12 Feb 2010
Wineries in California had the chance to observe the power of a unified voice on Twitter on February 11. Like a gigantic tasting room frenzy wine lovers, wineries and wine makers converged on Twitter for two hours to focus on California Cabernet. In his effort to promote California wine and show wineries in the region the power of Social Media, Rick Bakas (director of Social Media for St Supery winery) launched the event through word of mouth using Twitter, Facebook and the good old fashion phone call.
When I talked to Rick on the phone you could tell that while the event has some built in exposure for Rick and St. Supery, he was jazzed about the buzz happening at other area wineries. Rick lives and breathes the power of Social Media but he also has a genuine passion for California wine.
Early stats indicate that the event was a success with over 1500 tweets from 250 people during the two hour block. Those numbers don’t take into consideration the countless people NOT tweeting but still participating in California tasting rooms and tweet-ups. All told, in one two hour time frame, over 1000 bottles of California Cabernet could have been consumed! Total marketing cost of the event $0 (that’s ZERO)!
Steam continues to build as Rick announced a Sauvignon Blanc focused twitter tasting on March 4 (hashtag #SauvBlanc). Also, stay tuned for a huge Washington wine event in late March that hopes to have some national tie-ins and collaboration with several Washington wine influencers on Twitter (announcement coming on February 23).
2007 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles AVA
- The Swirl: Very dark plum with hints of ruby jewel tones toward the edges
- The Sniff: Moderate hints of black and blue berries. The strongest scent is green briar or evergreen. Nice notes of spice dance around on the back end.
- The Sip: A pleasing front end with some sweet fruit that is Syrah-like. A subtle vanilla oak pokes through right before the tart tannins grip your tongue on the back end. It’s not a Darth Vader death grip, but still pretty stout.
- The Score: At only $14, this is a heck of a value and a well made every day Cabernet. I score it a 4 (out of 5) for price to value. If you ever find this wine on sale for $10-$12, but several bottles.
Other scores from Cellar Tracker range from 84 – 90 points
2004 Croze Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff:100% Napa Valley Cabernet, 42 months in oak, 13%ABV, 637 cases made
- The Swirl: Nice dark rust colored plum with a little translucence (almost see to the bottom of the glass)
- The Sniff: I never wanted to stop smelling this wine. Floral perfume kissed me first, then gentle bright blueberry and strawberry aromas held hands and skipped through my nose. They were followed up by some mellow vanilla notes. This is the kind of wine scent you wish for in every bottle of Cabernet!
- The Sip: Definitely does not disappoint – The fruit is soft and supple like a long slow French kiss. The passion builds as some spicy pepper jumps in. The finish is super balanced and longs with enough tannin to keep the wine strong with food.
- The Score: At $35 this is a 5 (out of 5) wine for me. I love the complete package and would definitely buy this bottle again.
Other score on Cellar Tracker is a 93 and well deserved!
Did you participate in #CaliCabs? What wine did you enjoy? If you didn’t participate, what is your all time favorite California Cabernet and why?
08 Feb 2010
Many people associate Australian wine with a little yellow kangaroo. While this little yellow kangaroo has done wonders for wine promulgation, it has also caused some negative backlash into the wine world. Australian wine has garnered a reputation for being big, fruity, and cheap, affordable, inexpensive. The price point has been fantastic for introducing people to the world of wine but it has also set the expectation that wine pricing should be under $10 and red wine = massive fruit bomb! The low price point (and the current economic time) has shook the California wine business like a 7.2 earthquake. Wine is way more than the little yellow kangaroo. Australia produces quality wine in many price points.
Today’s review is from Australia’s #1 export…no not Paul Hogan…a bolder, more alcoholic import…no, not Mel Gibson either! Today we review Australia’s #1 wine export, Jacob’s Creek. If you’re familiar with wine, no doubt you’ve seen and tried Jacob’s Creek. With a history dating to the 1850’s Jacob’s Creek produces over 1.1 million cases of wine per year. The vineyards in Southern Australia are some of the oldest and highest quality on the continent.
Jacob’s Creek offers four labels in a variety of price points and focus:
- Jacob’s Creek (main label): A variety of two grape blends and single varietal offerings ranging from $5-$10
- Jacob’s Creek Reserve: A mid price label with a range of white (Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose) and red (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir) $10-$15
- Jacob’s Creek Heritage: Moderate price label with a range including Shiraz, Shiraz-Cab, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Chardonnay $20-$30
- Jacob’s Creek Three Vines: Contemporary label exploring non-traditional blends $8-$15
Reviewed in the video: 2007 Chardonnay, 2006 Shiraz, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Reserve label
2007 Reserve Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 100% reserve block Chardonnay; 60% barrel fermentation; partial malolactic fermentation; 13.5% ABV
- The Swirl: Yellow gold tone with hints of green apple. Beer-like color.
- The Sniff: Bright acidity and lemon qualities with moderate hints of green grape and oak
- The Sip: Two dimensional wine with mellow front end consisting of meaty vanilla and pear and a bright acidic lemon peel back end. The flavor drops off quickly and leaves a moderate bitterness in the mouth.
- The Score: At $12ish I score this wine a 2+ (out of 5), for my tastes there are more complex and robust Chardonnays available for the money
2006 Reserve Shiraz
- The Stuff: 100% reserve block Shiraz; 18 months in oak; 14.3% ABV
- The Swirl: Dark plum inkiness with mild jewel tones toward the edges
- The Sniff: Underwhelming nose with hints of blackberry and/or plum, moderate sprigs of clove and spice
- The Sip: Grape candy licorice on the front end with green twig component on the back end. The wine still feels young and could/should be cellared for a few more years.
- The Score: At $12 this is a pleasant Shiraz offering that scores a low 3.
Other researched scores: Cellar Tracker (2 scores avg 86.5); Cork’d (2 scores avg 87)
2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 100% reserve block Cab; 18 months in new and old French oak; 14.2% ABV
- The Swirl: Dark plum with hints of aged rusty brown toward the edges
- The Sniff: Mellow aromas of sweet blackberry and a whiff of vanilla and cocoa
- The Sip: Mild front end with a wash of chocolate and berry; back end of bitter cassis and pepper spice. Slightly off balanced in flavor
- The Score: At $12ish can score this a solid 3 and makes the re-buy list. Paired well with our hearty beef stew.
Other researched scores: Cellar Tracker (1 score at 78); Cork’d (2 scores avg 85)
Have you had Jacob’s Creek? What is your experience with some of their other labels?
In the video I mentioned the Washington Redskins and my annual disappointment. What team do you cheer for? How do you cope with the let down?
*This wine was provided as an industry sample with the intent to review
01 Feb 2010
Today’s video review is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the wine blogging world. Never before has such a unique collaboration occurred. Two reviewers spanning over 3000 miles simultaneously taste the same wines from Kiona Winery (@kionawine on Twitter). You’ll be seduced by the music. You’ll be aroused by the Florida beaches. You’ll be amazed at the wine. The review is wrapped up with a virtual jam session with me on guitar and Randy from @thewinewhore on drums.
I love the line on Kiona’s web site, “You know you’ve got to start a winery when you make more wine than you can drink.”
Kiona more than started a winery, they were part of propelling Washington wine into the mainstream of becoming the second largest producer of wine in the country (second to California). When only a handful of wineries called Washington home, Kiona planted its first grapes in 1975 and produced its first wine in 1980. At that time there were less than 15 wineries in the state (now there are over 650).
Kiona Winery calls the small Red Mountain AVA home. Kiona is home to 1/3 of the planted acres of grapes in the AVA. The 300 acres of Kiona fruit serve as the magic for the 20 wines they produce and grapes for several other Washington wineries. Today’s cross country review is of their Late Harvest Riesling, Dry Riesling and the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.
2008 Late Harvest Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling; 10% residual sugar 10% alcohol
- The Swirl: A beautiful peach juice and honey color. Even on the swirl, I get the impression this is going to be like a nice light syrup
- The Sniff: Intoxicating aroma of honey, tropical fruit, and a field of wild flowers
- The Sip: Obviously as a dessert wine this is sweet. It is not overly done and has a nice balance on the back end. Could pair nicely with spicey food. I personally could only experience it in small 2-3 oz pours.
- The Score: I’m a fan, but not a huge fan of this wine (only because I’m not a fan of sweet wines.) If you like dessert wines, you’ll love it. At $10 per 1/2 bottle, I score this a high 3+ (out of 5)
2008 Dry Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Estate grown 30 year old vines 13% alcohol 100% Stainless Steel
- The Swirl: This dry Riesling has a nice yellow straw and honey color.
- The Sniff: Apples, Pineapples and rose pedals oh my. Very aromatic wine. The sniff gives a hint of carbonation too.
- The Sip: Very nice, slightly sweet but not over the top. Good sipping summer wine or pairing with Asian food, Sushi, or Thai food. The peaches and apples come off the palate. Moderate acidity to make your mouth water. A little aluminum on the back end throws off the balance.
- The Score: At $12-$15 this is a very good Riesling, I score it a 4 (out of 5).
2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 85% Cabernet 9% Merlot 6% Cab Franc.
- The Swirl: A dark purple brown color. Good aged looking wine.
- The Sniff: Leather, earth, smoke, and then finally the sour cherry fruit. Nice smelling wine.
- The Sip: This is a good complex wine that offers enough fruit (cherry and plum) with the smokey tobacco flavor. There is some minerality that keeps me from scoring this higher. This is a nicely aged wine that drank very well for 2 days. I found it interresting and offered a variety of flavors. Not huge on tannin but enough acid to eat with smoked beef, and even some hickory smoked salmon with a dark reduction of some sort.
- The Score: At $20 retail, this wine easily gets a 4 from me. If you find it for under $15, buy more than one bottle.
Kiona is a Washington pioneer and a consistent maker of great wine. This is a label that can ALWAYS be trusted in the store and in the restaurant. Visit their tasting room in Benton City, WA just West of Richland, WA.
31 Jan 2010
Baseball season is quickly approaching. The beginning of another year of great expectations only to be frustrated by June, slightly excited in August and utterly depressed in September. I am a Mariner fan. We are the only team who can win 116 games in a season and not make it past the first round in the playoffs. We are the only team who trades away all star after all star. Ahhh…I digress.
While the Mariners consistently field a team of high priced underachievers, I’m a fan of Billy Beane ball. Billy is great at fielding a team of underpaid over achievers. My goal, in the wine world, is to field a quality under $10 team. In today’s economic conditions $10 is the new $20, but with all the inventory and variety on the shelves, not all labels can be trusted. You don’t want to spend your money for a Richie Sexson only to devote four seasons of wasted expectations…again I digress.
In previous episodes I’ve found a starting Sauvignon Blanc from Arbor Crest and am thinking of a bringing the Dancing Bull Zinfandel up from Triple A.
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Syrah / Shiraz
- Bordeaux Blend
- Sauvignon Blanc / Pinot Gris
- In the bullpen a nice alternate red and white (Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, etc).
Below is this trip to the minors to scout new members for the team. What suggestions do you have? Share below some of your wines who are performing well and deserve a chance to be called up to the “Field of Dreams.”
Tonight we are watching the work out and batting practice of a 2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Bogle Petit Sirah, 2006 Renwood Zinfandel.
2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah; Barrel aged for 16 months (1/3 new oak)
- The Swirl: Deep plum with watery edges
- The Sniff: Aromatically challenged for fruit. Did display characteristics of vanilla, cocoa, and woodiness
- The Sip: Overall a very smooth with that is tight on flavor. The vanilla and cocoa presents itself with a moderate dose of blueberry fruit. Very little back end structure.
- The Score: Considering the $8.88 price I would score this wine a solid 3. There is nothing offensive about the wine and the smooth vanilla, cocoa combination could be a hit with a lot of people. Serious wine drinkers will be disappointed with the lack of character and structure.
This wine will be sent to AAA ball for potential call up if I’m unable to find a starting Cabernet Sauvignon.
2007 Bogle Petite Sirah
- The Stuff: 100% Petite Sirah
- The Swirl: Very very dark plum, completely opaque, nice legs indicating some stronger residual sugar
- The Sniff: Once again a restrained aroma profile. Some dark cherry, dark blackberry fruit and a hint of spice trying to come through
- The Sip: Wholly wow, this is a big wine. There is some decent fruit on the front end which is immediately attacked by the strong tannin on the back end. This wine needs food! I look forward to pairing it with some BBQ, spicy pork, or a steak.
- The Score: At only $10 this is a big wine with some big back end structure that deserves a 3+. I would definitely consider this for a future purchase to pair with food. NOT A SIPPING WINE.
This wine makes the team as a pinch hitter. Petite Sirah is not your mainstream varietal but this one showed some serious power to bring in during the late innings of a close game.
2006 Renwood Zinfandel
- The Stuff: 100% Zinfandel
- The Swirl: Very light in color moderate brownish plum color. Can see through glass very translucent
- The Sniff: Not much on the nose other than hints of cherry, vanilla and leather spice
- The Sip: Very watery and non-substantive in flavor. A hint of smoke and spice as it lingers in the mouth. In my opinion a very underwhelming wine.
- The Score: At $9 I would not buy this wine again and score it a 2 (out of 5).
The wine definitely is sent back to single A ball to work on its structure and character.
The $10 quest continues. So far, I think I’ve sound a staring Sauvingon Blanc, and two potentials who are in AAA (Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon and the Dancing Bull Zinfandel). Tonight’s Petite Sirah has made the team as a pinch hitter!
Please leave your comments and suggestions below!
07 Dec 2009
Spokane is a growing wine region. With 17 wineries and a local population of nearly 500,000 people, Spokane wineries are poised to experience great growth opportunities over the next 5 years! Robert Karl, one of the regions first, is a gem hidden away in a pocket of downtown dating back to Spokane’s origins. Originally a horse drawn firehouse, Robert Karl Cellars entire annual production of its 2500 cases, is at 115 W Pacific Ave just one block west of Division. The tasting room is open Thursday – Saturday.
Joe and Rebecca Gunselman moved to Spokane in 1998 after Dr. Joe (anesthesiologist) developed a passion for the wine business while writing a marketing paper for his MBA. During our conversation, I learned that the Gunselman’s and I have a Roanoke, VA connection. Joe and Rebecca lived there after Joe got out of the military prior to their move to the northwest.
Joe was unable to meet with us for long because he had to tend to a medical case, but Rebecca – the consummate host -gave her attention to walking us through their wine, explaining their history and vision, and providing a fantastic tour of the facility and their winemaking process. Rebecca’s video tour captures the essence of how their wine is made and provides a great primer for beginning wine tasters as well.
Robert Karl, a name derived from Rebecca’s side of the family (Robert) and Joe’s side (Karl – also their youngest son’s name), procures their grapes from four vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in the lower Columbia Valley. The Gunselman’s own an eight acre block while three other vineyards grow dedicated blocks under Joe’s specifications. Horse Heaven Hills is a perfect growing climate for Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec. The vineyards also provide Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. Rebecca says the Sauvignon Blanc was recently chosen so she had ‘something to drink during the hot summer nights’ in Spokane.
Watch the video, get to know Rebecca and the wine, then make it a point to stop by their winery / tasting room and enjoy a glass wherever it is on the wine list. If you stop by during the right time of year you can see the process in action. Below are my tasting notes for the five wines I tried (my apologies for the brevity, there was a lot of tasting).
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon $30
- The Swirl: Beautiful opaque rich color
- The Sniff: This is a big wine. The explosion of spice, dark berries, leather, and dirt (in a good way)
- The Sip: Like Rebecca said, cherry is the primary front end of this wine. As it opens up more dramatic spice come through. There is a lot of acidity and tannin on the finish. This wine should be consumed with food for maximum enjoyment. A hearty well seasoned steak or spicy pork strips are the first to come to mind.
- The Score: At $30, I score this wine a 3+ (out of 5) – If you like a big bad Cabernet, you’ll love this wine.
2007 Syrah $30 (92% Syrah 8% Viognier)
- The Swirl: Don’t recall
- The Sniff: Very fruity blueberry, chocolate and smoked bacon
- The Sip: Typical sweet fruit Syrah, but not nearly as overwhelming as its Australian sisters. A very nice tannin finish provided just enough structure to pair well with food.
- The Score: At $30 I score this wine 4 (out of 5) - If you need a high quality sipping wine or would like to introduce your non-wine loving friends to something better than the Costco Yellow Tail, then start here.
2007 Estate Merlot $20- 100% Andrews Horse Heaven Ranch
- The Swirl: slightly lighter than the previous two, more pearlescent in color with strong legs (indicating higher sugar and alcohol)
- The Sniff: Cherry tart, pepper, and a little woodsy
- The Sip: Very sexy – not as smooth as some Merlot’s I love, but with the chocolate finish and the mouth-watering acidic ending this works well to sip or with food. (UPDATE: Drank second bottle a few nights later with a heavy Salmon Pasta dish – definitly pairs best with food. The initial sip is light but opens up as it sits in your mouth)
- The Score: At only $20 I score this wine a strong 3+ (out of 5). Give this wine 3-5 years in the cellar and it will be a 4 for sure!
2006 Inspiration $45 - (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot)
- The Swirl: This and the Claret were the most beautiful to look at. The light seemed to dance off the top during the swirl
- The Sniff: I detected a floral scent, like violet along with fragrant blueberries and a smokey cigar box
- The Sip: You can tell that this wine is an investment. If 2006 is a special year for you (anniversary, birth of a child, etc) but a few of these and put them away for up to 25 years. The flavor is very nice and peppery / spicy. Currently pretty tart on the very back of the mouth with a lot of tannin.
- The Score: At $45 I score this wine a 3+ (out of 5) Knowing that we live in a satisfy me now society, drinkers who open this immediately after purchase should decant it a few times.
2007 Claret Red Blend $20 (55% Cabernet Sauvignon,
20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec)
- The Swirl: Amazing color, light plum and clearer toward the edges
- The Sniff: My favorite by far – I could smell this wine before I even gave it the swirl. Scents of cherry and vanilla with mild sweet spice (like a red pepper)
- The Sip: The Claret blew me away, unfortunately there were no more to purchase (the customer just before me bought 14 bottles). A beautiful earthy floral taste with medium mocha and cherry flavors.
- The Score: At $20 I would score this wine 4 (out of 5) - I will stay in touch with Joe and Rebecca so I can get my hands on any more as they come available.
Contact Robert Karl Cellars on Twitter @RKCellars or through their website www.robertkarl.com
Enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY