Friday, December 25, 2009

Joys of Christmas

It is truly amazing that no matter how many times I come home, there is always something for me to do. There are always things only someone who is a 6'4", twenty something, male could possibly do. It is a shame my little brother will never make it past six-feet tall. All those light bulbs that could have been changed by someone else...

Then sometimes I get to play in my mother's basement, which in the past few years I have begun filling with wine. The moment I arrived home I went into the basement, built the below wine rack and put the four cases of wine away. There are always good things about the holidays...

Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Want You to Tell Me

It is the season for "best of," where everyone has a list of who they think is the best at what they do. There are plenty of top 100 lists, best events, most influential, craziest, funniest, most delicious, etc.

One group that does not get much recognition are the thousands of public relations professionals that are behind the scenes bringing you the events, the samples, the information you crave about the wine industry. Jeff at gave PR people a shout out, recognizing that for wine bloggers there is more wine available than ever before. Samples are spilling off every shelf, and information is being distributed liberally.

And that is who I want to recognize. But I do not want to tell you who I think is best. Being a wine PR guy, I don't think that would make sense. I want to find out who you think is best.

So, for all my wine blogger friends: Click here to take survey and tell me who you think are the best wine regions at promoting their wines, who is the best winery at spreading the word, and who are the best people you would trust if you wanted to get the news out.

Notice For PR Reps/Wineries/Wine Regions

My shipping address has changed. If you would like to send samples please send them to:

Rob Bralow
Wine Post
455 E 83rd Street, #2A
New York, NY 10028

Also, please send me an e-mail to before you send.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Vodka - The Other White Wine

By Rob Bralow

Oh man.

I need to take a deep breath. I do not do vodka tastings very often and switching gears from wine to vodka is not easy. The tastes are just as subtle and the intrigue of finding vast (and I mean VAST) differences between producers and styles is still lots of fun.

But that alcohol is a kicker!

If you have not done a vodka tasting, I would suggest it. You'll be surprised how different each one can be.

I received several samples in the mail and I was psyched to taste them. I received a bottle of Finlandia, Karlsson's Gold, and Chopin. Finlandia is a barley vodka and Karlsson's and Chopin are both potato vodka. Not even close to fair to compare them all together, but really I have no idea what I am doing with vodka, so I thought I'd just have fun and see what happens.

I did almost exactly what I do when I taste wine, except instead of bowl shaped wine glasses, I put them all in rocks glasses. I am so glad I did, otherwise I would have been hit with a wave of alcohol. The rocks glasses gave me enough air to smooth everything out.

The Finlandia was grassy and light, almost a little sharp. I wanted to mix it with something, which is not a bad thing. There is a reason why there is a healthy mixology culture currently in the US. Mixologists (don't call them Bartenders) need a wide range of products to continue to produce tastes and experiences. Finlandia is definitely an ingredient.

The Chopin was earthy and smooth. This could easily have been a drink by itself or something to mix with. I thought the balance between the grassy notes and earthy minerals was nice.

The Karlsson's Gold was my clear favorite. This was dirty earthy with exciting minerals, and a smooth soul. The taste was rich and almost creamy in texture. This is no mixing vodka. This is what my grandfather would love to have in a rocks glass while sitting on a porch.

A great experience. Now I need to go breath some fire...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Hannukah

Quick Taste: Mirassou Wines

I get so excited about opening every wine. Who knows what might be inside? It might be green eggs and ham (although I'm still not convinced that those are worth the risk of eating). The wines might be life changing!

Or not. I received three wines from Mirrasou, a Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and a Pinot Noir. I must say that I did not like any one of them. I found them to be a bit strange, unlike the varieties printed on each label, and unpleasant.

Will you find them that way? Only one way to find out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Holiday Season that is still Sparkling

by Rob Bralow

This is the season to drink the bubbly. No really, there has never been a better time to spend money on sparkling wine. You will never get a better deal on the wine that is out there. A friend of mine who works in retail told me recently that the price wars on under way from the wineries who have the marketing dollars.

Are you having a holiday party this year? Maybe a New Year's party? The way the trends have been going lately, I would be surprised if most people will be going out and renting out bars, clubs, or restaurants for their parties. I foresee more home parties this year, more people spending less for their party, and more sales at the retail stores. Sparkling wine has taken a beating this year, Champagne especially. The producers that are going to survive are going to get behind their brands and give deals to the retailers selling the wine or have the prestige that an off year will not hurt them in the long run.

We'll see what happens.

The wines below I received as samples I recommend all of them. If I happen to receive more samples of sparkling wines between now and New Year's, I will do my best to taste them and review them before it is too late to buy them.

Saint-Hillaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut 2005, France - Bright and lovely, this French wine is so fresh that I can't imagine not enjoying this at any time of year. There is a bright and grassy quality to the nose and the taste is fresh green apple with wonderful dryness. Not enough to make me pucker but just enough to make me want to take another sip. And another. And another.

Vranken La Demoiselle de Champagne Tete de Cuvee Brut NV, France - Creamy and mild, with pear and a little bread. The taste is such an enjoyable combination of creamy pear and yellow apple with a little bit of brine to keep it balanced.

Vingna Dogarina Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut NV, Italy - Smells lightly lime and salt with a little bit of apple and bread. The yellow apple comes out in the taste, with a little lime, pear, and salt. Tastes like heaven when combined with a little bit of dark chocolate.

Marco Negri Moscato d'Asti 2008, Italy - I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Moscato d'Asti. With just a little bubble, a high sugar level and an inversely lower alcohol level, these wines are perfect for after dinner sipping. This one in particular is delicious. The smells in the glass remind me of perfume, lavender, and candied apple. The taste is sweet, but balanced with plenty of acidity.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quick Taste: Chronicle Wines

By Rob Bralow

Of course, hard on the heels of yesterday's post on interspersing interesting commentary in my reviews of wines, I am here today reviewing a group of wines. Or perhaps I am peppering my interesting commentary with wine reviews...

