4

PR Advice,Public Relations,Wine

The Paradigm Shift in Wine Writing

One of my clients asked Jose and me, “What are your thoughts about this article.” It was called, “Understanding the Paradigm Shift in Wine Writing.” It’s on the Sober Advice From Two Wine Publicists Website.

The lead paragraph:

It seems like the traditional, legacy media is dropping its coverage of wine at a pretty swift pace whether it be a pull back from wine coverage in Chicago, St. Louis or San Francisco. It points to a circumstance that every wine publicist and every wine marketer must accept and embrace: YOU ARE THE DISTRIBUTOR OF WINE JOURNALISM, WHILE THE JOURNALISTS ARE THE CONTENT CREATORS.

I may have unwittingly had a hand in creating this situation, but I think not. I believe I saw it coming as a rare opportunity in time, and grabbed it. Below is my answer to our client.

This is exactly why I started my wine blog  on December 29, 2005, well ahead of the curve.

I had one client who told me, “I love the stories that you write for me. I wish they were on the Web somewhere.”  (The code of ethics regarding plagiarism, and people’s own desire to tell the story, never had anyone just take my stories in entirety. So he felt his “stories” were being lost.)

I saw this coming pulling away of media, even before Web 2.0 was launched. Jose and I had taken a Web class together, and were told About Web 2.0 happening, so I knew before it became public knowledge. Jose may have known it already, as he keeps very current regarding the Web.

Being the first female wine publicist in the world to have a blog had and has its advantages. It’s how I got onto the ground floor of Wine Business’s Web presence and Wine Industry Insider also picked me right up. It’s also why I’m broadly aggregated. I was an early adopter, tired of editors telling me that they needed “an exclusive,” then wasted my time, not needing that “exclusive,” while I wasted valuable time shopping it around to other “might want it” publishers and editors.

With well over 6,000 wine companies in the US and I can’t even imagine the number for the world, I wanted the information that people were hiring me to disseminate done ASAP. I gave editors two weeks to get it out, then I’d launch it on www.wine-blog.org.

This article is more true than ever. It is the truly fortunate who get a smidging of publicity today. Fortunately, I have longevity with those that are established, and I broke through early with the new generation of wine bloggers. For newbies in wine PR, it’s going to be a terrible struggle for a while. They lack history, which will take years to develop. This is why early on, one of my client’s didn’t want any samples to go to any wine writers except the established media, as described by Total Wine & More, an important wine merchant.

Wine merchants STILL ONLY regard fewer than 20 sources as the be all to end all, in my observations and experiences.

0

Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Business,Wine Writer

How to monetize your wine blog – seriously

This has been a wine bloggers question since wine blogging began. It’s a topic of conversation both in seminars and outside of them at the annual Wine Blogger Conferences. No one has yet to figure it out, but I now have, after much thought.

I have no such fantasies, by the way, because my wine blog is a personal journey as a wine publicist. I have stories I just want to get out of me… like any kid with a diary. But, there are others who have just started writing about wine, and if this question could be answered for them, they would become eternally grateful and well on their way.

I have a few people that I’ve been discussing this with (behind the scenes) for a very long time… But, no-one has yet to find the answer. It has, however, revealed itself, so I’m going to share. I’m surprised the steps didn’t occur to me sooner. For that, I am regretful. Once I came to the answer, it was a slap on my forehead moment, because…. others have already figured it out.

History First

Storytellers have been writing about wine, since writing was invented. As soon as someone became an expert, that person’s words were revered enough to make money. Magazines and newsletters became the norm.

Fat Forward to 10 Years Ago

Wine magazines had paid staff writers, many of whom had become pretty famous for their stories and tasting opinions. Subscriptions and advertising were essentially paying their salaries, as their stature grew. And newspaper people… Those who left newspapers, for one reason or another, began to emerge as having their own publications. This included newsletters among their followers; people who respected them and still wanted to read what they had to say about wines they had tasted.

These people are still very influential for wine sales

As much as wine bloggers hate to hear this one, believing that the immediate W.2 responses made their opinions as important as any well established wine writer, it’s ten years later.Wines sales marketing should be proving that; e.g., Jo Blow on her wine blog just said this about our wine… And that statement would have to be hanging off a shelf as a shelf talker. When that happens, wine bloggers will have arrived. It’s not happened yet.

Check out why Costco has a 90-point system for bringing in wines, as does Bristol Farms, as does Total Wine & More, proudly tout their 90 and 90+ scores via the top wine publication or writers’ names… And those points all come from an established wine magazines, newsletters, or writers who have gone off on their own with established history… Like James Suckling and/or Antonio Galloni, for instance.

The people, who have gone off on their own, all have their own websites now. And, you pay to play, if you want to see their scores.

How to monetize your wine blog – seriously

  1. Follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before you, by becoming famous.
    • Spend the next 10-20 years devoted to your craft (The 10 to 20 year range is because there are some who already have some years invested in their blogs.)
      1. Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of your forefathers, who were paid for their passion. Sorry, it’s a brave new world, and we bloggers are responsible for that.
      2. Find a job in the wine business, because that will quickly give you the history that you need to become well rounded in all aspects of wine.
      3. Become a Master Sommelier. That’s a guaranteed salary and will shoot you to the front of the wine blogging pack.
  2. Once you’re established, you can then charge for a subscription on your wine blog.
  3. If you’re an established wine writer who has a blog, and you’ve also been wondering how to monetize the time and energy it takes to keep up your public persona, get with the subscription program…
    • Establish your ethical code; e.g.,
      • “No clients wines will be reviewed,” for instance, if you don’t have a wine competition (like so many do already), to bring in additional funds.
      • You don’t have to charge anyone to read “parts” of your Website, like those who have stepped into this pool ahead of you
      • If anyone wants to see those reviews, they’ll have to pay to play.
  4. Voila, you’re a star, and you’ve monetized your wine blog.

Another topic as part of this one

Many a writer has had to become a wine blogger, just to keep current:

  • Stephen Tanzer
  • Jancis Robinson
  • Charlie Olken
  • The list goes on for many of them

The difference is that they already had subscriptions established; so if you don’t, get ‘er done ASAP. This will be inspiration for younger writers… If you can do it, so can they, eventually.

 

2

Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine

More brewhaha from Andy Bluehaha

No offense, Andy. More Brewhaha and More Bluehaha rhyme. You know how story titles go, to capture people into a story. You have my utmost respect.

The Tasting Panel Magazine with Meridith May (publisher, editor) has been a true champion of Petite Sirah in the past. Today (yesterday as you read this), it was brought to my attention that editor Anthony Dias Blue has just written an editoral on Petite Sirah. As it also happened, my copy also arrived in the mail on Monday. There it was… The Tasting Panel, July 2015 issue. I had already read the story on line, so no surprises… But, to have it in my hand?

The title glaring at me: P.S., I Don’t Get It

by Anthony Dias Blue

Here’s the link:  http://digital.copcomm.com/i/537687-july-2015

  • Look for Andy’s picture.
  • Click on the link for his latest review.
  • I just reminded all of the members of PS I Love You to take a deep breath first, before they read the story.

Personally, I’m not offended, because I’ve come to realize that not everyone likes all things.

  • Andy probably loves foie gras, I HATE it.
  • And, I’ll NEVER like it.
  • Nor, will I ever like fish. (My dad force fed me on Fridays; yeah, it was like that.)
  • We’re each entitled to our own opinions
    • We’re all different

So, Andy, it’s okay, you don’t have to like Petite Sirah. Maybe your dad force fed you Petite as a kid, but you just don’t want to like it? … You’ve blanked it out? It’s okay… I’ve had to blank out a lot, too, about fish. I get it.

I do have one issue, though, as pedigrees go: Petite Sirah is the son of Syrah (Peloursin is the mother). Just as you are as great as your father and mother in production, so is Petite Sirah. I would personally hate to think that we’re lesser in credibility than our dads. In fact, some of us turn out better. You wrote:

“First of all, I am offended by the fact that this garbage grape has by dint of its confected name, tried to trade off the vaunted pedigree of the noble Syrah from which some of the world’s greatest wines are made.”

Here’s how some ancient history has worked, by a father handing down to the next generation. Not to worry, I didn’t have to conjure this one up. I have it saved, because it’s part of my DNA, right down to today, and also includes the Kings of Scot:

Each one ruled, because of DNA nobility, and handing it down… regardless of the mothers’ pedigree.

  1. CHARLEMAGNE (April 2, 742/747/748 – January 28, 814)
    1. PIPPIN THE YOUNGER (c. 714 – September 24, 768)
      1. CHARLES MARTEL (c. 688 – 22 October 741; )
        1. PEPIN II (c. 635 – 16 December 714),
          1. ANSEGISEL (also Ansgise, Ansegus, or Anchises) (c. 602 or 610 – murdered before 679 or 662),
            1. SAINT ARNULF OF METZ (c. 582 – 640)
              1. BODEGISEL (died 585), was a Frankish duke (dux).
                1. MUNDERIC (died 532/3),  Merovingian claimant to the Frankish throne. He was a wealthy nobleman and landowner with vast estates in the region around …

Fun facts that haven’t yet been shared with you:

  • There IS some PS in France, it’s just not pervasive.
    • I have one grower in the Rhone that continually keeps me in his communications, now that he’s planted a Petite vineyard.
    • He’s somewhat furious that the US has the “claim to fame,” taking it away from the French.
    • He’s quite the gentleman, so he’s let it go, but wishes that history could be reversed.
  • Francois Durif wanted a grape to not have powdery mildew (successful on that score); but, Petite Sirah is very prone to bunch rot, because of its very tight clusters. So, with France’s terroir, Petite Sirah could be a disaster there. It’s not really that the French turned their noses down to it. They didn’t want a disaster on their hands.

In closing, you say po-TA-toe, I say po-TAH-toe, and I don’t think any less of you for finally getting that off your chest. As I think about things I like and others don’t, I’m always grateful: It leaves more of that item for those of us whom enjoy what others reject… You get more foie gras and I get more Petite. Fair is fair. Be well, Andy, and enjoy whatever floats your boat in your glass of wine. Cheers.

 

2

Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine

Trauma Drama and Obama

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official portrait of US President Barack Obama (Credit: Wikipedia)

Trauma Drama – “PS I Love You has done nothing to educate consumers,” he wrote, when asked to provide content for a Petite Sirah story about to be written. I was aghast.

This is someone who’s closely watched PS I Love You for the last 14 years, and someone who has make some promises, but then has forgotten. His thoughts may go to press, as his perception. My perception is quite different, having actualized and gathered data since 2002.

I respect his right to freedom of speech, and am therefore responding, if it’s going or has already gone to print. Being on record presents the other side of the debate. Facts and figures provide a very clear reality.

Barack Obama – The opportunity to list what’s been accomplished in the last 14 years, is an honor, and we can let history speak the truth. (I feel a bit like President Obama… You read it and think, “What?”)

  • In 2002: There were 62 Growers and Producers combined.
  • In 2015: There are 1,083 Growers and Producers combined.
  • The percent of growth, for wine companies who now dare to make a Petite, is 1,646.77419…%.

Trauma Drama since 2002

Facts:

  • In 2002: At the First Annual Petite Sirah Symposium, the 30 Growers and Producers who gathered stated, “We need publicity for this variety. We haven’t had any in y-e-a-r-s. Petite Sirah has fallen off the charts with wine writers.”
  • So, we’ve chronicled all stories on Petite Sirah on the PS I Love You Website.
    • 2002 – nine stories are recorded, as soon as we decided to make it happen.
    • 2003 – 20 published stories
    • 2004 – 34 published stories
    • 2005 – 65 published stories
    • 2006 – 45 published stories
    • 2007 – 36 published stories
    • 2008 –  43 published stories
    • 2009 – 41 published stories
    • 2010 – 27 published stories
    • 2011 – 84 published stories
    • 2012 – 62 published stories
    • 2013 – 56 published stories
    • 2014 – 56 published stories
    • 2015 – 12 published stories to date

If these stories were about one single Petite Sirah producer, especially if not a member of PSILY, the story was not recorded.

