Awesome New Product

Now this is something I’m excited to see and I think it’s a great idea!

I got an email today (to my personal email, not to the blog as a press release) from Seghesio Vineyards. Now, I’ve long been a fan of Seghesio and have visited several times so I signed up ages ago for their email list to keep abreast of what they are doing.

Photo from Seghesio

Today’s email announced a new “wine flight” kit containing 6 50mL bottles of wine. It’s for sale for $30 and has 6 of the most current releases from the vineyards. The kit also comes with a $24 discount on your next 12 bottle purchase from Seghesio.

I think this is a really cool, approachable way for folks to get to know your wines. They aren’t committed to 6 full bottles and the associated costs and the potential of being disappointed in a given bottle and they don’t have to manage to get to your tasting room to taste all your newest releases. I hope this concept takes off and is successful for Seghesio. Great idea folks!

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Definitely not Petite

*Disclaimer: I got this out of a box of wines from Hahn Family Cellars when I went to the Wine Blogger Conference this summer.

We all know I sort of love Petite Sirah. A lot. After Zinfandel, it was the second kind of red wine that made me stand up and say “yum.” I dig the deep dark wines made from Petite Sirah grapes and all the blueberry pie that comes with them. So I jumped at the chance to give this Petite a try when I saw it in a box of wines from Hahn Family. Especially given that you can find this Petite for as little as $10 online. The 2007 Huntington Petite Sirah clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume and a Diam closure.

On the nose I found blueberry, blueberry cobbler, cream, vanilla cream, blueberry ice cream, chocolate, spice, and anise. In the mouth I got strawberry, chocolate, bright berries, blue fruit, something that I want to call huckleberry, and lots more strawberry. Overall I found this Petite to be fruity and big, like dessert in a glass. For $10 this is a steal.

Wine from TV

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample in order to participate in a Taste Live Event.

Back in the fall, a reality show aired on tv where folks competed to be winemakers. Naturally it was was The Winemakers. At the completion of the show and to coincide with an airing on tv, we did a live twitter tasting of the winner’s wine, the 2007 45 RPM. We were joined by winner Ross Outon as we tasted his winning blend. I think the final blend had some Grenache, Mourvedre, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah. Interesting choices, and definitely not a blend I’ve seen before.

Under the screw cap I found some black fruit, black cherry, black plums, raisins, spice, chocolate, raspberry, pencil lead, and cream notes. Its smelled a bit hot to me, though I didn’t note the alcohol content like I usually do. In the mouth I got blackberry, raspberries, black and red cherries, blueberries, and a bit of the pencil lead. The hot note I got from the nose followed through to the mouth.

Blind Tasting

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Mondavi.

I don’t do a lot of blind tasting. However, I’m trying to do a bit more, if for nothing else other than to test my guessing skills. I made Matt go get something from the basement and he handed me a glass without telling me anything about it. I only knew it was a white wine. This one turned out to be easy…one whiff told me this was a CA Chardonnay. He had selected the 2007 Robert Mondavi Solaire Chardonnay. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and suggested retail is $15, though I see it online for about $13.  The grapes in this Chard hail from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

What told me this was a Chard? Toast and butter. After that I got pear, yellow apple, spice, banana, tropical notes, smoke, coconut cream, and spicy pear. Not a bad start with the nose, but it leaned just a bit too much into toast and butter for me. Where it went downhill a bit for me was in the mouth. In the mouth I found apple, pear, spice, and lemon. The fruit showed as really round on the palate and didn’t offer as much acidity as I would have liked.

Getting Chile Again

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Wines of Chile.

This past fall the Wines of Chile organization hosted an online Carmenere tasting. Unfortunately, I was just coming off a long illness and wasn’t quite up to tasting through all 12 wines that night. Actually, I only made it through tasting two that night. I put the rest in the basement and am just getting around to tasting through them now. Bubbly has been calling my name lately so I haven’t been drinking as many reds as I usually do. Tonight we uncorked the 2008 Calina Reserva Carmenere. It clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, had a plastic cork, and retails for as low as $8.

Big nose! I got plum, dark chocolate, bramble, green notes, black olive, and herbs. In the mouth I found lots of giant dark fruit, blackberry, plum, black currants, and olives. Like many Carmeneres I’ve tried, this one had big drying tannics and gobs of very dark fruit.

Everyone Loves a Little Bubbly

As you probably well know by now, bubbles are my thing this year. I’m quite happy with the goal I set to drink more bubbly….it’s only March and I’ve had more sparkling wine already than I usually do in an entire year. It’s also been a good way for me to break out of my normal CA reds pattern. While sparkling wines are made in CA, most of the less expensive ones come from from France, Spain, and Italy. I’ve already put out work to Jill at DomaineLA that I need to buy another shipment of bubbles from her and I’ve made two trips to Unwined in the last month just to get more! Tonight we opened up the NV Charles Duret Crémant de Bourgogne. It clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume, had a typical Champagne closure, and cost me $16.99 at Unwined.

On the nose this was reminiscent of a hoppy beer to me. I got lots of bread, lime zest, tart green apples, lime, and more lime zest. In the mouth I found the wine show very tart citrus, steely notes, more green apples, and just a hint of the bread from the nose. It had lots of tiny little bubbles and we truly enjoyed this bottle. A steal for the price point.

I’m Tired of Being Told What Not to Write

I read a lot of wine blogs. I have over 1,000 in my feedreader. Every single day I go through the new posts on all of them. Once every couple of months I do a widespread search to look for new wine blogs. Why? Because I like to read about wine and I like to monitor what’s going on in the wine blog world.  While I’m not the oldest of the wine blogs out there, I’ve been around for quite some time in terms of the age of the wine blog-o-sphere. In nearly 4 years I’ve seen countless wine blogs come and go….some flaming out in a couple months and some mysteriously disappearing with no warning after years.

Recently, I’ve seen articles pop up on many different wine blogs and in the comments of others decrying those of us who write wine reviews. It’s “boring,” “useless,” “not entertaining,” etc. At Palate Press just two days ago, an entire article ran on why no one reads wine blogs and a long comment train followed saying that folks don’t want to read wine reviews. Additionally, check the comments in this post over on 1WineDude.

But here’s the thing: Only other wine bloggers (and perhaps PR and industry folks) care about articles about wine blogging. It’s navel-gazing of the most extreme sort. (I fully realize that I’m being hypocritical as I am currently writing a piece on wine blogging, forgive me the transgression.) Articles on the wine industry as a whole? Again, generally not something the regular everyday consumer is interested in either. Leading me to the main point: Who is your audience? I write wine reviews, vineyard visit stories, the occasional book review, and the once in a blue moon dabble into navel-gazing. My target audience is someone looking for a review on a wine they are thinking about purchasing, wondering what wine in their price range that they might enjoy that night, or perhaps thinking about visiting vineyards in part of the wine country that I’ve happened to visit.

I may just be one of those “amateur bloggers whose coverage of wine is limited to a handful of random samples we’ve just received, a trade tasting we’ve attended, or a press junket we’ve just been treated to” * (by the way, go read this “About” section on Stephen Tanzer’s new blog, it’s one of the douchiest and most self-serving things I’ve read in a while) but as a fellow wine blogger, even if you don’t write wine reviews, what does that matter to you? Go ahead and write about the wine industry or educate people on wine terms, or whatever it is that floats your boat. I’ve got my schtick and you’ve got yours. I won’t tell you you’re boring and useless and how about you stop telling me what to write too?

*I’m being facetious here. If you continue to read Tanzer’s “About” section, apparently living wine is the key—defined as visiting wine regions for a total of several weeks a year (yep, I have that one covered), tasting thousands of wines with their makers annually (so I probably taste closer to 500-1,000 this way), and more at their dining room tables (totally have this one in the bag). Given I’m only one person, this is not my job, I do it in my spare time, nor do I make a penny or ever intend to make a penny from it, I’ll say I taste a damn lot of wine a year. Though I would never make the claim that I am a professional. I am what I am and I’ve never held myself out to be any more or any less.