I was asked if I’d participate in Crushpad’s Brixr – the “iTunes of Wine” – event.

At the time, I was living with my left ear being plugged since visiting LA. My head cold migrated during the flight from the pressure, and I was put on steroids. (My office staff was avoiding me, and I think I know why… Grrrrr.)

So, in all fairness, I had to respectfully decline. I can’t fake what I don’t know. If I don’t know it, somebody else does, and I let him/her teach me.

However the intriguing the concept seemed, the show would go on without me. No one would miss me and it would be a great program, but not my program this time.

Meanwhile, Brixr.com was not easily dissuaded. The Email I got back said, “That’s okay, we’ll just send you the package, and you can follow-up with it later.”

Okay, sounds like a plan.

What is this all about? On-line tasting?

Crushpad released the beta version of Brixr (www.brixr.com) on March 4, 2010, with a preview tasting for over 100 media participants. Brixr combined taste-size TinyBottles with live online tastings hosted by wine experts, bringing interactive wine tastings and purchasing of full bottles into the homes of millions of wine enthusiasts across the country.

Pretty new way of doing business with wine, if you ask me.

“With over 100,000 wines in the market, consumers just don’t have the time to find the best wines for their tastes and pocketbooks. Likewise, wineries have few opportunities to directly connect to busy consumers. The result is overwhelmed consumers and boutique wineries that are struggling in a challenging economy.

“In one corner we have a handful of wine critics telling consumers what to buy, and in the other corner we have wineries trying to sell wine with a stream of Facebook and Twitter updates that no one is looking at,” said Michael Brill, Crushpad CEO. “The consumer has little say in who they rely on for recommendations and have no ability to determine whether they like the wine before they put down their money.”

“For wine enthusiasts, Brixr offers several key advantages in their search for the next great wine. Sample-sized tastes called TinyBottles cost a fraction of a full size bottle’s price and allow for easy exploration and sampling. These 50ml bottles (1.7oz) are created by Crushpad using proprietary rebottling technology that is extremely friendly to the wines, allowing virtually no oxygen ingress and resulting in a taste experience that is true the wine’s normal bottling.”

The TinyBottle packs are accompanied by online tasting videos featuring wine experts, ranging from winemakers to sommeliers to wine bloggers. These tastings are presented as either live streaming videos or pre-recorded versions that provide consumers with a greater context for finding, learning about, and enjoying new wines. Once consumers found wine pros with similar tastes, they followed them for their picks with each new video. Consumers could then buy the wines that they like directly from wineries on Brixr.

For more information visit brixr.com and tinybottles.com

I’m finding the tiny bottles fascinating. While an entire bottle could simply go to waste, because I can’t sit and drink six bottles of wine once they’ve been open, I still found a serious favorite, and was craving it for dinner. (Alas!)

Alberic Bouvet 2006 Crozes Hermitage ~ Gilles Robin ~ Alberic Bouvet Red Wine ~ $30.00

Tasted 04-12-10 ~ Lyla says, “Yum,” which is a millennial term of approval. That ‘s right on cue with what the winemaker would want to hear.

Meanwhile, NOSE: mashed black fruit and butter notes. PALATE: I tasted dry Bing cherries, fresh black fruit, cinnamon, saddle leather… FINISH: good tannin structure (puckering effect), and dry red raspberries.

Tablas Creek Vineyard 2006 Esprit De Beaucastle ~ Paso Robles ~ $42.00

Tasted 04-13-10 ~ Mourvedre 45%, Grenache 28%, Syrah 22%, Counois 5%.

Alcohol is a bit high for me. The wine has that 14.5 percent hotness as landed on my palate… Just sayin’

NOSE: Gorgeous old world red fruits from the brier patch, with hints of spice and saddle leather. PALATE: Freshly mashed strawberries (headed for a strawberry shortcake), cigar box and cinnamon spice. Medium-long FINISH has beautiful earth notes defining it. The alcohol didn’t negate the enjoyment.

2007 Domaine de Font-Sane Gigondas Red Wine ~ $22.00

Tasted 04-21-10 ~ Red wine

New to me, because I’m California educated, is “Gigondas” ~ a French wine Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the southern region of Rhône (France). It’s solely a Red wine region, and a small amount of rose is also produced.

NOSE: After pouring, red fruit filled the room, before I even sniffed the wine. In the glass, a brown-red color, was warm and welcoming. Rich cherry fruit filled the nose, with hints of tobacco and leather. PALATE: spicy rich flavors of cinnamon and blackberries dominated. FINISH: A bit hot from its 15% alcohol, but was still a lovely, tart wine that I highly recommend.

2007 Féraud-Brunel Côtes du Rhône – Villages ~ $16.00

Tasted 04-21-10 ~ Red wine

NOSE: This wine has a nose of crushed Maine blueberries and lots of blackberry fruit.  PALATE: Clear flavors of graphite, boysenberries and wood spice, give way to its FINISH: Tobacco notes and licorice are immediate, and linger nicely. This is an easy crowd pleaser, as well as being a really great value wine.

2006 La Pianlade Côtes du Rhône – Red Wine

Tasted 04-21-10 ~ Red wine

This wine producer of a Chateauneuf du Pape was the lightest of the wines, reminding me of a Pinot Noir made to perfection. The Grenache is quite evident and most enjoyable. I regretted that this arrived in a tiny bottle, because this one would easily have been my wine for the evening. I’m cooking up a beans and rice dish, and this one would have been great simple fare with a luscious little wine

NOSE: Pepper spice dominates the mashed red fruit. The color is more of a burgundy color of Pinots, versus purple red hues of California sunshine wines. PALATE: My favorite of all the wines I tasted, because of its delicacy, the La Pianlade Côtes du Rhône delivered blueberry flavors with a black pepper and cedar spice. FINISH: a gentle wine that delicately lingered, making me eager to sip again.

For more information visit brixr.com and tinybottles.com

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