31 Mar 2010
For a night, Merlot was king. The grape that got turned upside down in the movie Sideways was back on top for two hours in March. This event, and others similar to it, proves to me once and for all that Twitter and other Social Media has changed the way we can do business and effect change.
Before I get into the analysis of the Twitter metrics for the night I must give thanks to the group that pulled it together. I may have been the face behind a lot of posts, videos and tweets, but without these amazing ambassadors of Washington Wine, this event would have fallen far short of its potential. The following twitter personalities were on board from the beginning – @SeattleWineGal – @WAWineReport – @Catie – @WineBeerWA – @WineeYak – @YakimaValley – @Shonoa425 – @wbcorbust – @nwwineandre – and @lunabeanmedia. These are the people who are deserving of the praise.
The Promotion and Media
#WAMerlot gained a massive groundswell about 2 weeks prior to the event. More than 100 wineries, restaurants, wine bars, wine stores, and even hotels from New Jersey to Wisconsin to Phoenix to Seattle got on board! The event was featured in the Spokesman Review, Walla Walla Union Bulletin, and even National Public Radio. Promotion continued through other wine writers like SuppleWine, WineFoot, Oregon Wine Blog, Wine Harlots, Wino Magazine, Sip With Me, Wine-Ophelia, Vinotology, Weekly Wine Journal, Cork’d and so many more (so sorry if I forgot to mention you). One highlight for me was the Gary Vaynerchuk Wine Library TV #WAMerlot episode. In fact, leading up to and after the event there were over 75 blog posts that referenced the event from wine reviews to social media reporting.
The Results and Analysis
I don’t have fancy Twitter analytics. I know they exist. I know there are programs that can determine the overall reach, brand impressions, etc – I don’t have those (if I get them, I’ll update this post). Here is what I do know. The event rocked the wine world!
- Twitter rock stars like @ChrisPirillo (Social Media persona) and @nansen (Seattle politics) joined in during the evening. Between them they have nearly 300,000 followers.
- Wineries and businesses having events had anywhere from zero to more than 30 people in attendance. From preliminary returns average attendance ran about 10. If my 6th grade math serves me right, 100 locations x 10 people average is approximately 1000 people.
- Tweets were observed from Europe, Australia, Asia (China), and North America (Canada, Mexico, and USA) – 4 out of 7 continents.
- #WAMerlot was a trending topic in Seattle (#1 and #2 at times) and was in the top 15 of trending topics on Twitter during the evening.
- Web site www.wthashtag.com tracked almost 2000 tweets by nearly 500 tweeters.
- Total brand reach was well into the millions
- Potential bottle consumption of Washington Merlot for the night is between 2000-3000 bottles
- While attending Taste Washington, I was continually thanked by dozens of wineries that participated in the event. True test – we’ve been asked to do it again.
- People had fun. People drank some effin’ Merlot!
While I spent the evening traveling to four locations in Spokane, I felt it important to give a formal review to the wineries who sent me samples (bottle shots below)
2007 Hogue Cellars Merlot
- The Stuff: 99% Merlot and 1% Syrah, Columbia Valley, 31,606 cases produced, 13.9%ABV
- The Swirl: Moderatly cloudy and slightly translucent. Dark cherry tones leaning toward a plum color
- The Sniff: Fairly tight on the nose at first but opens up to cherry, dust, and cocoa
- The Sip: A little thin on the front and thick fruit flavors on the mid palate. The wine is singular in dimension (dark cherry fruit) and provides a good sipping experience.
- The Score: At $9-$10, you won’t blow anyone away with this selection, but it will suffice as a standby everyday drinker. Some wines in this Hogue family can be hit or miss, but this Merlot is a good trusty label. I score it a 3 minus (out of 5)
Cellar Tracker Scores: No scores on the 07 vintage, but the 05 and 06 scores range between 77 – 87 (median 85)
2006 Fielding Hills Merlot
- The Stuff: Single vineyard Wahluke Slope AVA, 80% Merlot 11% Cab 9% Syrah, aged 19 months in 77% new oak, 14.3%abv, 163 cases
- The Swirl: Dark plum with beautiful jewel tones toward the edges. Mostly opaque
- The Sniff: Overwhelming aromas of cherry, smoke, and hints of spicy bacon. Amazed at how aroma profile changes as it comes through the nose.
- The Sip: 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.
- The Score: 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.
Cellar Tracker Score 93pts (1 score); Wine Spectator Score 93pts
2007 Longshadows Pedestal Merlot
- The Stuff: 75% Merlot, 15% Cab Sauv, 7% Cab Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, Aged 20 months in 80% new oak, 2005 cases, 14.7%abv
- The Swirl: Dark, dark, dark. Looks like the midnight sky with some hints of purple.
- The Sniff: Once you get past the tree hugging oak, some big blackberry fruit springs forth. A small shot of spice shoots out too.
- The Sip: Intense and immense are the words that come to mind. A concentration of fruit with enough acidity to not make you think fruit bomb. The oak flavors are more subdued on the palate and some nice tannins firm up the back end. Still a young wine but provides intense flavor with 60 second finish
- The Score: At $45-$55 I score this wine a 4 (out of 5) – lowered slightly because of the price. An incredibly well made wine for those that want an intense Merlot experience. I would think laying this down for 5 years would reveal a supurb wine for the future.
