06 Jan 2011
Thank you! The words and video associated with this post would not have been possible without each of you. You have been supporters from day one. What started 14 months ago as an intentional branding effort for a wine and coffee business is now finally becoming a reality. Nectar Tasting Room is here! Who would have thought that a blog, blended with social media, combined with old fashion networking and relationship building could lead to an actual brick and mortar business?!
The steps leading to this moment have been some of THE most exciting and THE most difficult moments of my life. Finding the space at 120 N. Stevens was a magical moment. The moment I peered inside the windows, I knew this was the home to Nectar Tasting Room. Working through lease negotiations, city building regulations, and liquor control board issues have made me physically ill and visibly older (I would venture that if you go back to video #1 you’ll see a thinner and younger looking Mr. Nectar).
Once we received permission from the city to build, progress moved quickly. Every day was like watching an exciting story unfold with new twists turns and plot developments. The contractors have become friends. While they tend to push every project right up to the very last possible minute (still working on plumbing when the health inspector is walking through the building), these are good hardworking people just trying to make it in the economy. The beauty of the space is partially theirs to be proud of. While the initial relationship with the building owners started a little rocky, I have grown to like my landlord. Their family, in fact, purchased 8 Club Nectar memberships! Thanks for your support.
It takes a team to get the work done. From my original designer, Josh Hissong (who is now a great friend and a fantastic individual) to the team who picked up the ball and ran with it, Rainmaker Marketing – the space is a credit to their hard work, persistence and patience (mostly with me). Billie Gaura, Cindy Wiedmer, Josh King, and the rest of the Rainmakers, THANKYOU from the very bottom of my heart. I can’t wait to share a glass of grapes with each of you. I also want to say thanks to the local businesses who have provided their endless support – Sante Restaurant, Anemone Designs, Concept Home Furniture, Firefly Lighting, Steven Meek Architects and Pixie Dust Chocolates. My final thanks goes to the amazing people and partners at LaunchPadINW. Bill, Allen, Mark, Jared, and Jennifer, (and the other office cronies Ed, Travis, Heather, Hara, Mark, Ash), I could not have accomplished any of this without your support and guidance. I look forward to our future as neighbors at the 1889 building.
The best part of the whole journey begins now. Now, I get to help each of you enjoy some great Washington State wine. I look forward to putting faces and real names to twitter handles. The next few months will be a reunion of “old friends” as you walk through the tasting room. We built this space to continue to grow the Spokane wine scene and to be a part of a business we love. Join us for our grand opening weekend for three days of fun and excitement.
We are open Thursday from Noon – 7pm, Friday and Saturday from Noon – 9pm (don’t forget The Final Sip wine party on Saturday from 9pm-10pm). Enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday night. Stop by to meet all of the five winery owners and wine makers (at various times). It is an absolute treat to hear from the passionate people behind the wine. Use our innovative iPad wine menu to learn, explore and even save the wines you enjoy. Relax in the modern space. Most importantly, but a bottle or two and enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
The participating wineries at Nectar Tasting Room are Anelare Winery – Kennewick, Hard Row to Hoe – Lake Chelan, Northwest Cellars – Kirkland, Skylite Cellars – Walla Walla, Terra Blanca Winery – Benton City.
03 Jan 2011
December has been a month of extreme highs and lows. As I’ve pushed forward with the opening of Nectar Tasting Room (January 6-8), I’ve experienced several crushing blows that are almost immediately followed by big wins. This experience has certainly added several grey hairs to my head and wrinkles to my face. Last January, I kicked off the year with my first Nectar Monthly Honors recap. While not quite as cool as a Grammy nomination, it has been an attempt to capture my favorite things from the previous month. I make it a point to save favorite tweets, blog posts, and I review the wines from the month to highlight my favorites.
December 2010 has been one of the most busy months of my entire life. In the midst of everything I managed to write 16 posts (my lowest total since I started the blog). These 16 posts generated the highest traffic ever on the site with nearly 10,000 people viewing over 17,500 pages. 17 wines made the pages of NectarWineBlog this month and some of them were very, very good!
