Archive for May, 2014

Enthralled With Pinot Noir (Thralls Family Cellars Recent Releases)

Vinted on May 29, 2014 binned in elegant wines, overachiever wines, wine review

It’s funny (as in “refreshingly interesting,” and not as in “ha-ha, I almost peed my pants!” or “ewww, well… that’s weird) how success in the wine business keeps getting redefined and reinvented.

To wit: by now, we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re seeing wine lovers migrate from the online wine world into viable writing and winemaking careers, but for whatever reason the Hardy-Wallace-type stories still seem oddly out of place in the wine biz. Oh, wait, it’s for “whatever” reason; the reason is that the wine world is still woefully behind on understanding that the online world is populated by actual human beings with actual passions, talents, and funding. Okay, whatever.

We can add another online-wine-wonk-to-promising-offline-wine-producer story to that growing lineup: that of Ed Thralls, who recently sent me samples of his personal project, Thralls Family Cellars.

A refugee from the east-coast (Atlanta) financial tech industry, Thralls was blogging and tweeting at the handle @WineTonite for some time, all the while building up real-world wine chops through an internship at Holdredge Wines, a stint in the Viticulture & Enology program at UC-Davis, and completion of the Certified Specialist of Wine qualification.

The result of Ed’s foray into personal wine branding is tiny quantities of Pinot Noir juice crafted from grapes purchased from interesting spots in Northern California, with an eye towards clonal selection, light use of new French oak, dollops of whole cluster and unfiltered processing, and generally trying to get the results under 14% abv. It’s Pinot that is promising – and elegant – enough that Thralls’ efforts probably ought to be considered for a seat at the “cool kids” table of In Pursuit Of Balance (and similar modern temples to the anti-largeness Pinot crowd; hey, I’m not complaining, I dig both styles)…

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The Rare, The Weird, And The Wonderful ( Wine Article Roundup, May 2014)

Vinted on May 27, 2014 binned in going pro

It’s that time of month again, when we get all wrapped-up in the wrap-ups. This month over at, I dealt in the rare (and long-overdue), the weird (two kinds, actually), and the wonderful:



  • The Weird also comes to us by way of reviewing a sample of what I found to be rather odd wine accessory, CulVino’s Air Carafe. I just didn’t quite “get” this one, though I could appreciate where some (primarily those dealing with a lot of fruit flies buzzing around) might find it useful. I’m quite happy to be convinced of the Air Carafe’s usefulness, but I struggled to find a reason to pick one up unless you spend a lot of time drinking vino outside.





Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For May 26, 2014

Vinted on May 26, 2014 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 10 Fidelitas Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Mountain): Generous, complex, and turnng up the kitchen heat just a tad too high. $60 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Fidelitas Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Franc (Red Mountain): Suspension bridge supports are rarely as supportive & tightly wound. $40 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Cadence Red Mountain Ciel du Cheval (Red Mountain): Let's get dirty; planting black plum, mint, tomato, tea in dusty clay gardens. $45 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Red (Red Mountain): Superficially tart, but intellectually – & structurally – deep all at the same time $57 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Seven Hills Winery Ciel du Cheval Vintage Red (Red Mountain): Terse, but elegant, talking refined phrases in silk, cassis & clay. $45 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Seven Hills WInery Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Red Mountain): Flamboyant and bouncily buoyant, & thought to bring flowers $45 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Seven Hills Winery Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla Valley): Sinewy & also sexy, making a hell of an entrance. $45 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Grey Stack Cellars Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma County): Who says big people can't dance? Voluptuous, *and* it's got serious moves. $26 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Grey Stack Cellars Bennett Valley Cuvee Pinot Noir (Sonoma County): Bit on the burly side, but more than a bit on the nuanced side $38 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Amici Cellars Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (Sonoma County): You'll get your money's worth at this large and entertaining show. $35 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Rutherford Wine Company Lander-Jenkins Chardonnay (California): Putting on a lush show, but it's too spirited to really fool anyone $15 B >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Rutherford Wine Company Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon (California): Surprising verve, trying to beat back the toasty wood. $16 B- >>find this wine<<



More Proof That Social Influence Is Eroding The Power Of Traditional Wine Reviews

Vinted on May 22, 2014 binned in best of, commentary, wine news

As if we needed any more evidence that consumer perception of wine isn’t all that materially different than how they interact with every other produce available in the market today, the results of a study titled In Vino Veritas? Social Influence on ‘Private’ Wine Evaluations at a Wine Social Networking Site published by provides more proof that wine is not immune from the same type of crowd-sourced review influences that have become the norm of on-line product searching.

The study was conducted by staff from Seton Hall, Oxford and the University of Exeter, from their departments of Diplomacy and International Relation, Experimental Psychology, and Psychology departments, respectively (if you want to go up against their level of smarties, be my guest; I know when I see a battle not worth fighting). Their subject was an analysis of reviews, which makes sense since it’s currently the largest such repository on planet Earth.

To the tape (emphasis mine):

“We conducted analyses based on 6,157 notes about 106 wines posted by wine drinkers at a wine social networking site. Our findings suggest that social influence on private wine evaluations occurred by communicating a descriptive norm via written information. We provide empirical evidence that there is social influence on private wine evaluations that is greater than the effect of experts’ ratings and prices combined. This influence comes mainly from the first few group members, and increases as a function of source uniformity. “

Hmmmm. Science and data deal uninformed, incumbent opinions a blow yet again

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