25 Dec 2009
Merry Christmas from DrinkNectar.com! This year Kimberly and I enjoyed a quiet Christmas. My sister and parents were in Phoenix, Kimberly’s family lives in Portland and her son was spending Christmas with his dad in Florida.
Christmas Eve we enjoyed a beautiful dinner at Clinkerdaggers overlooking the Spokane river. For wine we enjoyed a Cabernet Sauvignon wine flight that included Chateau St Jean (CA), Kenwood Yulupa (CA) and Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells (WA). Each of these wine reviews has been uploaded to www.corkd.com. The hands down favorite was Chateau Ste Michelle which had the most active nose and actually gave up the berry flavor along with the oaky tannin you would expect from a well made Cab.
Spending Christmas without our extended family is slightly sad. We missed our families terribly but managed to enjoy the day. After opening gifts we prepped dinner and headed to the new movie, “Up in the Air.” I highly recommend the movie, but it doesn’t really leave you with a happy feel good ending (but then again that’s the way life can be too).
Our holiday dinner, when we are sans child and family, is lasagna. I love Italian and lasagna is my favorite. The wines for Christmas Eve and Day were two we set aside from our Woodinville, WA trip in September. Reviewed in the video and text below are Ross Andrew 2005 Red Table Wine and Mark Ryan 2006 Long Haul. These wines were worth the wait (especially the Long Haul) and we can’t wait to get back to the Woodinville area again.
In the video I mention a Spokane winery that needs our support! Arbor Crest Winery occupies an old historic mansion on a hillside overlooking the Spokane valley. The morning of December 23, a power strip sparked a fire that gutted the interior. This amazing mansion (and surrounding grounds) is a Spokane treasure where people enjoy wine, get married, and celebrate life. Please show your support and buy this wine when you see the label. The exterior is in tact and they will work to rebuild the historic interior.
Thanks again for your support over the last six weeks of the launch of DrinkNectar.com. We were recently recognized as one of the top new food and spirit blogs in 2009 on www.drinksareonme.net. I also want to give a special shout out to The Wine Whore and Seattle Wine Gal for their amazing partnership. I look forward to a fun and wine filled 2010.
Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends. I hope this Christmas season brings you love and joy with your family along with several great bottles of wine!
2005 Ross Andrew Red Table Wine
- The Stuff: Bordeaux Blend
- The Swirl: Dark opaque plum with strong legs
- The Sniff: Day one, this wine was very disappointing. The cork smell came through overwhelming on the nose and the flavor was strong on the alcohol and acid. Day two, the wine opened up nicely presenting oak and cherry. Was still tight on the nose.
- The Sip: Mild oak and dirt with sour dark cherry flavor. Experienced medium tannin and chalky finish. Enjoyed a glass with the lasagna which was a great pairing for the chalky finish and acid.
- The Score: At $25, and because of the challenge during the first day, I would score this wine a 3 (out of 5). I probably wouldn’t purchase it again but would certainly explore other Ross Andrew offerings.
2006 Mark Ryan Long Haul
- The Stuff: Right Bank style blend with 48% Merlot 46% Cab Franc and 6% Petit Verdot.
- The Swirl: Moderately opaque with translucent edges. Nice jewel tones
- The Sniff: Wow, this glass is alive with aroma ranging from spice to coffee to vanilla to dark cherries alive with juice.
- The Sip: An explosion of fruit with the right amount of structure balance and tannin to enjoy alone or with a big steak or red pasta dish. This is like sex in a glass. The orgasm of flavor blew me away!
- The Score: At $48 I would definitely buy this again and again as long as my credit card allowed. Taking into consideration the economy and value, this wine scores a 4+. Get it at $35 and it is a steal and a 5.
23 Dec 2009
“Bring in more customers by December,” the winemaker said. ’We created a Facebook page, Twitter account and started profiles on wine information Web sites, but we’re not sure where to go from here.’ ~Tasting Room Manager
This is one of the many responses I received from my first Social Media post “Wineries- Missing the Social Media Money.” In the first post I offer 5 basic principles when using Social Media. If you missed it, check them out, it’s a good place to start. If you’re reading this and you are already swimming in the deep end of the social medial pool, please pass this along. If you’re thinking of dipping your toes in – here is your life vest, let’s dive in! The New Year is a great time to make commitments. By now you’ve hopefully realized that Social Media is not a fad. It’s also something you don’t just jump into without a plan. It’s time pull your head out of your ass…I mean the sand and face the social world.
