Posts Tagged ‘Merlot’

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… 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.


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… 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.


So Why Wine?

One of the questions I get from friends when I discuss starting this wine venture is: Why do you find wine so interesting? Why not beer, or food or gardening, or vodka?

To start, I love wine. I’m not the most knowledgeable person right now, but I know what I like and I am starting to have a really, really good idea what everyone else likes as well.

I also find it interesting that wine, unlike most everything else is bought almost exclusively based on price and other people’s opinions. Very rarely does anyone try a wine, just to try it. Most casual wine drinkers(even those with big budgets fall into a couple of different catagories, since everyone purchases in some way based on price.


1) Hey, if it’s under $10(or $20, or $100 based on your income) and the bottle sucks, I can throw it down the drain and not worry about it.

2) Some people will shop at wine stores looking for the best rated bottle under $20(Yes, this is me). Robert Parker 92 points for $19.95, ok sounds good!

The interesting thing about this type of shopping is that we sometimes miss out on, or easily forget bottles or wineries which we peculiarly like. A great example of this is my wife. When she was first out of college and starting to enjoy decent wine we found a bottle of Merlot that we both quite liked. It is from Rutherford Hill winery in Napa. It’s typically scored in the 86-90 range from Wine Spectator and Robert Parker, not something which is considered a “Great” bottle of wine, but something you can serve at dinner on Wednesday night and everyone will be happy with it.

Every so often we’ll come back to it and remember that although it isn’t the highest rated bottle, but hey we like it a lot.

Wine to me should be something that is enjoyed and everyone has different tastes. Part of the enjoyment to me is learning about your palate and learning the types of wines that you enjoy and how those wines can be combined with food to make them taste even better.

One of our goals is to help people prepare 5 star meals at home using our wine selections for the price of eating a 2 star meal.