31 Mar 2010
For a night, Merlot was king. The grape that got turned upside down in the movie Sideways was back on top for two hours in March. This event, and others similar to it, proves to me once and for all that Twitter and other Social Media has changed the way we can do business and effect change.
Before I get into the analysis of the Twitter metrics for the night I must give thanks to the group that pulled it together. I may have been the face behind a lot of posts, videos and tweets, but without these amazing ambassadors of Washington Wine, this event would have fallen far short of its potential. The following twitter personalities were on board from the beginning – @SeattleWineGal – @WAWineReport – @Catie – @WineBeerWA – @WineeYak – @YakimaValley – @Shonoa425 – @wbcorbust – @nwwineandre – and @lunabeanmedia. These are the people who are deserving of the praise.
The Promotion and Media
#WAMerlot gained a massive groundswell about 2 weeks prior to the event. More than 100 wineries, restaurants, wine bars, wine stores, and even hotels from New Jersey to Wisconsin to Phoenix to Seattle got on board! The event was featured in the Spokesman Review, Walla Walla Union Bulletin, and even National Public Radio. Promotion continued through other wine writers like SuppleWine, WineFoot, Oregon Wine Blog, Wine Harlots, Wino Magazine, Sip With Me, Wine-Ophelia, Vinotology, Weekly Wine Journal, Cork’d and so many more (so sorry if I forgot to mention you). One highlight for me was the Gary Vaynerchuk Wine Library TV #WAMerlot episode. In fact, leading up to and after the event there were over 75 blog posts that referenced the event from wine reviews to social media reporting.
The Results and Analysis
I don’t have fancy Twitter analytics. I know they exist. I know there are programs that can determine the overall reach, brand impressions, etc – I don’t have those (if I get them, I’ll update this post). Here is what I do know. The event rocked the wine world!
- Twitter rock stars like @ChrisPirillo (Social Media persona) and @nansen (Seattle politics) joined in during the evening. Between them they have nearly 300,000 followers.
- Wineries and businesses having events had anywhere from zero to more than 30 people in attendance. From preliminary returns average attendance ran about 10. If my 6th grade math serves me right, 100 locations x 10 people average is approximately 1000 people.
- Tweets were observed from Europe, Australia, Asia (China), and North America (Canada, Mexico, and USA) – 4 out of 7 continents.
- #WAMerlot was a trending topic in Seattle (#1 and #2 at times) and was in the top 15 of trending topics on Twitter during the evening.
- Web site www.wthashtag.com tracked almost 2000 tweets by nearly 500 tweeters.
- Total brand reach was well into the millions
- Potential bottle consumption of Washington Merlot for the night is between 2000-3000 bottles
- While attending Taste Washington, I was continually thanked by dozens of wineries that participated in the event. True test – we’ve been asked to do it again.
- People had fun. People drank some effin’ Merlot!
While I spent the evening traveling to four locations in Spokane, I felt it important to give a formal review to the wineries who sent me samples (bottle shots below)
2007 Hogue Cellars Merlot
- The Stuff: 99% Merlot and 1% Syrah, Columbia Valley, 31,606 cases produced, 13.9%ABV
- The Swirl: Moderatly cloudy and slightly translucent. Dark cherry tones leaning toward a plum color
- The Sniff: Fairly tight on the nose at first but opens up to cherry, dust, and cocoa
- The Sip: A little thin on the front and thick fruit flavors on the mid palate. The wine is singular in dimension (dark cherry fruit) and provides a good sipping experience.
- The Score: At $9-$10, you won’t blow anyone away with this selection, but it will suffice as a standby everyday drinker. Some wines in this Hogue family can be hit or miss, but this Merlot is a good trusty label. I score it a 3 minus (out of 5)
Cellar Tracker Scores: No scores on the 07 vintage, but the 05 and 06 scores range between 77 – 87 (median 85)
2006 Fielding Hills Merlot
- The Stuff: Single vineyard Wahluke Slope AVA, 80% Merlot 11% Cab 9% Syrah, aged 19 months in 77% new oak, 14.3%abv, 163 cases
- The Swirl: Dark plum with beautiful jewel tones toward the edges. Mostly opaque
- The Sniff: Overwhelming aromas of cherry, smoke, and hints of spicy bacon. Amazed at how aroma profile changes as it comes through the nose.
