14 Jan 2010
We’ve all had Chardonnay, but have you ever had 100% Petit Verdot? My recent trip to Spokane’s Latah Creek was a pleasant surprise. In my mind I thought Latah Creek was all about sweet wines (not my favorites) like their Huckleberry Wine or Maywine. I was blown away by the quality of their Merlot, Vinosity (Red Blend), and the Petit Verdot.
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from Connor Lee Vineyards with 100% Malolactic fermentation. Two months in French oak. 760 cases
- The Swirl: Thicker viscosity, more pale yellow than a traditional CA Chardonnay.
- The Sniff: Mild nose with hints of pear and honey
- The Sip: Big and rich butter, vanilla and pear. No oak to speak of. Felt thick and meaty. Finished with a beautiful acidity that washed across the back of my mouth.
- The Score: At a retail price of $12, this is a very well made Chardonnay. I score it a 4+. So far this is one of the best “value” Chardonnay’s that I’ve had. Kudo’s, Mike!
I’m not really a Chardonnay fan but this was an incredible offering for the money. I would venture to guess that it could be found for under $10 in certain locations, depending on sales.
2006 Winemakers Reserve Petit Verdot
- The Stuff: 100% Petit Verdot from Alice Vineyards
- The Swirl: Dark inky plum with beautiful legs after heavy swirl
- The Sniff: Slightly musty and earth smell. Pencil shavings and banana. Not overly fruity at first. Eventually opened up to express some flower (Violets I think).
- The Sip: A very diverse tasting wine. It seemed to have different characteristics each time I sipped it. Started to pick up on the blackberry and it tasted floral and slightly sour cherries. Not tart on the back end and surprisingly smooth drinking.
- The Score: At $30 retail, I score this wine a solid 4. I would buy it again because of the variety of flavor and how different it is compared to the majority of other Washington reds.
This wine is a perfect example of how tastes can vary between individuals. While I felt it was a very well made wine with lots of character and interest, my wife didn’t care for it too much. For me this further solidifies the need for a variety of reviews. Don’t just trust Wine & Spectator’s 100pt scoring. Read tasting notes and reviews. Over time, you’ll know whether you like sour cherries or barnyard. If a wine is described like that, chances are you may not enjoy it, so why drop the cash.
Washington is growing some fantastic fruit. Over the next few years you will start to see more Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, and possibly more Petit Verdot. There is more to WA than your standard Bordeaux fruit.
Continue to explore new tastes, expand your palate and try not to ALWAYS drink the same thing. Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends, so DRINK.HAPPY!
13 Jan 2010
You either have to be crazy or passionate about your topic to launch a new print magazine in today’s economic condition. I think a little of both could be used to describe the launch of Washington Tasting Room magazine. Founders John and Adean Vitale hope to provide a “wealth of tasting experiences…as we celebrate the truly amazing wines being produced across the state.”
I received the first two copies of Washington Tasting Room as an industry sample with the intention to review.
The magazine is a quarterly publication that intends to explore tasting rooms across the state. Each edition is divided into Tour (wineries and vineyards), Taste (culinary, restaurant, food pairings), Travel (hotels, resorts, bed & breakfasts) and At Home (general wine info, art, etc). Every edition also covers key news, trends, tasting room openings and an event calendar. The advertisements were not overwhelming and each was nicely placed on the page or grouped together to not distract from the article.
As I flipped through each edition, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the writing, including two of my online favorites Kori Voorhees from www.winepeeps.com and David LeClaire from www.vinolover.com. Other writing contributors varied between publications but each article was nicely crafted. To me, the star of each edition is the photography. The panoramic landscape photo’s of vineyards and the thumbnail shots of various tasting rooms gave me an overall impression of visiting each space. A few of the centerfold type shots had me holding the magazine up akin to a teenage boy with those “other” kind of magazines that people read for the articles.
While there is nothing negative to say about the magazine, I do have an observation and a suggestion. My observation is based on my geographical bias. So far, with two issues there is nary a mention of the Spokane wine scene. While I realize that Spokane is not an AVA, nor is it synonymous with wine (ala Walla Walla or Lake Chelan), however Spokane metro is 350,000 people strong and has 18 very good wineries. Several of Spokane’s wine makers are fathers of wine in the state. I would hope to see some sort of representation in the Spring edition.
My suggestion revolves around the very nature of the print medium. Of the 34 pages that had article text, 5 were dedicated to events. The lead time of print to publication to distribution to ending up in my hands means that there are probably several events that don’t make the list (and others that have come and gone by the time I pick up my magazine). Building out a robust event section on the web site would allow for more real time addition. A few of the articles (not all) should be available on the web site with some features published online between issues. I’m sure several WA wine bloggers would love to syndicate their content. In short, I think the survival of the print medium is a synergy between print, web, and social media. Readers are going online. One magazine I read regularly starts the article in the magazine and then references a second part or additional information that is online…very clever.
Washington Tasting Room is a good magazine for wine lovers in our state. I’m a huge fan and supporter of anything that promotes the beautifully crafted quality wines that come from Washington. I wish John and Adean success with their venture. Be looking for a subscription order from DrinkNectar.com.
