Passover Wines, 2016

28 Apr

And the kosher wines I served for this years Passover are:

 

Passsover2016

As pictured above, from right to left. 

Teal Lake 2011 Moscato, South Eastern Australia, 7% ABV, $8/bottle. An easy-going glass that tastes sweet apples and honey. It pairs perfectly with charoset, and is a great first wine for the evening that I brought for the entry-level wine drinkers. This bottle from down under is fun and enjoyable, very low in alcohol, and so easy to drink! I love it before or after a meal, and did I mention, it’s only $8? BOOM!

Teal Lake

 

Shirah Wine 2013 Vintage Whites, Santa Barbara County, CA. 14.5% ABV, $23/bottle(street).

This wine is California’s answer to “why can’t we have a great white wine on this night?” This Rhone-styled white, 70% viognier, 30% grenache blanc is a lovely, well-made wine for the passover meal. Dry with muted fruit, gentle acidity and a medium finish that shows a bitter hint of almond followed by notes of oak and loamy soil. Perfect for the fish and chicken courses or for those who prefer a full-bodied and savory white with their brisket. Thank you to the Weiss brothers for making this wine special, like the holiday!

Shirah Vintage

 

Recanati Rosé, Galilee, Israel. 13% ABV; $13/bottle (street). Made of 70% barbera and 30% merlot grapes, this is a total crowd pleaser: 1) I pour an ounce into a glass, 2) people first tell me how good it is, 3) then they ask for more.
I reviewed this in February, and stand by these notes: Color is a medium-clear and very ruddy pink: an amaranth/magenta center blending out to a clear edge. The aroma shows fresh strawberries with a hint of gardenias. In the mouth, tart raspberry and dried cranberry notes dominate with a spice balance. Good acidity and strong tannins emanate from the side palate for a satisfying, clean finish.

recanati rose

 

Recanati 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, “David” Vineyard, Galilee, Israel. 14% ABV, $23/bottle. This is a carefully-crafted wine I’ve enjoyed before- first with the winemaker at a tasting earlier in the year, then again at home when I picked up a bunch of Recanati wines from a local vendor. It has been consistent and delicious each time! Black cherry, blackberry, and red plum fruit blend with nice acid, strong tannins.; followed up with a long lasting finish with hints of oak, chalk, slate, and stone. I served this and the red wine drinkers at the table immediately said “Wow, where did THIS come from?”- they were sure I’d snuck in a preferred, high-end & pricey red. They were right about everything but the pricey part! Recanati has changed the way I feel about Israeli wine production, and they are in my cellar, period.

 

recanati reserve Cab

 

Psagot 2012 Cabernet Franc, Judean Hills 14.5% ABV, $27/bottle. The store owner said “you should try this”, poured me sample, and I decided he was right. The antithesis of what I think Passover wines taste like- this cab franc features dark black fruit, powerful tannin, spice, earth, and oak. A massive wine, high in alcohol, to make your main course (and Elijah) sing. It’s bold, and I paired it well for several days with the rich red meats I was served over the holiday, until there was no more left to enjoy.

Cabernet_Franc_2011

What wines graced your table this year?

à votre santé!

Vintage: Believe the Hype -JvBUnCorked on Snooth

23 Apr

Glad to be invited to share my point of view with readers around the world on Snooth.com. The entire article can be found here, my contribution is copied below. Make sure to check out both, as my co-contributors have some brilliant insights, suggestions, and perspectives. Cheers!-JvB


