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Month January 2016

Wine Bloggers Conference Snub Video Content Again – James Melendez

 

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I saw the published agenda for Wine Bloggers Conference 2016 and video content is snubbed once again.   There is a class on Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, & Periscope; Periscope is the only video component but what I would term the main stay of wine and video.  Periscope is not an easy video media to utilise.  I do think Periscope can be relevant and it is an exciting concept.

Wine and video is certainly present on YouTube, Vimeo and Vine and hence this topic not covered truly doesn’t help to frame information for attendees at WBC.  Vlogging is an important category on YouTube and I do think it again is a natural extension of the traditional blog.

I have had ‘meet ups’ at each of the past several WBCs and I thought there should be a section on wine and video hence I submitted for a class.  Before I was notified my submission wasn’t accepted I saw the agenda and didn’t see any video content workshops.  I don’t think I will do a ‘meet up’ at this year’s WBC – video medium should not be just a lobby workshop–it deserve an official slot on the Wine Bloggers Conference agenda.

Many of the past agenda’s are very text specific and I do think this is right conference to talk about layering text with video.  Video is a natural extension to traditional text ‘blog’ entries.  Wine as I have advocated needs the media that allows for not just informational delivery but for that which only video can give: emotion, colour, voice, and non-verbal cues.

I have completed a lot of Blog entries over 3,000–in the past few years I have often supplemented my writing with video of related subject matter.

I am disappointed that video is once again relegated to no coverage on the agenda of Wine Bloggers Conference.  The dynamic nature of video is not explored here and that is a loss for those who might want to venture in the area and to expand their reach.

My YouTube Channel

***

¡Salud!

James

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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The Power of Tequila and Video – James Melendez

When I did a search in YouTube for Avión Reposado Tequila I rank on the first page; often but not always in 2nd or 3rd place; not bad.  Interesting this particular video is higher than the brand Tequila Avión itself.  Sounds random or perhaps not a big deal but it some ways it is.

No one who doesn’t work for YouTube truly knows the algorithm and for good reason it constantly changes.  There is something sticky about the return of this entry in the search field.  I am not sure why this ranks highly—I also ranked higher than CNBC Mad Money interview of Ken Austin’s interview.  I was surprised.  I guess fewer people were in Avión founder.

I have both spoken and written in the Spirits category–this category has an active audience and click rates are higher than almost any wine brand or SKU.

Avión Tequila became more highly visible due to it’s appearance on HBO’s Entourage.  I have always been surprised what is in my top ten videos (I have over 2,250 videos).  I only have 4 out of my top 10 videos that are individual wine SKUs.  I have seen often but not always that for my videos to be in my top 10 have been syndicated—it appears in pseudo online publications.

Surprisingly there are relatively fewer reviews of either their Reposed or Blanco Tequilas (my Blanco which I have title Silver has relatively modest hits—a night and day difference between Blanco and Reposdo).

I think the intrigue I have for video is how things will perform; many surprises and some disappointments.  But there is a co-relation when a product producer also promotes the video where their product is featured.

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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The Big World of Chianti: A Region to Ponder Once Again – James Melendez

Before naming this article “The Big World of Chianti” I am almost titled this “The Complex and Misunderstood World of Chianti.  Chianti is complex because it is misunderstood and yet easy to know as well.  Many people outside of Italy think of Chianti as a singular region and sometime it is thought of as the grape itself instead of mainly a Sangiovese grape.   Chianti can be 75% to 100% Sangiovese and also Canaiolo, Merlot, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon can be added if a wine is not a 100% Sangiovese.  Chianti remains complex because it can characterize very differently if Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon is the remaining grape content; I think that Merlot does characterize the Chianti overall (though not everyone would agree).  Canaiolo is a great match to blend with Sangiovese.  

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I attended Vinitaly International Academy’s tasting at the Fancy Food Show West in San Francisco 18-January-2016 conducted by the Academy’s Scientific Director Ian D’Agata.  I liked that this topic was presented because it such a well known topic and yet there are so many nuances that are important to recall and highlight and to talk about.

Chianti is still thought of as being as a lesser desirable Italian wine–odd because you can pay a lot more for a region like Brunello di Montalcino (which is a Sangiovese wine).  I think the challenge has been that the image in many people’s mind is that Chianti is a high production wine presented in straw wine bottles at a cheap Italian restaurant.  Chianti is a very old region first called Chianti in 1716 and the 1966 borders of what Chianti is and the sub-regions has changed (see map below).  There are many common points of subregions which can have generally higher elevation 250 to 600 meters above sea level (800 to 1200 feet above sea level).

