08 Mar 2010
Welcome to the Lifestyle of the not so rich and way not so famous. Tonight we celebrate the 2009 Academy Awards and the celebration of cinema. As the thespians drink their $3500 per bottle Krug Clos Ambonnay Brut Champagne, DrinkNectar sips through three bottles that are in a more modest price range.
Best Picture the year I was born: The Godfather
Tonight’s nominees are from Spain, Austria, and California. My typical Sparkling wine consumption is reserved for special occasions, and New Years. I love it, but I’m usually consuming big bold Cabernet’s or Zinfandels. One of tonight’s nominees was submitted by Kevin from @atlantawineguy as a part of my Under $10 Wine Challenge. Kevin recommended the Spanish Sigura Viudas Estate Cava.
Best Picture Winners I Haven’t Seen (40 years)
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2007 – No Country for Old Men
1998 – Shakespeare In Love
1987 – The Last Emperor
1978 – The Deer Hunter
1977 – Annie Hall
1971 – The French Connection
As I reviewed these three Sparkling wines, it became apparent that each wine was a star in its own right. The Spanish Cava wins for ‘best value,’ Austria’s Gruner Veltliner wins ‘best foreign wine,’ and California Roederer Estate Brute takes ‘best bubbles.’
My Favorite Move (Which happens to be a best picture winner 1994) Forrest Gump
NV Segura Viudas ARIA Estate Brut – Spain
- The Stuff: 60% Macabeo, 20% Parellada, 20% Xarelo-lo; 3 years on yeast
- The Swirl: golden yellow (Chardonnay color), moderate bubbles
- The Sniff: Tight nose with apple toast and yeast being predominant.
- The Sip: Strong carbonation with hints of apple and smoky bread
- The Score: At $8, this is not a bad tasting bubbly, but lacks a lot of flavor and has too much carbonation and yeast. I score it a 3 (out of 5). So far this bubbly makes the Under $10 Team (mostly for lack of tryouts)
Other reviews: Cellar Tracker 86 points (12 reviews)
NV Roederer Estate – California
- The Stuff: 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir; 2 years on yeast; 80,000 cases
- The Swirl: Color is more pale yellow, great bubbles
- The Sniff: Bright pear with hints of honey and nuttiness
- The Sip: Very nice flavor profile with good apple, honey and cinnamon
- The Score: At $23, I score this a 4 (out of 5)
Other reviews: 91 pts Wine Spectator, 92 pts Wine Advocate, Cellar Tracker 89 points (214 reviews)
NV Szigeti Gruner Veltliner – Austria
- The Stuff: 100% Gruner Veltiner
- The Swirl: Golden yellow tone
- The Sniff: Bright acidity with citrus and tropical fruit tucked into the yeasty toast
- The Sip: Good sweetness with some tartness on the back end. A refreshing bubbly with some good citrus flavor
- The Score: Overall, I was pretty impressed with the quality of this $18 sparkler. I score it a 3+ (out of 5) for flavor and value.
Sparkling Wine Mixers
For the sake of time, some of the video was edited. The observant viewers will notice that my final drink goes from pale yellow to pink. What was responsible for this transformation? I edited out the segment that talks of how to use Sparkling Wine as a mixer. The yeastiness of some inexpensive sparkling wine can leave you a little dry in the mouth. On video I talked through a few solutions using cranberry juice, cassis liqueur, or vodka. Give it a try, you’ll be surprised at how you can transform an average bottle of bubbly.
In celebration of the 2009 Academy Awards, what is your favorite movie? Which Oscar winning film (from all time) is your favorite?
05 Mar 2010
Social Media is changing the way we interact. The idea, an online wine tasting. The subject, Sauvignon Blanc. The marketing medium, Twitter / Facebook / Blog. The result, nearly 600 people simultaneously tasting, tweeting, and talking about Sauvignon Blanc. That is just online. Add in the dozens of wineries who hosted local tweet-ups as a part of the event and the economic impact is staggering. A non-scientific guess puts Sauvignon Blanc consumption at over 3000 bottles in a two hour period.
The cost of promotion: ZERO $$
The economic impact goes beyond the wine consumption and expands into brand awareness, food consumption, and more.
Rick Bakas, Social Media Director of St. Supery Winery, organized the event and promoted through his influence on Twitter and Facebook. Rick’s previous event #CaliCabs focused wine lovers on a single grape from California. He has arranged two future events that focus on #WineBlends (April 1) and #Chardonnay (May 6). Save the date for these future events.