Vintage: Believe the Hype/Drink or Hold-

Bordeaux, 1971

The year was 1985. The location was a sunny outdoor table on the front patio of a small restaurant that rested upon the slope of a mountain in the French Alps. The special of the day was local wild boar, and our host ordered a bottle of 1975 Chateau Latour as his choice of wine.
Chamonix
The lack of response or understanding from his guests on the bottle’s arrival prompted him to give us a quick lesson on first growth/premier chateaux and the importance of vintages, which I will never forget. Our host asked us if we knew anything about this wine, and was greeted with silence. He spoke quietly to the waiter, who had just finished removing the cork from the ’75. They had a quick exchange in French that despite my best efforts I was unable to follow, but the waiter departed and returned with two additional vintages from the same chateau: the 1973 and 1971.
 Latour 75
Our host waxed on and on about the many great vintages he had enjoyed from Latour, specifically the ’59 and ’61 vintages, as the waiter opened the other two bottles and poured tiny tastes for our host. Upon his completion of tasting the three bottles, our host then indicated an out-of-order pour: we should all taste the ’73 first, then the ’75, and finally the ’71. While I don’t recall any specific tasting notes, I do recall my response. The first bottle was very good, the second bottle was great, and the third bottle was blissfully amazing. Our host explained that these vines and grapes were treated with the same identical loving care each year but that the annual vintage would vary in quality and flavor from year to year. In his native tongue, our host asked my opinion of the wines. In my high school French I replied, somewhat haltingly, that the first glass tasted “pretty”, the second was “pretty and decadent” and the third glass had “the same beauty as all the women from the Folies-Bergere” nightclub, which elicited a spit-take and guffaw from our host. While our host dried his eyes at my youthful response to the wine tasting, his lesson made an impression on me and was fully understood.
1971
As opposed to the local “vin du table” wines we’d enjoyed previously on our trip, a first growth or premier chateau wine is something extraordinary and remarkable, but the growing year of each vintage made a huge difference – whether the vines had more rain, sun, frost or humidity – these factors, when summed together, exerted great influence on whether the wine was good, great, or extraordinary in a given year.
-Jim vanBergen,  @JvB UnCorked / jvbuncorked.wordpress.com

 

A Wonderful Week in Wine

18 Apr

#MWWC24

Sometimes we lead charmed lives. I recently had a seven-day stretch of wine that left me feeling very, very blessed. The week provided honest-to-goodness, heart-felt pleasure for me, and broached several spectrums of the world of wine, from the professional to the personal to the simply mind-blowing.

“Oh yeah”, you’re thinking. “Mind-blowing? Sure.” Fine, you be the judge. One week: Two trade events, one concert, and a once-in-a-lifetime cellar event. Ready to read about them? Go ahead.

wine-stain1-3

Event 1: The New Zealand Wine Tasting

My top four picks from this tasting are as follows:

Villa Maria Estate 2015 “Bubbly” Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, NZ: A ‘carbonated wine’, I found this to be an absolute delight. Beautiful nose, balance of citrus on the palate, remaining light, delicious and dry. With a retail price of $15, I’ll expect to find by the glass in restaurants as well as on the patio this summer. 


Maria Bubbly

 

Gladstone Vineyard & Jealous Sisters: The 2014 Jealous Sisters Pinot Gris, under $15, is one of the best values in Pinot Gris at the tasting. I sought out winemaker Christine Kernohan and learned about her sustainable and environmentally responsible winemaking perspective which only increased my respect for her work and products. Jealous Sisters Pino Gris

If you aren’t a fan of Pinot Gris this is a bottle to change your mind. Nevertheless, Christine’s Gladstone Vineyards Wairarapa 2013 Pinot Noir is also a delightful wine

Christine Gladstone

Christine Kernohan of Gladstone and Jealous Sisters

 

Rockburn Central Otago 2013 Pinot Noir. Red fruit and minerals on the nose, the palate is bombarded with black cherry, gravel, limestone, fresh cut herbs and a hint of mocha. Expressive and expansive on the palate, it was one of my favorites of the day.

 

Rockburn Pinot Noir

 

 

Huia Pinot Gris Marlborough 2013

Aromatic without being as perfumed as sauvignon blanc, this was another pinot gris that made me sit up and take notice. The flavor profile immediately put me at a lawn party in the Hamptons. The wine is elegant and slightly reserved; dry, and delicate in flavor. The finish has notes of stone and sand. Certified biodynamic, a delight in the glass. Winemakers Claire and Mike Allan are doing something right down in the Wairau Valley!

 

Claire Huia

Claire Allan, Winemaker from Huia Vineyards

 

Huis SB

The Huia 2015 Sauvignon Blanc shows the delightful, trademark New Zealand aromatic aromas and a fresh, citrus mouth feel. 

Event 2: USA Trade Tasting, Beverage Trade Network

tasting pic

I went to this USATT brand-new event looking to find what was fun and new, with zero expectations. I met some great people and tasted lots of wines. Some of the wines I found interesting included a range of mid- and top-level wines from Le Cantine, Inc. I enjoyed their dry “Una” Grüner Veltliner, their single vineyard St. Laurent red as well as their RW Blend of zweigelt, blaufrankish and pinot noir grapes. All the wines they showed hail from the Burgenland region of Austria and the Lake Neusiedl microclimate that is key to the quality of fruit grown in the area.