  • TOTAL stories, over and beyond “nothing” at the time = 581 to date
  • This year has been slight, because the Board of Directors and I stopped querying wine writers.
    • You can see what happens when that activity goes away. We should have twice as many stories by now.
    • That activity went away, because I always work many more hours than what compensation exists, within the budget.

Here’s Petite Sirah grape acreage over the years… With just a little over 11,000 planted in the world now, and nearly 10,000 of them right here in the US:

  1. We are the world leader in Petite Sirah.
  2. Grape vine planting continues a slow and steady climb, as nurseries respond to supply and demand that they see happening, and by reports by agencies who predict what’s popular. I question those agencies’ understanding of what’s really going on. Producers need to push harder, because they love Petite, ask for it, and then turn away when it isn’t in the nurseries.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER:

  1. There are 87,927 Cabernet acres – in the US… Merlot – 45, 296… Zinfandel – 48,638… Pinot Noir – 41, 431… Syrah – 19,019… PS – 9,974
    1. Which variety is going to get the most attention and obvious purchases?
    2. Which ones need no advocacy group, as they’re quite established?
      1. Zin is a new comer in preference, as compared to Cab, Merlot, and Pinot Noir, so ZAP exists.
  2. With only 80 members per year, what would happen if every single wine company that has Petite Sirah actually supported the cause?
    1. From 80 to 1,083… We would soar.
    2. How do I know this? Because it takes money to make money; i.e., grow everyone’s awareness of Petite with ads and more events. Therefore selling more Petite, as this one critic desperately wants.
  3. Events:
    1. WINE INDUSTRY EDUCATION: The Petite Sirah Symposium was sponsored by not only Foppiano for years, but Concannon picked it up and it cost them $30,000/ year to produce. (Annual budget is $78,000/year, and we just break even.)
    2. WINE TRADE The Blue Tooth Tour, for two years: Concannon had a budget of $300,000 the first year for PSILY, and $180,000 for the second year.
    3. CONSUMER EDUCATION: Dark & Delicious now takes awareness to consumers, for the last nine years.

Is the movement growing, based on the facts and figures?

You be the judge.

 

 

 

0

New Zealand,Wine

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – New Zealand continued

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – New Zealand continued

 

  • Turkey – Tuesday
  • Chile – Wednesday
  • Argentina – Thursday
  • France – Friday
    1. And we’re taking off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  • Spain – Monday
  • Germany – Tuesday
  • Australia – Wednesday
  • New Zealand – Thursday — and today’s continuation into Friday.

 

Today is the final day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days. It ran a day over (into a ninth day), because when I was about to continue with New Zealand for yesterday, I realized that the next wines from Murdoch James could just become an after thought… I didn’t want that, because fair is fair. As someone who also sends samples to wine writers, I know the cost involved, and it’s a very big financial commitment. As I said, with five wines yesterday, they took a huge chunk of the story. I want New Zealand to end on a high note, for everyone who trusted me with their samples.

It’s also a lovely ending to a massive project that I decided to undertake. I’m still trying to figure out why I didn’t see its magnitude ahead of time. I’ve come to think of it as a self-inflicted education, due to the massiveness of it all. The most significant part of this journey… The saying “last, but not least” has never meant more to me. With this particular story, I found myself…

My soul is singing, because I could so identify with this one. The gods gave me true. And, it’s not the first time. For a year, Mills Reef in the Hawkes Bay region, entrusted me with their Public Relations. Tim Preston was touring the United States, so we set up meetings with wine writers along his travels route. When I met the Preston family (at the end of his tour), I met some of the loveliest people I had ever met. They came bearing gifts; they stole my heart. Now, after producing this story, I believe, more than ever, that leading with my heart on my sleeve (as my grandmother so aptly accused me) is the way to go, if the people I’ve now been observing from New Zealand are any example.

I’m also going to leave you with a video at the end of this one, on sustainability, because the entire world could borrow a chapter in this playbook. The New Zealanders can teach humanity a thing or two. Yesterday I wrote what James Milton, founder, viticulturist, winemaker for Milton Estates had to say… The video allows you see him, and many others, chanting with one unified voice for sustainability.

I live as sustainably as I possibly can… Not just when people are watching, as was stated in a video about New Zealand that I watched; but every moment of everything I do. And, so does New Zealand. I don’t want this to sound preachy, so if you’re interpreting it this way, please rethink that. Be inspired, because our earth is so fragile and time is so short to save this world for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. The people of New Zealand live and work this way. We can trust their wines, if we are wanting to make a difference and leave the world a better place than we found it. It’s “like minded” wine, for you fellow naturalists.

Murdoch James

2014 Murdoch James Estate Pinot Gris

This Pinot Gris is really lovely, and brought back all of the Oregon Pinot Gris Symposiums that I organized for Oak Knoll Winery, a few years ago.  At that time, I got to study Pinot Gris (and Pinot Grigio), its many styles, and what foods would pair well with each. These food and wine pairings are based on my own experiences with food…. Isn’t that the same for us all? This New Zealand Pinot Gris is more in the style of a cross between an Alsatian Pinot Gris and one from Oregon. Alsace is more round for me, Oregon is more lean than a French one, and the one from New Zealand seems to be somewhere in the middle of the other two, if that’s even possible. It has to do with terroir, I’m convinced of it. Beautifully round in texture, delicate yellow plums for flavor, and a silky finish. This is a truly refreshing wine that I’d enjoy with a chicken stir-fry with lots of vegetables in a plum sauce… Yellow plums.