Jumping on the social media band wagon because “everyone is doing it and if you don’t you will be left behind” is not a good way to conduct business, and can ultimately lead to failure – Dave McCauley
My good friend, @SeattleWineGal, has several good posts about the benefits of developing a social media strategy. A strategy is important to achieving success. With any strategy you need discipline to see it through. Discipline is the unsung hero of success. If you are still developing your strategy or can’t quite commit to see it through I offer three suggestions:
- Secure your vanity screen names on Facebook and Twitter now. With six billion people in the world the good ones get gone quick
- Look through your current marketing plan to determine the best return on investment – eliminate the waste
- Hire a consultant or coach to help get you started and establish a strategy. Contact @nectarwine or @seattlewinegal and we can offer help or point you to the right people – we work for wine!
You have a twitter account, you’ve set up a Facebook business page / fan page, you’ve set up profiles on the endless number of business networks - now you’re ready to make a resolution to the Social Media revolution.
Connect with the Connectors and Interact with the Influencers
There are several people who have gone before you and are clearing the weeds in the social media jungle. Connect with them. After a few weeks on Twitter, you’ll soon find who the social people are. Engage them in twittersations. Comment on their tweets and re-tweet. You’ll soon learn some of the tricks of the trade by observing them.
- Search for people with similar interests by using Twitter and Facebook search. Follow those people (in small chunks of 30-50). Twitter search can also be a powerful tool to see what people are saying about you, your service or your product.
- Find blogs that focus on your business by using Google blog search. Comment on these blogs and leave your twitter name as reference (Josh @nectarwine - Twitter) – This may seem a little self-serving, but trust me, you’ll learn a ton from the talented writers as you get your name out there.
- Several of these influencers are happy to write about your service or product. If they are product reviewers, check out their strategy and send them a sample. Include a personal touch and product back story.
Start Local in the Global World
In my corporate project management we continually manage scope creep. The project starts out to solve problem X but after a while we throw issues A-Z in there too. We can’t solve world hunger without starting with our hungry neighbor first. The same is true in the global Social Media world. Chances are your product is not available globally. Having 300 local followers will probably generate more activity than having 3000 followers scattered across the globe. Increase your local results by employing the following tactics:
- Find and join local networks. In Spokane, we have www.launchpadINW.com. This .ning network focuses on connecting local businesses and hosts ‘in person’ networking opportunities.
- Similar to one already mentioned above, connect with LOCAL bloggers (hint hint – to those in the NW)
- Create and enhance local profiles on Google Maps, Yahoo and Bing Local. This will help you show up higher in the local results.
- Create a localized Facebook ad. These ads can be very affordable and targeted to specific cities, interests, etc.
Don’t be Shy in Social Situations
Don and Judy Phelps, owners of Hard Row to Hoe vineyards in Lake Chelan, WA (www.twitter.com/hardrow) – about Social Media, “Twitter provides general exposure. We find it hard to hold discussions so we do Facebook too. It is easier to get to know someone and build relationships there.”
Facebook and Twitter provide great customer interaction and brand loyalty building. What other medium provides you a real-time insight into what your customers are thinking and feeling about you and you product? In my previous post, one local business owner asked, “do you have any tips for boosting fan conversations and interaction?”
- BEING SOCIAL ON FACEBOOK: Writing on someones wall in Facebook is more personal than writing about them on your own wall (remember everyone else can see it). “Like” their comments, and ALWAYS reply to people who message you, write on your wall or respond to your posts. Create interaction by responding to their comments with a question – “Hey glad to see you at the tasting room, do you remember which wine was your favorite?”
- BEING SOCIAL ON TWITTER: Managing the volume of tweets can often be daunting. Be unique in your tweets. Tweet several times about an upcoming event or special. You can only direct message (DM @nectarwine) people who follow you back – so occassionaly reach out to your followers with a special message or thank them with a DM coupon / discount. Talk to people by replying to them (@nectarwine glad to hear you enjoying the wine you purchased. What r u serving for Christmas). Re-tweet (RT @nectarwine) things you like that others are saying. Similar to Facebook, ALWAYS respond to people who DM, Reply or RT you. Twitter lets you see who mentioned you by selecting your @name on the right side of the page. I encourage the use of TweetDeck or HootSuite (free services) to more easily manage the comments and tweets in one multi-panel screen.
You’ve got a strategy! You’re ready to go! I hope you use these basic Social Media tips to explore the new world. Connect with Connectors, think local before you go global, and don’t be shy. The social media waters can seem deep – think of these tips as your floaties to help get you started. Pretty soon, you’ll be swimming with the big boys.
P.S. Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family, so open a bottle of wine or brew some coffee and DRINK.HAPPY!
