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Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’

Final Napa/Sonoma wrap up

August 21, 2009 Leave a comment

So I’ve been asked to give a quick wrap up of our trip by a couple of friends and since both Matt and I have been straight forward about what wineries we were visiting…..I’ll be much more honest then I probably should be politically speaking.

We’re excited to partner with(yes in alphabetical order): Alpha Omega, Audelssa, Copain and K Vitners(from Washington state). We also have a couple of wineries from the Central Coast that we like and should work with as well. To be honest, from a wine sourcing standpoint we’re in excellent shape, at least for our September and October shipments.

After meeting with Cornerstone Cellars as well as Elizabeth Spencer I don’t anticipate moving forward at this time with either of them.

So what’s next on the Uncorked Ventures agenda? We’re constantly working on SEO stuff because we do believe that long term that is going to be a key to our business. Matt and I are also more activly engaging our personal networks to see what they’d like to see from our wine clubs. One thing that has come up repeatedly is a corporate gift either on an ongoing monthly basis or a one time gift for either a birthday or holiday.

Those conversations will lead to another section of our website(Gifts) which we plan to have completed by Tuesday of next week. You’ll also see some changes in format to the About Us page, the Other Media page as well as at least 3 new articles added to the Education section around that same time period.

Lastly we’re continuing to work toward sourcing new and exciting wineries. We have a few that we’re looking forward to speaking to on our next visit to Napa and Sonoma.

Specifically I think we may be a little Cabernet Sauvignon heavy right now, so a great Zinfandel producer would be nice…..of course I also love more Pinot Noir.

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Audelssa Tasting Experience

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve talked at some depth about a couple of our winery visits in Napa, but as I’ve said we’re especially pleased to be moving forward with Copain (as Matt states very nicely in his blog) Alpha Omega and of course Audelssa.

Audelssa was a winery that I was looking forward to tasting with at the end of our trip for a couple of reasons. Like most of the other wineries on our list they are family owned and have been very open to talking with us. I’ve appreciated the time Dan gave me on the phone, including his stories of previous frustrations with exporting wine, especially the taxes and exploding prices involved, I’ve gotten to know Gloria a little bit from both Twitter and email (we are at a similar place, how do you correctly use Twitter to actually sell a product?). Lastly I am pretty much fascinated with their V 27 concept.

A quick run-down of V 27 and remember I worked in real estate for a while, so this is probably especially interesting to me. V 27 explained simply is a timeshare. They are building a Tuscan Villa on their mountain ranch (where they grow most of their grapes) after buying into the concept you’d have the right to stay there, I believe 4 weeks a year, plus the capacity to create your own red wine blend with their resident winemaker. Please don’t hold me to exact details, but I’ll say I think it is underpriced for what they’re charging….how many people do you know that would love to have a second home in wine country? What about a 2nd home that comes with the ability to bottle your own wine? Pretty interesting concept huh? I’m guessing you know more then a few people who would be interested depending on price….. and this is going to put you back well less, well much less, then a 1 bedroom condo in Napa/Sonoma. Plus, check out the view:

Audelssa view

Ok, so we were set to meet with Mike at their Glenn Ellen tasting room at 2pm on Thursday Aug 13th. Matt and I thought we would have plenty of time since our Copain tasting was at 10am and the trip, according to Mapquest, would take about 45 minutes. We left Copain around 12:30 thinking we’d still have time to get a quick lunch at a small cafe in Glen Ellen and decided we would take, what we thought at the time, the safe route to the tasting room. The safe route takes us down the 101 south to the 12 east and then right on Arnold Drive….more on that later.

After being on the 101 for some time and discussing our previous meetings, both the positive and negative, we realized that we were seeing signs such as Welcome to Petaluma. I’m not a bay area resident but I do now that Petaluma is about 30 miles north of San Francisco….we were suppose to catch the 12 somewhere around Santa Rosa…..which is 17 miles further north.

