State of Wine Producers and Wine Promotional Groups in Regards to Wine Video and Blogs

I write this as a both a wine writer and videographer to both producers and wine promotion groups.  I think wine articles and video I create aren’t leveraged by the producer or wine promotion groups*.

What I mean by promotion is wine producers should maximize their investment in both the written form (blogs) and the video medium as well from people who write or video about their wines or about their site, facilities, events, etc.   After all many wine producers give samples and I think there is an expectation of a review.  While brands like Wine Spectator, Parker, Wine Enthusiast are often utilised for the point scores they give many more people who write about respective wines aren’t leveraged not even for their point scores let alone their content.  I do have a great number of wine producers who have featured me on their website, my point scores that I have given in tasting rooms, and tweet, retweeting and liking Tweets or videos on YouTube.  Out of over 2,300 wine videos I think only a small percentage take the opportunity to leverage content.  I have easily over 75% of what I have talked about not leveraged the brand I am reviewing–no Tweet, no mention and not take the time to recognise the content.  This is by no means a ‘please acknowledge me’ plea it is why not as a producer or a wine promotion group use this material—it’s free promotion and publicity.  I think many producers and wine region promotional groups are unaware of content–especially if I buy wine and it is not given by a sampling program.

Basically many online wine writers and videographers are giving away a valuable product for free. Here are so basic suggestions to have producer to leverage content that is about their product:

For Producers

  • Google Alerts – input your labels to see what might be out there
  • In addition to RT the content producers Tweet/video send your own out
  • Give a like and share the video – a meaningful touch to help video get a better return on search and it also shows support.  Producers are often aware of video but incredibly don’t watch the video of their product–even if the video content is positive
  • Subscribe to person who just completed a video on your wine – perhaps another video of your product will be featured
  • Add to your website under a “latest press” section – the accolade, a link to video or article
  • If you or your PR agency didn’t give sample–perhaps this person might be good to feature in future sampling drops
  • Bring up video in staff meetings and have people give a like a share

Here is for what wine promotional groups/trade groups to leverage content about their regions:

For Wine Promotion Groups

  • Add your region in Google Alerts – might be interesting how much talk is happening about your region or not; if not you have a great opportunity
  • Give a like of video and share video
  • List this in your websites accolades or press section
  • Follow producer on Twitter; there are many wine regions–a great way of showing support and engagement.
  • Subscribe to channel and see what they will be producing in future

And here is what wine video producers and wine articles/blogs can do to also promote content being produced:

For Video and Article Producers

  • Tweet your article; include the producer’s handle, PR agency (if they have one) and wine promotion group handle
  • Give a like to your video–you are allowed to vote for your own video – so take advantage of that and also all of your channels are allowed one vote–so use all that are available to you
  • Include information on producer in description and other information of interest about product or producer
  • Just because you published a video–your work is not done; having a vast bank is time consuming but it is also an advantage to have a wealth of information to retweet and re-promote
  • Continue to promote your video not just one time job but ongoing; just because you tweeted once doesn’t mean your community has seen nor does it mean that an interested party has seen it
  • Add to the respective playlists; playlists in YouTube are important; make sure they line with as many helpful playlist descriptors as possible; also you can enable an “auto add” function to search content and add automatically to playlist; and auto add’s will only search for exact information including diacritics – hence add one line with diacritics and one without
  • If they you built it doesn’t mean wine producer saw your content nor did the PR agency; you can send an email just incase they they didn’t RT or like your Tweet; I have had countless people contact me and I let them know I had already published
  • You can also add your video to any of your written article for a maximum impact
  • If you are producing videos–make them concise and easy to understand i.e. add a point score; make sure you do not have any file names in your title name (I see this often and instead of hitting play I run to any other video producer).
  • Videos should have an intro and outro
  • Video content should be edited; no one wants to see camera move around touch much, uninteresting or even irrelevant material; edit video for watchability
  • Play some music in video
  • Written articles–include photos that you have taken and if you have completed article–add it!

I believe that wine videos and the wine blogs and articles are truly not activated–what I mean by this is that a lot of content but there is relatively no community to support and collaborate with each other.  And I think many people built their content and expect people to just open it immediately; while opening content is a big ask—have a relevant title.  As mentioned above I have seen people using a file name instead of the subject matter of video.  No one will view these videos.  