2014 Murdoch James Estate Sauvignon Blanc

This is a really friendly Sauvignon Blanc. Not littered with tons of MMB (3-Mercapto-3-methylbutan-1-ol), the chemical ingredient that makes Sauvignon Blanc resemble aromas of something that exists in our pet cat’s litter box. I have a hard time with this aroma, because it tends to dominate in not only the nose, but then also the palate… It’s not my favorite experience in wine, but I DO love Sauvignon Blanc wines. The winemaking techniques and terroir have allowed just a hint in this wine, with tons of white grapefruit dominating and in the lead role. If I were into lots of cheese, this one would help to cut through the creaminess, balancing the food and wine pairing. Delicious, really delicious and refreshing on this summer afternoon. Go for it!

DSC_0232.1.jpg

2013 Murdoch James Estate Pinot Noir

The color of rose colored glasses, when a line of glasses would be poured at a pre-wine event. I cam imagine the image.  The color and level of transparency tell will tell us all that this Pinot  is delicate. I shot this image with my Nikon, with the Riedel Master Somm glass while it’s laying on its side, with a shot of the the Estate Pinot in it. This 2014 vintage is still very young and the tannins are present, so get ready to have something creamy, while enjoying this wine… With today’s rain, I’m thinking a creamy dill quinoa.  I enjoyed the rose petals of this one, as I drifted toward the the High Block. I recommended this one for simple flavored dishes. I try to eat simply, so you know that this one is right up my alley.

2013 Murdoch James High Block

Rich plum on the nose, this one is going to be very juicy, before even tasting it. I wasn’t disappointed. The colors of the two Pinots are very inviting, with the Estate being a bit lighter in body, and the High Block being more rich in overall depth; it’s a fun study in wine color and its richness. When I want a Pinot Noir for just sipping and enjoying it, this is the style. It has remembrances of many Russian River Pinots, with its depth of terroir showing. Single blocks are a true gifts, when we can get our hands on one.  Very delightful, and an amazing way to end this series of Around the Wine World in Eight Days. Perhaps another time, I can run with eight more wine regions. It’s a good snap shot for people curious about starting out, and a great brush-up for me; in some instances also learning a lot along with you.

The Murdoch wines were well worth the wait for me, to create a ninth day, truth be told. To wait just one more day to taste the focus and integrity of these four wines? De-luscious…

0

New Zealand,Sauvignon Blanc,Wine

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – New Zealand

Today is the eighth day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days, so today is New Zealand.

It’s also a lovely ending to a massive project that I decided to undertake. I’ve come to think of it as a self-inflicted education, due to the massiveness of it all. The most significant part of this journey… The saying “last, but not least” has never meant more to me. With this particular story, I found myself… My soul is singing, because I could so identify with this one. The gods have given a gift to me on this day.

I live as sustainably as I possibly can… Not just when people are watching, as was stated in a video about New Zealand that I watched; but every moment of everything I do. And, so does New Zealand.

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we’re taking off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday

[Image borrowed from the New Zealand Wine “Pure Discovery” Website]

Top 10 Things about New Zealand That Intrigue Me

  1.  Did you ever notice that New Zealand is an upside down boot?
    • A boot and a leg warmer, to be exact; not contiguous, like Italy is.
    • Thanks to social media being launched, I launched the story above in 2010, and because listed on Google as the first place holder for this concept. (This will now be my on-line claim to fame… I’ll take it.)
  2. The Maori were the first inhabitants (Polynesian people) of New Zealand or Aotearoa, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud,” arriving before 1,300 A.D..
    • They were (and still are) people people, on the islands. Hunters, gatherers, weavers… And, today they are vintners and shepherds.
    • Perhaps this is makes them the Young Adverturess
  3. New Zealand is like Europe, in that you have to ask for your bill in a restaurant.
    • This is so unlike the US, where the greed of the restaurateurs is front and center:  “That table can bring in four to five parties a night, so I’m going to grab your plate just as you take that last bite and it’s headed for your mouth.”
  4. Because of the length of New Zealand, it has a variety of climates and landscapes from top to bottom. The north is subtropical, and can be wet during the colder months. The south, being close to Antarctica, is extremely cold in winter.
  5. Planned Celebrations ~ Get ready:
    • Sauvignon 2016, The International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration New Zealand • Monday, February 1, 2016 though Wednesday, February 3, 2016
    • Pinot Noir NZ 2017,  New Zealand • Tuesday 31 January 2017 – Thursday 2 February 2017
  6.  New Zealand is 1,000 miles, from 36° S longitude, to the world’s most southerly grape growing region Central Otago (46° S).
  7. No vineyard is more than 80 miles from the ocean and has long daylight hours with sunshine, and at night is cooled by sea breezes.
  8. Sustainable vineyards… sheep, ducks, Guinea hens, cattle, horse-drawn tractor machines, dogs, bee hives and free birds…
  9. My hero, James Milton, founder, viticulturist, winemaker for Milton Estates, Gisborne. In a video produced for sustainability… He stated what I’ve also always said:
    • “The interesting thing about when you move to sustainable, you start thinking about what you’re doing. And when you start thinking about it deeply, you then see that you have an impact on the land. We didn’t want to use soluble fertilizers, because soluble fertilizers don’t give a shit about what goes on in the soil. They just pop it in there, into the plant. And, when it goes into the plant, it goes into the grape. When it goes into the grape, it goes into the juice. When it goes into the juice, it goes into the wine. And, when it’s in the wine, it’s in the glass. When it’s in the glass, it goes into here [pointing to the process of from mouth to stomach]. So, be careful…”
  10. In New Zealand, sustainability is just responsibility and integrity, getting along with their neighbors, getting in front of other people in the world and proud to say that they’re not diluting nature. “It’s doing the right thing when no one is looking… It’s like leaving some wood in the hearth, after you’ve left.” — Rex Butt, Wither Hill, Marlborough
    • It’s simply of a way of life.

 

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – New Zealand

 

Brancott Estate Celebrates Sauvignon Blanc Day #Sauvblancday

Through the Thomas Collective, Chief Winemaker Patrick Materman invited me to join him for a digital tasting to celebrate #SauvBlancDay. The digital tasting, took place on Thursday, April 23, 2015.