I researched availability of Chianti at neighbourhood wine stores in San Francisco — two well stocked wine stores had not a single ChiantI?!  A mass retailer had one Chianti Classico out of 700+ SKUs.  Another mass retailer in San Francisco with at least a 1,000 SKUs had 3 Chianti’s.  

I love Chianti and like many other wine regions I love some producers or more precisely some vintages over others.  I do love Sangiovese–I have tasted Sangiovese from Italy and from New World sources as well.  But no other region than Italy can produce a lovely with high acid, tannic structure along with evocative scent and flavour characteristics – tartness – sour cherry, currants, strawberry, cranberry and pomegranate alone with some not all wines with game or mushroom quality amongst others.  I think from a price point Chianti presents lovely wines at very lovely price points.  

A snapshot of Chianti:

  • Chianti
  • Chianti Classico – the best known which may add to some confusion that all Chianti Classico’s are all Chianti (which is not true)
  • Colli Artini – region closes to Arezzo
  • Colli Fiorentini – region northeast to Florence
  • Colli Senesi – region closest to Siena
  • Colline Pisane – region closest to Pisa
  • Montalbano – region northeast of Pisa
  • Montespertoli – region between Florence and Pisa
  • Rùfina – region northeast of Florence
  • Superiore – signifies stricter requirements; and longer aging requirements and the grapes can be supplied from Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.

I would recommend taking a look at Chianti’s once more.  As with wines from any region–these wines do vary–vintage, producer and subregions and also what they might be like if you age them.  I prefer to find wines that are classic for me–either 100% Sangiovese or near 100% with Canaiolo to the wine for a fully Tuscan expression.  For me, I do detect right away a Chianti with an international variety like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah–I want a snapshot of what is truly Chianti.  Chianti’s full offering in the marketplace will only happen if more people like yourself take an interest the expression of the many flavours of this historic region.  Like almost any other wine region on the planet Chianti has been an upward trajectory–quality has been increasing in Chianti and only gets better year over year.

Give it a try–this is no longer the wine that was drunk only a few generations ago.  I have listed a few video reviews that I have completed.   For me seeing that the Ruffino review at 4,000 hits is a sign to me that Chianti is top of mind of many people (this video is in my top 10 videos by number of hits).

Salute!

James

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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A Spring Mountain District Gem – Smith-Madrone – James Melendez

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It was my birthday October 2 2015 and it is one of the few days on a calendar year that I take completely off….well sort of.  I had a rush getting to Napa Valley–I planned on a taking a leisurely stroll up to Napa but that was not to be.  A breakneck pace getting there was assured from the moment my head lifted from the pillow to the end.  But it was not bad–it was not bad at all.  Though I had a lot to do on my day.  It was a day to take up as much for myself as possible.

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I have visited hundreds of wineries and tasting rooms and Napa Valley is both well traveled in my logs but one where I haven’t visited every nook and cranny–I find it challenging and satisfying at the same time.  I have repeated visits to many wineries and hence I could have visited over 90%.  But that is still too come.  In my early Napa Valley days visits I would visit at least twice monthly–I am lucky to get there twice every six months.  I know so many people who are jaded about the experience.  I still look upon with fondness — for me my earliest memories of Napa Valley were not that long ago.  Somehow it seems several decades worth of journeys to the same wine region.  I do look north to optimism and to revel in each experience as if it were my first.  In my videos I have said a number of times and have a video on this subject matter as well:

 

I want to highlight my visit to Smith-Madrone in Spring Mountain District; getting off of Highway 29 or Silverado Trail can be both exciting and venturing to produces off the beaten path.  The windy road to Smith-Madrone was an exquisite ride gorgeous evergreen scenery.  Getting to the top of the hill was to navigate where Smith-Madrone was—mobile phone service was not there to help–thanks Siri–hence all numbering conventions can be thrown out the door–they are not as intuitive as you might think.

 

 

I finally found the path and glided down in the beautiful, ethereal mid-autumn season in Napa.  Autumn and winter my absolutely favourite seasons–even though there is a bit of warmth in the air the breeze sends a different signal.