Chronicle was started in 2006 and released its first vintage in 2008. The winery is a boutique winery, which is understood to mean that the winery does not make any more than 500 cases of each wine. The proprietor of the winery says that the next vintage will be release in the Spring of 2010. I received four of these wines to taste and my reviews are below:

Chronicle Pinot Noir 2006, Sonoma Coast, California - There is something really interesting about this wine, reminds me of smoked bacon. There is rich raspberry there as well, but the overwhelming sensation is heat. The taste hits me with dark cherry flavors, lots of upfront fruit that has just a wall of heat sitting on it. It is a good wine and might cool off with more age, but the heat really bugs me.

Chronicle Cerise Vineyards Pinot Noir 2006, Anderson Valley, California - A nose of caramel, cherry, and toast. In my mouth the fruit is HOT, streaked with pepper and toast in a blackberry jam. The heat is intense and becomes the only thing I can focus on.

Chronicle Old Vines Zinfandel 2006, Russian River Valley, California - Here is a good wine. There was a great balance of black currant, toast and black pepper. I tasted blackberry, black cherry with a nice balance and good structure.

Chronicle Bacigalupi Vineyards Zinfandel 2006, Russian River Valley, California - I found blackberry, rosemary, and pepper in the glass of this wine. In my mouth I found black pepper, caramel, toast, with blackberry fruit, but not enough to handle the mouth drying structure and the overwhelming heat.

Maybe I am just not used to California wines, but I thought that the alcohol ruled these wines. There is a lot of potential in these wines. I hope I get to taste next year's vintage to see how the evolution progresses.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reading the Blogs

by Rob Bralow

Last week I was on Jury Duty for most of the week. It was long and boring, and it allowed my Google reader to pile up with posts. When I got back to the office on Thursday, I found over 600 blog posts waiting for me to read them.

Oh yes, I took a look at every one of them. But I really did not read most of them. The vast majority of the posts were wine reviews. Are they interesting? Not really. Seriously, reading the tasting notes of 200 people over 7 days is almost worse than sitting in a windowless room deciding the fate of another person.

It is just that tasting notes from someone else do not really mean anything to me. There are a few bloggers that I might ask for a Zinfandel recommendation, because they live in the heart of Zinland. If I did not turn to my friend who works at Sunset Corners in Miami (she's a bubbly fanatic) there are one or two bloggers that I might ask for advice.

But what are people writing about right now? The answer is whatever marketers are sending out samples of. And that is low priced, high volume wines that everyone has named "value" wines. So far I have tasted many of these "value" wines and I value very few of them. Therefore, I am not really interested in the majority of reviews of these wines. Whenever I see a review of a wine I have tasted, I stop a moment to see if they author agreed with my taste. I have found more and more that I find glowing reviews of wines that I do not think are worth the price of the glass the wine is in.

What I do read are the commentaries that very few bloggers write about the wine industry and their experiences. Not necessarily the review of the wines, but their view on how the wine industry is moving. These are interesting and incite my curiosity. I want to know what these writers are thinking. I want to see if I agree or disagree. I want to know how their ideas will become the next evolution of new media, of wine sales, and of how all of us think about wine.

I will definitely be one that writes reviews of wines I have tasted, because that is what I do, it is the reason why wineries send me their wines. But hopefully I will intersperse nuggets of interesting commentary throughout my wine reviews to keep you interested in my writing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jury Duty - Like a Fine Wine

I have been quite absent lately because I had Jury Duty. I was selected by the lawyers to sit on the jury for the case they were trying.

I found the experience to be interesting. This was the first time I had ever had Jury Duty, and the first time I was on a jury.

I had plenty of time to think while sitting on this jury. Lots of sitting in rooms with no windows either listening to witnesses testify or alone with 13 other people, not allowed to talk about the case so instead we were all just silent. The more I sat there the more I recognized the players in this drama to be very similar to wines I have had.

The prosecution: A clean, clear-cut New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The prosecutor was bright and vibrant, but sharp and acidic. There was plenty of zest, but also a clearly defined structure with no chance of finding more outside the lines.

The defense: A cheerful Chilean Merlot. Smooth and sleek out of the bottle, this is everybodies' friend. That is until you leave it over night when it becomes more harsh and angular. Plenty of variety and creativity, but very volitile.

The judge: A well known and well liked Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Perfectly contained and balanced, with a well defined structure but also the age and experience to easily transition from one flavor profile to the next.

The defendant: An unknown quantity, perhaps a Pinotage from South Africa, or a Cabernet Franc from Ohio. You are not really sure what you have, but you are willing to give it a try. Why not?

The officers of the court, the clerk, the court reporter: The glassware that allows the wine to reach your lips, the corkscrew that opens the bottle, the cooler that keep the wine at a perfect temperature.

The jury: Well, that's me! I mean, you! I mean... the taster. Through all the intructions, the moving, the sitting, the standing, the sitting, the moving, it is the jury to decides guilty or not guilty.

Have you ever served on a jury? Did you find a similar experience?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When Bloggers Get Fooled

By Rob Bralow, Editor

I want to start this blog post with an apology to Randy Watson, The Wine Whore. And I apologize, because I have to call him out on a recent blog post of his.

Currently there are hundreds of wine bloggers. There has been an explosion of wine writing on the Internet and there are now more voices than ever giving people advice, relating experiences, and generally spreading the word about the virtues of wines and their producers.

One of the main topics of conversation among blogs and other bloggers is the dominance of the reviewing publications. The main five are (in alphabetical order) International Wine Cellar, Wine & Spirits, Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator. There are other internationally recognized publication such as Decanter and Penin Guide, but by and large those five are the only publications in the US that retailers use to sell their wines.

There is plenty of argument on the use of the scores of these publications, and on scoring in general. There are many discussions on the marketing towards these publications and the influence of marketing on ratings. There was also a lot of navel gazing regarding the ethics of receiving samples, advertising, press trips, meals, etc. by wineries. The US government has even posted new interpretations on the laws of advertising specifically for bloggers (something I wrote about back in April, before it hit the wine blogosphere... goes to show how important I am in this community).

That is all well and good. Everyone has decided where their ethical compass points them.

So then I came across a post by Randy, giving praise to a winery that told him that they do not submit their samples to "corporate tasting panels, yet still looking for online reviews and general presence..." Randy, a self proclaimed whore for wine samples, praised this winery for not feeling pressured into submitting to these reviewing publications and how honest and genuine this winery is. You can read Randy's entire write-up for yourself.