- The Sip: A mouthful of joy! The black cherry fruit skips across your tongue and then transforms into undertones of smooth violet perfume, that then release themselves to cocoa flavors. The acidic finish brings a nice wash across the back of the mouth as the finish lingers for eternity.
- The Score: At $36, I score this wine a 4+ (out of 5) and would easily buy it again and again. The balance between complexity, flavor, and drinkability are impeccable.
Cellar Tracker Score 93pts (1 score); Wine Spectator Score 93pts
2007 Longshadows Pedestal Merlot
- The Stuff: 75% Merlot, 15% Cab Sauv, 7% Cab Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, Aged 20 months in 80% new oak, 2005 cases, 14.7%abv
- The Swirl: Dark, dark, dark. Looks like the midnight sky with some hints of purple.
- The Sniff: Once you get past the tree hugging oak, some big blackberry fruit springs forth. A small shot of spice shoots out too.
- The Sip: Intense and immense are the words that come to mind. A concentration of fruit with enough acidity to not make you think fruit bomb. The oak flavors are more subdued on the palate and some nice tannins firm up the back end. Still a young wine but provides intense flavor with 60 second finish
- The Score: At $45-$55 I score this wine a 4 (out of 5) – lowered slightly because of the price. An incredibly well made wine for those that want an intense Merlot experience. I would think laying this down for 5 years would reveal a supurb wine for the future.
Cellar Tracker Score (1 review) 92 pts; Josh Green Score 96pts
Long Live the King!
30 Mar 2010
Tops from Taste Washington
This weekend I had the privilege of attending Taste Washington on behalf of my DrinkNectar.com wine blog. It was an honor to represent the East Side (of WA) and to help the Washington Wine Commission with their first ever WWTV series of events. I have to give MAD PROPS to Yashar Shayan for all his work in orchestrating the technology and herding cats (wine bloggers / writers / nerds/winos). 15 interviews and a few seminars are available at the Taste WA UStream Channel. Scroll down to see the two DrinkNectar exclusives!
For my wife and me, the event consisted of the seminars on Saturday, six hours of tasting on Sunday, and then a topless wino’s gone wild party at Purple Restaurant (okay, everyone’s tops stayed on). I’ll be giving a full write up of the experiences that should come out Wednesday or Thursday, but in the meantime, here is a fun list of my most memorable experiences!
Meeting the Twitterati
I can’t even begin to count the number of “friends” that I met in real life for the first time. Because of Twitter, it was like I already knew everyone I met. The meetings were exuberant and full of hugs! Some notables (my apologies if I forget any) @wawinereport, @clivity @winomagazine @bricksofwine @divatink @shona425 @nwtotemcellars @sojengirl @sojencellars @winefoot @writeforwine @tomcwark @pmabray @deniseslattery @chefmangna @decanterbanter @wabrokers @nicoleevents @tarynmiller @dearcheri @yasharseattle @hardrow@winepeeps @czcellars @watastingroom @seattlewinegal and more!
I’ll go in more detail on Saturday’s seminar tastings where I got to taste amazing wine from Gramercy Cellars, Cote Bonneville, and Col Solare in the full wrap up. During the grand tasting Sunday, there were probably over 1000 wines to taste. We probably tasted (and spit) close to 75 different wines. During tastings like this there are several good wines, but here are the five that stick in my mind!
K Vintners – Motor City Kitty; 2007 Syrah ($30)
Pepperbridge – Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($55)
Nodland Cellars – Private Blend 2005 ($35)
Betz Family Winery– Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($65)
NW Totem Cellars – Late Harvest Viognier 2006 ($28)
Food to Dine For
Picazo 7Seventeen – Chef Mangana was serving an amazing Lamb Chop and the chocolate dessert goodie was heavenly (wish I knew more about what made it so great)
An Affair to Remember
Hotel Max Seattle – Swank, sleek, urban, artsy, and beautiful come to mind when describing the Hotel Max. Factor in the comfy room, city views, and central location – this is a must stop. “Dear Hotel Max, thank you for sleeping with me.”