I find a parking spot and I hear people coming up from their tasting “…I just loved the Cabernet.”  I am familiar with all three of their wines: Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.  When I think of Chardonnay and Riesling I don’t naturally think of Spring Mountain; however, because this is a pioneer producer in Spring Mountain I know don’t think of it as a curiosity but more “of course.”  Elevation and soil content go a long way to help the Chardonnay and Riesling.  Riesling a rare variety for California is hardly produced even though it certainly could produce more.  I had the opportunity to sit meet, sit down and talk a bit with Stu Smith.  Stu and his brother Charles founded Smith-Madrone in 1971.  I remember seeing a bottle of Smith-Madrone when I first moved to California in 1997 at K&L Wine Merchants at their original San Francisco location at Harrison and Second Street and back then I couldn’t afford a nice library of wines.  I would have to wait another half decade before I could taste Smith-Madrone wines.  I was anticipating their wines–I knew of the site, elevation and history.  For me I was going to taste the good labours and fruit of Spring Mountain.  

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I got a driven tour of the site–varies greatly from 1,300 to 2,000 feet above sea level–the steep grade is a great incentive for drainage and strong and forthright root development.  The site has a specific orientation for the three bottled varieties–eastern facing is the Riesling–it’s cooler.  Southern and western facing is for the Cabernet and a northerly orientation for Chardonnay.  Beautiful red soil of clay loam, sandstone and limestones amongst others.

After the site tour Stu and I sit down and tasted the latest vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Chardonnay.  I felt immediately comfortable talking with Stu about everything from the then always-top-of-mind drought, current vinicultural trends–namely the concrete egg, his early years of winemaking and no vineyard stone was left un-turned in our conversation–it was a conversation not an interview.  Stu has an authentic view–and his view of both vini and viticulture are not old fashioned but centered–Stu is well educated and has a long time perspective of being a wine producer, a long time resident of Napa Valley.  There is something comforting in knowing that a family like Charlie and Stu are committed to their namesake label and site; where in Napa Valley constants, commitments and being a vanguard are becoming rarer.  I wouldn’t know where to begin when I think of a producer who truly sells out their equity and assuring their consumers that they will remain as a consultant.  But the level of consultancy is not the same as commanding your own venture.  I enjoyed the experience, the conversation and of course the Smith-Madrone wines I tasted.

For a great down-to-earth and genuine experience of tasting fine Spring Mountain wines; find these wines and also find time to visit.  The price points listed below are very reasonable by Napa Valley standards.  A Napa Valley let alone a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon mountain fruit for $48.00 is not just reasonable–it is unheard of the Valley.

I tasted:

  • Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Chardonnay – 2013 – $32.00
  • Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Riesling – 2013 – $27.00
  • Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon -2012 – $48.00

***

¡Salud!

James

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Finger Lakes Visit – A Journey of Art, Glass, Wine and Food – James Melendez

I feel privileged to have visited every wine country I have ever visited.  I have never been disappointed or though any particular wine country to be anything but delightful, magical and each markedly different with history, trajectory, personalities and the people that make that wine country special.  This can be said for Finger Lakes.  A wine country in the making for sometime.

 

I visited Finger Lakes 13-16-August-2015 for the first time at WineBlogCon (Wine Bloggers Conference).  I have been to North Fork several times and that is because of it’s proximity to New York city.  Finger Lakes a bit more difficult to get to in terms of major airport at it’s base.  I suppose it could be argued that Napa and Sonoma aren’t terribly close to any major airport either.  But since I live in Northern California–they always close for me to visit.

Base camp on this visit was Corning, New York home to Corning Glass Museum, Corning Glass, and the Rockwell Museum.  Corning is a small town on the southern portion nearest Seneca, Keuka, and Cayuga lakes.   I usually attend the pre-excursions because as it is another way to see more of the wine country at hand–unfortunately this year it was sold out.  I did have one excursion during the session that I was able to visit — I wish I had more of a view of one of the lakes.  Unlike Okanagan Valley I was always within easy picture frame of Okanagan Lake.  Every venue is different and there is not a hotel where we could have had that at this WineBlogCon.

Alan Lasko (professor Emeritus of Cornell University) was important to frame the Fingers Lakes and why we have wines coming from this region.  I liked how he talked about the vast soil variation, difficult weather patterns and yet Vitis vinifera has a planted foundation.  Dr. Lasko compared to a more cohesive soil region like Lodi and that FLX does not have that to compare.