When I say community in the video world it is people not reaching across the aisle and asking someone to appear in video.  I have asked many people to be in my video and they are not comfortable–hence I will only include video that want to be in my video.  Vlogging videos have been very popular and have perfect many aspects including collaboration to cross promote each other’s channel.

There is relatively little collaboration in the YouTube world as it relates to wine and it shows–it is a sleepy category but one where I think there is an opportunity for many more hits.  I use my example–my most popular wine video has nearly 5,000 hits and of course many in the double digits.  All of my top ten are north of 1,000 and say why not for an even higher percentage of my videos.  

So let’s get on this category and move it to another level–active engagement on all parties is needed for both the wine, wine article, video consumer to embrace the medias.  Built it and they will come is not a recipe of engagement but one of the current state.  I think if many beverage arts videos are nicely popular–why not wine?

*Example of a wine promotion group are groups like:

  • LoCA Lodi Wine Grape Commission http://www.lodiwine.com
  • Oregon Wine: www.lodiwine.com
  • Wine Country Ontario: winecountryontario.ca
  • Rías Baixas – www.riasbaixaswines.com/

And there are many more out there.

Salute,

James

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

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James the Wine Guy Surpasses Jancis Robinson on YouTube – James Melendez

This is my first wine video: Murphy-Goode contest “A Really Goode Job” in 2009; this shows as my number 3 video in YouTube; I thought I better upload this video as it will disappear from the Murphy-Goode site 

As of today, Sunday 27-June-2016, I have surpassed Jancis Robinson for total clicks on YouTube – me – 248,446 and Jancis at 248,423.  While this may not seem like a large number at least in the wine video world it is very difficult to get in the hundreds of thousands and to surpass a well known wine personality.

While the number may be a small difference it is based on trending that this has been building over time and will continue to surpass.  Jancis has not published for at least a year–she continues to get clicks–my only assumption is that she may no longer be interested in producing wine videos.  I work hard and constantly on wine and video.  My clicks have been by effort and sweat.  Jancis has stated that she doesn’t think of wine video as a spectator sport.  I do think this sentiment truly reflects a negative view of wine videos.  I am a different generation than Jancis and have a very different view of wine and video.  Jancis has a traditional print perspective and I think both has not truly been tuned in on video and wine. I have poured over my own metrics as well as looking at other wine video producers for characteristic viewing behaviours.  I have a core belief in being flexible with video and comfortable with it as well as chief believer that my channel is about community.  I also believe that there is an appetite for vlogged style videos.  If beer, whiskey do well in terms of clicks why not wine.

I have written that previously that when Gary Vee exited at his 1,000th video the industry gave up on wine and video (though not everyone).  I think that there is plenty of room for more wine video content–there are too many demographics that one person cannot support all of them.  My demo is very different than Gary’s as example.  I too think some people have been very dismissive about me and my wine videos hence I created a video James…are you still making THOSE videos!?! and those who ask that question–my video content is for those who want to see it–perhaps there is jealousy?

I think many people give up prematurely on wine videos–and perhaps because there is a misconception in terms of click builds – ‘create it and they will come’.  Wine videos just like any other content needs to be promoted.  Also expectation weights in more than it should.  I will hardly be the first video producer who has said what you expect to be successful rarely is and that which you don’t have a great expectation exceeds it.  Also wine is one of the most unique products in the world today based on vintage, variety, region and limited product and this is both a challenge and blessing for wine video content.  And not surprisingly well known brands or subjects tend to do better than lesser known topics or wines.

Being a video producer means having a very thick skin–comments and those who exercise judgement against you or your comments via video are those who willing to try themselves.

Jancis has done well in my opinion in the YouTube sphere for not believing in it and have a high click rate.  She has succeeded but not truly being active.  Her column and written voice is well known and I think there is video consumer who is seeking video her video content whether it is current or not.

I have come from an opposite experience–not in any major column and having to build my community one subscriber and viewer at a time.  I have had to and will need to be experimental and flexible as wine video content is concerned.  I have had to also explain to the casual observer that not all wine videos are going to have a great click rate–and that wine video clicks are earned over time not in the first month of publish.  Wine videos are almost the opposite of all other video category on YouTube.

