Time to Check in – Czech Wines – A Discovery Waiting for You – James Melendez

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Czech wines unfortunately take a back seat not because they are not good—beer is a monolith—Czech Republic is known as being a very large producer of beer and of course the largest per capita consumption of beer anywhere.

Wine is not top of mind than say if you were in the epicentre of Napa, Bordeaux or Barossa Valley. And a dominant wine region spirits and beer may not be top of mind either.  Fortunately we do not live in an either or world—we can have all three categories and don’t need to compete against.  I do think of beer, wine and spirits as complimentary or at least in harmony with each other.

Czech wine producers have a lot of explaining to do–I mean this in a positive way—my intention is that Czech producers have to talk to their customers and create audience about the lineage of Czech wines.

Czech wines have remained elusive—I cannot find one in North America right now and my many travels to Europe I have never seen a bottle of Czech wine (though I knew that Czech wines are being produced).  The only way I was going to taste Czech wines is to put my foot on the ground. I don’t buy that if it is not widely distributed or available there is a reason. Wine is held hostage because of a plethora of reasons—some include regulation, trade disputes or that wine is in the cross hairs of heavy taxation and protectionism.  I believe and promote that we should be tasting wines from all regions and in doing so does the full story of wine become real.  I am an optimist and that with all of the obstacles wine finds a way to get to the distribution channel and to the consumer.

Europe has had a long lineage for producing wines. The western culture and in particular the Judeo-Christian heritage requires wine for the respective religious experience. True not all Christian churches will allow for alcohol consumption but the heritage for many churches and wine is there. And of course for some wine traditions in Europe pre-dates the church.

Wine grapes have been cultivated since the second century before the common era—hence two millennia’s worth of experience.  Despite this long lineage Czech Republic is not known as wine producing country.

There is an outdated notion of what wines can only pair with either particular foods or cuisine styles. I am a big believer and promoter that you can eat food from one region and drink from another and in doing so we can liberate how we drink and eat.  I say this because you don’t need central European cuisine to pair with central European wine–it should seem obvious but I thought it important to mention it.

The Czech Republic’s top four white wines (and in parenthesis I place the Czech name for each variety and some varieties go by their international name) are 1) Müller-Thurgau, 2) Grüner Veltliner (Veltlínské zelené) , 3) Welschriesling (Ryzlink vlašský), and 4) Riesling (Ryzlink rýnský) and additionally produces Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc (Rulandské bile), Chardonnay, Pinot Gris (Rulandské šedé), Gewürztraminer (Tramín červený), Moravian Muscat (Muškát moravský), Frühroter Veltliner (Veltlínské červené ranéand) and Irsai Oliver and the top red wines are 1) Saint Laurent (Svatovavřinecké) 2) Blaufränkisch (Frankovka) 3) Zweigelt (Zweigeltrebe) 4) Pinot Noir and additionally produces Blauer Portigieser (Modrý Portugal) and Cabernet Sauvignon and there are other white and red varieties produced.

The largest wine region is Moravia and it has four subregions 1) Znojmo 2) Mikulov 3) Velké Pavlovice and 4) Slovácko and Bohemia has two subregions 1) Mělník and 2) Litoměřice. I cannot find a reliable source to give number of wine producers and how many hectares are currently planted – I understand that Moravia produces 95% versus the 5% in Bohemia. I found it surprising to find such little information on Czech wine production.   But I hope to locate the information and update that here in this article.

My entrée for tasting Czech wines began at Vinograf – Senovážné nám. 23, Praha 1 (there are three locations) and I had several Czech wines by the glass and I also bought a bottle of wine.  Vinograf cooks up delightful food and all within reasonable price points. I like the well edited wine list and how each wine selection was perfect. I found the wine professional here to be passionate and gave me great insights. I needed that!

Ševčík Riesling 2013

9.2

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Scent: Green apple, slight touch of green citrus, flowers and honeycomb

Flavour Characteristics: Heirloom apple, white flowers, tea, awash in wet stones and gentle hint of almond

* * * * * * * 

Jaroslav Osička Milerka Cuvée 2014

9.1

 

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This wine is Müller-Thurgau 80%; Neuberger 15% and Sauvingon 5%; nicely dry–what I hoped for and it is what I got.

