Thursday, April 4, 2013

It's NOT A Puff!

Lucky me got to have a pretty amazing experience recently. Winemaker Clarissa Nagy and I headed up to Alameda for not only a chance to personally show Connoisseur's Guide's Charlie Olken and Steve Eliot our Riverbench wines, but also to participate in their daily blind tasting with them. This type of rare opportunity doesn't come along often.

We sat in a beautiful room surrounded by gorgeous river views, and I thought to myself that almost nine years ago, I packed up my little car and drove out to California, bulldog Roy smushed into the center console of the front seats, to start a career in the wine industry. I was nobody special. I'm still not. The folks at Consilience wines took a chance on me and gave me my first experiences in the tasting room. To be at Riverbench now is a dream, but tasting at the same table with Charlie, Steve, and Clarissa? That goes down as a pretty special moment for me.

Listening to Steve and Charlie talk about their years in the industry, wine politics, and wine in general led to a great time with lots of laughs. Over lunch, I happened to casually mention how getting scores and "puffs" from them in their publication makes such an impact on marketing our wines. Turns out, I needed to be enlightened, and so do many others.

"They're not puffs! Have you ever read a Michelin Guide?" asked Steve. "What do they give when they rate restaurants?"

"Stars," I answered, hesitantly.

Wouldn't you know that they're the exact same little figures that we call "stars" in the Michelin Guide, but people for some reason mistakenly call them "puffs" when talking about the Connoisseur's Guide. The guys don't know how this started, but I vowed to educate as many as I can. They're not clouds or puffs...they are stars!

Either way, the Connoisseur's Guide does it right. These two truly love wine (hearing them talk about it is a magical experience all on its own). Their blind tasting was so enlightening for us that we decided to hold monthly ones here ourselves. Maybe we'll start rating wines based solely on a "puff" system. ;)