Halcón Estate Yorkville Highlands Esquisto Red Wine – 2012 – 9.2 (92/100) – James Melendez

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This wine is 65% Grenache, 30 Mourvedre, 5% Syrah.  14.1% ABV

Delicate and memorable wine; a great expression of Mendocino County.  Lively acid structure.  This wine is a reminder of the bounty of Mendocino County in terms of a great variety of cultivars. I had not tasted Halcon’s wine until a tasting at San Francisco Canyon Market

Scent characteristics of freshly sanded cedar, suede, red tea and cherry.

Flavour notes of Tayberry, bright red cherry, white mushroom, Black Krim tomato, cinnamon, pepper, and Bay leaf.

¡Salud!

– James Melendez

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Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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I am the World’s Largest Producer of Wine Videos – 1,600 and Counting – James Melendez / James the Wine Guy

Currently the largest producers/creators of wine videos is me.   I thought—should I really do this article?  What if…. What if someone thought I was being too self promotional.  Then I thought I have been tucked away in meekdom for far too long.  I also thought I am a wine videographer, reviewer, educator, writer… of course I have to market myself.  And I have been a professional wine marketing manager at a large multi-state wine retailer.  So marketing is something I am good at doing…. I should do the same for my brand… for me.

I have gone to many events or tasting rooms where a friend or colleague might mention that I am the largest producer of wine videos—and it is lost on the producer—it is like nothing was ever said.  It made me think how undervalued wine videos are–not all but many; not just mine but many others as well.

I was looking at creating wine videos as early as 2006 but I voted against doing so.  I saw someone by the name of Gary Vaynerchuck and saw his click rate was relatively small compared to the high click rate of general vloggers and how toer’s.  I am huge believer in wine videos because there seems to be a general appetite for videos in general.  YouTube is certainly eating the lunch of all US television networks combined because the general secret sauce is something simple as self-selection.

I was engaged in creating wine videos simply because of wine video contest by Murphy-Goode called ‘A Really Great Job.’ I, of course, was not selected but the contest got me to rethink wine video production.  My passion for the moving image was a natural fit for wine.  I looked at my written blog and found that I have completed a very large number of entries.  So the next extension was to continue the journey and it was easy and hard to do with respect to video.  Easy because there is so much subject matter… so many stories to tell and wines to be video reviewed.  Hard (and rewarding) because the moving image is dynamic and there are so many elements:

  • Lighting
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Brand creation and development
  • Continuous improvement of video production
  • Logo development
  • Graphic placement
  • Music selection
  • Continuity of key messaging
  • Developing patience for retake after retake
  • Developing a presence onscreen

Gary Vee gave up at a 1,000 to develop something called The Daily Grape and he soon abandoned the Daily Grape concept soon after.  I finished my 1,000th about one year and four months after Gary’s (March 14, 2011) mine was completed on August 5, 2012.

In 2011, I decided to complete a 1,000th videos not for the sole purpose of getting to this number but my content list was over 1,000 subjects.  I thought if I didn’t make a concerted effort to get through my initial 1,000 plus subjects I would never fulfill those videos I had wanted to make.

I did get some comments from people saying that wine video creation should be about quantity of video but quality.  I agree and pointed out that few subject matters like wine have so many items to discuss.  I would never be at a loss for my desire to create them.  I did continue after the 1,000 and did not have a specific target of videos to make after the first 1,000.  It was what I wanted to make and no milestones needed to be attained and in fact I still operate under that same state.  It took me less than 2 years to get to 1,500 and in doing so and each hundredth number almost snuck up on me each time.

I have many more subjects to cover and wines to review and wine countries to visit.  I do think that wine videos and have said so many times before have yet to be discovered but will be discovered some day.  Not only are people interested in wine and I think there is a great bank of people interested in wine videos and have yet to find videos they are seeking because simply many don’t exist.  What I mean is that if someone is looking for a specific wine they are interested in and they may search YouTube and it confirms their thoughts on wine videos – it doesn’t exist.  I don think with 1,600 videos I have hardly scratched surface of the total wine content canon.

I am interested in what drives video click rates.  There are some subjects that I think are interesting and I think there might be a larger interest level and those videos have had a poor click rate.  And there are those that for me have garnered a larger click rate than I expected.  I am not just interested in click rates… I am interested in talking about this subject matter.  I do think the written word is something either fewer people have time to do or that there are dynamical features about video—emotion, authenticity and something that sometimes writing can convey solely.

I look at my early wine videos and compare that with my most recent.  A very different look and feel.  My tone is different…. I am still a faster speaker than I would like to be (learning to slow down though).   Wine video creation has certainly helped in my CBM (confidence building measures) to borrow from my International Relations days.  It has helped me to be confident and even more eager to do what I do.  I love wine and while my brand is to demystify I find that this thing called wine ever so marvels me.