22 Dec 2009
“No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!” This oft quoted line from Miles in the 2004 movie Sideways, single handedly sent Merlot (MARE-low) prices plummeting (while simultaneously causing a renewed interest in Pinot Noir). Now the Rodney Dangerfield of grapes, Merlot is striving to make a come back. At www.merlotwine.com Washington State is listed second, behind France, as premier Merlot growing areas.
Geeky fact: Merlot is the second most planted grape in the world (excluding cheap jug varietals Thompson Seedless and Airen)
Today’s review is a mash up, show down between three well known Washington producers. They represent Eastern, Central, and Western WA. Each was purchased at Costco for under a Jackson.
I added a twist to the challenge. The three wines were put head to head in a blind tasting. Although I knew which three wines I was tasting, I had no idea which wine was in which glass. Watch the video to see how the throw down showdown went down! Read below for the boring ol’ text.
2007 Woodhouse Family Kennedy Shah Merlot
- The Stuff: 80% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot 8% Malbec from Rattlesnake Hills $12 Retail – Woodinville, WA
- The Swirl: A dull purple- moderate legs. Slightly watery toward the edges
- The Sniff: Nutmeg and Cinnamon at first, then presenting some cigar box with blackberry fruit
- The Sip: The spice comes forward and says, “hi.” The fruit has left the building not to be seen. Mild tannins. The wine lacks structure and presents itself as a basic offering.
- The Score: At just $12, I will rate this a strong 3 and would potentially buy it again. For the price it is a solid offering and I’ve had much much worse.
2007 Arbor Crest Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Merlot from four unlisted Columbia Valley vineyards; $18 Retail – Spokane, WA
- The Swirl: Bright dark purple color but not quite as dark as plum, good structure to the edges
- The Sniff: Strong acidic or alcohol smell then smoke and blackberry (or dark berry fruit)
- The Sip: Thin on the front end then smokey in the middle. The alcohol made it slightly hot and the juice offered medium tannins.
- The Score: At $18, I can only score this a 3. At this price there are better offerings to enjoy. I would not buy this again, but I wouldn’t shy away from it if offered at a party or on a restaurant menu.
2007 Barnard Griffin Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Merlot from Columbia Valley and the Wahluke Slope. $17 Retail – Richland, WA
- The Swirl: Darker than the Arbor Crest bordering on plum color
- The Sniff: Well hello, berry, it’s nice to meet you. A sour cherry (in a good way) with a hint of vanilla.
- The Sip: While it came across disappointing in the video, it did open up as the night went on. Slightly challenging palate with some chalkiness and earth leading to a smooth vanilla finish. The berries came out after about an hour in the glass.
- The Score: At $17 I would score this a 3+. The wine had much more structure and interest to it than the other two offerings. This bottle was purchased for just $13 making it a very good value.
None of these wines were superstars. The goal of the review is to provide you some insight for when you see these available at restaurants or at the store. No one wanted to jump forward and declare victory. Taking price, taste, intrigue, and aroma into consideration, this round of WA Merlot Mash-up goes to Barnard Griffin.
21 Dec 2009
“Dude, pass the Pinot.”
This is a statement rarely heard where guys gather across America. Walk into any bar, join any football party, or attend any poker game and you’ll see that the average dude is not consuming wine. Pilsners are preferred over Pinots and talking about NAPA means the auto parts store. This post is for the dudes you know. This series of posts aims to provide the basic wine information to the NASCAR watching, Dale Earnhardt loving, Budweiser swilling, Copenhagen chewing, Hustler reading man! “Why should I know about wine?” Well, dudes, I’ll give you three good reasons.
At some point in life you’ll experience some success. You’ll find yourself at a restaurant celebrating your engagement or job promotion. You may even find yourself entertaining work clients at a fancy dinner. These scenarios and more may require you to have a little knowledge of wine. There is nothing wrong with beer but it seems that in certain scenarios, even for dudes, beer just won’t do.
No one likes to look stupid, especially dudes. Failing to bench press at least your body weight, not knowing the difference between a carburetor and a manifold, and not understanding how a batter who swings and misses at a third strike can still make it to first base can all make you look stupid. Showing up for Thanksgiving dinner at your in-laws with a bottle of Two Buck Chuck or ordering a White Zinfandel at a fancy dinner party will make you look equally stupid. You don’t need to be a Sommelier (or even know how topronounce it) to order intelligently.
It is no secret, dudes like sex, especially sex with girls. Girls, more often than not, enjoy wine. Nothing says romance like a candle light dinner with two bottles of Bud light! NOT! Romance is home-made chicken parmesan, candles, flowers and a bottle of Sangiovese or a great Cote du Rhone blend. Studies even say that women who enjoy two glasses of wine per night have better sex! Do you need a better reason to learn about wine.