IMG_1935

 

What would springtime be without a Rosé? Rosé par Paris from Domaine de l’Allamande is a grenache/cinsault/rolle/cabernet blend from the Côtes de Provence area. The fruit blend is gentle and fresh, with great limestone minerality. I could have taken a bottle of this and sat outside in the sun for the rest of the afternoon… rose par paris

 

South of the Border! I met Vicente Johnson and Bernardita Court of Trasiego Wines who specialize in importing South American wines from Chile and Argentina. I enjoyed their Mano del Sur line from Chile’s Cachapoal Valley with sauv blanc, pinot noir, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon, as well as their Casas del Toqui line, with gran reserve and terroir series showing beautiful winemaking from Chile that is sure to be a hit in the North American marketplace.

 

Trasiego

Trasiego 2

 

And my last hit from this show, Maple Wine! Technically, can it be called a wine if it’s made from sap and not fruit or grape? Regardless, it IS a tasty treat! Domaine Labranche was showing several unusual maple-based products: semi-sweet maple wine, sparkling maple wine, sparkling cider (8.5% ABV), and dessert ciders. I was really intrigued and impressed by the flavor profiles and think that many of my readers will find these fascinating. I expect to see them gaining in quick popularity, so let me know if you see Domaine Labranche in your local stores!

 

Maple

Event 3: Steve Kimock in Concert at NY’s City Winery.

Since I make my living in entertainment, it would be rare for me to want to attend a concert for “fun” since my industry involvement makes it almost impossible to enjoy. But for this artist, I invited a few friends from the business (who also needed some relaxation and a little wine) and chose a few wines for us to enjoy.

We met our server and began with a tasting of the house “on-tap” pinot and cabs. After which, I selected a bottle of an on-tap Cabernet Sauvignon. It was tasty, but I wanted more. So I asked the somm for the “big” wine list, and off to the races we went.

One of the cool things that City Winery does is partner with musicians to make their own “house” wine. Below, an example of Kimock Wines from City Winery. For a gimmick, it was tasty! If I recall correctly, a syrah-grenache-cab blend.
Kimock Wine

 

Bring out the big guns: Movia’s Veliko Rosso 2007. A Slovenian blend of Cab, Merlot, and Pinot. I was looking for something closer to a blaufrankish to pair with one of the dishes the table shared. It came highly recommended by Sam (our somm for the evening) and delivered through and through.

Movia

 

For us, the star of the evening (apart from the music) was La Ragose ’06 Amarone Della Valpolicella. The wine features beautiful dark fruit up front with great expression, depth, and tons of dark flavors to follow: dried plum, graphite, licorice, wet earth, and granite with a medium finish that kept us raising our glasses until the bottle was drained.

Amarone

 

Event 4: A Private Reading Leads to Wine Cellar Visit

Attending a private reading of a new musical is one type of event, not uncommon in my industry. But it becomes something else entirely when the event host has a stunning wine cellar and can show me a portion of their Red Bordeaux collection, as well as some key bottles to other seriously famous wine lovers who collect Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru (this for another discussion). Before the reading began, I met the host. As we chatted, one oenophile meeting another, shortly after we began discussing wine, he asked me if I’d like to see his wine cellar. (Mic Drop.) 

Like I would ever say no to a cellar visit. My “tween-aged girl at a Justin Bieber Concert” reaction had him leading the way in a fraction of a second.

To me, wine cellars are always fun to visit, but rarely awe-inspiring. I tried to act pretty casual about the thousands of bottles of carefully-stored and categorized bottles, as we walked past them and another room sharing bottles and crates, until I saw things that gave me a “Wile E Coyote reaction”.

giphy

Just look closely at the pictures below and tell me you don’t feel the same way.

 

cellar 6

OWC’s of ’86 Mouton-Rothschild, Pichon de Longueville, Margaux, and La Mission Haut-Brion.

 

cellar 4

A few more OWCs of 1986 Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Margaux. #YouHadMeAtMargaux !

 

cellar 2

OWC’s of 1999 Latour and Palmer. Thirsty yet?   

These three pictures were a tiny portion of one of three rooms in this collector’s cellar. He also explained that he and his brother have an entire warehouse with the bulk of their collections. OOF.

