Travels to Italy, Argentina, Spain, Japan...you'd think France would have been first for this gal, finally 2011 brings it! I'm off to a 14 day romp in the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux with a handful of my wine-mentors from K&L Wine Merchants - which makes this trip even sweeter. Many of you know I got my true wine biz start working for K&L Wine Merchants back in 2003. I walked into my position with eyes-wide-open and soaked up knowledge from every person and every sip, every single day.
Hours learning from Ralph Sands, not only listening to him talking and selling to collectors over the phone but really discerning my own palate while I tasted alongside Ralph. He probably doesn't know this, but I use to hustle to get in front of him during staff tastings each week. I would sip, spit and think about what it was I tasted then would eagerly await his notes to compare my own taste buds to Ralphs. This built great confidence in my wine palate quickly, which I'll forever be grateful.
I also had the great pleasure of learning from Clyde and Trey Beffa. I was a California girl from the start, mega enthusiasm and passion for the family winemakers all over the West coast actually. One of my fondest memories is when Trey asked me if I would begin writing a blurb about domestic wine for the September 2003 K&L newsletter - 'Plain Talk about Fine Wine...", funny to think of my excitement to write about wine now that I've been blogging weekly since 2005!
So the next few weeks ahead are full of new experiences in the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux specifically. Anchoring in beautiful Avignon for the first week, I'll be alongside Mulan Chan, who's made quite the name for herself leading the Rhone category for K&L over the years. We have a packed itinerary visiting some of my favorite producers and tasting some new wines as well.
The last few days of the trip brings the Big Guns...I'll have the great pleasure of visiting and tasting all the First Growths of Bordeaux and a few hundred more (I'm not kidding here). Back in the day while at K&L, I was lucky enough to attend the EPIC Bordeaux dinners that Clyde and Ralph would put on. I learned so much sitting next to famous Bordeaux vintners and tasting their gorgeous old and new releases at those dinners. To be tasting on their home-turf will be fascinating.
Tune into the TexaCali Wine Trail, I'll do my best to post along the way. I'm looking forward to seeing many of my wine friends from all over the world in Bordeaux especially. Honestly I already feel like a kid in a candy store and am thrilled to see what the next 14 days brings...Cheers! Ali