The Next Event: #WAMerlot
In celebration of Washington Wine Month, Washington invites you to turn Sideways upside down and celebrate #WAMerlot. Join dozens of Washington Wineries and hundreds of people on March 25. All you need is Washington Merlot (or a Merlot blend) and the Twitter hashtag, #WAMerlot. If you’re looking for Washington Merlot, check out the great deal from Wine Library (shipping to 36 states) – thanks, Gary!
- The Stuff: 100% California Sauvignon Blanc 50% of profits donated to charities that help save the planet
- The Swirl: Light crisp and slightly darker than water. Very pale
- The Sniff: Floral, melon, lemon peel and acidity
- The Sip: Smooth and tart describes the wine. The wine has a slight Chardonnay buttery coating but then opens up to a crisp tart apple flavor.
- The Score: At $18 (and because of the charitable support), this wine scores a 3+ (out of 5)
- The Stuff: 100% Wahluke Slope Sauvignon Blanc, Stainless Steel fermentation; 432 cases made
- The Sniff: Wholly tropical fruit Batman. This wine instantly transported my nose to Hawaii with Guava, Peach, and Pineapple aroma. I instantly fell in love with the nose and wished it could be bottled as a summer body spray for my wife.
- The Sip: Less dynamic on the flavor profile. The guava was mellow on the front and earthy herbs presented themselves on the mid-palate. The finish was lemon/lime tart but washed away nicely after a few seconds.
- The Score: At just $15, I score this a 4 (out of 5). This is a great value and is a wine that will impress at parties and provide a fantastic drinking experience in the summer months.
*The wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
Final stats of the night show that nearly 600 tweeters contributed 2700 tweets (according to www.wthashtag.com/sauvblanc). Tweeters represented from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, United States and more. The top tweeters of the night were @cestbeth (with 131 tweets), @mmwine (with 101 tweets) and @SIPthegoodlife (with 64 tweets).
Cool Facts on SauvBlanc
#SauvBlanc was one of the first wines to be distributed with screw cap
Did you know that there are nearly 200,000 acres of #SauvBlanc planted worldwide
Top #SauvBlanc producers are France (60k acres), New Zeal (22k acres), Chile (22k acres) S Africa (21k acres) California (15k acres)
03 Mar 2010
Three ladies jump in the ring and go toe to toe for supremacy. Sorry, no mud! These ladies are queen Pinot Noir’s from three different parts of the world and three different price points.
This battle is a semi-blind tasting. I know which three bottles I taste; I just don’t know which wines are in each glass. Ahead of time, my wife pours the glasses and writes the name of the wine on a card placed upside down in front of the glass.
For my friends new to the wine world, Pinot Noir is a noble, fickle lady. The grape is said to be difficult to grow, produces lower yields and is affected greatly by soil and climate. The thin skin produces a light color and a traditional Pinot Noir is soft and pairs well with all kinds of food.
Through the tasting you can see that I’m quickly impressed by one of the wines, uninspired by the other and curious about the third. The first bottle is quickly identifiable as a well made Pinot. The aroma is sweet and bright and the flavor is eloquent, round and balanced. The middle bottle was thin and boring but not tasteless. The final bottle had a very strong scent of earth, sour candied cherry, and graham crackers. A lot of people will like this wine, but for me, I’m not a fan of earthy wines.
You’ll have to watch the video to see how the tasting turned out. We’ll just say 1 out of 3 ain’t bad.
2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir from Tualitan Valley Vineyards
- The Swirl: A very light rusty brown purple color. Very translucent and clear
- The Sniff: Bright Rhubarb and Strawberry with vanilla and perfume
- The Sip: A nice sweet front end with a tart cranberry on the back end. A beautiful acid wash to clear the palate.
- The Score: At $40, I score this a 3+ – compared to the Signature Cuvee I had from WVV, this doesn’t quite measure up. Much better than some at $20 but others at this price fair better.
See another review by blogger Mary Cressler at Vindulge
2008 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir, nothing else clearly defined on web site
- The Swirl: Muted red purple jewel tones with 70% transparency
- The Sniff: A strong earthy herb aroma with whiffs of sour cherry and toasted oak
- The Sip: This wine has a big mouth. Definitely herb”ie” (not the Love Bug) and wet dirt along with a candied cherry sweetness.
- The Score: At only $16 this wine will appeal to a lot of people who enjoy Pinot Noir. I’m not a fan of this flavor profile, but it certainly wasn’t boring. I’ll score it a 4 (out of 5) for value and flavor.
