16 Mar 2010
The online Washington Wine Tasting Event of the year is on March 25. This leaves only a little time to secure your Washington Merlot and prepare your activity for the evening. The beauty of a Twitter Tasting is that you can participate however you feel comfortable. With nearly 80 Washington State wineries participating and hopefully 1000 tweeters, there will be plenty of opportunity to join the conversation. Think of it as a giant cocktail party. You may not be a part of every conversation happening in the room, but the opportunity to network, connect with other wine lovers, and learn about Washington State wine and the great wineries is awesome! You can even participate from the comfort of your living room…in your boxers (just close the blinds).
Below are two videos that showcase ways to maximize your participation in a taste and tweet event.
- If you’re near a participating winery – stop by their tasting room for a bottle of their Merlot. Join them for the event on March 25, starting at 5PM.
- OR…Get a group of friends together and host a tweet-up. You can do this from home or at a local bar or restaurant (just make sure they have Washington Merlot).
- OR…Shop local! Support your local wine shops and buy a Washington Merlot to drink from the comfort of your own home.
- Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #WAMerlot (video shows instructions).
- Tweet what you’re drinking, join in the conversations, share your tasting notes.
- After the event you can search the hashtag #WAMerlot to follow new wine lovers and connect with the wineries
- HAVE FUN!
*If you’re not on Twitter, follow along at http://search.twitter.com – enter #WAMerlot in the search box to follow along.
WINERY PARTICIPATION TIPS
- Sign up at http://wamerlot.eventbrite.com so we can properly promote you before and after the event
- Promote your tasting room gathering using your email list, Facebook fan page, and on Twitter (use the #WAMerlot hashtag so we can re-tweet you)
- Offer a special on your Merlot through the event
- During the event, encourage people in your tasting room to tweet using the #WAMerlot hashtag. Even better, have them mention you too!
- Some wineries are projecting a twitter stream on a wall for a visual Twitter interaction too
- Hopefully you’ll be busy, but if you have the opportunity tweet fun facts about your winery, Merlot, and Washington State
- Interact and have conversations with people tweeting
- After the event, search the #WAMerlot hashtag to follow new wine lovers and connect with people who mentioned you and were drinking your wine.
- HAVE FUN!
This event would not be the success it is without the inspiration and participation of the following people on Twitter @RickBakas, @WAWineReport @SeattleWineGal @WineBeerWA, @Shona425, @yakimavalley @wineeyak, @wbcorbust, @nwwineandre, @catie, @lunabeanmedia
15 Mar 2010
The good folks at Swirl Smell Slurp wine blog have a great challenge going. They’ll be collaboratively tasting through wine from all 50 states over the next 50 weeks. The challenge is creatively titled, “United Slurps of America.” The inaugural post featured tastings with 1WineDude from Pennsylvania. I was honored to be selected as the representative taster from Washington. With the crappy shipping laws in this country, locating the same wine in two different states can prove to be a challenge. Fortunately ‘him and her’ were able to find five wines at their local wine store that I was familiar with and hadn’t already done reviews on. We settled on a Riesling from Seven Hills and a Merlot (of course) from Charles Smith.
If you’re not familiar with SwirlSmellSlurp.com – check them out. They’re fun, edgy, witty, and they have a great line up of thematic posts from Sunday Salon to Weekly Hangover. They’re definitely a candidate for Wine Blog Awards “Best New Wine Blog” (but I hope to offer a little competition).
2008 Seven Hills Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from two Yakima Valley vineyards; screw cap
- The Swirl: Bright pale honey color with a thick viscosity.
- The Sniff: A decent bouquet of citrus, lime, plumeria, and tropical sweetness
- The Sip: I’m not a sweet wine fan – I enjoy my whites crisp, with fruit, but on the dry side. This was a moderate sweet Riesling (6 out of 10) but not syrupy. A decent amount of acidity helped to balance out the sweetness. The finish was quite lengthy.
- The Score: At $14, this is not my favorite wine (mostly preference). I score it a solid 3 (out of 5) for being fairly one dimensional.
I was super excited to try this next offering from Charles Smith Wines. From their web site:
Owner-winemaker Charles Smith with his big hair, kick ass attitude and bold packaging arrived in the Walla Walla Valley following eleven years in Scandinavia managing rock bands. Originally hailing from northern California, he has been involved with wine personally and professionally his entire life. “It’s just booze – drink it!”