Scent: Heirloom apple, green fig, pine nut, beeswax and hibiscus

Flavour Characteristics: Green apple, gold citrus, hint of almond, white tea and nuanced mineral touch

***

Krásná hora Moravia Pinot Noir 2014

9.3
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A wine that I simply didn’t know what to expect.  I was thinking it might be acceptable, passable and I hope it is more than that.  From the moment of smelling this wine to the taste–the wine unfolded and delighted nearly immediately.  In a blind tasting it would be easy to say this is not French, German or any California region–it is decidedly Czech.  Elegant and lean and yet expressive

Scent: Cherry orchard, rustic notes, cinnamon, moist forest floor and cedar.

Flavour characteristics: red cherry, Tayberry, freshly ground spices, pepper and rose petal.

****

Gala Farm Moravia Svatovavrinecke 2012

9.3

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Scent:  cherry orchard, leather-suede, cedar wood pile, and under brush

Flavour Characteristics: Tayberry, blackberry, black cherry, hint of black pepper, tea, cedar and violet notes

***

Each time I taste a wine from a region I haven’t tasted I try to stop and compare this with another region.  Simply some varieties will pick up the terroir and express differently and that some regions may use an entirely different set of clones.  I also want to think that climate my produce a slightly different wine.  I also want to taste the technically the wine is made under quality conditions and then I take the wine for what it is and really think hard about the wine I am tasting.  I don’t want to be overly critical and bottom line I want truly taste and acknowledge the wines at hand.  I was delighting in the Czech wines I had tasted and wish I brought back some bottles.

I love the experience at Vinograf and it may be a great place to start your tasting adventure.  The knowledgable staff was so welcoming and wanting to impart their thoughts.   I ate well in Prague and the food offering at Vinograf is very nicely done.

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A very wonderful dish – Sea Bream

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Vinograf Senovážné (this is the location I visited – there are three Vinografs in total)
Address: Senovážné nám. 23, Praha 1

I can pontificate about these wines but ultimately I hope you get a chance to taste the virtues of these wines.  I look forward to and will seek out as many Czech wines I can taste.  I have found a wonderful wine country.

Na zdraví,

James

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

Wines courtesy of Côtes du Roussillon.

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Polish Wines Ready to be Tasted – James Melendez

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I came to Poland with no expectation for wine or more precisely Polish wine. There is a belief that wine grapes (Vitis vinifera) do not exist in northerly climates like Poland. The belief or misperception is that Poland is both not warm enough and does not have enough sunlight hours to help Vitis vinifera to properly ripen.

While there are very basic needs of the Vitis (grape vine and I am using Vitis versus Vitis vinifera) in terms of sunlight, wind speed, moisture, humidity, angle of sun, etc. (sounds like I am speaking of Terroir only, instead I am referring to a whole host of requirements that are not Terroir specific but a general or minimum requirement). Vitis vinifera (I will use the term ‘Vv’ as an abbreviation) are not all the same if examining genetic code almost all varieties would look quite similar. Instead the variation in varities that exists dictates what can grow where. Pinot Noir often thought of as a very old variety is particularly finicky–it’s delicateness is so pervasive and profound and yet at the same time very compelling. Pinot Noir is descending from the wild grape just like all other Vv’s (Vitis sylvestris) but cannot grow in every climate zone and unlike Syrah is not adaptable to hot or cool climates.

The question is global warming contributing to Poland’s ability to grow Vitis vinifera or hybrid grapes—probably not. Poland probably has been able to do this for sometime and it is through wine pioneers testing and trying what varieties do the best. I look at Quebec as a model for northerly wine grape growing. There are both hybrids and Vv—and you can find producers using both in a cuvee. Poland’s wineries are increasing and have doubled in about 3 years. Today there are at least 87 commercial wineries and some of the hurdles they have had to face are the usual regulatory hurdles.