Cheers to you and yours for 2011. My goal (or resolution if you will) is to continue with more of the same. The tasting room will open and hopefully this time next year I can report back that I’ve been able to quit the day job. Enjoy life with friends and drink happy!
Wines of the Month
Best Value Under $15
Oddly enough, I didn’t review any wines that were under $15 retail this month. I did enjoy a $14 Chardonnay from Terra Blanca winery as part of our tasting room preview party and I purchased a few Argentinean Astica Malbec ($5) from Rocket Market (3/5). While the Terra Blanca Chardonnay was a nicely balanced Chardonnay, I’ve committed to not reviewing the wines at the tasting room (conflict of interest). So, for December 2010, no wine is chosen for this category.
Best Overall Wine
Of the 17 wines that showed up in the December reviews, several compete for the top spot of the month. A company known for TV dinners surprised me. A Rose in the Palouse captured my imagination. A wine consumed in October ended up being my top pick for December’s best overall wine.
In October, I enjoyed a visit to 3 wineries in the Columbia Gorge area (Maryhill, The Pines 1852 and Syncline Winery). James Mantone of Syncline has an old world approach to his wine making that brings out the flavor of the vineyard and the grape without over oxidizing or oaking the wine.
The Southern Rhone inspired with a Grenache (48%) and Mouvedre (24%) focused blend that also includes Syrah, Counoise, and Cinsault. Not much in my notes except silky and thick. Perfume and raspberry on the nose with great layers of fruit and spice. $35 4+/5
Read about the rest of the journey and other Syncline wines, here > http://drinknectar.com/2010/12/02/visit-the-columbia-gorge-for-some-surprise-wines/
- Runner-up: 2009 Wawawai Canyon Carmenere Rose
Other Highlights From December
Marketing Advice for Any Business
Posts that Make You Think
Best Picture of the Month
Post that Made Me Spit Wine Out My Nose
Top Posts of The Month
- Leavenworth – Bavarian for Wine – Proper SEO helped drive traffic to this post as thousands of visitors searched for Leavenworth Christmas Tree Lighting party. This post is a recap of my visit to several Leavenworth wineries.
- Ten Blogging Lessons I Learned In Year One – This post is a holdover from November and got some great readership in the last few days of December.
27 Dec 2010
Several stories dominated the 2010 wine news wire. The themes ranged from economic struggle and contraction to the emancipation of grape distribution. 2010 also marked the tipping point of wine blogging and wineries began to embrace new technology and social marketing strategies. The Wine Blogger’s Conference came of age in Walla Walla and the Hosemaster of Wine went into retirement. James Suckling left Wine Spectator to pursue an online site and the original wine blogger, Robert Parker began tweeting.
What news stories will dominate the 2011 landscape? Will the economy continue to impact the wine industry? Will the grapes finally be free to travel to any state they choose, or will the shackles of HR5034 keep them trapped at the borders?
Below are my predictions for 2011. Vote at the end of the article for your top news story of 2011.
- HR5034 goes down in defeat and the American Wine Consumer Coalition rallies to push for the freedom of wine shipment across the US.
- The wine economy continues to contract with several large wine conglomerates selling or closing poor performing brands. Small wineries struggle with building dept and close their doors.
- Social media goes mainstream as wineries large and small hire social media gurus as part of their marketing teams.
- The Hosemaster of Wine misses the glow of the spotlight and returns to his post of average satire and pre-pubescent roasting.
- Wine bloggers who started to “crush it” in fall of 2009 will begin to drop off the radar as the romance of their passion starts to become hard work to keep it going.
- WBC11 in Charlottesville, VA causes an international incident as wine bloggers get lost at Monticello and discover some ancient US artifacts.
- @bparkerchuk identity is revealed causing a disruption in the twittersphere for 3 days.
What are your predictions? Vote and share in the comments.
