Yes, it's the ubiquitous year-end "best of" list. I started and stopped with this post several times over the last few days, thinking it perhaps too self-indulgent. But finally I've decided to forge ahead. For what is blogging, at root, if not an act of self-indulgence? When I write here, even though I hope that others will find some enjoyment or benefit from it, I do so first and foremost for myself. So, without much further ado, here are a few self-selected highlights from the past year at MFWT. Just a couple per month, I promise. Hopefully you too will enjoy the look back.
- January 2009 saw the launch of my B-Sides report. What I'd planned as a regular installment turned out to be a one-time deal. I still like the idea, and have a pile of empty bottles and tasting notes to prove it, so who knows what 2010 will bring.
- In February, I hosted Wine Blogging Wednesday for the first time with A Passion for Piedmont as my topic of choice. My own contribution was an overview of a February 2006 visit with Giovanni Pasquero-Elia at his eponymous Neive-based estate, Paitin di Pasquro Elia. Even though it's been nearly four years since that trip, there are still a wealth of notes and photos on my desktop from other winery visits that will hopefully make it to blogland in the new year.
Inside the rotofermenter at Paitin.
- One of my favorite fellow bloggers, Jeremy Parzen of Do Bianchi, missed participating in February's WBW but more than made up for it in March, writing about one of his favorite Piemontese wineries as the first ever guest blogger here at MFWT.
- The stronger my emotional and physiological responses to tasting a wine, whether positive or negative, the more inclined I am to wax poetic (or at least on and on) about it. Two of the most inspiring wines I drank all year passed my way in April: Anselme Selosse's Substance and one of the many great red Burgundies from Jacky Truchot.
- My May adventures in ramp foraging were not only fun and eventually tasty but also received attention from outside the usual wine-centered corners of the blogosphere. And in stark contrast to my usually verbosity, I had a little fun with wordplay in the form of minimalistic tasting notes.
- Sometimes I can't help but wonder if what makes sense to me makes sense to anyone else, my June post on Laurent Tribut and Pablo Picasso being a case in point. On a more obvious note, were this a post about my top-ten wines of the year there'd be another Champagne on the list, the 1996 "Fleur de Passion" from Diebolt-Vallois.
Mike Dashe, pictured here with his wife and partner in wine Anne, makes the list not once but twice.
- One of the neatest phenomena to occur last year in the usual wine corners of the blogosphere was July's 31 Days of Natural Wine, realized and hosted by Cory Cartwright at Saignée, my contribution being an interview with California Zinfandel specialist and L'Enfant Terrible, Michael Dashe. That same month, I looked back not one but twenty-five years, revisiting and republishing a 1985 interview I did with the seminal San Pedro punk band, Minutemen, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of their benchmark album, Double Nickels on the Dime.
- I've never been much for New Year's resolutions but if I get around to making some for 2010, one will certainly be to make it to New York on a more regular basis. I made it up far too infrequently in 2009, but one August day trip definitely makes my highlight reel, as it was my first time participating in a Wine & Spirits Magazine tasting panel and prompted my first visit to The Ten Bells.
- Next, it was off to California to visit friends in Monterey and San Francisco, a trip that fueled posts for the next couple of months. In September, it was visits to the food and wine grails of Berkeley as well as a somewhat atypical celebration of the Jewish High Holidays.
- In October, a write-up of a boisterous and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon spent at that San Franciso bastion of natural wine, Terroir.
One of my favorite photos of the year, snapped at the bar at Terroir.
- And in November, I finally rounded things up with a report on my trip to Dashe Cellars in Oakland and a recounting of the ultimate San Fran burger and beer experience. Managed to squeeze in another fun-filled trip to New York, too.
- The year finished out in quieter fashion, allowing me to spend some quality time with, among other things, a few wines I'd become acquainted with during the last couple of New York trips. I'll look forward to further exploration of the Arbois wines of Philippe Bornard and Noëlla Morantin's evolving work in the Cher Valley in the year ahead.
That's it for now. Thanks as always for reading, commenting and following along with my travels on the Trail. Here's wishing a happy and healthy New Year to all!