Dude! Listen up! I understand that beer is your best friend. You don’t wait for wine-thirty. The song doesn’t go “God is great and wine is good.” No-one in college plays wine-pong. I’m not saying you should give up your trusty stout. Wine knowledge is only helpful if you think you’ll ever experience success, if you don’t like looking stupid, and if you like girls and sex. Think about it…if you agree, stay tuned for the next post in this series.
Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends. There is nothing better than sharing a glass of wine, coffee or even beer with a friend.
The Dude’s Guide to Wine
- In Part One we explained three reasons all guys should know a little about wine
- In Part Two we explored the basics of grapes and their general characteristics
- In Part Three we talked about the experience of wine tasting (swirl, smell, sip, savor)
- In Part Four we uncover the struggle of ordering wine at restaurants and buying in stores
20 Dec 2009
An accidental discovery or a destiny finally fulfilled?
Hailed as one of the best growing regions in the state in 1970 remained virtually unplanted until the accidental discovery in 1992. Walter and Judy Haig were flipping through a scrapbook from the original homesteader that listed an old US Agriculture map identifying what crops were planted in 1900. Wine grapes were on the list.The journey to fulfill the lands destiny began.
The lower Lake Roosevelt area formed by the Grand Coulee Dam creates the perfect microclimate for growing Bordeaux varietal grapes. The long summers, cool nights and extended growing season allow for maximum hang time producing fruit forward low sugar wines.
The Haig family wine story began with providing world-class grapes to wineries across the state through 2004. With the 2005 vintage, son Michael Haig, took over vintner and winemaking responsibilities. It’s obvious in talking with Mike that he loves his fruit and he loves the process. “My job is to stay out of the way and produce wine that tells the story of the vintage.” “Too often,” he says, “wineries try to make a wine that doesn’t fit the style of the grapes they have.” We talked about fads in the wine industry and Michael is a believer in staying true to what his vineyard produces (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.) “We are 100% estate grown. We don’t buy grapes from anyone.” A fact he is very proud of.
Whitestone has a tasting room, storage facility, and production facility in Wilbur, WA (about 16 miles from the vineyard). In April 2009, they opened a tasting room at 111 S. Cedar in West Downtown’s Carnegie Square. “Business has been great, but everyday we still hear from people who had no idea we’re here.” Part of the successful launch can be attributed to Whitestone’s commitment to Social Media like Twitter and Facebook. Whitestone is one of the few Spokane wineries taking advantage of this medium to connect with their consumers to drive brand loyalty. Mike, a self-professed techie says, “With Facebook we can post an event notice and see immediately who has responded.” Their first holiday release, Pieces on Earth V.1 went on sale just before Thanksgiving and all 135 cases are sold out (or will soon be after this prints). Promotion was done mostly through e-mail list, wine club members and social media.
Mike and I also spoke about the near term future for Whitestone. Currently producing 2500 cases per year, they are pursuing a new production facility – preferably right on the vineyard. He says, “too often people are pre-occupied with being the ‘next’ Chateau St. Michelle or whatever, I want to be the ‘first’ Michael Haig. From what I can tell the Whitestone line up is big, fruity with big tannins for grilling, steak, pot roast, and ham. The wines are held in oak for up to 30 months and will cellar well for another 5-7 years.
Whitestone is finally seeing the destiny of the land fulfilled 40 years after it was proclaimed.
The Stats: 111 S Cedar – Spokane Tasting Room is open Thursday – Sunday from Noon – 6pm. Friend them up on Facebook Whitestone Winery and follow them on Twitter @PIECESOFRED. WEB: www.whitestonewinery.com
Pieces on Earth V1 (2009 limited release – 135 cases)
- The Stuff: 34% Merlot 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Cabernet Franc
- The Swirl: Very dark plum, nearly opaque. Strong legs indicating high alcohol (14.1%) and acidity
- The Sniff: Dark cherry, plums, nutmeg, smoke, with a subtle hint of cocoa at the end
- The Sip: Wow, it’s like I dove into a pool of cherry nutmeg pool, drowning in that Chocolate Chucker Cherry sauce (not as sweet). Very berry front end with strong acidity on the upper mouth and medium tannins. The finish goes on for a good 10 seconds going tart then finishing smooth.
- The Score: At $17.95 (if you can still find it) I rate this wine a 5 out of 5. Mike and Whitestone have created a fantastic holiday season wine that will sip well around the fire and hold up to cranberry, prime rib and ham dinners.
In the video Mike mentions that Social Media is great but the goal is to get people to enjoy life over a glass of wine! I couldn’t say it better myself. Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends and there is no better way than over a glass of wine or cup of coffee.