After my incredible opportunity to attend the 2013 Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC) in Logroño, Rioja, Spain, I had too many great exchanges and experiences to capture them all. I’m still catching my breath a bit from a whirlwind October filled with DWCC, visits to wineries all over the west of Spain, a trip to Dijon to settle up my internship plans, a half-marathon,and some personal excitement of family and loved ones visiting, but in the meantime, here are some photo highlights of the DWCC, for a glimpse into the life of a wine blogger :
The first event was hosted by Dinastia Vivanco, who invited us to the winery for a tour, lunch, and visit to their incredible museum, which houses artifacts collected by Pedro Vivanco Paracuello. I was impressed by the variety of artifacts and the quality of the displays and curation- would have loved to have a bit more time to explore, but this was the beginning of a rapid-fire weekend! And I can’t complain too much, as although the visit was quick, it also included tastings of their wines in each of the 5 sections of the museum (each devoted to a distinct aspect of wine and culture – from its origins to artifacts related to opening, serving and drinking the final product).
View of the village of Briones from the vineyards of Dinastia Vivanco
Densitometers in Dinastia Vivanco Museum
One of the oldest pieces in the Dinastia Vivanco Museum
Back at the Rioja Forum in Logroño, the fabulous venue for the conference, we rarely saw a moment with our glasses half empty. The tastings that were organized were impressive and varied, and a great opportunity to quickly get a taste of the wines from Rioja, Iberia, and beyond.
Aged Riojas tasting, including Riojas of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles dating from 1970-2001.
The surprise finish to the Riojas tasting – a 1959 Viña Soledad Rioja white – a spectacular discovery (that was apparently served to President Eisenhower on a visit to Rioja)! Maintains great mouthfeel – round but wide awake, with slight nuttiness of aged wine on finish.
Ancient Colheitas tasting – my favorite tasting of the conference – Colehita Ports from Kopke from 1983, 1974, 1966, 1957 and the 1940 special edition.
More port. Couldn’t get enough.
Packaging of the 1940 special edition. Amazing. The others were also great but this was perfectly balanced, with a bit of peaty spiciness, caramel-drizzled pineapple. I wrote in my tasting notes “When I drink these wines I feel like I am drinking history.”
A mix-your-own Vermouth tasting. Very interesting insight into a beverage I knew almost nothing about. And we got to keep the ingredients (base wine – sweet fortified Muscat, and aromas – bitter orange, sweet orange, chinchona bark, gentian, and cinnamon)
Grand tasting of native Iberian varieties led by two of the three authors of Wine Grapes (winegrapes.org) Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz (Jancis Robinson was not present in person, though did make a video appearance to announce the location of next year’s conference – in Montreux, Switzerland!)
Not all of the sessions involved tastings however. Some were even a bit tense, such as the keynote session that paired up scientifically-minded entrepreneur Clark Smith (most recently talked about for his book Postmodern Winemaking – postmodernwinemaking.com but also for his wine-score prediction company Enologix – enologix.com ) and Finnish wine personality Arto Koskelo ( koskeloonwine.com ) in what was meant to be a bit of a head-to-head. I am saving my commentary on the matter for a separate post. Expect it soon.
Sunday was filled with visits to various wineries. My tour went to Bodegas Bilbainas (bodegasbilbainas.com) and Bodegas Palacio (bodegaspalacio.com).
Bodegas Bilbainas Winery
Images from the ancient cellar at Bodegas Bilbainas
Old Cement tanks painted with murals at Bodegas Palacio
Ancient cellar at Bodegas Palacio
Vertical tasting of signature wine Cosme Palacio (one of first to be produced in “New Rioja” style with the 1986 vintage – with council from Michel Rolland at the beginning – using new French oak barrels, long macerations to assure full extraction of color) with winemaker and marketing manager. We tasted the 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010 vintages.
Lunch was served with Palacio’s other wines, including their entry-level Milleflores (carbonic maceration), a wonderful white called Cosme Palacio 1894 made from barrel-fermented Viura (the Rioja name for what is called Macabeo elsewhere in Spain) and Malvasia, the Glorioso Reserva 2008, and this, the Glorioso Reserva 1978, still potent with alcohol, spices, and red fruits. 1978 was one of the exceptional vintages of the 1970s, and happens to be the current winemaker’s birth year as well.
To finish, some glorious views from the town of Laguardia :