Fun with the FuseBox

A few weeks ago I was on Twitter (shocker, right?) and I noticed a Tweet from the Crushpad folks.  I’ve been to Crushpad once and I’m making sparkling wine there this year, so I follow them pretty closely.  The Tweet said to ReTweet it for a chance to win a FuseBox. I didn’t know what a FuseBox was, but I ReTweeted it anyway.  A couple days later I got a message from Crushpad telling me I’d won and the FuseBox would ship in a few weeks.

At that point, I decided to look up and see what a FuseBox was.  Turns out, it’s a kit that Crushpad sells with components to blend your own wine.  You get Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.  Also in the box is everything  you need to measure, blend, and record your wine creations!  Included are blending sheets, pipettes, a beaker, recipes….We had a free weekend, so Matt and I got to work playing mad scientist and blending our own creation.

We worked our way through some of the “recipes” provided that included the blends of some famous wines (though obviously made from different fruit/vintages!) and then got down to business trying to come up with our own.  After trial and error, consisting a lot of “This tastes hollow in the middle” or “This is too tannic” we finally settled on our blend. (One of our blends was pretty bad…we tried to tone down the Cabernet Sauvignon too much and it was a disaster!)

Now comes the really cool part.  After you create your perfect blend, Crushpad will make your wine for you and bottle it! You can purchase as little as one case.  I haven’t gotten around to that part yet, but I do intend to.  We think we’re going to call it “Two Front Yards Red” after our 6 month long struggle with our fence and the county! Our final blend consisted of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, and 6% Petite Verdot.

Crushpad is now offering to let charities and not for profits use the FuseBox to create wines to raise money for their organizations.  It’s no money up front for the organization and I understand that Crushpad will be setting up “storefronts” on its website to allow folks to purchase wines from participating organizations.

Say Hello to My Leetle Friend

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Sort This Out Cellars.

First a complaint: This wine was sealed with one of those wax capsules covering the entire top. It was impossible to get open. I nearly gave up as it took me a good 15 minutes to cut through it and get enough of it off to get to the cork. My notes say “Holy hell this was a pain in the ass.”  The wine is the 2006 Sort This Out Cellars Vinanostra Bootlegger’s Red Wine. It had a real cork buried under the wax, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $36.  I can’t find what the blend is anywhere.

On the nose I got blackberry, black cherry, spice, sweet plums, candy, sugar plums, and figs.  In the mouth I found more sugar plums, black cherry, blackberry, cranberry, and a hint of spice.  It’s a juicy wine and was easy to drink.  I think the price tag is a big high for what I found in the bottle.

1, 2, 3, 4 I Declare a Thumb War

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Thumbprint Cellars.

Some days I start to think about what wine we’re going to drink that night early in the day.  This was one of those days.  We were having Tilapia with bread crumbs and I usually go straight for a Sauvignon Blanc.  However, the folks from Thumbprint Cellars had recently sent me a bottle of their 2007 Thumbprint Cellars Russian River Valley Chardonnay.  It’s 100% stainless steel fermented, but they let it go through just a touch of malo-actic…I was intrigued and thought it might be a good match for the Tilapia. It retails for $29, had a screw cap closure, clocked in at 14.3% alcohol by volume, and is a Vegan wine (never seen that before!).

On the nose I found peach, pear, yellow apple, lemon, citrus, and tropical notes.  The Pear really dominated the nose, which overall I found to be very aromatic. In the mouth I got green apple, stone fruit, lemon, lemon zest, tangerine, orange spice, lemon oil, and spice.  The wine had a long finish and just the slightest touch of a creamy mouthfeel which went perfectly with our baked Tilapia.  Thumbprint Cellars was new to me, I’m interested in checking out some of their other offerings!

Argentinian Sauvignon Blanc

*Disclaimer: I received this as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in the Wines of Argentina Twitter Taste Live.

Only a short break from the Argentinian wines! Besides this bottle, I have at least 4 more wines from Argentina to tell you about….in time! Then we move on to the Wines of Germany, but I won’t have nearly as many of those…I think this past Friday is the only event I can participate in due to scheduling conflicts…too bad, this Friday’s wines were overall excellent.  On the 3rd night of the Argentina TTLs we tasted our first Sauvignon Blanc from Argentina, the 2008 B. Crux O. Fournier Sauvignon Blanc.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $20.