I purchased the Velvet Devil Merlot for an upcoming “affordable Merlot” tasting to promote #WAMerlot on March 25. When SwirlSmellSlurp had the devil on their list, I succumbed to the temptation.
2008 Charles Smith Velvet Devil Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Washington Merlot, 10 months in oak, 13.8% ABV
- The Swirl: Mildly translucent with ruby red undertones. A pretty wine
- The Sniff: Smooth dark chocolate with cherry and oak. I would imagine this would be the aroma an Umpa Lumpa would smell in the chocolate river (if cherries were involved too).
- The Sip: The sip is slightly thin on the front that opens up to a nice moderate fruit – still cherries. Definitely a chocolate covered cherry Merlot.
- The Score: At only $12 (sometimes under $10) – At this price, a solid 3 (out of 5). A trustworthy wine for the money. Good sipper, but the thin front and single dimension leave the score lower.
Special thanks to SwirlSmellSlurp.com for inviting me to participate. Make sure you follow along with their journey. I’m excited to see where it takes them.
23 Feb 2010
You’re invited to the largest simultaneous online Washington Wine tasting event ever (well at least that we know of). Gaining inspiration from @TasteLive (focused tasting events) and Rick Bakas’ #CaliCabs event (and the #SauvBlanc event on March 4), a group of Washington wine writers and bloggers are hosting a national #WAMerlot taste and tweet.
RSVP for the Event at http://wamerlot.eventbrite.com
Join us Thursday, March 25 from 5 – 7 PM (PST)
Participation is simple – Find a Washington Merlot, open the bottle, drink it and tweet about it using the #WAMerlot hashtag. Using a program like TweetDeck will make participation easier (see the video on the upper right of this page).
Can’t find WAMerlot? Fear not, a special collaboration with Wine Library brings you three choices in various price ranges. Buy one or buy all three. Click the image below to see the killer deals Gary Vaynerchuk and team put togther for us!
Are you a Washington Winery? Click here for details on how YOU can make this an effective event for you!
Why Merlot? This is not a screw Sideways and shaft Miles event. This is an event to celebrate a wine variety that helped put Washington on the map. Previously I asked the question, “Which one grape best defines Washington?” The challenge, many grapes grow well and thrive in the various climates of the state. Along with smooth and rich Merlot, Washington is known for big Cabernet Sauvignon, bold Syrah, richly crafted Chardonnay, inspiring Riesling and more. With 122 votes, the outcome is below. While Merlot may not be the clear winner, it is more widely planted and more wineries across the state feature a Merlot or a predominant Merlot blend. Over the next four week’s leading up to #WAMerlot, I’ll feature a special segment on Merlot!
This event is co-sponsored by some great people on Twitter:
@seattlewinegal, @wawinereport, @nwwineandre @shona425 @wineeyak @yakimavalley @lunabeanmedia @winebeerwa @catie @walla2winewoman
22 Jan 2010
You’ve got to love a winery who unashamedly names their Cabernet Penetration, Missionary and Hucking Good! Browsing their selection is not for the faint of heart and their back label will either make you blush or stir you up like a pre-teen school boy in a brisk breeze.
While some stuffy wine folk may turn their nose up at the provocative label, it’s the quality in the bottle that should be judged.
Naked Winery, and their sassy sister Orgasmic Wine Company, are dually based in WA (Wishram) and OR (Hood River) and operate tasting rooms in Hood River and Yakima. Grapes are procured from vineyards in the Willamette, Illinois, Apple Gate, and Columbia Valley regions of Oregon and Washington. Their 21 offering range from $18 – $80 (Tease Riesling to Oh Nebbiolo).
If you are in the mood to “Sip Into Something Naked” stop by either of their tasting rooms for a naked tasting, visit their web site at www.nakedwinery.com and follow them on Twitter @nakedwinery. Naked Wine make great gifts but be careful who you give them to, Gay Rose to a co-worker may be cause for sexual harassment and Foreplay Chardonnay on a date may get you slapped.
