By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief
Photo by Neil Sjoblom
Joe Roberts, also known as 1WineDude in the wine blogging world, was one of the first people to sign up for TasteCamp — this year and last. He's enthusiastic about tasting wines from around the world and even talks up some of his local Pennsylvania wineries if you corner him (I have).
He's also a fellow Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so he'll continue to be invited to events.
So, without further ado, here is his TasteCamp 2010 Q&A:
Was this your first visit to Finger Lakes wine country? No. I've been to the Finger Lakes a few times over the past several years, mostly as a wine buff!
Had you ever had any Finger Lakes wines before? And if so, what was your impression of them? Yes, certainly those I've purchased for myself as well as a steady stream of samples over the past year or so. Generally, in the past I'd found the rieslings to be really, really, good, the sparklers and dessert wines to be good, and the reds to primarily be not-so-good.
After tasting a larger sampling of the wines being produced in the Finger Lakes, what is your impression now? I was amazed at the quality improvement in the red wines from the area, versus even just a few years ago. The improvement is staggering, really. The rieslings continue to impress, especially those from Wiemer which seem to have handled well the transition to new ownership.
What, in general, impressed you the most? The people, of course — passionate winemakers and (in some cases woodchuck-eating) grape growers for the most part, and the level of passion and wine knowledge from the bloggers/writers who participated is beyond impressive.
What, in general, underwhelmed you the most? The variable range of quality in the wines not just between producers but also within portfolios made by the same producers. I'm all for experimentation in emerging wine regions, but not all of those experiments should be put on the market because when they're not very good they undermine the perception not only of the individual brand for that producer, but also of the grape growers and the region in general. I was unpleasantly surprised at that quality level variation.
What tasting or vineyard walk was and will be the most memorable for you? Well, I don't see how anyone could EVER forget meeting someone like grape grower Sam Argetsinger!
After so much online interaction with the attendees, which person surprised you the most in person? Wow. Impossible question to answer, so many of the attendees impressed me! I will always keep fond memories of sharing sake on the boat with Richard Auffrey and Richard Schnitzlein during the after-party — great people, very knowledgeable and engaging; and that sake was out of this world!
If you had to pick one, what would your wine of the weekend be? Another VERY tough question. It's a tie: the 2008 Hermann Wiemer Magdalena Vineyard Riesling for its pure fruit expression, and the 2008 Red Tail Ridge Pinot Noir for its "surprise!" factor.