Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
Simple Hedonisms receives a fair amount of invites to attend live Twitter tastings – a format where you receive the wines, and then join other bloggers on Twitter, tasting, chatting and discussing.
I turn more of these down then accept these days, often either because of ‘day job’ travel conflicts or
often the wines are more mass market and just less interesting.
However I was super excited to receive an invitation to taste the great wines of Steven Kent (Mirassou) and his other label La Rochelle. La Rochelle specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.I discovered the La Rochelle Pinot Noir, some years ago at Pinot on The River and was a big fan.
Live, virtual tastings on Twitter can be quite fun to follow, and better yet, join in. Hand selected bloggers will be comparing notes, and engaging the winemaker in questions and dialog.
You can follow along on Twitter hashtag #StevenKentWines – simply search for it on your Twitter browser or application. (You can also go to search.twitter.com and enter #StevenKentWines .)
On Twitter, you may join in and ask questions, reply to the winemakers or bloggers etc. (Twitter account required.)
You can also purchase the wines and share your thoughts!
Wine shops like K&L Wines, JJ Buckley, and Beltramos carry them, amongst others.
- Winemaker Steven Kent Mirassou – @StevenMirassou
- Steven Kent Winery – @skwinery
- La Rochelle – @larochellewine
From 4-6 pm, Pacific time, the bloggers will taste through these wines with the winemaker:
- 2011 “Lola” (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Blend) $24
- 2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay, Dutton-Morelli Lane, Russian River Valley $65
- 2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands $38
- 2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir, Donum Estate, Carneros $75
- 2009 Steven Kent Petite Verdot, Ghielmetti Vineyard, Livermore Valley $50
- 2009 Steven Kent Cabernet, Home Ranch Vineyard, Livermore Valley $65
Find one and join us!
For those that miss it, I will add notes to my Cellartracker tasting notes – now over 1,000 notes recorded!
See you on Twitter, and cheers.
Can you name the second most widely planted varietal in the world? Yes, it’s Grenache. A grape beloved in France and Spain, under appreciated in the US, but growing in popularity.
Indeed, San Francisco wine writer Jon Bonné has been emphasizing for sometime now that Grenache represents everything American consumers are looking for in wine.
Grenache is also my persona favorite varietal family. Family? Yes, when we celebrate Grenache Day its not just the red grape Grenache (Noir) but also Grenache Blanc (yes thats actually a white grape, not a pressed version of Grenache) and Grenache Gris, which is almost non existent in the US, sadly.
Grenache Blanc should be celebrated indeed- with less than 300 acres planted in California, we are fortunate to have it here, thanks to the efforts of Tablas Creek, ten years ago.
What is Grenache Day aka #GrenacheDay
The International Grenache Symposium, led by Marlene Angelloz, an energetic passionate lady I had the pleasure of meeting in Avignon earlier this year, is group dedicated to celebrating Grenache. The Symposium holds a number of events in Europe during the year. The culmination and global celebration is the third Friday in September, which co-incidentally is mid harvest for most Rhone vintners, self included.
Varietal Days have
become quite popular on Twitter the last few years, and with a little practice is a great way to interact and share with other Grenache lovers.
This is a non commercial, non sponsored event. No monies are collected to participate, advertise, or be a part of. All that is required is a bit of passion, which you will find abound amongst Grenache lovers.
The Rhone Rangers Lead The US Charge
The Rhone Rangers are the leading US non profit organization dedicated to the education of American Rhone wines – that is Rhone style wines made from domestic grapes. With Hospice du Rhone seemingly muted and in transition, our organization is more committed than ever to this cause, and have rallied in a big way to support Grenache Day.
I say ‘our’ because I am a steadfast, contributing member. Originally as a ‘Sidekick‘, then on the Marketing committee running Social Media. Ultimately that led to a Board of Directors position, and involvement in multiple committees. In 2011 I proudly also joined as a Vintner.
Not stopping there, most recently, I lead the re-forming of the North Coast chapter, consisting of 32 wineries, mostly in Sonoma county, but spanning Napa, Mendocino, and Lake Counties. If you tapped a vein right now, Grenache might indeed flow.
