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)