I continue this journey and who knows who I might surpass in the future–maybe no one else?  But in the mean time I keep my eye steady on the horizon and have a core belief that wine and video are a good thing.

Thank you for watching!

One of my latest videos on YouTube

Salute,

James

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Melendez / 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 and photographs.   If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

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Evolution of Wine Blogging to a More Inclusive All Wine Media Front – James Melendez

I have thought for sometime that the standard wine blog is due for evolution.

The Wine Bloggers Conference is an event that I attend yearly (thought this year I may not be attending due to the logistics of getting there) – so close but yet so far away.  No I don’t own a car and the organizer is using Sacramento as their preferred pick up point–never mind that people are flying in from Vancouver, New York, Toronto and so fourth and there are no non-stops to SAC but there are non-stops to SFO.  Wine Bloggers Conference pays a scant attention to video and generally focuses on the written blog.  I have complained about and to no avail will not have my lobby video meet up.  I am sure I will see video friends there and we will chat.  I am doing this because wine video is not a subject that should be ushered into the hallway or lobby as if it is an unworthy subject matter.

While the European wine bloggers became Digital Wine Communication Conference in recognition that it may not be the standard written blog as the only way to communicate about wine online.  I have not seen a 2016 conference planned on the website–not sure if they are going to do one.  But I think there was that recognition of ‘wine blogging” as an evolving subject.

I write this because there is a community of people who scoff at someone like me who both writes and completes video on wine.  I have people who have said to me “James are you still making ‘those’ videos” To which I responded which of ‘those’ videos are you speaking of… I had to complete a video.

I have heard this dismissive statement and I think these ways of talking about video and in particular my channel in a demeaning fashion.

Even producers and those that promote wine have not been embracing.  Thought I do have a very nice community and certainly get invites and samples and sometimes site visits.  But I do get the distinct feeling some people would prefer that I write only.

I look at the beer, whiskey, even coffee and tea communities on YouTube and look upon with awe and wander.  I also point to the food community which is superbly active, engaged and engaging.  I have written about many times that wine isn’t there–I have not thrown in the towel–I think there are some interesting aspects to wine that make it so much more difficult than any other category.

Wine is different–one characteristic is vintage–few products have a vintage or at least the same way wine does.  I can look at my videos at popular labels get more hits –lesser known ones get less.  Wine behaves vastly differently.  When I attend VidCon the conference is for popular categories.  And the framework and even data points evolve popular subjects and even the way the YouTube algorithm is different for wine–not because it is singularly targeted–it isn’t.   For example, most videos that are released gain most of their momentum and clicks in the first week to two–after that it is trailer off time.  This is simple because some of it is about being current.  Wine is the opposite–it builds over time as there is someone looking for this content.  Wine has a great shelf life than other categories.

I have written about it before that some of the wine world hasn’t gotten over that Gary Vaynerchuk is no longer producing wine videos as he once use to.  I did challenge wine distributors of the value in just holding Gary Vee up to a certain light–as it doesn’t allow others to come up and only Gary could do this media well.  Gary had limitations in his demographic and content that is dated simply by talking about football games of days past.  Gary did ‘jump the shark’ when he was eating the soil in a vineyard.

I think that wine is so expansive–that we still don’t have the coverage for all demographics.  I see many people start and then taper off and discontinue.  I think YouTube probably has a whole rainbow of difficult video content that is “not popular” yet because the algorithm is only designed for ‘winning’ numbers.  I do think YouTube is interested in promoting it’s producer base.  I do think that they do at some point should look at tough categories and help to make them less tough–allowing talent to use a YouTube studio, algorithmic recognition of the lesser known categories.

I do see the evolution of just blogging as something that needs an evolution.  There are plenty of ways to expanding that scope–Vine, Periscope, YouTube and Vimeo to name a few.  I think the more successful wine writers who have or will explore other medias will be better able to give dimensionality to wine and that is a frontier that has been barely scratched.

When I do a wine video I publish on all my medias and reference in my playlists.  I do hope that the producer will at minimum RT the video on Twitter and post on their respective social medias.

I do think it is inevitable that readers, audience members, community members that we have developed will be asking/seeking more…if not those people may upgrade to other people.