No Cellar Tracker or Cork’d reviews of the 2007 Vintage
2008 Smoking Loon Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: Not a lot of detail on their web site; 100% California Pinot Noir
- The Swirl: Muted ruby red tone with about 70% transparency
- The Sniff: Mild aromas of sweet cherry and strawberry. Mild smoky campfire bacon. Picture yourself coming back from a long hike and your about 100 yards from the camp site – your nose gets a faint whiff of bacon and your heart skips a beat. That is what is very mild on this nose.
- The Sip: Quite thin on the front end with a touch of sweet cherry candy. A tart backend with a quick finish. Reminds me of the scrawny kid in class that no one pays attention to. As you look back through the year book you say, “Hey, he went to school here?”
- The Score: There is nothing off balance about the wine, it just leaves me uninterested and flat. At only $8-$10 that doesn’t surprise me and still leaves me looking for a surprise value in this price point. I score it a 2 (out of 5).
No reviews of the 2008, but the 2007 is reviewed with an average score of 83 from 10 reviews here
28 Feb 2010
“My wife died for no damn good reason. It’s time to do something about this.” – Budge Brown, Owner of Cleavage Creek
At an age when most men have earned the right to retire, 77 year old Budge bought the Cleavage Creek label with one goal – fight breast cancer. After his wife of 48 years passed away, Brown was “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” Every year 40,000 women die of breast cancer and 130,000 are diagnosed. The passionate act of making wine has led to over $73,000 in donations to Oncology Research Centers, medication, and financial help for women struggling to survive.
Many of you come to DrinkNectar for wine reviews and this is a wine review of three Cleavage Creek wines. Life is more than wine. Life is about connecting with people and making a difference and leaving a legacy. Cleavage Creek donates $1.50 from every bottle sold. Drinking wine can actually make a difference in a woman’s life. Chances are, as you are reading this, you can think of someone who has been touched by breast cancer, maybe you’ve even lost someone close to you. You can relate to Budge’s passionate anger toward finding a cure.
I was first introduced to Cleavage Creek when they agreed to participate in my Wineries on Twitter Series. Their use of Social Media is a model to be followed. They connect, their social, and they rarely promote. They are using the power of the social world to spread the great word about their wine and their mission. With vineyards in Napa Valley (20 acres) and Tracy Hills (20 acres), Cleavage Creek has a vast selection of estate wines, reserve releases and blends.
On the label of each Cleavage Creek wine is the picture of a breast cancer survivor. Their story of struggle, courage, and hope can be found at the Cleavage Creek Web Site. Terrie, who graces the bottle of 2008 Chardonnay, was diagnosed in 2004. After a long painful battle, including a Mastectomy and several surgeries, Terrie is a survivor! “I don’t take anything for granted and I thank my Creator every day for all of my blessings. Dealing with breast cancer was a horrible experience but I emerged a more positive, appreciative person. I am thankful for the incredible people I have in my life. They are my angels. My life is blessed and I know it.”
Yes, this is a wine review, but more than that, it’s a humanity review. In my book, Budge and the folks at Cleavage Creek score a Best in Show, Double Gold and 100 point score for their efforts!
2008 Tracy Hills Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 100% Estate Chardonnay from Tracy Hills AVA, CA – 8 Months in new French oak; 225 cases
- The Swirl: Golden Wheat colored with less “viscosity” than some Chardonnay
- The Sniff: Interesting to find a predominate melon (no pun intended) and citrus aroma with hints of smoky vanilla. Not a strong nose, but very pleasing
- The Sip: Classic Chardonnay thickness on the front palate with a gentle flavor of vanilla and nut. The melon flavor is very mild (maybe like a Honeydew Melon). The acid is light on the back end.
- The Score: At $18, this is an above average Chardonnay and the price point is good. I score it a 3 (out of 5). The flavor was nice but lacked depth and dimension.
2007 Tracy Hills Shiraz-Merlot
- The Stuff: While the label says Shiraz, the blend is actually 67% Syrah and 33% Merlot. 230 Cases
- The Swirl: Very dark and inky, opaque and ominous looking
- The Sniff: As described in the video, the fruit seemed to be playing hide-n-seek with a tree. There was a distinct woodiness and moderate fruit play. The typical Syrah spice was downplayed (probably because of the Merlot).
- The Sip: The wine needed to breathe. The initial sip felt like an all out assault on my mouth. In the video, you can tell I was not super pleased with the presentation. DAY TWO provided a great experience. The wine opened up very nicely with a beautiful blackberry / dark cherry flavor and the tannins on the back end were much more palatable presenting a nice finish. Strongly encouraged to decant this wine.
- The Score: At first sip, I was going to score this a 2 (out of 5) because of the bold tartness that seemed to overwhelm. My enjoyment on day two lifts the score to a 3+ (out of 5). For $18, this is a nicely balanced Syrah (after decanting) that provided a good structure of fruit, spice, and finish.
