Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Vinicola del Priorat

Wow it has been a long time since I've posted. Not only that, I need to get back to the whole reason I started this blog, to learn more about wines through tasting them.

I am on a Spain kick, so bear with me. I do it because I know very little about Spanish wines and I think the best way for me to learn (and anyone to learn for that matter) is to taste the wines and try to find out as much information about it as I can.

So, without further ado… Priorat.

Priorat is a county in Catalonia, Spain located in the South West corner of the country. It covers 1,800 hectares (almost 4448 acres) with 74 wineries, producing 2.5 million liters of wine annually.

The wine I chose to help me along, the Onix Classic 2006, made by Vinicola del Priorat. (I try and include the company name as much as possible, even if it is just a corporate designation.) This wine is 50% Garnacha (Grenache) and 50% Cariñena (Caringan).

I looked so hard to find information on this wine, this region, The most I have found is that Priorat produces Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions (QWPSR). Isn’t that one of those acronyms that you’ll instantly remember? SHEESH!

The QWPSR are governed by the Consejos Reguladores, which oversee all aspects of winemaking in their designated area. QWPSR are broken down into several groups (from top quality to bottom quality): Vinos de Pago (Estate Wines), Denominacion de Origen Calificada – DOCa (Qualified Denomination of Origin), Denominacion de Origen – DO, Vinos de Calidad con Indicacion Geografica (Quality Wines with a Geographical Indication), Vinos de la Tierra – VT (Country Wines), and Table wine. It so happens that the region is what is being classified, so in this case, wines from Priorat are DOCa.

A strange observation on this particular bottle, it says Denominacio D’Origen Qualificada. My understanding is that this is a regional dialect translation of DOCa.

Will all wines from this area be of high quality? No. But if the Consejo Reguladors are doing their job, and the winery is doing its job, then the wines from this area has a fighting chance to be decent.

Ok, enough academic gabbing and more about this wine.

It was good. Not amazing, but I didn’t expect to be knocked out by a $15 wine. There was definitely some oak aging on the wine since I found a lot of vanilla and cedar wood on the nose. There was also some brighter notes of strawberry with a little bit of black pepper. It tasted of bright red fruits, cherries and strawberries. But quite a bit of tannin, with more pepper on the mid palate. At the finish I got a hit of vanilla and cinamon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Super Kwanza, Sexy Solstice, etc.

From me to you, be safe, be merry, and drink well.

And if your family gets to be too much, please for the love of all you hold holy, drink the wine first...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday #53 – Wine for Breakfast

Well, not exactly wine for Breakfast, but wine that would go well with breakfast. That is the topic of the next Wine Blogging Wednesday, hosted by El Jefe at El Bloggo Torcido, the blog for Twisted Oak Winery. The posts will be blogged on January 14th.

The rules for this WBW are that it can be anything as long as it is a dry still wine. Nothing Sparkling, no rosé, no dessert wine, no mixers (mimosa).

So now the question is, what the hell do I drink with pancakes and syrup? Riesling? I will have to do some research on this one and perhaps ask my friends… well, perhaps not the friends that are 25 and still doing kegs and eggs on Saturday mornings before football games.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Read 465 blog posts today…

I haven’t posted in about a week, mostly because of a combination of on vacation and focused on dragging my lazy butt out of bed, and a bit of illness. I hate being sick and unable to do what I want my body to do…

Last week, Steve Heimoff wrote on his blog that he wanted to clarify something that I wrote about him in one of my earlier posts. No I doubt that Steve is a regular reader, I bet he has a google alert set up with his name. Steve does not hate bloggers. I do not know what Steve hates; he may post about that in a later post. I think I have made amends in my explanation of my post on the comment section of his post. And keeping track of what post is being posted where is getting to me. Maybe time for an aspirin…

So much is happening in the wine world right now. I just got the new research numbers (Gomberg – Fredrikson, 2008 through October) and it is pretty staggering. A quick breakdown:

Shipments to the US – up 1% (lower that the last two years, but still climbing for now)
California – up 3%
Imported Bottled wine – down 6%
Italy – down 6%
Australia – down 8%
France – down 9%
Spain – even
Chile – up 2% (sweet)
Germany – down 5%
New Zealand – down 6%
Argentina – up 33% (WHOA!)
Portugal – up 11% (really? Cool!)
South Africa – down 15%

Looks like Spanish/Portuguese language countries are doing best.

