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Tuesday
Aug252009

Family Winemakers Tasting Represents the Realities of Wine Marketing

The cold hard facts of marketing and the wine business were on display at the Family Winemakers of California event at Fort Mason on Sunday and Monday. Over 360 wineries were gathered for two days of tasting and trade networking at San Francisco’s Fort Mason.

Showcasing wine in an abandoned military building is about as far as you can get from a vineyard frolic or a leather-bound wine list by candlelight. What the rows and rows of vintners at the Family Winemakers Tasting resembled, appropriately enough, were the rows and rows of wine that confront the end consumer, either on a website or in a store.

When I worked tradeshows as a pharmaceutical rep, we had only one big competitor and we hated them.The wine marketplace is too crowded to find a competitor to hate (unless it isFred Franzia) and anyway, the family winemakers seem like a congenial group.

But the question remains, how do those 360+ wineries snaking around a San Francisco warehouse differentiate themselves from their (congenial) competitors?

Thursday
Aug202009

Tomato and Wine Pairing from Daniel Dawson

I LOVE tomatos and Dan Dawson at Back Room Wines is my favorite wine geek. View From the Bay hostess: "It's magic!"

 

 

Sunday
Aug162009

Tom Cat or Gooseberry? Do you like the aroma of Sauvignon Blanc? 

I was curling up with my Wine Business Monthly the other night, tucking into an article about yeast for Sauvignon Blanc. (I’m not a winemaker but there’s a lot to learn around the edges of an article only tangentially related to one’s interests). And dang if it didn’t happen again. As I read about methoxypryrapzines and thiols I had an overwhelming urge to drink of the wine of which I read.

This happens regularly – whether I’m reading about yeast and craving a Sauvignon Blanc or reading The Sun Also Rises and craving something sparkly. I am a very suggestible reader.

I like SB that is more melon than green pepper, which according to this article by Curtis Phillips, is considered anti-varietal. This is not a condemnation, he merely divides SB into Varietal, Anti-Varietal, Oak-Influenced and Botrtized. So when I dashed off to the wine store to pick up a quick bottle to taste while I read, I was stymied about what to buy. Should I buy something that is “true” to the varietal, something from Marlborough perhaps, with lots of grass and gooseberry? According to Phillips, gooseberry= cat pee and “When someone describes a Sauvignon Blanc as an inherently derogatory term as ‘cat pee’ or ‘tom cat,’ what they are really saying is ‘I don’t like Sauvignon Blancs that smell like Sauvignon Blanc.’” Or should I forego the learning opportunity and buy something I was more assured to enjoy, something California, and leaning toward the tropical? Not surprisingly, labels tout the tropical and citrus flavors rather than green pepper or needless to say, cat pee. 

I shared my quandary with the nice lady at JV Wine and Spirits and she patted my arm and said, “Don’t over think it, honey.”

Good advice. She recommended DeSante 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (about $22) and I’m glad she did. When I sniffed the cork I smelled ripe peaches, the 20% Semillon makes it the kind of wine that I like to smell almost as much as I like to drink. My first sip reminded me of limeade right out of the can, and as it warmed in the glass, I tasted grapefruit and melon.

According to Desante’s website, this is a varietal Sauvignon Blanc, with grapes from St. Helena and Yountville, slow and cold fermented. I’ll have to try it again next to a New Zealand SB to taste the range of what is considered varietal. I’m not sure I would know the difference, but this struck me as a wine that was not overly manipulated. It grew on me, especially because it changed as the temperature changed and when I finished the bottle on the second day.

 

Tuesday
Aug112009

Blood In a Glass: True Blood HBO & 2004 Syrah 

It even looks like blood.

I found it when I was eyeing my favorite Rombauer zin but looking for something less expensive to satisfy my fruit-forward craving. Trueblood Syrah is bold, ripe, peppery, alcoholly and cheap. It made my ears tingle. And it is the perfect accompaniment for True Blood on TV, a juicy, funny, sexy, how-far-will-they-go HBO series on Sunday nights. The opening credits are reason enough to tune in.

At about $10 a bottle (can that be right?) I thought it was one of those themed wines that are purchased for the label rather than for what is inside. But this 2004 Napa Syrah was made by serious winemakers. They met in the UC Davis viticulture and enology program and cut their fangs (sorry) at Opus One, Stag's Leap Winery, Cakebread and Quintessa. According to winezone The grapes are grown near San Pablo Bay and hand picked from low yield vines, then aged in french barrels for 13 months.

Trueblood happens to be the last name of one of the winemakers. A name that will get them lots of attention, perhaps not the kind of attention they seek.Their website is temporarily disabled. I wonder if it is a marketing redo or a trademark issue?

 True Blood on TV is produced by Alan Ball of "Six Feet Under" and "American Beauty" fame and based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. The series gets its name from a synthetic blood beverage manufactured in Japan that has allowed vampires to integrate with humans and stand up for their civil rights. Served cold, in beer-like bottles, I have always imagined it to taste like thickened Red Bull. Yuck.

I'd rather sip Trueblood Syrah. Especially on Sunday nights.

 

Thursday
Jul302009

Make a Place for Rational Exuberance 

Here's a twit pic I took at Skyline Park in Napa on one of those spring days when heaven touches earth. OK, I know I am really weird to be posting twit pics on a hike. My point is that in my exuberance, I needed to express myself- to share my joy. (I also tried to type some notes on my i-phone. Geeeeeeky)

A similar thing happened when I finished Dexter Filkins' book, The Forever War. I was so bowled over by this in-person account of the Iraq war that I up and friended Dex (That's what we friends call him) on Facebook. I knew his FB account was probably handled by a publishing intern, he's a war correspondent after all, but I didn't care. I appreciated his work I wanted to tell him so. And I wanted to read what other Dex fans had to say too.

Expression is a human need. Just another reason to make a place for user generated exuberance in your social media plan. People need a place to "share the luv."