Cellar Tracker Score (1 review) 92 pts; Josh Green Score 96pts
Long Live the King!
14 Mar 2010
A groovy tasting party. Sounds interesting enough. I pictured Joplin tunes, tie dye shirts, and a little incense burning to set the mood…
Oh, a GruV tasting parting, meaning the Austrian grape Gruner Veltliner. I suppose that would be cool too. Four white wine reviews done in your best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation. Rather than a Conan the Barbarian themed tasting the theme was a GruV Olympics. Evidently the Austrians are big Winter Olympic champions. I decided to do some research and googled Austrian Olympics. Apparently, Austria has participated in more Olympic games than any other country and has won 185 Winter Olympic Medals, including more alpine skiing medals than any other country (Hermann Maier is considered to be the greatest skier of all time).
So, with that back story, we proceed with the Olympic style tasting of Gruner Veltliner. 43,000 acres of GruV are grown in Austria (about 1/3 of all grape acreage). The refreshing white wine is often citric, moderately tart with aromas of peach and sometimes tobacco. From what I’m told their very food friendly (probably because of the tart acidity).
We pooled together our greatest wine tasting connoisseurs to judge the grand tasting (actually just regular peeps, who’ve never tried the grape). The party was a blast. We enjoyed tasting through each wine as we used a standardized tasting sheet that scored on appearance, aroma, balance, body, taste, finish and overall quality. The maximum score is 20 points. We sampled each wine with our dinner of Salmon, rice and salad, and then proceeded to the judging chambers as each wine entered the starting gate for their run through the course.
SEE THE VIDEO FOR A BRIEF RECAP OF OUR PARTY
2008 Lois Gruner Veltliner
- The Stuff: 100% Gruner Veltliner from Fred Loimer in Kamptal Austria 12.5%ABV
- The Swirl: Presented a nice bright yellow apple color with mild amounts of sediment
- The Sniff: Very mild on the nose with tart apples and dull banana peel
- The Sip: A decent sweetness on the front end that was attacked by a tart bitterness at the end. The finish trailed off quickly. Someone bubbly in the mouth.
- The Score: At under $10, some may like this wine for its dry tartness. I score this a 2 out of 5
The Olympic scoring sheet between six tasters (not including the French judge) 6.5 out of 20
The Schwarzenegger rating: Junior or Twins (awkward and out of place)
The race for silver and bronze was extremely tight.
2008 Weingut Wieninger
- The Stuff: 100% Gruner Veltliner, estate founded in 1905
- The Swirl: A very nice bright color. Pale and clear.
- The Sniff: The nose was still slightly tight with hints of herbs and bright lemon peel
- The Sip: Moderately sweet with a decent balance. Slightly thrown off on the back end by some steeliness and minerality. Acid levels seem high. The finish was modest.
- The Score: At $13 this was a good GruV offering that would score well with most people (especially for the price and party talk it could bring) Not quite the Terminator in his prime but still a 3- (out of 5)
The Olympic scoring sheet between six tasters award this wine the BRONZE at 11.5 (out of 20)
The Schwarzenegger rating: Running Man or Eraser (ok but forgettable)
2008 Austrian Pepper
- The Stuff: 100% Gruner Veltliner from lower Austria 11.5% ABV
- The Swirl: Slightly cloudy with a dull pale golden green
- The Sniff: The aroma in this offering seems to dance around in the bowl a little more offering up some tender notes of peach, spicy tobacco, and seven-up.
- The Sip: Very nice across the palate with smoother fruit and spice. The acidity was well balanced and the wine had a good tartness on the back end, but not overwhelming.
- The Score: At $18 this is on the more expensive side of GrV but scores well at a 3 (out of 5)
The Olympic scoring sheet between six tasters award this wine the SILVER medal at 12.5 (out of 20)
The Schwarzenegger rating: Commando or Conan (Classic)
As the tasting wraps up, it is becoming apparent that we have not established any lovers of the Gruner Veltliner. Admittedly there was only one white wine lover of the six of us with other drinking whites “on occasion.” The overall impression was that the grape seemed tart and citric for everyone’s tastes.
2008 Stadt Krems
- The Stuff: Owned by the city of Krems the estate was founded in 1452! 100% Gruner Veltliner grapes with 7 months in stainless steel 12.5% ABV
- The Swirl: Impressed with the clarity and brightness of the color. A very nice golden white.
- The Sniff: Aromatic nose with white flowers, perfume, and lemon peel. Slight herbs too.
- The Sip: Slightly bubbly on the tongue with a good sweetness. The acidity and tartness were well balanced and the finish lingered. Overall impression was good citrus fruit but thrown slightly off by the perfume flavor.
- The Score: At just $16 this is a good showing for Gruner Veltliner and justifiably earns a 4 (out of 5)
The Olympic scoring sheet between six tasters award this wine the GOLD medal at 17 (out of 20)
The Schwarzenegger rating: Predator, Terminator and Total Recall (Great with some good muscle and finesse)
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