2007 Tracy Hills Secret Red
- The Stuff: There is no disclosure of the blending of this wine (hence the secret) – my guess would be predominately Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Syrah (or Zinfandel); 400 cases produced
- The Swirl: The color is what I like to describe as a rusty purple, similar to what you might find with an aged wine or a Cabernet.
- The Sniff: The fruit raises his hand from the back of the class and says, “Hello, I’m here and I’d like you to meet my friends cocoa and cinnamon.” This is a nice mildly aromatic wine, not overwhelming but nice.
- The Sip: At first taste this wine was my favorite of the three tasted (although after the day two showing of the Shiraz-Merlot it is close). The structure seemed to be a dance between the cherry and a cinnamon / pepper spice on the front. As the pair danced away, the mouth was met with a two note melody of cocoa and oak. The tannins were mild and the acidity was balanced. Nice sipping wine that would hold well to pork or a chicken with a red sauce.
- The Score: Also at $18 this is a 3+ (out of 5). The mild aroma holds this back from being a 4. At $18, it’s a sure bet to please most casual wine drinkers and connoisseurs.
The cause if phenomenal, the story is inspiring, and the wine does not disappoint. I couldn’t more highly recommend a wine to support and enjoy. Your mouth will enjoy and your heart will swell with pride.
16 Feb 2010
Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training this week. Why does this matter? It means spring is here, regardless of what the groundhog says, and that grilling season is right around the corner. The Mariners have added Cliff Lee to their pitching rotation and ‘game maker’ Milton Bradley to the outfield in the hopes to improve upon their winning season last year. Regardless of the outcome, one guarantee – I’ll be out on the deck with a glass of wine (and the occasional beer) rooting them on.
The under $10 wine challenge is an effort to field a team of 9 quality wines and a few bench players that YOU can trust. The budget wine category is the most precarious for wine selection. Finding a good quality made wine can be a challenge. With the help of my Social Media friends, we will field a team before the 2010 All Star break.
To date, 15 wines have tried out, been in the batting cages, and worked out with the trainer, and only two have made the starting line-up (Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc and Bogle Petit Sirah). Two wines are holding out in AAA ball working on their game (Dancing Bull Zinfandel and Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon)
Today’s training brings the traditionally rich Chardonnay trying out for Right Field, Riesling shooting for Second Base, and a Pinot Noir looking to gain a spot at Third Base.
For all my scouts on Twitter – I’m looking for your recommendations for Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sparking, Bordeaux Blend, and Syrah). To qualify, the wine must be widely available and under $10 (on sale counts).
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir from the Central Valley of Chile. Four months in 35% oak / 65% stainless; 13.4%ABV
- The Swirl: Elegant and delicate light purple, mostly translucent but with modest jewel tones.
- The Sniff: Very green – like a Christmas tree – with strawberry and smoke. Slightly earthy.
- The Sip: Very grapey Welch’s juice with hints of green twig and strawberry
- The Score: For a $10 Pinot Noir, I score this a 3 (out of 5). This is a wine that has potential and is not embarrassing or poor.
This is the first Pinot Noir to try out for the team. I’ll send this one to AAA for the potential to be called back up. It’s missing the sweet elegance that I would expect from a Pinot.
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from the River Junction Vineyard in California; partial malolactic fermentation in stainless steel; 13.5%ABV
- The Swirl: Pale yellow but not the rich thick of a standard Chardonnay, reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc in color
- The Sniff: Tropical aroma of melon and pear, very faint hints of Chardonnay vanilla and butter
- The Sip: Chardonnay characteristics on the front with strong citric and melon on the back end. This is a Chardonnay trying to come out as a Sauvignon Blanc. This is a refreshing Chardonnay that has hints of sparkling wine.
- The Score: While this is not a great representation of a Chardonnay, I score it a 3+ (out of 5). It is a quality wine with a well balanced flavor for only $8
I’m looking for a Right Fielder, not a First Baseman. This wine is schizophrenic but well made. Not making the team as the Chardonnay, but will be back in my wine rack for parties.
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from various Columbia Valley vineyards, 12%ABV
- The Swirl: Very light, pear in color
- The Sniff: Mild peach, citrus, and metallic aroma
- The Sip: Moderately sweet front end with a well balanced dry back end wine. This would be considered an off-dry Riesling. Hints of peach and lemon peel
- The Score: For only $6 this is a 3+ (out of 5). This is a solid wine for the money.
This is the first Riesling to try out for the team and will most certainly make the squad.
Cheers and Drink.Happy!