Legends and Stars
I consider myself lucky to have spent a few hours with Paul Mabray, of VinTank fame and Tom Wark of, well…of Tom Wark fame. Not only do I feel like I got a masters course in marketing and wine business, my head was spinning with ideas on how to conquer the world.
It was also amazing to meet the one and only Barbara Evans. Yep, I met Barb…oh, sorry… Seattle Wine Gal (@seattlewinegal for you Twitteraddicts). She is everything you think she is…over the top, smart, intense, fun, and pretty. Don’t underestimate her, she is always thinking, watching and observing. I learned a ton from the brief moments we had to chat during the TasteWA wrap party. She knows her Social Media stuff. Thanks Barb for the ideas and inspiration!
My interview with Jarrod of Alexandria Nicole Cellars
My Interview with Jean-Michele of Pepperbridge
29 Mar 2010
Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Bordeaux…these may be the comfort wine of our world, but Spokane Winery Knipprath Cellars is making a bold departure and creating quite a stir with their Port line up and new focus on Iberian grape varieties Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Touriga Nacional. German born, Henning Knipprath grew his passion for wine in California, then started a winery in the state of Washington with a focus on Spanish/Portuguese wine. Henning brings his global experience to wine making and offers a perfect way to travel, with our palate, to new places!
(Henning is little quiet so turn up your volume)
After attending school in California and graduating with a Chemical Engineering degree, in 1990 the Air Force brought Henning Knipprath to Spokane (thanks, Uncle Sam). With a longtime passion for wine, Henning started Knipprath cellars in 1993. As an Air Force pilot, military deployments kept Knipprath Cellars a part-time operation until 1999 when they moved into their current location at 5634 E Commerce Ave. With his European background, Henning produced the “standard” Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet, Merlot), but it was his Port product that began getting the attention of consumers. “We didn’t set out this direction,” says Henning, “we were nudged by the customer’s response.” The nudge is so strong that Port sales are 60% of Knipprath’s production of 3000 cases.
The Port selection consists of a traditional ruby port, tawny port and creative delicacies that can only be described as desert in a bottle. The Au Chocolate is an infusion of pure chocolate extracts, and grape spirits while the yang to that yin is the La V vanilla port. The newest addition is the soon-to-be released Coffee Port. Look for a formal review soon. One might imagine some interesting creations by mixing two or even all three. In addition to Port, Knipprath offers hints of Henning’s German heritage with a seasonal spiced red wine using a recipe from his mother’s cookbook (Alpine Wine, $16), and a refreshing summer Lagrima (best served with a slice of lemon.)
The entire production of Knipprath wine (from grape to bottle) is done in the historic 6700 square foot Parkwater schoolhouse. Every inch of this building oozes character showing small hints of its use as a parochial school, military typing depot, and convalescence home. Henning has big plans for the space as he continues to think toward the future of expanded production, events space and expansive tasting room.
Next on the horizon for Knipprath Cellars is the release of a new label, La Bodega Del Norte. With Knipprath being so synonymous with Port, people often have a hard time recognizing the other quality wine. La Bodega Del Norte will focus on Tempranillo, Garnacha, and other Iberian grapes. Watch for these new releases in the near future.
Knipprath on the web: www.knipprathcellars.com
Knipprath on Facebook: search for Knipprath Cellars
Tasting Room Hours: Wed-Sun, Noon – 5pm
Old fashion phone call: 509.534.5121
27 Mar 2010
DrinkNectar is excited to be invited to Taste Washington in Seattle this weekend. I’ll be a part of the new live video stream. Can’t make it to Taste Washington in Seattle this weekend? Have no fear – stay tuned to TWTV for all your seminar, interviews, and vino news during the event. The live video stream is below.
Here is a schedule:
Saturday 10:45 – Food and Wine Pairing with Tom Douglas
Saturday Noon – 1:00 – Various interviews (tentative)
Saturday 1:45 – Mighty Malbec with Sean Sullivan
Sunday 4:00 (ish) to 7:00 pm - Various winemaker interviews
I want to thank Yashar Shayan and the Washington Wine Commission for asking DrinkNectar to be a part of the event. I also owe huge props to Hotel Max for co-sponsoring my trip. If you’re staying in Seattle, make Hotel Max your first choice.