23 Dec 2010
Three months ago I announced the biggest journey of my life. This little wine blog social media experiment has grown from a branding initiative to three businesses. On October 4, we agreed to lease 2000 square feet at 120 N. Stevens in downtown Spokane. After several construction delays and an ever ballooning budget we are finally gearing up to open. I plan to write a detailed post about the lessons I’ve learned along the way, but for today I wanted to provide you the final progress report on construction and announce the grand opening. The next video you see will hopefully be of the completed space just before we open.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your support. Your Facebook shares and re-tweets have been a marketing force that blows me away. Due to the nature of the upcoming few weeks, I’ll be continuing to lean on your support. This blog will always be a space for wine news, wine reviews, social media information, and wine fun but the next few weeks I hope you’ll bare with a Nectar Tasting Room focus
THE GRAND OPENING OF NECTAR TASTING ROOM
You are all invited to the grand opening of Nectar Tasting Room on Friday, January 7. Each of the wine makers from the five participating wineries will be on hand to meet you, talk about their wines, and help you share in their passions. Friday and Saturday come by from Noon – 9pm and enjoy live music, catered food from Sante Restaurant and Charcuterie, incredible art from Northwest artist Stacey Wells (Rock and Roll Reflections) and amazing wine specials. This is going to be a perfect way to kick off the new year and celebrate a great new addition to the downtown core.
Be on the lookout next Wednesday (12/29) for a very cool promotion and a killer deal on our annual membership plan, Club Nectar.
Thanks for being part of the journey, the fun is about to begin. Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NECTAR TASTING ROOM OPENS WITH 30 WINES 5 WINERIES IN 1 LOCATION
NectarWineBlog.com has grown from an online idea to a brick and mortar business. Nectar Tasting Room opens Friday, January 7 and showcases five wineries from across Washington State. Occupying the first floor of the 1889 Building on the corner of Main and Stevens, Nectar Tasting Room is the satellite location for Anelare Winery, Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards, Northwest Cellars, Skylite Cellars, and Terra Blanca Winery. Visitors can experience a weekly tasting bar flight, and wines are available in 2 or 5 ounce pours and by the bottle. Nectar Tasting Room is the first local businesses to incorporate the use of Apple iPads as their wine menu. “Our goal is to provide visitors with a unique tasting experience where they can learn about wine and about each of the five wineries at the space,” says owner Josh Wade. The iPad menu can remember the wines you tasted so on return visits you can easily recall what you liked and didn’t like.
Nectar Tasting Room is open Thursday, Noon – 7pm and Friday – Saturday, Noon – 9pm. A fun “after hours” party, Saturday from 9 – 10pm, called The Final Sip, gives guests the opportunity to taste through any of the wines that are open. “For $10 you can come by and enjoy 5-8 wines that are already open. We don’t want to dump it down the drain. It’s a great way to share the wine,” says Josh. With the opening of Nectar Tasting Room at 120 N. Stevens, 25 wineries now have a presence in Spokane.
22 Dec 2010
Choosing the best of the best can be a challenge. With wine being so subjective to taste, the food you’re eating, your mood and even lighting, calling something “tops” carries a certain degree of uncertainty. As I looked back at the 168 wines that qualified for this list I began to salivate at the memory of the wines. Thirty of the wines scored 4 and 4+ along the way. Prices ranged from $20 – $120. While I can’t taste all of the wine out there, I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to taste the wines on the list below. I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy them, as they are all very special.
I’m no Robert Parker, James Suckling or Steve Heimoff. I consider myself an average wine consumer who has the opportunity to explore hundreds of wines. 2010 has afforded me the privilege of tasting over 500+ wines. Enjoy the Top Ten Wines of 2010.
