Sunday, November 22, 2015
I went to three different supermarkets, but there was not a bottle of Barefoot Zinfandel to be found. Each store carried a different selection of Barefoot wines, including; Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, a Rich Red Blend, a Sweet Red Blend (perhaps wanting to steal Conundrum Red's market share), Pinot noir, Pink Moscato (ouch! Just typing that makes me wince), Pinot grigio and a White Zinfandel (erm, no thanks). Undeterred, I finally found the Zinfandel in a CVS drugstore - for $5.00. Five, dollars, people!
In the same section of the Register it was reported that Wine Spectator had recently named their No. 1 wine of the year: a Cabernet Sauvignon from Peter Michael Winery (Sir Peter, actually), the 2012 Au Paradis (Oakville AVA). Incidentally, just in case anybody is interested, the Au Paradis garnered a 96 on the Speculator's scale.
Do these two wines have anything in common? Yes, both wines are wet, red, Californian and alcoholic. However, one of these wines would set the consumer back about $160 - $180 (if you could even find it, which is highly unlikely), and the other is currently a fiver at CVS (though, almost just as hard to find if my experience is anything to go by). And how did the Barefoot Zinfandel taste? One would be justified in expecting this wine to taste fabulous, after all it won Double Gold at the '2012 Ultimate Wine Challenge'. (Please, don't get me started on the merits and demerits of wine competitions.) This perfectly quaffable wine proved to be very fruit forward with an abundance of sour-cherry, a slight ripe-raspberry component and a nose-pleasing pepperiness. Vinomaker commented that the nose reminded him of Necco Wafers, a candy from his youth. Although a tiny bit low on acid for my liking, and with perhaps the faintest suggestion of residual sugar, I nevertheless ended up pouring myself a second glass.
WWRPD, or think? No matter, it's a fait accompli. And besides, I don't really care.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
The Parkerization of wine, especially Napa Valley wine, is not a new topic. Nevertheless, my wine marketing instructor started tonight's class with a video; 'Robert Parker's Bitch' (written and directed by Tina Caputo in 2009), which elicited an enquiry from the back of the classroom, "Is it about his wife, or his dog?" Titter, titter.
The video was interesting and was, appropriately, more about marketing than anything else, and fittingly contained an appearance by my instructor, Paul Wagner. The classroom discussion that followed was rather thought-provoking. I may deride the 100-point system, (and the so-called millennials may regard the system as a dinosaur from their parents era), but unfortunately the system still wields a lot of clout among distributors who often won't even consider adding a particular wine to their portfolio if said wine simply does not have enough 'Parker Points'.
Don't be sheep, people.
Monday, November 16, 2015
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Apparently, our instructor has it on good authority that the Sharks were simply "blown away" with all four student-presentations last week. How special. On a more personal note though, the powers that be at the college are seriously interested in trademarking my group's redesign of the college's wine label. From the comments my group received during both presentations of our business plan, I could tell that the new concept-label we came up with was a real contender for being considered as the new brand for Napa Valley College. Fame at last. Yea, right.
Monday, November 09, 2015
This Scrabble game has been a dramatization: do not try this at home.
Sunday, November 08, 2015
The amount of kitchen scraps that Vinomaker and I manage to produce never ceases to amaze me. I think that if we were to put it all the food waste that we put into the compost bin into the rubbish bin we'd quickly run out of space for actual rubbish.
Besides being good for the vineyard, I must admit that I like to observe all the goings-on in the compost bin: not in the least the antics of the red wiggler worms (Eisenia fetida). And I also find fascinating the number of things that spring to life in the dark of the bin; sprouting potato eyes, onion-ends, tomato seeds and even the single leaf of a ZZ plant (that I had tossed into the compost simply to dispose of it). It's like magic.
Composting is not without its dangers, however. This morning, after breakfast, I took a small bag of food items down to where the compost bin resides (behind the barn); bits and pieces of vegetables from last night's dinner, sundry coffee grounds and tea bags, and a few eggshells. When I lifted up the lid the first thing I spotted was a black widow spider luxuriating, full-stretch in her web across one corner of the bin - just where I had had my fingers. Never fear, madam has been composted into cobweb-heaven.
Thursday, November 05, 2015
It was all a bit chaotic and nerve-racking. The Sharks wasted no time in finding fault with some of the ideas being proffered, at times even interrupting the student-presenters mid-sentence (that doesn't happen on the telly). And some of the comments were really quite brutal, or, as the head of the Viticulture & Winery Technology programme, (a panelist himself), described them, candid. Ouch!
By the time it came to my groups turn (now down to just three bodies as our fourth member was away on a business trip), it was already after 9 pm. Last week I had made the decision that my group would present our business plan first. However, this week I definitely felt that it was in our best tactical-interest to go last. Standing at the front of the class, facing all the other students who now looked shell-shocked and tired, I knew I had made the right decision. By now, it was patently obvious that everyone just wanted to toddle off home and that included the Sharks.
That's not to say that because of the late hour that my group's presentation was not well received; once again, our business plan was the least criticised of the four and the Sharks absolutely loved our redesign of the college's wine label. One tiny criticism though, from the lawyer-Shark, was that the font on our blog was too small and it was strongly suggested that we look up somebody called Guy Kawasaki on the internet. In return, I suggested to Mr. Lawyer-Shark that he should have brought along his opera glasses.
Hopefully, I won't have to think about this midterm project, or swim with sharks, ever again.
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
The past few days have been rather cool, so tonight I gave in and fired up the wood stove: it felt good. It also felt like winter is just around the corner.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Hope everybody has a fun and safe Halloween.
Eat chocolate! Drink red wine!
Hope everybody has a fun and safe Halloween.
Eat chocolate! Drink red wine!
Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Speaking in public is not my favourite thing to do, but I can make myself do it. As it turns out I didn't have to say much. One member, a mere 25% of our motley crew, who is the lone American and the only one taking this class for a grade, (yes, 75% of my group are not Americans, or taking the class for a grade), did the majority of the presentation. However, I didn't just stand around twiddling my thumbs, (no, I left that particular presentation skill to the two men in our group). I busied myself with manning the class computer. I had decided that the visual vehicle of our presentation should be driven by a blog that I had set up for that very purpose. (Thank you Blogger/Google for free blogging). The blog proved to be a great tactical coup because the other groups, as I had anticipated they would, used PowerPoint (boring) to present their visual content. Our instructor loved the blog format.
The fifteen minutes allotted to us flew by, thank goodness, and the feedback was very positive. Phew! Then the instructor dropped a bombshell - we have to do it all over again next week for a couple of Napa Valley College-bigwigs, Shark Tank-style. Not good.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
I was a little disappointed that the Thingwall Tipplers (you know who you are) were not present, but it seems they flew back to Merseyside on Wednesday. I was hoping to make my apologies in person for being a lousy emailer. Sorry!
Great evening, great food, great wines. Happy harvest season everyone!
Friday, October 23, 2015
For years now, Vinomaker and I have been using a home-made apparatus to separate the free-run juice from the pressed juice. Our DIY jobbie was made from food grade plastic and performed the task fairly well, but it was difficult to clean, and therein lies the problem. Anything, absolutely anything, that is used in the winemaking process from beginning to end has to be cleanable. There are a lot of ways to spoil wine and using dirty equipment is right at the top of the list. The most important thing to remember about microbial spoilage - from yeasts and bacterium - is that it is a whole lot easier to prevent the development of these microorganisms in the production of wine than it is to deal with the adverse effects of spoilage once it has happened.
Not exactly a cheap item, The Snorkel's retail price is $290. Vinomaker was considering another home-made gizmo, but when he did a little bit of research he found the cost of the materials alone would have been about $150. Much easier, and time management efficient, to just buy one that someone else manufactured. The Snorkel made the whole pressing operation, along with the fact that our hydraulic basket press was feeling better today, much more expeditious.
Harvest and winemaking 2015 is complete. Yay!
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Although Andrew's main focus was on Facebook, (and how to optimise your company's online presence - for a relatively small amount of money), Andrew covered most social media applications like; Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Now, of late, I had been thinking that Facebook was a little passé, but apparently I am wrong. It seems Facebook is still the go-to platform for companies who want to reach the most people...and translate eyes-on-the-page into dollars.
Nowadays, one cannot escape the ubiquitous, highly recognisible, stylised, little social media icons that appear on just about everything. The Facebook icon was even on a bottle of San Pellegrino that I took out of the refrigerator when I got home from class. I'm left wondering who are the people who have the time to go to San Pellegrino's Facebook page and read about sparkling water, albeit Italian. I am not one of those people. I barely have time to post on this blog.