Monthly Archives: October 2008

From the Wine Bloggers Conference – My thoughts on crediblity

From Dictionary.com 1. capable of being believed; believable

                                       2. worthy of belief or confidence

 

When I started my blog a few years ago, I never really thought about credibility. I figured I was just writing, putting my thoughts and opinions out there for the world to look at and take for whatever they’re worth.  Isn’t that enough? After attending the Wine Bloggers Conference on credibility headlined by Steve Heimoff and Tracy Rickman I am not so sure anymore. Michael Wangbickler of Cavemanwines.com taped the whole session and can be seen here.

 

I would say that “most” wine bloggers get their start in the blogosphere out of pure hobby, as an outlet for an obvious passion about some topic, in my case wine. Writing daily musings about tastings, local happenings and tasting notes about the bottle of wine they had last night with dinner. At this stage do you need to think about credibility if you are just writing your opinion, in a glorified version of a digital diary? I never thought so!

 

But what about when you start to receive emails from wineries and wine clubs and public relations departments, wanting you to review their wine on your blog. Is this the tipping point? At this moment should you start to consider yourself credible in the wine world? 

 

I don’t really know, as I said I never really thought about the issue. I figured that if a winery wanted to send me wine, they obviously read my blog and think I know or at least I sound like I know what I am talking about. A good portion of the banter in the credibility seminar circled around responsible wine blogging and what defines credibility in the wine world. 

 

If you receive wine for a sample and you review that wine on your blog without a disclaimer that you received it for free, is that irresponsible and dare I say unethical? For myself I always post when I get a bottle of wine as a media sample, and others just explain so in the “about” section of their blog. But what if they do none of the above, is that wrong, or does that take away their credibility?

 

Defining credibility in the emerging wine blogosphere seemed to be a touchy subject as well.  In my day job, credibility is defined by how many letters you have behind your name on your business card. (MS, PhD, etc.)  A few things were thrown out as possible ways to judge credibility for a wine blog, such as readership, number of posts, or logarithms calculating the effect of a post on wine sales.  But no one could really settle on what if any of the above really defined the whole story of blog credibility.

 

The best part and the scary part about a blog, wine or other topic, is that anybody can start one. It is up to the reader, whether it be my mom or a winery owner, to decide if I am the right outlet to talk about their product in the public domain.

 

Just my rambling 2 cents!

Cheers!

Categories: wine bloggers conference, wine industry issues | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

Wine Bloggers Conference Day 3 Pictorial

The 3rd and final day of the conference started by me waking to the sound of a text message from Lenn asking if I was ready to go get breakfast. Thankfully he sent the text because I was out for the count and may have missed the last part of the conference. 🙂 I met up with Lenn at Hanks Creekside, right across the street from the Flamingo Resort. A very nice, small diner that served a mean veggie omlet and hashbrowns. I will also admit that, even though I am a vegetarian, Lenn’s applewood chicken smoked sausage smelled and looked pretty good.

First on the agenda was the unconference – which is a conference session in which the participants set the topics for discussion and form small groups to discuss each one. It was quite interesting and I think it turned out very well. The first two discussions I participated in were how Twitter is affecting comment traffic on blogs and the idea of negative reviews. Keep an eye for future posts looking at these two items. The 3rd session I attended was the “Organic Flow” topic chosen by Nick from Winescholarship.com, where having no topic at all stemmed a variety of discussions. Plus, Lenn started popping the New York wine open so we were tasting by 10am. Go figure!

This is what organic flow looks like

This is what organic flow looks like

Organic Flowing

Organic Flowing

After the Unconference we had our final conference organized tasting and with some great Sonoma producers. Again the picture gnomes must have taken the shots that I took of that part of the tasting. After the tasting, we had our last lunch and the organizers each gave a nice little speech and big thank you to all that participated and setup the event.

Joel's conference farewell

Joel

After the conference was over, a few of us were invited up to C. Donatiello winery outside of Healdsburg for a private tasting with the the proprietor Chris Donatiello.  I will do a sepearate review on the wines in a separate post, but here are some of the beautiful pictures from the afternoon.
Ready, Set, Taste

Ready, Set, Taste

Look at all those glasses

Look at all those glasses

The View

The View

Chris (the winemaker) explaining the Aroma Garden

Chris (the proprietor) explaining the Aroma Garden

View Two

View Two

Kick A$$ Basket Press

Kick A$$ Basket Press

After the tasting we headed to an early dinner and some beers with Patrick, Joe (and dudette and baby dude), Lenn, Becky, and Nick at Bear Republic Brewing. Then it was farwell to my conference friends and off to the airport.
Cheers
Categories: wine bloggers conference | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Wine Bloggers Conference Day 2 Pictorial

Saturday was day 2 of the Wine Bloggers Conference and started off with a beautiful hike in the Northern Alexander Valley. The hike started with a easy stroll through Rodney Strong vineyards where we tasted Muscat off the vine and was followed buy a beautiful but steep hike up their Rockaway vineyard. At the top we were treated with a delicious box lunch from Jimtown and wines from Rodney Strong included their famous Rockaway Cabernet.

