08 Feb 2011
For thirteen month’s I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things across the interwebs, twitterverse and bloggersphere. I’ve used these “Nectar Honors” posts as a way to archive the monthly happenings in my life and in the wine world (at least the wine world as I see it). While January was bar none the busiest month of my life, it has not gone by without its sacrifices. One, my personal life and two, routine blog posts seem to be the two main casualties dashed on the floor like spilled glasses of wine. The build-up, branding and marketing of the last year became a beautiful showcase of Washington wine and an example of how online marketing and building relationships through social media can pay huge dividends. While this post is still about the best of January 2011, I just wanted to share some highlights from our first month in business. I share this, not to pat myself on the back, but to show the amazing potential of an engaged group of followers and ambassadors.
- $20,000 in revenue with absolutely zero $ spent in marketing
- 130 Club Nectar memberships sold
- Steady web site traffic with a noticeable shift in search terms to “Nectar” or “Nectar Tasting Room”
- Media exposure through newspaper, local entertainment publication (The Inlander), Journal of Business and two features on KXLY TV
- Sold out social media class
- Requests for speaking engagements to present on social media and business
- Four new clients for social media consulting and management
My nine blog posts and six wines reviewed was the lowest total since this project began. Since opening the tasting room, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying wine from the five participating wineries. People are always asking me my favorite wines. While I hate to play favorites, I can say that I bought a bottle of 2007 Northwest Cellars 100% Carmenere (now sold out).
Top Posts from Around the Web
Favorite Social Media and Marketing Posts
RickBakas begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlig Social Media ad Spending INFOGRAPHIC http://bit.ly/i4svym #sm #marketing
Wine Business Posts
Best Wine Expose
Posts that Made Me Spit Wine Out My Nose
Most Viewed Nectar Wine Blog Post
Nectar Opens to A Packed House – The Social Media Experiment http://drinknectar.com/2011/01/13/the-social-experiment-nectar-opens-to-a-packed-house/
03 Jan 2011
December has been a month of extreme highs and lows. As I’ve pushed forward with the opening of Nectar Tasting Room (January 6-8), I’ve experienced several crushing blows that are almost immediately followed by big wins. This experience has certainly added several grey hairs to my head and wrinkles to my face. Last January, I kicked off the year with my first Nectar Monthly Honors recap. While not quite as cool as a Grammy nomination, it has been an attempt to capture my favorite things from the previous month. I make it a point to save favorite tweets, blog posts, and I review the wines from the month to highlight my favorites.
December 2010 has been one of the most busy months of my entire life. In the midst of everything I managed to write 16 posts (my lowest total since I started the blog). These 16 posts generated the highest traffic ever on the site with nearly 10,000 people viewing over 17,500 pages. 17 wines made the pages of NectarWineBlog this month and some of them were very, very good!
Cheers to you and yours for 2011. My goal (or resolution if you will) is to continue with more of the same. The tasting room will open and hopefully this time next year I can report back that I’ve been able to quit the day job. Enjoy life with friends and drink happy!
Wines of the Month
Best Value Under $15
Oddly enough, I didn’t review any wines that were under $15 retail this month. I did enjoy a $14 Chardonnay from Terra Blanca winery as part of our tasting room preview party and I purchased a few Argentinean Astica Malbec ($5) from Rocket Market (3/5). While the Terra Blanca Chardonnay was a nicely balanced Chardonnay, I’ve committed to not reviewing the wines at the tasting room (conflict of interest). So, for December 2010, no wine is chosen for this category.
Best Overall Wine
Of the 17 wines that showed up in the December reviews, several compete for the top spot of the month. A company known for TV dinners surprised me. A Rose in the Palouse captured my imagination. A wine consumed in October ended up being my top pick for December’s best overall wine.
In October, I enjoyed a visit to 3 wineries in the Columbia Gorge area (Maryhill, The Pines 1852 and Syncline Winery). James Mantone of Syncline has an old world approach to his wine making that brings out the flavor of the vineyard and the grape without over oxidizing or oaking the wine.
The Southern Rhone inspired with a Grenache (48%) and Mouvedre (24%) focused blend that also includes Syrah, Counoise, and Cinsault. Not much in my notes except silky and thick. Perfume and raspberry on the nose with great layers of fruit and spice. $35 4+/5
Read about the rest of the journey and other Syncline wines, here > http://drinknectar.com/2010/12/02/visit-the-columbia-gorge-for-some-surprise-wines/
- Runner-up: 2009 Wawawai Canyon Carmenere Rose
Other Highlights From December
Marketing Advice for Any Business
Posts that Make You Think
Best Picture of the Month
Post that Made Me Spit Wine Out My Nose
Top Posts of The Month
- Leavenworth – Bavarian for Wine – Proper SEO helped drive traffic to this post as thousands of visitors searched for Leavenworth Christmas Tree Lighting party. This post is a recap of my visit to several Leavenworth wineries.
- Ten Blogging Lessons I Learned In Year One – This post is a holdover from November and got some great readership in the last few days of December.
22 Dec 2010
Choosing the best of the best can be a challenge. With wine being so subjective to taste, the food you’re eating, your mood and even lighting, calling something “tops” carries a certain degree of uncertainty. As I looked back at the 168 wines that qualified for this list I began to salivate at the memory of the wines. Thirty of the wines scored 4 and 4+ along the way. Prices ranged from $20 – $120. While I can’t taste all of the wine out there, I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to taste the wines on the list below. I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy them, as they are all very special.
I’m no Robert Parker, James Suckling or Steve Heimoff. I consider myself an average wine consumer who has the opportunity to explore hundreds of wines. 2010 has afforded me the privilege of tasting over 500+ wines. Enjoy the Top Ten Wines of 2010.
100% Washington Viognier with a slight touch of sweetness. Moderate aromas of tropical fruit and apricots. Beautiful and floral through and through. 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. 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
This wine was tasted during a very impressive Chilean red blend twitter tasting that included 8 very impressive wines. The fact that this wine stood tall among the quality says a lot. The blend of 38% Syrah, 21% Cabernet, 21% Carmenere, 17% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Mourvedre exploded with massive aromas of fruit, flowers and spice. I loved the fragrant eucalyptus and violets juxtaposed with the spilled spice rack. The wine is also full of flavor in the mouth with a powerful, yet soft dark fruit and evergreen tree. The oak treatment is very well integrated and the 15% ABV does not come across as strikingly hot. The finish on the wine is thick without being chewy or tart. This Bordeaux style wine is top notch wine for just $29 suggested retail. 4+/5
A glass of sweet elegant gold is a good way to describe this opulent desert wine. The 2007 R.A. Harrison Nobility is an addiction waiting to happen. I’m not a lover of syrupy sweet wines. I tend to avoid dessert wine tastings. I kept waiting for the opportunity to get the Nobility on camera. Just sitting in its 375ml bottle, it boasted super star qualities. The casting call never came and the 78% Napa Sauv Blanc and 22% Sonoma Semillon ended up stealing the supporting role for the month. The 12.2% residual sugar may make you think simple sweet Taylor Swift but this wine has a dangerously sexy and seductive quality of the mature Heidi Klum. Amazing flavors of honey, almonds, peach syrup and gardenias fully envelop the entire palate. While I know to enjoy this wine in small quantities, the bottle kept beckoning me back for more. $75; 4+/5
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. In the glass the wine is a beautiful golden honey and coats the glass nicely. Subtle candy aromas with baking spices, vanilla and cedar. 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. 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
86% Merlot from Dwelly Vineyards and 9% Cab Franc, 5% Cab Sauv; Elegant bright plum colors that are about 70% opaque. Spectacular color structure that suggests quality and high extraction. A Merlot worthy of putting Miles (from the movie Sideways) in his place. Fantastic aroma of smooth cocoa and berry – imagine cherry cocoa puffs with a hint of pipe tobacco smoke. The very front palate of this wine is a semi-sweet medium cherry flavor that presents hints of baking cocoa on the mid-palate. A bright hint of blueberry jumps out at the back end as you begin to swallow the wine. A surprisingly strong and well structured finish complete this well crafted Merlot. At $25 this Merlot can compete among the ranks of wines twice the price. I score this a 4+ (out of 5) and put it up there with the top 3 Merlot I’ve had in 2010.
The 2007 Barrister Winery Merlot is a showcase of what Merlot can be. With smooth elegant cherry and cocoa flavors the addition of Cab Franc and Cab Sauv bring to light a bright blueberry spark and a strong finish. This wine could be a casual sipping wine and would stand up well to grilled burgers, BBQ ribs, and a mild red pasta dish. I highly recommend this wine as one of the top Merlots of the year.
Single vineyard Wahluke Slope AVA, 80% Merlot 11% Cab 9% Syrah, aged 19 months in 77% new oak, 14.3%abv, 163 cases Dark plum with beautiful jewel tones toward the edges. Mostly opaque Overwhelming aromas of cherry, smoke, and hints of spicy bacon. Amazed at how aroma profile changes as it comes through the nose. 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. 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.
As with all the MD Shiraz this wine is pure purple passion. Very thick and pure like liquid glass. The Enchanted love is one of the darker wines I can recall seeing. Beautiful scents of violets, sweet sugar, bright blueberries, rich plums and spice. I think about 10 minutes went by before I quit smelling this wine. An enjoyable experience even before the sip. A wonderful evolution of flavor happens on this wine. Tasting the wine gives you an understanding of what “fruit weight” is. The flavor seems to wrap every square inch of your mouth. Not a single taste bud is left out of this experience. Great presentations of fruit, spice, and even some dried tomato and coffee components. The Carnival of Love is a sensory experience not to be missed. This is truly a wine event, if ever I’ve had one. A huge step above in balance over the previous vintage and crafted with subtle intricacies that keep you wanting another sip. Keep in mind this is not a subtle experience of strolling through a park enjoying the serene waterfalls and flowers, this is a high octane double loop roller coaster at 70MPH! At $90, a challenge for most but if you want to really impress a wine lover (especially one who enjoys Aussie Shiraz), you’ll score big points here! 4+/5
94% McClellan Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 % Seven Hills Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot; 50 cases produced, 14.9%abv. The wine is elegant dark black purple with hints of leathery brown in the glass. Edges are subdued tan. Color is about 90% opaque. Ominous aromas of fresh pepper, big cherries, dark fruit and earthy soil and a hot alcohol smell when taking a deep breath erupt from the bowl. Velvet blackberry and plums on the initial attack with a strong pepper mid-palate. Subtle hints of toasted cocoa add intrigue. Very bold tannin without being chalky. The acid is big and makes your mouth water. There is a slight high alcohol heat on the swallow. A beautifully elegant representation of Cabernet without being over worked by the oak. At $45, it may out of the price range for some consumers but rest assured I can score this wine a 4+ out of 5, being one of the five best wines I’ve had thus far in 2010.
At $60, the 2007 Merlot is full of amazing berry flavor and aroma. You can smell the wine before you even put it to your nose. Subtle hints of cinnamon are intermingled with the bright fruit. In the mouth you get a sense for the careful attention given to this wine. The fruit was fermented in 3 different methods to achieve the desired balance and character. About 20% of the wine spent 26 months in French oak. The flavors are full and big without being obnoxious. A velvety texture covers the entire palate and layers of fruit, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla erupt from front to back. The finish is lingering and brings good structure with the perfect amount of tannins. There is a slight heat coming off the 15.2%ABV.
For most, this is not your daily drinking affordable wine, but the Bolen Family Estates 2007 Merlot is worth the price for your special occasion or if you just want to impress the hell out of someone to prove how good merlot can be. If the 2007 vintage is any indication of the future, merlot has made a comeback and Bolen Family Estates is establishing the legacy they intended. 4+/5
UPDATE: Visit http://www.shop.bolenlegacy.com/ and use the coupon code WINESOFTHEYEAR through December 31 to receive 30% off the 2007 Merlot AND free shipping!
100% Pinot Noir from Las Alturas; Aged 9 months in 60% new French oak; 14.8%ABV Medium dark plum and crimson colors that borderline Merlot. Close your eyes and picture yourself in the kitchen. Your grandma just baked her world famous cherry pie. The room is filled with aroma of bright ripe cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and that slight burnt aroma from the pie filling that spilled on the rack. That is this wine! The aroma comes across very well on the palate as well bringing supple fruit flavors that showcase the amazing winemaking and extraction achieved by Joe Wagner. This Pinot Noir is without a doubt the best Pinot Noir I’ve had to date and is an established baseline for me. $44; a wine to remember, long for and diligently seek out. 4+/5
40% Cab, 38% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec; 20 months in new French oak, 14.8%abv. Dark purple with softer tones. Edges move toward jewel tone garnet. About 90% opaque. A wonderful representation of each of the five Bordeaux grapes. The bright cherry fruit is softened by black cherries and cocoa. A whiff of blueberries graces the nose as well. A smooth mouth feel from front to back. The fruit that presents itself on the nose is also present on the palate with lively flavor all across the mouth. The tannin is less pronounced than on the Penche Cab, but still provides enough structure to pair with food. At $40 I score this wine a 4+ out of 5. It is a large wine that is graceful like an offensive lineman in ballet class. It’s bold, smooth and elegant without losing the strength of the Cabernet grape.