  • website: thethomascollective.com
  • blog: thethomascollective.wordpress.com
  • twitter: twitter.com/ttc_tweets

Sauvignon Blanc Tasting – Five bottles

Brancott Estate Flight Song, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($14.99)

An interesting wine, designed with a low-cal approach, with only nine percent alcohol. The grapes were picked earlier than most wines, which results in lowered brix (sugar) and alcohol levels. This resulted in a 20 percent reduction in calories, with an alcohol level of only nine percent. This Sauvignon Blanc had immediate mineral characteristics, for me. A wine with a delicate fragrance, it also had equally delicate grapefruit and lemongrass flavors.  I loved it, and would probably drink more of it, as a result of the lower alcohol. This also means that my calories will go back up, because of more consumption, due to its mouthwatering flavors.

2014 Brancott Estate, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($13.99)

This Sauvignon Blanc was a bit off-dry, with just a touch of honeysuckle sweetness, and a vanilla, spice, and flintiness to it. It’s very light in color, it smelled like honeydew melon, and had typical grapefruit, green apple, and peach flavors.  This one is very food friendly, and would start with cheese dishes, if that’s your fancy. I’d enjoy it with a concoction that Jose makes with nuts, coco powder, and dried fruits. A very delicious wine.

2013 Stoneleigh Latitude, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($17.99)

As we tasted, each wine became more complex. The Stoneleigh became more tropical in aromas with a hint of pineapple. As for what I enjoyed for flavors: citrus, grapefruit, and pears. Aromas of pineapple and passion fruit lead to a tropical palate with honeydew, pear, grapefruit and minerals. It has a long finish, with a touch of flint. This is one I’d enjoy everyday… It just hit the spot.

2013 Brancott Estate Letter Series, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($26)

Complexity is growing, with each passing to the next wine. More robust with a rich, round mouthfeel. Much more citrus, as we went along. this one has a profusion of flavors: peach, apricot, pears… Passion fruit in a bottle named Sauvignon Blanc, when you’re reaching for something mulch-layered and wanting to impress, as this is a very impressive  Sauvignon Blanc. Great minerality, perfectly balanced… Have it as the second wine, after the Champagne, to mark an engagement…

2010 Brancott Estate Chosen Rows ™, Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc Vintage ($65)

All of the stops were pulled out for this one, which also demonstrates the ageability of a white wine is so possible, when great care is taken. What a privilege to have this much to go around for the number of tasters that occurred on the special day, when we all virtually gathered to taste these five wines. Seductive for the wedding night… as following through with the engagement wine above.. Can I say this one was my favorite, as I marked that I have good taste? This isn’t a statement of pride; it’s a statement of which one I immediately adored…  Elegant nectarine and figs, both on the nose and on the palate. What joy… It lingered on my palate, and the memory of this tasting is lingering long enough to want to write about it well after the fact of the virtual tasting.

Since this story is pretty complete (1318 words), but I also have a whole series of Murdoch James’s wines to taste, tomorrow I’ll finish with the following, to do the wines proper justice:

Murdoch James

2014 Murdoch James Estate Pinot Gris

2014 Murdoch James Estate Sauvignon Blanc

2014 Murdoch James Estate Pinot Noir

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Australia,Diaz Communications,Wine

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – Australia

Today is the seventh day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days, so today is Australia!

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we took off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday

 

Top 10 Things about Australia That Intrigue Me

  1. The minimum wage is almost $17 an hour, with 30 paid vacation days a year.
  2. Healthcare is a universal right.
  3. It’s ranked  as number-1 “Happiest Developed Country” in the world.
  4. Kangaroos get into street fights (Click on the link for the video.)
  5. Australia officially has more deadly species than any other country.
    1. So, as grandma told Little Red Riding Hood, “don’t stray off the paths.”
  6. Dummies.com: The country has about 2,000 wineries, many of which are small, family-owned companies.
    1. However, four mega-companies — Foster’s Wine Group, Constellation Wines, Pernod Ricard, and McGuigan Simeon Wines — together with one family-owned winery, Casella Wines, are responsible for about two-thirds of Australia’s wine production.
  7. Australia’s most important state for wine production is South Australia, whose capital is Adelaide.
  8. Australia is made up of over 60 wine regions: most famous; Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Hunter Valley, Limestone Coast, McLaren Vale, Mudgee, and Orange.
  9. There are now almost 2000 wine producers in Australia; many are small-scale, artisan producers.
  10. Australia is the sixth largest wine producing nation in the world, creating over 1.5 million cases of wine each year.

The Wines from Australia

Ad Lib Wines

 2014 Hen and Chicken Chardonnay

This Chardonnay comes from the cool climate of Pemberton. It’s not mentioned above, because it’s from a smaller region. (The town of Pemberton is in the southwest region of Western Australia, and is named after original settler Pemberton Walcott.) The Chardonnay grapes for this wine were hand-picked, with whole bunches being press fermented. The natural yeasts were allowed to guide fermentation. This is always a risk; but a unique result, in the final analysis is what I found for flavors. It was aged in oak, so the richness is there, and it’s extremely well balanced. It was bottled aged for at least six months, as is somewhat usual, if the winery has that luxury. This single vineyard varietal Chardonnay was very pleasant, and a fun wine to enjoy, on a very special occasion with family and friends. ($18)

2014 Cruel Mistress Pinot Noir

Again, this wine is from the cool climate of Pemberton.  The 2014 vintage had a warm summer, which cooled off in April; equivalent to our Septembers, in California. Dry, warm days followed, producing delicious fruit. Some natural and some selected yeast guided the fermentation of this Pinot Noir. It was then barrel aged for six month, giving it its vanilla flavors. Nicely balanced, this Cruel Mistress Pinot not only tempted me with its aromas, but it also satisfied. Still very young, it’s a delicious entry for this newly released wine. Purchase now for the holidays. It will be great for Turkey or Christmas Day. It also really opened up after a couple of hours of breathing.

