Friday, July 31, 2009

A wine opportunity wasted

There were a few moments at the recent Wine Bloggers’ Conference where I thought a few opportunities were wasted. I think, overall, the conference was a success, with bloggers indoctrinated with information and positive messages surrounding the Sonoma Wine County and the Napa Valley Vintners. However, on Saturday I was part of a group where the messaging went wrong.

After our visit to the CIA we all piled into buses to go visit different wineries. There were eight or nine buses and I was on bus #4. Some of my bus-mates were the Luscious Lush, Sharayray, the Beer Wench, WineHiker, El Jefe, Sonadora, Catie, The Texas Duo, and many others. We, uh… we were trouble.

We went to visit Cuvaison and it turns out that the winery has two tasting rooms. We of course went to the wrong one. An honest mistake and I know all about what happens when there are slight bumps in carefully ironed out plans for winery visits. Roll with the punches and all that.

So we arrive at the correct Cuvaison tasting room where we have a nice lunch with sandwiches and some of the wineries products. Cuvaison is working towards total environmental harmony. Yes, they are green and comply with sustainable practices, they recycle cork, they have solar panels, they process and recycle their own water, etc. and so forth… I know all of this because of the piece of paper they gave me and everyone else at the winery to take home. Let’s just hope it was on recycled paper…

Honestly though, I loved their electric hand-drier that I slipped my hands into and it blow-dried them from 100 angles.

The wines were pleasant. The Cuvaison Sauvignon Blanc 2008 had a bright lime/grapefruit beginning, a creamy round middle, with a bit of peppery jalapeño at the end. The Cuvaison Chardonnay 2007 was a little too tart for me. The Pinot Noir 2007 was tasty, smoky raspberry with a really interesting bit of brine that I found very appealing. Then the Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 was nice, with a rich cassis and cinnamon.

We arrived in the afternoon, after our trip to Cuvaison, to Staglin Family Vineyard. We were slightly tired of riding on the bus, a little antsy, and ready to taste some more great wine.

We met a few winery owners at the entrance to the winery at Staglin. It seemed to be cut into the side of the mountain, which allowed the room to be cooler with concrete walls. It was quite pleasant after a brief walk in the hot Napa sun. There was a long hardwood table along the center of the room, past fermenters and sitting directly before the barrel room of the winery, with library storage on either side. We sat down and began to listen to a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of large and small wineries. Sue Parry from Parry Cellars spoke to us about being a small winery, hers being a total of 2 acres of vines large producing 200 cases a year and run by her and her husband. Staglin was represented by Sheri Staglin, CEO of Staglin Family Vineyards. Staglin produces about 5,000 cases a year. Pete Przybylinsky, the Senior Vice President of Sales and Strategy for Duckhorn Wine Company was there to talk to us about his winery, which produces a ton of cases a year. Then there was Russell Weis, General Manager/Sales and Marketing Silverado Vineyards, which produces ….

After about twenty minutes it became obvious to us that while we were discussing distribution practices, the issues of either renting or owning your own bottling and labeling machines, and the difficulties of balancing the management of the tasting room with running the back office, we were not going to taste any wine.

I must admit, at this point I became somewhat unprofessional. In fact, one could have rubbed the glaze on my eyes over a donut and served it as a tasty treat. And the group I had chosen to sit with did not make paying attention that much easier. We actually deteriorated to a massive amount of note passing on the back of napkins, the contents of which could give Jeff at the Good Grape a run for his money. I kept the napkins, not to have a memento of the good memories, but because I was embarrassed to have the winemakers and winery owners, who had taken time out of their extremely busy day to talk with us, see what had been written there.

I would also like to apologize to all of the winery representatives and all of the other bloggers that were in attendance that witnessed my deplorable behavior. However, I think this deserves a moment to think about what went wrong.

First of all, it was just after lunch, one where we had been doing some wine tasting. I personally feel that it would be insulting and inappropriate to spit at a lunch table (although I did not drink very much from any glass of any of the wines we had at Cuvaison). Anytime you do something after a meal, it needs to be engaging and interactive in some way. Instead we sat in a cool, dark, quiet place and were talked at. The only bit of the entire hour and a half that was interactive were the last fifteen minutes we were there, when I asked the winery representatives what they thought of social media and were they active. That spurred a discussion of what bloggers are looking for in winery engagement and a short instructional session where we explained to them that we do not expect 24 hour, 7 day-a-week engagement. That not only woke me up, but got me excited about being there.

There’s a lesson there: Know your audience. This was a group of people that loved the Internet, the ability to instantly access information and to share it, and used it regularly. The whole key to social media is interaction. As we were listening (or not) to these wineries, many of the people sitting there were expressing their displeasure on twitter.