Needless to say that meant we weren’t going to have time for lunch…..so just make that right on Arnold. Well to make a long story short we missed Arnold…mostly because it isn’t marked Arnold from the 12….it’s marked Glen Ellen….yeah we should have known better, but what can you do.

In any case we arrived at the Audelssa tasting room at least an hour late, Mike was still waiting for us, which was quite kind especially because the air conditioning was being worked on. It was set up to be a bad tasting, we hadn’t eaten all day, were hot, tired and frustrated.

We sat down and got a chance to try all the different wines(which are all red) and we were impressed by all of them.

We started with the Tephora which is a $25 retail bottle, we hadn’t seen the price point yet and were guessing that it came in around $40 which has been backed up by other friends and family when we’ve had them try it as well, except one family member who named the $25 price tag exactly, but I’ll let her stay anonomous for now.

In fact we opened one of the bottles I brought home last night and my mother in law (who knows her high end wine, especially those of French varietals) said quite simply that for $25 she’d definitely buy more of this wine which is a nice compliment in my book. My wife agreed that it was certainly worth more then the $25 that Audelssa is charging. The bottle went very, very well with a steak from the BBQ and also with a couple of pieces of dark chocolate for dessert.

The two real standout wines for my palate were the Zephyr which is a right bank Rhone blend which was an interesting wine. I don’t believe I’ve tried any, at least not many, wines from Napa/Sonoma that come from volcanic soil like this one does. You definitely get a stronger fruit taste then you do from many Napa/Sonoma wines, we were told it is because the grapes are grown at altitude which leads to a much smaller yield and more intense flavors of the fruit then you get at the valley floor.

Lastly Matt and I both quite enjoyed the Summit estate wine. Like many great blends it takes some of the major parts of all its components like the Cab Sauv, Merlot and Cab Franc. I’d hesitate to try and describe it in detail here, but I will say that it is very nice wine. I’m having a moderate size dinner party over the weekend to finish up my 30th bday activities and will be bringing a bottle with me. Of anything we smelled the entire week, this was perhaps the best and I do enjoy complicated tastes in my wine….so this was a real winner and one that I’m looking forward to trying to figure out more about this weekend.

Overall Audelssa was a good tasting experience and offer a nice series of wines that we can feature in our wine clubs. Despite our experiences their Glen Ellen tasting room is pretty easy to find. At Uncorked Ventures we’re looking forward to working with Audelssa and featuring their wines in one of our first wine club shipments.

Alpha Omega Meeting

August 17, 2009 Leave a comment

On Wednesday morning of last week(Aug 12th, 2009) Matt and I had the chance to sit down with Jean Hoefliger the lead winemaker and the general manager of Alpha Omega winery in Napa. To start Alpha Omega is in a great location on highway 29 in Rutherford, just a couple of miles south of St. Helena. They have recently opened a new tasting room which we were impressed with both in terms of architecture and the general feel inside.

The winery itself is much as you would expect with the vines surrounding the tasting room and some construction still going on, the one point of interest is definitely the fountains that they have between the tasting room and highway 29. It really is a beautiful location and the tasting room is situated in such a way, and slope, that you don’t notice highway 29 while you are there.

Alpha Omega Tasting Room

Alpha Omega Fountains

After arriving and meeting Jean he took us into a side room which had a long table with seats for approximately 10 people, leather chairs, rustic orange chandeliers which we later found out had been installed that morning and place settings for the three of us.

We spent the next 90 minutes or so talking with Jean about his wine-making philosophy, the history of Alpha Omega and how our two companies could work together in the future.

It was definitely a fascinating conversation especially because Jean’s passion for his work definitely shined through and he was completely at ease talking about everything from why they use only naturally occuring yeast, to how he was recruited to Alpha Omega, to his like for new ventures.

Our conversation was intermixed while tasting their 6 different wines, so I’ll go over conversation first and wine second.

Jean Inside the Tasting Room

A couple of things especially stick out in my mind:

*Alpha Omega uses only naturally occurring yeast in their wines. Instead of using one type of industrial yeast they allow their wines to spend more time in barrel (100% French because the grain is finer and imparts a more even flavor) in order to allow the 7 types of yeast that occur naturally on grapes to work without an outside addition.

