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Monterey, here I come, live on Twitter

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I’ll be at Best of the Blue, the big wine event down in Monterey town, this Saturday, and we’ll be tweeting live. You’re all encouraged to send me any questions or comments. It’s between 1:30 and 3:45, Pacific time.

In the morning I’ll be hosting a tasting with the following wines: Testarossa 2009 Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands), La Crema 2009 Chardonnay (Monterey), Cambiata 2007 Tannat (Monterey), Chateau Julien 2007 Private Reserve Merlot (Monterey County), Morgan 2010 Metallico Un-Oaked Chardonnay (Monterey) and Novy 2008 Syrah (Santa Lucia Highlands). I chose the wines to reflect various varieties and terroirs of Monterey County, and because I’d given each of them a good score. Monterey has a wide variety of soils and climates, and I believe the county’s potential is enormous. Of all wine-producing coastal counties, Monterey is actually the least understood, for a variety of reasons. That is beginning to change.

The afternoon session–the one we’ll be live online–consists of three “Ask Steve” segments of 15 minutes each. That was the Association’s idea. They say there’ll be a lot of people there, and so I’m opening myself up to anything people want to ask–or say–including your tweets and Facebook comments. I love the give-and-take of large public events that are unstructured and unrehearsed. People tend to ask the most incredible questions, things that keep me on my toes and make me think about stuff I wouldn’t otherwise.

If you want to get in on the action, you can ask or comment through the Monterey Wines Facebook page or directly via Twitter @MontereyWines.

I like Monterey County. It has a look and feel of its own, totally unique insofar as the other California wine regions are concerned, and a bit of that old Rodney Dangerfield “I don’t get no respect” attitude. The grapegrowing action used to be down on the floor of the Salinas Valley, which most of you who’ve driven on Highway 101 have seen. But a lot of the vineyards have been removed over the years, because it’s pretty cold and windy down there, which makes it unsuitable for fine wine production. The epithet “Monterey veggies” referred to wines, chiefly Cabernet Sauvignon, that grew there in the 70s. I remember an Almaden Cabernet that I liked anyway, but if I reviewed it now, I probably wouldn’t give it a good score. Nowadays, of course, the Santa Lucia Highlands have (has? it’s an appellation) become famous for Pinot Noir (not to mention Syrah and Chardonnay), while the hilly vineyards in the eastern mountains, the Gavilans, also contain many Pinot Noir vineyards; that area deserves its own appellation, but it doesn’t currently have one. Monterey also contains the Chalone AVA, Carmel Valley, and, to the south, San Bernabe, San Lucas, San Antonio Valley and Hames Valley. The climate gets progressively warmer in the south as you approach Paso Robles. The Arroyo Seco may be the most interesting emerging region in the county. It’s undergirded by rocks and boulders swept along for Millennia by the Salinas River, and is relatively sheltered from the wind. I’ve liked Arroyo Seco whites for a long time, but the reds, including Pinot Noir, are making a play.

It’s good for a writer like me to get out and meet the public, both face to face and online. We tend to get locked into a bubble, forgetting that there’s a real world out there, with real wine loving people who have real questions and concerns. I hope to hear from you this Saturday.

  1. I have come to find that the quality Monterey offers in comparison to the price is very high. I think it is good you will be championing this region more. It is a shame that because Monterey is relatively isolated and not as bucolic as say Santa Barbara or Sonoma, that many people ignore it. But, there are few cooler views in California wine than looking down upon the Salinas Valley from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

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