Another issue that particularly bugged me, I had flown across the country to this conference so that I could do something that I could not do from New York, taste wine with my peers from around the country and discuss it with the winemakers. These wineries had a captive audience, a golden opportunity to show their wines (even if it was only ONE wine) in a controlled environment to a group of people who were excited by the prospect of tasting the wine and are going to then write about it for the world to see. Instead, I am now writing about how unfortunate it was to not have tasted the wine. It does not matter that some of the wines were going to be tasted at a tasting later in the day. In fact, during that tasting I used my time to taste other wines, having such a bad taste in my mouth from these wineries.

To be fair, the information we were heard from the wineries was somewhat interesting. Being able to compare and contrast practices amongst different wineries is certainly an interesting topic. However, to do so for such a long period of time and not have wine in front of us was a mistake. I think the discussion would have been fine if those of us that already had a decent understanding of winery management could have focused our energies on a wine from each of the wineries.

Live and learn. Always take an opportunity to interact with your audience.

(Photos thanks to Megan Kenney and Amy Corron-Power)

Live blogging – not so live…

On the first day of the Wine Bloggers' Conference I participated in the Live Blogging event. The idea was that we would have 6 minutes to taste each wine and talk with the winery representative. We would then post what we had online, more or less regardless of editing. Unfortunately, the blogging was not so live. There were some bandwidth issues, so I was not able to get onto the Internet.

Here are my notes (unedited) from the event:

Benovia winery = Savoy vineyard pinot noir 2007, Anderson valley Sonoma – light red
Smooth, smoky,
Cranberry, strawberry, vanilla, (taste drops off for me and then really leaves more behind)
Alc 14.5
Cases 370
50% new oak (all French)
Most sold at winery, dist in NY

Lions Pride Pinot Noir 2007 Russian River Valley
115 cases (never more than 120)
El Molino High School (do label and winery bottles)
Proceeds to high school
Meaty on the nose
So fruity!
$25k a year for students
Students tend crops – all winemaking Lee Martinellie Jr. – celeb winemaker
Really fruity and smooth

1acre – btw parking lot and athletic field

Rodney Strong Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 SV Alexander Valley
1800 cases
Amazingly good taste. Classic Cassis and blackberry, lovely leather and excellent fruit
Current release – around Jan

Cornerstone Cellars – Napa
Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Howel Mnt. Cab
Picks a month later than most wineries
Floral, perfume, blackberry
So smooth, really blueberry
Extremely tannic, needs more time
Sustainable farming
Website – cornerstone
600 cases

2006 Signitara – Sonoma Valley Sunny Slope, Stone Farm, Gordenker
64% Cab 36% Merlot
Earth, nature, and man
New release (new brand)
Biodynamic vineyards – the bottle for this year is organic, next year bio
Smooth, rich fruit up front, moves into cranberry, strawberry, nice tannins
1200 ish

Matthiasson SB Ribolia Giola Semilion, Tocai Fruilano – Napa 2008
Bright grapefruit, perfume, floral, kiwi
Blend that has everything
First taste – round
Right along dry creek to south Napa
Very juicy and round, a little soft lemon, kiwi,
100% barrel fermented (30% new)
¼ barrels malolactic
Bottled 6 weeks ago
NY, Fl, TX, SoCa Nor Ca, DC,
So easy to drink,
290 cases

Joseph Phelps Cabernet 2005 Napa
Blackberry, leather, vanilla
Really juicy up front, rich tannins, blueberry and cassis, great smoothness
40-50000 cases
Open for about 2 hours – really nice

Bonny Doon Le Cigar Volant 2005
50% Grenach, mourvedre Syrah carignan, cinsault
So smooth and beautiful, sexy,
Blueberry and juicy cherry, earthy and just lovely, real wine, bacon,
1500 cases
Skurnik Distribution
Freaking amazing
Taste the dirt

Kaz Petit Sirah 2008
Beautiful Purfume, pepper,
Sweet! Lots of fruit, fig, lemon shortbread

Concannon Petit Sirah 2006 – Central Coast limited Release
$30 Mill revamp of the winery
Rich and round smell, blackberry, vanilla, leather
Sweet fig up front,

Cracker came through – THANK GOD!
Media Lunch Wednesday august 19

Bella Zinfandel 2007 Dry Creek Valley Lily Hill Estate
Minty, eucalyptus,
Fat and flabby, lots of meat,

Twisted Oak River of skulls 2007 Calaverass County
88 Mourvedre 12 Syrah
400 cases
A little dirty, barnyard,
Dark and sweet, blackberry, moving tannin, raspberry, smoky, toasty,
100% creepy
Release next month
Name come from El Rio de la Calaveras

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ViniPortugal and the European Wine Blogging Conference

On the eve of flying out to the U.S. Wine Blogging Conference in Santa Rosa, I attended an event at Aldea, a restaurant at 17th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, hosted by ViniPortugal. The event was specifically for wine bloggers to come and taste Portuguese wines. They got most of the right people there, and the event was well done. The food was delicious, my favorite being an excellent duck and rice dish. I fully expect there to be a review at of all of the dishes that were served.

