The Night Merlot Was King
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!
Tags: Merlot, Tasting Party, Under $10
19 comments on “The Night Merlot Was King”
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Josh, this was a fantastic idea, and it was very well organized, cudos to you for all your work! My event in Scottsdale Arizona was a blast, so much so that I hardly had time to tweet about it
Thanks, Tim! I’m so excited you were able to get so many people out to the wine bar in Arizona! I appreciate your support
Josh, I agree, you did a great job on this event and we were glad to have been involved. Count us in next time…is there a next time? Hmmm…
There will most definitely be a next time. I’m thinking through ways to blow the roof off of tweet-ups in a whole new way! Stay tuned!
Thanks Josh! We had a blast in Walla Walla!
From the video you made, I can tell! Thank you soooo much for your help. wouldn’t have been the same in W2 w/o you!
Reading this made me so sad that I was unable to participate “live” in your awesome event!! You know I had been looking forward to it! A long day of travel and some insistent best friends thwarted my good intentions. But, being Wine Ophelia, I did already buy my WA Merlot and OF COURSE I tasted it and made some notes and put them on the blog. I gotta say, I HATE missing a great party and it looks like I did! BIG congrats on a successful event!!
Raelinn aka Wine Ophelia
Thank you so much for your support and for joining in (even if it was the next day). Your friendship is very much appreciated.
I was happy to be reading, sad to be missing out on the tasting. I am sure there were more like me than we could possibly know about! Really looking forward to the next one!
Cheryl, thanks for the comment. We’ll do more, and I’m sure you can drink with us then!
Thanks for posting the summary, with all the excitement of last week, I haven’t been able to get to ours yet.
There was a lot of excitement about #WAMerlot in Seattle. I wish I could have cloned myself and made it to more of the parties. I was lucky to make it to Full Pull Wines and to co-sponsor the #WAMerlot event at The Local Vine. The Seattle Times was at that event and will be creating a photo gallery of the event. I will post the link when the Seattle Times gets it together.
Bean, Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you were on board. Your posts leading up to the event were incredibly informative. I loved the compilation of events you put together! I hope we get to work together soon. I’ll be looking forward to the Seattle Times piece!
Glad you got to enjoy a good time with wine, especially WA Merlot! I didn’t get the opportunity to participate, though I’ve had quite a few Merlot’s from WA in the past 2 years. I’ll have to go through my notes and see which ones rocked my socks. The only one that comes to mind easily was the Velvet Devil, and strictly because of packaging. I also know I had the Barnard-Griffin Merlot, which was affordable. I know I’ve had some other great WA wines … will get back to ya!
Thanks for commenting, Matt. I would love to hear which Merlot rocked your socks off!
Yakima Valley produces the best Merlot…
Hello my man Josh – found out about your site – I agree; my opinion is the best merlot is a WA merlot – if you want to tail our rogue amateur crew – we roll down twice each fall to a well renowned vineyard in the Yakima Valley to harvest many grapes which would probably make for a great video post…. firstname.lastname@example.org
That sounds like it could be a fun trip. If it coordinates with my “real life” schedule, we’ll have to give it some thought. Cheers!
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