07 Sep 2010
“How do you taste wine online?” “Is it just me or am I the only one who doesn’t get mass twitter wine tastings?” These are a few of the questions, I’ve heard related to the “taste and tweet” phenomenon. What is the benefit to the mass twitter fury, chatter, and tweet noise? I’ve participated in about a dozen online wine taste and tweet events. Some are small affairs featuring one wine from one winery with a group of 10-15 people. Others are massive world-wide tastings that bring together consumers, trade, aficionados, and beginners for the joy of the grape. The benefits of participating are many!
The intimate twitter tastings have been fun and informative. Experiencing 1 or 2 wines with a group of people, and often times with the winery, opens up my eyes to new things about the business of wine and the joy of drinking it. Each time I walk away with at least one new piece of information and one new twitter friend.
Mass online wine tasting events are an adventure and can often be overwhelming as you sift through the incredible cacophony of chirps and tweets. The recent #Cabernet day, while organized by Rick Bakas of St. Supery winery, quickly grew to be owned by the entire online community. A true use of the organic nature of social media, #Cabernet day was celebrated in New Zealand, Australia, many European countries, South America and North America. I even saw tweets from China as Brian Wing of norcalwingman.com struggled to find good #Cabernet. Several dozen wineries in Walla Walla joined together for a trade celebration. Large meet-ups were organized in Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, New York and more. Morton’s Steakhouse restaurant chain promoted #Cabernet day at all of their locations. Five Spokane wineries got on board offering discounts to Cabernet lovers across the city. The result, the king grape Cabernet, showed its worldwide dominance. Pretty amazing for something that started as a single tweet. There is power in an interconnected community that embraces a collaborative spirit.
As I tweeted and tasted three amazing #Cabernet Sauvignon, a few things came to mind. One, wow, people love their Cabernet. The sheer volume of tweets and participants dwarfed the previous tastings I’ve hosted and participated in. Two, consumers were everywhere. Hundreds and thousands of tweets and Facebook wall posts from people not in the “trade” consumed my feed. Three, where was the media or power players? Apart from a large presence from WineLibrary.com and Corkd.com, I saw very little interaction and involvement from those who are proponents and communicators of wine news. Where was Wine Enthusiast or Wine Advocate? How come bloggers and writers like Dr. Vino, Vinography, Tom Wark and others weren’t involved? While I can’t claim to know their schedule or their reasons, it was just a curious observation.
As a newbie to the online community, involvement for me means connecting with people. Keeping up with the blur of tweets is an overwhelming challenge but tasting along with everyone else exposes me to new people and also helps introduce my blog to fellow wine lovers. As a blogger, I want people to read my blog. I write about wine. How often do you get the opportunity to potentially touch 2000-3000 like minded people at once with your brand? For me, not being involved is a missed opportunity in my book.
Before I talk about #Cabernet day stats, it is helpful to put it in perspective with other successful broad scale online tastings. Bakas’ first event of the year, #CaliCabs generated about 1400 tweets from 275 participants. Our first Washington based tasting, #WAMerlot, brought 480 people together online for 1900 tweets. On May 6, #Chardonnay swelled to over 600 participants. Earlier in the summer, winetonite.com , suburbanwino.com, and sipwithme.blogspot.com hosted Pinot Noir with 2000 tweets by 325 people. This brings us to #Cabernet. Buzz leading up to the day indicated that the event was going to be massive. The twitter machines seemed to be coming alive with a love of #Cabernet. The result (according to www.wthashtag.com):
7200 tweets by nearly 1750 individuals
In addition to tracking tweets, Booshaka.com indicates that there were over 3500 Facebook wall posts mentioning Cabernet. This, combined with the 50+ in person tasting events easily drives potential participation rates to well north of 3000 people. Imagine the wine sales! Consider the economic impact! Keep in mind the total dollar amount spent to promote the event – $0
Upcoming Online Tasting Events
The NectarView – Hip Hip Hooray for my Cabernet
- The Stuff: 100% Cabernet from three Walla Walla vineyard sources. No specific information available on web site. 13.5% ABV, winemaker Robert Smasne
- The Swirl: Dark in the glass with about 70% opacity. Wonderfully thick with a slight cloudiness
- The Sniff: Initially the wine presented a musty barrel room smell. After about an hour of decanting the nose came a live with cedar, dark cherry aromas, tobacco, and hints of burnt campfire wood (like right after you douse it with water).
- The Sip: Very impressed with the mouth fell of the wine. An immediate attack of cherry fruit envelopes your whole mouth and then dissipates to include black tea and dark chocolate. The oak is well integrated and the finish is full with smoother tannin and nice acidity.