This event was also hosted by CataVino. Ryan and Gabriella Opaz have teamed up with ViniPortugal to bring wine bloggers to the forefront of the minds of wineries and regional wine programs. Really is bloggers are not part of the program by now, then some people need to wake up. Ryan and Gabriella are the organizers of the European Wine Blogging Conference, taking place in Lisbon in October (Full disclosure: this blog post puts me in the drawing to be sponsored by ViniPortugal to attend that event. Winners are announced on September 1st).

This past weekend was my first Wine Blogging Conference, so I do not really know what to expect. My assumption was that this will be wine blogging boot camp, with suggestions of how to be a better blogger, a better wine taster, a better… whatever. It was a lot of fun, I met a lot of great people, and I confirmed a lot of what I thought about the wine industries view of bloggers.

Going back to ViniPortugal, what I liked most about the event at Aldea was that there were a reasonable number of wines. Too often regional wine campaigns are forced into showing a slew of wines to please their winery members. The politics involved are understandable and exhausting. This event showed only fifteen wines, which allowed me to browse them easily, taste all of them, and even go back to the ones I liked most. The format was very informal: There were four or five tables, each with about two to four wines, and a food that was suggested to pair well with the wine. In most cases I think they got the pairing right.

My favorite wine of the evening was the Esporão Red 2006 from Herdade do Esporão. The wine is a blend of Aragonês, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alicante Bouschet. Of all of those grapes I have seen two before, so this is a learning experience for me. The wine comes from the region of Alentejo, which is a DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada). Alentejo is in southern Portugal and is within the larger wine region of Alentejano. This wine for me was silky and sexy. There was a rich freshness to the blackberries and blueberries that streamed out of this wine. Very yummy!

I look forward to trying more Portuguese wines as well as learning more about the regions. I think Portugal has a lot of potential to grow in the United States. The wine is good, the region has been making wine for a long time, and there is not an abundance of commercial promotion in the U.S. Really one of the only aspects that might hold them back are the wine region names and the names of the grapes. We English speakers are lazy and mainly interested in things we can pronounce. Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay. Much easier to get our lips around than Trincadeira.

For more information on Portuguese wines, visit them at For more on the European Bloggers' Conference, visit

Are these my people?

Something I am struggling with a little bit and I am not sure why. There are wine bloggers from all over the place. Some are lawyers, doctors, web designers, information technology professionals, finance professionals, etc. Many are not in the wine industry, while others like me are entrenched in the world of promoting and selling wine.

I came to blogging what seems to be the back way. Many people I met this past weekend want to be known as a wine writer, or want to be able to make a living by writing about wine. I am not sure that wine writing is in my future, besides my blog of course. I started in wine first by working for a wine region, Chile. Roughly three years ago I was hired by a PR firm and I was asked to work on the Wines of Chile account. Since then my knowledge of the wine world has exploded and my interest has grown even faster. One of the first things that I learned is that no matter how much I know, it is only a drop in the bucket in terms of the overall wine world. I remain largely ignorant of the inns and outs of most European wine regions, my experience of California is lacking in the extreme, and my palate has a long way to go before I would consider it sophisticated.

Most of the bloggers I have met are a good deal older than I am, married, and have been buying and tasting wines for many years. Living in New York does not give me a great deal of budget to spend on wine, I am not married, and I am a servant to the movement of time.

But something that does bring all of the wine blogging community together is the unquestioned passion that has spilled over onto the internet. There is just no way to realize how much goes into blogging until you actually start doing it. To keep up a blog, any blog, requires commitment and the decision to spend time on it. And time, as well all know, is an incredibly precious commodity.

In my opinion, the wine industry and marketing world is absolutely right in treating bloggers as a group to put more effort into. Bloggers do not get paid to express an opinion online, with the exception of a few exceptional bloggers. Bloggers write for the passion of writing, and I would challenge anyone to say otherwise. No one spends 15 – 20 hours a week on something they do not care about.

I am very happy to count myself a part of this community and now that I have met more of my peers, I am comfortable in saying that I feel like I belong.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Recovering from Wine Bloggers' Conference

There is a lot I want to post about from the Wine Bloggers' Conference and a lot of it will come out in the next two weeks. There were lots of great wine, some good experiences, great people, and some hilarity. All will be revealed.

