30 Apr 2010
Today’s post is featured on Cork’d. Last week I asked the Twitterers and Facebook ”likers” if they had any questions for a Sommelier. The result was 8 questions and a BONUS question that was sure to stump our guest Sommelier, Yashar Shayan. Yashar is on the Sommelier team for Seastar Restaurants in the Seattle area. Seastar won Wine Spectator Magazine “Best of Award of Excellence” wine list in 2009.
What question would you ask a Sommelier? Do you have a strange food pairing question? Are you dying to know a particular wine fact? Are you curious if being a sommelier is a good way to attract women? Ask it here? – Head over to Cork’d read the article. The last question deals with Pop Rocks, that’s all I’m sayin’.
Cheers and Drink Happy!
30 Apr 2010
Last week two Spokane wineries released new vintages of spectacular wine. Liquid art was on display at Latah Creek and Nodland Cellars. This week release season continues as Barili Cellars, Liberty Lake Cellars, and Whitestone Winery showcase their beautiful and award winning artwork. It’s a great time to be a wine lover in Spokane! If you’re here for Bloomsday, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to unwind with some wine downtown.
Having an event and don’t see it on the list? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Spokane Tasting Room Tour – Most Spokane tasting rooms are open. Check out this tasting room map for contact information, hours of operation and video reviews.
Spring Barrel Weekend in Walla Walla - Worth the 2 hour drive as over 50 wineries showcase their new release and even some still ‘cooking’ in the barrel.
Friday, April 30
Vino Wine Shop: In store tasting with Nicolas Cole Cellars, Walla Walla 3:00-5:30pm
Whitestone Winery Release Party: Some amazing new wine from the Haig family and Whitestone Winery. Stop by from 6pm – 9pm for a first sip. 111 S. Cedar
Davenport Hotel: Live music from 8pm – midnight 20% off all food and drink if you mention you’re a Facebook fan.
Left Bank Wine Bar: Live music every Friday starting at 8pm, no cover
Nosey Parker Shop Outside the Box: Downtown Spokane. Print your map, take a walk and visit 50% of the participating stores and be entered into the Grand Prize Basket. This is a BUY LOCAL Event and a great way to introduce yourself to fantastic stores. Friday 10AM – Saturday 6pm
Barili Cellars Facebook Friends and Family: You better join the Barili Facebook page so you can get a sneak peek of four new releases from Barili Cellars; 4pm – 8pm 608 W. 2nd Ave – DrinkNectar will be here!
Rocket Market: Small Production Global Reds: Most of the wine in the world is produced by a few gigantor wine corporations. This class is not about them, we think they’ll be fine. We will instead focus on tiny, extremely high quality, family owned producers. Reservations requested; $35 343-2253
Saturday, May 1
Liberty Lake Cellars – Liberty Lake Cellars releases their newest masterpieces, Cab Franc and Syrah, Noon – 5pm at their tasting room 1018 S. Gary in Liberty Lake.
Taste Washington Spokane – Tickets are on sale at the following locations: Latah Creek, Vino Wine Shop, Williams Seafood, and Arbor Crest (River Front Park tasting room).
Rocket Market – Saturday drop in tastings, complimentary pours 3-6pm
Sunday, May 2
Merlot Gone Mad – Tulalip Resort and Casino (north of Seattle) Washington merlot is among the finest in the world. Now you can taste hundreds of them at Merlot Gone Mad. You’ll meet the winemakers and learn why this is a superstar grape in Washington State. Taste, graze and enter to win great prizes too. $45 3-6pm. Spokane’s is represented by Townshend and Robert Karl Cellars.