The 2006 Penche Argent is a river of bold flavorful black cherry, cocoa, and well integrated spices. Expect an elegant flavor with strength to pair with food. Argent positions itself well as a sipping wine or to impress at dinner. $40, 4+/5
21 Dec 2010
These days everyone is looking for a value. $15 is the new $25 when it comes to wine prices. Finding quality wines at $15 and under can be little bit of a challenge. Never fear, I have tackled the often unenviable task of sipping through some swill to present 10 wines worthy of showcase. My top 10 list for 2010 contains several local favorites and a few nationally distributed stars as well. As I looked back through the reviews I discovered that 105 wines competed for these 10 spots. The white wines stood taller than the reds and Washington was a showcase for value.
Tasted during a whirlwind tasting tour of Maryhill wines, this flagship red wine is available for anywhere between $10-$15 – “Dark red fruits with fragrance of lilacs and campfire with a medium mouth feel, well integrated oak and tannin.”
While this blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah may be bottled in Oregon, the fruit comes from the Desert Wind Winery vineyards on the Wahluke slope. A slight sweet cherry fruit on the front palate with a woodsy chalkiness that settles on the back part of the tongue. Moderate acidity with subtle vanilla and cocoa spices on the finish. A fairly complex wine with good structure. Leading with heavy oak keeps this one from scoring high. It’s a great value and a wine for lots of occasions. Better with food. $10-$12 3+/5
Very tight on the nose with only slight floral blossom and citrus present. What was lacking on the aroma comes out to gently play on the palate. The Cono Sur is what you would expect from a traditional Sauv Blanc. Tropical fruit, pineapple, good minerality. Wine blogger, winefoot, described this wine as a grassfield creamsickle. I couldn’t agree more. At only $13, this classic presentation of Sauv Blanc showcases the potential of this Chilean variety. Easily the best value Sauvignon Blanc I’ve had in a while! 4/5
100% Sauvignon Blanc from Bacchus Vineyards in Washington. Cut open a pineapple, squeeze some lemon and spray a small spritz of vanilla room spray and you have the nose of this wine. Strong acidity on the upper palate with a smooth citrus and lemon peel flavor across the tongue. There is no tartness and the alcohol is not hot. Not overly huge in structure but has great flavor for the price. $11 retail but only $7 at Cost Plus World Market. 4/5
Aromas of boysenberry, toasted almonds, and dark red fruit on the nose. Very aromatic and full with subtle notes of campfire. Medium bodied Syrah that is slightly thin on the front but opens up nicely to dark red fruit, hints of smoke and a beautiful long velvet finish. An easy sipping Syrah that will have you wanting more. Retail is $15 but I scored this wine for only $10. At that price this well balanced, nicely flavored Syrah scores a 3+/5 and will be a definite re-buy.
A fantastic display of character on this wine. Wonderful flavors of honey, granola, and peach make for a very enjoyable experience. A touch of sweetness balanced with good acidity make this an elegant mouth feel that begs for more. At only $15, another fantastic display of quality and value from Finger Lakes. The 2007 Heron Hills Riesling is a lesson in quality and value for the region. Classic Riesling aromas of petrol, mint, and citrus translate into elegant medium-dry flavors of honey, granola and peach. A fantastic showcase that scores 4+ out of 5 ($15)
Overheard on Twitter:
|canapes45:||RT @pinotblogger: Heron Hill! Wow petrol. I’m smitten. Perfumy fruit balancing it. Off dry, great acid, long finish. Price is right. A fav! #flxwine|
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. At only $10 this is a big wine with some big back end structure that deserves a 3+/5. I would definitely consider this for a future purchase to pair with food.
100% Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon – 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. 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. At only $14, this is a heck of a value and a well made every day Cabernet. If you ever find this wine on sale for $10-$12, buy several bottles. 4/5
100% Chardonnay from Connor Lee Vineyards with 100% Malolactic fermentation. Two months in French oak. 760 cases Thicker viscosity, more pale yellow than a traditional CA Chardonnay. Mild nose with hints of pear and honey. Big and rich butter, vanilla and pear. No oak to speak of. Felt thick and meaty. Finished with a beautiful acidity that washed across the back of my mouth. At a retail price of $12, this is a very well made Chardonnay. I score it a 4+. So far this is one of the best “value” Chardonnay’s that I’ve had. Kudo’s, Mike! I’m not really a Chardonnay fan but this was an incredible offering for the money. I would venture to guess that it could be found for under $10 in certain locations, depending on sales.