Then there is the Michigan direct shipping law changes; Tom Wark at Fermentation has been following it closely so you might want to just read his blog for more info.

New York’s retail laws are changing, being turned upside-down, chopped up, and thrown out. I’ll let Debbie Lessner-Gioquindo at Wine Goddess tell you about that one.

Each state is currently taking a look at their budgets and seeing where they can squeeze another couple million dollars. The answer is of course going to be alcohol, so stock up on the ridiculous deals going on right now and fill your cellar up for the tough times coming.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday Summary

For those that are interested, here is the round-up of all the wine bloggers that reviewed Chilean wines last Wednesday. There were 34 by Tim's count at CheapWineRatings.com. That's quite a few!

I am certainly looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It takes all types...

I was searching around Twitter tonight, following people in the wine world. PR people, marketing people (yes, there is a difference), wine makers, importers, retailers, bloggers, enthusiasts, drunks, winos, college kids... ok, maybe not college kids. My point is that while I was looking around at what people do and say and think in the 140 character description they are allowed to have I found this:

"I hate wine bloggers!"

It was so interesting! This is probably the first person I have seen on the vast empty space they call the internet that hates wine bloggers. Of course, some very important and professional write reviews and writers do not particular care for bloggers (Steve Heimoff for example), but they do not hate them. From reading Steve's blog I do not think he does not like blogs and their bloggers. He makes the point that he does not think that blogs will be the next grand moving force of the wine industry as the occurance of Robert Parker for instance. I agree with him for the most part, but I think there will be a small minority of bloggers (which may be quite a few since there are SO MANY BLOGS) that become as important if not more important than print reviewing media outlets.

But that subject has been beaten to death by the wine blogging community, so let me turn to what interested me: http://wine-ing20.blogspot.com/

When I saw this I cracked up. It is a wine blog which has the professed purpose of annoying and insulting other wine blogs. It is written by Over Oaked, Over Extracted, and Flabby Chard, or at least it was at one point in time. Does not seem that anyone is keeping up with the writing.

But it does make one laugh doesn't it? The anti wine blog wine blog? Makes me wonder how many more there are out there.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wine Blogger Wednesday #52 – Value Reds from Chile

(Edit) Evidently I have done a faux pas and I would like to correct it (and maybe apologize. it won't happen again, PWEASE don't ban me from WBW). Tim at CheapWineRatings.com hosted this week's Wine Blogging Wednesday and he chose Value Wines from Chile.

Woo hoo! Chile! I get to write about Chile. I actually know something about Chile’s wines, great country, great wines, very delicious!! Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Blended Red Wines, Late Harvest, Sparkling, Rosé, Elqui, Limari, Choapa, Aconcagua, Maipo, Casablanca, San Antonio, Cachapaol, Colchagua, Curico, Maule, Itata, Bio Bio, Malleco…

Wait… crap, conflict of interest. I work for Wines of Chile, I am on the PR team for the US program. Therefore it is completely suspect if I offer praise and probably not healthy for my job if I offer criticism. Therefore, I’ll offer facts!

Chile has great wine. Nope, not an opinion, or at least not my opinion. Chile was recognized this year by Wine Spectator as the Wine of the Year. Wine Enthusiast acknowledged one of Chile’s wineries as New World Winery of the Year. For more information on both go here.

The quick facts:
-Chile is bringing 2% more wine into the US than last year (almost every other country is bringing in less because of the economy. Must mean people are drinking more Chilean!)
-Most of the wine coming from Chile is Cabernet, next is Red Blends
-Chile is growing! Carmenere, Chile’s unique variety, is up 22%; Sauvignon Blanc up 26%; Pinot Noir up 33%; Syrah up a whopping 42%!

What is my job? To tell you the facts and give you a chance to taste the wine. Yes you, you there with the computer! You there reading this right now. There are too many people who know what they are talking about for me to give you any “marketing” speak. For instance, this blog post is part of Wine Blogger Wednesdays, which I hope to join in on more often for my own personal blogging. There is a group of very respected wine bloggers that have decided to write about the same thing and they do it on a Wednesday of each month and call it Wine Blogging Wednesday. This week the topic was “Value Reds from Chile” (for those that have a hard time reading the title of this post).

I contacted some of the bloggers, offering help and information. If I had known sooner I would have sent samples too (and am still going to send samples to some of them), but I only found out last week about this week’s topic (some PR guy I am…). If you are a blogger and you want more info on Chile, let me know and I will see what I can do. I promise to read your blog and add it to my growing list.