I am in the marketing business, I work in public relations for several wine companies and regions. When I hear that a winery does not submit their wines to the reviewing and rating publications, I get somewhat curious. Why not? You can always tell them no when they come begging for advertising revenue. I also get curious to see if what they say is actually true and that their wines are in fact NOT submitted to the reviewing publications. So first I looked on the winery's website and found this:

Our winery "does not submit to professional competitions, nor do we submit our wines to for-profit corporations seeking advertisement revenues (in exchange for numeric scores.)"

Fair enough. That seems to be completely consistent with what Randy reported. In fact it seems that this winery has done a great deal reaching out to bloggers and other online reviewing outlets. There is a long list of blog posts discussing the wines (probably in positive tones, although I have not read them all). The prices of the wines are all standard prices for Russian River Valley wines. Nothing too pricey, but in the $25 - $40 range.

I then went to the reviewing publications (since I have subscriptions to all of them). In the International Wine Cellar and Wine Advocate I could not find the wines listed, which surprised me because neither of these publications accept advertising. I then checked the Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator (both publications that accept advertising and send their reps out with a vengeance) and in both of these publications they had their wines rated, as recently as last year's release in Wine Enthusiast, although the late rated wine in Wine Spectator was several year's ago. This entire process took me less than five minutes.

So what happened here? Did Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast purchase these wines, just to give them mediocre reviews? I think there is probably enough wine out there that neither Spectator nor Enthusiast need to be purchasing wines.

I am not writing this post to call out the winery. I am sure this type of thing happens all the time and there might even be a very good explanation of why these reviewing publications have ratings of these wines. I really wanted to relate that my experience has been that bloggers rarely do the research to verify the marketing of the samples they get. If you want to be taken seriously as a wine writer, do your research, ask questions, take nothing for granted just because the winery told you so. Perhaps this makes my job harder. But it also means that I need to be more authentic. It is my job to be an educator, to teach the writers, reviews, bloggers, and everyone else about my clients. One of my favorite parts of this industry is that there is always a story to tell.

Randy said he did not get any marketing materials, only a nice hand-written note with his samples. I would argue that he did get marketing materials. And evidently they were rather persuasive.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quick Taste: A Little Syncopated Rhythm

Music and wine can definitely be combined. Just ask Katie. So when I received a few samples from R&B Cellars, I thought the marketing people had found something wonderful.

The label is classy, the concept simple and the language musical. Each wine has a clever name and what's in the bottle... is ok. One thing I found really strange about these wines that I only equated with Idaho wines, a slight bitterness in the finish.

2007 "Serenade in Blanc" Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, California - There was such a great helping of vibrant lemon and mandarin orange citrus in this wine that I had high hopes to go out and find some oysters. The taste was creamy and started with a lively lime citrus but degenerated into a bitter rind finish. Could do worse for $13.

2006 "Saxy Syrah" Syrah, North Coast, California - Sweet plumb and blueberry on the nose. Then again with the strange bitterness. What was even weirder for me was that after the bitterness was a really pleasant raspberry finish. It was to the point where I just wanted to get past the initial taste to enjoy the ending.

2007 "Swingsville Zinfandel" Zinfandel, Lodi, California - My favoirt of the bunch. Ripe and smooth fruit, centering on fleshy blackberries. The taste was almost sweet at first with spicy tannins coming to give the wine some backbone.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Value Brands

Value is quickly becoming a codeword for cheap and totally destroying the meaning of the word value. Two years ago the word was quality, and everything was the best, supreme, highest quality in whatever section of the world, coastline, river, valley they were in.

Today the word is value, for obvious reasons. Everyone wants to spend less money, they WANT the cheaper wine. It's ok to say it. CHEAP! Let's all say it together like a bunch of little yellow canaries. That reminds me of one of my favorite jokes that was told to me by the one and only Sophie Eustis.

So now, every "Value" brand wants to get people talking about them, get reviews, get bloggers interested in promoting their brands for them. It is exactly what I would do if I had one of those brands as my client. As a blogger, I have been getting a flood of these wines. I received a bottle of Martini & Rossi Asti and Rose for review on this blog.

If you are unfamiliar with this brand, you probably had the brand's vermouth in your last martini. They make a lot of "Value" sparkling wine from Italy, most of it from Asti in the Piedmont region. These two sparkling wines were sugartastic, as one would expect of a sparkling Moscato d'Asti. What these wines did not have was anything else. Really it was Coca Cola with jolly rancher flavoring instead of cola syrup. For someone looking to get drunk, this wine will get you there. However you will have to drink the entire bottle because there is more sugar than alcohol in the wine and you will also have to deal with the headache in the morning...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Courvoisier Exclusif: big and bold

By Mike Feldman, Spirits Correspondant

One day, Rob and I were sitting around sampling through a bottle of wine. Rob started to relate to me the terrible problem he was having of all these people wanting him to review spirits. “Michael” he said, “I just don’t know what to do with all these bottles of booze building up on kitchen table. If only I had someone to give all this alcohol too so they could review it.” How could I not help my buddy out. As it turns out, my new wife-to-be is a lover of spirits as well; I guarantee she’ll be in on reviews as well.

This week, I’ll be reviewing Courvoisier Exclusif, a new VSOP from one of the most widely recognized names in Cognac. This spirit represents a nice extension to Courvoisier line.

The nose was dominated by mild smokiness. The taste is a rich with burnt caramel and smoke. A note of hickory sites nicely on top of a sustained sweetness. While the bottle shape is a clever departure from the Courvoisier standard, the labeling quality makes it hard to love the overall presentation.

Perhaps the most interesting quality of this spirit is it’s big, bold flavors. There is an almost unrefined quality to body of this spirit that is a real departure from other Cognacs. This is Cognac for the whiskey drinker. The seasoned lover of Courvoisier may find this a bit to much, but this may be just the ticket to draw drinkers of other spirits into the realm of Cognacs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Best Wine Party in New York

I find myself wanting to hang out at more parties. I just do not have enough of a social life to be called a socialite, but when I found out about Wine Down, I know this was the party for me.

This is NOT just a wine event. This is THE wine event. Twice labeled as one of The Best Drinking Events in NY by Time Out New York, Wine Down is the place to go to relax without worrying about what's on the wine list. You just know it is going to be good.