- The Score: At only $32 this is a superb Cabernet that outperforms the price point. Drinks well with or without food but really shined when paired with our dinner, Guinness Angus burgers and blue cheese. 4/5
Scored 90 pts Wine Advocate and won gold at the 2010 Seattle Wine Awards
- The Stuff: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from various Napa Valley vineyards; 16 months in new French oak; 15.2%ABV; winemaker Chuck Wagner
- The Swirl: Medium body color with crimson highlights in the deep purple hue
- The Sniff: Coy nose with moderate fragrances of cranberry, vanilla and chocolate milk
- The Sip: A very smooth and elegant presentation of a Cabernet that offers up flavors of spiced oak, creamy vanilla and under ripe red berries. The mid-palate feels slightly hollow and the finish offers silky tannin and moderate acidity. Surprising balance with the high ABV as it’s not noticeable.
- The Score: At $60, this isn’t a big full bodied Cabernet that I would expect (especially for the age). The flavor is quite nice and will certainly impress even your most discriminating wine friends. I appreciated the easy sipping and well balanced flavor. 3+/5
- The Stuff: 100% Cabernet from select barrels of various Napa Valley vineyards. 16 months of new French oak; 15.4%ABV
- The Swirl: The dark purple colors are nearly opaque. The clarity is like liquid jewelry and the light refracts across the top.
- The Sniff: Vibrant aromas of eucalyptus, menthol, dark chocolate, and vanilla. A slight under-ripe red berry note is also detectable
- The Sip: An impressively well made wine that showcases the balance of fruit, oak treatment, and Napa Valley Cabernet. The wine has a flavor of thick cream, under-ripe red berries, and what I would imagine an evergreen tree to taste like. The finish is full and lush and the tannins have a surprisingly smooth velvet finish with only a slight chalkiness on the back end.
- The Score: Not many people have $120 to drop on a bottle of wine. If 2008 is a special year for you (celebrating a birth or a wedding), I can definitely recommend this wine as a buy and hold. The Special Selection performs nicely now, but will definitely live up to its price point in 7-10 years. 4/5
Check out this great video from Caymus Vineyards about part of the wine making process.
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
01 Sep 2010
Othello Washington, population 6700. Foxy Roxy Winery, production 4800 bottles. This small Washington winery can easily supply every adult with one bottle of wine per year and stay at their current production levels. Othello is a few miles south of Moses Lake, WA. Put your pencil directly in the center of the state and then go south about an inch (on a regular map) and you’re in Othello. I stumbled across this boutique winery because a friend of mine recently started representing them in Spokane.
Foxy Roxy Wines are sourced from StoneRidge Vineyard where long time Royal Slope farmers, the Davis family, grow over 120 acres of grapes for Foxy Roxy wines and renowned award winning winemakers. StoneRidge vineyards is proud to have produced the only scores of 100, 99, 98 and 97 for the Syrah grapes in the state.
While Foxy Roxy may seem like a novelty brand to some, the wine definitely has a more structure and character than your typical novelty label.
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from StoneRidge Vineyards, 12.3%ABV; no other information provided on their web site
- The Swirl: Typical Riesling golden straw. Slightly thicker viscosity.
- The Sniff: Aromas of sour apple, apricot, perfume and hints of orange blossom. Pretty fragrant fruit forward Riesling.
- The Sip: More sour apple. Reminds me of an apple that sat just a little too long. A moderate off dry sweetness that hints at 1.5%-3% residual sugar levels. The wine has some good layered fruit characteristics but comes across sour and doesn’t have the acidity levels to push through to the end.
- The Score: At $15 I have to compare this to other Riesling in the price range (Kung Fu Girl, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Chateau St. Michelle) and it comes up a little short. 3/5
- The Stuff: 100% Syrah from StoneRidge Vineyards; 13.9%ABV; no other information provided on their web site
- The Swirl: Medium thickness of color but still a dark brooding storm cloud of purple and black. The color presents as a lighter brewed black coffee.
- The Sniff: Fantastic aromas of coffee, black tea, smoked beef, cherry, and tobacco. Really loving the variety of scents that come off the glass here
- The Sip: This medium bodied wine surprises the palate with good layered flavor. If you’re into jammy Australian Yellow Tail Shiraz, then this wine will surprise you with a different flavor. Well layered stewed fruit, cherry, and prune flavors with a touch of spice. The finish is moderate that dies quickly.
- The Score: Put this wine in a blind tasting and it would score fairly well. Definitely an over achiever at the price point of $18. 3+/5
It is worth noting that these wines were tasted at a local bar with several people with various wine experience. The Riesling was a crowd pleaser and the Syrah was modestly received.
*Wines were received as an industry sample with the intetion to review
31 Aug 2010
Ahhh, Cabaret…what’s not to love about a good French Cabaret? Singing, dancing, fishnet stocking…some Cabarets even tease with a hint of nudity…the whole thing can be quite a fun experience…
What? Cabernet…oh…that’s a completely different thing! Let’s try this again!
Attention, cows! Run in fear! Thursday, September 2 is the official international Cabernet Day. For 24 hours thousands of people across the world will celebrate with the king grape of Bordeaux. Left Bank lovers will longingly lap up the thick juice and their food accompaniment of choice will be a perfect cut of filet mignon or NY strip steak.
Cabernet Day is happening wherever you and Cabernet Sauvignon can be found. You can join at hundreds of Morton’s Steak Houses, dozens of participating wineries, or open your favorite Cabernet and join the online conversation using Twitter or Facebook. Visit the event site for specifics and additional information.
Participate using Twitter:
- Sign in to Twitter
- Talk about your wine
- Make sure your tweet uses the #cabernet hashtag
- Follow the conversation by using http://search.twitter.com/ ( or a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck) and search the hashtag #cabernet
- Engage, connect, learn, and have fun
Participate using Facebook:
- Sign in to Facebook
- Go to www.facebook.com/tasteandtweet “like it”
- Talk about your wine by writing on the wall and commenting on others wall posts
- Engage, connect, learn and have fun
Cabernet is so much fun. If you have enough you just might end up with some singing, dancing, fishnet stockings and a chance of nudity too…
Spokane Cabernet Sauvignon
For those of you in the Spokane area, 12 of our local wineries have you covered with 16 different big full bodies Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve had the privilege of enjoying 13 of these wines and Spokane does Cabernet right! I encourage you to drink local for #Cabernet day and together we can show the world what Spokane winemakers are doing! If, for some reason you need another reason, check out “Eleven Reasons to Participate in #Cabernet Day” from my friend Ben Simons of Vinotology.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon; $20 – This complex and full-bodied Cab is a delicious blend from five unique vineyard sites in the Columbia Valley. A great value at $20. 3+/5
2007 Sillwater Creek Cabernet Sauvignon; $32 – Fruit from the well- regarded Stillwater Creek Vineyard lends intense concentration and depth to this wine’s black cherry, current, chocolate and cedar flavors. A nicely layered wine that doesn’t go over the top with tannin and pairs well with full bodied food. 4/5 (Recommend)
2006 Kipsun Cabernet Sauvignon; $32 – From one of the warmest, driest and most respected vineyards in Washington State. Sadly I have not experienced this wine.
*This wine is on Paul Gregutt’s “Best Varietally Labeled Cabernet Sauvignon” for Washington State list.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon; $22 – Made from grapes from Dineen Vineyards and Seth Ryan Estate Vineyards, this 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is the good blend of fruit and structure. Boasting chocolate, black raspberry, and a hint of cracked pepper, this wine delivers. Enjoyed this wine during release weekend. Comes across as a big sipper would recommend with food. 3+/5
2007 Sagemoor Cabernet Sauvignon; $33 – This Cab is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon from Sagemoor’s Weinbau Vineyard blended with 15% Merlot and 10% Syrah, both from Sagemoor’s Bacchus Vineyard. The wine has a nose of black cherry, red raspberry and dark cocoa with a hint of vanilla in the background. The Cab has a soft but full mouth feel, a nice mid palate and a finish that will last until your next sip. One of my favorite Cabernet offerings. 4/5 (Strongly Recommend)
*This wine is on Paul Gregutt’s “Best Varietally Labeled Cabernet Sauvignon” for Washington State list.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon; $19.95 – This elegant Cabernet Sauvignon sets out a smorgasbord of flavors: plum, cassis, smoke, loam, a hint of the barnyard. It’s nicely balanced, with polished but astringent tannins that carry the flavors into a lingering finish (Wine Enthusiast 90 pts). An incredible Cabernet value. Open and decant to smooth out the finish and aroma. 3+/5 (Value buy)
*This wine is on Paul Gregutt’s “Best Varietally Labeled Cabernet Sauvignon” for Washington State list.
2008 Bridgepress Cabernet Sauvignon; $39.99 – Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley. 60% New French Oak, 40% one year old French barrels. I have not had the opportunity to try this wine.
2005 Pepperbridge Cabernet Sauvignon; $29.99 – An intense Cabernet that competes with the big boys from Walla Walla. I really enjoyed the full bodied fruit on this wine. It is aging nicely and could see an additional 2-3 years in the bottle before reaching its prime. Recommend decanting. 3+/5
LIBERTY LAKE WINE CELLARS
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon; $28 – This bold Red Mountain Cabernet is loaded with blueberries, plums and cherries. Ample acidity and tannins of green tea strike balance and there is a finish of milk chocolate and more cherries. Love Red Mountain fruit. Big and bold with a little bit of chewiness on the finish. 3+/5 (Recommend)
2006 Walla Walla Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; $45 – This is a classic Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon with big upfront fruit, an amazing mouth feel, and a long finish. Two years in French oak. Only 50 cases made. Limited quantities remain available. One of the finest offerings out of Spokane. It may be pricy for most, be definitely worth it. Drinking well now but will drink even better in 5-10 years. 4+/5 (Strongly Recommend)
2007 LaTour Cabernet Sauvignon; $24 – This is a single vineyard, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Made in the new world style, your palate will sense cherry, caramel, chocolate and spice. Exhibits bold front and mid-palate with an elegant and lingering finish. Nicely done. 3+/5
2007 Duality Cabernet; $31 – The Walla Walla Valley terroir shines through in this incredibly complex 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Chocolate, coffee, cherry, spice, toffee and blackberry notes in perfect balance. A well made wine that is still showing a little young. If opening now, decant for 30 minutes or buy and hold for 3-5 years. 3+/5 (Recommend)
ROBERT KARL CELLARS
2006 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon; $30 – Pure varietal, this captures the house style perfectly, with a ripe blend of brambly berries set against crisp natural acids. Almond candy and chocolate graham cracker flavors appear, reflecting 28 months in 75% new oak barrels. The transition to the silky finish brings a refreshing minerality. -P.G. (Wine Enthusiast, 92pts). Loved this wine. 4/5 (Highly Recommend)
2002 Cabernet Sauvignon; $27.95 – Aromas of black cherry cola & blackberry introduce flavors of bright plum, blackberry & cherry with an earthy, smokey lingering finish. The oldest “new release” I’ve had. After spending 30 months in oak and FIVE years in the bottle the wine is showing beautifully with several years of life still to come. 4/5 (Recommend)
VINTAGE HILL CELLARS
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon; $25 – I have not had the privilege of having this wine.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon; $28 – Spokane’s only fully estate vineyard operation, Michael Haig grows and produces a well balanced Cab that offers medium body, dark cherry fruit, coffee, and a slight minerality. The wine reminds me of an old world presentation of Cab. 3+/5
30 Aug 2010
Chardonnay, the grape conjures up many thoughts ideas and opinions. One of the world’s most planted grapes, and planted in more wine regions than any other grape, Chardonnay seemingly has developed a love / hate response. With many people practicing their ABC’s, “Anything But Chardonnay,” many say this regal grape of Burgundy has fallen out of vogue from its prominence in the 80’s and 90’s.
While American, particularly heavily oaked and buttery California Chardonnay, has developed a bad reputation among many, the grape is still a winemaker’s delight as it responds to the subtle nuances of the winemaking process and the surroundings in which it’s grown (terroir). Chardonnay can be crisp and subtle, as in a Chablis, it can be tropical and refreshing, as a un-oaked California Chardonnay, or it can be smooth, round and full bodied apple pie when aged in oak and undergoing secondary malolactic fermentation.
Even though Chardonnay is THE most planted white wine grape in California and Washington, it could be arguably said that the grape is the countries most maligned (although Merlot could compete for that crown too). I recently read an article on Corkd about the results from a survey of 5000 Esquire Magazine readers (male). When asked their beverage of choice (consisting of beer, cocktail, liquor or wine), only 10% chose wine. More interesting was their response to the following question.
“Would you rather order a Chardonnay or get beat up?”
The results, 51% said “Chardonnay, please,” the other 49% took the beating. While the Esquire man may not be keen on Chardonnay, someone must be. Who is drinking Chardonnay? It has to be more than just the desperate housewives of Jersey Shore. With Chardonnay plantings being as they are it certainly isn’t getting poured down the drain. Armed with this information, I decided to review three Chardonnay from three regions of the world. While I didn’t have Chablis to sample from, the wines below are from California, Washington and Chile. What is your favorite Chardonnay? Do you prefer oak or naked (un-oaked)? Sound off in the comments below.
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from the Casablanca Valley. 14%ABV, no other information found
- The Swirl: Light gold color in the glass with a nice clean presentation.