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I was at Warsaw Chopin Airport and I expected to see a lot of Polish beer and Vodka—what I didn’t expect to see was Polish wine. I went Premium Food Gate—you’ll fine everything Polish here—if I had more room I would have purchased more Polish wines and foods. There was a most helpful associate at the store talking to me about Polish wines and he was quite knowledgeable and passionate about Polish wines. He mentioned that most Polish vineyards are small about 1-1.5 Hectares (2.45 to nearly 4 acres). I get the sense like many regions around the world and it reminds me of my visits to Canadian wine countries that Polish producers are still in discovery and confirmation mode of what works best in Poland.   I picked up a 2015 Zweigelt from the producer Winnica Miłosz. I took the bottle with me to Kraków and tasted there. The Zweigelt was beautiful—an identifiable Zweigelt and could be mistaken for no other variety. Beautiful tones of tart cherry, pepper, cinnamon, fruit orchard, cedar notes as well as pomegranate, strawberry. This was not just a passable wine but a wine of excellence. I could have imagined this with the cuisine of the region and with any cuisine styles would pair easily with this wine. I was not expecting a nicely developed wine and true to it’s variety’s characteristics.

I looked for Polish wines on the menus of the restaurant I visited and none of them had any Polish wines. Polish wines are new at least on premise and it will take training and some convincing of the virtues of Polish wines. I do think there are many people willing to taste and try Polish wines. First the opportunity to taste.; second the personnel to support you purchase. Why wouldn’t you want to have a wine from the region you are visiting? I think wine cultures today are built much more quickly than they have in the past. There is a demanding market place for dry wines and I think that is the majority of Polish wines.

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I did find more Polish wines as I was leaving Kraków and picked up from the well known Polish producer Adoria. Adoria was founded by Mike Whitney who comes from California and landed in Poland in 1995. I picked up a bottle of his Riesling and Pinot Noir. Very skeptical about the Pinot Noir at first—knowing how finicky this variety is and not sure if Poland could produce a Pinot Noir?  First from what I understand that Mike produces: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Bacchus and it took over a year and half to find the right site –he looked at over 300 sites before settling on his site in Zachowice. I tasted both the Riesling and Pinot Noir in Europe and wish I could have taken a bottle to my San Francisco home. The Riesling was nicely dry and filled with evocative notes of wet stones, green apple and mild hint of citrus tones, tea, and delicate nuanced notes of flowers.

When I first poured the Pinot Noir it reminded of a German Pinot Noir—nicely vitreous and no mistaking this wine for anything other than Pinot Noir. I loved the wild strawberry, rose petal, clove, graphite and violet notes. Completely won over by this wine. Don’t let the vitreous colour dissuade you. Don’t compare this Pinot Noir to France, Oregon or California—Pinot Noir is certainly reflecting it’s region and it would be a mistake to not take this wine seriously.

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Keep an open mind for Polish wines—you might be positively surprised by what is in your glass and how this can be paired with a vast array of cuisines. It’s a big wine world out there and I am so delighted to have tasted Polish wines. Give them a taste when you get an opportunity.

Dziękuję Ci,

James

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

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James the Wine Guy’s Value Proposition

Value and social media is a rare topic and I cannot recall seeing such an article before (though it probably exists somewhere).  Being a wine writer, journalist, videographer, and judge it makes me wonder why this isn’t a bigger topic.  When I look at the traditional wine “bloggers” and other personalities I don’t see any of material on what each brand offers both reader and producer.  What do I give in response to my exposure to wine.  I do receipt samples and in the same breath I will also say I have purchased a fair number myself.

I do think producers who sample their product with writers/bloggers may expect a best return on their marketing dollar (or other currency).  I don’t think when I receipt a sample that it is to kick back, open up and pour away.  I do think there is an expectation of a review or at least a very minimum of a comment.  I like many wine writers or publications don’t always agree that every bottle receipted will culminate in a wine review either and I post in my sample policy.  But I do believe that not all wine samples distributed are treated in the same manner and this gets back to value.  Does wine reviewer optimize the samples given?

First, I’ll begin why I may not review every single wine I get.  Some reasons: I have receipted a wine where the wine closure failed (rare but it does happen) and I of course notify sender.  Another reason is that I have a wine that is a mass market wine which I may review but most likely will not–the reason–simply there are plenty of reviews of well known brands.  I also might receipt a low quality wine that is not in my brand’s scope and I will not review.  And I will not accept a private label brand for a wine retailer or supermarket.  I do hope a wine can be much more available than at one retailer.

I hear from other wine writers where they are constantly asked by producers or PR people where are the reviews.  I do get this occasionally and often I have complete review and refer those individuals back to the media where the review is posted.  So this is my marker if I am behind in my reviews or not.

Here is my value proposition:

  • Either a written or video review (possibly both – hard time find time to do both)
  • Post videos on my JamesTheWineGuy channel
    1. Classify in the specific categories (example for an Chianti Classico wine – place in Playlist: a) Italian wines b) Chianti c) Sangiovese
  • Utilise best practices for my YouTube channel
    1. These can and often change due to emphasis or de-emphasis of alogorithim
  • Post videos on my Facebook like page
  • Share on Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Asking my community to give a like and share the videos they see
  • Also engaging community about their thoughts on the wines I have reviewed
  • I also give fair and balanced reviews of all wines
  • Also, try to point consumer when they ask about the wine or point back to producer or retailer

I think it is important to give a “At a Glance” view of my value proposition as it is about demonstrating what my brand contributes. The thought I would like to leave you is that I offer a rich value proposition.   Any comments and questions, please post them or share on social media.

Thank you,

James

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

Wines courtesy of Côtes du Roussillon.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 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.   If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

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Côtes du Roussillon – Wines of Distinction, Easily Accessible – James Melendez

Wines of Côtes du Roussillon is about wines for a focused tasting and a clear journey.  Côtes du Roussillon is not thought of as appellation but rather as the name sake of the gigantic region often and only mentioned as Languedoc-Roussillon.  But let’s not count on Wikipedia to give the full picture of what the wines of Côtes du Roussillon are – instead think of this wine region as wines that are fully accessible both in terms of price and also immediate impressions.  I offer another example in terms of wine country comparisons as it relates to naming: what if Napa and Sonoma would only be mentioned as one name: Napa-Sonoma. They are two distinct regions—though close to each other are identically different.  The same can be said for Côtes du Roussillon and Languedoc.

Cote du Roussillion

Languedoc is known for a power region of vast quantities of wine being produced; while Roussillon can be a hand sell of each wine. But drill down to understand the region and to understand it’s place and relationship of grape varieties. This region is about about Rhone varieties as well as Iberian varieties. (Macabeu, Garnacha, Carignano. It is no surprise there is Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan. Carignan is a historical variety much bruised but an integral part of the region. Carginan has received notes from Jancis Robinson who in the past has called out as bitter. And yet other wine reviewers/writers say Carignan is not identifiable—that is there are no distinguishing characteristics. To be fair the same has been said of Syrah. Syrah has been noted as a grape with no distinguishing characteristics such as Bordeaux or Burgundy varieties. Not every grape can be Pinot Noir. Syrah does vary on region (I don’t like to use the word Terroir over used in my opinion and misapplied) Syrah is a grape with body, texture, weight, a freshness that other grapes can’t quite capture, elegance, and not always about power. Syrah is both something that stands completely on it’s own and can also bring kindred varieties together and plays both a supporting cast partner as well as lead partner. I was a part of the an online tasting sponsored by Wines of Roussillon.

Michel Chapoutier Bila Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2014

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Michel Chapoutier is producing a memorable wine that is well balanced with varieties that are comfortably part of the Côtes du Roussillon.  Macabeu is part of this regions wine scene and is known as Macabeo in neighbouring Catalan.

This wine is 13% ABV and composed of the following varieties: Grenache Blanc,  Grenache Gris and Macabeu.  Scent characteristics of Meyer lemon zest, Adriatic fig, tea and crushed sea shells. Nicely dry and giving key flavour notes of Meyer lemon, Heirloom apple, hint of Papaya, sesame and white floral tones Chateau

This wine I am going to serve with appetizers and first plates such as a cheese board, first dishes like a seafood crudo and can be appreciable served and enjoyed on it’s own with no food.

Chateau Planeres La Romanie 2014

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9.3

Superbly fresh in every sense experience with this wine. Scent characterization of cedar forest, juniper, red clay earth and black cherry. Flavour notes of raspberry, blackberry, dark cherry tamarind white pepper and cinnamon. This wine has a suggested retail price of 16 USD per bottle. This wine contains the following varieties: 50% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre and 20% Black Grenache.

I appreciated this wine for it’s quality and artistry that went into making this wine.  A hauntingly lyrical and memorable wine.   I will serve this wine with Rib-eye, Barbecued meats, and roast chicken.  Try this wine first and enjoy alone with no food.  A completely gorgeous wine.

Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Tautavel 2011

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9.2

This wine comes from the village of Tautavel; the wine grapes are hand picked and de-stemmed and after fermentation spends 10 months in barrel.

