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Fire and Wine!

Date: Thu, Jul 3, 2008 Winery Blogs

It really is everywhere. Not just in Southern California, but now Northern California, Las Vegas, Arizona, and a number of other Western states. The effects are devastating not only to the people that live in these areas and the ecosystems, but the economies.
One particular industry that is starting to get extremely worried about their well-being because of the fires is, as you may have guessed, the wine industry. While many vineyards haven’t been directly hit by the fires, they are getting closer and closer. Each day more and more vintners wake up see a sheet of layer of smoke on their vines from the fires, a sign that danger is quickly approaching. The layer of smoke, on top of the fog from the smoke has affected the way that the grapes are ripening, and in turn will affect the taste and outcome of their wines. Glen McCourty of The University of California Cooperative Extension farm said that “the secondary buds were three weeks late in the photosynthesis process because of the smoke” in an article for Wines and Vines. Three weeks, while it might fly by in our world, makes a HUGE difference in wine making.
Another problem that the fires bring into wine making is that the smoke and the fire leave a pungent taste and smell that is extremely difficult to get rid of. It is often describe of as a bacony flavor, and to most, if not all wine drinkers, it is not something pleasant.
So for now, California winemakers are taking every pre-caution to not let their wine be exposed to the smoke and the fire. However, when it is all around, what can you do? If you live in the ocean, you can’t avoid water can you? I guess we will have to see what may come.

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Step-a-side Sideways, Merlot is back and kickin'!

Date: Mon, Jun 30, 2008 Winery Blogs


I saw the movie, I liked it. It was witty, intelligent, informational. However, no matter which way you looked at it Miles was not a Merlot lover. Well, Merlot is looking to make a comeback in its on respect with the movie Merlove. You probably guessed it from the title, but this movie glorifies the Merlot, putting it in a more favorable spotlight. Here is a summary of the movie off of its website: “Merlove is a documentary celebrating Merlot wine in response to the movie Sideways. Have the courage to embark on your own wine adventure. Merlove will help you learn more about wine, but it is your own experience that will guide your personal journey. As you try new wines you will gain love and appreciation for the gifts that wine can bring. Like anything in life, wine can be enjoyed and enhanced by sharing it with others. The bottom line is good wine is good wine and bad wine is bad wine, but that should not stop the adventure. The message of Merlove is that no single grape varietal should be singled out as superior or inferior to others. Enjoy as we interweave documentary style film making with the animation of a bottle of Merlot wine named “Merlove” who must find a way to fill itself with love when aimlessly tossed into the ocean of mediocre Merlot wine.

We want people to know that Merlot is ready to be loved again by all and remember that every vintage has a new story to tell…” I think the movie has a great message. Don’t knock something ‘till you try it. I think that should apply not only to Merlot’s, but the wine world in general. People sometimes get their mind set and can’t break out of the box. However, when you open up your mind and your palette you just might be surprised. If you go check it out, please comment and let us know!
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French Wine or California Wine? by Denman Moody

Date: Sun, Jun 29, 2008 Winery Blogs



It sometimes makes me crazy to see articles by wine writers telling consumers that they should not like big, rich, opulent California wines. Sure, I can't stand over oaked wines. And when a wine is 16% alcohol and out of balance, I don't want it--with food or not. but these nuts who say we should never produce a wine with more than 14% alcohol are nuts themselves. Because of nature (as in GREEN), our wines many times don't reach phenolic ripeness until 14% alcohol or more. To pick grapes just because they've reached the sugar levels that some of the revered wines of France reach just before picking, is absurd. Sometimes, in Europe, they couldn't attain our degree of ripeness if weather conditions there were perfect.

Sometimes I think they are so down on our wines because THEY CAN'T MAKE WINES LIKE OURS! I think the 1976 Paris tasting, in which our wines kicked their wines' tails (with all French judges), was certainly an eye opener. Even the judgings much later have proved our wines age much better than anyone ever thought. And now I read from some writer that since our wines have so much alcohol, that now our wines won't age anymore, and will lose the blind tastings. Bring them on!

My main point is that I love great Bordeaux wines. I also love great California wines. You can drink the ones you like, and you can write about the ones you like. But quit telling people what they should like. Of course you should experiment. And you should drink different wines with different foods. But your palate is the best palate on earth for you. And don't let anyone tell you differently. Denman Moody, owner of http://www.corporateeventwines.com/
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Red Hot For The Summer

Date: Thu, Jun 26, 2008 Winery Blogs


Last week I shared with you some of my favortie Chardonnay’s and Pinot Grigio’s to chill out with in this hot summer heat. In light of your feedback and recent articles I wanted to do another posting on bargain summer wines.
Not only some other white ones, but some reds as well. With a little bit of research you can find a cabernet sauvignon that will fit right into your backyard bbq, and you won’t feel like you are eating the bark right off your oak tree.

  • The first wine is one that I tasted a while back so I’m trying to draw memory from my palette on that glorious day…but bear with me. It was Eden Vale Winery’s 2003 MidSummer’s Eve. I was at a wedding in New York (this wine isn’t sold in most grocery stores here in Texas). At the wedding it was paired with red meat, but I remember thinking that it could also go with a seafood pasta. ($14)

  • I have personally always been a fan of Roses’…when they are done right. Done wrong it can start tasting like Kool-Aid mixed with alcohol and you are headed straight for a headache. However, one rose that I have always enjoyed is Chateau Ste. Michelle 2006 Neillie’s Garden Dry Rose. This wine was originally released exclusively for the wineries Vintage Reserve Club Members, but thanks to all their praises, it is now on the market for all of us to enjoy! Serve this chilled at your next backdoor BBQ with berries to bring out the flavors. ($11)

  • And for a white. I decided to choose a Riesling because they are traditionally not “oaky.” I choose to talk about Nearly Naked Snoqualmie 2004 Riesling because this vineyard specializes in using 100% organic grapes. Many people would dare to say that it would hardly make a difference in the taste, but it actually does make the wine more refreshing. Just what we need in the summer heat. ($10)

I hope you enjoyed my suggestions and please comment with any more you may have! Thanks!

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You Booze, You Loose!

Date: Tue, Jun 24, 2008 Winery Blogs


Well, it’s been a few weeks since California “17/20” winemakers lost their right to make direct shipments into Illinois, and well, neither side is too happy about it. Californian winemakers have lost millions of dollars in sales, and the numbers are continuing to grow, and the people of Illinois are upset about not getting their wine.

In case you haven’t heard the background on this dilemma, many wineries in CA hold “17/20” licenses which basically means that they don’t have their own winemaking facilities, but rather do their winemaking at other places or at “custom crush” facilities. The scope of these wineries ranges from boutique wineries to larger, mass distributed wineries. However, since they are classified as retailers and distributors, this goes against the House Bill 429 of Illinois. The HB429 was passed back in the first week of June and had an immediate negative effect on the California wine industry.

Sadly, it seems like Illinois is sticking to its’ guns despite all the negative attention the state is receiving from all sides. Personally I think it is a shame when we start banning and stop supporting our own country’s efforts at wine, almost like the French did by saying no advertising on the internet. Just like almost EVERYONE on any cooking show says now days…”support your local market!” Well heck, at least support your country’s wine market. What are your thoughts on Illinois’ decision?
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Israel Is On The Move

Date: Mon, Jun 23, 2008 Winery Blogs

What do Israel and California have in common? Their wine-making philosophies. While they are hundreds upon thousands of miles away from each other geographically, Israeli wine connoisseurs have to deal with many of the same weather issues as Californian vintners do and they base much of their wine philosophies off of California grape growers.
What really compelled me to write about this is that I love hearing about up and coming wine regions. Like when I wrote about British wines and their rising popularity a few weeks ago. While I always love knowing that I can fall back on my favorites, you can’t just stick to those. Trying new wines is the key to developing your palette.

One quote that I saw in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle said “[Israeli wineries] advocate growing wine, not growing grapes.” I must say that is the way to go. While grapes are the bread and butter of wine, there is still so much more that goes into the wine process and I think that sometimes vintners loose that. They stray away from the basics, from what they know. Perhaps this is the main reason for the recent focus on Israeli wines. They don’t stray, they use their knowledge to do what they do best.

I must say, I am excited to go out this week and find some Israeli wines and have a little tasting myself. Do any of you have some recommendations for me? I would love to hear them. I will comment on this entry later with my finds and what I thought about them.

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Playboy Collectors Edition Wines

Date: Sat, Jun 21, 2008 Winery Blogs

The 2008 Playboy Collectors Edition Wines takes the showcase vintage from unique garagista and cult wineries worldwide, paired with vintage Playboy Magazine Covers hand selected by the wine makers and transformed into a limited edition run of 500 bottles. Each label showcases the year and month of the centerfold that wine makers feel best personifies that particular vintage style.


The inaugural vintage begins with 2005 Janzen Napa Cabernet Sauvingnon, produced by Nils and Kirk Venge, with the February 1962 centerfold. This 2005 vintage has produced outstanding results in it's fitness and depth. Possessing aromas of dark cherry with hints of cedar, cassis, raspberry, plum, black current and vanilla. This Cabernet clearly defines the perfect combination of fruits and tannins inter-winded with hints of oak, and a balanced structure and finish, just like Playboy's February 1962 cover.

Wineries participating in this unique and exciting collection include Gargiulo Money Road Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Supery's famed Dollarhide Cabernet Sauvignon, Shug Estate Heritage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a South African Villafonte Series S, an Italian Tenuta Sette Ponte Oreno, and many other high end limited production, highly sought after wines. The Playboy Collectors Edition WInes wines will be available by subscription only at www.personalwine.com.
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Chill Out With A Bargain

Date: Thu, Jun 19, 2008 Winery Blogs

With the temperatures rising and not showing any signs of letting up, I have been more apt to opening up a chilled bottle of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio lately. I don’t know how the weather is in your neck of the woods, but here in Austin we have had record breaking heat for the past week…meaning the temperatures have been in upper 90’s, breaking 100 at the hottest point of the day. Thank the high heavens that I do not work outside during the day, and I only subject myself to that extreme heat when I choose to lounge by a pool or float in a river.
On that note, I thought I would like to share with you some of my favorite Chardonnay’s and Pinot Grigio’s for under $20. The list is in no particular order, and I tried to include wines from various regions.

  • Growing up in Texas my parents often took trips to Texas vineyards. One of their favorites, and in turn one of mine, is Messina Hof’s Barrel Reserve Chardonnay 2005. It is rich, woody, and buttery, and at $12 it won’t break the bank.

  • For those of you who prefer fruitier Chardonnay’s Robert Mondavi’s 2005 Napa Valley Chardonnay is a steal at $20. It got a 90 from Wine Enthusiast, and is quite refreshing with it’s lively acidity and abundant fruit flavors.

  • Personally I don’t check to see if the grapes that go into a wine were grown organically, but I know that a lot of people do now days. So here is one organic Pinot Grigio that I tried about 2 weeks ago with my friends, and was rather impressed by. It was Luna Pinot Grigio 2006. The nose is filled with the aroma of pear, peach, and apricot, and those flavors blend flawlessly with oak into a nice smooth finish. At about $18 a bottle maybe I should go organic!

I hope my suggestions helped you out. I will probably add some more later on this week/next week. I would love to hear some of your favorite bargains, so comment away.

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Cork & Co.

Date: Wed, Jun 18, 2008 Winery Blogs

So I am a big fan, as I am sure most of you are, of enjoying a nice glass of wine (or two or three) amongst friends in a nice relaxing environment. Since I have lived in Austin for quite some time I have had the opportunity to scope out quite a few places to do this. I have to say that one of my favorite places to go any night of the week, whether it’s the middle of the week to just let out a little steam, or a Friday night to start out the night, is Cork & Co. on Congress Ave. The atmosphere is just perfect. They won the award for “Chill Scene 2006” and they offer classes during the week to learn more about pairing and tasting.



But beyond all of this they offer what they call “flights,” which are a trio of three wines that have some sort of theme. Their staff is always extremely friendly and is very knowledgeable so they can help you out. It is great for people with refined or beginner palettes and allows you to try a variety of wines in one night without having to buy so much wine. And just in case you weren’t sold on it yet…since Cork & Co is also a retail store they can sell their wine at retail price making everything much more affordable. Every time I go there I end up going home with a bottle of wine because I know I can get that same bottle for about that price at the store. Fantastico!

I plan on going there sometime this week and will try some new wines for yall so be on the lookout for updates!

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Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover

Date: Tue, Jun 17, 2008 Winery Blogs

Being a marketing major myself I have learned a thing or two about what the consumer wants to hear/see/buy. So needless to say all this jabber lately about wine labels has really caught my attention. Aside from the controversy over what companies are putting on labels, I want to focus on the labels themselves. Let’s take a journey back, o I don’t know, maybe 10-15 years ago, and most wine labels looked alike. You had the name of winery, the type of wine, and some other pretty cursive writing, and that was about it. Some might have put a flashy gold stamp or something on the front, but other than that the label was just there to tell you what the wine was.

Now the game has changed. Enter the younger consumer. Now wine companies are hiring people to come in and design labels so that way when people go to restaurants and order their wine, they will remember it the next time they hit the grocery store. How does this work? Well I remember there was this wine that my parents used to always buy whenever I still lived at home. On the label there was this old red truck on it. When I first moved out my roommates and I were having our first dinner and wanted some wine to go with it, so I suggested that wine. When we got to the store I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was called so I just searched the isles until I saw the truck. And what do you know…it was called Red Truck…I’m a genius.
However, I must warn you…just like they say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” DO NOT JUDGE A WINE BY IT’S LABEL! I was watching this video by Gary Vaynerchuk the other day (go check out more of his videos…they are hilarious and informational) and he said “Many people think that just because a winery spends a lot of time on their label means they spend a lot of time on their label.” Not necessarily true. The cool label guy can be just as good or just as bad as the next…but you will remember it.
Some of my favorite cool wine labels are:
Red Truck
Marilyn Merlot
Voga Wine (not necessarily a cool label, but the company thought outside the box on this one...you will see what I mean.)
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Home Grown

Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2008 Winery Blogs

No silly I’m not talking about that…get your mind out of the 60’s! What I’m talking about is home winemaking. With all the tools out there today at our fingertips, almost anyone with the proper mixture of knowledge, passion, and tools can make their own wine. Not to say that it is going to wow all the neighbors and score you an 86 at the next tasting, but hey, at least you did it! And in California all the neighbors make their own wine, and then have nice little friendly competitions. However, according to this article, these little competitions and home tastings might not be quite legal. Unless the vintner is producing less than 200 gallons a year for their own consumption, it’s illegal.

So what do we think about this? Personally, I feel like it is just a formality that California feel like it needs to have in place. After doing some research on the rule, it seems that the only time the rule is really acted upon is when someone says something to the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) or when a winemaker themselves asks for permission out of naivety. It’s like the code I had with my older brother when I was younger…”Well I won’t say anything if you don’t say anything” and vice versa.

The reason I bring this up is because one winemaker did ask, and got shut down by the ABC. An out of towner, who didn’t know the code. So what do we do in this situation? I do agree that there needs to be some sort of regulation, but what is the point of having a rule if everyone breaks it? Rules without enforcement are no rules at all. So where does the ABC go from here? Tell me your thoughts.

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Update!!!

Date: Fri, Jun 13, 2008 Winery Blogs

About a week ago I wrote about the scandal that was going on with Brunello di Montalcino wines and, as promised, I am here to update you on what is going on with that. In a recent article by The Associated Press it was stated that a panel of experts has been selected to investigate the suspicious wine. In case you don't remember why this wine is suspicious, go back and read my earlier post. The panel has been set up by the Agricultural Ministry and the Minister, Luca Zaia, hopes that this will "relaunch the most prestigious Made in Italy brand." Well, I hope so too. As much as we all want to be the next big thing, you never want to see a legend crumble right before your eyes. Like in the movies, when the main character does everything you and they know they shouldn't do, and the whole time you are just sitting there, thinking to yourself, "Why?" Every move they makes you just cringe and you are just hoping they can pull it all together (even though you know they will...come one now...it's the movies)


Anyways, enough of my tangent. I want to send my best wishes to Brunello di Montalcino, and I hope the whole affair goes down smoothly. I like the way my laid back summer is going, so let's keep it that way!


And no worries, I will let everyone know when I know what happens!

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Give me a Schug

Date: Thu, Jun 12, 2008 Winery Blogs

Some friends of mine recently had the opportunity to take a trip to Schug Winery in Sonoma, California. He graciously sent me some pictures that he took on his trip there and shared some of his thoughts about the vineyard. I couldn’t wait to share them with all of you, and then comment about one of my favorite wines from the Schug Carneros Estate Winery, the 2004 Heritage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

At about $50 a bottle it is a little bit pricey, but well worth it. Now what I love about this Cab in particular is its perfect blend of fruit and spices. Not too overpowering in either category, not leaving you wanting more taste, but wanting that next sip! The rich texture and long finish of the wine make it a great match for some of my favorite foods, like a good piece of meat or a hearty stew. My friend was told that this wine would be one that you could drink now, or stick in the cellar/cabinet for a rainy day about 5 to 7 years down the road.

I wanted to share the picture that my friend took of the scenery at the vineyard. He had some other ones that were fantastic, but this one took the cake!

Now go and try some of the other wines from Schug Carneros’ marvelous selection. Maybe buy one for your dad for Father’s Day? You didn’t forget did you?

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The British Are Coming!

Date: Wed, Jun 11, 2008 Winery Blogs

Perhaps the reason this caught my eye is because my roommate’s boyfriend is here for the summer and he is from London, so I wanted to read it in order to pass on my new found knowledge. Or perhaps it caught my eye because there just aren’t too many articles out there about English vineyards, so I figured it would be notable. While England might be a great place to get a good brew and some fish and chips while watching a fútbol match, it is not the first place I would think to travel to get a top notch glass of wine. Well, what many of us are trying to prevent might actually help the British in their wine ventures…Global Warming. Who would have known? For anyone that has been to England they know it can be rather chilly and it rains ALL THE TIME! While the rain isn’t so much of a bad thing, there is always the threat of a frost that can ruin their crops in the spring. With the climate change, the frost would not be as much of an issue and they will hopefully have a longer ripening period similar to that of grape growers in California. All in all, this means that the quality of English wine should increase over time as the wine makers adjust to the new temperatures. So be on the look out for the British…cause THEY’RE COMING!
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