Seriously- take a look, these are unopened OWCs of some stunning wines. When I was done scraping my mouth of the stone floor, I casually mentioned to my host that I was a huge fan of the 1986 Chateau Margaux.  He shocked my by pulling an ’86 from a nearby rack of un-crated bottles, carrying it upstairs where he opened it for me to enjoy, and then gifted me the remainder of the bottle to take home. This kind of gift one does NOT refuse, so I gladly accepted!

 

1986 1st

Had this twice before…long before it was prohibitively expensive for mere mortals.

 

1986 Margaux

Enjoying more of the same in my own home. Premier Grand Cru Classé, anyone? 

 

It has been over a decade since I tasted the 1986, and I was thrilled to have another opportunity to experience this stunning wine. While a Chateau Margaux would be enough for me on any day, the host had other ideas. His pièce de résistance came after the reading. He opened and poured an 1875 Malvasia Madiera- which was simply mind-blowing to all the guests, myself included. Even the non-wine drinkers had a tiny taste of this unbelievable vintage.

Here are pictures of the front and back of the 1875 Madeira bottle.

1875

 

1875 back

 

Tasting notes: A dark rosewood in color, spun sugar and candied citrus on the nose. It was quite heavy in sediment but delightful on the palate with notes of caramel, burnt sugar, fig, and orange peel. After so much time, this wine was still excellent in quality. It was so rare and extravagant, yet I had another whole element: the combination of the 1875 madiera and the 1986 Chateau Margaux… simply amazing.

It made for an unforgettable day, and the day was a delightful finish to a week of serious and wonderful wine pleasure that I will never, ever forget.

 

à votre santé!

 

Chateau Famaey Cahors Malbec

16 Apr

Chateau Famaey Cahors Malbec 2012. 12.5% ABV, $12/bottle.

Color is opaque garnet with purple edging. Nose of black plum, flower cuttings, menthol, and forest floor. In the mouth, dark black fruit, solid acidity, pumice and slate. Medium intensity and finish. A nice entry level Cahors, at an approachable price.

photo

As spring warms up, I grabbed this to pair with late night Mexican and it did not disappoint. I had hoped for complexity and it showed as more singular, which was fine in this context. A fairly-valued vin du table, an easy choice to add to the cellar for strong flavors needing good acidity and dark fruit to match.

à votre santé

Castiglion Del Bosco Brunello Di Montalcino

3 Apr

Castiglion Del Bosco 2010 Brunello Di Montalcino, DOCG, Montalcino, Italy. 14.5%ABV. Found online from $40-60/bottle.

A beautifully feminine expression of Brunello. Dense garnet in color, the perfumed nose offers ripe blueberry, orange rind, vanilla and eucalyptus. On the palate, cassis and black plum are met with lovely acidity and delicate tannins, evolving into a delicate mesh with medium body, a solid structure and some complexity. Secondary notes include mocha, spice box, vanilla, oak, granite, clay, and a wash of sour cherries across the top palate. Aged two years in French oak and another two years in the bottle before release, the winemaker has created a lovely balance that drinks well now and should be near perfect in four years. I paired this with the traditional American grill of salad, steak, broccoli and potatoes, and only wanted to refill my glass and continue enjoying. It required great self-control to stop and write about the wine instead of simply drinking it.

A renowned producer with consistently solid results, I would love to taste this wine vertically.\

Hmmm.

 

Road trip, anyone?

Catiglion Bosco

à votre santé!

 

 

Low Alcohol Wines for the Win! JvBUnCorked on Snooth

29 Mar

Another JvB angle for Snooth.com in their low alcohol wine roundup!
Check our the original article here, with just my content shared here. 

As a precursor, allow me to say this: I love being in a community of great wine writers who all have interesting perspectives! I learn a lot from my fellow oenophiles, and this month I had a bunch of “Yes!” responses when I read their portions, as well as a few “hey, I’ve gotta try that!” reactions. I hope you will too, my friends. What else will you want to know: My suggestion might have the lowest alcohol by volume in our group at a shockingly low 5.5%, but just as importantly, the wine is a delight. I loved the flavor profile both by itself and when paired with Thai, Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese recipes. And check out that cool bottle! I adored the effervescence in this wine, and plan to have more of it in my cellar when I can make some room. Enough- here’s my piece (below), and make sure you reads the whole article (link above) to see the other cool submissions my collaborators suggested! -JvB