This wine is 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 15% Carignan and registers at 15% ABV Scent characteristics of cedar, underbrush, raspberry black cherry, moist earth, and savory spice. Flavour characteristics of blackberry, dark cherry, hint of coco powder, pepper and red tea.

A very nicely sculpted wine and leaves the palate with a long and appreciable finish.

Domaine Cazes Muscat de Rivesaltes 2011 

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9.1

This wine is15.5% ABV and includes the following varieties: 50% Muscat of Alexandria and 50% Muscat à petits grains.  Scent characteristics: lemon peel, truffle, white flowers, tea, and beeswax. And flavour characteristics: mineral, hint of savory notes, honeycomb and beeswax. This is a splendid wine to enjoy with a cheese plate. If you think of the alcohol is too high this is certainly in line with other wines you might start of evening’s meal—Sherries are certainly in this range.  A superbly well made wine.  I love this wine with appetizer plates such crab cakes, and oysters.  A gentle hint of sweetness that makes the food wine experience that more tantalizing–don’t worry this over all is not a full throttle sweet wine.

Domaine La Tour Vieille Banyuls 2014

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9.4

I love Banuyls – this wine is a composition of Grenache and Carignan.  A delightful style and something that should be thought of as a wine to close out the evening but it should also be thought of as an appertif wine. Scent characteristics: Mineral orientation; coco powder and Tayberry, blackberry coulis Tamarind.   Flavour characteristics of Tayberry, fresh blackberry, acai, cinnamon, clove and cardamom.  The hint of sweetness is mild and compelling and for me I view as thrilling.  I love sweet wines and think they deserve a greater space and place at the tasting table.

Domaine Cabirau Serge and Nicolas Maury Sec 2013

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9.1

 

This is a very small site and producer; this wine is a composition of 60% Grenache, 28% Syrah and 12% Carignan.  The grapes are hand harvested and Grenache comes from 60 year old vines.  The scent notes of this wine include: wet stones, toffee, chocolate, blackberry and savory spices.  The flavour characteristics are giving notes of black pepper black cherry, blackberry cinnamon, espresso chocolate.  I would serve a variety of beef dishes either spiced or grilled.

Taking a tasting tour of Wines of Côtes du Roussillon is easily within reach; outstanding quality, easy on the pocket book and full of richness to start and end your evening with these wines. If you have not tasted Côtes du Roussillon  ask your wine merchant for these wines to begin your tasting tour. I believe we are going to see many more wines from this region gracing our table—a journey of region and one easily and enjoyably done.  Start your journey to tasting wines from this fantastic region.

Salute,

James

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

Wines courtesy of Côtes du Roussillon.

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 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.   If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

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#BBM Better Bottle Monday – Not a New Meaning; A New Application – James Melendez

Monday’s are days to either look at as an opportunity day for wine.  I often hear people talk about wine as being a Monday or Tuesday wine as very separate wine from Saturday. I also created a video to mark this day on my YouTube channel.

I don’t want an uninteresting wine just because it is a Monday–punishing me with Monday on top of a “Monday” wine.  Mondays are opportunities to lay the foundation for a great week ahead.  Celebrate that you made it through a tough Monday or delight in goodness in the glass even on a Monday.

My intention was not to say open that special vintage bottle of Champagne on Monday but open something that you might not normally open up.  Perhaps for you it might be a bottle of bubbly, a Barolo or something simple and delightful as an Alsace Pinot Blanc.

 

Now I am using #BBM is to highlight a particular wine and region versus just open something up.  It is both an alert and reminder as well as consider this wine and variety.

This week I featured: Michael Shaps Monticello Petit Manseng and saying “how about a Petit Manseng from Virginia”

Last week I highlighted Austrian Reds and pictured is Muhr-van der Niepoort Samt & Seide Blaufränkisch

It is important for to give a better meaning to #BBM and what better way than to give ideas for trying new wines and that I am sharing via many social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

So far there seems to be a very positive response.  Maybe this will spur more people to give reminders and callouts for specific wines, regions and varieties.

Stay tuned for more!

**

¡Salud!

James

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

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Terre del Principe Pallagrello Nero Casavecchia ’12 93 Pts – James Melendez

Full name of wine: Full name of wine:  Terre del Principe Castello del Femmine Pallagrello Nero Casavecchia

Producer: Terre del PrincipeJust when I don’t think I can no longer get excited about wine I know that I am about to be surprised.