In my off premise wine marketing days I had to endure many ad agency’s pitches and positions and (sigh) insights(?).  They weren’t insights just guesses and insulting ones at that.  One agency though of Hispanics/Latinos (which I am a member) like only Merlot.  I very much appreciate Merlot—I also have a passion for many varieties in addition to Merlot.  Where do advertising agencies come up with this?!?  Why not Tempranillo or wines from Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, or Mexico.   They couldn’t answer.  My exploration and experience in the wine world has helped to hone in on more knowledge based views on wine and less guesses.

Everyone is trying to crack the wine code… the ultimate marketing knowledge that I don’t think anyone has ever cracked this code or ever will.  Wine is a great and mystery subject of branding; and not just branding but individual wines multiplied times vintages.  Wine is a product category like no other.

Wine is dynamical—many variables: 1) many regions 2) many cultivars (over 10,300) 3) vintage 4) other features: style, old vine, reserve to name a few.  Add a dash of complexity: distribution, availability, production and add an overwhelming portion of alcohol beverage control laws (no other country has more than the US).  Wine, beer and spirits are the most over regulated consumer product in the US and I can see why it is hard to get some things in California—wines from other states—an over abundance of license requirements.  I remember asking a winery in Delaware if I could get a bottle of wine and they couldn’t send to me because they needed a couple of licenses that would be a hurdle to get and I think it may not have made economic sense to do so.

I think many consumers are open to get their wines shipped to them and perhaps many would prefer it.  But the prohibition by 50 states Alcohol Beverage Control authorities do their best to retain a1930s mentality.  They make it hard for producers to see the light of bottle getting in hands of consumers.   I think many consumers will not go through extraordinary requirements to get wine or seek wine from sources they may have little experience.  I am excited to taste wines from Maryland, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Cyprus, Croatia, Turkey, Morocco, Republic of Georgia, Republic of Macedonia but I am not sure others feel the same way.  The longer I observe my metrics I find my audience is internationalizing; a lot of Americans watch my videos but the audience from other countries around the globe is growing.

I have felt it important to complete videos on every angle of wine content possible; lesser known brands, large well known labels, wine regions that are undergoing a renaissance and sub-regions that get lost in the major wine regions brand authority.  I have completed videos on wines from less represented regions like British Columbia (non-ice wines), New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, Virginia, Texas, Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Georgia, Bulgaria, Morocco, Kingdom of Jordan.  I have of course completed wine review videos from very well known regions.   Often but not always wines with either larger production, wider distribution get more clicks—that should be of no surprise—consumer can reach for these wines; have tasted or will taste the wines I reviewed.  If I am reviewing from a smaller producer of 100 or fewer cases it might be difficult to get a register of interest half way around the world.  So I don’t have the expectation that every video of mine have the same number of clicks.  I do think it is important to get the producer and their consumers to find these videos.  I think there isn’t that kind of video mining yet—discover, share, embed and like these videos.

I am passionate about the moving image—I am dazzled and love this medium.  I do think it is the right medium for wine.  I think it conveys more than just the written word.  I have said before that writing still does not have the lift as my videos seem to have a great ability to attract more viewers than my written material.  I know video is not for everyone I have encouraged many people to do and many have told me they won’t do it.

There is expectation that I also complete a lot of writing too which has been a bit challenging as my 24 hours is challenged by so many things to do (more than ever before).  I do find a welcoming challenge to do both and supplement my videos on past writing topics and vice versa.   I have not purposely cut back on writing; hence this is a written piece and I loved writing it.  Content creation is a challenge but also a very rewarding one.

Video is a lot of work.  It is a commitment to complete them and to have rigor to do continuous improvement.  I love the ability to make a more interesting statement and I like what I have learned about myself.  Stay tuned for more to come—stay with me on this wine journey—we are in the best of the beverage arts time and the best of wine times!

¡Salud!

– James Melendez

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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Getting Your Local Independent Wine Store to Pick Up Your Wines – James Melendez / James the Wine Guy

Originally titled:  How To Get Your Local Independent Wine Store To Carry Your Wine

Note: This was published on another site (that no longer exists); I felt it important and still relevant for this title hence I am posting it here.

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Getting a wine retailer or a ‘retailer that sells wine’ can be a hard thing to do if you are not prepared and have no written strategy.

Above I mention a wine retailer and I specifically mean a specialty wine retailer versus a big box wine retailer.  And above I also mention a retailer that sells wine… These are food retailers that happen to have a smaller set of wines to give their customer a fuller shopping experience (these are retailers are not top of mind but should be of consideration).