First I need to find all the embarrassing photos of myself so I can post them all at once... If you have one, please send it to me. I promise I will post it...

A little hair of the dog

The second day at the 2009 Wine Bloggers’ Conference found us at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), at their Greystone Campus in Napa Valley. I knew the group of people I wanted to hang out with for the day, a group that I identified earlier as troublemakers and disruptors, in other words “the fun people.”

We arrived at the CIA and sat down to listen to Paula Cornell, the President of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. She spoke to us about the quality of Napa Valley, some economic statistics, and a nice introduction to the rest of the speakers.

Next up to the podium was Charles Henning, the Managing Director of the CIA. He spoke to us about the accolades of the CIA, how many of the best members of the culinary arts have come through the CIA, and their visions of the future. He made mention to an event with Robert Parker and it was unclear to me if he had been reading up on the issues surrounding Robert Parker or not. It was a bit obvious that the crowd was not enthusiastic about being marketed an evening tasting with Mr. Parker.

Then up came Barry Schuler, the owner of Meteor Vineyards and former CEO of AOL. Listening to this man was worth the price of admission. From Barry we received a satellite view of where the business of wine writing is and where it might be going. He showed us written descriptions of oysters and pretzels in the same writing style as wine writers’ tasting notes.

While the room laughed I thought about how some of my friends chuckle at the way I describe wine and how similar the sound of derision is.

The main points that Barry made really stuck with me. In the emerging new world order, brands that once were on top of the market, ones that no one thought could ever crumble are on their way out because the old business models no longer work. His term was “moving through Death Valley,” where the brands must go to die. The current rate of content being produced is far ahead of the models being created to monetize the creation of this content. On the internet we all expect free content, because content on the internet has always been free. No one has yet found a sustainable model to make money. As Barry stated, so far the model has been “if they come, we will build it.”

There are a few models in the works right now that are experimenting to see what works best. This weekend I spoke to a few people that had some great ideas. Now it is just a matter of putting them into practice. One thing we all know, the internet is changing at the speed of thought and there is a long way to go before it settles.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

WBC09 - Oh man, that was only day one

Really unbelievable that so much was packed into such a short span of time. From the moment the conference started till right now when I am going to bed, there has been an immense about of wine. But that is what we are here for right? To taste oodles and oodles of wine.

I will get into most of the wines that I tasted and what I thought of them later in the week, once I review my notes (scattered and drunken as they are). For now let me just give you some overall impressions of the conference.

No question I am falling in with the kids table. I found that, while I might not be the youngest person at this conference, I am close. In fact, I am exactly the fifth youngest person at this conference (which has 275 people at it). Loving every minute of it.

Everyone at this conference is married, and many with children. Many I would say are well experienced individuals. I would say that the bloggers are also heavy one the website design/IT/technology side of things that have a comfortable job that allows them to buy a lot of wine and are passionate enough to write about it online. I do not think many seriously consider their blogs to be avenues to make money, and the presenter who gave us a 30 minute talk about the next evolution in their website programing might not have considered that in his talk.

There was a speed tasting portion of the day, which was a lot of fun. It was supposed to be a "live blogging" event and everyone was supposed to tweet/blog as they tasted. Unfortunately, I COULD NOT GET ON THE INTERNET! Nor could many others. I cannot say it was a bust because there were some great wines poured. Top wine was the Le Cigar Volant 2005 from Bonny Doon. I have always been a fan Randall Grahm's wines and I think he is a fantastic winemaker. The 2005 was stellar!

Tomorrow, another day of mass tasting and socializing and meeting the bloggers. I cannot image why everyone does not blog about wine...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wine Blogging Conference - Before the Storm

Today marks the first day of the Second Annual Wine Blogging Conference in Santa Rosa, California. I was not at last year’s conference and I am excited to take part in the action.

My expectations:

I will be the youngest person in the room. I know, what a weird way to start but I find it to be true that most bloggers average about ten years older than I am. It gives me an instant disadvantage since I have had less life to taste wine, and just about all of the people at this conference will be well experienced wine drinkers - I mean tasters. There are of course exceptions.

There will be more wine here than anyone could taste at once. It cannot be helped, whenever there is such a large concentration of people interested in drinking, thinking, and writing about wine then there is sure to be an over excessive amount of wine to be tasted.

There will be a ton of people who do not work in the wine industry. It is extremely refreshing to meet people who drink wine because they want to, not because it is their job.

There will be a ton of people who work in the wine industry. These people do not just do it because they love wine; they get paid to play with wine. I count myself one of the lucky ones whose job it is to think about wine and its relationship to the rest of the world.