If you are curious and want to hear what other people, people who do not work for Wines of Chile, have to say, here is the list of all the people I know that have posted for this week’s WBW (updated as I receive/find them):

-1 Wine Dude

-Anything Wine



-BubbleBrothers (Second Post)

-Cheap Wine Ratings

-Drink What You Like

-Drinks Are On Me

-Eating Leeds

-Gonzo Gastronomy

-A Good Time With Wine

-Good Wine Under $20



-My Wine Education

-The Passionate Foodie

-Ribbie’s Weblog

-sangre y pajas en flor: binomadic? because.



-Two Days per Bottle

-Under the Grape Tree


-Vinagoth (Second Post)

-Wannabe Wino Wine Blog

-Wine Blogging Wednesday

-Wine for Newbies

-The Wine Case

-Wine Peeps

-Wine Predator



Now the PR part: If you have any questions about Chilean wines, I am probably the best person to ask. I have access to information about almost every wine and know the contact information for each importer, export manager, or Chilean wine PR person. I cannot guarantee samples or access to winemakers, but I will try my best with either. My company also works with Wines of Germany and is starting relationships with Wines of Israel.


Monday, December 8, 2008

If you write it, I’ll read it

From what I have been told, and I have no facts to back this up, there are somewhere between 500 – 800 blogs that have a primary focus on wine. Currently I think I read about 200 of them. From what I have seen, many wine blogs are written by journalists that believe it worth their time to write in two (or sometimes three) outlets to keep their audience happy. Very large portions of wine bloggers are marketers and PR professionals, most of which try their best not to push their product (watch for my post this Wednesday…). The rest are a scattering of wine geeks and hobbyists.

That is a lot of people who all want their opinion heard and they are everywhere is order to tell people about themselves and hope to gain your interest. They tweet on twitter, they friend on Facebook, they shout on myspace, and they do absolutely anything they can to raise their traffic numbers. As my mother said to me, “It’s a bunch of people going ‘LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME.’” That is basically true, but that is what everyone is doing. I am not just talking about bloggers, but all consumable goods. Yes, writing and reading are consumable goods, although I have met too many people that are literally anorexic.

I really enjoy reading all of those blogs. Everyone wants to talk about something and every post is a little glimpse into how someone thinks and views the world. It is particularly amazing to see first how many different ideas are out there and then at the same time to see how many people have the same ideas and express them in almost the same way. Examples of this are how wine bloggers all give their review or opinion of the wine they are drinking right now, and how topics span the entire “blogosphere” (forgive me for using such a word) such as how bloggers reacted to a challenge to their credibility as an information source.

I hope you read a lot of these blogs because they are real people each with their own point of view. Thanks very much for reading mine.



Friday, December 5, 2008

Well, if you put it in front of me…

There is really only one thing that stops most people from becoming more knowledgeable about wine. It is not the amount of time they read articles about the regions or a particular winemaker or a particularly good vintage. When it comes down to it, the roadblock is accessibility.

In order to know about wine you need to taste a lot of wine. And I mean A LOT of wine. The last comprehensive wine tasting I helped coordinate had over 800 wines submitted (two bottles of each, that’s 1600 bottles of wine!!). If you have never been in an office with 1600 bottles of wine, I would suggest trying it. The feeling that you have enough alcohol to host the craziest frat party is quite a trip. That is as long as you do not break any of the bottles (another story for another time).

And then when these bottles are open it would seem a shame not to taste them to see what they are like. That’s my point, where do you have the opportunity to taste 800 wines? Do you think you’ve had 800 wines in your life? Any of the wine bloggers that I read regularly (for list, see sidebar) would say, “Yes, I did that Thursday” but for the vast majority of wine drinkers (and I mean SERIOUS wine drinkers) it would take over two years of drinking a different bottle of wine each night (don’t skip a night, otherwise you’ll have to drink two different bottles the next night).

And the crazy part is that 800 wines is just a drop in the bucket! As I posted in The good of wine ratings, there are over 7,000 different wine brands available, and more appearing DAILY!

So, I feel very lucky to be in a position to taste as many wines as I can get my hands on. It lets me explore the tastes I enjoy and the combinations that are possible. Hopefully my personal insights are also useful to my friends (who read this blog?).