12 Jan 2010
Do you really need to pay someone thousands of dollars for a social media strategy? Should you hand over the social media reigns to your PR person or marketing firm? Why should I pay for something I can do for myself?
I’ve been thinking about this on several fronts lately as I visit local businesses without a social media presence. My first thought is why pay someone money to do something that is free and requires very little technical expertise? Not to mention the vast amount of free information and training available. I mean really, some of these folks charge $50 – $100 per hour. If you’re so ready to throw that kind of money at it, I’ll crown myself an expert and let you pay me. I’ve been in the corporate world long enough to create a pretty damn fancy and impressive resume.
Seriously, it is an interesting question. I was recently talking to a friend and I said it only takes four things to be successful at developing a brand through social media:
To me, this seems simple. I’m passionate about my topic, I’m pretty disciplined to get in and learn the tools and be consistent with my product. I care about interacting with people, I respond to comments, I engage people in conversation. I don’t have the time, I make the time. So far, I’ve been pleased with the results. I’m making money, I’m building a brand, I’m networking with local people, and ideas are coming together.
Anyone can do it! Right?
What if you’re passionate about your product, you just don’t have the time to dedicate to something new? What if you care about interacting with people, you just don’t have the discipline to develop a strategy and learn the tools? I could change the oil in my car myself if I had the time and if I knew how. There are books to teach me, but…See the rub?
Hiring a consultant may be beneficial for folks that are in this situation. Many wineries are 1-3 man/woman operations. Finding even 20 minutes a day to tweet and Facebook may be a challenge. Sometimes the fact that I pay for my gym membership gets me going to the gym. Maybe paying a consultant is the jump start that is needed for some companies.
Here are a few things to consider before hiring someone.
- Don’t let them dazzle you with corporate jargon (buzz word crap). We’re going to analyze this, set baseline that, set up ROI measurement systems, engage, assess, evaluate, monitor, blah blah blah.
a) Determine what you want to accomplish b) find the tools to accomplish it c) repeat the best ways to accomplish it and d) measure your results.
- It’s not rocket science. There is nothing wrong with getting involved and making a few mistakes along the way. The tools are there, the tools are free, no software engineering degree is needed to understand Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, or Linkdin.
- DO NOT hand over the management of your content or customer interaction (unless you’re actually hiring someone to do it full time). A PR firm / marketing team will not be as passionate or as transparent as you can be with your customers. Social Media is connection with your customers. Hiring someone to pretent to be you for a few hours a month is a failure (in my opinion).
- Do your homework. You’re hiring someone as a Social Media Guru / Expert, doesn’t it make sense that you should see if they are using it sucessfully themselves? Visit their blog. Is their content current? What makes you think they’ll keep yours current? Go to their Facebook page. Was their last status update more than a week ago? Are all of their tweets self serving links and ads? If you don’t see any conversation, RUN.
I know you’re reading this and have an opinion. I would love to hear it. Am I way off base? What else can you contribute to the conversation?
P.S. If you want any Social Media help from me, just ask – I’ll probably collect in wine, coffee or guitars!
Previous Social Media Posts:
12 Jan 2010
Do you know where your coffee comes from? With words like Fair Trade, Direct Trade, Organic and Third Wave thrown around the coffee industry without much regulation, how can you trust where your coffee comes from?
DOMA (a name mash up of the owner’s sons Dominic and Marco) Coffee Roasting Company of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is the ONLY member of the exclusive Cooperative Coffees in the Northwest (one of 22 in the US). What does this mean? DOMA has a direct relationship with the farmer who grows the coffee. By direct, we mean so direct as to physically spend time with the farmer helping them with farming practices, sharing growing and roasting information and actually working on the farm at different times. There is NO middle man. DOMA even provides proof of shipping records, receipts, and prices paid through www.fairtradeproof.org Can your coffee company say that?
In talking with owners Terry and Rebecca Patano it is evident that three things are important to them; the environment, quality, and relationships.
Some companies advertise organic coffee as a means to jump on the ‘green’ money train. DOMA lives sustainability in every aspect of their business. Certified organic roaster, 100% biodegradable bags, compost or recycle all waste material, all print materials are on recycled paper, non toxic cleaning agents and roasting on a Loring Smart Roaster (saves the equiv. of 2000 gallons of natural gas per year). All of this is in addition to the direct relationship with the farmers (as mentioned above). These efforts lead to better coffee.
While at DOMA Coffee Roasting Company, I had the privilege of watching a roasting. The 50lb batch was treated with care from the loading of the green beans to the frequent monitoring of the roaster while the temperature rose to 400 degrees. Every few minutes the beans were checked for color, quality, and aroma to ensure the perfect quality roast. At just the right moment, Jim (the roaster), smelled and saw what he was looking for and stopped the machine releasing the beautiful beans into the container. I’ve got to tell you that this was THE single most beautiful coffee smell I have ever encountered. The direct relationship ensures the quality of the original product, DOMA “takes and turns it into something special,” says Terry.