Ad Lib wines are imported by Middleton Family of Wines, a client of Diaz Communications. I will write about clients on occasion. We trust them, and their wines fit the profile of what we enjoy marketing. If the wines don’t work, it’s not a “go.” Had I had other samples, they would have been in this story. The promised samples for this story never materialized. I had these wines to taste, and they became slotted as Australia. I trust them, and they delivered. (Take the pun any way you see fit. It works.)

 

 

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Germany,Wine

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – Germany

Today is the sixth day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days, so today is Germany!

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we took off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday

Top 10 Things about Germany That Intrigue Me

  1.  How elders are treated is fascinating. Here’s the link to the story, in its entirety. No sense trying to reinvent this one.
    1. LISTVERSE: FAKE BUS STOPS; Noticing that seniors tended to stray toward public transportation as a way of returning home, the homes teamed up with local organizations to erect fake bus stops. Escapees are rounded up peacefully; when a staff member sees one of their patients waiting at the stop, they approach and let him know that the bus is going to be late. Then the patient is invited inside to wait more comfortably. Minutes later, the entire incident is forgotten.
  2. The scenery, where the Rhine meets the Moselle, is spectacular and worth sharing. The picture above is where the Rhein and the Mosel meet, in Koblenz.
  3. The 13 major wine regions (Anbaugebiete), as listed on Wikipedia: Ahr, Baden, Franconia, Hessische Bergstraße, Mittelrhein, Mosel, Nahe, Palatinate, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Saale-Unstrut, Saxony, and Württemberg.
  4. While 11 of the regions are in the west, two of them are in the eastern part of Germany.
  5. I incorrectly thought that Gewürztraminer is a German grape variety, until just now.
    1. Don’t you also be fooled by the German name.
    2. It comes from the ancient Traminer wine grape variety, and takes its name from the village of Tramin. This town is located in South Tyrol, a German speaking province in northern Italy.
  6. Most of the wines coming from Germany are white wines… Due to its terroir. Even though most of us know this, it’s still fascinating.
  7. Wine has been produced in Germany since the Romans introduced it, approximately 2000 years ago.
    1. Those Romans really got around, and have left their aqueducts all over Europe. This is a picture I took of one in Portugal. Roman Aqueducts are also found in Croatia, Spain, France, Rome and Italy (of course), Germany and Portugal (as mentioned), Cyprus, Turkey, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Israel, Algeria, Greece, Jordan, and Romania.
  8. The rich tradition of winemaking at Johannisberg Palace goes back 1200 years.
    1. As of 1716, Schloss Johannisberg belonged to the prince abbot of Fulda, who had a grand, three-winged palace built in line with the taste of the times. [From their Website]
  9. For almost 600 years, every fall in the village of Bad Dürkheim, one of the world’s largest wine festivals happens. Over 150 different wines are available to taste. It’s called “Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt.”
  10. Germany’s 13 primary wine regions produce approximately 1-million cases a year of wine.

The Wines from Germany

Nik Weis Selection

Urban Riesling from Nik Weis Selection

WINERY:

Nik Weis, owner and winemaker of Germany’s renowned St. Urbans-Hof Weingut has sourced the best quality wines from neighboring vineyards to produce URBAN RIESLING, a new wine with traditional roots. The Nik Weis Selection label attests to the fact that the wine has met Nik’s rigorous standards and reflects the traditional taste profile of top-quality Mosel Riesling wine.

WINE:

With a brand new label, this wine packs a powerful nose and flavors, despite its delicate straw color. (I like tasting at room temp, because I get to taste so much more from the flavors. I do realize that most people will chill it and then enjoy. For real enjoyment, I’d also chill this one a bit, too. Floral, fruity, everything you’d want in a Riesling. I’m also not a huge fan of petrol, so this one is a favorite. Asian dishes, here I come. My favorite cuisine is Pan Pacific, and this one would be a natural accompaniment. (Approximately $14.00)

On the finish, there’s a sight hint of petrol, but it even takes a couple of minute to present itself. It’s delicate, low alcohol (9.5 percent). Need something mouth-watering? This is it.

For more details, here’s Nik Weis, owner/winemaker of the world-famous estate of St. Urbans-Hof in Germany’s Mosel region. It’s not often there’s this much to say about a wine that retails for under $15, but the following excerpt attests Nik’s passion and drive. About the only thing he fails to mention is the origin of the “Urban” name – not a nod to hipster chic, but named for St. Urban, the patron saint of German winemakers.

“When I decided to create a non-estate Mosel, I didn’t want to make just a varietal Riesling that could as well have grown anywhere on the planet. In the Mosel we have the possibility to make wines of character like you can find nowhere else. I wanted my Urban Riesling to be a true Mosel wine. I wanted it to be the best ambassador of the Mosel region: honest, authentic, with a true origin. This means that it has a complex, smoky and floral nose, a juicy, fruity, elegant mouthfeel, with a minerality that finishes off-dry and leaves a desire for the next sip.

“In a way, Urban Riesling is the gateway or the window to my world of wine. My name on the bottle, indicating that this wine is a “Nik Weis Selection,” guarantees the same quality level I expect from my estate wines. It is my wine.

“Urban Riesling is a 100% Mosel Riesling from vineyards around the town of Mehring, hometown of my wife Daniela. My father-in-law is a grape-grower and has many friends with great properties in some very fine vineyard sites along the Mosel. Here Riesling vines enjoy ideal conditions on steep slopes creating a perfect angle to the sun’s rays. Soil consists of beautiful blue, highly decomposed slate rocks that give the wines their great minerality, creating an appealing, somewhat salty finish. Temperatures vary from warm during the day to cool at night, facilitating elegance and a fruity acidity that produces a wide range of beautiful flavors.

“Vinification is minimalistic, true to the Mosel and the way my forefathers have worked. We do not de-stem; we conduct a slight maceration of grapes, gentle pressing and gravity-fed sedimentation. The only modern improvement is fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. We do not inoculate any cultured yeast. It is the indigenous yeast fermentation that gives complexity and character to this wine. In order not to lose any flavors, we do a very gentle filtration.”