This will be a marketing extrrrrrrrravaganza! That is right; I expect to be marketed to. I expect the California Grape Growers to tell me how amazing the climate in California is for growing grapes. I then expect the Portuguese representatives to tell me how amazing the wines from Portugal are. I then expect to be given enough paperwork to break my back, filled with phrases like “outstanding value” and “exceptional quality.”

I expect to get drunk.

I expect to walk away feeling that I was given an amazing opportunity to meet great people who love culinary experiences, enjoy the company of some of the thought-leaders in the wine industry, and taste hundreds of wines that I might not otherwise of have had a chance to taste.

Happy Birthday Mom

Every so often I talk about my mother here on my blog. There is never an end to how blessed and lucky I feel to have been one of her sons. I never seem to be around on her birthday and there have been plenty of years where I forgot and called her days late.

My mother is a tough woman. One experience of listening to her on the phone with the cable company will give you all the hints you need to do what you have told her you would do. She definitely has an opinion and most of the time she will not hesitate to share it with you (perhaps she will hesitate the first time you meet her). There has only been one time where I suggested I might not be home for Thanksgiving and five minutes later I was booking plane tickets to be there the night before so that I would be able to help her with the turkey.

There are many ways of going about doing something. Some of those ways are even pretty good and get whatever job you are doing done. However, around my mother there is only one way, her way. And it is the best way. Trust me.

My mother has been a reporter, an editor, a publisher, a public relations specialist, and lately a real estate mogul. From the moment I started this blog, she has been there to let me know how poor my grammar is and to point out my atrocious spelling. I find it always good to know that someone is reading my blog.

She has raised my brother and I alone for the past fifteen years and I would say she has done a damn good job (or at least I came out ok). Both of us got to college alive, healthy, and able to use a credit card responsibly. I even left college with an expensive piece of paper (my brother still has a few years to go).

No matter what the situation and no matter how important or unimportant the topic might be, she has always been a bedrock to lean against. Several times in my life thus far I have had crisis of faith, of direction, and of understanding. Every time my mom has been there to be the voice of reason, to be a sounding board for ideas and strategies, and to allow me to find my own direction through life. Never has she interfered with my choices, only shown me the possible consequences of ill thought out actions.

There is no one else in this world that I want to please more. There is no one else in this world that I listen to with greater interest. And there is no one else I would rather have as my mother.

I love you mom. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Off to the Wine Blogging Conference

That's right, off to California to participate in the second annual Wine Blogging Conference.

I have had one experience with wine bloggers and it was an eye opener. It was geektastic. They were all older than me by an averae 10 years. They got into wine through drinking it and they definitely had more experience than I had in buying wine. They were all amazing people and I feel honored to have met them.

Which is one of the reasons why I am so excited to go to California to meet more of them.

Look for more blog posts in the next few days about the people I am meeting, the speakers I am listening to, and (certainly not least) the wine I'll be tasting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wine Blogging Wednesday - Fifth Aniversary

There is really nothing amazing about the concept. Its simplicity is probably what keeps it going. For the past five years, Wine Blogging Wednesday has been running. Every month, for one Wednesday, bloggers from all over the U.S. post a review of a wine, that has some esoteric connection to an arbitrary topic, all on the same day (or close to it). These bloggers have chosen to search for, buy, and drink one bottle of wine within a month.

It was brilliant.

And for this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, Sonadora, the Wannabe Wino, is our host for August's WBW. And she is a Zinner, probably one of the biggest Zinners I have ever Zeen. It is grill time and it just makes sense to to have a California favorite with an American past time.

The date to post you Zintastic post is August 12.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I am only sort of social

I get a lot of people who meet me in one aspect of social media and then decide to include me in ALL aspects of social media. And then I am faced with the delema of whether or not I want hundreds of thousands of people knowing how I look in a Santa Claus outfit.


Let's go through the sites I am a member of one by one:

Twitter (

Twitter is a great place to chat with people and share ideas, events, news, philosophy, etc. If you have a food or wine bend to your profile or if you engage me in discussion, yes I will follow you. I would prefer if you would follow me as well, but for the most part I do not care. I am there to talk to people who like to talk about wine.

I do NOT want a direct message after following you, especially if you are not following me and will not allow me to send a direct message back to you. In fact, there is not much that pisses me off more in the realm of Twitter. I also am not going to pay any attention to you if all I see coming from you are links to your blog/store website/promotional event/press release. I will not click on your link and I will not retweet it so that others can see it. On the other hand, if you and I have had some discussions previously about the topic and then you send me your blog post regarding the topic via Twitter, then yes, I will most likely pass it on for others to see.

That being said, come talk to me! I almost always respond and I really, truly, absolutely love striking up conversations with people I do not know. You never know where they might lead you.