The focus on quality continues with the relationships they have with the retailers who use and sell their coffee. Each coffee stand, café, and coffee shop must go through a training program, led by trainer Greg Hjort. Greg teaches the proper techniques for brewing, pulling shots, service, and even fancy espresso art! DOMA will work with new businesses to get their systems in place, provide input on counter set up, and more. Greg makes his rounds for quality control and to provide continuing education. What does this mean to you? It means that you will always get a quality cup of coffee or espresso wherever DOMA is sold.
When I asked what was on the horizon for DOMA Coffee Roasting Company as they celebrated their 10th year in business, Rebecca spoke to the continued desire to get better and refine the quality of the product, training and relationships they have. The whole Patano family is getting ready for an upcoming trip to a Peruvian farm to work side by side with the farmers for two weeks. Terry and Rebecca also swore me to secrecy about an upcoming “change” that they were super excited for. They also have visions of a new ‘green’ certified location at some point in the future.
When you’re out for coffee and you see the DOMA Coffee Roasting Company name, trust that you’re going to get a GREAT product that has been grown with care, tested and refined with passion, roasted with quality, and brewed with consistency.
Visit them on the internet at www.domacoffee.com and soon in the Social Media world!
11 Jan 2010
Buy Local! It makes sense supporting local businesses; higher profit margins, more money stays in the local economy and the capacity to create jobs increases. For the New Year, I vocalized my desire to buy more of my wine locally. I am extending this challenge to all of my wino friends. The resolution is not to buy ALL of my wine locally, just more of it. I commit, where possible and when fiscally responsible (I’ll explain later) to purchase most of my wine from local wine shops or directly from the winery.
Who’s with me? Does it make sense? For me, this is a major departure from the way I traditionally buy wine. My wine purchases typically come from the grocery store, Costco, and occasionally from a local shop near our home. Going local will mean going out of my way to make an additional stop. Our ‘good wine’ purchases tend to come from our bi-annual trips to Washington wine regions.
2010 also brings a challenge to try ‘new’ and interesting wine. I’ve been challenged by my friend James Yates (@winecentury on twitter) to join the Wine Century club where I taste 100 different grape varietals. Currently, my total is at 42. Have you made the Wine Century club? Who’s with me on this journey? What is your starting number?
Financial responsibility is important. Nothing irks me more than buying something only to find out that I could have gotten it cheaper at another store or online. In a recent post on www.corkd.com Robert Dwyer (@RobertDwyer on twitter) posed the dilemma of buying local or buying for the best deal. This is a challenge for local retailers who have less buying power and run on higher overheads. In our global economy the local retailer MUST compete on price AND relationship. If the local shop offers no additional benefit, service or connection then the price will always win. Wineries should also keep this in mind when selling in their tasting room. I recently purchased a nice $48 bottle of wine at a winery only to hear of a blogger friend who picked it up “on sale” for $29. To be honest, this pissed me off. I have a local buying price threshold. This is the difference in price I’m willing to pay for the service, experience or relationship that the local store offers. My max threshold runs around 8-12% (depending on the price bracket). In the case of the wine mentioned above, I would be comfortable with paying $48 FROM the winery even though it could be purchased for $40 at the box store. For the $16 discount wine at the grocery store, I’m okay paying $20 at a local shop (but not $22 or $24).
My 2010 approach to wine is to support local wine for most of my wine purchases. The two caveats revolve around selection and price. If I discover a wine that fits my goals to have new experiences while at Costco, then I’ll buy it. If the wine is consistently 10% or more less at a box store, then it may get my business, especially if the local retailer offers little or no additional value (relationship, experience, or knowledge).
What are your thoughts? Do you have a price threshold? Are you ready to join me on my 2010 Wine Challenge?
Buying Wine “Locally” in Spokane
Are we missing your favorite Spokane Wine Shop? Email us at email@example.com
- 3319 North Argonne Road Spokane Valley, WA
- (509) 443-4027
- 926 South Monroe Street Spokane, WA
- (509) 358-8955
Left Bank Wine Bar
- 108 North Washington Street, Spokane, WA
- (509) 315-8623
- The Drink Nectar Review (Nov 2009)
Niko’s Wine Bar
- 725 West Riverside Ave, Spokane, WA
- (509) 624-7444
- The Drink Nectar Review (Jan 2010)
- 726 East 43rd Avenue, Spokane, WA
- (509) 343-2253
Vino! A Wine Shop
- 222 South Washington Street, Spokane, WA
- (509) 838-1229
- 8801 North Indian Trail Road, Spokane, WA
- (509) 468-9463
Yokes Fresh Market Stores (6 Spokane Locations)
- Locally owned with one of the largest selections in the NW
- http://www.yokesfoods.com/ visit site for store locations
- Wine365 – Yokes Wine Blog
Williams Seafood Market & Wines
- 10627 E Sprague, Spokane Valley WA 99206
- (509) 922-4868
Jim’s Home Brew & Wine
- 2619 N Division St