Get out to a winery! Usually open on Sunday: Latah Creek, Arbor Crest, Lone Canary, Caterina Winery, Townshend Cellars, Trezzi Farms, Robert Karl and Knipprath Cellars
On the Radar
- May 5 – Blind Wine tasting with John Allen (of Vino) and LaunchPadINW
- May 5-6 - Wine Ride and Dine with Anthony’s, Robert Karl, and River Front Park Gondola
- May 6 – Vintage Hill Spring release party 5-8pm 319 W. 2nd
- May 7 – First Friday Art Walk
- May 7-9 – Spring barrel tasting with 16 Spokane wineries including the preview of a brand new winery (Overbluff Cellars)
- June 3 – #WAWine Taste and Tweet event. Over 100 Washington Wineries will be hosting in house events and thousands of people will be participating online through Twitter and Facebook. Stay tuned for details for this follow up to the wildly successful #WAMerlot
- June 6 – Taste Washington at the Davenport. The year’s signature wine event with 100 wineries and local food. Tickets are $75; visit www.tastewashington.org for details. On sale starting May 1 at Vino, Arbor Crest (RP Square), Williams Seafood, and Latah Creek Winery
29 Apr 2010
Sometimes you just need a lot of wine. That’s where I see the value of boxed wine. There are plenty of times in life when people will care less that you’re gracing them with a 2007 Russian River Valley Chardonnay or a 2007 Bordeaux or Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe. These are the times when you’re camping, grilling, or entertaining your less discerning friends and the beverage container resembles one of those red plastic cups you used to charge $5 for at college parties. These are the times when folks might be more concerned about the buzz than the nose. Box wine comes in handy when you need a lot of juice. HOWEVER, there is no excuse for BAD WINE. There are wines that will rock your world and there are wines to clean the drain out with. Regardless of the party or situation, life is too short to drink bad wine.
Both of the wines in this review arrived via FedEx sporting a curiously shaped package. The Octavin Home Wine Bar, as they’re called, is a three liter container (four regular bottles) with a vacuum-packed bag and spout that keep air from getting in contact with wine (oxygen is the single biggest factor to a wine’s demise). According to the literature, the wine should have 10 times the shelf life of a regular bottle. If it’s any good, it won’t need that long *wink*. It’s also worth noting that the Octavin is much more eco-friendly because of the lower shipping weight and smaller package waste. Still, we don’t drink crappy wine.
The Octavin packaging is available with 10 different wines ranging from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to a big Central California Coast Cabernet. Now, on with the review:
2008 Monthaven Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from various vineyards in the California Central Coast. Partially 35% barrel fermented, cold fermented, and barrel aged. 13.5%abv; 40,000 cases made
- The Swirl: Very pale straw color, much lighter than a traditional Chardonnay. Swirl does indicate some thickness to the wine. Clean and clear
- The Sniff: Not a lot happening on the nose. There are some nice plays of pear, subtle hints of tropics, and a slight mineral aroma that throws it off just a bit (not much).
- The Sip: Pleasing on the mouth-feel. Surprisingly nice for coming out of a box. In a blind tasting I would certainly put this on par with some $12 Chardonnay I’ve recently had. The subtle tropics continue on the palate with a tad citrus lemon. The acidity seems slightly off balanced on the finish.
- The Score: At the equivalent of $6 per bottle ($24 per Octavin), I can easily score this a 3 and offer it as a recommended wine for summer BBQ parties or camping adventures.
Side Note: This wine was consumed over the course of several weeks and as time passed the wine did seem to retain its overall quality.
2008 Big House Red
- The Stuff: While in the video I refer to 6 different grapes being in the wine, I must admit that I was wrong because there are 13 different wine grapes in this bend, including five that I can check off my wine century list (Algianico 6%, Tannat 6%, Nero D’Avola 5%, Sargentino 4%, and Touriga 3%). The other grapes in this wine are 23% Syrah, 14% Petite Sirah, 9% Grenache, 9% Montepuliciano, 6% Mourvedre, 6% Sangiovese, 3% Barbera, and 3% Petit Verdot. The wine clocks in at 13.5%abv and 30,000 cases were made.
- The Swirl: Bright purple with 50% translucence and slightly thin and watery at the edges
- The Sniff: The wine struck me as sweet cherry candy with some earthy dust and oak.
- The Sip: Definitely not the big red as I expected from the moniker. The mouth feel is slightly thin. The first impression was an oaky off balance. As I re-evaluated the wine there was some nice mild red berry flavor good back end structure and a descent finish. Not a wine you pull out of a nice dinner but certainly palatable for burgers.