Alcohol: 9.5%, Residual sugar: 33 g/l, Acidity: 7.2 g/l

Yum…

Brought to us by HB Wine Merchants

 

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Spain,Wine

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – Spain

Today is the fifth day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days.  ¡Ole, Jose, it’s Spanish wine day!

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we took off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday

Top 10 Things about Spain That Intrigue Me

  1. Paella is a rice dish, not a seafood dish. (Whew, I’m allergic to sea food, so I’ll cozy up more to see what that protein is.)
  2. Ten top regions in Spain:
    1. Andalusia
    2. Asturias
    3. Basque Country
    4. Catalonia
    5. Castilla y Leon
    6. Extremadura
    7. Galicia
    8. Valencia
    9. Madrid
    10. Valencia
  3. The exciting nightlife in Madrid kicks off late – around 2:00 a.m.
    1. Okay, I’ll be totally missing that, unless I sleep all day.
    2. Maybe jet lag will make it easily possible for the first night.
  4. The beret is associated with France; but Basques, in northeast Spain, invented the beret.
  5. The main grape used for the white wine Rueda is Verdejo; although, the wine is often a blend, with the rest usually being Sauvignon Blanc).
  6. La Rioja is Spain’s most famous wine region, and we usually immediately think of red wine. It also makes good white wine, too. White Rioja is made from the Viura grape, which is also known as Macabeo.
  7. Spain has over 2.9 million acres of planted grape vines.
    1. This makes it most widely planted wine producing nation
    2. But, it’s the third largest producer of wine in the world: France is largest, followed by Italy.
  8. At the end of the nineteenth century, Spain’s sparkling wine emerged as “Cava” in Catalonia.
  9. The 80-20 Rule: It’s estimated that over 600 grape varieties are planted throughout Spain; but, 80 percent of the country’s  focus is only on 20 of the grape varieties.
    1. Very common in most countries – like Portugal and Italy, for instance – that have a tremendous amount of indigenous grape varieties that have evolved over the years.
  10. Just as Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, and Porto only comes from Portugal, Sherry ONLY comes from Spain.

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – Spain

2014 Dominos de Castilla Vederjo, Rueda

Stellar, even after days… I can’t help but how Spain isn’t buying the chemical life that American has made itself become dependent upon… And only in theory, because a lot of this generation is so far removed from the Great Depression. Many of our grandparent had “Victory Gardens.” This was pre-chemical land, and the traditions were handed down. Most important to this is we learned to taste food as the gods intended. It’s harder to sell us a bill of heath for purity. This is what I tasted in this Verdejo. It also reminded me of my days spent in Portuguese vineyards. It’s a European flavor. This wine also held up, having tasted it weeks ago, then revisiting it today, to get that memory back. Oxidation was miniscule… Ah… purity. This is now a favorite wine variety. this one and Torrontes. The freshness and purity of flavors.. . Ooo la la…

Clean, crisp, and left me wanting for more.

INSERT

2013 Dominos de Castilla Tinta de Toro

A blend of Tinta de Toro and Garnacha, two varieties that bring me to numbers 155 and 156 different varieties of wine grapes that I’ve tasted, with the Wine Century Club.

A medium weight wine, whose tannins are strong and tight. If you want to enjoy it now, get yourself some Ibérian jamón (exquisite, free-range ham) and cook it into a paella. This is an everyday, that could easily become your house red, just for this developed familiarity as a good friend. It will also age well, as I’ve been learning about this brand. (I tasted the Crianza – below – first. This one isn’t a big and bold. This one is lighter and just “familiar.”

2012 Dominos de Castilla Crianza,  Ribera del Duero

Crianza, oh Crianza, you’re inhaled me into rich cherryness. I tasted you once, weeks ago, and today your bouquet has hardly morphed. Your tannins are still tight, but a few twists softer. You linger on my palate and make you happy that you came to me. This is when I get to pinch myslef for the opportunities the wine life has bestowed upon me. Spain, after all, is deeply embedded into my heart and soul, having a union of devotion to a man with Spanish roots.

His are Puerto Rica, so it’s a tapestry: Spain, Taíno Indians natives of the Island, African slaves, and today’s rainbow people… The Spanish is so there. The years of learning the language, working hard to not sound Anglo, getting myself in trouble – because I was successful – so merchants have no time to wonder what my blank stare is, when asked a question. It’s always a question that I can’t quickly translate. Yo pienso in englais, after all. This Crianza has breeding. (Crianza is Spainish for breeding) Kismet, right?

Puerto Rican’s today are called “Rainbow People, and this poster demonstrates why…

WINE: Tempranillo, from D.O. Ribera del Duero. This wine was aged 14 months in American and French oak barrels, with a minimum f three months in the bottle. As I said, the cherries hit me first, then came the blackberries and toasted almonds. You owe it to yourself to taste Spanish wines, you really do. If they’re as yummy as this one, you won’t be disappointed.

***Brought to us by Winesellers, Ltd. samples.

 

 

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France,Wine

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – France

Today is the fourth day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days, so today is France!