Getting of an overview of our hike

Getting of an overview of our hike

Erika Strum and Nick Gorevic tasting Muscat

Erika Strum and Nick Gorevic tasting Muscat

Pruned Muscat vines

Pruned Muscat vines

start of the steep hike up Rockaway

start of the steep hike up Rockaway

me

me

Rockaway back label

Rockaway back label

Rockaway and surrounding mountains

Rockaway and surrounding mountains

 After our trip to Alexander Valley we headed back for the breakout sessions of the conference. I didn’t take any pictures during the sessions but make sure to look for my post on wine blogger credibility. After the breakout sessions we were treated to a Grand Tasting of Sonoma wines.

Plethora of Sonoma wines

Plethora of Sonoma wines

me, Becky and Lenn enjoying Sonoma wines

me, Becky and Lenn enjoying Sonoma wines

After tasting through Sonoma, my palate was sufficently fried and I was getting hungry for our dinner at Sebastiani winery.  At dinner we were treated to Alice Fiering giving a keynote address. Unfortunately my pictures of her didn’t turn out, sad because I did want graphical evidence that she came to California. haha
A little cheese and wine before dinner

A little cheese and wine before dinner

The usual suspects

The usual suspects

The Bloggers

The Bloggers

look at all those vegetarian options!!

look at all those vegetarian options!!

After dinner we poured ourselves onto the buses to head back to the Flamingo for another “after party” where Doug from Able Grape brought an amazing selection of his wines to share as well as El Jefe from Twisted Oak who brought the Skulls.
Attentively awaiting the next selection

Attentively awaiting the next selection

The Wines

The Wines

I think it is safe to assume that another stellar day was had by all.
Cheers!
Categories: wine bloggers conference | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Wine Bloggers Conference Day 1 Pictorial

Since I don’t know where to start with the multitude of wine notes, information and stories I came home with from the first annual Wine Bloggers conference I figured I would start with a few pictures.

Here are some from day 1 of the conference –

The day started with a tasting of wineries that source grapes from Kick Ranch Vineyard

Kick Ranch Vineyard

Kick Ranch VineyardTasting at Kick Ranch

After some delcious food and wine at Kick Ranch we headed back to the Flamingo Resort for the first ever speed blogging challenge.

Speed Blogging Table 12

Speed Blogging Table 12

Brave winemaker pouring at the SBC

Brave winemaker pouring at the SBC

El Jefe pouring at the SBC

El Jefe pouring at the SBC

Next up for the day was the blind tasting challenge where I got a good smack to the ego and was knocked out in round 2. 😦
blind tasting score sheet

blind tasting score sheet

After the blind tasting challenge and a nice little “private” event the Dry Creek growers association had (which for some reason I don’t have any pictures of) we heading to the New Zealand Wine Growers tasting. For some reason the only pic I have is my Gary Vaynerchuk groupee shot that Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours snuck into. haha I think I have a few on my iPhone so I’ll upload them soon.
John, Gary Vee and Lenn

John, Gary Vee and Lenn

After the New Zealand tasting we headed to dinner and got pumped by Gary’s keynote. The basic message was you gotta crush it and kill it and make 100K, oh yeah and do what you love!

Megan and Thea

Megan and Thea

Dinner listening to Gary's keynote

Dinner listening to Gary

After dinner we were treated to a New York wine tasting courtesy of Lenn Thompson and Melissa Dobson at PinotBloggers house. A good 40 or so bloggers from the conference showed up, because we had not had enough wine already that day.
Tasting New York on the Deck

Tasting New York on the Deck

Dr XeNo, El Jefe, Taster B

Dr XeNo, El Jefe, Taster B

Russ waxing philosphical
Russ waxing philosphical

Day 1 kicked some A$$ and only setup the rest of a great WBC weekend. Check back in for pictorials of Day 2 and Day 3 as well as my writeups of the event. Congrats to Joel and Allan for putting on a great first WBC.