100% Washington Viognier with a slight touch of sweetness. Moderate aromas of tropical fruit and apricots. Beautiful and floral through and through. All aboard for a taste bud trip to the South Pacific. I love the layers and layers of tropical fruits that keep coming in waves like the ocean. Guava, melon, cantaloupe, papaya and more. A very well balanced acidity keeps everything in check. At $21 this is one of the better made Viognier’s that I’ve had. While you may be able to pick a good Viognier up for $15-$18, the extra few dollars here are worth it. 4+/5
This wine was tasted during a very impressive Chilean red blend twitter tasting that included 8 very impressive wines. The fact that this wine stood tall among the quality says a lot. The blend of 38% Syrah, 21% Cabernet, 21% Carmenere, 17% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Mourvedre exploded with massive aromas of fruit, flowers and spice. I loved the fragrant eucalyptus and violets juxtaposed with the spilled spice rack. The wine is also full of flavor in the mouth with a powerful, yet soft dark fruit and evergreen tree. The oak treatment is very well integrated and the 15% ABV does not come across as strikingly hot. The finish on the wine is thick without being chewy or tart. This Bordeaux style wine is top notch wine for just $29 suggested retail. 4+/5
A glass of sweet elegant gold is a good way to describe this opulent desert wine. The 2007 R.A. Harrison Nobility is an addiction waiting to happen. I’m not a lover of syrupy sweet wines. I tend to avoid dessert wine tastings. I kept waiting for the opportunity to get the Nobility on camera. Just sitting in its 375ml bottle, it boasted super star qualities. The casting call never came and the 78% Napa Sauv Blanc and 22% Sonoma Semillon ended up stealing the supporting role for the month. The 12.2% residual sugar may make you think simple sweet Taylor Swift but this wine has a dangerously sexy and seductive quality of the mature Heidi Klum. Amazing flavors of honey, almonds, peach syrup and gardenias fully envelop the entire palate. While I know to enjoy this wine in small quantities, the bottle kept beckoning me back for more. $75; 4+/5
100% Chardonnay from 30 year old vines in Napa, CA. 28% new French oak with 8% of the wine undergoing malolactic fermentation. 14.3%ABV; 640 cases produced. In the glass the wine is a beautiful golden honey and coats the glass nicely. Subtle candy aromas with baking spices, vanilla and cedar. A great example of how Chardonnay should be made. The fruit comes before the oak but the oak treatment adds a great balance of flavor to the wine. Never-ending flavors of peach, honey, butterscotch, vanilla, pear, and pineapple grace the palate of this wine. A slight lemon zest finishes out the flavor on the back palate. The finish is incredibly long with a wonderfully matched acidity that prepares the palate for the next sip. At $40 this may be out of reach for the typical consumer. For those looking / needing that perfect Chardonnay to compliment a nice meal or special event or for those with discriminating palates and the wallet to afford it, this is a must try! 4+/5
86% Merlot from Dwelly Vineyards and 9% Cab Franc, 5% Cab Sauv; Elegant bright plum colors that are about 70% opaque. Spectacular color structure that suggests quality and high extraction. A Merlot worthy of putting Miles (from the movie Sideways) in his place. Fantastic aroma of smooth cocoa and berry – imagine cherry cocoa puffs with a hint of pipe tobacco smoke. The very front palate of this wine is a semi-sweet medium cherry flavor that presents hints of baking cocoa on the mid-palate. A bright hint of blueberry jumps out at the back end as you begin to swallow the wine. A surprisingly strong and well structured finish complete this well crafted Merlot. At $25 this Merlot can compete among the ranks of wines twice the price. I score this a 4+ (out of 5) and put it up there with the top 3 Merlot I’ve had in 2010.
The 2007 Barrister Winery Merlot is a showcase of what Merlot can be. With smooth elegant cherry and cocoa flavors the addition of Cab Franc and Cab Sauv bring to light a bright blueberry spark and a strong finish. This wine could be a casual sipping wine and would stand up well to grilled burgers, BBQ ribs, and a mild red pasta dish. I highly recommend this wine as one of the top Merlots of the year.
Single vineyard Wahluke Slope AVA, 80% Merlot 11% Cab 9% Syrah, aged 19 months in 77% new oak, 14.3%abv, 163 cases Dark plum with beautiful jewel tones toward the edges. Mostly opaque Overwhelming aromas of cherry, smoke, and hints of spicy bacon. Amazed at how aroma profile changes as it comes through the nose. 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. 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.