I will be reaching a milestone soon on my YouTube channel in a few days–I’ll announce later.

What are your thoughts about all online medias?

Is the written blog about wine needing an evolution?

Are people reading at the same rate as they once did about wine in the blog format?

Drop me a line in this article or in the social media’s I list below.

Salute,

Salute,

James

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Melendez / 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 and photographs.   If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

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There are Simply Too Many Wine ‘Days’ – James Melendez

World Wide Wine Day Rev

There are simply too many wine days–the wine days I speak of days marking Tempranillo, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel etc.  I am pro wine and for wine promotion.  I am for all of the organising bodies who have developed each of the days.  And I still think there are too many “days of” celebrations.

Not only are there too many wine days there are too many promotional product days from donuts to oysters to books from the known to the obscure.   I am a fan of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, and Zinfandel (too name a few) and I am not picking on this beautiful varieties.  I created World Wide Wine day to recognise all varieties as a more inclusive “Day of” celebration.  I started this day in 2011 for each July 1.  The idea was to celebrate and focus on wine; all varieties, all regions and all styles–July 1 is a way to look back and to look forward–it is the middle of the year.  I thought there was potential but after half a decade I know there is little interest.  I do not think there is a tipping point.  I wonder if the varieties I just mentioned have the traction they want?  I would say probably not.  I think there is a severe fatigue on “Day of” celebration are so overwhelmed with a day for everything.  And with wine–as I saw on Twitter someone said “Isn’t every day wine day.”  I think there is merit to that comment.  I think it can be a day to remind someone about say Albariño but it may not necessarily make me open a bottle on this day–I may open on another day.  I also think there are many varieties that are wondrous and will never have their day: Nebbiolo, Negroamaro, Aglianco, St. Laurent, or Schioppettino amongst others.

My page on Facebook has a small “like” base of 500+ and is gaining at a higher rate than my own presence on Facebook (James the Wine Guy).  But I do expect that my own presence will eclipse World Wide Wine day at some point.

I think “days of” have a limited appeal and marketability–I don’t detract and on occasion I’ll open up a bottle on those days especially if I have a sample.  I do think thought that every day is a wine day.  So open up a bottle of what you want to open.

Salute,

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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Challenge Your Wine Merchant – James Melendez

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Often wine merchants want to carry wines that sell.  I think many but no all are receptive to hear what their customers wants–some even paternalistic.  The paternalism is that “father knows best” but there is a relationship of wine merchant and customer and it is a dialogue.  The dialogue is being keen enough to understand customer needs and to also from the merchant point of view be willing to sell interesting wines–wines that don’t get a lot of shelf space or attention.

Many of the world’s wine regions are producing high quality wines and deserve a spot on a wine shelf at wine merchants world wide.  Coming back from Radici del Sud–what did I want first thing–wines from Puglia and other southern Italian wine regions.  I went to my favourite grocer which has well what can best be described as eclectic?  Perhaps I am being too nice–it is incoherent–there I said it.  I asked for a Fiano, Negroamaro, Aglianico or Primitivo–the answer was simple—no, no, no and no.  I was offered substitutes which I offered a polite “no.”  I asked for wine merchant if they could bring them in—of course–no feedback.  My job and yes I do buy wines is that I want a specific region.  I have fallen in love with southern Italian wines for sometime and I believe they have been ready for the world stage for some time.

Wine merchants and even the paternalistic ones will have to be listening to their customer base.  Today more than ever is a large online presence and I think many people are going to devote themselves to buying online solely if they feel there needs are not being met.   Online wine retailers also offer ease of shopping–so there is that competitive pressure.

I believe as a wine writer, wine judge, wine educator and wine videographer and wine consumer it is my obligation to ask for what I want to see at a retailer–online or off.  Why not take that posture yourself–ask for the wines you want to see at your favourite wine merchant.