However, as I said up front, the main problem is accessibility. My company only works with two (maybe three) wine country groups, so besides those I am limited in my knowledge. But slowly I taste more wines (and I encourage you to do the same) and continue my wine education.

If you are a wine marketer reading this, I accept wine samples (I’d be a fool not to). E-mail me here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wines Tasted on December 3, 2008

1) Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sur Lie 2007, 12% ALC, AOC Muscadet Sévre et Maine, Loire, France

2) Lucien Crochet La Croix du Roy 2006, 13% ALC, AOC Sancerre, Loire, France

3) François Pinon Cuvée Traditional 2007, 12.5% ALC, AOC Vouvray, Loire, France

4) Domaine du Closel – Chateau des Vaults La Jalousie 2006, 14% ALC, AOC Savennières, Loire, France

5) Catherine & Pierre Breton Franc de Pied 2006, 12% ALC, AOC Bourgueil, Loire, France

6) Les Petites Roches 2005, 13.5% ALC, AOC Chinon, Loire, France


These were tasty. Some a little funky, but all well worth checking out.

1) I got some moist slate on the nose. Something that gave it a little funkiness, something I found really pleasant and very natural. The taste was very zesty, lots of lemon/lime.

2) Liked this wine a lot. Aromas of melon, grapefruit with some spring floral smells. Super minerality on the taste, great red grapefruit and lots of zippy acid.

3) It was like putting my nose in a bucket of fresh cut yellow apples. It was sweet and delicious, with interesting marzipan, honey-apple and caramel flavors.

4) Crazy. Well, interesting is a better word. Evidently this wine needs to be decanted over 3 days (3 days?!). I found the nose to be very almond and kind of like raisons from the box. The taste was like taking a hit of amaretto, with a really large hit of acidity at the end. Again, interesting and worth tasting.

5) The red color was beautiful on this wine (and when was the last time I mentioned color, so it was damned pretty). This is a biodynamic wine, so the nose was very crunchy celery. Not my favorite. The taste was herbal with a bit of slightly unripe sour cherry and some black pepper.

6) Again, another pretty colored red wine. A bit darker than the last one. The nose was all bell pepper with some vanilla and sour cherry. The taste reminded me of a nice earl grey herbal, with more sour cherry finish.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another Thanksgiving, Another Great Memory

I love my mother.

Yes, I think that is a good way to start any blog post. I love my mother for so many reasons, she brought me into this world, she dealt with my diapers, she kept me fed (not an easy task) and she supports me constantly as a single mother.

This past weekend was one of my favorite Thanksgivings I can remember. There is nowhere else I would rather be on Thanksgiving than at my mother’s table. The food is always delicious and the company great. And this year the wine was truly amazing.

A few months ago my mother asked me to go take a look at what she has down in her basement. I went down not expecting too much, it was rather dusty and slightly moist from being embedded in the ground and surrounded by concrete. She and I had gone to Pier 1 to get some cheap wine racks that stack on top of each other so that I could unload the decaying boxes that have been forgotten for many years of their treasures. And treasures I did find!

The prizes that I had found and convinced my mother to open for Thanksgiving were two bottles of Chateau Cheval Blanc 1978. It was like finding a diamond when you had expected a cubic zirconium. Actually, that isn’t fair, my mother has better taste than that. But I certainly did not expect to find such bottles, nor did I expect my mother to open them for Thanksgiving. My parents bought these wines; it was their anniversary year.

But we did! And it was phenomenal. Instead of turkey and the fixings, we had roast beef tenderloin and potatoes. I had several of my friends join us and I really could not have been happier.

You want tasting notes? DELICIOUS! It was so complex with an incredibly long finish and a base earthiness but still some dark berry fruit and… I could seriously go on for another page. As a novice wine geek it was heaven in a glass. Like having that perfect morsel of Belgian chocolate melt in your mouth or enjoying the work of a master artist or being moved by your favorite passage in your favorite book.

For desert we had her classic apple and pecan pies. It was a perfect end to a memorable meal.

And then the next night we had another feast, this time with my mother’s longtime friend from junior high who has been part of the family for as long as I can remember. She and her family came over with their turkey leftovers, and added to our roast leftovers it was another great meal. For this we had a Chilean wine, Altair 2003. Again, a delicious wine and while lacking the decades of winemaking that Cheval Blanc has, still more than a match for the meal and for the company.

It might have come and gone, but the memory still remains. Cheers to you mom, happy anniversary, and thank you, always.
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