2005 Naked Merlot – $20
- The Stuff: Columbia Valley 90% Merlot 10% Cab Franc; 12 months in American and French Oak; 1500 cases
- The Swirl: Nice aged brownish plum color. Beautiful streaky legs from the 14.8% alcohol, mostly opaque
- The Sniff: Very aromatic with scents of raspberry, mild leather, and pepper. The arousal of the nose had me anticipating the explosion in the mouth
- The Sip: Mild initial flavor that opens up into a balanced attack of fruit and spice. The back end is firm with a medium tannic structure – “firm back-end” as the label says.
- The Score: At $20 I can score this a 3+ and is a solid purchase that will not disappoint if given as a gift. This is not your typical novelty wine with a sassy name and no substance.
2007 Naked Pinot Gris – $18
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Gris; aged 100% Stainless Steel for six months; cold fermentation
- The Swirl: Mild yellow gold straw color with a nice crispness and clarity
- The Sniff: Very erotic crispy pear / apple and a subtle butter toast, the bright citric alcohol rounded out the nose
- The Sip: This is a fruit salad in a glass. Beautifully fruit flavors but not overwhelming. The finish is incredibly long lasting as the buttery flavor and acidity wash across the back of the mouth.
- The Score: At $18, I score this wine a 4. This is one of the better Pinot Gris’ that I’ve enjoyed. Not one dimensional, not too acidic, not too steely. Too much of this and I could end up ‘naked.’
*Both wines were provided as industry samples with the intent to review.
22 Dec 2009
“No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!” This oft quoted line from Miles in the 2004 movie Sideways, single handedly sent Merlot (MARE-low) prices plummeting (while simultaneously causing a renewed interest in Pinot Noir). Now the Rodney Dangerfield of grapes, Merlot is striving to make a come back. At www.merlotwine.com Washington State is listed second, behind France, as premier Merlot growing areas.
Geeky fact: Merlot is the second most planted grape in the world (excluding cheap jug varietals Thompson Seedless and Airen)
Today’s review is a mash up, show down between three well known Washington producers. They represent Eastern, Central, and Western WA. Each was purchased at Costco for under a Jackson.
I added a twist to the challenge. The three wines were put head to head in a blind tasting. Although I knew which three wines I was tasting, I had no idea which wine was in which glass. Watch the video to see how the throw down showdown went down! Read below for the boring ol’ text.
2007 Woodhouse Family Kennedy Shah Merlot
- The Stuff: 80% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot 8% Malbec from Rattlesnake Hills $12 Retail – Woodinville, WA
- The Swirl: A dull purple- moderate legs. Slightly watery toward the edges
- The Sniff: Nutmeg and Cinnamon at first, then presenting some cigar box with blackberry fruit
- The Sip: The spice comes forward and says, “hi.” The fruit has left the building not to be seen. Mild tannins. The wine lacks structure and presents itself as a basic offering.
- The Score: At just $12, I will rate this a strong 3 and would potentially buy it again. For the price it is a solid offering and I’ve had much much worse.
2007 Arbor Crest Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Merlot from four unlisted Columbia Valley vineyards; $18 Retail – Spokane, WA
- The Swirl: Bright dark purple color but not quite as dark as plum, good structure to the edges
- The Sniff: Strong acidic or alcohol smell then smoke and blackberry (or dark berry fruit)
- The Sip: Thin on the front end then smokey in the middle. The alcohol made it slightly hot and the juice offered medium tannins.
- The Score: At $18, I can only score this a 3. At this price there are better offerings to enjoy. I would not buy this again, but I wouldn’t shy away from it if offered at a party or on a restaurant menu.
2007 Barnard Griffin Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Merlot from Columbia Valley and the Wahluke Slope. $17 Retail – Richland, WA
- The Swirl: Darker than the Arbor Crest bordering on plum color
- The Sniff: Well hello, berry, it’s nice to meet you. A sour cherry (in a good way) with a hint of vanilla.
- The Sip: While it came across disappointing in the video, it did open up as the night went on. Slightly challenging palate with some chalkiness and earth leading to a smooth vanilla finish. The berries came out after about an hour in the glass.
- The Score: At $17 I would score this a 3+. The wine had much more structure and interest to it than the other two offerings. This bottle was purchased for just $13 making it a very good value.
None of these wines were superstars. The goal of the review is to provide you some insight for when you see these available at restaurants or at the store. No one wanted to jump forward and declare victory. Taking price, taste, intrigue, and aroma into consideration, this round of WA Merlot Mash-up goes to Barnard Griffin.