Tips for Enjoying Taste Washington
- Have a gameplan. Wineries bring a limited supply of juice. The top wineries are often very busy and you could run the risk of catching them when they are out. If you’re keen on trying some Quilceda Creek, Leonetti or Long Shadows Family you better get to the table early.
- Hydrate early and often. The combination of tasting, walking, talking, indoor lights, etc can be a recipe for dehydration. Drink water!
- Eat. Nothing says “wino wimp” faster than someone who can’t hold their juice. Tastings of this grand scale are intimidating. You’re not going to be able to taste them all, but working your way through 30-50 wineries on an empty stomach is a disaster waiting to happen.
- Spit. Don’t be afraid to spit. The enjoyment of wine is the swirl, sniff, and sip. After 10-20 small one ounce pours, you’ll be tipsy even if you’re hydrated and have a full tummy.
- Socialize. Some of the best times at events like this don’t come from drinking wine, they come from interacting with and learning from the wine maker and their staff.
If you’re not able to make it to Taste Washington this weekend, consider coming to the Spokane event on June 6 - DrinkNectar will be there too!
26 Mar 2010
Six wines, two drain dumpers, two meh, and two certified “deals.” This is the result of the Grocery Outlet Challenge. Yesterday, I received a comment on my blog that I MUST pass along. Kelly shares this in regards to wine deal hunting at Grocery Outlet, “You have to kiss a lot of wine-toads before you find your prince charming vin.”
The last two GO posts have generated some of the most intense response I’ve seen to a wine review (over 100 comments between my Facebook page and this blog). This tells me two things, 1) people are looking for bargain wine in a big way and 2) people like the chance to win $50! For me the exciting part has been seeing actual consumers comment on the blog (usually wine blogs generate a lot of industry insider comments). I want to thank the hundreds of new visitors that have stopped by and I want to encourage you to keep coming back and to check out the blog links I read on the right side of the page. There are so many great wine reviewers there that can help with your wine buying decisions.
Today’s review is two reds and two labels that I recognize. In reading through everyone’s comments, this seems to be one of the themes. If you see a label you recognize at a price below what you would find at a grocery store, pick up a few bottles. The other theme is, if you’re into experimenting, be sure to just pick up one test bottle before you commit to the whole lot.
Now, on with the review.
- The Stuff: Sourced from a top Petite Sirah producer in Lodi then re-introduced to oak barrels for 12 months; 6000 cases produces 13.5%abv
- The Swirl: Dark brooding wine with a rusty purple tinge.
- The Sniff: Subtle and subdued but gives off hints of dried cranberry, blueberry, violets and nutmeg (Thanksgiving in a bottle)
- The Sip: Slightly disappointed because the nose was so nice, the structure seems very thin. The hint of cranberry on the front loses itself pretty quickly. The seems to be average tannin on the back end, but not as bold as I would hope for a Petite Sirah. Could be a decent sipper for some folks.
- The Score: G.O. says the retail is $15, but Cameron Hughes website says $11. The price I paid was only $6. At $6 I can score this wine a 3 minus (out of 5). Some people may love it, I was on the fence.
Cellar Tracker scores average 85 (with 7 reviews)
- The Stuff: 100% Grenache from the McLaren Vale; Aged 10 months in used oak 14.5%abv
- The Swirl: Brighter plum with hints of ruby red jewel tones.
- The Sniff: BAM – I just hit in the nose with a raspberry / blackberry fruit. Soft tones of oaky smoke are there too.
- The Sip: My mouth eagerly welcomed this Spanish lover! The fruit was intense but not over the top. It smoothed out nicely and provided just enough spice, leather and smoke as the finish lingered.
- The Score: At $22.50 retail, this is a good wine – at $12, this is a great deal. I score this a 3+ (out of 5)
Definitely the best of the six wines that I purchased.
Cellar Tracker score of 87 (1 review)
There you have it! Six wines down the hatch (or down the drain). Thank you for all your comments, encouraging words and suggestions. I love hearing about the DEALS you found. Please leave a comment for your chance to win a $50 Grocery Outlet gift card. You won’t be added to a mailing list and you won’t get spammed.
GROCERY OUTLET BI-ANNUAL WINE SALE IS MARCH 30-APRIL 3 20% OFF ALL STOCK
*All wine reviewed was purchased using a gift card provided by Grocery Outlet