When asked about Wine Down, the organizers had this to say:

"Wine Down is a monthly cocktail-style party, hosted by Celebrity Wine Consultant Michael Green, the Wine & Spirits Consultant to Gourmet Magazine for over 19 years. Each event features unlimited tastes of great wines, lively music, and a cool, sophisticated, and eclectic crowd. We've stripped away all of the pretension of traditional wine tasting events."

I have met Michael Green, worked with him in the past, and consider him a friend in the wine industry. If that does not satisfy the new disclosure laws, then I do not know what will.

Wine Down, the Holiday Party, will be held on December 2 at BLVD (199 Bowery, NYC) from 7:30 to 10:30 PM. Tickets can be purchased at

If you are reading this and want to hang out with me (because I know you do not get enough), you get to use the Discount Code "BLVD" for $10 off individual tickets. For all my food and wine blogger friends, shoot me an e-mail and we'll see if I can work out a better deal.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wine 2.0 - Slightly less digital than 1.0

For some reason it feels like we slipped somewhere. There is so much great technology out there, so many new and interesting things, and somehow I saw none of them at Wine 2.0. In fact, I felt like it was very 1.0.

First of all the tasting happened at Webster Hall. This is the place where I go to rock out to upcoming bands, check out some awesome face-melting DJ's. I even think I saw my friend David, the drummer of Sweatheart play there. By the way, in case you wanted to know one of my songs of Sweatheart is "Finger Bangin'." It just has such a catchy chorus, you cannot help but get hooked.

But Webster Hall is a dark music venue. Fun for a night out on the town to do something more interesting than going to another cocktail bar. Not a place where I really felt the technology of and around wine tasting really shined.

And then there was the technology. Not a whole lot of technology was present. You had Snooth, Bottlenotes, Wine Twits, and one or two more. Nothing I found exciting or new or different. Maybe my expectations were set too high, but I thought this was going to be a melding of technology and wine. I found lots of wine, but not a whole lot of technology.

Thank goodness for the wine. There were some great wines there, and I have no idea why. Seriously, at two tables there were wines which had a total production of less than 500 cases. In the grand scheme of wine that is TINY. I asked David Rossi, the owner/winemaker of Fulcrum Wines, a winery that only sells wine through its mailing list, why he decided to come to this event. His response was that he wanted to find out more about the technology of wine consumers. He made a great point about how we now have a good idea of where we are right now. We have twitter, bloggers, rating aggregates, and cellar recording software. Everyone wants to know the answer to a big question, "where is this going?" What is the next evolution of technology? Does it matter? Are wines selling through these channels?

Man, if I knew those answers I could retire to a life of wine tasting and cool ocean breezes.

Another great wine I tasted was 2006 Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a big wine, ready for a year or two on the shelf, but also great with a steak. And a fatty steak at that. Avoid the Fillet with this one. That said, there is some great balance and fruit in this wine.

Another great Cabernet that I tried was from Arkenstone. The first photo that appears on this website could easily be from the bluff of Echo Hill Camp (ah, so many good summers). This is the other winery that I thought had no reason to be at this tasting. These were excellent wines, for appropraitely high prices ($120 for the Cab), and extremely limited productions which were only available through their mailing list.

I did taste a few other wines, but these were my highlights.

Note: Hahn Family Wines paid my entrance fee for this event.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wine Blogging Wedensday #63 - Musings Round-up

I hosted the most recent edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday and my challenge was for people to find their muse, to really get into the writing of their blog post. A select few rose to the challenge and came up with these posts:

  • What was probably my favorite post was from Silene's Cellar. The review was clever and imaginative and showed a true musing with lots of time obviously spent on the post. Silenus waxes about the 2004 L'Oustal Blanc Minervois. Well worth the read.
  • The Suburban Wino worked to bring a degree of eloquence to a 2004 Rivata Borolo and found that task I set to be more difficult than it seemed.
  • Remy from the Wine Case not only showed an excellent writer, but also happened to find a song by Muse from YouTube. The wine he reviewed was a 1990 Torres Mas La Plana
  • Another poet post came from the Wine Undertaker at Undertaking Wine. His wine was the 2005 Schneider Vineyards Cabernet Franc Petit Verdot.
  • Sonadora the Wannabe Wino referenced her muse (was it Thea or the butterfly?) in her post. The wine she reviewed was the 2006 Wertzberger Syrah.
  • Mary at Vindulge definitely spent the time to understand where the wine she wrote about comes from. Her post explored the 2005 Condado de Haza.
  • Kori at the Wine Peeps also found a muse in multiple wines, comparing two Washington state Syrahs, the 2007 Kerloo Cellars Les Collines Syrah and 2007 Syncline Syrah
  • The Chronic Negress tasted a favorite wine of hers, the 2007 Can Blau.
  • Debbie the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess had a short post, although she did say she tasted each sip for 35 seconds. The wine she chose was 2002 Dark Star Cellars Paso Robles Merlot.
If you missed my musings on the 2006 Ca' Del Solo from Bonny Doon, you can find them here.

Thanks to those who participated. Thanks to Lenn for putting me into the rotation.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Wines

I have not posted a list of wines that I would suggest for Thanksgiving, and I am not going to here. There is no question that Thanksgiving is a massive gastronomic event. However the food has always taken second chair to the stars of the show, my family.

Do not spend too much timing thinking about what to have with Thanksgiving. Spend more time thinking about how great it is to have a four day weekend where you can catch up with the ones you love and the ones who love you.

Be safe. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Yeah, that's an old photo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blueberry Pie

There are few things that are less traditional than pie on Thanksgiving. My mother usually makes an amazing pecan pie and another amazing apple pie. Truth be told, I had convinced myself that I didn't like the pecan pie for years until I retried it and it was delicious. Just goes to show that you should always check in with your taste buds, you may find you like what you did not like the day before.

So where am I going with this... I had a party recently where I opened a bottle of Horton Vineyards Tower Series Blueberry Wine. I have very little experience with wine made from anything other than grapes, although my buddy Ryan is trying to get me to taste more cherry wine from Michigan. I picked up this Blueberry wine at Total Wine in Delaware (amazing place without taxes. Delaware that is, not Total Wine).