Categories: wine tasting | Tags: | 4 Comments

Live Blogging from the Wine Bloggers Conference 2008

I am sitting at Table 13

First wine maker up to pour is 2004 Bonterra biodynamic McNab is the Bonterra flagship. Blend of Merlot, Petite Sirah and Cab, approximately 1000 cases, about $45. Nose – blackberry, cedar, leather Taste – spicy, blackberry, cranberry and dried herbs at the finish. Pretty firm tannins, lots of fruit up front with some good cedar and leather notes to balance it out. Still pretty tight for an ’04. A little pricey for the quality.

Next up…

2nd wine, Bink Pinot Noir from Weir Vineyard from the Yorkville Highlands in Medicino. Made from 3 different clones. Made seperately and then blended together before bottling. Nose – rose, floral, a little cedar Taste – cranberry, peppery, a bit of heat, raspberry and dry earth. Very dry after being smooth across the mid palate and a fairly tannic finish.

 

Next…

2005 Clos LaChance Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($30), 100% estate grown from San Marteen on the Northern Central Coast. Nose – red currant, cedar a hint of eucaplyptus, and raspberry Taste-  lot of dark fruit, plum and fig. Fairly full bodied and nice dusty tannins. Not a bad cab, especially for $30, although it is still a bit high.

The pace is quite hard!!

Next…

2006 Boho Chardonnay Box wines ($24) coming from the Central Coast. 55% lower carbon footprint for each box vs the 4 glass bottle counterpart. Nose – fairly oaky on the nose, a bit too much for me, hints of pear and some tropical tree fruit. Taste – not much oak at all until the finish, nice body but the fruit tastes a bit “cooked”.

Next…

 

2007 James David Muscat ($18) Dry Barrel Fermented from Paso Robles, muscat cannelli – first people to taste this wine as it is the first James David release. (twitter ColeDavid) Nose – honey, floral and asian pear  Taste – floral, honey suckle, not too heavy, good bit of minerality on the tongue at the finish. This would be awesome pairing with sushi and Thai food.

Next…

2006 Twisted Oak “The Spainard” from Calevares County. Tempranillo mainly with 66% and 20% Graziano and 14% Grenache. Nose – Nice blackberry, earth and cedar and hints of vanilla Taste – Raspberry, cola, meat. Very nice!

Next…

2006 Dark Horse Zinfandel from the Dry Creek. Nose – Raisin, fig and date Taste – leather, chocolate and lots of good dark fruit, black cherry and plum. Not overly extracted fruit, very balanced with good acid and tannins

Next…

2006 Small Vines Pinot Noir from Sonoma County ($65). Lots of traditional processing, unfined and unfiltered, 15months in oak, 43% new French. Nose – strawberry, cranberry, hint of earth Taste – bright and expressive red fruit. very

NExt…

2007 Cupcake Vineyards Chardonnay (underdogwinemerchants.com)($11.99) from Central Coast, 30% into MLF and oak aged in 50/50 new vs. neutral all American. Nose – tropical, apple, and asian pear, hint of of apricot. Taste – honey, pear, nice minerality, and just a hint of wood. WOW a really nice wine for the price. Nice and tropical, not too typical of a 100% Chardonnay.

Next…

Barrel Samples of the Kanzler Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir ($48)  from western Sonoma County . Nose – nice and fruity  with black cherry and hint of espresso and “creamy vanilla” on the nose. Taste – leather, blueberry, strawbery bit of spice. Important to remember how young it is and how it would open up and age!

Another break… whew think I’ll go say hi to Lenn of Lenndevours blog

2007 Lionheart McGinley Vinyeard Rousanne ($33) from Santa Barbara County. Nose – Key Lime pie, honey with hints of orange zest Taste – nice minerality and apple with citrus and tropical tree fruit. This is a great wine, a bit pricey, although if you get the club price it is $23. Wow the winemaker just said they are only prodcuing 275 cases of wine.

Next…

Sean Minor 2006 Four Bear Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with about 15% Petite Verdot($17) Made at a coop facility, 65% of the sourcing is under contract the rest of on the spot and bulk.  Nose – great raspberry and blackberry vanilla with toast and cola.Taste – lots of dark fruit and leather and good tannins with medium to full body. Quite amazing at $17 from napa valley.

Next…

Yellow and Blue Malbec box wine in tetrapak from Argentina in the eastern side of Mendoza, all tank fermentation and aging. Certified Organic Nose – is a bit tight, but great fruit, not fake at all with blackberry and Taste – very dry fruit with hints of sundried tomato blackberry

WHEW, that was a blast very fun!!!!!!!!!!! The live blogging is over. Next up, the blind tasting challenge is up next.