LinkedIn (

I work for a living. Not too profound a statement, but it is true. As such, you can find me on LinkedIn. If you are in the same business I am, I will happily add you to my network. In fact, I probably will even if you are marginally in the same business I am. Business connections can become invaluable when you or someone you know is looking for information or opportunities. Especially in the current job market, it just does not make sense to limit the number of people you are connected to. Sometimes I need vendors, sometimes I need consultants, sometimes I need... who knows what I will need. But that is the point. You never know where life will take you and it only pays to network.

OpenWine Consortium (

Yes, I am there, but I am not really there, because there is no there there. You can find me, you can friend me, you can message me, you can comment on me, and you can read my blog there. But I am NEVER there. Why? Because I get all of the social networking interaction I need from other places. That is not to say that I do not think the OpenWine Consortium is not valuable. I just find other places to do my interactions. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn being the main ones.

MySpace (

I do not use it. I do not want to use it. The only reason I am posting the link is to see how many people actually go to it. And try and be my friend. I will never speak to those people ever again, ever...

Facebook (

Before you go and click on the above link, I want you to think about what you are doing. This isreally the crux of what I wanted to talk about, and I really believe that this is somewhat of a generational issue.

Five years ago, you could not find an 'adult' on facebook. Everyone was in college and highschool. Then facebook opened itself up to the world and the at first the world shrugged. Now it is THE place to be, advertisers, marketers, promoters all want to be there and want to be my friend. But so many have jumped in without really understanding what Facebook is, and signed on and have begun to "friend" everyone in sight, and then spamming them with everything under the sun. Now I see everything as someone advertising to me, and I ignore more than I've ever ignored. And I was a really lazy teenager...

Then there is the personal side. There is a lot of me on Facebook. I use it all the time and I update it regularly. I go there to see what my friends are doing. I go there to post photos and events and generally interact with people I like.

It has become common practice for people I meet on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to then friend me on Facebook. And it makes sense. Everyone wants to be able to have their stuff in front of me. That's ok, I get it. However, please understand if I do not give you access to some of the slightly more personal information in my life, such as what I did while in a fraternity at school (I was a Chi Phi by the way). I will definitely not add you as a friend until I meet you face-to-face, and even then I give no assurance that I will let you be my "friend."

Silly, perhaps, but I have found that each of these social communities gives different levels of personal insight. Facebook is as personal as it gets without being someone I do drinks with on a regular basis.

Speaking of which, its time for a drink...

I am really interested in making a new contact and getting to know someone new. Just realize that just because I converse with you in 140 characters at a time does not mean that I will then all you to see more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So much twitter, such good wine

Saturday night I participated in a Twitter Taste Live with wines from St. Supery. We tasted the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, 2006 Virtu, 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2008 Moscato. St. Supery is a winery in Napa Valley, with a vineyard in Rutherford and another in the corner of the valley called Dollarhide. This event taught me something very interesting, something that really could only have come as a true epiphany.

The 1WineDude is so much better at coming up with metaphors than I am.

I mean, it just is not fair. How can I compete with this:

1WineDude: 04 St Supery Cab: There's a Slim Jim playing hide & seek with you in a blackberry patch. And you're eating a dark chocolate bar. #TTL

or this one

1WineDude: 08 St Supery Sauv Blanc: Like riding a lime sled over a field of cut grass. If u could sled on grass. And if sleds were made from limes #TTL

Tasting note gold. I have no idea what it means, but it just sounds so freaking cool. The best I could come up with is:

RobBralow: 2006 Virtu from St. Supery – its like rumplestiltskin is jumping on my tongue and asking me “what’s my name biyatch!” #TTL

And now I have to deal with explaining to my relatives (who are increasingly reading my blog) exactly what I meant by "biyatch."

However, all said and done, I thought these wines were good. With perhaps the exception of the Moscato, I thought each wine showed excellent varietal character, a really pleasant experience. The Virtu, which is a white Meritage (Mer-eh-tij... ryhmes with superitage) was a really interesting wine. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, there were really pleasant notes of honeysuckle, tangy lemon, and a smidgen of butterscotch. The warmer the wine got, the more expressive it became. The Cabernet was delicious, blackberry, anise, with rich tannins. It was my favorite wine of the night. And the Sauvignon Blanc was crisp, light, and extremely refreshing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Drinking the Jaja

I am still wondering if summer is really here. At least here in New York the weather has had more in common with mid spring instead of early summer. The days are reasonably cool, there has been lots of rain, and only recently have we been having much sun. I am loving that there is no excesive heat, but it gives me pause when I think about the possibility to another long indian summer in October and November. Global warming sucks.