Salute,

James

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Melendez / 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 and photographs.   If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

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Taste Hungary – A Great Destination for Excellence in Hungarian Food & Wine in Budapest – James Melendez

 

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Flag_of_Budapest_(2011-).svg

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I was recently in Budapest. I used Vienna as my base—I didn’t want to tote around my super heavy luggage piece. But I decided to spend the day in Budapest—I should have left much earlier and left later. I have my phone roaming all the time but it does not always pick up quickly enough to give accurate pin points on your map application. On my many city visits I have the metro map as well as the city map downloaded—this morning I forgot to do that—as I was on the train outside of Vienna I remembered and the network coverage was not that great. I waited till I got to Keleti pályaudvar and found the tourist office. Though I might have found them they didn’t find me—I oddly didn’t find anyone who spoke English (or the other languages which I can speak at least at an elemental level – French, Italian and German; I didn’t try Spanish). I was concerned about the language barrier before I got to Hungary—I know just a few words but not skilled enough in Hungarian to ask for too much. I left the office and thought Budapest seems walkable—let me see on the primitive map I was finally able to download. GPS is beyond valuable—I ended up going north and I didn’t seem to go on the directional path I needed. I knew I was off base. Finally GPS kicks in and I am way off path—I realize Budapest is large, very large.
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I was very intrigued to be walking the streets of Budapest—not quite what I expected. I was fascinated by the history and language of Hungary. I wasted about 40 minutes and I see how I could have take M2 – I get back on track and take a few stations to the historical district—Dohányi Synagogue, St. Stephens Basilica. I ran across the beautiful scents of Goulash—spectacular is the only word that came to mind. A smell that reminds me of New Mexico red chile. I see almost all of the monuments that I want to see (but I can tell you I need to go back). I want to go the spa and if I had more time I so wanted to visit Memento Park; the park showing relics from the communist era. And I of course need to visit the spa.

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My good friend Eric Danch recommended to me Taste Hungary—a wine shop and wine bar. It was centrally located and needed a respite—I had spent most of the day walking.   I walked in and saw such a beautiful spread of Hungarian wines.   I meet Ferenc Juhász and Tamás Kovács who are both Sommeliers and store manager. Both Ferenc and Tamás had spent time in the UK and California and have both had immense experience of wines from around the world and of course a deep knowledge of Hungarian wines and the artisan food movement in Hungary. I ordered their white wine flight and a cheese board with charcuterie. You cannot go to Hungary and not taste a dry Furmint—it is impossible—but that is not a bad thing. Furmint is the star and I think it is a good thing and I also think it is necessary to balance that out with other wine and red wines from Hungary. Hungary has a quite a number of indigenous varieties including: Ezerjó, Hárslevelű, Irsai Oliver, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Juhfark, and Királyleányka. Hungary also produces Kekfrancos, Portugieser and Bikavér as well as International varieties. My friends at Blue Danube Wines in California have an impressive portfolio of Hungarian wines that I have been privileged to taste many of the wines they import.

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Ferenc prepared the optimum cheese board for me. Probably most of you know that I have not been a life long cheese eater. Strange I know. I have only been a cheese eater for about 5 years. I still can’t eat anything too strong in flavour or smell. I am also not an egg eater and I don’t think I can ever get there. Ferenc put together an outstanding board of small producers of Hungary’s finest all of which was within my range of enjoyment and appreciation. I like that Taste Hungary works towards sourcing the finest. I did get a goats cheese which normally I can’t eat—too strong for me. The goat cheese I had was finished with an ash rind. The flavour was mild, fresh and not just tolerable but exhilarating. I also got a fresh herb cheese and a triple crème; the charcuterie was fantastic—I tasted some with sweet paprika and something with a spicy paprika; there was a duck jerky. There was also pickled white peppers and a truffled jam. This board was so satisfying and filling-it was much lunch and my dinner.

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Left is Ferenc and on the right is Tamás

 

The wines were:

Samuel Tinon Tokaj Dry Furmint 2014

9.3

Scent characteristics: Green apple, white tea, Adriatic fig, and almonds

Flavour profile: Lisbon lemon, white fleshy peach, flowers and stones in a stream.

****

Bojt Egri Csillag 2015 which is a blend of Olaszrizling, Sauvignon, Muskotály and Leányka and coming in at 12.5% ABV

9.3

Scent characteristics: Exotic green citrus pulp and zest, yellow peach, and Heirloom apple.

Flavour profile: Spitzenberg apple, fresh green fig, hint of sweet spice and pine nuts.