Fingers Lakes is old with respect to Hybrid grape cultivation and Vitis vinifera promotion by Dr. Konstantin Frank set the stage for Vv finding a logical home.  Finger Lakes is a place where Vv cultivation would take place–just west of here in Canada is Ontario wine country.  Each regions have some commonalities and differences.  Both wine regions experience cold winters, moderated summers and both have large bodies of water they are next to to both moderate temperature in both summer and winter seasons.  Both wine regions have a long history of cultivation of hybrid grapes but difference is soil type with Finger Lakes having a greater variation.  Variation may not always be a good thing–a certain challenge for any vineyard manager and vineyard owner.  Not all varieties are optimised to all soil conditions let alone in micro climate conditions that are often present in many wine regions.

Corning’s Two Wonderful Museums

Corning is synonymous with glass; both great commercial and artistic glass.  The Corning Museum of Glass is a place I had wanted to visit for quite sometime.  I didn’t realise  how close it was to many Finger Lakes Wineries.  It is hard to get a grasp on relationship of space and place.  Sometimes things are closer than you might expect.  Also, corning has the Rockwell Museum which specialises in American Art–I was awe struck by the beauty and depth of collection–in particular the native American arts and crafts.

Corning Museums certainly help to build the reason to come and the wine and food to stay longer.

Corning Museum of Glass ( 1 Museum Way, Corning, NY 14830, USA) is an easy walk from the small downtown district.  This museum is known for showcasing all aspects of glass from the earliest historical perspective to the most modern and contemporary and cutting edge pieces today.  The 100,000 square foot space is place of inspiration and wonderment.  I am a huge lover of art glass and the historical evolution.  The museum won’t disappoint and the glass blowing demonstration hall–easily the largest and most modern of it’s kind in the U.S. if not abroad–a world class museum.

Rockwell Museum (111 Cedar St, Corning, NY 14830) is housed in Corning’s old city hall constructed in 1893.  This museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian.  I have a great fondness of Native American arts and in particular Native American arts of New Mexico and Arizona which is featured here prominently.  I loved the rich collection; I was in deep appreciation of the Santa Clara, San Illdefonso, Acoma, Jemez and Hopi pottery.  Each piece was not just a representative piece but pieces of excellence. 

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Finger Lakes Wine

The cultivated region of Finger Lakes is relatively small 11,000 acres / 4,450 Hectares (there are variations on number of acres/hectares of vine’s planted–I selected the mid-number).  Riesling is the most widely planted Vitis vinifera grape, following by Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer, Merlot and Pinot Gris.  Grüner Veltliner has found a nice home in the Finger Lakes–many examples I tasted of this variety were outstanding.  There are small plantings of Pinot Meunier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Rkatsiteli.

I had one excursion at Hazlitt in Hector, New York to taste food prepared by Chef Dano Hutnick of Dano’s on Seneca.  You can see the menu below with glorious shots of fantastically well prepared food and paired excellently with wine producers that were are present at this event at Hazlitt.

I certainly compare food from my current home base with San Francisco and I am always a bit skeptical of the offering of other places.  Chef Dano’s beautiful dishes were not only highlighting Finger Lakes wines but also highlight the beauty of local foods.  This excursion was intimate and wonderfully done–I like this tasting versus the speed tasting which is always hard to taste the wines in a careful and well timed manner.  Speed tasting, speed dating is about numbers versus a bonafide experience.

Some of my most favourite Finger Lakes wines were the Cabernet Franc, Sparkling wines, Grüner Veltliner and Rieslings.  It was a bit more difficult than I expected to taste beyond these four wines–If I only had more time on ground I would have visited more producers to get a greater experience.

The Grüner Veltliner were all outstanding–not necessarily to be compared with their Austrian cousins but to be equally appreciated.  The Grüner were mineral focused, not citrus intense, balance, and appreciable wines.  I also appreciated each bottle of sparkling wine I tasted both the familiar and less familiar.

I am going to post information on producers, associations, and other helpful information of website you might find helpful if you plan a visit to the Finger Lakes.

Below are videos on Finger Lakes region and wines:

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A wonderful place to visit–a high recommendation.

¡Salud!

James

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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Oregon Pinot in the City (San Francisco) – An Oregonian Tasting – James Melendez

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Though I wanted to write about last year – it was great t see Willamette Valley Winery Association’s Pinot in the City come to San Francisco again (26-August-2015).  Though California shares a border with Oregon–it might be that these two US states are hundreds if not thousands of miles and kilometers apart.  And what I mean is that finding Oregon wines in California is not impossible but finding a great array at any particular retailer or restaurant is a tall order.

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John Zelko of Z’ivo

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I love Anam Cara–I first tasted their wines when I attended the Washington County tour at the WineBlogCon in Portland in 2012.

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Oregon Pinot Noir for the tasting

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I love Oregon and I love Oregon wines.  I am consistently dazzled with Oregon’s many regions and subregions–when I think of Pinot the band from Chehalem in the north to the Eola-Amity Hills sub AVAs are all producing fine Pinot Noir.  Does each region characterize differently?  The answer is yes–but subtly so.  I do detect the biggest difference from the north to the very south have the biggest difference but that difference is not vast.  Each sub AVA are producing thrilling wines.

Having put foot on ground in the Willamette Valley several times I find it so compelling not just the topography, vegetation and landscape–remarkably different from any California wine country (I, of course, don’t want all wine countries to look the same).   I like that Willamette Valley is a specialist in Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.  I do think it would be great to see more Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc–from what I have tasted is very well done.

Oregon is in general is a newcomer to the wine stage.  In coming to the wine stage is offering wines that are world class and that has been purpose driven.  I have heard many people compare and call Oregon wines Burgundian in style which I am not sure is meant by that.  I call Oregon wines Oregonian in style.  Oregon’s Pinot Noir are not California’s Pinot Noir.  They are markedly different and each makes a compelling and unique Pinot Noir.  I love Oregon’s embrace and sensibility of leanness.  I am not saying lean is the only characteristic–elegance is another word I can easily apply to many Oregon Pinot Noir.  Most bottles are not only elegant but many a definitive and confident bottle.

I think in the future we will see many more Oregon Chardonnay and I think that Oregon is doing a great job with Pinot Blanc and given this is prime for sparkling wines.  There is Argyle which is well known for both it’s Chardonnay and sparkling wines I can picture a world of many more sparkling wines–all the prime sparkling wine grapes are there sans Pinot Meunier (which is there but the plantings are far fewer than either Chardonnay and Pinot Noir).  And I cannot help but want a touch of Pinot Meunier in a bottle of bubbly.

I hope this year to put another foot on ground tour in Oregon–it has been more than a couple of years since my last visit.  I recommend a visit to Oregon’s many wine countries.  While many Oregon wines are available in probably all 50 US states and abroad–the fullness of experience can only come by visiting Oregon.

Willamette Valley Wineries Association
willamettewines.com

***

¡Salud!

James

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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2016 Wine Outlook – James Melendez

I am looking forward to a varied and colourful 2016 tasting.

San Francisco still a kingly capital of wine tours coming to the City.  The public places to taste are disappearing and are not being replaced.  The Exhibition Center at 9th and Brannon is a goner.  In this boom economy things that are disappearing and will be regretted later.  California’s wine tasting rules a la ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) are certainly antiquated–even in 1933 they were antiquated back then as well.  Today’s producers and regions need venues to house tastings–Ft. Mason, I once called San Francisco’s wine centre has no more wine tasting (the reasons are consistent: price).   Ed Lee’s San Francisco is the not San Francisco I knew at least in terms of public spaces and his vision and scope are limited.  The Presidio is certainly picturesque and historic but the worst place to do a wine tasting–too small and never designed for wine tastings.

Even with all of the challenges San Francisco is a main stop for many wine events.  I won’t attend wine events in San Mateo like Family Winemakers or Rhone Rangers both are too far and seem to be when I have travel planned.    On occasion I will happily travel to Napa, Sonoma and this year I will be in Lodi–I haven’t been in a very long time.

So tasting wine is not just about attending events –it is also purposely seeking specific producers, wines, and regions.  I challenge myself each year to taste wine from all corners on the planet-this year there will be no exception.  I know I will taste a fair number of California wines; last year I had the best Spanish, Argentinian and Chilean wine tastings.  This year I hope to be tasting more wines from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Georgia, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, and Canada.

I look at my compass and this year I am looking at strategically covering more regions but also tracking what I am tasting versus how I have mapped this out; making sure I complete this goal. This year more than ever is about balance, variation, uniqueness and representation.

I look forward to sharing with you my journey in 2016 and hearing from you as well.  Let’s stay connected.

Happy New Year!

***

¡Salud!

James

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2015 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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