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we’re taking off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday

 

Top 10 Things about France That Intrigue Me

  1.  I have traced myself back to Charlemagne. And, yes, so can many other people of Europe, because he had 17 children with eight of his 10 known wives (or concubines). So, where does that put me? In line also with Pippin the Short, Charles Martel, and the Kings of Scot. I have history and would love to return to that hallowed ground, from whence he came, that Charlemagne…
  2. Red wines accounts for 60 percent of French supermarket wine sales, and that’s compared with 25 percent for rose, and 15 percent for white wines.
  3. Even French people find it difficult to understand French wine labels.
  4. Northern France’s wines are usually made from a single variety (like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay); but, wines from further south are typically blends of varieties (like, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot).
  5. This one  is from Food & Wine’s site: Seven Top French Wine Regions by Acres of Vines (I had no idea)
    • Languedoc-Roussillon 528,000 Acres
    • Bordeaux 306,000 Acres
    • Rhône Valley 188,700 Acres
    • Loire Valley 158,000 Acres
    • Burgundy 125,000 Acres
    • Champagne 75,000 Acres
    • Alsace 34,000 Acres
  6. French wine is much less expensive than American wine because it’s not heavily taxed.
  7. From Ashley Abroad: “If a French person asks you if you’d like a glass of wine, say “volontiers”, not “bien sûr.” In this context bien sûr means, “obviously”, as in, “Obviously I want some wine, don’t you know I drink allll the time?” P.S. I learned this the hard way.” [Nuances of language…]
  8. Terms to know, if you’re headed to Alsace:
    1. Bas-Rhin The northern portion of Alsace.
    2. Haut-Rhin: the southern portion of Alsace.
  9. Chablis: the northernmost region of Burgundy known for its steely whites.
    1. Because of the US’s Hearty Burgundy and calling whites “Chablis,” it’s earned a negative connotation.
    2. Reality: Chablis, the northernmost region of Burgundy, is known for its steely whites. So, today anyone who refers to a white Chardonnay that’s “un-oaked,” this is what is meant by Chablis-style.
  10. From French Together site: First of all, and quite logically, French people do not say “cheers” when toasting. Instead you can use “santé” (health). This is the most used words but some great alternatives include :
    1. A la tienne (to yours => to your health).
    2. A la vôtre (to yours but in a formal way this time)
    3. A votre santé (to your health formal)
    4. A ta santé (to your health) informal

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – France

Les Vignes Bila-Haut ~ (HB Wine Merchants)

WINERY:

The words that best describe Maison M. Chapoutier:

  • An Estate that nurtures its vineyards with the greatest respect for natural balance and terroir since 1808.
  • The family motto “Fac et Spera” – do and hope – says it all.
  • Two words that sum up all the patience and daring that this art demands: patience in relation to nature which presides; daring for the winemaker, who observes, chooses and assists.
  • The wine will be the faithful expression of this alchemy.

WINES:

Let’s translate: Vignes in French = Vines in English.

All Beautiful Wines ~ and very much recommended

2014 Les Vignes Bila-Haut Pays d’Oc

This is a very delicate rosé, the kind that makes me yearn for more days with my adorable grandmother (Abbie Bernier) by the lake… It’s so soft and kind, easy on what I wanted and needed at the time. Truly refreshing, like the first sweet strawberries of a season and it did taste like strawberries. It’s that delicious and natural of a wine. I just don’t know how anyone couldn’t love this wine. ($15)

2013 Les Vignes Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem

Cinnamon spice and everything nice, dark chocolate (who’s in?) and jammy fruit with toasted almonds. The tannins were soft and supple, and the wine has a velvety finish, with hints of cocoa powder.  This is a wonderful wine for the outdoor grilling season. Classic and well structured, what we want France to continue to be… Pair it with canard (duck). ($15)

2014 Les Vignes Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon

Only four percent of grape production of this area is allocated to white wine growing, so this is a really rare wine, and an honor to taste something this exceptional. It’s also a delectable wine… crisp, refreshing aromas and flavors of lemon, with honeysuckle wafting on my palate, singing praises of my French Bernier ancestors. We French love our wines. Les Vignes delivers… A Grenache Blanc and a Grenache Gris add roundness in the mid-palate, and Vermentino (Rolle) gives it a tanginess, while Macabeo brings in crisp flavors.

Okay, get out the Wine Century Club spread sheet. I just added #151 as Macabeo and #152 Grenache Gris. I’m headed to 20o different varieties. I will make it, I know I will.

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – France

Master Family & Winesellers Ltd. ~ Le Charmel

WINE COMPANY:

Le Charmel is a new line of exceptional wine finds from different parts of France. This includes a Red Rhone, a Muscadet sur lie, a Pinot Noir, and a Cote de Provence rosé, pictured here.

“Le Charmel” refers to Charlie and Mel Master, a  father and son partnership, who source these wines. The are négociant merchants, doing a lovely job with their selections.

WINES:

Wines from France

2013 Le Charmel Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie A.O.C. 

This wine is quite refined, like gorgeous french lace. From 40 year old vines, this Loir Valley wine contains the only grape allowed in the bottle… Melon de Bourgogne. Here before me is a delicately delicious white wine from the Loire, a 2013 Le Charmel Muscadet. This wine’s main varietal lineage is Melon de Bourgogne. I’ve added Melon de Bourgogne to my list. I’m now at 150 varieties that I’ve tasted.
I poured the wine into a Burgundian glass. I like a big, bold opening on a glass. I wanted to bathe in this one. Citrus, like Meyer lemons and tart green apples. This wine is made for soft gooey cheese… I tasted it at room temperature, to get the most from the flavors. It’s a powerfully decadent and refined wine in tasting characters, due to having rested on its lees for several months. I’ve spent the last minute thinking about it, and it still continued to linger. I pulled out my “In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs” to see what would work with this wine… Bingo: Troffie di Farina di Castagne Chestnut Pasta Sauced with Pesto, served with a Potato and Green Bean Garnish. This wine is so refreshing that I can just simply enjoy it as a sipping wine. A day in my garden, making everything perfect for those summer months…

2014 Le Charmel Rosé

Don’t let the roses fool you, I tasted away from the roses, and then realized I could bring in some of my roses to enhance this story… But, it was inspired on the wine, not based on it. It has more of a raspberry flavor to the wine, with notes of seed fruits, like apples and pears. Produced near the Mediterranean Coast, cultivated on a Provencal hillside. It’s as romantic as it all sounds, in terms of flavor, having this beautiful terroir. The Varieties: 30% Syrah, 30% Cinsault, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache, 10% Rolle. I dream of the days with Provence. This is one area I need to put on the agenda. Looking for something really refreshing? This is the one, and it’s so elegant.

Monday… Spanish wines. Until then, have a safe 4th of July!