****

Pannonhalma Apátsági Traminer 2015 – 13.8% ABV

9.2

Scent characteristics: freshly sliced grapefruit, orange peel, white flowers, tea, and almond

Flavour profile: Meyer lemon, white tea, Hibiscus, and essence of beeswax

****

When you go to Budapest the Taste Hungary is a must visit. It may seem unassuming but then you will be delighted by the offerings, warmth of experience and a picture into Hungarian’s artisan food and wine movement. Taste Hungary does tours—I so want to go on one of their tours or their wine maker dinners. My only regret was not taking a bottle of wine with me. I was carrying so many thing things through the 31 cities I visited I though I couldn’t take another bottle with me but I wish I did. Another trip to Budapest is in store for me and a tour and winemakers dinner and to sit down again and see what Ferenc and Tamás will serve.

Taste Hungary

Bródy Sándor utca, 9

Budapest, Hungary 1088

+3670 261 711

****

Egészségére,

James

 

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

Read more of my wine reviews:   WORDPRESS

© 2016 James Melendez / 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 and photographs.   If you have any questions or comments please let me know.

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Carneros Pinot Revisited and Re-appreciated – James Melendez

 

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Carneros is a magical AVA that straddles both Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Many of my earliest memories of visiting Napa Valley was going through Carneros. Carneros is a gateway to Napa Valley for many visitors—especially those coming from San Francisco on the 101.

Carneros gave us the first cool climate Pinot Noir – the response is obvious – what hot climate Pinot Noir was the norm? Louis Martini planted Pinot Noir at Stanly Ranch in the late 1940s. Carneros Pinot Noir is thought of as lacking “richness, body and finesses” as Steve Heimoff says in Carneros: A Reflection. He states that since September 1, 2012 only 8 Pinots from Carneros had ranked above 90 points out of 173 – “…a pretty dismal showing” he says. The article is relatively negative and he ends with talking about his last six month score of 90 point and above Pinots… felt like a conciliation prize for Carneros and Pinot Noir.

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Some people I know have been equally hard on Carneros especially the Pinot Noirs.   Basically the overall message is that Pinot Noir and Carneros are a mismatch. There have been excuses for why “Carneros doesn’t do Pinot Noir well” and it has come to soil conditions. But the soil content is not uniform and wouldn’t explain that reasoning and also significant sloping and draining patterns.

When I have tasted Pinot Noirs—and especially if I have them on my tasting table and I am tasting many Pinots I am going to bring together regions and not mix and match. The reason is simple. Wine regions as it relates to Pinot Noir differ—I don’t want to be tasting Oregon and Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs at the same sitting or any other region. I think sometimes taster get influenced by one style and it may be at the subconscious level…. Perhaps someone has a preference for fruit intense wines versus leaner styles. As a wine reviewer, I do believe it is paramount to recognize style and to not punish one region over another. I do think it is essential to make the distinction. For me and over time I have truly enjoyed many Pinot Noir and have rated over 90 points not sparingly so but with true merit.

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I have been searching for the reasons of Carneros differences for Pinot Noir might not just be soil but more than that—anecdotally every time I visit and especially during growing season there is an noticeable cool breeze—that cool breeze is from the San Pablo Bay. Russian River Valley doesn’t have a San Pablo Bay. Carneros is sunny but cooler than many Pinot Noir growing regions in California. Most Pinot Noir regions have a connection with the Pacific Ocean and that is the evening’s cool down treatment. Carneros has the cooler temps in day as well as evening. I do think this is particularly influential to the region. Please read into this that I never put down one region in favour or another—that would be a wine reviewers quick demise. I still love Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Santa Rita Hills, and my palette lives in the best of all worlds—enjoying all wine regions.

I thought it was about time to write a piece in defense of Carneros Pinot Noir—I do believe now more than ever Carneros producers are doing a very good job with their materials and brining to the market place a point of difference Pinot Noir. Give Carneros Pinot Noir a try—and when tasting use a different lens. I harken back to earlier memories of Carneros and think of the beauty, quality of light year round is amazing. I sometimes on my way back to San Francisco I go down a road to see and feel Carneros when most people are on a rush back to get to the City—it is magical.

Salute,

James

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

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Time to Check in – Czech Wines – 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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