10 (Er… 12) Things I Learned at Tastecamp North

So given that Tastecamp was the first of this type of experience for me, and the first time sampling >20 wines at once, at least while trying to make any sense of what I drank (don’t get me wrong, I’ve sampled many more at other events – just I wasn’t worried about taking notes…or driving for that matter). After thinking about for a while, here’s my top 12 serious and not so serious learnings in reverse order:

XII) There’s way more variety in the Niagara sub-appelations and indeed the soil than I first thought. This extends to the other side of the river (NY). The variety in such a small region is amazing, and influences the wines more than I thought.

Niagara Appelation Map, Courtesy VQA Ontario

XI) After hearing lots about Bio Dynamic and Organic practices, and tasting the resultant wines, I’m convinced that the industry needs to keep moving this way. And no, I didn’t just say this because my wife (@OneHolisticGirl) is a holistic nutritionist. It just makes sense for the people who work in the vineyards, live near them, and those that drink the products.

Bio D Poop Mixer (Ed note: Not the proper technical term)

X) Apparently three days of highly tannic and acidic wine tasting makes some people’s inner cheeks bleed.

Not Singling Anyone Out

IX) Winemaking is dangerous business!

That's the whole arm!

VIII) LENS region of Ontario is also making some fine wine. Must plan that trip this year and meet up with the super nice Gary Killops (@EssexWineReview) who knows this region like the back of his hand.

VII) 78 bottles of wine was too much for ~38 folks at dinner after a day of tasting! But there were some amazing wines to sample in the bunch…

A Few of the Empties...

VI) Wine tasting is a tough job.
Palate fatigue is a real problem for someone with an untrained mouth. At a certain point I stopped being able to distinguish the nuances of the wines, although I did find that I could recover somewhat by switching between white and red. <-- I realize I just got thrown out of some club for that statement. V) Even though some think there is a lot of money/capital in Niagara, the winemaker’s are pretty grounded folks and often pitch in and play many roles around the winery. Yes that’s Paul Pender (Ontario Winemaker of the Year) bagging wine in the tasting room.

Paul Wears Many Hats....

IV) Even “locals” get lost sometimes. I thought we were the only ones halfway to Buffalo on Sunday until others showed up after us. 🙂

Well maybe...

III) We’re lucky to have supportive folks like Suresh Doss (@spotlightcity), Rick Van Sickle (@rickwine), Remy Charest (@RemyCharest), Magdalena KaiserSmit (@mKaiserSmit), Paul & Michelle Bosc (@MBosc), Paul Pender (@PaulPender), Brian Schmidt (@benchwineguy), Ed Madronich (@WineMakersBoots), and all the other winemakers, winery & restaurant owners that stepped up to make this event as amazing as it was.

II) Although I have heard the expression “It takes a lot of beer to make great wine” several times, until you hit the end of a day of tasting too much wine and crave nothing more than a chilled pint, you don’t really understand this.

Pic courtesy of Flying Monkey Beer....

I) (Drum roll please) Spit buckets without a splash shield are disgusting. Women spitting wine is not very sexy, unless they do it from 8-10 feet away and hit the bucket with 100% accuracy (and even then, it is more cool than sexy). Men? Never. Now I know why I prefer drinking the wine. 🙂

One of the Nicer Spit Buckets

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