WBC 14: Best Wines

This is the first of several posts covering my experience at the Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC14) held in Buellton, CA, last weekend. I’ll feature one per week, likely through August, and why not start with what’s most important to me? Naturally, that’s the wines themselves.

Wines during the Blends break-out session.

Wines during the Blends break-out session.

Over the course of the conference, I tasted around 70 wines, the majority hailing from the Santa Barbara County (SBC) region. I was re-introduced to the beauty of the countryside of the Central Coast, something I rarely experienced while growing up in the city of Santa Maria. Turns out I really should have gotten out more.

Imagine…the wine world waiting for me outside of Old Orcutt!

Imagine…the wine world waiting for me outside of Old Orcutt!

But I digress. It’s the wines I’m talking about in this post, not the sunsets over hillsides. After two liveblogging tasting sessions, two workshops on wine blends and the syrahs of Ballard Canyon, two trips to wineries and more tastings there, and multiple big-tent tasting opportunities over brunches, lunches, dinners, and desserts, these 11 wines stood out to me. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

In no particular order….

1. Charles Krug 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

I gave this wine, the last one I tried during the white wine liveblogging session, my highest rating of the weekend, though I suspect #11 below might beat it had I taken the time to write down my notes. Regardless, this interloper from Napa Valley overflowed with honeysuckle and exceptionally flavorful Crenshaw melon. When sipping, lime mellowed the sweetness of those two flavors, creating a divine blend.

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Downtown St. Paul, Cosetta, and the Wabasha Street Caves

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I’ve been to Minneapolis a number of times, but somehow, I hadn’t made it to neighboring St. Paul, the capitol of Minnesota. So on my last trip to the area, I was determined to spend an afternoon there. It didn’t make any sense to this wanderluster to be that close to the city and never step a foot in it.

And I am glad I did! As one native remarked as I was trudging my way up to the Cathedral of Saint Paul—

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–it’s a city full of beautiful architecture and rich culture. Well, what he actually said is more beautiful and richer than Minneapolis, but I’m not willing to take sides on that debate. I will say that my afternoon traipsing through the downtown was full of awesome discoveries.

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The first of them was in that picture—the Landmark Center. It’s gorgeous and is now used as an event space. The second was the statues of the Peanuts throughout the neighboring parks.

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I honestly didn’t know Charles Schultz was from St. Paul. Happening upon little trivia tidbits like that is why I love exploring cities.

St. Paul Hotel

St. Paul Hotel

After a Dunn Bros coffee and checking out the Rice Park area, I decided it was time to hunt down that Cathedral, which took my breath away as I passed it on the bus into town.

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So off I went, getting closer and closer.

Passing the Xcel Center

Passing the Xcel Center

My stomach insisted on lunch before my journeying could continue, so I check out nearby Cosetta (2011 7th St.) a St. Paul institution.

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2010 Downhill Cellars Torrontes White Table Wine

2010 Downhill Cellars Torrontes White Table Wine
Santa Cruz Mountains, California

Downhill Torrontes

I was delighted to see a Californian winery offering torrontes, which is typically grown in Argentina and is my favorite grape used for white wines. I picked it up on a Passport Day in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The sediment floating around the bottle’s bottom actually looks appealing. The wine smells crisp and of honey and lime with whiffs of peach and cantaloupe. It tastes like drinking flower nectar with an alluring combination of wildflower honey, kiwi, and cantaloupe notes and a bit of cream and lime on the back end.

This is how I like my whites: evoking the tropics and maintaining dryness while allowing for an undercurrent of sweetness. I would, and plan to, drink plenty more.

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