The Kiona Lemberger has quickly become a go to wine for around $10. The wine pairs well with a variety of food and is gentle enough to enjoy without. On the nose I enjoy bright strawberry and cherry with moderate earthiness and minerality. In the mouth a sweet wash of cherry, vanilla and some cola flavors. The wine is sweet and soft with more substance on the back end with some spice and tannin. At just $11 this is easily a 4 (out of 5). This is another incredible Kiona value and a stand out in their wine arsenal.
01 Nov 2010
It is always fun looking back at the previous month seeing where I’ve been, what I’ve drank and all the fun articles and posts that people across the bloggersphere have written. October, like all the months prior to it, proved to be an amazing whirlwind adventure of wine, friends, and more. The thing that separates October from the previous 10 months of this blog are major announcements of Nectar Tasting Room, rebranding from DrinkNectar.com to NectarWineBlog.com, and the completion of the first issue of Spokane Wine Magazine. Through all of this, you have made October the most visited month in the history of this site (six consecutive monthly increases). Thank you for your support!
Here is a look at the best of the best from October 2010. View previous Nectar Monthly Honors recipients, here.
Wines of the Month
Best Value Under $15
This month 10 of the 23 wine reviews qualified for this category. With reviews from Yellow Tail, Pepperwood Grove, and Silver Leaf Winery, there was one clear standout wine deserving of the best value under $15…
Pepperwood Grove Old Vine Zinfandel (Reviewed Here)
Tweets from the machine:
Light burgundy in color and very translucent, can see to the bottom of the glass. At only 13.5%ABV (refreshing for a California Zinfandel), this is on the very low side of alcohol for Zins. Good aromas of blueberry, subtle strawberry, tobacco spice and more. It’s all mellow, but it’s there. The palate is very nice as well with flavors of plums, strawberries and mild pepper. The acidity is well balanced and the finish is lovely. Definitely the bargain find of the four wines tasted. While not complex, there are good flavors in this wine. 3/5
Runner Up: 2008 Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz (Reviewed Here)
Best Overall Wine
The winner and runner up for best wine of the month were both from the same tasting. I was very impressed with the quality and consistency in the Chile red blends tasting. If you’re looking for intriguing new wines to try, keep your eye open for Chilean wine.
2007 Emiliana Coyam (Reviewed Here)
The blend of 38% Syrah, 21% Cabernet, 21% Carmenere, 17% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Mourvedre exploded with massive aromas of fruit, flowers and spice. I loved the fragrant eucalyptus and violets juxtaposed with the spilled spice rack. The wine is also full of flavor in the mouth with a powerful, yet soft dark fruit and evergreen tree. The oak treatment is very well integrated and the 15% ABV does not come across as strikingly hot. The finish on the wine is thick without being chewy or tart. This Bordeaux style wine is top notch wine for just $29 suggested retail. 4+/5
Emiliana is 100% organic and biodynamic.
Runner Up: 2007 Casas Del Bosque Family Reserve
Other Highlights from October
Good News / Bad News
Big news from two of my close friends hit the twitter machines this month. First the good news, then the bad…
- THE GOOD NEWS: @vinotology – I’m here in Washington, Now What? http://bit.ly/aKEoKR
- THE BAD NEWS: @sipwithme – Regional Wine Blogger Bids a Sad Farewell http://bit.ly/dqWSZT
- NEW ADVENTURES: @bakasmedia Rick Bakas ends his tenure at St. Supery to launch a new Social Media consulting business http://bakasmedia.com/?p=47
A Committed Resource
Sean Sullivan spent a considerable amount of time analyzing two Washington State initiatives (I-1100 and I-1105), that could have considerable impact on the way beer, wine and spirits are distributed in Washington State. Sean’s commitment to Washington wine makes him one of the single greatest resources for wine information in our state. http://www.wawinereport.com/2010/10/final-answer-vote-no-on-initiatives.html
Favorite New Series
Social Media Knowledge
Top Post on Nectar Wine Blog
It’s no surprise that the top post of the month, and now one of the top five posts of the year is the announcement of the Nectar Tasting Room. Support has been overwhelming and I appreciate your efforts to help spread the word.
Introducing Nectar Tasting Room http://drinknectar.com/2010/10/04/introducing-nectar-tasting-room/