The Blueberry wine was the life of the party. I was shocked. Maybe I am way too geeked out with this whole wine thing, but I was only luke warm on the wine. My non-geeky friends loved it! Sure, they tasted some of the other wines I had brought, and there was a good response to the wines I thought were good, but none of them compared to the response the blueberry wine got.

For me, the Blueberry wine had a ton of oak. Vanilla, Caramel, toast out the wazoo. Then the oak gives way to blueberry cotton candy on the nose and nothing but sweet, sugary blueberry pie in my mouth. It's tasty, but nothing to go gaga over.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Quick Taste: Turning Leaf

We are truly blessed for the creation of Turning Leaf wines.

It's ok. Please, suck your tounge back into your mouth and close your jaw, it is unbecoming. Let me explain.

If it were not for Turning Leaf, hundreds of thousands of grandmothers would not have a heart healthy glass of wine every night. If not for Turning Leaf, millions of college students would not feel like they were having a special night for $5. And if not for Turning Leaf, wine geeks everywhere would have nothing to compare truly great wines to.

We all need the low end of the scale in order to appreciate the high end. And there is no question that Turning Leaf is the low end. I tasted the Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2008 vintage. I cannot tell you how happy I was to see a vintage, unlike some other super value brands I knew that this wine has not been in a warehouse for 25 years.

How were they? Fresh, juicy, and completely forgettable. The Chardonnay was buttery, the Merlot was innocently sweet, and the Cabernet Sauvignon has no definable characteristics that I could determine. This is something common in the very low end, I have found. These are not wines for the intellectual. These are wines for grandma: comfortable, safe, boring, and alcoholic.

Wily Jack: The New Market Brand

Continuing from the discussion on marketing and "branding," when was the last time you saw a brand? You know, one of those metal pokers with a design on the end of it that one heats up before pushing it into the backside of livestock. I am a city boy, born and raised in Philadelphia, lived in Chicago for about five years and now I am living in New York City. Just about as far from livestock as I could possibly be.

S0 when I received a brand in the mail with a few wines it caught my attention. Its not every day wine comes with a big toy.

Wily Jack, Diageo's newest brand launched on October 1, has all the markings of marketing powerhouse. Even Eric Asimov, wine writer for The New York Times, wrote about it on the website (I refuse to call that a blog). Really, it was a big red flag that these wines have been made in a boardroom, mass produced, and pushed out to the world with a clever story and a lot of money behind them. Working in PR and marketing (if you do not know where I work by now, then you are not paying attention) makes me especially jaded to flashy labels and fictional story lines.

However, no matter what the marketing might be, I need to be able to taste the wines. And for the most part, for $8, the wines were drinkable. The 2008 Chardonnay was the worst of the bunch for me, all butter and cream and no fruit, no freshnes. The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was overly sweet, with a ton of tannin. Still missing out on the fruit. The 2007 Zinfandel was the best of the bunch, with cinamon spice, plum and black pepper.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quick Taste: Les Deux Rives

I am trying to get through a value pack that I was sent from Pasternak Imports. For the most part they have some great wines in their portfolio, but I did not love this wine.

It was the Les Deux Rives 2007. The wine is from the Corbieres Rouge AOC of France. I found a distinct herbaceous smell from this wine, very much along the lines of green beans sauteed with garlic and almonds. The wine tasted similarly to how it smelled. There was some cherry and cinamon, but the prevalent taste was green.

Ah well... every wine can't be for everyone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Bottle a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

I know it seems like I am writing up a storm right now, but I happen to have the time to do it, and so many interesting things are going on!

For instance, (that bastion of English wine journalism) reported yesterday that a new study was published in Heart on the benefits of drinking an entire bottle of wine a day. Heart is a London based medical journal that specializes in all maters of cardiology. This particular study, authored by Dr. Larraitz Arriola found data to show that by drinking a bottle of wine each day you can lower your risk of developing heart disease by 50%.

I am so on the ball with this one.

This is not to say that we should all go out and guzzle down some cheap Auzzie Shiraz at the next opportunity (although I am sure their wine industry would appreciate it). On the flip side of this study are plenty of researchers, doctors, and Indian chiefs (yes, I made that last one up) who are all saying, "Perhaps you will save your heart, but say adios to your liver and hello to brain damage."

I never knew alcohol caused barin damgae.

At the end of the day the message is clear. Drink to enjoy to the drink, and not the drunk. Well, I guess you can enjoy the drunk a little...

Marketing and Me

Jeff over at Good Grape: A Wine Manifesto wrote a very interesting article on the influence of marketing groups on the trends of consumer wine buying. He uses Chile's marketing push with the group Wines of Chile as an example. I find it interesting, not only because of the subject matter, but also because he decided to interview me for it and included a small quote from yours truly.

The spotlights of fame are already highlighting my way. If you actually went and read the article, you'll notice that I don't say much. Maybe fame is not in my future after all.

But the idea that the next wine trend is in the hands of the marketers is still very interesting. It really means that whomever has enough money and is posed at the right moment in history can turn an unknown region into a superstar. And I cannot highlight the right moment in time enough. I would argue that right now is Chile's time. The US wine consumer is looking for wine under $20, and Chile delivers. So does Argentina, who is up an insane amount, as does New Zealand, who rounds out the only three countries that have shown an increase in volume coming into the US in 2009 through August.

Is that about marketing? I know that there is a LOT of French marketing going on right now. Australia has not let up. So obviously there has to be more than marketing behind a wine region. You need buy-in from the real influences of the wine industry, retail sales people and servers (note, not sommeliers, but servers, AKA waiters/waitresses. There are a lot more restaurants that have servers than there are restaurants that have sommeliers). And then you need buy-in from the people drinking the wine.

There are so many factors that it boggles the mind. But if you do it right, and keep at it for several years, eventually the money pays off. Like right now, with Chile.

Note: Within the last year I worked for the marketing organization Wines of Chile.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quick Taste: More from the Hummingbirds

I have already written about Clos LaChance, but they decided to send me another bottle to review, so I will review it.

The wine that was sent was the 2007 Clos La Chance Crimson Topaz (of the Hummingbird Series) Meritage Red Wine, from Central Coast, California. Yup, that's a mouthful. And so is this wine, best one from the winery I have tasted to date. The wine has nice dark red fruit, black cherry and sweet blackberry on the nose. The taste is soft, a pleasant cherry, milk chocolate, and great length.