On the nose I found meyer lemon, white grapefruit, stone, white peach, and apple.  The apple threw me a bit, I must admit, but it was there!  In the mouth I got citrus, fresh lemon, peaches, pink grapefruit, more lemon, and lime. I found it to be almost a little salty on the edges.  I would suggest this for a hot summer day.

Wine From California!

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from J. Keverson Winery.

With all the Argentinian wines around here, I bet you thought I’d gone and forgotten I’d started this wine blog to tell you about the wines from small California wineries that I drink.  No fear, I certainly haven’t abandoned my love of small family Californian wineries, but when you open 6 bottles of Argentinian wine in a night and there are only two of you, it takes a while to drink through the open bottles!  The Starkey’s Court Zin clocked in at 15.3% alcohol by volume, hails from Dry Creek Valley, had a real cork closure, and retails for…well, I can’t find that info at the moment, sorry!

On the nose I found blackberry, vanilla, blackberry crumble, plums, spice, and pepper.  In the mouth I got tart black fruit, black cherry, back plum, blackberry, spice, and pepper.  We served this with blue cheese and bacon burgers off the grill and it was a great match given the hint of pepper with the excellent structure and well integrated fruit and tannins.

More Malbec

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in the Wines of Argentina Twitter Taste Live.

Lots and lots and lots of Malbec.  Malbec everywhere! I suppose it is one of Argentina’s signature grapes, so it makes sense as to why we tasted so many over the course of the Wines of Argentina Twitter Taste Lives.  More Malbec than I’ve ever tasted though!  On the 3rd night of the TTL series, we tried the 2006 Alfa Crux O. Fournier Malbec.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $37.

On the nose of the Alfa Crux I found blackberry, blueberry, plum, black cherry, spice, cinnamon, and smoke.  My notes say “I want to go swimming in this juicy black fruit.”  (Wondering how late into the evening I was typing up those notes….!)  In the mouth I got the same black fruits as the nose, some essence of a blueberry/blackberry pie/crumble, spice, and a little earth. Overall, I really liked this one, especially the nose.

Century Club Recap

As I wrote yesterday, we finished our Century Club hunt with a final grape of Bonarda.  It took us nearly three years of actually recording our consumption to get a 100 grapes, though I’m sure we finished it well before then, we just weren’t recording and I wanted to be able to point to bottles for my own personal reference point.  Without further ado, the 100 grapes we’ve tasted!

1. Aglianico

2. Airén

3. Albariño

4. Alicante Bouchet

5. Aligoté

6. Arneis

7. Auxerrois

8. Avesso

9. Barbera

10. Bobal

11. Bonarda

12. Bourboulenc

13. Cabernet Franc

14. Cabernet Sauvignon

15. Carignan

16. Carmenere

17. Castelão

18. Charbono

19. Chardonnay

20. Chenin Blanc

21. Cinsaut

22. Clairette

23. Colombard

24. Concord

25. Cortese

26. Corvina

27. Dolcetto

28. Frappato

29. Gamay

30. Gewürztraminer

31. Godello

32. Graciano

33. Grechetto

34. Greco

35. Grenache

36. Grenache Blanc

37. Gros Manseng

38. Grüner Veltliner

39. Hondarrabi Zuri

40. Lagrein

41. Malbec

42. Malvasia

43. Marsanne

44. Merlot

45. Montepulciano

46. Mourvedre

47. Müller Thurgau

48. Muscadelle

49. Muscat Blanc

50. Nebbiolo

51. Negroamaro

52. Nerello Mascalese

53. Nero D’Avola

54. Norton

55. Petit Manseng

56. Petite Verdot

57. Petite Sirah

58. Pinot Blanc

59. Pinot Gris

60. Pinot Noir

61. Pinotage

62. Prosecco

63. Riesling

64. Rkatsiteli

65. Roussanne

66. Sangiovese

67. Sauvignon Blanc

68. Scheurebe

69. Semillon

70. Seyval Blanc

71. Silvaner

72. Syrah

73. Tannat

74. Tempranillo

75. Tinto Cão

76. Tocai Fruilano

77. Torrontés

78. Touriga Franca

79. Trebbiano

80. Valdiguié

81. Verdejo

82. Verdelho

83. Verdicchio

84. Vidal

85. Viognier

86. Zinfandel

87. Zweigelt

88. Hondarrabi Beltza

89. Peloursin

90. Grecanico

91. Cesanese

92. Trincadeira

93. Ribolla Gialla

94. Nerello Cappuccio

95. Fernao Pires

96. Huxelrebe

97. Prieto Picudo

98. Muscat Canelli

99. Souzao

100. Alvarelhao

101. Sauvignon Gris.

As you can see, it’s actually 101! We are starting on our way to get 200 grapes!! We’re already one on our way and I’ve got about 5-6 more bottles in the basement hanging out with other new grapes waiting to be tasted.  Then, I will be on the hunt for such obscure grapes as Cserzegi Fuszeres and Schioppettino.  I’ll be documenting that on the blog too…though I expect it will take A VERY LONG time given that what’s left are fairly oddball grapes!

100! 100! 100 Grapes!!

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in the Wines of Argentina Twitter Taste Live.

Grape 100!!! We made it to the Century Club! Now I just need to print out my application form and submit it and in about 6 weeks we’ll get nifty certificates memorializing out membership! Now, I tried to get a few of these grapes towards the end, but most we just tasted organically along the two years or so I’ve been tracking what we drank.  I believe that every grape we have consumed is documented on the blog, though it wasn’t until the 70s that I started noting it here on the wine blog.  Next, we shoot for the 200 grape mark! I’ve already got a few new grapes kicking around that we haven’t tried yet 🙂  Anyway, the wine!  One of the grapes we tasted a few times for the Wines of Argentina Twitter Taste Lives was Bonarda.  I gather there’s some recent argument over whether Bonarda is genetically the same to Charbono, but it’s listed separately on the Century Club application and there appears to be no definitive word on the matter yet.  We tried the 2006 Zuccardi Bonarda at the 3rd Argentinian Twitter Taste Live. It had a real cork closure, clocked in 13% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $14.

On the nose I got blackberry jelly, a little smoke, spice, herbs, strawberry candy, black currant, and grape jelly.  The nose seemed fairly sweet to me.  In the mouth this tasted a lot like spicy grape juice.  I found it to be a pretty simple overall and it reminded me somewhat of Norton, especially given the grape juice and grape jelly characteristics.

An Argentinian Explosion!

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in the Wines of Argentina Twitter Taste Live.

I still have about 6 more Argentinian wines to review from all the Wines of Argentina Twitter Taste Lives I participated in! I managed to actually be around for all four, so that represented a wide selection of Argentinian wines…more than I had ever tasted before!  Overall I was really happy with the Malbecs even though I’m not typically a huge Malbec person….perhaps these events will have swayed me!  On the 3rd night (I think) we tried the 2007 Jean Bousquet Reserva Malbec. It had a Diam closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $20.

Immediately upon sniffing the wine I thought “cedar chest.” I also found crushed flowers, pencil lead, spice, raspberry, fig, forest floor, anise, cinnamon, and herbs.  This nose seemed totally different from any Malbec I’ve ever had before.  In the mouth I got cedar, blackberry, anise, raspberry, blackberry, dusty tannins, and pencil lead.  The mouth almost felt reserved in a way to me, and it definitely had tannins to spare.

Malbec on My Mind

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bin Ends Wine in order to participate in the Wines of Argentina Twitter Taste Live.

Now, I”ll be the first to admit that Malbec doesn’t usually float my boat.  I often find them to be overoaked, tannic beasts that just don’t seem balanced for me.  (And this coming from me, well known to appreciate BIG wines.)  We tried many Malbecs in the course of the Argentina Twitter Taste Lives and I found some that I really enjoyed! Including this one, the 2006 Trapiche Federico Villafane Malbec.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and I see it available for about $40.

I would pay $40 for this.  I found it to be intensely concentrated with complex layers, well worth the price point in my opinion.  On the nose I got blueberry compote, berries in the hot sun right off the bush, pencil lead, spice, dusty tannins, cedar spice, cloves, and chocolate.  In the mouth I found blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, chocolate, spice, earth, smoke, and vanilla cream. Overall, the wine had a juicy quality but with plenty of structure to spare. Like dessert in a glass!