* He tastes each wine daily as it is barrel to check and make sure it is being blended appropriately, it is definitely a more hands on approach then most winemakers use.

*98% of wine sold in the USA is consumed within 48 hours of purchase. Although this isn’t hugely popular in winemaking circles, he understands this fact and needs to create wine that will be good when consumed immediately as well as aging well when cellar-ed.

*Specifically in regards to both the Proprietary Red and ERA, asked what the blend was exactly. Interestingly Jean said he wasn’t sure off the top of his head because he never wants to think that he made the perfect wine a couple of years ago and now he needs to try and duplicate it. Each year will have a different blend because different fruit gives different results.

As for the wines:

I thought everything offered would stand the test of time, some notes on the 4 wines which stick out in my mind to this day:

Chardonnay Napa Valley 2006: By far the best Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted. I typically find the varietal too acidic but this was quite smooth and the flavor combinations which I found to be unique really did shine through-specifically honey and almond. When we got into the car we were wondering why we didn’t bring home a couple of bottles. To give you an idea of the winemakers taste he said he would bury this wine in the vineyard and drink it in about 15 years. I’m not sure I’m quite that patient.

Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006: I thought this was simply put an outstanding wine. It is quite masculine because you do get a sense of pepper as well as cherry. The three of us all remarked that this would be an outstanding Cab to pair with a slice of grilled meat. We took home two bottles of this wine.

Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley 2006: To me, if you want to see what Alpha Omega does differently in their winemaking then many of the other wineries around the world, you need to try their blends. To start the wine is a beautiful purple color and on the nose you really can easily pick up red cherry. On the tongue the wine is smooth and overall it comes across as balanced. I would gladly drink this by itself, or with a meal. We took two bottles home with us.

ERA: Ok, so yes we did taste the $160 a bottle ERA. Did it live up to expectations? Yes it did, it is the smoothest wine I’ve ever tasted. The three of us all agreed that it is perhaps a more feminine wine then the others we tasted, most likely because it has a much higher amount of petit verdot, which incidentally is Jean’s favorite wine grape. Matt and I didn’t take a bottle home but would certainly buy a couple of bottles for a special occasion, especially if our wives and mother in law would be drinking because we know without doubt that all three of them would love the wine. I did especially enjoy the wine as well, frankly if we weren’t allocating funds to our business purchases we would have loved to bring home a few bottles and cellar them for a while.

Lastly we were able to talk with Jean about moving forward with a business agreement between our two companies. We are extremely happy to say that we will be featuring an Alpha Omega wine in one of our first shipments. Jean was very gracious and shared our opinion that having a long term partnership between our two companies would be good for both of us moving forward. I can’t say that at Uncorked Ventures we disagree, we’re very happy to add Alpha Omega to our growing list of partner wineries.

At the end of the day, this was a great meeting for Uncorked Ventures and we can’t thank Jean Hoefliger and the staff at Alpha Omega enough. We’re looking forward to working a day of harvest with the staff in the next few weeks.

Jean, Mark and Matt outside Alpha Omega

More Chicken, More Egg

That old chicken and the egg problem is surfacing again:

A couple of facts for you to start:

1) Our interest list is growing.
2) Our outreach to wineries is going exceedingly well.

Add those two up and you’d think we’d be pretty darn happy with ourselves, right? Kind of yeah.

Truthfully though having a response from wineries which has frankly exceeded our wildest dreams has started to apply the pressure to grow our interest list and to provide these great wines to the public is growing.

When we first got started I thought that I would have a couple of months to work on search engine placement and set up other means of obtaining our initial business. Given the level of interest by pretty much every winery we’ve spoken with though I’m feeling the pressure to start producing real paying customers. We realize the wine club business is competitive and we only get one shot to provide great wine to customers. We had thought finding top notch wine at the right price would be the difficult part, that hasn’t been the case thus far. Our interest list is larger then we had initially thought we’d have at this stage-but we never thought we’d have access to such a great product so early in our club.

