Sunday, January 17, 2010

Twitter Cheap Wine Challenge Part 2 - The BLIND TASTING! 8 pm EST Thursday, Jan 21st

I want to encourage all participants in the Blind Tasting to please consider donating to Wine To Water's Haiti Relief Fund

Thank you very much for blogging your notes for your favorite inexpensive and tasty wines! Now for the REALLY fun part! TASTING THEM!!

Here’s what you do… this is so easy it’s ridiculous!

1. Grab a bunch of your friends

2. Go to the local grocer and grab as many wines from the list as you feel like tasting! (it works well to just have each friend bring a bottle)

3. Have one person in charge of bagging the bottles. (it helps to completely remove the foil to prevent peekers!)

4. Number the bags and have 1 person write down what each one is.

5. TASTE! & Make good notes on each wine according to number.

8. TWEET! Did one win hands down over the rest? What was your favorite? Post up your tasting notes of your favorite wine.

9. The BIG REVEAL!! Pull the bags and see which wines were your favorites!

10. TWEET and name names! Tell us what the favorite cheap wine is at YOUR blind tasting! Feel free to blog your notes and link there here and/or post them on twitter!

That's IT! Drink, Tweet, and be merry! :o)

Have a great time everyone! I can't wait to hear what all the favorites are!

Can't do it with us on Thursday? Have your OWN cheap wine challenge over the weekend!


How easy and fun is that?! I can’t wait to see you all online on Thursday at 8pm EST!

Here’s the lineup:

Casilliero Del Diablo - Chariot Gypsy - Bear Flag Red Blend #1 - Penfolds Koonunga - Monte Velho by Herdade do Esporão - Ravenswood Zin - Natura Chardonnay - Tomaresca NePriCa - Gougenheim Malbec - Bogle Petite Sirah - NV St. Cosme Little James Basket Press - Garnacha Del Fuego - Broadbent Vinho Verde - St. Francis Red - Honey Moon Viognier - Delas Cotes-du-Rhone St. Esprit - Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin - Dancing Bull Zin - 2007 Luzon Jumilla - Wolftrap 2008 - 2007 Altano Duoro


Wine Ophelia

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Twitter Cheap Wine Challenge

Ok Wine Bloggers... BRING IT! Pick out your favorite nationally available wine under $10 and post your tasting notes on your blog. Share it on Twitter by this Friday, January 15 at midnight EST. Then we are shooting for Thursday, January 21 at 8pm (hoping that is late enough for our West Coast friends!!) for a live BIG BLIND tasting of our favorites! The idea is to get together with a bunch of your friends, taste the wines we have notes for and pick your favorite! The purpose? Share a bunch of inexpensive but really tasty wines with the masses and have a whole lot of fun while we do it! Be sure to use the hashtag #cheapwinechallenge when you talk about it on Twitter!

Yay! 5 entries already and it's only Tuesday! Here they are:

Cru Wine Casilliero Del Diablo

Young Winos of LA Chariot Gypsy

Hipster Enology Bear Flag Red Blend #1

The Wine Whore Penfolds Koonunga

Wine-A-Day Monte Velho by Herdade do Esporão

Keep 'em coming people! This is going to be so fun! I LOVE finding inexpensive wines that taste GREAT!

Make that 6!

The Wine Harlots Ravenswood Zin

Frank Loves Wine Natura Chardonnay

Holy Cow! a LOT of people posted their picks today!!

Cuvee Corner Tomaresca NePriCa

Mary Cressler Gougenheim Malbec

Nfluxus Bogle Petite Sirah

WC Wine Guy NV St. Cosme Little James Basket Press

Grapevine 4 Wine Garnacha Del Fuego

The Burping Sherpa Broadbent Vinho Verde

Brain Wines St. Francis Red

My Vine Spot Honey Moon Viognier

Vintology Delas Cotes-du-Rhone St. Esprit

Wow! I'm overwhelmed by all the people who've responded! Thanks so much!

If I missed the link to your blog post, please dm me on twitter @raelinn_wine

Oh... and...Note: I rejected a comment today because it was anonymous and just listed a wine name. If you would like to participate, blog your wine notes and post your link on twitter with @raelinn_wine and #cheapwinechallenge. Not too hard I hope! Thanks very much for joining in the fun!

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2007 brought to you by Walmart

Let me just start by saying, yes... that IS Occhipinti Olive Oil in the photo. The olive oil all other olive oils apsire to. That being said...

So, I'm at Walmart... I know... don't even go there. I live in a VERY small town and unfortunately, I have to go there every once in awhile. But I try very hard to stay in good humor no matter what I'm doing (this doesn't always work... just ask my dear husband!) so I was doing my shopping and kind of got into the whole value mentality. As I'm passing by the "wine" section, I decide I'll take a little tour of the Walmart offerings. heh heh. Mostly what you would expect. Boxes, cheap jug wine and 750s of the same. I see a few I have heard at least decent commentary on and decide I'm grabbing one of these babies! Just for giggles if nothing else.

I decided on Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel 2007. I was in the mood for a zin. It was one of the only ones there and the only one I had heard any good news about. So... I bought it. (there's my disclosure) Paid more than I thought I would at Walmart though... $11.97. Have I mentioned that I hate Walmart? Ok... ok.. to the task at hand... HOW WAS IT?!

My take on it (I won't call it a review. I am not that special...just my view. Some tasting notes.) Medium ruby red color---lovely and translucent. On the nose, a bit of tobacco, ripe fruit...blackberry, maybe black raspberry. On the palate dark forest berries, very slightly floral, a hint of spice maybe white pepper. Pleasant fruity finish. It's somewhat acidic which I always like in a red. And it has enough structure to keep it out of the fruit bomb or soft and flabby category.

I'm calling this one cheap and tasty! I'd buy it again. No problem. I'm always so happy to find a wine that is this inexpensive and drinkable. This one is better than just drinkable. Whether it is or not, it doesn't feel messed-with too much either. I say this because some of you know, but some of you might not, that I have a serious propensity for natural wines. I think my palate just goes there, if you know what I mean. Read my post on natural wines for a better idea of that.

The description on the back of the label in my opinion describes a "bigger" wine than what I found in the bottle. But that was to my pleasant surprise. The back of the label tells us that these are "80 year old vines" and that the wine is named so because the writer exclaimed "Whoa, those are some gnarly heads!" when he/she first saw the vines. They let us know that the "grapes are hand selected from some of the oldest and most respected vineyards in Lodi." They also let us know that they use a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak which I found to be extremely well-integrated as I DO NOT enjoy unbalanced oak at all. They also say we should enjoy it with "barbecue, pizza, hearty pastas, chili and ribs." I might have to disagree here. I tried it first on its own, but then had a glass with a cheeseburger. It was somewhat spicy and the wine didn't stand up like I hoped it would. BUT if I had made a traditional cheeseburger I think it would have worked. Mine just happened to be on the spicy side with some chili peppers in the mix. Overpowered the wine a bit. I'd say go with more subtle grilled meats and dishes that have a flavor profile that falls into the medium-savory area.

I hope that helps you if you decide to grab this one at the grocer one day. I really did enjoy it and would most definitely get it again when I'm buying inexpensive wine to drink on a regular basis.


Wine Ophelia

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Natural Wine is a Gimmick

Yet another conversation from twitter that proves to be good fodder for a blog post. I’m going to start out with the caveat that YES, there are boatloads of unethical or borderline unethical marketers out there who are greenwashing in every sector. Wine is certainly not excluded. The example I’ve seen in wine that totally takes the cake is an extra paper hangtag on the neck of the bottle explaining how “green” the winery is. Really? LOVE the extra packaging and ink. (shakes head, rolls eyes.) Nobody likes a fake, much less a “natural” fake---the worst kind of hypocrisy in my book. Jumping on the “green” bandwagon in an attempt to capture some market share… shame on you!

That being said, I have to throw in my 2 cents (maybe more) on the subject of natural wine. Is there a bona fide definition that has been laid down by any governing agency? Not that I’ve been able to find. If you know of one, please post it here. I posted a link to this yesterday and I’ll repost the full text here from Williams Corner Wine’s website because I like their definition:

Natural Wine
Although no specific definition exists for a natural wine, it is commonly understood that a natural wine is produced with the minimum amount of intervention and manipulation possible. A natural wine producer seeks to produce the perfect vehicle to transmit the terroir of a place to you, the consumer. As such, a natural wine tends to be one that is produced from high quality, hand harvested grapes grown in low-yielding vineyards, typically organically or biodynamically farmed. Fermentation begins naturally, using yeasts present in the vineyard and the cellar, and the unfermented grape must is not sulfured. The winery producing the wine must aim to produce a transparent wine that respects its terroir; manipulating the wine through the addition of tannins, sugar, acid, oak chips, prominent new oak aging or through use of any number of other additives could dull or completely erase the wine's terroir. The wine is bottled with no added sulfur if possible, and if not, only as much as is absolutely necessary.

And also the following criteria:

Use Natural Yeasts to Initiate Fermentation
Curtail Yields
Hand Harvest
Recognize That Living Soil and a Biodiverse Ecosystem Benefit the Vine
Realize Only High Quality Grapes can make High Quality Wine
Use Sulfur Appropriately and Only When Necessary
Do Not Filter or Limit Filtering
Respect Their Terroir, but Aren't Afraid to Experiment
Produce Dynamic, Drinkable, and Food-Friendly Wines

Obviously this would be open to wide interpretation of meaning and some attorney somewhere would have a complete field day with it… but that isn’t the point of this post.

The point I hope to make is that there are MANY exceptionally hardworking, ethical winemakers out there whose only aim is to bring to life a wine of “place” that speaks to its region, its grape variety, the weather that year, and ultimately to the person blessed to have to privilege to drink it. I truly hate to see people furrowing their brows when they hear the words “natural wine” and skeptically thinking to themselves, “bullshit.” The winemakers who DO work very hard to create these natural wines, REALLY natural wines deserve credit for what they are doing. Organic and biodynamic farming aren’t easy. Then, to bottle something that doesn’t require a chemistry set or “chipping program” (yes, a winemaker once used that term on me!) to “fix” it and have it turn out mind-alteringly delicious is even more of an accomplishment in my book and certainly not a gimmick. In fact the winemakers who DO farm and vinify this way normally don’t even talk about it too much unless you ask them. It’s about the wine, not so much the process itself. It’s why many never bother to get certified. They just ARE organic and BioD and they don’t care if they are certified. It’s beside the point for them, the point being the wine and not the “natural” bandwagon.

I really would love to hear your comments about the subject. So please share your thoughts.

There are too many winemakers, wine bars, importers, distributors, shops, etc. to give a comprehensive list, but here is a handful of people who I know “GET IT.”

Share the unspoofulated goodness:

Louis/Dressner Selections NO spoof all day long
Williams Corner Wine Natural Wine Specialists
Monika Caha Selections - Austria
The Ten Bells Natural Wine Bar NYC
Forlorn Hope Wine - Rare Creatures from an awesome guy
Coturri Winery - Long family tradition of natural wine
Thierry Puzelat's wine gives me the shivers it’s so freaking good
Arianna Occhipinti Sicily baby. OH YEAH.
Saignée I LOVE Cory!
Alice Feiring needs no introduction
Amy Atwood totally gets it.

Links and blogroll coming soon…