists can be found via the Top Wine Ratings menu on the top of this page. However, what do you think of taking a look at the top wines from these past 11 years, just for fun? I would like to enjoy those memories again – and see if I still have them as vivid as I like to think. Let’s see:

2010: 

2007 Mara Laughlin Road Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley ($45) – I can attest that this was one of the best California Pinot Noirs I ever tasted. I still have a bottle each of Mara Pinot Noir 2007 and 2008 (2008 was a complete opposite to 2007, very lean and green) – should make it for an interesting evening one day.

2011: 

2010 Fiction Red Wine Paso Robles by Field Recordings ($20) – this was my first discovery of the Field Recordings wines, and that Fiction was unbeatable, it offered an incredible experience. I also loved the label and the story on the back label of that wine, which, unfortunately, disappeared in the later vintages.

2012:

2010 Antica Terra Phantasi Oregon White Wine ($100, Magnum price in the restaurant) – Definitely a memorable wine, a blend of Rhone varieties – I can close my eyes and imagine the taste of this wine in my mouth. While this is one of the most memorable Top wines, the wine in the second place was not any less memorable – 1947 Rioja Imperial. Also, it appears that I didn’t even include another wine from the same dinner when we experienced the Phantasi, 1998 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon in the Top Dozen list, which is a huge oversight…

2013:

1970 Quevedo White Port – tasting 43 years old elixir together with the winemaker, in the old cellar, directly from the barrel? It rarely gets any more memorable than that.

2014:

1966 Louis M. Martini California Mountain Pinot Noir ($NA) – I found this bottle at the store in Chicago. As this is my birth year, I couldn’t resist getting this bottle for a whopping $25. To my absolute surprise, the wine was perfectly drinkable and delicious. And the label is just purely nostalgic…

2015:

2011 Emiliana Coyam Colchagua Valley Chile ($35) – ordered this wine at the restaurant without any knowledge, mostly going by the price – OMG. This is one delicious wine.

 

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2016:

2002 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Champagne ($230) – one of the most memorable top wines. While I loved the taste, I could smell this wine indefinitely. Really, I have no need in drinking it, but I can’t let go of the aroma…

2017:

1982 Olga Raffault “Les Picasses” Chinon Loire ($85?) – this was unquestionably great – one of my most favorite grape varieties (Cab Franc), legendary vintage (at least in Bordeaux), great producer. The sad part? This is one of the few “Wine of the Year” wines I can’t recall the sensation of taste, smell, or the setting …

2018:

2008 Zenato “Sergio Zenato” Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG ($100) – Amarone is one of my most favorite wines in general – but I have exactly the same issue here as with the Olga Raffault – no detailed memories. I’m sure it was a good wine as it made it to the alternative #1 winner.

2013 Three Wine Company Suscol Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Block 5 Napa Valley ($60) – One of the very best Cabernet Sauvignon I ever tasted. We had this wine during tasting dinner at the restaurant during one of our traditional “adult getaways”. This was round and supremely delicious.

2019:

2013 Smith-Madrone Cook’s Flat Reserve Spring Mountain ($225) – Smith-Madrone makes beautiful wines. This wine can be described in one word – Pure. Pure indulgence, and pure, unadulterated pleasure.

2016 Tara Red Wine 2 Syrah Atacama Chile ($40) – I have a sad habit of not being able to write a post after a great winemaker dinner, as was the case with Tara wines. Magnificent Syrah, coming from the vineyards which in reality shouldn’t have existed because of the incredible salinity of the soil. As I say in such cases, this is the wine to be experienced.

2017 Peju Province Winery The Experiment Napa Valley ($100) – a prolific Napa Valley jewel. Power and balance, or balance and power – whatever description suits you more.

2020:

1999 Soldera Case Basse Brunello di Montalcino DOCG ($NA) – Meditazione vino. The whole group meditated over this wine, as it was simply a gift from gods. Incredible. If wine is not “just another beverage” to you, you would understand. And I wish for you to experience meditazione vino at least once in your life…

Here we are  – 11 years of top wines. This was definitely an interesting exercise – while I enjoyed recalling each and every one of these wines, this was also a great opportunity to think about my Top Wines process. I’m reasonably pleased with top wine selections during these years, but ideally, I would like to do better – every wine on such a list should solicit a memory and an emotion. Oh well, we should call this “the room for improvement”, right? Cheers, my friends!

 

Looking Back and Looking Forward

January 8, 2016 14 comments

VineyardsI’m sure you guessed from the title and the timing of this post that I want to talk about past year 2015 and freshly minted 2016. Yep, I’m predictable like that, you are correct.
So how was 2015 for 2015 for Talk-a-Vino in my own eyes? Great, but challenging. Very challenging. 2016 will be equally difficult, with great potential to be even more challenging, a lot more.
Sure, I will explain. Nothing happened with my love of wine or passion for blogging – both are as strong as ever. What I had (and will have) a problem with is time – my main line of work (the one which pays the bills, you know) is incomparably busier than two years back, and finding quiet time for the labor of love is now not easy at all. No, I’m not complaining, just explaining the change in cadence of the posts coming out.
Talking about 2015, there were few new things which I started doing. During the year, I was offered a few opportunities to meet with the winemakers, and was unable to find time – this is how the concept of virtual interviews came to life. I realized that even when I can’t sit down with the person in the same room, I can still ask questions – and get great answers. I also offered to profile wine apps for any of the app producers who would be interested, and so far had 3 posts in that series – by the way, the offer still stands if anyone is interested.
From the things which I didn’t like so much, but they still happened in 2015, was stopping the series of the Saturday wine quizzes. I had lots of fun creating those, but reached the point when it became very difficult to create challenging, but fun questions, so I had to stop the series, at least for the time being.
What should you expect in 2016? I definitely will continue the virtual interviews – as a matter of fact, one of them is coming out very shortly. I also have good number of posts which I really should’ve written last year, but did not. There were wine dinners, there were tastings, there were winery visits which never made it into the posts. However, the subjects are still worth taking about, so you should expect to see some of those “posts from the past”. I don’t know if I will make a series out of those posts (as an engineer, I like to organize things, may be even more than necessary), add short intro to those posts, or simply put them out without any regards to the “past” – no matter, they will still appear on Talk-a-Vino pages.
2016 is on, so let’s raise the glass to all the fun things which are ahead of us. Cheers!

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