US Grenache Tastings & Events
Many Rhone Ranger wineries and Grenache producers are doing a number of special tastings, verticals, sales to celebrate.
Highlighted Rhone Rangers events include:
- Four walk around tastings held in Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Paso Robles, on Friday Sept 21st. These events are being held at no charge, and are an excellent way for you to experience Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Rosé, as well as blends based on Grenache, and intereact with the winemakers. A listing of times and locations can be found here. (You can also RVSP for the Santa Rosa event here, come visit, I will be pouring.)
- As a special warm up for our palates, the Rhone Rangers will lead a two hour Twitter Grenache seminar and tasting, the day before, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Each 30 minutes a special guest winery will lead the tasting and questions:
Ridge Vineyards(5:30 PM)
Bonny Doon, Randall Grahm (6 PM)
Two Shepherds (6:30 PM)
Tablas Creek & Tercero (7 PM).
Any winery can join in with the consumers and bloggers. The more the merrier. Bring a glass of Grenache (we’d prefer domestic for the tasting, but there are no rules) your questions, and be a part of the celebration.
I recommend the use of a tool like Hootsuite for Hashtag sorting, but you can also use the Twitter page via web browser, simply put #grenacheday in the search window.
For more information, and to RSVP, please go to: http://grenacheday12.eventbrite.com/
A Special Day, Amidst Our Most Special (and busy) Time of Year
Harvest comes only once a year, and is a joy filled, sleepless, rewarding time of the year for any passionate winemaker. We get one shot a year to express ourselves in our artisanal craft, factoring in a wealth of moving parts and things we have no real control over. (The largest being Mother Nature.)
Thus it is an extra special gift that wineries are taking precious time away to celebrate this beloved varietal with you. I hope you will by a bottle (or two)
and toast with friends and loved ones, in the spirit of appreciation, and celebration that is intended.
Cheers and Happy #GrenacheDay!
Tuesday Mar 20th – Join The Rhone Rangers and "SonomaWilliam' for a Live Rhone Twitter Tasting 530-700 pm
Rhone Rhone Rhone! As I wrote Saturday in
March 24-25th in SF: “A Weekend Celebration of American Rhônes” or “Palate Enlightenment”. Read, Learn, Share and Win Grand Tasting Tickets
March 24-25th in SF: “A Weekend Celebration of American Rhônes” or “Palate Enlightenment”. Read, Learn, Share and Win Grand Tasting Ticketsthis weekend its all about Rhone wines.
To celebrate and get the Twitter Hashtag for the event, #RRSF warmed up, the Rhone Rangers (@RhoneRangers and I (@SonomaWilliam ) will be doing a live Rhone wine tasting and ask all of you to join us.
Just grab a bottle of Rhone wine (Domestic please in this case) preferably from one of the 140 Rhone Ranger members, crack it open, and share your
thoughts with the other bloggers, consumers, winemakers that will join us.
We have already lined up many of the Bay Are bloggers to join us, it should be a lively event! The more the merrier.
- Every time you Tweet during the tasting, use the hashtag #RRSF . This is the hashtag for this Weekend’s event – lets get it warmed up.
- The tasting is from 530-7:00 pm Tuesday March 20th, Pacific time.
- For maximum benefit, set up a search column for #RRSF in a aggregation tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite – that way all the Tweets for the event are together. Worst case you can also do a search via a web browser simply click here.
Grab a bottle or glass, your smartphone or laptop, and
join the Rhone celebration – Rhone on with #RRSF !
The brief piece we did at Thanksgiving “Our Menu for Turkey Day, and a Great Visual Site – Pi
nterest” was actually quite popular, so we thought we’d do similar for our meal today.
Pinterest holds a lot of potential as a social media site. Don’t let the fact that you have to request an account deter you – one comes fairly quickly.
This link brings you to the ‘board’ I have created, where I re ‘pinned’ things from Michelle, who put a variety of ideas on her board for me to choose from.
You can then click on each picture and pin it to your own board. You may also launch to the original source website and find the recipe.
Viral food porn and crowd sourcing all in one!
Now, back to Christmas. Warm wishes from Simple Hedonism, thanks for following us over the years. Cheers!