Categories: wine tasting | 5 Comments

The first North American Wine Bloggers Conference

This Thursday night I will be flying to California for the first annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa California (Oct 24th – Oct 26th).  170 wine bloggers and industry professionals will be on hand to taste wine, learn better blogging techniques and network with fellow wine geeks from around the country.  Make sure to stay tuned over the weekend for live blogging action directly from the conference.  The conference has a live blogging session that will resemble speed dating. During this session bloggers will have the opportunity to taste wines and talk directly with the winemaker and then have one minute to blog about the wines.  In addition to this, I will be blogging as many live updates from the conference as possible as well as twittering the action. (Follow me on twitter as vcuspoon)

 

Make sure to stay tuned to the action and for reports following the conference.

 

Cheers!

Categories: wine bloggers conference | Tags: , | 1 Comment

From the grave yard of 89 point wines

Dhonig, the blogger from 2 days Per Bottle started a group blog entitled The 89 Project. The 89 Project mission statement:

Wine graveyards are littered with 89-rated bottles, but some just might deserve a chance to come back from the dead. What is the difference between an 89 and a 90 rating for a bottle of wine? Sales. A reasonably priced 90 rating flies off the shelf. An 89 rating for the same dollars just sits and sits. The 89 Project invites wine writers, reviewers, critics and bloggers to cross-post anything they write about any wine getting an 89 rating. Let us give these red-headed step children of the wine world a second chance to shine brightly with success, or splat down into ignominious failure.”

 

I have been delinquent in my posting to the 89 Project so this is my first post.  I usually don’t buy wines for their rating but happened to have this wine at a wine bar the other day.  I used my handy dandy Wine Spectator mobile app on the iPhone and checked the rating of the wine and low and behold it was 89 points.

 

The wine I picked up is the 2005 Esporao Red Reserve from Portugal.  The Esporao winery is located in the Alentejo  (DOC) region of Portugal, 180 Km east of Lisbon, in Reguengos de Monsaraz.  The 2005 Red is comprised of 40% Aragonês , 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Trincadeira. The vineyards for the grapes lie on primarily granit and loamy clay soil and the vines are trained on a Double Guyot style system.  This wine has the added benefit of giving me two new wines to add toward my Wine Century Club list.

 

My Tasting Notes-

 

Nose – Raisin, prune, grilled meat, wood

Taste – Blueberry, pomegranate, strawberry shortcake and raspberry

Mouthfeel – medium body, fairly high acidity and firm tannins

Finish – long length, fuzzy from the tannins and nice red fruit flavors

 

This was a great wine that regardless of rating and I would purchase it again. It was 18.99 from Whole Foods here in Richmond which I think is a good price for the quality of the wine.  We had the wine with a cheesy, veggie, noodley casserole and it paired great, very nice for a chilly fall evening.  In addition to the notes I put above, the nose was slightly reminiscent of a good Port, go figure!

 

Cheers!

Categories: $10-$20, 89 Project, wine review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Flu season is coming, time to get your…bottle of wine?

After getting my flu shot the other day I came across an article that says a chemical in red wine may reduce the risk of contracting influenza.  The article on Wine Spectator dot com was referencing a study in the American Journal of Physiology—Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology (click to read the full abstract). The study preformed at the University of South Carolina looked at the ability of Quercetin (12.5mg) to reduce the risk of contracting influenza after exercise induced stress. Heavy exercise reduces the body’s ability to fight infectious diseases such as the flu.  Quercetin is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables including red wine, which contains about 8.4mg per kilogram so there around 6.4mg in a bottle of wine.  Of course mice were used in this study and us humans are much bigger, but I much rather drink two bottles of wine that get a flu shot any day.

 

Cheers!

Categories: wine tasting | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Drinking wine with The Mariner

The other night we had a couple of friends over after we had been out to dinner to chat and drink some more wine.  I headed down to the cellar to make the selection for us and came back with the 2004 The Mariner from Dry Creek Vineyards.  The Mariner follows along with the sailing theme that the winery carries on their labels, showing the family’s passion for boating and the sea.

 

The 2004 Mariner is a blend that includes all five of the Bordeaux varietals.  The blend includes 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot all from the Dry Creek Valley Appellation.

After 18 days of fermenting, the juice went into French Oak barrels for 25 months to age.

 

My Tasting Notes

Nose – Pepperoni, blackberry, cassis and leather

Taste – Sun-dried tomato, cherry, and blackberry as well as hints of sautéed peppers

Mouthfeel – full bodied and bold, great velvety tannins

Finish – long and full of fresh dark fruit flavor

 

This was a great wine that all of us really enjoyed. Great dark fruit flavors and aromas interlaced with great splashes of spiced meat that proved for a nice complex sip.

 

Cheers! 

Categories: $20-$30, wine review | Tags: | Leave a comment

Wine Blogging Wednesday #50 Which wine, which wilderness?

Russ the Winehiker is our host for the 50th edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the monthly wine blogger tasting event created by Lenn Thompson of LENNDEVOURS wine blog. Russ asks us which wine we would choose to enjoy in the outdoors and also to share a favorite hike that you like to go in at this beautiful time of year. You get bonus points for sharing the hike and information about it, picking a locally produced wine and extra bonus points for actually going on the hike and enjoying the wine at the end of the day.
Picking my favorite hike in Virginia was an easy one, as I did this hike the first time when I was 9 years old. Old Rag Mountain is located in the Shenandoah National Park about 10 miles from Sperryville Virginia and is billed as one of the tougher hikes the area has to offer. Roundtrip the hike is approximately 8.6 miles with an elevation gain of 2510 feet. The hike offers everything from wooded steep trails to sketchy rock scrambles to gravelly fire road, a bit of something for everyone.

Info on the hike from HikingUpward.com

 

 

From the upper Old Rag parking area turn left uphill on the blue blazed Ridge Trail next to the closed gate. (If you parked in the 200 car overflow lot on SR600/Nethers Rd. walk 0.5 miles up SR600 where it veers left and in another 0.4 miles ends at the Old Rag parking area). The trail will gradually increase in grade and make nine switch backs before reaching the first of many view points in 1.9 miles. From the first vista point to the west, the Ridge Trail will become more rocky before reaching the main easterly vista on the ridge in another 0.2 miles.

NOTE: From this point to the summit in 0.9 miles, the trail becomes a rock scramble with narrow passages, and several spots requiring hand over hand climbing.

From the easterly vista on the ridge start up the rock scramble, with the first obstacle a 12ft deep small crack in the rock. Climb to the bottom and follow it out to the left. Continue following the blue blazes passing around to the easterly side of the ridge and through another crack where the trail meets a small cliff. From here, the trail will become increasingly steep going through a small cave, before reaching the minor summit where the trail turns left. Be careful to follow the blue blazes, as there are several false trails that lead to overlooks.

After passing around the minor northerly summit, the trail becomes less steep, but still requires rock-hopping for most of the remaining 0.3 miles to the true summit, where there are several points with 360° views.

Continue south along the Ridge Trail now descending for 0.3 miles to the junction of the Saddle Trail and Byrd’s Nest Shelter. Turn right descending on the blue blazed Saddle Trail, then in 0.6 miles pass the Old Rag Shelter. Both shelters are available for day use only. From the Old Rag Shelter the trail widens and follows a forestry road for the 0.4 miles to the intersection of the Berry Hollow Fire road (left), Old Rag Fire Road (straight), and Weakley Hollow Fire Road (right).

Turn right downhill on the yellow blazed Weakley Hollow Fire Road. In 1.2 miles pass the Robertson Mountain Trail, and in another 200 yards the Corbin Hollow Trail. Continue along the Weakley Hollow Fire Road the remaining 0.8 miles back to the upper parking area.

This past Saturday the weather was perfect, mid 70’s, clear blue skies and lower than normal humidity, a great day to make the trek up Old Rag. It has been a couple of years since I had hiked it so I was really looking forward to it. On the journey with me that day were my wife, my sister and her husband/my best friend, all ready for the adventure. We got there a bit late (9:30) so the upper lot was already full as it only holds 9 cars and parked in the lower lot adding about 1.6 miles roundtrip to the hike. The hike was fantastic although at the tough sections there were some bottle necks of people as they tried to maneuver the tricky rock scrambles, all in all it was a great day that brought back tons of memories. Check out the below pics from the hike, they capture the day better than my words.

Megan at the start of the hike

Megan at the start of the hike

John 2/3 of the way to the summit

John 2/3 of the way to the summit

View of the rocky summit

View of the rocky summit

View looking West

View looking West

Jeff spies something..don't get too close to the edge!