Overall it is a good thing, yesterday was a good day on the search engine front. We’ve officially moved Uncorked Ventures from a Google page rank N/A…..all the way to a Google page rank of 0. Doesn’t sound like much to the wine connoisseur reading this blog, but the Google page rank system effectively functions like the Richter scale for earthquakes….a 1 is actually 10 times bigger then a 0 which is 10 times greater then a N/A.

I’ve have a number of other things to finish up on the website front this morning: Adding more accurate Title tags to each page, adding Meta tags(in case they still matter to Yahoo and Bing, yes I know Google doesn’t care) and setting up this wonderful blog(as well as my business partners) so that each entry is actually its own page.

As always we hope you’ll join us over at Uncorked Ventures and sign up for our interest list. We’re debating when the appropiate time to announce our first group of wineries is, although we realize this will help our interest list grow and give us a much larger level of respectability….we don’t want to jump the gun and announce too soon.

We’re very much looking forward to our September shipment. I feel like this is really our time. Putting the long hours now will lead to the type of business I’ve always wanted to be a part of.

Almost forgot to add, I have a Sterling Reserve 2004 Cab waiting for me later….that should be the best part of the day!

Food Pairing is Important

Last night we had a small family Reunion gathering at my in laws. Present were my father in law, mother in law, wife, sister in law and her husband from Peru and also good friends Sarah and Chris who live in San Diego.

We had a fairly common objective yesterday. Given a $100 budget, find 3 bottles of wine that could pair with london broil, red potatoes and squash.

Given time constraints we found ourselves at Ralphs in 4S Ranch…..yes a grocery store. Luckily this grocery store has a better wine selection then any other chain grocery store I’ve seen, but it’s still not going to have the best options.

We tried to make it into an official tasting, each trying a small amount of each wine followed by a short discussion about what we each we able to taste…..no there isn’t a Robert Parker in the group either.

What we drank:

Ghost Pine Merlot 2006 $21.99

Wood Winery Cab 2004 $25.99

Stag’s Leap Petite Syrah 2006 $39.99

We were only able to accurately poll six of the eight of us the next morning about which wine was the best, but there was something conclusions which only lead me to believe that wine is complicated.

All three men liked the Cab from Wood Winery the best.

Two of the women said they liked the petite syrah the best, while my wife said she liked the merlot the best with appetizers(including artichokes) and the petite Syrah the best with dinner.

To be honest the Syrah from Stag’s Leap is the best wine of the group, but I felt the Cab helped bring out some of the marinate on the steak(which was well done, not my favorite)

Additionally I am partial myself to Cab’s.

Truthfully we did not correctly pair our wine with food, which is something that generally helps make the meal that much more enjoyable.

If I could go back and find a normal wine store, or into a wine cellar that had been appointed over the past few years with the types of wines our clubs will provide…. with my $100 what would I do?

For our main wine I’d head into the cellar for Casa Lapostolle’s Clos Apalta which is a Chilean red wine. It was scored at 95 points by Wine Spectator and at one point was selling for $40 per bottle before the maker figured out the type of product he had-which now retails at over $100 in the US. Again Chile and other younger wine regions typically make bigger red’s then Napa and Bordeaux even with the same type of grapes so be careful what it is paired with. This is a great example of the type of young wineries that produce great product and then get more expensive as they age. It’s amazing when you find these deals early on and see the winery grow and change over the years.

I’d also offer a Napa Merlot becuase everyone always likes Merlot at least ok…except that guy on sideways.

Looking back pairing with the artichoke was a problem. I had originally picked the Merlot because I thought we were grilling the artichoke…the thinking being that the grill would give a certain bitterness that would stand up to the red wine. In fact it was steamed, so pairing it with a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc would have been a better bet.

As always we try and enjoy our food and wine but this was a good example that simply running out to the grocery store because your in laws don’t cellar anything isn’t going to give you the best return on your wine investment.

To that end we’ll be providing pairing ideas with easy to follow recipe’s with all of our bottles.

Enjoy!