For about $18, easy to pick it up and have with dinner on a Tuesday night.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Viu Manent - A Vibrant Winery with a Winemaker to Match

When I was working with Wines of Chile, there were many wineries that I really enjoyed working with. One in particular was Viu Manent. The winery is in the Colchagua region of Chile and was at one time horse grazing land of the Marchique, the native Chileans.

I was reminded of how much I liked the winery when I was a fly on the wall during the second Online Blogger Tasting hosted by Wines of Chile. If you would like to watch the entire tasting with the winemakers and moderated by Michael Green you can see it here (although I can say from experience that a tasting is a lot more fun when you have the wine in front of you). The theme of the tasting was Carmenere and I thought that listening to these winemakers talk about their wines and Chilean Carmenere in general was a great experience for anyone that enjoys the interaction of wine blogging.

The winemaker from Viu Manent is Grant Phelps, a kiwi who found a place in the wine country of Chile. I was in Chile in August 2008 (during their winter) and met Grant with a group of wine buyers and sommeliers. There is something so refreshing about his sarcasm that makes it a pleasure to laugh with him. Not only that, he makes some good wine.

During the blogger tasting, Grant was talking about his Carmenere. However, I think Viu Manent's real strength lies in their Malbec, which some might be surprised at since all too often Malbec is associated with Argentina, the other major winemaking power in South America. Grant has found his stride with Malbec, making an amazing high end wine, the Viu 1 as well as a Single Vineyards, Reserva and Secreto Malbec.

I recently got the chance to taste the 2005 Reserva Malbec and the 2005 La Capilla Estate Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were delicious and amazing values. The Reserva Malbec smelled ripe, with dark berry fruits with a taste of fleshy blackberry. It was also nicely balanced in its acidity, giving me enough of a dryness to make me want to take another sip.

The 2005 La Capilla Estate Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon had a healthy nose of toast among cassis and black currant. The taste came with powerful blackberry and black cherry ripeness.

Full Disclosure: In the past year I worked with Wines of Chile and currently work with one of the wineries that presented at the Blogger Tasting, Vina Carmen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Muse - Wine Blogging Wednesday #63

I have twice met this man named Randall Grahm,
and each meeting I left as a genuine fan.
He is a respected winemaker,
an original Rhone Ranger,
whose ambition is to make the best wine he can.

Grahm's market sense is as prescient as Dune.
He started the Big House, and left to keep Doon.
He's now Been Doon so Long,
he's long from a swan song,
and now follows the phases of the moon.

I last met him at the Wine Bloggers' Conference,
where I was privileged to taste his new Cigar Volant.
It was tasty and smooth,
it had a jive groove,
and I was pleased he was there as a sponsor.

There I asked what he thought of new media
and if he felt this was the evolution of media.
He said he's not sure what to think
or if it will stick,
but he is happy to get past Wikipedia.

Then up came another fan, the Canadian Wine Bard,
who by the way just said her vows in the vineyards.
So I went on my way,
anticipating the next day
when I will again meet Randall at a wine bar.

So for today's Wine Blogging Wednesday
I have chosen to review Grahm's Sangiovese.
He calls it Ca' Del Solo,
and it is a great value.
I picked it up for about thirteen and eighty.

I enjoyed this wine for a lengthy amount of time,
about 35:31 to be exactly in line.
Nose of clean strawberry,
with flavors of ripe cherr,
make this a simple but delicious wine.

If you participated in WBW email me here
and I will recap your post, never fear.
You need not have rhymed
nor be a limerick like mine,
but I hope you used the same sum of flare.

A shout-out to WBW founder Lenn Thompson, for letting me host this WBW.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Whole Package is Important

Let's say that you are a not-unknown blogger, who on a regular occasion received packages from wineries, distilleries, and a few other 'ies.' Let us further suppose that on a regular basis it is the items within the package are someones products that they would like for you to review. Many come in ugly packages, brown boxes, Styrofoam cases, and all other manner of ways that probably harm the environment. You are used to them all, but notice each one and it gives an immediate sense of how the sender thought about their products.

So, what do you think the person that sent me this box thinks about their product:

Today I received that in the mail. It is a used paper ream box, stuffed with brown paper, with each of the bottles of wine (yes, multiple) were surrounded by one sheet of bubble wrap and a rubber band. There was a perfectly neat and pretty press kit sitting on top of this mess.

People, the whole package matters. PR/Marketing to wine writers is all about judgments and the careful balance of impressions. This kind of packaging does NOT make a good impression. It immediately makes me think that the wines inside are "cheap," "unloved," "uncared for," "probably not worth my time to open and taste."

Sure, I understand, I am only a blogger. I do not write for a syndicated publication. No other blogger talks about me, I have never been highlighted by anyone else as being worth listening to. In fact, I am not sure why you are sending wines to me in the first place. However, you have no idea who reads my blog (besides my mother that is, you've probably figured out by now that she reads my blog and probably buys a good deal of wine). It is both the biggest problem and the greatest advantage to the Internet. You never know where the next news story will come from and if it is YOUR product that is going to ride the wave.

Give your product every opportunity. There are plenty of other people that are making their products look really good. There is no need to make your wine look worse.

For the record, I will taste these wines, far from this discarded box. I will taste them among other wines and judge them for what they are worth, rather than how the sending felt about them.

Quick Taste: Cycles Gladiator

You know how to sell wine? Get it banned in Alabama.

That could basically be a business plan for any product. Honestly, I cannot imagine it would hurt to get a product banned in any state, as long as it is still available in the other 49.

Cycles Gladiator was lucky enough to be banned because of its label. I have the image here, so you will have to tell me if my blog should be banned as well.

However this is old news. Really old news. I think this was reported on 1,238,423 other blogs before I made the decision to write about it. So why am I writing about it? I just tasted the wine. A friend of mine slipped me a bottle at the Wine Blogger's Conference. I guess I am not on the winery's sample list yet (that's me teasing the winery's PR person a little bit).

I tasted the Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir 2008 from California. The wine had sweet cherry and vanilla aromas and a simple red cherry, raspberry. It is a good table wine, easy drinking and a nice compliment to good company.

The concept behind the brand is all about the freedom of cycling. I have no idea what that feels like, I never learned how to ride a bicycle...

Monday, November 16, 2009

A beautiful day City Winery

Look at the gorgeous blue. It was a wonderful day when City Winery decided to hold a tasting with their partners: BottleRocket Wine & Spirit, Wine Twits, WIRED, and Riedel. In case you do not know, City Winery is a custom crush winery in Tribeca (litterally on the island of Manhattan). You can make your own wine there and be part of the whole process.

The tasting had an entrance fee of $30 that the organizers of the event waived. I did not learn until I got to the event that the proceeds of the event were going to charity. I probably should have researched the event more before I went, but I just did not have the time.

So there I was when I read the booklet given me, which had directions on how to tweet about the wines during the tasting. Luckily they had the codes of each wine next to each of the wines in the tasting booklet.

Every event should have a tasting booklet. It allows you to go into these types of events with a game plan. For this tasting I decided I wanted to taste whites and Pinot Noir. If something else was interesting on the table (like a Dornfelder, or a sexy Napa Cabernet) I wasn't going to limit myself, but I wasn't going to shoot the moon and try for everything.

I hated the experience. All I wanted to do was taste the wines, talk about them with other wine enthusiasts, and get back to the amazingly beautiful day. Adding the need to tweet into this kind of walk around tasting, one where I did not have a handy laptop and table top to put my glass, pencil, tasting booklet and whatever else I had, and instead had to juggle everything while I pulled out my iPhone to tweet my notes... Every wine was taking 10 minutes to taste. I can usually pull everything I need to out of a wine within 3 minutes. If it is a worthwhile wine, I can site there for 5-6 minutes, but man... 10 minutes is a LONG time.

So I stopped tweeting. The organizers did not seem to mind, there seemed to be plenty of people who liked doing the "Spit & Twit" and the video screen with the updates was always flipping to someone else's review.
Instead I started tasting some great wines. I will only go into a few here, but I suggest checking out all of the wines at BottleRocket. It is a great retail store and have a thoughtful selection of wines.
Szigeti Gruner Veltliner Brut NV - It is very rare that I taste sparkling wines made from Gruner Veltliner, but this one was steller. It was so light and refreshing and had a wonderful dryness that made me want to take another sip without mouth puckering tartness.
Bear Flad White Blend - A fun wine made by a couple people who work in the California wine industry and decided to make their own wine. They make two wines, a white and a red. The white was perfumed on the nose somewhat like a viognier and had a smooth sweetness to the taste. I learned it had 20% Muscat and 20% Colombard in the wine and I would definitely say those grapes took over. The label however is somewhat funky and cool.
Cult Vines Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Vineyards 2007 - Wow. Delicious wine. Smooth fruit, fleshy and enticing dark berry flavors. A rich vanilla with smooth silky tannins blended with blueberry, black cherry, and ripe plum.
Benziger Family Signaterra Pinot Noir Bella Luna Vineyards 2007 - Floral aromas with delicate spice and smoky undertones. The taste was dark cherry and rich minerality.
Lucie et Auguste Lignier Morey St Denis 'Clos de la Sionnieres' 2006 - Sour cherry nose and taste. Delicate and easy to enjoy, but really needs something to eat with it.
Check out the slideshow below for some bottle shots and images of the event.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Announcement: Wine Post Now Reviewing Spirits

For over a year I have been writing about wines and my own impressions of the wine world from the vantage point of working on the marketing side of wine. I have gotten to travel to places around the world and around the US, tasting wines, talking with other people in the industry and finding out for myself what makes the wine world tick. I make no apology when I say that in the greater scheme of the wine world I am but a novice learning how to learn.

Recently another aspect of the beverage world has impeded upon my psyche: spirits and mixed drinks. I know nothing about this area, besides the drinks I think taste good and the drinks I find barely palatable. There has been a great deal of pressure put on my to begin reviewing spirits, but I could not in good faith say that my opinion would be worthwhile.

Therefore, I have recruited Michael Feldmen, a longtime enthusiast of brown spirits, and Anna Haykin, a gastronomic expert who loves food, drink, and all combination thereof. Neither Anna nor Mike work in the food or beverage industries and it will be up to them how often they write. I will let each of them introduce themselves in their own time, but do not be surprised if you see their by lines on future posts.

For those PR people chomping at the bit to have their products placed in front of either Mike or Anna, feel free to email

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quick Taste: Maison Bouachon

A while ago (and I mean forEVER ago) I received a ton of wines from Robert Skalli, the best of which were the Maison Bouachon line. I almost wish the PR people that sent me the wines were a little more pushy about getting a response from me. I know, tough line to walk so I don't blame them too much. I blame myself.
From the Maison Bouachon I tasted their Chateauneuf-du-Pape "La Tiare de Pape" 2006 and Cotes-du-Rhones "Les Rabassieres" 2006. I found the Chateauneuf to be ripe with cherry, vanilla, and sweet milk chocolate. In my mouth I had a smooth blueberry, black pepper, and ripe cherry taste with some soft tannins. Pretty good wine.
The Cotes-du-Rhones had spicebox, cinnamon, and red cherry aromas and was a pleasant wine with some raspberry, but it really dropped off at the end.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No one talks about Robert Parker like Steve Heimoff

Ye Gads! I am a bit tired of the Parker this and the Parker that. Moving past Parker, dealing with Parker, praising Parker, dismissing Parker.


This latest rant comes from reading Steve Heimoff's most recent edition of his Life after Parker series. First he sets himself up as Parker's defender against the nasty bloggers, and then going on to highlight points in a Decanter article (about how the 2009 Bordeaux vintage is going to be diffiuclt to sell to the US consumer) that make it seem like Parker's influence is at an end.

This premise is missing several very key points (here, here and here) in this discussion that has nothing to do with Robert Parker, the rise of bloggers, the failings of current print publications, or event how good or bad the 2009 vintage is.

So then I decided to see how many blog posts Steve writes while mentioning Parker on his blog. Then I decided to see how often other bloggers write about Parker.

Yeah... sure... Parker's on his way out. That's why all of these bloggers can't stop talking about him. You go to any wine blog and search "Robert Parker" and you will find tons of references.