October Meetup Double Feature: Wine Meetup/Industry Open House, and Wine Club Pickup Party at Sheldon & Krutz Wineries 2-6 pm. Food Truck Dinner Party after!
Sheldon Wines, Krutz Family Cellars, and Simple Hedonisms invites you to join us Sunday October 9 from 2-6 pm for an afternoon of Harvest fun & celebration. This busy time of year comes only once a year, and we’d like to thank our patron and fellow wine-o’s for your support.
New Day, Slight Format Twist
This month’s meetup is a slighly different format – we are putting side by side a Krutz/Sheldon wine club & futures pick up as well as our monthly meetup. Its also a first to do a Sunday.
The Wine club event is scheduled for *loosely* 2-4 and the Meetup 4-6 pm but we encourage club members, patrons, winery staff and everyone to visit any time between 2-6 that works for you. The more the merrier.
You may RSVP here: http://octobermeetup.eventbrite.com/
No charge for Sheldon or Krutz Wine Club Members and Futures pickups, or wine industry (proof may be asked for at check in.) The general public is only $10 ($9 in advance) and includes all tastings from both wineries, some nibbles, and door prizes.
Jump on the Santa Rosa Wine Trail
Attendees will also receive a Santa Rosa Wine Trail card with two stamps. (If you came to our meetup at Inspiration you will now have 3!) Fill it up and enter for a case of wine for $1. You also get complimentary tasting at all members, and free corkage if you buy/bring a member winery bottle to Willi’s Wine Bar.
Door prizes (new change)
Because of the altered format this month, door prizes will be drawn at the end of then event, and persons notified, you need not be present to win.
STAY AFTER; Food Truck Party!
The event ends at 6, but the party continues. Buy wines by the glass starting at only $5 and food truck vendor Ultra Crepes will be selling food. They were
If you think you might stay, answer the question during registration so we can plan on tables & chairs.
See you Sunday – Cheers!
Last Friday was International Grenache Day – not as prevalent as Cabernet Day – but people celebrated all over the world, abd hundreds of thousands of people were reached via Twitter during this celebration.
I held a walk around tasting for 9 wineries and 80 people hosting vintners Quivira, Ridge, Mounts, Sheldon, Wind Gap Wines, Baiocchi Wine, R2 Wine Co, and last minute entry Stage Left Cellars. More on this in an article later this week.
To compliment this tasting, the Ortman Family was nice enough to send rose’ samples to share, which I splashed in peoples glasses as a palate cleanser and kickoff wine, for save one exception, we had reds all being poured.
The 02 Series
I am a fan of the o2 Series and its concept, and loved the Ortman Cuvee Eddy, 02 Series, San Luis Obispo County Rhone blend when I reviewed it last December. What is o2?
Wines that are fresh, affordable, delicious, coming from a small family owned winery with 40 harvests under its belt.
Review: Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso RoblesTo the Eye: Dark Salmon, Watermelon Flesh colored
On the Nose: Peach and Strawberry fill the nose.
In the Mouth: Bright, vibrant, refreshing. Watermelon, citrus. Juicy mid palate, lingering acidity on the finish. This wine is easily downed solo, but would pair with with oysters, salads, grilled chicken or fish, BBQ with tomato sauce, pizza. 14.5% alcohol.
Recommendation: As Lisa Ortman says:
A word from the ladies of Ortman Family Wines: Man up and drink pink!
90 points – A recommended, high quality, value priced rose’. $16 online, and it appears they currently have great shipping specials – 1-5 bottles shipped to CA is $12, and shipping for 6+ bottles is only a penny. (Welcome to California ABC laws.)
There was only 90 cases made of this great summer sipper – grab a few. And lets get another thing straight – Rosé is not just for summer – that’s about as true as bubbles are only for holidays. You can enjoy rosé any time of year, and its an especially great food pairing, value priced wine for the holidays – stock up and drink pink!
A Memo to All Domestic Rhone Producers – Friday September 23rd is #GrenacheDay – Rally To The World’s 2nd Most Planted Varietal
To: All those domestic producers of Grenache, Grenache Rosé, and Grenache Based Blends
From: William Allen; Editor, Simple Hedonisms, Board Member, Rhone Rangers
September 19th, 2011
RE: Call to Action for #GrenacheDay
Overview: The Grenache Symposium has declared Sept 23rd as Grenache Day. Details and how to list even can be found here. You can also follow the Grenache Symposium on Facebook. The International Grenache Day Google Map is here and you may find a help document on how to post your event here.
Based on postings on the official map, domestic support is light, especially in comparison with recent social media #CabernetDay and #Chardonnay day. Yes I know more wineries produce those varietals, but nonetheless some senior players are absent.
It’s possible many wineries do have plans, but haven’t posted them. Lets change that, I am happy to help. You can also post it on the Grenache Symposium Facebook page, and ask them for help. I know it’s a busy time – I myself am amid harvest and launching a tiny Rhone label, Two Shepherds. Nonetheless, anything you can do helps and shows the love. As vintners, writers, consumers and aficionados its time we gave the world’s second most widely planted varietal its due.
Grenache has become my most beloved of red varietals. Wrest it from the hands of New World and Cabernet vintners who want to oak and over ripen it, and it makes a beautiful, feminine wine – elegant like Pinot Noir (minus the Syrah additions) but with a different complexity, nuance, and spice. This was my epiphany Rhone grape, not Syrah. (Which I love and have many cases of.)
Personally I am holding a walk around tasting for 8 wineries and 80 people. Vintners Quivira, Ridge, Mounts, Sheldon, Wind Gap Wines, El Dorado vintner Baiocchi Wine, and R2 Wine Co. It couldn’t be a worse week for me, but if there is ONE social media wine day I WILL support, its this one, and I challenge every single Rhone Ranger member winery, grower, and Sidekick, and of course anyone else who produces Grenache and Grenache based blends, to celebrate in some way. Yes that includes those who fancy themselves Spanish producers of Garnacha as well!
What is Grenache Day (or #GrenacheDay)
It has become increasingly popular for a Varietal to be picked in advance on a predetermined, and then celebrated over Social Media, as well as live events.
While much of the activity and measurement will be based on Twitter, one need not be on Twitter to celebrate. As a winery, simply spreading the word, holding a tasting, special sales incentives, special bottles, all are valid participation.
On Twitter we use ‘hashtags’ or words that start with a # symbol – this signifies a sorting mechanism, and allows a user in a Twitter platform like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to see all posts grouped together that use this hashtag. You can also see basics by clicking: http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23grenacheday
Why have these become popular? The May 26th #Chardonnay day reached over 4 million people, 29 MILLION impressions, and 12,000 related tweets. That’s just ONE medium, add in Facebook, live interactions, and the impact is impressive. Grenache deserves some love, lets show it.
What Can I Do?
Anything is better than nothing.
If you are a Winery:
- If nothing else, post a simple 8.5 x11 sign in an acrylic stand up on your counter of tasting room and let everyone know its #grenacheday and make sure you pour one.
- Encourage them to check in on FourSquare, Facebook & Twitter, and enter #GrenacheDay when they do – your brand then joins the mix.
- Offer a special price on single bottles, 3 packs, cases.
- Hold a special Grenache vertical or library wine tasting.
- Contact your local restaurant and encourage a pairing, special wine by the glass, or go youself and do a pouring.
- Make sure you post whatever you decide on the Grenache Day Map here
Encourage participants to mention #grenacheday and your winery bran on Facebook and Twitter.
My blog has 4500 Twitter followers, and 2500 Facebook Fans. The Rhone Rangers, 1500 & 2000. All of these will be used to share your event if I know about it. Also feel free to post it on either or both walls on Facebook and cc both on Twitter.
Twitter: @RhoneRangers and @SonomaWilliam
You may email me at SimpleHedonisms @ gmail.com for help. Please note mid week I am out of pocket during the day judging a wine competition, so response maybe after hours.
Break open a bottle and share your tasting notes with your followers. If you know Grenache producers whom you have a relationship with have sent you samples before, email them tomorrow to get one by Friday.
(Notice I said trusted relationship. This is not an excuse for the sample ho’s to come out of the woodwork, and I will help wineries validate requests if needed. I do PR for several wineries, and some of the correspondence is shameful. Thats terrrific you have a Snooth login -that doesn’t merit you samples because you are too lazy to create a blog, or your last post was 9 months ago about a Cabernet that wasn’t ‘too sweet’. )
Grab a bottle (or three) and some friends and have a great time. Perhaps compare several producers, foreign and domestic. Wine is about exploration, and fun – make it so.
Thanks for your support and Happy #GrenacheDay!
- Simple Hedonisms - Wine Country Lifestyle & Educational Wine Reviews
- Board Member – The Rhone Rangers
The Grenache Symposium has declared Sept 23rd as Grenache Day. The main website still shows the 2010 Sept 24th event, but the press release, and how to map your event, is here. You can also follow them on Facebook here, and their blog here, which also confirms the Sept 23 2011 date.
Organizations all over the world have already registered their events as you can see on the Google Map. Simple Hedonisms is taking the Sonoma count lead with another greenhouse event, and hope as many of you Rhone Rangers will follow. Personally, its a bad week, as I am locked up for 3 day judging the Sonoma County Harvest Fair competition, and its my birthday week – but hey, what better way to celebrate than recognizing my favorite red varietal.
Calling For Vintners to Participate and Pour, Sept 23 in Santa Rosa Tasting (And Everywhere)
As a board member of the Rhone Rangers, and the cat herder leading the new North Coast Rhone Rangers chapter, launching in late September with a new North Coast tasting room map (details soon), I am committed to the cause of domestic Rhone producers, and helping further the cause in the North Coast counties (Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino.)
Feedback both from wineries and attendees has been extremely enthusiastic – its an evolution of the (yawn) walk around tasting getting long in the tooth.
Why? First, a small, focused number of producers. (In the case of #Pinotsmackdown, gone through an elimination round tasting.)
Second, unique attributes for vintner selection, broadening the attendees exposure, no matter how experienced. (Chardonnay with skin contact. A great 50 case Pinot from Humboldt county, as two of many examples.)
Third, the attendees have been serious wine enthusiasts who ask questions, take notes, and taste, learn – not a drunk fest of baby birds with their glasses out.
Event Details For Vintners
The official Eventbrite registration is up and has already issued 25 of the 80 attendee spots, not too shabby considering it just went up at 8pm last night!
Details here: http://grenacheday.eventbrite.com/
This event is ABC licensed, and sponsored by the YWCA, to whom a portion of donations go to. Your ‘table fee’ is a bottle of wine of each poured, donated to me as the host, and a $20 donation, or a bottle to the YWCA, which they use for future events and fundraisers.
Your table is provided – you should bring a table cloth, dump bucket, 6-8 bottles (to be safe, average pour is 4-6 bottles), and your a certificate of insurance. (Standard new protocol now I am told.) Use of marketing colleteral, email sign ups, wine club and order forms is suggested. Up to 2 persons from the winery may attend to pour. (And is encourage so can also walk around.)
Wine poured can be grenache, grenache rose’, or a blend where grenache is the leading varietal. You may call my cell at 415 613 5731 or email me at simplehedonisms at gmail.com with questions. We will cap at 8-10 producers.
Whether you pour or not, if you are a grenache producer or a grenache lover – to take the time to celebrate this wonderful variety.
On August 18th, I am a co-host for Ed Thralls of Wine Tonite for the 2nd Annual #PinotSmackdown. Pinot’s from various regions will be compared and people will vote for their favorite region during this live tasting.
I will be replicating the very successful tasting I did for #Chardonnay day, last month, in my Greenhouse. What will this event be about, and like? You can read the details and summary here in:
Looking for A Certain Style of Pinot Noir
There are a variety of styles of Pinot Noir. Bold and Big; Burgundian. Lighter and more nuanced. I purchase, drink and review them all.
As I did with for Chardonnay, I will be seeking a certain profile of Pinot. There has been moderate wine press recently by Jon Bonne’, Jancis Robinson and others, discussing Pinot Noir starting to return to its more elegant form. Over the years Pinot has crept up in color and alcohol, over ripened and over extracted, chasing the New World Palate, and trying to lure less knowledgeable drinkers weened on Cabernet, who think there is something wrong with red wine that is light in color.
