Most people are ready to kiss 2020 goodbye. And honestly, we are too. But before we do that, we want to take a look back at some of the 2020 memories that became our glimmers of happiness. This year, John Sporing, founder of A Life Well Drunk had to put a halt on all international wine tours. Like many others in the wine industry he did not let this damper his wine exploration. Amidst the pandemic, WineUncensored – Virtual Tastings was born. John shares the top 20 wines from A Life Well Drunk and his personal milestones of 2020.
Like most people, 2020 started out very good for A Life Well Drunk. We had tours planned across the globe and private events scheduled. These wines are from a private event we held in early January. The theme was “Unusual Varietals” from around the world. People were happy to try some new varietals that they may not have heard of before.
This is a lovely memory from a quiet trip to the Dominican Republic. Little did we know, this would be our first and last trip for 2020. We went to a small local restaurant for lunch and enjoy this wine, a Merlot, Shiraz, Tempranillo and Viognier blend from Palo Alto in Chile. Afternoon drinking sounds pretty good right about now!
John was in New York City to attend a couple of trade events. One afternoon, he stopped off for a late lunch at John’s Pizzeria in Times Square and had this chianti with a pizza. The third wine is a Chianti from Querceto.
We had another private event BC (Before COVID-19) with some guests who wanted to do a vintage port tasting. It was a great event with eight great ports poured! A few of the ports include Graham’s Port, Dow’s Port, and Cockburn’s Port.
Before COVID John visited Texas to meet with wineries to discuss partnering and doing local day tours in the Texas Hill Country. One evening, he met up with some friends and they shared a bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Wine is always good but it’s the best with friends.
Before COVID, John visited Southern California to meet with wineries to discuss doing local day tours around San Diego. Met some great folks and we’re looking forward to working with them as we move forward. Afterwards, we went to dinner and tried a Cianorôs wine. The wine is mildly acidic with a very distinctive nose, with red fruit and medium body. We’ll definitely be heading back in 2021.
Before COVID, John visited Rachel Martin in New York City. They went to see a Broadway show together and then went to Ocean Prime where they ordered her Oceano Pinot Noir with truffle fries. Talk about a perfect pairing!
Before COVID we spent our 29th anniversary having a steak dinner paired with this 2006 cabernet sauvignon from Arrowood Winery. As always, it did not disappoint!
On March 11, 2020, John boarded a plane to go to Europe (originally to attend Prowein, but was going to Jerez since Prowein was cancelled). As he sat down in his seat, he was offered some sparkling wine. Right as the doors closed, his phone (as well as everyone else’s) started ringing. “Get off the plane” came the message. Americans had been warned about traveling abroad and would be quarantined upon return. The pilot announced that anyone who wanted to get off the plane could, and about 95% of us did. This was the start to a very long and strange year.
This bottle of Pearmund Cellars Black Ops was one part of the first virtual tasting we did on April 16. Within a month, we would be holding weekly virtual tastings. In 2020, we broadcast a total of 31 episodes of what is now known as WineUncensored.
On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ employees from discrimination based on sex. Until then, nearly half the states have no legal protection for LGBTQ employees. Now, the federal law protects employees in those states from firing and other adverse employment decisions made on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. While walking through the store, this bottle of rosé bubbles called out to John as the perfect way to celebrate. Barefoot Bubbly, well done!
Early into our WineUncensored season, we spoke with Lanzerac Wines where we tasted their Pioneer Pinotage. During the episode, it was mentioned that pinotage should be drunk out of a pinot noir glass. After the episode, John did a side-by-side comparison and our friend Zia was definitely correct. Check out the full episode here.
This is a bottle of 1999 Reverchon riesling that was opened by some friends the first time we went over to their house in 2020. We were outside in the yard when they opened this for us. Socially distanced cheers were had that afternoon!
Liquid Geography is a collaboration between family-owned wineries in Spain and Portugal with the profits going to several charities, including the World Central Kitchen. John had this bottle at Barcelona Wine Bar in DC with his good friend Sharneen.
It was probably the hottest day of 2020 and they were outside because, well it is 2020 and we were socially distancing. It was the only time this year they met in person, but it was great to catch up. Looking forward to a repeat meeting. Perhaps without so much heat!
One of the episodes of WineUncensored in 2020 featured Joel Peterson, the Godfather of Zin. His latest project is Once & Future and he shared some great zins and stories with us during the show. Did you miss that virtual tasting? Find it here.
Our one trip this summer was a week with friends at a beach house in the Outer Banks. While there, our friends celebrated their 20th anniversary and shared this bottle of Marquis de la Mystèriale Champagne. That week, the sun shined and we got to enjoy a safe week. Cheers to the little wins!
The first time we went to a friend’s house for dinner this year (on the deck and socially distanced) we opened this bottle of 2005 Guiborat Champagne. One of the best I’ve had in awhile. “Luckily I have one more bottle hidden!” – John.
In October, some friends (socially distanced) offered John a taste of this 1987 cabernet sauvignon from Groth Winery. It was the first time in a long time that he had such a well-aged cabernet. Chocolate candies never tasted so good!
John was honored to be asked by the American Wine Society to be a judge in the 2020 competition. It was hosted by Effingham Manor Winery in their banquet hall. This allowed all the judges and somms to be socially distanced and windows and doors open to allow air circulation.
In November, John was working with some colleagues on a virtual conference – unrelated to wine. They wanted to offer a private tasting to their members, so John reached out to my friends at Altipiano Winery to put one together. Several attendees were not wine drinkers before, but they were after! 2020 has cancelled many plans, but we’re thankful we still got to do virtual tastings!