How many times have I mentioned Parker or Heimoff on my blog?


Fortunately my search tool seems to be broken... If someone finds a number let me know, because I definitely reference both on occassion.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Have you tasted your WBW wine?

Have you tasted your WBW wine yet? Well you should have and should start writting about it!

For those that have forgotten, the information about the next WBW is here.

Schloss Reinhartshausen - Taste Live

My own personal fail. I had everything ready to participate in this tasting. Then I had to go out and totally missed the entire event.

I came back and everyone had finished tasting! UGH! So I started tweeting anyway.

Wine 1: Schloss Reinhartshausen Foutain Blue Riesling 2007
Wine 2: Schloss Reinhartshausen Old Vines Riesling 2007
Wine 3: Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbach Schlossberg Monopole 2007

RobBralow: #TTL wine #1 Fountain Blue, lemon rind, wet creek smell, taste like a lemon drop rolled in salt and then lemon zest

RobBralow: #TTL #winesofgermany not digging the old vines #2. in my glass nothing but acid and petrol @winebratsf (at about this time Thea noticed I was doing #TTL about 2 hours late and by myself and she laughed at me)

RobBralow: #TTL @winesofgemany wine #3 smells like peach/apricot buttercream frosting. buttery smooth with late peach and brine flavors

Looks like I forgot to Tweet about the last wine, but it was my favorite. It was the Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbacher Marcobrunn Auslese 2006. It smelled of candied apricots and has a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. So worth picking up if you can find it.

All of these wines were from the Rheingau region in Germany and all were samples that were sent to me by Wines of Germany.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Rant - RE: That Customer

If you do not read Frankly My Dear, you should. Christy Frank is the owner of a retail store called Frankly Wines and has some great insights into the wine industry.

Christy has a series going about being "That Customer" and I think it is worthwhile for everyone to read, for no other reason than how amusing it is to think about watching "That Customer" interact with everyone else.

People, this is a serious illness. You have no idea how not funny it is when you have to deal with "That Customer." It's like trying to remove that last bit of food that won't come out between your teeth. It's like having an itch on the bottom of your foot while you are sitting in a business meeting.

The most recent edition of "The Customer" centers around people at wine tastings. I go to wine tastings on a regular basis. I just went to one at City Winery yesterday, as a blogger instead of a pourer. And probably the most annoying people at tastings are the ones that like to clink their glass on the bottom of the bottle lip while you are pouring them wine.

People, I know you don't want a lot of wine. It's a TASTING. Give me the benefit of the doubt that I am not a booth babe there to look pretty and attract you over with the intention of having you look at my boobs while you taste the wine I am pouring. No, I am a slightly Jewish, 6'4", perfectly weighted at 200 lbs (mmm... 200+), gentleman with a healthy amount of hair, facial or otherwise.

Sorry ladies, I'm taken.

So, when you feel like tapping your glass against the bottom of the bottle, I can only assume that you think I am a moron and have no idea when you want me to stop pouring the $100 wine in my hand. It pisses me off and I think from now on I am going to tell those importers, distributors, retailers, and extremely important media (yes, I'll include bloggers in there) how extremely insulting and rude I find it that you cannot verbally tell me that you do not want any more wine in your glass.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quick Taste: Delicious Van Duzer

I am not sure how they found me, but I am extremely pleased that they did. I was sent a few bottles to taste from the Van Duzer Vineyards and I enjoyed them thoroughly. As did anyone I could snag to enjoy the wines with me.

The first was the 2007 Estate Pinot Noir. I do not drink a lot of Pinot Noir, but Oregon is definitely the place where I want to have more from. This wine was smooth and elegant with wonderfully ripe cherry and raspberry flavors. There were floral notes of violets on the nose, turning into spice and and a little smokiness. It is $30, so it will take a little while to convince yourself that it is worth the money, but I garantee you will be pleased to have this with Sunday night dinner.

I also tasted the 2008 Estate Pinot Gris. This was a bright and shinny wine. By that I mean it reminded me of a well polished quarter, lively in a bright light. The wine had a ton of tropical fruit flavors like pineapple and kiwi, tempered by a lemon and mineral backbone.

Both good wines, both worth trying.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Robert Oatley Tasting - Tweeted Too Late

I received a few bottles of the Robert Oatley wines from Bin Ends, a retailer in Boston who has also become the producer and driving force behind the constant Twitter Taste Live events.

I feel really bad because these wines were sent to me months ago and I missed the tasting. Then the wines just sat in the back of my samples queue and kept getting passed over for other wines. It wasn not that I did not want to taste the wines, I did because I see them in store windows all around New York.

The Robert Oatley Vineyards was created by Bob Oatley, who was one of the forces behind Rosemont Estates. Auzzie wines all the way and for a good value.

I tasted the Pinot Grigio, Rose of Sangiovese, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cab did not impress me and while the Pinot Grigio is worth buying for the value, its the Rose which really won out. It was floral and soft, but bone dry. Pick it up if you like that sort of thing.

Want another opinion? Check out my frient Tori's review of this wine.

Can you see me?

I apologize to all of my readers who receive my blog post via e-mail for this bombardment of technical difficulty related blog posts. However, it seems that the google reader feed is no longer working and I am trying to run some tests to see if I can make it work.

We will continue with our sporadic programing as usual, with even more sporadic test posts.

The Management

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It is like a slow roasting nightmare

Got it?



Quick Taste: Strumming on a Guitar

I received a sample of the Red Guitar 2007 and popped it open. The wine comes from the Navarra region of Spain and has 55% Tempranillo and 45% Garnacha. On the bottle it says "Old Vine" but who knows what that actually means. The bottle sure doesn't tell you. The website will tell you that it is 110 year old vines, but if you are searching from your mobile phone you won't see it because the opening images are flashtastic.

For me the wine smelled spicy and rich with black pepper, blackberry and tobacco. After sufficient gurgling I found the taste to be peppery with ripe plum and smooth tannin. The taste dropped out in the mid-palate. Something easy to drink, especially if you just looking for a table wine. Retail is $10 a bottle, but I bet you can find it for less.

Also written up by the good people at Hipster Enology. A good blog with funky fresh writing.
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