- The Score: I wasn’t overwhelmed by the wine and even at a price of $20 for the 3L ($5 per bottle), I can only score it a 3 minus out of 5.
Both of these wines give me hope for boxed wine. I’m impressed with the packaging, convenience and longevity of the wine. Neither of these are special occasion wines BUT, neither of them were what I would consider bad wines either. I look forward to exploring the other eight Octavin container wines.
*Wines were provided as an industry sample with the intent to review
29 Apr 2010
Guest blog post #2 from author Dustin Cann @dustincann
I’m a big fan of wine, I really am. I love the way it can be so complex, yet so simple. I love the way it smells and the way it can make great food even better. But when I’m on the road, there’s absolutely nothing that centers me after a long day better than a well-made Manhattan. See, I spend a great deal of my time bouncing between my home in Memphis and client sites in cities like San Francisco, DC, Detroit, as far away as India. And in the world of a road warrior, you have to accept a certain degree of mediocrity. Yes, my status with airlines, car rental companies, and hotels means I get upgraded more often than not. Yeah, I get to hit restaurants and bars that would be a bit pricey for me to frequent on my own dime. But I spend a lot of time on planes, breathing re-circulated air and drinking Skyy+Coke Zeroes with filthy ice next to some schmuck who thinks I’d rather talk about his sailboat than just close my eyes and rest only to spend my days navigating client politics and compromising the ideal for the realistic. Any more insight and we’re running the risk of therapy, and my therapist wouldn’t appreciate that. Back to that Manhattan.
A properly made Manhattan is apparently a tough thing to accomplish. It’s the balls-out quality of one of these beauties that often makes me appreciate them even more than the finest of wines. In recent years, bartenders all over the world seem to have either forgotten how to make them right, or become timid in a world where vodka is the preferred cocktail base and sweet beats bitter.
The process itself is rather simple. Start with a chilled martini glass. A tumbler or a highball won’t encourage the right circulation or allow it to open up right. So you splash a bit of sweet red vermouth in your glass and spin it around a few times. Now dump it out. That’s right, dump it out. I’m indulgent like that. I like the RUMOUR of vermouth, not vermouth itself. Next, add a dash of bitters, preferably Angostura. This is the part that a lot of modern bartenders are afraid of. “Bitter is bad, right?” Wrong. Bitter is character. Bitter is tangible. Bitter is the magic. Skimp on this, and you’ve just got some sweet whiskey. A Manhattan you do not have. So, bitters to about the 1/6th mark. We’re doing this by feel, not by measure.
Now for the whiskey. Rye whiskey. Not bourbon, please. I’m not snobby here, so Jim Beam is fine. I’ll take finer, but in a Manhattan, I’d prefer Jim Beam to a Kentucky bourbon or *gasp* scotch. New Yorkers had access to rye whiskey when this drink was born, and that’s the way I like it. I want it slightly cool, but not cold. Add your whiskey to your glass that’s already flirted with vermouth and felt a bit of bitterness. Fill it to just over the ¾ mark. Any more and you’re being greedy (and you’ll probably commit the sin of spillage), any less and I feel ripped off.
Now add two little ice cubes, one if it’s large, and stir. Gently. We’re not tumbling this sucker, lads and lasses. We’re being soft. You don’t want to bruise the spirits, just to mix them and cool it down a bit. Pull out the ice cube(s) with a slotted spoon and add a lemon twist. Prepare to be impressed.
A few common misconceptions (some may call them preferences, but my way is the right way, I assure you):
- Some bartenders make this in a mixing glass and strain into your martini glass. But a gentle mix in the glass is sufficient and clean and requires a level of class and patience not found in the mixing glass. Remember, I’m talking about the perfect Manhattan, the one that lets me clear my head and simply appreciate it. So make it in the glass, and take your time. It’s sexier that way.
- Traditional Manhattans are garnished with cherries, not lemon twists. Okay, true. But if you walk into the average bar, a cherry in your Manhattan is all but guaranteed to bring with it a heavy vermouth hand and a light bitters hand. A bartender who gives you a twist knows how to balance properly. Or they’re out of cherries, which is a different story altogether.