Requirements & Profile
I am looking for Pinot that is more reflective of the vintage, terroir, and is balanced, with good acidity, modest alcohol. If you are a Pinot producer that fits this, and would like to pour, or have sopayday cash loan
ght size-medium wp-image-5480″ title=”Greenhouse tasting” src=”http://www.simplehedonisms.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/chardonnay-day-5-300×224.jpg” alt=”" width=”300″ height=”224″ />meone represent you and pour, please contact me. If I am not familiar with your current vintage, likely I will be requesting a sample prior to accepting.
Samples should be shipped/dropped of July 18-20th so that I can sample as a panel for final selection. If your wine is not selected, this is by no means a slight – I am trying as best I can to find Pinot's of similar style. I am also going to try and hold it to to 8-10 tables again.
Right now I am more focused on OR and CA, but I would love Pinot from any region and importer that fits the targeted intent, and if you have a representative willing to pour.
Based on the previous event, you should plan to pour 6-8 bottles of wine. Your 'table' fee is also a bottle of wine, so that I may review it later.
I will be teaming with a non profit for an ABC license, and hope to also legally allow wine sales (orders, likely no distribution) via permit.
You can contact me at simplehedonisms @ gmail.com.
PS September First is Tempranillo Day
The TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society) has declared September 1st #Tempranillo day.
I intend to do another tasting. perhaps not on this scale, but am also looking for Tempranillo producers to send bottles & literature for a self pour station, or come pour. More to follow.
Seeing California Chardonnay in a New Light: #Chardonnay Day Greenhouse Tasting, Attendees Top Picks. Up Next – Aug 18 Pinot Day
May 26th was international #Chardonnay day, organized by wine social media entity Rick Bakas. I am a believer in the varietal focused Live tastings, so to support of this, I held a private tasting of selected, 12 distinct producers, showcasing a variety of regions.
Rick did an excellent job covering the results in his article recap. Some highlights:
- Reach was over 4 million people.
- 29 MILLION impressions
- 12,000 related tweets
So…as a chardonnay producer, why didn’t you take part?
Combating Chardonnay Backlash
As this event drew near, I was observing some murmurs of backlash. One wine writer/blogger whom I respect and consider more knowledgeable than myself, reacted on Twitter by saying “celebrating Chardonnay day was like celebrating McDonalds.” Wow, jaw dropping, how did we get here? Even if you took the opinion that California produces no good chardonnay (somehow out of the thousands of Vintners)….you are writing off this varietal and all of the amazing French, widely varying styles? The Grand Cru white Burgundies? Steely, minerally Chablis? Really?
If there is one thing I stand for as a wine writer, its pursuit of assisting others in their wine education by exposure, and ending some of the inane myths. Calfornia chardonnay has come a long way, as highlighted by Chronicle wine writer Jon Bonne’ in Chardonnay regains respect – now to maintain it.
It’s slightly ironic – a wine writer & evaluator who often expresses support for lesser known varietals, rushing to the aid of Chardonnay? The ‘Rhonehound’ himself battling against the ABC (anything but chardonnay) crowd? The United States Number One white varietal hardly needs my help, right? Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand vineyards in Europe have ripped out traditional unique varieties to plant this chardonnay. I scratch my head at very hot regions growing chardonnay, when the vineyard would do so much better with whites intended for warm climates.
But, this reaction, and some of the feet dragging I was also getting from industry friends in supporting the tasting, made me all the more determined to provide some perpective. Much of the ‘ABC’ backlash, in my experience, comes from exposure to only the big California, oaky butter bombs, like the popular Rombeur chardonnay. This style has earned the term ‘cougar juice’ – its a valid style, and if you like it, great. But what a shame to write off one of the most diverse white wines there is, just because of one style.
Chardonnay is like a blank canvas, and responds, expresses well the many options available to a winemaker from fermentation vessels (new oak, neutral oak, concrete, stainless), aging vessels (same), primary and secondary fermentation options, climate, ripeness, clone selection and so many other variables. If you like a steely sauvignon blanc, or a modest Rhone white blend, odds are there are styles of Chardonnay you will like.
If you are one of those “real wine drinkers don’t drink white” or “I don’t drink white” …your journey of exploration and awareness has far to go. Once you truly open up the world to white wine and its hundreds of varieties and styles, globally, and its more subtle nuances, your world is forever changed. Never stop trying, tasting, or exploring.
The Producers I Gathered
At first, not knowing how many I would get for this tasting, I extended offers to friends and producers I liked. As word got out and the day got closer, last minute requests flooded in, and I had to say no to some, not because I didn’t like the wines, but I had space constraints, keeping the audience to around 80 people, wanted focus, and most importantly, diversity, by region and style. I had originally planned only six producers.
This is the great lineup I ended up:
- Rivino Winery from Mendocino poured their stainless/no ML chardonnay.
- kopriva – 2009 Carneros unoaked Chardonnay paired with Hog Island Oysters.
- Inspiration Vineyards - 2008 & 2009 Russian River for comparison
- VineCrowd (representing k. furtado & Hirsch) VineCrowd is a new site that provides wine drinkers with the opportunity to connect directly to a handfulof cutting edge, independent wineries through a user-friendly social web driven website. Poured the 2009 Hirsch Vineyards Chardonnay and the k. furtado Bien Nacido Chardonnay.
- Donelan Wines poured their 2009 Donelan Nancie Chardonnay (also with Vinecrowd.)
- Gloria Ferrer – Started with a splash of Blanc de Blanc bubbles, then their new release 2008 Carneros Chardonnay.
- Old World Winery 2008 Chardonnay, Tweek Block.
- Jordan 2008 & 2009 Chardonnay.
- Vintage Wine Estates Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast Vineyards, and Windsor Vineyards RRV.
- Chamisal Vineyards from San Luis Obispo: -Chamisal Vineyards (Edna Valley) – 2010 Stainless Chardonnay and 2008 Estate Chardonnay-Pine Ridge Vineyards (Napa Valley) – 2008 Dijon Clones Chardonnay (Carneros)
You can view a more detailed 2 page spreadsheet that attendees received that have more notes on each wine, here on Google Docs.
Event Feedback – A Huge Success
I have been writing and discussing regularly that wine tasting events need to evolve to new formats. Based on feedback both from attendees and producers, and we may have hit on one here. Since the event was private and went to mostly friends, most of the crowd was very knowledgeable, with a heavy mix of industry.
Feedback was gushing next day. A PR wine veteran shared they had been reluctant to come and came away with a completely fresh perspective on California chardonnay. Many echoed similar. Producers expressed they were very happy with the very high level of enthusiasm and sincere interest. The greenhouse was abuzz with energy and excitement. It was one of the most lively tastings I had observed in some time. Most of the photos are courtesy of Damon Mattson Photography – you can see the whole Facebook album here.
We couldn’t have fit any more people inside. I had expected people to come in waves, but for the most part they clustered around the same time. Space got a bit tight, and noise a bit loud, but neither became unmanageable. To accommodate more people – additional space outside the greenhouse, and/or two different times would be needed. I am examining a number of tweaks for the next event.
The Top Picks By Attendees
With 12 producers and 17 wines, not everyone tasted through them all. (Self included.) There were several surprises for me, and some wines I really liked I had not had before. My personal favorite of the ones I tried was the Donelan 09 Nancie. Twenty four hours of skin contact gave great aromatics and texture, the wine maker Tyler exercises restraint with oak, and produced and elegant, unique expression of Chardonnay. I was pleasantly surprised with the new 2008 Gloria Ferrer. Their still wines are made for food pairings, and thus their Chardonnay is often more robust, but this year had greater balance than previous vintages, and I thought was an excellent value. The Rivino stainless, no malo chard was also a standout. Unoaked chard can sometimes be a bit too bright and austere, but this had excellent round fruit and weight.
I hope to do a review of all the wines, as I only got to about half, and had little time to really focus. Each producer donated a bottle to that effect.
Below is a chart of the attendee picks. I almost hate to publish top picks, as by design, these were all quite different, and feedback from attendees was that it was hard to pick.
For this ‘contest’ attendees picked their top 3. Not everyone voted, (only about 35% did) and as mentioned, not everyone tasted through all 17 wines poured. I will streamline consumer feedback for the next event with improved handouts, and perhaps may use simple scores of 1-10.