As with all the MD Shiraz this wine is pure purple passion. Very thick and pure like liquid glass. The Enchanted love is one of the darker wines I can recall seeing. Beautiful scents of violets, sweet sugar, bright blueberries, rich plums and spice. I think about 10 minutes went by before I quit smelling this wine. An enjoyable experience even before the sip. A wonderful evolution of flavor happens on this wine. Tasting the wine gives you an understanding of what “fruit weight” is. The flavor seems to wrap every square inch of your mouth. Not a single taste bud is left out of this experience. Great presentations of fruit, spice, and even some dried tomato and coffee components. The Carnival of Love is a sensory experience not to be missed. This is truly a wine event, if ever I’ve had one. A huge step above in balance over the previous vintage and crafted with subtle intricacies that keep you wanting another sip. Keep in mind this is not a subtle experience of strolling through a park enjoying the serene waterfalls and flowers, this is a high octane double loop roller coaster at 70MPH! At $90, a challenge for most but if you want to really impress a wine lover (especially one who enjoys Aussie Shiraz), you’ll score big points here! 4+/5
94% McClellan Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 % Seven Hills Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot; 50 cases produced, 14.9%abv. The wine is elegant dark black purple with hints of leathery brown in the glass. Edges are subdued tan. Color is about 90% opaque. Ominous aromas of fresh pepper, big cherries, dark fruit and earthy soil and a hot alcohol smell when taking a deep breath erupt from the bowl. Velvet blackberry and plums on the initial attack with a strong pepper mid-palate. Subtle hints of toasted cocoa add intrigue. Very bold tannin without being chalky. The acid is big and makes your mouth water. There is a slight high alcohol heat on the swallow. A beautifully elegant representation of Cabernet without being over worked by the oak. At $45, it may out of the price range for some consumers but rest assured I can score this wine a 4+ out of 5, being one of the five best wines I’ve had thus far in 2010.
At $60, the 2007 Merlot is full of amazing berry flavor and aroma. You can smell the wine before you even put it to your nose. Subtle hints of cinnamon are intermingled with the bright fruit. In the mouth you get a sense for the careful attention given to this wine. The fruit was fermented in 3 different methods to achieve the desired balance and character. About 20% of the wine spent 26 months in French oak. The flavors are full and big without being obnoxious. A velvety texture covers the entire palate and layers of fruit, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla erupt from front to back. The finish is lingering and brings good structure with the perfect amount of tannins. There is a slight heat coming off the 15.2%ABV.
For most, this is not your daily drinking affordable wine, but the Bolen Family Estates 2007 Merlot is worth the price for your special occasion or if you just want to impress the hell out of someone to prove how good merlot can be. If the 2007 vintage is any indication of the future, merlot has made a comeback and Bolen Family Estates is establishing the legacy they intended. 4+/5
UPDATE: Visit http://www.shop.bolenlegacy.com/ and use the coupon code WINESOFTHEYEAR through December 31 to receive 30% off the 2007 Merlot AND free shipping!
100% Pinot Noir from Las Alturas; Aged 9 months in 60% new French oak; 14.8%ABV Medium dark plum and crimson colors that borderline Merlot. Close your eyes and picture yourself in the kitchen. Your grandma just baked her world famous cherry pie. The room is filled with aroma of bright ripe cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and that slight burnt aroma from the pie filling that spilled on the rack. That is this wine! The aroma comes across very well on the palate as well bringing supple fruit flavors that showcase the amazing winemaking and extraction achieved by Joe Wagner. This Pinot Noir is without a doubt the best Pinot Noir I’ve had to date and is an established baseline for me. $44; a wine to remember, long for and diligently seek out. 4+/5
40% Cab, 38% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec; 20 months in new French oak, 14.8%abv. Dark purple with softer tones. Edges move toward jewel tone garnet. About 90% opaque. A wonderful representation of each of the five Bordeaux grapes. The bright cherry fruit is softened by black cherries and cocoa. A whiff of blueberries graces the nose as well. A smooth mouth feel from front to back. The fruit that presents itself on the nose is also present on the palate with lively flavor all across the mouth. The tannin is less pronounced than on the Penche Cab, but still provides enough structure to pair with food. At $40 I score this wine a 4+ out of 5. It is a large wine that is graceful like an offensive lineman in ballet class. It’s bold, smooth and elegant without losing the strength of the Cabernet grape.
The 2006 Penche Argent is a river of bold flavorful black cherry, cocoa, and well integrated spices. Expect an elegant flavor with strength to pair with food. Argent positions itself well as a sipping wine or to impress at dinner. $40, 4+/5