Playing with balls…

 

Second labels are hot right now.  They are one way for a winery, who might be struggling with the economy, to use some of their juice and develop a lower price point wine.  or they might just be a way for the winemakers to have a little fun with their wine.

Pétanque wines are made by Michel-Schlumberger, a leader in California premium wines, specifically for enjoying BBQ season, picnics, and Pétanque, the French game of lawn bowling.  recently, I had the chance to attend their opening party at Michel-Schlumberger, where the wines were being poured, the balls were being thrown, and band was swinging.  for $25, we got to eat the yummy food, dance with the Brother Cat Band, and drink all the wine we could!  In fact, Judd kept coming around to refill our glasses.  Probably to keep us, the riff-raff out of the rest of the crowd  😉

At the party, I was able to taste the line up of affordable, easy drinking quaffers that are value priced between $12.95 and $16.95  At these prices, you can enjoy a bottle every night!  part of the fun of these wines, is that we were outside in the garden, drinking from tumblers instead of glasses, and playing with balls as we drank and danced all afternoon long.  What a fun day!

First, I tasted the 2007 Sav Blanc.  On a warm spring day in Dry Creek, this hit the spot.  The grapes for this citrus driven white were from Paso Robles, and it was aged in stainless steel  It’s a nicely balanced low alcohol wine at 13.^%.

Next, even though I generally run screaming from Chardonnay, I had to give this one a try.  Most because my friend Judd was pouring it, but hey, what the hell  this is actually an unoaked chard, which made me smile.  I am not a huge chardy fan, and this was was decent, even if it wasn’t my favorite.

My favorite of the lineup, and the one I drank all afternoon over and over, was the 2006 Syrah.  It was a big soft syrah, that came from right there in Dry Creek Valley.  It was very easy to drink and I did.  A lot!  I wasn’t really taking notes, but I just remember this was a fantastic BBQ wine.

Next, came the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This came from the Sierra Foothills, and I was surprised about that since I don’t generally associated that area with Cab.  It was ok, but not really my cup of tea.  I found it too woody.

The moral of this story is, if you find a winery that makes a second label, and you really enjoy their first, give it a shot!  There are great values out there and you might just have some fun trying them!  I’m big on the budget wines, and while I appreciate a special bottle and drink lots of that too, I love that there are tasting treats out there that are prime priced for a party.

 

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What happens in Napa, stays in Napa. And the blogesphere. And Twitterverse.

This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to have my Luscious Lush self and my big mouth invited to a blogger panel discussion, hosted by Lisa de Bruin (@winedivergirl) of Hahn Estates.  At this discussion were several fellow bloggers and industry folks, as well as a large contingent of the Hahn team, who were on hand to discuss their wines as well as how they can more effectively interact with us wine blogger types.

First, let me get this out of the way.  I am going to talk about some wines.  I am going to talk about some Hahn Estates wines.  These wines were tasted at a hosted event, but these comments express ONLY my opinions.  I am choosing to write about the wines that stood out in my memory as being exceptional or noteworthy, because i like to share things I like.  Moving right along then!
In attendance, we had the following bloggers:
Additionally, we had two wineries represented, which added a unique perspective.

From Hahn, we had:

  • Andy Mitchell, Director of Vineyard Operations
  • Adam Lazarre, Winemaker
  • Bill Leigon, President
  • Evelyn Pool, VP of Marketing
  • Lisa Adams Walter, PR (@lisaadamswalter)
  • and of course, our illustrious hostess herself – Lisa de Bruin, Director of New Media Marketing (@winedivergirl)

This event was envisioned by Lisa de Bruin, with a lot of input from various bloggers and industry folks, as an opportunity to open the dialogue between wineries and bloggers.  This has been something of a challenge in recent weeks, and has incited some rioting (friendly fire only!).  Before the lively discussion started, however, we were treated to a tasting of some of the Bin 36 and Lucienne offerings.  Below are my notes from my favorites:

2006 Lucienne Pinot Noir, Lone Oak Vineyard

Rich ruby color.  Rich without being sweet or overdone.  Black cherry, earth.  Strawberry fruit rollup, cherry and plum.  Tastes slightly salty.

The Lone Oak Vineyard is in an area of the Santa Lucia Highlands that produces world

class pinot noir.  Case in point, Lone Oak actually sits between Gary’s Vineyard and Rosellas Vineyard, which are both well known in pinot circles for producing some cult pinot noirs.

We also tasted the 2006 Lucienne Pinot Noir, Doctors Vineyard

This had a much chewier mouth feel, with black raspberry and Bing cherries, followed by plums and earthy spice flavors.

I enjoyed both of these pinots very much, and would say that for drinking along, Doctors is a great choice.  If you are pairing with food, I would suggest the Lone Oak.

This event was just getting under way after the wine was poured.  With our minds flowing freely, the discussion began as to how wineries, other industry professionals, and bloggers can work together.

First, let’s face it.  Bloggers are a rowdy and diverse bunch.  NO two wine blogs really have the same goal, and no two wine blogs are the same.  Personally, I write my blog because I like to share.  It started as a newsletter of events and wines that I was enjoying, and evolved from there.  I choose to write about wines & things that I find inspiring.  I choose not to write about every forgettable wine that I taste, because I don’t have that much time in my life.  But that is me.  Your wine blog might be different, and that’s OK!  The point of the blogger community is that we all have our passions.  Our readers come to our blogs for information, and for different reasons.  I read over 100 wine blogs – not every day, but in general – and each one adds value for a different reason.

  • Sonadora, the Wannabe Wino, gives me insight in to her favorite wines and her travels through wine country
  • Lisa de Bruin, from California Wine Life and Hahn Estates, gives me a unique perspective on issues in the industry as well as her adventures diving and enjoying wine.
  • The Brix Chicks let me peek vicariously in to their world as they pursue their WSET certificates and taste things locally.
  • Michael Wangblicker of Caveman Wines writes about shaping the wine blogging industry, and gives me great tips and tricks to improve my own writing.

Each blog is different, each blog is great. The uniqueness of the blogging industry is what makes it magical.

In recent news, traditional media outlets such as the Chicago Tribune have filed for bankruptcy.  As we move towards the next decade, old school traditional media methods are being surpassed by new methods, such as online media and blogging.  As Lisa put it “the shift of influence in the wine world from old print media to new on-line media, especially in the form of blogs with character, variety and accessibility to the variety of wine lovers out there is essential to the success of a growing wine industry.”  I could not agree more.  The next generation of wine drinker is so attached to the web, they are avoiding brick and mortar establishments.

There has been a lot of discussion about where the line is drawn in terms of bloggers and wineries.  I question this, as traditional media outlets get wined and dined and showered with gifts all the time.  I’m not sure why we should be held to a higher standard, just because we are innovative and new.  That being said, if we are clearly writing about a “sample”, as disclosed in our blogs, are we not covering our own asses enough?  Food for thought.

Since I personally, only write about wines and events that are important to me, I am aware that I am giving positive publicity to those wineries / events.  SO what?  How is this different than me saying to my friends, “I had a great wine last night you should try it”?  Word of mouth marketing has been, and will continue to be, the most powerful sales tool in the retail world.  The only different that we, as wine bloggers have, is that we are communicating to a wider audience en masse.

I hope that these conversations will continue, and would love to see winery hosted blogger panels more frequently, across the US.  One question that came up during our conversation with Hahn was about this being  “Hahn Fest” of sorts.  While there was a certain portion of that, I see that as being somewhat obvious, since it was a hosted event.  However, if more wineries like Twisted Oak, participate and pour their wines in a convivial and social setting, the appearance of this can be changed.  Again, I didn’t see this as an issue because it was clear before we went that we were attending a hosted event, with a panel of Hahn employees.

That’s what I think.  What do YOU think?

 

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Tweeps, Eats, and East Bay Drinks!

Wow what a busy week this has been! Where have the last two weeks gone? I can’t find them. Have you seen them? Hmm might have to look under my chair, or in my stair, over here, over there. In recent happenings, fellow wine bloggers met to taste through several delicious wines. From left to right: Marshall & Brittney of WineQ, (@wineq, @wineqt), Ward of WineLog (@drxeno), Farley, late of Behind the Vines and currently of Rosenblum Cellars (@WinePoet), Megan of Wannabe Wino (@sonadora) and Russ of California Wine Hikes (@winehiker). Togeter, we had some great wines and great dinner and talked blogs, politics and wine!

The following day, Brittney, Megan and I headed up to Michel-Schlumberger in Dry Creek Valley, where we were treated to a tour of the vineyard and an amazing tasting afternoon. Judd led us
through the organic garden out back, before taking us up the hill to admire the grapes as well as the view. After scrambling down a few hills (yes I’m a girl, and wasn’t wearing hiking shoes), we headed in to the luxe Club Room to taste through their current offerings.

Highlights for me were the Pinot Noir and the Syrah, but the library reserve vertical of Cabernet Sauvingnons was amazing too! I confess, I was being lazy, somewhat induced by a cold, so i didnt’ take great notes. Head on over to Wannabe Wino for a complete report shortly!

Amazingly, we spent over 2 hours enjoying our day, and were somewhat remiss in keeping our lunch date with Patrick of Iridesse Wines (@oenophilus) at Bovolo in Healdsburg. Once there however, we were all drooling over the multiple forms of bacon offered. Three of us ordered the decadent Carbonara, which was served with black pig bacon. And of course, we had a side of bacon to go with that!

After lunch, the girls and I headed across the street ot Stephen & Walker, before heading to the south end of town. After Stephen & Walker, we headed south to Longboard Vineyards, where we were fortunate enough to hit a clearance sale on their 2005 Syrah which was only $15. For a daily drinker, I really enjoyed this wine with a rich & earthly character, balanced by dark fruit and spicy cola. I also picked up a bottle of the Dakine Syrah, which is the reserve offering. I especially enjoyed the Dakine for winter sipping in front of the fireplace.

After Longboard, we continued to the south end of town to the Front Street Five, a collection of small wineries. Here we stopped at Huntington and Camelia Cellars.

I have always enjoyed Huntington’s Petite Sirah, but this time I purhcased a reserve Merlot for fall sipping. At Camelia, they had a lovely soft Sav Blanc called First Kiss, so I brought some of that home too.

You can find all of these wines by using Vinquire my favorite search tool!

After two full days of tasting and laughing, I was ready for a good rest! After all, I needed to be perky for my next few wine activities!

Stay tuned for reports on those. Happy drinking!

 

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