The chart is simple: it shows the number of votes each wine received as an attendees’ #1, 2 or 3 vote. As you can see, the votes are very spread out, with all wines receiving some votes.
‘Total Score’ is the unweighted total number of votes. The ‘Winner’ was determined by the ‘Weighted Score;’ 3 points for a #1, 2 Points for #2, 1 point for #1. I also highlighted in gray, the top 3 in each ranking.
1. kopriva : No matter how you slice the data kopriva was the favorite of the day. (I have always been a big fan). This wine is a direct opposite of a California cougar juice. The kopriva team were also brilliant to pair it with Hog Island oysters, who’s briny minerality make it shine. Indeed, in bragging about to kopriva to a friend once, she thought it was decent, but a bit plain for her. We then paired it with some oysters, and she fell in love too.
kopriva garnished 22 percent of the #1 picks, as well as the highest #2. Weighted or unweighted, they had the top overall score – bravo!
2. Donelan 09 Nancie chardonnay: Their inaugural release, inched out a #2 choice. The 2nd highest weighted score.
3. Hirsch 09 : The Hirsch 2009 had the 3rd highest weighted score.
From here the numbers quickly clump, again reflect a wide like factor of all the wines. Pine Ridge, Chamisal, Rivino, and Gloria Ferrer also did well.
What’s Next – Pinot Day, August 18th – Taking Applicants
As I did with Chardonnay, I will be seeking a certain profile of Pinot. There has been moderate wine press recently by Jon Bonne’, Jancis Robinson and others, discussing Pinot Noir starting to return to its more elegant form. Over the years Pinot has crept up in color and alcohol, over ripened and over extracted, chasing the new World Palate, and trying to lure less knowledgeable drinkers weened on Cabernet, who think there is something wrong with red wine that is light in color.
I am looking for Pinot that is more reflective of the vintage, terroir, and is balanced, with good acidity. If you are a Pinot producer that fits this, and would like to pour, or have someone represent you and pour, please contact me. If I am not familiar with your wine, I may request a sample prior to accepting. Right now we are focused on OR and CA, but I would love Pinot from any region and importer that fits the targeted intent.
I also intend to lead and organize a Rhone varietal tasting this fall, on behalf of the Rhone Rangers.
Next Event – Venue Tweaks
During the event, I thought there were a few glitches and areas of improvement:
Parking: Thanks to last minute unexpected rain, one side of the road was bad for parking, and despite warnings in the email update, AAA pulled out 4 cars! Winter tastings and parking will be a challenge in the winter I will need to address, as both sides of the road become unparkable in wet season.
Temperature: Luckily we had a normal Russian River summer evening and the weather cooled down. That is normally the case, but a summer heat spike out of the norm, could impact our Pinot day tasting.
Twitter Coverage: All in all things came out well, but there is always room for improvement. I had a lot to do to pull this off and get my place ready, and I ran out of time on a few things I had planned. Technical glitches prevented me from projecting the Twitterfeed. AT&T works poorly on the farm, so I had extended wifi coverage to reach the Greenhouse, but many people were not aware. One producer shared disappointment, they only saw their brand mentioned once. I was so busy, and I think people were so engaged, social media coverage became secondary to face to face interaction. Personally, I only had time to Tweet twice! There is also the challenge that people know the hashtag, secondary hashtag, and your Twitter handle. I will improve signage and communication next time, but people don’t often read details. More check-in help would also be useful.
Wine Sales: I’d like to explore permits so wineries could take orders. Again, the cost must be low. Wineries don’t want to pay table fees, and consumers don’t want to pay high entry fees; so keeping costs low is a part of this. Even just selling a small amount of wine, helps offset the ROI for the winery for the event. (Time, travel, wine.)
Crowd Breakdown: I’d like to perhaps divide the tasting into two times and groups, and perhaps start with a Trade (Retail, restaurant, distribution) and Media Tasting, and then an everyone else. Part of the problem is that despite all the events I host; I haven’t done a good job creating a trade list – something I will need to work on.
Thoughts and Feedback
I’d love any comments, ideas and suggestions. Also if you were one of the 80 attendees or 12 producers pouring, share your thoughts and comments.