Taking into account that I should be grilling and cooking foods that do not turn my apartment into a raging hot box, I pulled out one of the recent samples I received. Le Jaja de Jau Syrah 2007 seemed the perfect wine to try out with some grilled peppers, onions, and ribeye. I liked the simple label, however figuring out what it actually says took me a good five minutes.

The wine is from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in France and classified as a Vin de Pays D’Oc. What does that mean? The French system of classifying wines is one of the reasons most people do not “get into” wine. However, once you understand the rules, the classification system (for all wine regions) is supposted to help you understand what is in the bottle. By better understanding what is in the bottle, you know whether or not you want what is in the bottle.

France for instance has three levels of classification: Vin de Table (Table wine), Vin de Pays (Country wine), and Appellation d’origine contrôlée (Controlled term of origen). Most of the wine you see in the store is going to be designated AOC. It doesn’t mean that the wine is good, it just means that the wine in the bottle was made within a specific region (Bordeaux for example) and that it was made within the guidelines set by the government body that controls the AOC (the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine).

Something I learned from Kevin Zraly is that you should think about everything in terms of circles. The USA is a big circle. Within that is California. Within that is the North Coast. Within that is Napa Valley. The idea is the same in France. You have France, then you have the Bordeaux, then you have Medoc, then you have Pauillac, and then to the idividual Chateaux.

So, for today’s example, we have a wine from the Languedoc-Roussillon region classified as Vin de Pays D’Oc, as is most of the wine produced in this region. This one in particular is the entry level wine from the Chateau de Jau. In fact, according to the winery, Jaja means an everyday wine. I would absolutely agree with that assessment.

This wine is not meant to knock you down and make you pay attention. It is smooth and round, with a little bit of spice to compliment a barbeque and a healthy amount of acidity to stand up to any meal. Easy to drink as you watch the sun dip below the horizon. And for $8.99, an easy wine to pick up and serve for a gathering…

And one more thing. I took a look at what Pasternak Imports (the company that sent me a sample0 had to say about this wine and I found something much better. Pasternak helps you actually find the wine near you so that you can actually buy it. Go to their website and type in your zip code and the top five or six retailers in your area will appear. Seriously good customer experience.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Twitter Taste Live with St. Supery

PR people come in all shapes and sizes, from really good to unbelievably bad. For example, I regularly receive e-mails from PR companies that have obviously never read my blog, have no idea what I write about, and consistently ask me to write about their clients. Everything from boutique water launches through major beverage chains. It is the “fling it against the wall and hope it sticks” approach and it bothers the hell out of me.

Therefore, when someone is doing a good job and gets it right I like to give them their due credit.

Recently I received some samples for Skalli Family Wines (I’ll taste them soon, I promise). When I received a tracking notice on the wines it said St. Supery Vineyards & Winery, which I had not remembered either ordering or having someone offer me samples of, but I decided to check it out once the box got here. The next day, I received a notice from Twitter Taste Live that St. Supery is on the docket for Saturday, July 11. I then sent an e-mail to the PR people at St. Supery and was rewarded with a good price to participate in the tasting. They knew who I was and what I wrote about and what my role in the wine industry is, I knew who they were and how I usually interacted together, and together we had formed a relationship: Basic PR 101.

Now I am excited to taste the wines and talk to the group that regularly participates in TTL.

And what might just be the icing on the cake; the WineBratSF will be hosting the tasting. I am not sure what that means, besides maybe that she probably got to taste the wines already and is probably going to be at the winery, sipping with the winemaker. It should be fun for all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A quick dip into a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

Now that I have left Wines of Chile, I have noticed that I do not seek out Chilean wines very often. It has nothing to do with the quality of the wines, it's just that after tasting them at trade shows, tasting them during comprehensive reviews of the wines, tasting them at retail store events, tasting them on trips, and tasting them in the office... I want to branch out a little.

However, when I do go out and buy a Chilean wine, I know exactly which ones I want to buy.

Recently I had a bottle of Vina Garces Silva "Amayna" Sauvignon Blanc 2008. The winery actually only makes one line of wines, all of which are called Amayna, so if you ask for Garces Silva a retail clerk might not know what you are talking about. Vina Garces Silva is located in the San Antonio region of Chile, up against the coastal mountain range. In fact, you can see the Pacific Ocean quite clearly from the winery balcony.

The winery is very modern, with an attractive architectural design. Because it is built into the foothills of the coastal range, the transfer of juices during the winemaking production is all done by gravity. The grapes are brought to the top level of the winery via an access road, then crushed almost directly into stainless steel tanks. From there the fermented juice is send down the tubes to be put either into oak barrels or directly into the bottling line, depending on the type of wine being made.

The winery only makes five different wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. These are among my favorite wines coming out of Chile and I fully recommend picking up any of them. There is no question to me that this is a winery dedicated to quality.