- The Sniff: A moderate aroma of vanilla and pear with some hints of toast that indicate some oaked barrel storage or fermentation.
- The Sip: Crisp and clean on the palate with a full mouth-feel but very little fruit on the front or mid-palate. A single note of pear strikes a chord toward the end of the finish with a hint of tart lemon zest at the end.
- The Score: At $10-$12 the wine is an average offering but provides a decent value. It won’t embarrass you at a party but it won’t leave people talking either. 3/5
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from Preston Vineyards. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and stored in 50% oak for 6 months. 13.5%ABV, 500 cases produced
- The Swirl: Lighter straw color reminiscent of wheat. In the glass the wine gives off a thicker viscosity
- The Sniff: Subtle nose (as typical of Chardonnay) with hints of toasted almond, honey, and cinnamon.
- The Sip: Very impressive with thick juicy flavors. A subtle effervescence greats the tip of your tongue and then gives way to an abundance of fruit. Lots of subtle layers in this full bodied white wine with honey, crisp pear, vanilla, and peaches. The finish on the wine has moderate acid and dissipates quickly.
- The Score: At only $12 this wine outperforms many at twice the price. This is a strong recommend and a definite re-buy for any food appropriate dinner or Chardonnay lover. 4/5
90pts Wine Enthusiast; Paul Gregutt
- The Stuff: 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
- The Swirl: In the glass the wine is a beautiful golden honey and coats the glass nicely.
- The Sniff: Subtle candy aromas with baking spices, vanilla and cedar.
- The Sip: 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.
- The Score: 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
93pts Wine Enthusiast; Steve Heimoff
19 Aug 2010
Thirty-five wineries in a one minute radius? That is where you’ll find Woodinville’s William Church Winery. Located on NE N Woodinville Way, you’ll find a wine lovers walking Mecca. In a single afternoon, you can explore all areas of the states wine growing regions and the diversity that Washington wine has to offer. Don’t forget your designated driver…all that sipping can sneak up on you.
William Church winery is the second career for Rod and Leslie Balsley. Rod left the high-tech corporate world in 2004 and he and Leslie immediately looked to expand their garage wine hobby. With the help of some friends, they jumped into the booming Woodinville wine scene in 2005. Rod and Leslie enlist the help of assistant winemaker Marcus Rafanelli to craft big bold Bordeaux style wines and Syrah. With a case production near 2000, the Balsley’s are getting some top notch recognition for their wine. It doesn’t hurt that they are WSU alums either…GO COUGS!
- The Stuff: 100% Viognier slow cold fermented in stainless steel tanks. 14.1%ABV, less than 1% residual sugar, 240 cases produced
- The Swirl: Pale yellow straw color with a thin viscosity
- The Sniff: Moderate aromas of tropical fruit and apricots. Beautiful and floral through and through
- The Sip: 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.
- The Score: 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
2008 William Church Bishop’s Blend
- The Stuff: A proprietary blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Malbec, 11% Syrah, 9% Merlot, 3% Cab Franc, 14.1%ABV, 750 cases produced
- The Swirl: Big bright purple colors with a thick plum center
- The Sniff: Blueberry vanilla pie in the nose. If you’re not careful you might sniff a blueberry up your snout.
- The Sip: The blueberry comes through on the palate with a pinch of sweet blackberry on the front of the tongue. Good fruit flavor continues on the mid-palate as a slight pencil lead settles and then opens up to finish with medium spice. The finish is rounded without having any strong tannins.
- The Score: At $20 this is a very approachable wine that will satisfy even the most discriminating palate. A slight bitterness (probably from the oak) comes through on the finish but all in all this is a very well done wine. 3+/5
- The Stuff: A left bank inspired blend of 40% Cabernet, 20% Merlot, 20% Cab Franc, 10% Malbec, and 10% Petit Verdot; 18 months in a combination of French and American oak, 12 months in bottle, 14.2%ABV, 250 cases produced
- The Swirl: Dark in color with good structure out to the edge of the glass. About 90% opaque
- The Sniff: The wine is alive with aroma before you even get your nose to the glass. Big notes of dark berry fruit, violets and cassis. The alcohol comes out just a hint on a deep sniff.
- The Sip: Elegant and full of fruit and structure from the front of the palate to the end. Good layers of dark berry fruits along with deep ripe cherries. A velvet texture lines the mid-palate with a finish of medium tannin on the finish. This wine rivals some I’ve had at twice the price in complexity and depth of flavor.
- The Score: At only $28 this is a steel of a Bordeaux style blend. The marriage of fruit is well done resulting in a fantastic wine to sip or to pair with strong hardy meals. 4/5