Jeff spies something..don

watch out for falling rocks

watch out for falling rocks

The Sign to the summit

The Sign at the summit

On the small 1 lane road that leads to and from the parking area for the trail head and parallels the Hughs River there is a small Virginia Winery called Sharp Rock Vineyards. Megan and I have been to Sharp Rock before, about 2 years ago, and were in need of a return visit. After we unloaded our packs and wiped off some of the grime, we meandered the mile or so from the trailhead and crossed over the river to Sharp Rock’s tasting room. Sharp Rocks tasting room is a converted old barn with the tasting room located above the barrel and tank rooms. It was a beautiful day, so the patio was full of people enjoying the vineyard views and surrounding mountains, as well as the wine.

After our tasting we decided that the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc would be perfect to quench our thirst after a hard four and a half hours of hiking.

My Tasting Notes

Nose – citrus, cut grass, lemon zest

Taste – tangerine, grapefruit, citrus, good stony minerality

Mouthfeel – crisp, light body with decent acidity

Finish – medium in length, very clean and dry

We shared this bottle on their back porch as we overlooked the vineyards and mountains, talking about how sore we might be the next day. There is nothing better than be exhausted after a great hike and enjoying some nice wine in a great setting with family and friends.

Thanks Russ for a great WBW selection! I think I get the gazillion point award for this post. haha

Cheers!

Categories: $10-$20, virginia wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine tasting | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Going Blind

If you have never been to a blind tasting before, you are missing out. They are loads of fun and give yourself an opportunity to really test you wine tasting skills.  The Wine Cellar here in Midlothian had a special tasting this past Sunday night that paired ~$25 wines against ~$50 wines of the same varietal to see if we could really tell the difference. The first hour of the tasting all the bottles were bagged up, and then the second hour we were giving our cheat sheet and the bags were removed to see how well you did. I was about 40% correct and the wife was about 60% correct, definitely a shot to the wine ego.  The cool part was that of the a few of the wines I got “wrong” I liked them better and scored them as the more expensive wine. I should’ve known better!


We had 18 wines to taste, 9 different pairings from all over the world. Below is the wine list and my tasting notes for the evening.  On the original tasting sheets all were told was where the wines were from and what the varietal was. On the “cheat sheet” it gave us the prices and the winery.

 

The Whites

Verdejo from Spain

A – (Naia $17) – round, lemon, citrus, crisp finish of lemon zest and mineral

B – (Naides $31) – oaky, pear, thinner and more acidic than a with tropical fruit notes

 

Chardonnay from California and France

A – (Domaine Vocoret Premier Cru Chablie La Foret $33) – pear, apple and a hint of tangerine, clean mineral finish

B – (Hartfort Court Four Hearts Vineyard $46) – very oaky nose, cooked fruit aromas, weird hint of spiciness (could be alcohol), wood, applesauce flavors on the finish

 

The Reds

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A – (Vinum Cellars Slow Lane $26) – meaty nose, raspberry and leather, dusty tannins

B – (Veraison Stage Coach Vineyard $55) – green veggie notes, black raspberry aromas and flavors, strong tannins

 

Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A – (Jordan $58) – cedar box, loads or fresh raspberry aromas, with black cherry and leathery notes, firm tannins

B – (Hart’s Desire $31) – cedar, blackberry and leather aromas with big tannins and a cooked green bean finish

 

Napa Valley Merlot

A – (Ghost Pines $23) – tomato sauce and grilled meat aromas, raspberry flavor predominant with dusty tannins

B – (Shafer $53) – dark fruit nose, not as full and round as A, more intense fruit flavors, hint of leather and a bit of “heat”

 

Oregon Pinot Noir – Same Winery

A – (Panther Creek Freedom Hill Vineyard $45) – raw green bean nose, strawberry, cedar and rhubarb with cranberry flavor at the finish

B – (Panther Creek Winemakers Cuvee $25) – smoky cardboard aromas, earth and rose, not a fan

 

Petite Sirah

A – (Rosenblum Rhodes Vineyard $28) – amazing pepperoni on the nose with sweet cedar and black currant flavors good acidity and smooth

B – (Peltier Station $17) – rasin, prune and fig on the nose, very round and plush on the palate yet nice dry tannins, fruity fun wine

 

Shiraz from Barossa and McLaren Vale

A – (Hugh Hamilton The Rascal McLaren Vale $21) – hint of funk, cabbage and licorice on the nose, mostly cherry flavors and a dry finish

B – (Thorn Clarke Willam Randell Barossa Valley $38) – floral and caramel on the nose, dark fruit good acidity and tannin integration

 

Zinfandel from the Same Winery

A – (Rosenblum Harris Kratka Vineyard $40) – raisin, fig and chocolate on the nose, blackberry and leather flavors good dry finish for such a fruity wine

B – (Rosenblum Aparicio Vineyard $28) – lighter fruit flavors than A, caramel and Port like aromas, with butterscotch flavors at the finish

 

There was a great turnout for the event so it was quite crowded around the different tables so there was about 4-5 minutes in between the wines. I think I would have done better if I could have each glass side by side for true comparison, but the logistics of that would be crazy in this setting. All in all a very fun evening, complete with cheese and meat pairings although we only stuck to the cheese. This type of an event will definitely show you that the price tag doesn’t always reflect the quality and that just because it is twice as expensive doesn’t mean it’s twice as good.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some damn good $50+ wines out there, some of which were at this tasting.

 

Cheers!

Categories: wine tasting | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

If the circus sold a Shiraz, this would be it!

With the image of a fire breather on the label, the first thought that comes to mind is that of an old fashion circus. Fortunately the 2006 Vinaceous Red Right Hand Shiraz is much better than circus peanuts, and packs the punch of an atypical Aussie Shiraz.

 

This comes to us from McLaren Vale growing region of South Austrailia. There isn’t too much information on the website about production but this is a blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Tempranillo. 

 

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Blackberry, spiced meat, custard, and ham

Taste – Raspberry, black cherry, green olive

Mouthfeel – med/full body, with the alcohol, tannins and acidity all integrated together very nicely

Finish – long and tight

 

This was a very typical good quality Shiraz from Australia. Very fruit forward in nature but full of meaty layers with wonderful hints of green olives.  At $21, it is a few dollars more expensive than other Shiraz in this quality category but still is quite reasonable.  If you are a fan of D’Arenberg or Langmeil Shiraz give this one a try.

 

Cheers!

Categories: $20-$30, wine review | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Sipping on Virginia Wine – Linden Vineyards 2004 Claret

Linden without a doubt, in my mind, one of the top producers of wine in the state. Their wines are consistently good across the board and their prices really match with the quality of the wine you are getting.  Today I am writing about their 2004 Claret, a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Petit Verdot, 13% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc.  The Claret is offered on Lindens regular tasting room list that is offered for free, and the last time we were there we got to taste the 2004 and 2005 side by side. If you really want to get into the meat of what Linden offers make sure to check out their reserve tasting that is only offered on the weekends.

 

Jim Law the winemaker does a great job of providing info on his wines via their webpage so below is all about this Claret.

Vineyards: Hardscrabble Vineyard (59%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,300 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Deep, well-drained mineral soils give cherry character and good structure. Vine ages from 12 to 19 years.

Glen Manor Vineyard (17%), Warren Co. is on the western slope of the Blue Ridge about 7 miles west of Linden Vineyards at an elevation of 1,100 feet. The deep, fertile soils give roundness. The vines are 9 years old and trained on the French lyre system.

Avenius Vineyard (20%), Warren Co. is just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet contributes good acidity and verve. Vine age is 7 years.

Boisseau Vineyard (4%), Warren Co. is located on a bluff above Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley at an elevation of 600 feet. The vineyard is west facing on light, deep, well drained loam soils. The vines were planted in 2000 and are trained on cordon/VSP trellising.Vintage: 2004 can best be categorized as a roller coaster vintage. The growing season was quite good, with a very early flowering due to a hot May, below normal summer temperatures, and a slightly higher than normal rainfall. Mid August through early September was a beautiful window of perfect ripening weather. Low crop levels combined with an early flowering resulted in a very early start of the harvest under ideal conditions. Mid-September was problematic with a series of rains from hurricanes that brought some dilution and berry splitting. Late September through mid October gave us beautiful sunny, dry weather. The reds were able to take advantage of this. There was much fruit desiccation because of splitting and botrytis from the hurricanes, but this seemed only to concentrate, in a good way, as there was no sour rot or off flavors. The vintage reminds us of 1999, which produced wines with silky tannins, generous fruit and medium body. Harvest for Claret was from October 7 to October 20, 2004.

Winemaking: Double sorting, native yeast, warm fermentation and early pressing give the wine its pretty aromatics and supple texture. Aged in older French, American and Hungarian oak for 22 months.

 

My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Rhubarb, coffee, leather, blackberry, raw bell pepper, and scotch

Taste – Fig, blueberry, eucalyptus and cranapple

Mouthfeel – Medium body, nice acidic backbone, smooth tannins although a tad dusty

Finish – med length, hint of spice and fruity

 

Great and ready to drink now, but still has some legs on it to run for a couple more years. At $20 I think it is a great value, and reminds me of some of the early release 2005 Bordeaux wines that I have tasted so far.  You can purchase Linden wines from their website or from the winery as well as various wine retailers across the state.

 

Don’t forget October is Virginia Wine Month, so now is as good a time as any to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather and visit some new wineries or old favorites.

 

Cheers!

Categories: $20-$30, Linden, virginia wine, wine review | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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Virginia Wine Making Headway on The National Scale

There is a great article on the Virginia Business Magazine’s website today detailing the growing presence on Virginia Wine on the national scale.  What a great way to kick off the 20th Anniversary of VA Wine Month!

 

Here are a few of the highlights – (my comments to each are in blue) Click the article link above to read it in its entirety.

“At restaurant Tru in Chicago husband and wife chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand preside over one of the nation’s most innovative kitchens. The wine list alone tempts patrons with 1,700 labels from venerable producers throughout the world. So why would Chad Ellegood, the restaurant’s wine director, be striding through the dining room clutching a bottle of Barboursville Vineyards 2006 Reserve Viognier from upstart Virginia?

Tru has been offering a 10-course dining experience called the “Sommelier Collection” at the prix fixe of $350 per person, including tax and tip. One of the lineups featured in this special program begins with the Barboursville Viognier. It’s served with a grape gelee topped with a crab and cucumber salad. The meal moves on to nine other courses anchored by ultrapremium wines such as a French Meursault, Italian Brunello and German Traminer Trockenbeerenauslese”

This is great to see Virginia wines being offered on restaurant wine lists outside of the state, especially at James Beard Award winning restaurant in a dining mecca like Chicago.  Barboursville is quite large on the VA wine scale as far as case production goes so I hope to see some of the smaller wineries reaching out across state lines in the future. I realize that this is not in the best interest for in the short term though as it reduces profit margins for the smaller wineries, but in the long term, it will bring more business and recognition to the state.

“These days, insiders describe the industry as “distinctive” and “understated.” Yet the label some people yearn for is “blockbuster.” To get there, they say Virginia and its winemakers need more production, marketing and distribution. Plus, they need to make the price point more accessible. Not everyone is willing to pay the going rate of $20 to $45 for one of the better bottles of Virginia wine.” 

The price-point is where I feel a lot of Virginia wineries get hurt. Production costs are higher due to the small production of most of the wineries and without established reputation it hard to stomach the usually doubled or tripled price points of similar quality wines from around the world.  This is not to say that a good percentage of wineries are charging what I feel is proper pricing for their wines, but a lot of wineries get away with over pricing their product to customers willing to pay for locally produced goods.

“Many of Virginia’s longtime winemakers agree. “We are a provincial, regional industry and always have been, but now there are some big players and people are focused on competition, global competition,” says Jim Law, the owner-winemaker of Linden Vineyards in Northern Virginia’s Fauquier County. “So far, it’s been easy to sell Virginia wine to Virginians, but we will soon saturate that local, patriotic market, and we won’t be able to sell wines just because they are from Virginia. We’ll sell wines because they are of high quality.””

Well said!

“Reports about Virginia wines in influential publications have been kinder recently, after some rocky decades. The watershed tribute to Virginia winemaking that appeared in the New York Times in 2000 — written by the late Times staffer and gourmand R.W. “Johnny” Apple Jr. — reflected the critical skepticism of the 1980s and ‘90s.  The headline read, “Jefferson Gets His Wish: At Last, a Decent Bottle of Virginia Wine.”

Then came Virginia’s anointment last year by Travel & Leisure magazine. Wine and spirits editor Bruce Schoenfeld gave the state’s industry a big boost by including it, along with regions in Italy, Spain, Chile and New Zealand, as one of the world’s up-and-coming wine destinations. “Until recently,” he wrote, “I’d felt that [Virginia] had been trading on the grape-growing reputation of noted wine lover Thomas Jefferson for 200 years without producing anything worthy of mention. Then a single bottle convinced me that Virginia was ready for consideration.” That bottle was a Barboursville 1999 Nebbiolo. Schoenfeld later in the article also praised the Linden 1999 Hardscrabble Chardonnay.”

In the short 5 years that I have been drinking Virginia, I have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality across the board. So I can only imagine, what kind of changes people are realizing that have been following the Virginia wine industry for 15-20 years.  

So in the spirit of VA Wine Month, get out and experience Virginia wines, find you favorites and buy it up! For out of state folks, a good percentage of the Virginia wineries now ship out of state so there are no excuses. That is unless you are in one of those states that cannot be shipped too. L

Cheers!

Categories: virginia wine, wine industry issues | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment