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!

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.

Something New

I put out the call to my friend Jill at Domaine547LA to help me with my “drink more sparkling wine” goal this year. Ever accommodating to the fact that I utterly refuse to use her website to order wine, she came back with recommendations for about a dozens bottles of sparkling, and of course some still wines too! I picked 4 sparklings and rounded it out with the best Grenache Blanc ever and a Pinot Gris. This is a new one for me, I don’t think I’ve had a Cremant de Loire…Cremant of other places in France, sure, but not Loire. We picked out the Julien Fouet Cremant de Loire on a Tuesday night to drink simply because it was a Tuesday night and that called for bubbles. It clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, had a typical Champagne closure, and cost me $19.99 from DomaineLA.

On the nose I found toast, bright red fruit, strawberries, lime, spice, and pepper. I loved the salmon color on this wine, though I fear my photography skills (or lack thereof) leave a lot to be desired and it appears a lot pinker in my photos than it did in real life. In the mouth I got spice, raspberry, strawberry, and an orange rind note.  Bone dry, crisp, tangy, and lots of little bubbles…this will make a frequent appearance at our back yard bbqs this summer.

Back in the TTL

*Disclaimer: I received this wine so I could participate in the Patz and Hall Twitter Taste Live Event.

I took a couple months off from the Twitter Taste Lives as life itself got pretty hectic and I wasn’t able to commit to being home at any given hour of the day to participate. I’m happy to report that things have calmed down and settled into a more routine pace and I’ve begun participating again. Most recently I joined in for the Patz and Hall tasting. I’ve never had wines from Patz and Hall before so I was interested to see what they had to offer. The last wine up for the evening was the 2007 Patz & Hall Jenkins Ranch Pinot, which had a real cork closure and clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found sour cherry, mint, herbs, earth, forest floor, dusty chocolate, red berries, cedar smoke, pomegranate, and a little meat. In the mouth I got red plum, cherry, cranberry, spice, pomegranate, and cinnamon. Overall I found this wine to be a bit softer than I usually like in a Pinot Noir.

L’Ermitage My Old Friend

Although I’d not previously had this vintage, drinking the L’Ermitage from Roederer Estate is like visiting with an old friend. My absolute favorite has been the 1999 L’Ermitage Brut, as you could probably tell given that I’ve reviewed it many times here. Sadly, I am having more and more trouble finding it! Never fear though, I walked into Unwined in Alexandria the other day in search of some bubbly to tide me over until my shipment from DomaineLA arrived and what should greet me right there on the shelf? None other then the 2000 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut. Of course, I had to have it. I told myself it was to support my mission of drinking more bubbly this year, but lets be real, I would have bought it anyway. Though I am doing pretty well with the bubbly goal, this will be the 4th I’ve written about this year, though I’ve had way more than that, just need to get the notes up! The 2000 L’Ermitage cost me $39.99, had a traditional Champagne closure, and clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found lemon zest, honey, toast, and apple. In the mouth I got apple pie, meyer lemon, green apple, and fresh baked bread. Both on the nose and in the mouth I found the wine to be very bready. It had lots of tiny little bubbles and the green apple notes really popped in the mouth.