There is a plethora of wine SKUs in the market place now and many more to potentially be released.  Last year’s TTB COLAs were north of 120,000.  That is a staggering number but don’t let that be a deterrent.   There are many labels that go to market without a well-constructed marketing plan or a plan at all.   Hoping and believing in selling “a lot of bottles” is a recipe for not selling a lot of bottles.

The best wine brands go to the market place planning and methodically so to achieve a foothold and to development their wine label.  Thinking of your consumer is where it begins… your wine brands name and subsequent labels are the books cover…. Though many people try not ‘judge a book by its cover’ certainly many do.  Consumers still buy wines simply because the label is beautiful and the overall packaging is so compelling.  A professionally designed label is the foundation for your branding experience.  A back label is a place for deep richness and a way to grab your consumer’s attention.  And think about it—your label is not only important to the wine consumer it is important to the wine merchant that you want to sell your label.

Your written strategy doesn’t need to be a staggering voluminous document but something that you can create a road map to help getting your wine to be picked up by a wine retailer.  When you have your strategy documented then you can be prepared for questions that wine merchants will most likely ask.  Also it is a way for you to think ahead of what sets your wine apart from other wine labels.

Questions / actions for you to answer or at least think about prior to your appointment:

  • What sets your wine apart from wines produced in your region? What are your points of difference?
  • What is your experience?
  • What’s your vision for your wine?
  • Is your wine available by on and off-premise establishments?
  • Work on one state at a time—working on two- three states at time is a promise for a high learning curve for multiple states ABC laws and expending precious resources too easily and inefficiently; California is a great place to start and to focus
  • Consider both on and off premise
  • Get your wines reviewed – it is never too early to start to get some press and recognition
  • Look for low cost opportunities to enter your wine in a competition
  • Find the appropriate wine event to pour your wine (San Francisco has a plentitude of wine events through the year) –and this may be present a low cost and effective way to get some elementary customer foothold

Preparing for your wine buyer appointment

  • Ask for an appointment; rare is the wine buyer that has “open hours”
  • Samples are requisite – two of the same vintage is routine
  • Bring your business cards, sell sheets and any other press that your wine may have received
  • As with any other appointment be punctual (wine buyers will often stagger consecutive meetings next to each other) and stay within your allotted time
  • After your meeting; follow-up with a thank you email and periodically check in—a ‘no’ may not always be a ‘no’
  • The wine world has both a peculiar and unique inventory position—there is only so much of any vintage—not the same with other product categories—spirits, beer or even books
  • Pre-shop your wine retailer before you ask for your appointment (get a snap shot of their current SKU set).  Your wine may represent an opportunity especially if your wine may help to fill a gap in their inventory set
  • Present and pitch wine reviews / awards has your wine review receive?
  • Develop your SRP – suggested retail price point.   Wine labels develop their SRP over time and manage it well enough to increase that over time (above inflation).  Your suggested retail is a guidance and though they may not follow your SRP it does give them a basis to price your wine; over time you can manage your brand and not just to a buyers margin needs
  • Before you close your appointment time ask for sale; you may be told that they are well stocked but your wine may be of potential interest;

Other considerations

  • When you start selling your wine to a wine retailer always think about diversification—you never want to depend on one or two wine retailers but rather through several
  • If a wine retailer says they won’t carry your wine—ask why—perhaps there are kernels of learning or perhaps key indicators why they might not buy now

Smaller wine retailers have a great ear and voice with their consumer base and many consumers depend on a smaller wine retailer to introduce them to new wines.  The hand sell of wines is important for smaller wine brands.  Many wine labels try to go large chain wine retailers as a sign of success but those opportunities can be difficult to manage and may not meet your expectation.  The larger wine retailer may have requirements that a newly established wine brand may not be able to deliver.  If you visit many specialty wine retailers they tend to carry often the same brands year over year.  Now, retailers that carry wine (where wine is not their mainstay product category) hand selling is not a focus because their associates need to know a larger variety of SKUs and categories—however—many are open to having educational and tasting opportunities for their staff.  This focus can set you apart from the many wine labels that do not do that.

There are abundant opportunities for you and a concerted and focused effort and creating your strategic plan will help you to make not only a good impression but to have a lasting wine label that is something consumers can seek year over year.  And best of all you took the time to develop not only your wine but your brand as well.

Now, put hand to keyboard to get your brand road map completed and then get ready to drive on the map you created.

– James Melendez

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Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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Canela Bistro…. A San Francisco Treasury for Spanish Food & Wine – 9.5 (95/100 Pts) – James Melendez

Earlier this year I had the privilege of sitting with Mat Schuster and Paco Cifuentes.  I had visited Canela Bistro for their second year anniversary in business.  San Francisco is such a tough restaurant town–both because of the many competitors and very particular tastes and culinary interests of San Franciscans.  Spanish restaurants are not as numerous as Italian or other fares in the City.  But therein lies the opportunity to present the best of Spain food in San Francisco.

Mat and Paco are bookends when in comes to the dining experience.  Mat is the chef and interpreter of Spanish cuisine and Paco is the wine expert.  They compliment each other not just in the food and wine department but are life and business partners as well.  Canela Bistro has mastered the fine art of service and superb Spanish cuisine.  Elegant and graceful service is the cornerstone of any restaurant and combining both local and Spanish ingredients is evident.  Paco has assembled a well-edited Spanish wine list.  In northern California, Northern California wines often outpace wine lists from other regions but at Canela Spanish wines are the star.  Not just wines from the usual suspects of Rioja, Rias Baixas or Priorat but Reuda, Ribera del Duero, Campo de Borja and Cariñena.

Mat is most comfortable not just directing his food but loves to be making food.  While many chefs are busy in the office Mat enjoys and prefers cooking.  Mat has a great link to Spanish cuisine–Paco’s mother.  Paco’s mother has passed many glorious recipes to him and through experience Mat has perfected each dish.   I asked about what patrons want and expect in Spanish cuisine and Mat said that Bay Area residents like heat in their cuisine and sometimes expect that in Spanish cuisine.  It is hard to imagine for some that Spanish cuisine is not like Mexican food.  If you look at other Latin American cuisine they are not based on a hot and spicy canon.

Mat and Paco love their neighbourhood bistro; a rare address of Market Street is easily accessed; and I love coming into this comfortable zone from a busy main street in San Francisco.   Mat strives to keep on his game to present the best of Spain in San Francisco and wants the world class always to shine here.  Mat often utilizes Tempranillo in many of his dishes thus reinforcing the Spanish through and through approach.

I tasted the following dishes with Paco and Mat:

  • Tortilla Española
  • Gambas
  • Patatas Bravas
  • Lamb Skewers
  • A selection of Jamon Serrano, Chorizo and Manchego

Tortilla Espanola

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Each dish was well executed and beautifully plated; the Gambas and Lamb skewers were superbly fresh.  The portions were larger than I expected.  Canela is a place to share each plate with your guests to get the full allotment of flavour discoveries.

The Spanish wines are very well selected and the servers are well educated in picking up what each patron is seeking and suggested wines to fully express and optimize with the foods selected.

A great experience and one that I will have a repeat visit.

¡Buen provecho y Salud!

James Melendez

James the Wine Guy

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Canela Bistro

2272 Market Street

San Francisco, CA  94114

415 552 3300

http://www.canelasf.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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Schott Zwiesel Pure Collection Champagne Flute – 9.5 (95/100 Pts) – James Melendez

I am big fan of Schott Zwiesel stemware and in particular my favourite line is the Pure collection.  There are 17 silhouettes or styles all together (including Champagne flute).

I have used almost every major fine stemware producers glasses and have landed solidly on Schott Zwiesel for several fundamental reasons.  This brand produces a compelling and full line of stunningly beautiful wine glasses that are so distinct that only one producer could have such a great design.

Not only is Pure a great design it is fully functional.  The performance of this stemware is optimum in terms of tasting and maintenance.  When cleaning—either by hand or dishwasher is no longer a worry if the stem you are cleaning will snap off easily.  I had worried so much with other producers stems that I don’t think I cleaned as thoroughly as I would have liked.

Schott Zwiesel calls their glass material Tritan; the key feature is that it does not contain lead instead it contains titanium.  The durability while handling is solid.  The weight of each stem is slightly lighter than many leaded wine glasses.  Also, the performance in dishwasher is outstanding-no streaking or film over time.  I no longer worry about how long I will have a certain stem.

The investment in fine wines is only as good as a solid investment in fine stemware.  I have depended and will continue to depend on Schott Zwiesel to continually deliver high quality wine glasses within a reasonable price point.

Salud,

James

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Here is a promo code to purchase directly from the US Distributor.  You will save 15% off of each stem:

“JAMESTHEWINEGUY” (all caps) on shop.fortessa.com

Twitter: fortessa

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© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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Domaine Paul Pernot Bourgogne Chardonnay – 2012 – 9.0 (90/100 Pts) – James Melendez

Easily approached; a delightful Chardonnay; essence of green citrus, white flowers, sesame, pine nut and hint of fennel.

Salud!

James

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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Thierry & Pascale Matrot Bourgogne Blanc – 2011 – 9.0 – James Melendez

An easy to put your arms around this white Burgundy.

Nicely dry; balanced and even; notes of yellow-orange citrus peel and zest, minerals in a stream, white peach, hint of fennel and tea.

Salud!

James

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2014 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.

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