The DWCC: Final Take Aways

Ok. I know I’ve been writing a lot about the Digital Wine Communication Conference. I promise I’m almost done. And this post will be shorter than the other. So without further ado, here is my final list of take-aways from the conference

  • Wine nerds are not very formal
  • Neither¬†are social media geeks
  • Never get between a wine blogger and the wine
  • Wine bloggers are seriously passionate about what they like and may god help you if you disagree
  • Not all aromatized wine-based beverages are crap (and yes I’m still having a hard time processing this one)
  • Swiss Wine is surprisingly complex and surprisingly good
  • So is English Sparkling wine
  • Conferences can be fun
  • Conferences are exhausting
  • Conferences are great for networking
  • Switzerland is an expensive place
  • Switzerland is a naturally beautiful backdrop but their innate practicality doesn’t always make for a beautiful city. Click here to see all the photos from my weekend.
  • What I know about social media is just a drop in the hat
  • What I know about wine is just a drop in the hat
  • My blog can (and will be) so much more
  • I need to visit Porto
  • Ditto for Turkey
  • And ditto again for the Mosel valley
  • And again for Piedmonte
  • Clearly I just need to travel more or at least I need to indulge in more oenotourism
  • I want a Coravin to play with
  • I want a copy of Wine Grapes
  • I NEED a new cell phone. After all it is a basic tool of my profession ūüėČ
  • I may mock but I am one of those social media and one of those wine nerds

I’m already keeping my fingers crossed that my job situation will allow me to attend the conference next year. And for now, at least I’ve got an expended network to keep in touch with.

Rare Swiss Varietals

In addition to featuring a tasting led by Jancis Robinson, Day 2 of the Digital Wine Communication Conference also included¬†a walk around tasting featuring 40 different Swiss Wine producers. It was…a lot of wine. And I tasted too many to keep track or take very detailed notes. But I did get to taste a couple of very rare wines that are worth talking about.

The first is Completer,¬†also called Malanstraube. Some botonists¬†believe the¬†Swiss grape¬†Lafnetscha is actually the same grape. Others claim it is merely an offspring that¬†the completer grape is often mistaken for. But either way the varietal remains rare. According to the Donatsch family, winemakers at their eponymous estate, there are only 2 hectares, or about 5 acres, of this grape left in production in the entire world. Found in the Graub√ľden region of Eastern Switzerland, Domaine Donatsch cultivates over half a hectare of these rare vines. Traditionally these vines were used in the production of oxidized wines, produced in a style similar to sherry, Domaine Donatsch opts for a late-harvest off-dry wine. I was lucky to have the chance to taste the 2012. Off-dry, without being overly sweet this wine has a backbone of good acidity. Very tight the reserved nose nevertheless delivers distinct notes of crisp fruit and honey. This wine has the potential to age and would pair beautifully with soft, creamy goat cheese. Hard to track down, yes. Worth the effort, absolutely.

The other incredibly rare grape I got to experience is R√§uschling. DNA mapping has proved Rauschling to be a cousin of the Pinot family and thrives in similar conditions.¬†Found mainly in Northern Switzerland, this indigenous grape varietal is cultivated¬†only on 17 hectares, about 42 acres, of land. Mainly used in white wine blends, I tasted the 2013 R3 from Luthi Weinbau. Produced using an ancient and native strain of yeast, produced from a sample pulled from a wine bottled in 1895, this wine’s distinct characteristics are enhanced by its aging on the lees. With a slight touch of fizz on the tongue, due to natural SO2 production in the cellars, this wine was a surprise on the first sip. With a complex nose of floral and citrus the palate is crisp and clean.

I also was able to enjoy a white wine aged in an amphora, an unusual oak-aged Chasselas and the unusual Humagne Blanche. The tasting was a test for my palate and a great introduction to the wide world of Swiss wine but now I face a bigger¬†challenge … finding these intriguing Swiss wines outside of Switzerland.

Day 3: The Geneva Wine Tour

This post was written on Sunday November 2, the last day of the Digital Wine Communication Conference. 

The DWCC is over. As I write this I currently sit on the plan bound for Bordeaux. And I am already dreading the return to real life. This weekend was amazing. The conference was both a great learning experience and a great chance to network. The days were filled with great seminars, quality wine and interesting conversations. But today… ¬†today was something special. And it wasn’t just the wine, although the wine was spectacular.

The morning didn’t seem promising. Problems during checkout at the hotel. A lack of sleep. And a general readiness to be done. Then something changed. I don’t know what it was. Maybe a generals sense of relief that we were all eventually bound for the airport, but whatever it was it helped make magic.¬†In all honest today was my favorite day of the conference….by far.

On the bus bound for the greater Geneva area we passed beautify scenery. Vineyards just beginning to turn for fall. Clouds hovering just above the crystal blue waters of the lake. Picturesque, traditional looking Swiss chalets. But despite the amazing view the conversation was even better. New connections and new friends.

Our first visit was…to be honest again, not all that memorable. We were all tired and no one was that interested in touring yet another cellar. Or tasting all that much wine. But the winemaker was determined and opened bottle after bottle, a significant portion of the estate’s range of 25 wines. ¬†The wines were good, but rather indistinct. Although the Aligote was a treat. From this visit, the moment that looms largest in my mind was a group photo among the vines …..Note to self: track down a copy of the photo.

But lunch…lunch was another matter altogether. Lunch was really where the magic happened. An amuse bouche and four spectacular courses, all strategically paired with Swiss wines. Small intimate tables that encouraged conversation. Outside of the excellent food, which was the best I had during the course of my trip, it was the best opportunity to get to know a group of strangers. Brazil. England. France. Portugal. Finland. With good wine flowing we all bonded over our mutual passion for good wine and good food.

Sadly some of the group was forced to leave us for the airport but the rest of us were able to make one last stop. Domaine Le Grand Clos. Celebrated as one of the rising starts of the Geneva wine scene. Personally I think it might be the slightly provocative art featured on the label. I seem to remember a rather bizarre and slightly inappropriate conversation about amputee groping at one point… Here also the tasting was extensive, at nine wines. Some were good. Some mediocre. But there were two that stood out in my mind:

  • A 2011 Cabernet, a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Completely unoaked this wine was surprisingly complex. A fruit bomb on the nose it was replete with slightly reduced red and black fruit. Spicy and balanced the refined palate lingered but was young. A good vintage in the Geneva AOC this wine will be perfect to drink in a few years.
  • A 5-vintage white wine aged in the Solera system. Composed of a late-harvest blend of Petit Marsanne, Petit Arvine and Sauvignon blanc from the 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2011 harvests, this wine was truly unique. Despite needing time to settle into the bottle, it was complex and subtle, smooth and rich.

Sadly by the time the tasting was finished the remainder of us were due at the airport. Where I managed to repack my bag with all my goodies, and M.’s, and find enough time to pick up a few goodies for Christmas. But sadly we are preparing for landing and real life beckons.