That being said, I certainly prefer some of their wines over others. For instance, I find it a shame to mess with such delicious Sauvignon Blanc by putting some of it in oak. And the Syrah is slightly young, as it was just planted about four or five years ago. And that Pinot Noir is delicious.

The recent edition of Sauvignon Blanc is good, but I thought the 2007 was better. The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is a little more herbal, with notes of lemon grass and slightly on the asparagus side. The taste is so light and smooth with a breezy lemon citrus flavor. Leah had bought some hand rolled ravioli, filled with ricotta and asparagus and it was a good pairing.

Also, Wines of Chile has a new website, which is MUCH more useful than its old one. I say this as a blogger, a consumer, and as someone who spent a lot of time navagating the old website. Check it out at:

I worked with Wines of Chile from 2006 until 2009.
UPDATED: I just retasted this wine from the same bottle four days later and it is still crisp and bright. The herbal notes have gone and all that is lelft is bright and refreshing lemon citrus. Love it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sake Geeks

There is a geek for everything. There are wine geeks (heh hehm...), baseball geeks, computer geeks, movie geeks, etc. You can geek out about anything under the sun. Check around the Internet today and you will find hundreds of thousands of geeks posting on their geeky blogs about the particular subject they geek.

I consider myself an amateur wine geek. There is so much more out there that I need to learn before I can consider myself a full-fledged geek, but I am working on it.

Today's Wine Blogging Wednesday is hosted by Rich at The Passionate Foodie. Rich lives in Boston and writes a weekly restaurant/wine review column for the Stoneham Sun. I met Rich a while ago when we attended TasteCamp East 2009 (another geeky adventure), hosted by Lenn at LENNDEVOURS, who founded Wine Blogging Wednesday.

Rich's topic for this WBW is Sake and paying homage to Kushi no Kami, the God of Sake. Rich loves his Sake. If you read his blog (and why shouldn't you?), Rich write about Sake quite often.

For this WBW Leah (who freaking loves sake) and I went to Sake Hana, a Japanese restaurant/Sake Bar. We have been to this restaurant before and had done a Sake tasting there before, but I had never taken notes on it. This time I brought the notebook.

We had six different Sake's, each with their own character and flavor profile. Unfortunately, I think the waiter just brought me the names of the types of Sake, instead of the brand name, so that is all I will be able to list below.

Dassai Nigori (Unfiltered) - Leah found this Sake to be mild and clean. I found a peppery lemon/lime flavor, with lots of minerals and a black pepper finish.

Nigori (Unfiltered) - Leah decided this wine was sweet as candy, like bubblegum. I found it very fruity, like a sugar coated and caramelized pear.

Nanbu (Nami) - Leah found tons of peaches, while I found this Sake to be nutty with some white stone fruits (yes, peaches, but less defined for me).

Dewa No Yuki - Leah said that there was a sugary finish, with some white fruits and grassiness in the middle. I found it floral and very grapey, with some orange rind in the finish.

Narutotai - Leah and I both found chocolate, although I found the smell to be more cake-y.

Ichi (Nami) (Unfiltered) - Both of us found this Sake to be slightly sparkling, very rich with a dark mineral finish.

The most geeky part of the evening was not us tasting the Sake. While we were sitting there a group of Japanese patrons came in and sat down. The proprietor of the restaurant came over to sit with them and the patrons brought out a bag with two boxes, each with a bottle of sake inside. They sat there for about 20 minutes pointing at one part or another of the labels, running their hands over the bottles, and turning it over to read the back label. I could not understand a word of what they were saying, or of what was on the bottle (all Japanese), but I knew exactly what was going on. It was like when a wine geek brings THE bottle of the night to the table with them and everyone wants to fondle it and read the label, just to be able to say that had done so.

It made me feel like I could get more into Sake...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back... sort of

There is nothing like going away on a business trip, leading directly into a holiday weekend, and coming back to 800 unread e-mails and 600 articles in my google reader. I have lots to report about my trip, some exciting places I visited, lots of food, and some really interesting cultural differences that I found intriguing. The fourth of July was great, one of the best I remember.

But for now, if you are one of the 800 awaiting my reply, please give me a day or two before you hunt me down.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

More photos from Roa

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The view from Roa

A few quick notes from Spain:

I have always found that the wines from any country in the world taste better when you drink them on their home soil. So far, Spain has been no exception. The wines I have had (Rose, Tempranillo (Crianza), Garnacha) have all be delicious and perfect for the heat and the cooler evenings.

The heat is HOT, but luckily dry. Not like that sweltering humidity in New York City...

Check out some of the photos I have taken:

Copyright 2009 Wine Post: Wine & Spirits Blog. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan