Sunday, August 16, 2015

Last Nights and Hot Molten Glass

It's our final night at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference and, traditionally, there's a banquet where the Wine Blogger Award are presented. WBC15 is no different. 

Of course, as with any proper "gala gala do" (as Vancouver bon vivant and social correspondent, Fred Lee, would call them), before-dinner cocktails were de rigueur. I couldn't really call her my drinking buddy this time around (since she was pregnant and wasn't drinking) but, once again, April from Sacred Drop Channel was attending WBC in all her glory and she was lucky enough to be representing Hyland Estates and Soléna wineries and her sumptuous suite just happened to be available for refreshments.

1978.  N.V. Fox Run Hedonia (Finger Lakes - New York State)

I ran across Fox Run Vineyards' Hedonia (a noun meaning the "ability to experience extreme pleasure") during the Pre-Conference Excursion. It's a fortified dessert or cocktail wine that the winery promotes as being great with a slice of orange on the rocks. I simply added the rocks and used vodka instead of an orange slice. Seemed to work just fine. Actually, I was fashioning it after some of the Icewine martinis that we see at home in Vancouver. - mostly because I still had the better part of a bottle of Grey Goose that I'd picked up at the airport in Duty Free and I wasn't going to be able to take it home with me.

I don't know if fortified Traminette (the grape used to make the wine) is produced by more wineries than just Fox Run - or if anyone's ever blended it with vodka before - but it proved to be a lovely segue into our evening. Whether or not it played any part in our exuberant "participation" in the glass blowing demonstration that the Corning Museum of Glass held before the dinner, I suppose we'll never know.

What I do know, however, is that it is insanely easy for a slightly lubricated crowd of wine bloggers to find every possible double entendre you might imagine during a presentation on glass blowing. Who would ever have thought that such an artistic and ancient art could cause so many howls of silent laughter. Fortunately, our naughty banter was all on the down low with a group Direct Message stream flashing across our phones. 

I will definitely try to keep this thread on my phone for posterity because I'm convinced it will deliver joyful memories and tears of laughter for years to come. Just a handful of the (not-as-naughty) comments:

- "We arrived just as the glass was all 'hot and drippy like honey.'"
- "Because who wouldn't love a good, matching rim wrap."
- "I like it thick and chunky at the rim."
- "Don't stop blowing." "Sage Advice."

The show and demonstration was summed up by "You are all naughty and I love you!"

There were more than a few comments about needing to head out for a cigarette before joining up for the banquet. Let's just say that any cool downs didn't stop the insanity. It was certainly as lively a banquet as I've ever attended (save one fraternity event many years back that ended in an all-out, flip the tables bun throw - but that was another lifetime) with table after table vying for attention. 

Could it have had anything to do with all the wine?

We did manage to get through our meals and the awards, however. Each course was accompanied by two Finger Lakes wines, together with a few assorted surprises. As is my tradition with this blog, I won't add every wine from the dinner to The List but I will add a couple that I found particularly enjoyable.

1979.  2012 Fox Run Lemberger (Finger Lakes - New York State)

1980.  2010 Wagner Meritage (Finger Lakes - New York State)

Of course, I was familiar with Fox Run since (as noted above) we'd visited the winery the other day. I'd concentrated on the Rieslings while at the winery - no surprise there - but Lemberger is becoming a bit of a "go to" red grape in the Finger Lakes. It's characteristically bright, red fruit and good acidity helps pair it with food. Selling it as a varietal wine - under the name Lemberger - might be its biggest hurdle. It sounds like someone's serving you stinky cheese.

Get past the name and it can be a tasty, lighter red with all sorts of serving options. Fox Run doesn't make a lot of the wine but they're having trouble keeping what they make in stock. Not a bad problem for a winery to have.

The Wagner Meritage also paired with our main course and provided quite the contrast with the Lemberger. Bigger and bolder, it is a true Meritage or Bordeaux blend of predominantly Cab Sauv and Cab Franc with a healthy dollop of Merlot thrown if for good measure. Growing Bordeaux grapes, especially Cab Sauv, can see uneven results. Consequently, Wagner only makes its Meritage in years that they find exceptional. Prior to 2010, they'd only made a Meritage in 2001 and 2007. They also skipped 2011, but they plan to release a 2012. The 2010 proved to be popular with more folks than just our table as it won Double Gold at the New York State Fair in both 2013 and 2014.

The Meritage won't challenge a big Napa Cab or Aussie Shiraz but it was a nicely nuanced wine that had more structure to it than I likely would have expected from a Finger Lakes wine coming into WBC15.

Conference organizers weren't done with us yet however. Dinner was followed by a festival tasting in one of the Museum of Glass's courtyard foyers. The tasting provided a final opportunity to visit a few wineries that I'd come to recognize and discover a further few. Knowing that the tasting was following dinner, many of wineries brought sparkling or dessert wines. Paired with a full array of desserts, the evening party would easily have been considered a worthy success even if it had been a solitary event being held independently of a chock-full evening. I could have easily spent twice as much time visiting this last assortment of Finger Lakes wineries.

But, last call came quickly and, heavy sigh, there were still after parties yet to come.

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