I have known about the Pallagrello Nero and Casavecchia grapes I had never found an opportunity to taste wines made from these grapes.  This is an IGT wine which in my opinion is the way to find a great quality wine that is not a DOC or DOCG and recognizes regions and variety.

This is a point of difference wine–a unique signature of varieties that express Campania. This wine can be enjoyed alone or with food but in my opinion this wine is optimized if served with food.

Scent characterization: red plum, pepper, black cherry and cinnamon

Flavour characteristics: black plum, game, cherry, pepper, graphite and Thyme.

I was glad to find this wine in San Francisco and under 20 USD.  I wonder when I will try my next Pallagrello Nero and Casavecchia wine–I hope soon.

**

¡Salud!

James

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

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Tre Bicchieri San Francisco 2016 Taste – James Melendez

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I wish I could have tasted all of the wines at this year’s edition of Tre Bicchieri San Francisco.   I arrived towards the beginning but it is hard to taste everything–sometimes getting time to taste even a few I count myself lucky.   Tre Biccheri is important for me to seek out all Italian wine regions and often I get to taste from regions I rarely taste from.   I was able to taste a Syrah from Valle d’Aosta by Rosset which was so unexpectedly dynamic and I will seek this wine out.  When I look at Italy often I don’t want an international variety but if I overlooked this wine I would have missed a spectacular wine.  I also looked at Italian whites I rarely taste Vernacchia and Pecorino and it is a reminder to me to seek them.

I did taste the following wines where I have listed vintage and point score that I assigned to all that I tasted:

  1. Leonildo Pieropan Soave Classico Calvarino 2013 – 92 Pts (9.1)
  2. Re Manfriedi Terri Gegli Svevi Aglianico del Vulture Serpara 2010 – 92 Pts (9.2)
  3. Cavicchioli U & Figli Lambrusco di Sorbara V. del Cristo 2015 – 91 Pts (9.1)
  4. Nino Negri Valetelilina Sfursat 5 Stelle 2011 – 92 Pts (9.2)
  5. Felline Primitivo di Manduria 2013 – 90 Pts (9.1)
  6. La Marchesine Franciacorta Dosage Zero Secolo Novo Ris 2008 – 94 Pts (9.4)
  7. La Marchesine Franciacorta Brut Rose – 2010 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  8. La Marchesine Franciacorta Saten – 2011 – 92 Pts) (9.2)
  9. Cantina Mesa Carignano del Sulcis Bulo Buio Ris 93 Pts (9.3)
  10. Cantina Mesa Vermentino di Sardegna Opale 2010 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  11. Cantina Mesa Carignano del Suli Buio 2014 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  12. Ferrari Treno Extra Bruit Lunelli Ris 2007 – 94 Pts (9.4)
  13. Ferrari Brut Perle 2008 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  14. Rosset Terroir Valle d’Aosta Syrah 2013 – 95 Pts (9.5)
  15. San Michele Appiano Alto Adige Pinot Bianco St. Valentin 2013 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  16. Villa Raiano Fiano di Avellino 22 – 2013 – 93 Pts – 9.3
  17. Casale del Giglio Antium Bellone – 2014 – 92 Pts – 9.2
  18. Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Vign. di Campolungo Gran Selezione 2010 – 94 Pts (9.4)
  19. Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 – 92 Pts (9.2)
  20. Castello della Sala Cervaro della Sala 2013 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  21. Castello della Sala Novile di Montepulciano Santa Pia 2010 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  22. Cusumano Sicilia Noa 2013 – 92 Pts (9.2)
  23. Cusamano Bianco Alta Mora 2014 – 91 Pts (9.1)
  24. Bellavista Franciacorta Extra Brut Vittorio Moretti Ris. 2008 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  25. Cantina Convento Muri-Gries Alto Adige Largein Muri Riserva 2012 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  26. Rocca di Frassinello Maremma Toscana Baffo Nero 2013 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  27. Cascina Ca’Rossa Roero Mompisssano Ris. 2012 – 94 Pts (9.4)
  28. Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Brut Prior 2014 – 91 Pts (9.1)
  29. Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Brut Ius Naturae 2014 – 92 Pts (9.2)
  30. Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Banda rossa 2015 – 93 Pts – (9.3)
  31. Libandi Gravello 2012 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  32. Il Colombaio di Santa Chiana Vernacchia di San Gimginano l’Alberta Ris 2012 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  33. Tenuta i Fauri Abruzzo Pecorino 2014 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  34. Noelia Ricci Romagna Sangiovese Sup Il Sangiovese 2014 – 92 Pts (9.2)
  35. Noelia Ricci Sangiovese Sup Godenza 2012 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  36. Primosci Collio Ribolla Gialla di Solavia Ris 2011 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  37. Zorzettig Pinot Bianco 2014 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  38. Zorzettig Pinot Grigio 2014 – 93 Pts (9.3)
  39. Zorzettig Friuliano 2014 93 Pts (9.3)

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Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri World Tour

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¡Salud!

James

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 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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The Real Thing and Point of Difference for Wine Branding – James Melendez

 

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The McCann Erickson campaign dubbed Hilltop also known as “I’d like to Buy the World a Coke.” Set in an Italian hillside featuring a worldly population of young people each holding a glass bottle of Coca-Cola from their respective Country.

I was reminded of this ad when I saw the last episode of Mad Men (hopefully I am not spoiling anything–I won’t give any comment that lead up to the final scene–don’t continue if you think this might be a spoiler) – how about that disclosure?  We see Don Draper at a spiritual retreat in Big Sur and he utters an “omm” eyes closed and the iconic coke ad appears.  My interpretation and I love this ambiguous ending is that while Don was seeking a spiritual retreat he was a quintessential Madison Avenue ad man and this retreat provided the inspiration for him to in the future create this ad.  Few series endings are not satisfying but the totality of the this final scene felt as satisfying as possible.

I don’t really ever recall the moving image of this ad only the music and the tag line of “The Real Thing”  I went back to see if this coke ad had been re-imagined by Mad Men or it was a re-mastered image.   I was pleasantly surprised to see it was re-mastered.  The old ad from whatever source was grainy but the remastered image seemed new.  Just as Mad Men reimagined the storied past of Madison Avenue and heavy leaning on mid-Century culture and history it was the Real Commercial.  Seeing the Hilltop ad in 2016 eyes is to see an ad that inspires, is relevant and still can deliver goosebumps to be a testament to ads at their finest.

The longer message is this propelled Coca-Cola for a long time–hard to match an ad like this and after billions of dollars spent by Coca-Cola none have truly surpassed the evocation of emotion that this ad still leaves with us today.  Brand and authenticity is a hard thing to convey and cannot always be bought–it has to be nurtured backed by vision and balanced with creativity.

Wine and branding is no different and that today more than ever is a ‘need to have’ a brand position and for very logical and pragmatic reasons.  As of 2014, there are over 10,400 bonded wineries in the United States.  That is a lot of wineries–a lot of labels and that is not including from what is being sourced from abroad.  Wine as I have always said is easily one of the most compelling consumer products and it is also the most complex – large of number of varieties, vintage, vineyard selection, reserve/non-reserve, old vine, cuvee selection etc.  Though label and brand identities have been developed by some producers solidly in the consumer’s mind there is a vast landscape of complexity.  What wine consumers want is selection, excellence and good price points the number of SKUs is still ever increasing.  Wine consumers fall in love with good wine and fall out of love quickly if there is a substantial price increase and lack of availability.  Lack of availability is key — wine unlike beer or spirits is limited at least in the sense of thoughtfully produced wines is both highly unique and limited.  I often go into a wine retailer with a wine I want to buy and out I come with a different brand altogether–why?  Simply the retailer doesn’t have what I am seeking.  With a vast array of complexities and layering more producers I think is a recipe for commoditization.  

I have walked into many wine retailers and grocery stores and have scratched my head at the number of non-branded wine labels–virtual brand–something that doesn’t exist but only for packaging.  These non-brands help to commoditse wine in a way that takes away from the branding position of the wine category.  

Wine brands and advertising in general has not been especially good – there is no wine equivalent for the Coca-Cola hilltop ad.  Some wine ads are depicting people who really don’t exist – Bartles and Jaymes – these are not the people who owned the brand or Carlo Rossi (Charles Rossi) who was a salesman for Gallo Wines married into the Gallo Family but did not start the winery with his somewhat namesake.  Many campaigns are so superficial and shallow such as “Ruinite on Ice/That’s Nice” or the Orson Welles Paul Masson ads were Masson was attributed as saying “We will sell no wine before it’s time.”  Did Paul Masson actually say that?  I cannot point to any broadcast ad where when a brand was presented about wine it was actually the subject not object–most are superficial and endlessly shallow.  The Blue Nun wine ads are cringe worthy call out.

Coca-Cola ventured into the wine world in the mid-70s and exited it as well owning Sterling in Napa Valley.  But ownership doesn’t execute to brand identification let alone great brand positioning or advertising.

Wine branding is vital and important and for consumers to grasp those brands who have a raison d’etre than a raison d’argent.  And to avoid what maybe an overall brand erosion is through thoughtful producers who choose to offer a strong brand identity can help to mark position.  Few brands can do broadcast advertising and I think it is not necessary for most. But there is always an opportunity to create a video on such platforms as Vimeo or YouTube.    Brands need to work towards continuous improvement, thoughtful and methodical about it’s communication and to be on point.  Branding is the only way to not become a commodity.  My comments here are not to say that all wine labels are headed towards commoditization and I do think some brands do an excellent job of holding their brand authority.

There will be plenty of producers who either can’t execute a distinct brand or even care about it will succumb to either a decreased interest or eventual demise of brand and business.

***

¡Salud!

James

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 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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Wine Bloggers Conference Snub Video Content Again – James Melendez

 

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I saw the published agenda for Wine Bloggers Conference 2016 and video content is snubbed once again.   There is a class on Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, & Periscope; Periscope is the only video component but what I would term the main stay of wine and video.  Periscope is not an easy video media to utilise.  I do think Periscope can be relevant and it is an exciting concept.

Wine and video is certainly present on YouTube, Vimeo and Vine and hence this topic not covered truly doesn’t help to frame information for attendees at WBC.  Vlogging is an important category on YouTube and I do think it again is a natural extension of the traditional blog.

I have had ‘meet ups’ at each of the past several WBCs and I thought there should be a section on wine and video hence I submitted for a class.  Before I was notified my submission wasn’t accepted I saw the agenda and didn’t see any video content workshops.  I don’t think I will do a ‘meet up’ at this year’s WBC – video medium should not be just a lobby workshop–it deserve an official slot on the Wine Bloggers Conference agenda.

Many of the past agenda’s are very text specific and I do think this is right conference to talk about layering text with video.  Video is a natural extension to traditional text ‘blog’ entries.  Wine as I have advocated needs the media that allows for not just informational delivery but for that which only video can give: emotion, colour, voice, and non-verbal cues.

I have completed a lot of Blog entries over 3,000–in the past few years I have often supplemented my writing with video of related subject matter.

I am disappointed that video is once again relegated to no coverage on the agenda of Wine Bloggers Conference.  The dynamic nature of video is not explored here and that is a loss for those who might want to venture in the area and to expand their reach.

My YouTube Channel

***

¡Salud!

James

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 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.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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The Power of Tequila and Video – James Melendez

When I did a search in YouTube for Avión Reposado Tequila I rank on the first page; often but not always in 2nd or 3rd place; not bad.  Interesting this particular video is higher than the brand Tequila Avión itself.  Sounds random or perhaps not a big deal but it some ways it is.

No one who doesn’t work for YouTube truly knows the algorithm and for good reason it constantly changes.  There is something sticky about the return of this entry in the search field.  I am not sure why this ranks highly—I also ranked higher than CNBC Mad Money interview of Ken Austin’s interview.  I was surprised.  I guess fewer people were in Avión founder.

I have both spoken and written in the Spirits category–this category has an active audience and click rates are higher than almost any wine brand or SKU.

Avión Tequila became more highly visible due to it’s appearance on HBO’s Entourage.  I have always been surprised what is in my top ten videos (I have over 2,250 videos).  I only have 4 out of my top 10 videos that are individual wine SKUs.  I have seen often but not always that for my videos to be in my top 10 have been syndicated—it appears in pseudo online publications.

Surprisingly there are relatively fewer reviews of either their Reposed or Blanco Tequilas (my Blanco which I have title Silver has relatively modest hits—a night and day difference between Blanco and Reposdo).

I think the intrigue I have for video is how things will perform; many surprises and some disappointments.  But there is a co-relation when a product producer also promotes the video where their product is featured.

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 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.

James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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