- There are theories that a lime rim is okay. It is not. Not at all.
Manhattans aren’t for everyone. They’re not meant to be a fast drink, so take your time to enjoy them. And a lot of barkeeps don’t get them right. But there’s nothing more opposite of dry dirty air and a bad airline cocktail. And there’s no glass of wine that can make me appreciate an artistic bartender or a timeless recipe the same way.
About the Author
Dustin Cann is a traveling business consultant (39 trips in the 52 weeks of 2009) who loves his work, but would rather be a rock star. He’s a foodie and an appreciator of both haute cuisine and pub food. When he’s home, he plays around in recording studios and relaxes on the lake with a blind pug called Honey. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee with his partner of eight years and almost surely needs to drink fewer Manhattans.
28 Apr 2010
The goal of this series is to connect with wineries and wine business that use Social Media (Twitter and Facebook) effectively. These interviews can serve as a catalyst to help other wineries and wine businesses to see the benefits (and pitfalls) of joining the social revolution.
How long have you been using Twitter?
A: I have been using a personal account on twitter since June of 2009. The winery page I started only two or three months ago.
What prompted you to dive in?
A: I was in California pouring at the Great American Food and Music Fest when I made the decision to get on the social media train. I was struck by the high percentage of people asking about our web presence. I became absolutely convinced of the need for a Social Media presence though through conversations with @mattsito. He got me motivated, and gave me great tips about how to start.
What type of strategy or approach do you use when posting content?
A: I am focused mainly on striking up conversation with people I find using Twitter Search, on my personal account. Engaging in talk about wine and wineries, music, food, beer, MLB, etc. The winery twitter and Facebook accounts I use to engage with up to the minute developments at the Winery. Pictures of events, harvest updates, release news, etc.
What have been the benefits of using Twitter/Facebook? (increased traffic, increased brand awareness, customer connection, etc)
A: I feel like the use of Social Media has been incredibly beneficial. We are located about 15 miles from Western Washington University, as well as being on the route to the most well known snowboarding mountain in the state. We have seen a marked increase in the number of college students and the snowboard crowd coming through our tasting room. Also, it has been a lot of fun to keep in touch with regular customers, who we normally only see once or twice a year at events, on a daily basis. It has been beneficial to learning about what gets our customers excited as well! Whether it’s a couple of funny pictures of the cellar crew on Halloween posted on Facebook, or a quick note on new releases, the comments are amazing to read!
Is there a single success story that you can point to with using Twitter/Facebook?
A: I don’t think that there is any single thing I can point to. Social Media has felt like a snowball growing as it rolls down a hill. It seems like it is constantly growing as the content posted gets better, people tell their friends, and the conversations draw a more diverse crowd. Momentum builds fast.
What do you think is the single biggest barrier to why we don’t see more wineries actively using Social Media tools?
A: More will follow suit in time, remember we are an industry of deeply rooted traditions. Changing patterns about how we market can’t change overnight. Once an innovation catches on though, it will develop very quickly.
What advice would you give to wineries joining the stream or getting back into the stream?
A: My biggest advice is to use Twitter and Facebook to engage your fans one on one. Don’t use the tools to broadcast your sales pitch. People can un-fan, un-follow just as easy as they can become interested.
Briefly tell us about your winery, a new release, or something unique about you?
A: Mount Baker Vineyards is located 12 miles East of Bellingham, on the Mount Baker Highway. Our tasting room is open 7 days a week, 11-5. We produce approximately 16000 cases of wine per year with grapes sourced from choice spots in the Yakima Valley, as well as our Estate Vineyards planted in 1978. Typical yearly production includes up to 30 different varietals. We have a lot of fun, and our doors are always open to people interested in wine/winemaking/grape-growing.
What is your favorite rock band and why?
A: Favorite rock group is a hard one, it is just like asking my favorite wine! What am I pairing it with, how’s the weather, etc? However if I had to pick just one it would be the Pixies. Completely unique sound! Gets me pumped up during crush!