If you love wine, you can do something that costs $0.00 and almost certainly will up your wine appreciation and wine tasting I.Q. score varios puntos. Namely, start a wine blog.
Right now. It will take you less than ten minutes. Go to wordpress.com and create a blog, and your first post can be as simple as “hey, I really think I dig wine, and I want to talk about it.”
You shouldn’t expect anyone to read it yet, but that’s not the point. The point is to journal your own personal journey with wine.
I can feel the collective groan of WineSpectator.com forum members, other wine bloggers, and print media at the suggestion that every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, and Bacchus start churning out their own personal impressions on the wines that they try and how it affects their lives.
And I’m here today to tell those people to go shove it.
Start a wine blog, and piss all of them off. Do it because it will help you learn about wine, because it will help you share some of your wine experiences with your friends, because it will encourage you to taste more and more wine and get to know your own wine preferences better.
But most of all, do it because it’s good for the wine industry if you start blogging about wine, because the positives of every additional ounce added to the volume of the current wine media sea change far, far outweigh the potential negatives. More on that in a minute.
You will hear from many that you shouldn’t, of course, for a large variety of reasons. So let’s just call bullsh*t on just about every one of the reasons right now…
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Uhm, like what is this stuff?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine sample tasting notes via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be fun, quickly-and-easily-digestible reviews. Below is a wrap-up of the twitter reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find them so you can try them for yourself. Cheers!
- 10 Schloss Saarstein Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Riesling Kabinett (Mosel): A touch off-kilter now… but let’s see in 10+ yrs… $27 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 08 Domaine Carneros Estate Pinot Noir (Carneros): This guy is really, really likeable – but man, I think maybe he smokes too much. $30 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 Merus Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Blackberry, blueberry, plum, cedar, cinnamon & granite. Are we baking pie in my kitchen? $140 A- >>find this wine>>
- 08 Altvs (Napa Valley): Brooding, black, spicy, and more beautifully complex & multi-dimensional than most Calabi–Yau manifolds. $75 A >>find this wine>>
- 09 Chacewater Syrah (Red Hills): A bit of RS & near 16% abv can’t keep this fruity, balanced big boy down. Sometimes fruit bombs work. $18 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Jed Steele Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc (Lake County): What kind of herbal, zesty bargain is this? Expect the price to go up… $12 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Ceago Vinegarden Del Lago Syrah Rose (Lake County): Strawberry lovers… Unite! Strike at yonder salad with all speed! Attack!!! $16 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Ceago Vinegarden Muscat Canelli (Lake County): A gift of flowers & sweets for that bowl of spicy Asian noodles you’re eying up. $18 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 Quinta do Vallado Vinho Tinto (Douro): What ground it loses in vibrancy is more than made up for in heaps of dried herbs & red plum $20 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 Michael Shaps Meritage (Virginia): It’s velvety. It’s fruity. But it ain’t quite spicy enough. Give it a chance (& a bit of time). $32 B >>find this wine>>
- 07 Michael Shaps Merlot (Virginia): Black fruit, black olive & spices so hoppin’ they could stand in for a Mexican jumping bean. $32 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 08 Michael Shaps Viognier (Virginia): Peachy, pithy & elegant. Just not sure the fruit is gonna stand up long-term to all that verve. $32 B >>find this wine>>
- 08 Michael Shaps Chardonnay (Virginia): Lemon curd, cream & enough vitality (& structure… and character…) for a long haul. $32 B+ >>find this wine>>
- 09 Williamsburg Winery Acte12 Chardonnay (Virginia): Apples, a fair amount of bite, & not short on complexity; a.k.a., a total bargain $16 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Blenheim Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Virginia): Ripe/fruity enough to be inviting, minty/herbal enough to keep you at the party. $20 B >>find this wine>>
- 10 Blenheim Vineyards Viognier (Virginia): The peach farm is surrounded by white flowers, & they won’t mind if you bring chips & salsa $19 B >>find this wine>>
- 09 Blenheim Vineyards Blenheim Farm Chardonnay (Virginia): A peachy/zesty charmer w/ nary an ounce of flab (but several oz of balance) $21 B >>find this wine>>
I am not a fan of small producers in emerging wine regions bottling and selling a large array of varietal wines; almost everyone loves having choices, but too often the cumulative result in this case ends up feeling like a Zinfandel that’s been watered-down in a feeble attempt to get it under 16% abv – a diluted mess with a lack of focus (with even the worst results being pawned off at inflated prices to unsuspecting tasting room visitors).
Which is why meeting winemakers like Kirsty Harmon is more refreshing than a chilled Monticello Viognier on a steamy Virginia Summer Sunday. She’s the kind of person who, through their laser-like determination, make me eat my own virtual words!
Harmon is the driving force behind the wines of Virginia producer Blenheim Vineyards – a short, wavy-haired whirling dervish of a woman whose freckles belie a winemaking stance that is supremely mature in its simplicity: make wines for now, that are true to place, and make them as delicious as possible.
“I’m not a very patient person,” she told me when I (and several other wine bloggers) visited Blenheim as during the producer visits that were part of the recent 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville. “I try to make wines that are balanced and ready to go right out of the bottle.”
Focus is the friend of the emerging-region winemaker, as is talent. Harmon has both, and Right Coast wine producers would do well to focus on her… well, her focus. “Yummy” is usually a terrible descriptor to bandy about when you’re trying to relay the essence of a wine to someone else, but in the case of Blenheim’s bottlings the word just fits. Harmon makes yummy wines, and she makes them from several varieties – Syrah (peppery and bright), Chardonnay (peachy and solid), Viognier (floral and elegant), Merlot (herbal and hefty) and Cabernet Sauvignon (tangy and minty), to name a few – without any of them sucking…
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Chances are pretty high that, if you’re reading this (and you’re reading this), you are a wine geek.
And by “wine geek,” I mean that you are atop the U.S. wine consumer pyramid (that’s if you’re living in the U.S., of course – those of you outside the U.S. are just gonna have to play along on this one). As in, the tippy, tippy, holy-crap-it’s-a-looooong-way-down-from-here, tippy-top of the pyramid.
And it doesn’t even matter if you consider yourself an avid oenophile or not – simply by virtue of treating wine with any semblance of importance in your life, you’ve firmly entrenched yourself in wine-geek-out territory, at least when compared with the general consumer-going public in America.
And don’t worry about it…. because it’s okay.
In fact, I’m going to explain why that’s not only okay, but that you ought to revel in the fact that you are in the upper echelon of the wine-buying U.S. public. In fact, I’m going to explain why it’s downright awesome. After a bit of exposition, of course. C’mon, you think I’m gonna let this thing go under 1300 words? Are you nuts?
It all came to me after day one of the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference, during a steamy, 8-billion degree, 5000% humidity evening in downtown Charlottesville (I might have exaggerated that last bit), in which a bleary-eyed (due to travel-, conference-, weather-, and wine-induced-fatigue) yours truly took part in an off-premise “fireside chat” on the topic of Wine & Tech, which eventually turned about as heated as the sweltering northern Virginia night.
The event was organized by wine industry think-tank group Vintank and Crushd (the team behind a newly-released iPhone wine-journaling app). Thankfully (since most of us were already melting through our clothing) there was no actual fire was lit at the host venue (Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar), and to assist (as if we needed it) getting our tongues wagging and opinions flowing, there were several interesting Rioja wines being poured courtesy of Vibrant Rioja (I can now attest personally to the tastiness of a well-chilled 2010 Marques de Caceres dry white Rioja on a stiflingly sultry Virginia Summer evening, by the way)…
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