Low Alcohol Wines for the Win

stefano d'asti 1

In an age where we calculate and coordinate our gym music playlists with our daily steps and caloric intake, wine is one of life’s greatest pleasure that sometimes gets put on the chopping block, especially when alcohol and calories are all under consideration. So here is my low alcohol solution with a top-level moscato that clocks in at a mere 5.5%ABV. Yes, you read that right, only five-point-five percent alcohol! I Vignaioli di S. Stefano Moscato d’Asti 2014 is a DOCG moscato from the Ceretto winery in Piedmont that is great for both your body and your taste buds. A beautiful color of afternoon sunlight and medium straw, the nose shows effervescence, honesuckle, and orange blossoms. In the mouth, delightful and delicate bubbles give way to ripe pear, clover honey, sweet apple, and tangerine. A single five-ounce glass has only 137 calories, gently sweet yet with enough acidity and bright fruit flavors to cleanse your palate beautifully through an entire meal from appetizer to dessert.

-Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked.wordpress.com

stefano d'asti 2

 

à votre santé!

Beaujolais’ Natural Wine: Pure Grape!

24 Mar

M&C Lapierre à Villié-Morgon 2014(Rhone) Morgon, Beaujolais, France. 12%ABV, $28/bottle from Crush Wine & Spirits.

I used to enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau, until I tasted high end Beaujolais wines. Once you’ve experienced the joy of a beautiful, pure and clean bottle of premiere cru gamay, it’s hard to go back. So when I received an offer for a Lapierre Morgon, I thought about it for a whopping three milliseconds and made a phone call.
photo 1
Here’s the deal: Mathieu Lapierre is a third-generation winemaker working these 60-plus year old vines. I adored his father Marcel’s work, and the wines have only improved since that time. More importantly, the Lapierre Morgon wines are strictly organic and natural- the bottles I have include the “N” classification on the back label, which indicates that there was no added sulfur, no filtration, and that the wines must stay under 14ºC  (that’s 57.4º F). The winemaker goes to extreme lengths to insure the grapes have natural fermentation from indigenous yeast, zero added yeasts. I like to think that Lapierre (and fellow winemakers Jean Foillard & Guy Breton, whose wines are among my favorites from this region) are making Beaujolais the way it was done for thousands of years- in the purest form, little to no interruption of any fashion.

I’ll stop waxing about natural winemaking. So you know: it’s just pure grape juice. Fine, now you know. But is it any good?

Here’s the kicker: it’s not just good, it’s damn good wine.

Color is a classic garnet center with ruby/purple edges. The nose offers up bright raspberry, strawberry, flower stalk trimmings, and hewn gravel. In the mouth: young, crisp, and tart raspberry with bold acidity bathes the palate and holds it tight, tannins gripping the tongue and retaining flavors while a series of mineral notes drill across the back palate, predominantly granite and gravel with schist, limestone, and calcite-heavy clay. Refreshing, bright, and energetic, this is like a shot of sunshine arcing though the clouds to warm your face. Gorgeous, classic cru beaujolais. These wines have great potential to age when stored properly, but rarely last in my cellar for obvious reasons. Quel dommage!

This is a wine to seek out for several reasons: 1) if you like Beaujolais nouveau but want to try a cru and up your game; 2) if you are a fan of organic farming and winemaking; 3) if you’re looking for an old-world, old school wine that is fresh, bright and acidic to tear down a savory dish and leave the palate clean and refreshed and ready for more; or 4) if you simply want to taste the beauty of thousand-year old, traditional winemaking with minimal intrusion. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty of these wines: a single vineyard pinot noir, a great gamay like this Morgon, a Lagrein, a Nebbiolo, or a Blaufrankish.  In each of these I see the potential for singular perfection, bold acidity, and a mineral backbone- a killer wine to complement a great meal. 
photo 2
Try one. You can thank me later.

 

à votre santé!

 

Don’t tell Miles. We’re drinking Merlot!

15 Mar

Château Tour Peyronneau, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, 13%ABV; MSRP $75/Street $27.

 

Color is purple with violet edging. The aromatic, perfumed nose offers plum, cassis, fresh roses, and eucalyptus. Bold black currant, blackberry, and black plum dominate the palate with an excellent balance of acidity and velvety tannins. The mid-palate garners hints of earth, forest floor, dried leaves and clay. Notes of limestone, gravel, and sand on the dry, lengthy finish. Listed and labeled as both organic and biodynamic, the 2012 blend is 95% Merlot, 5% cabernet franc, but from year to year this producer uses as much as 15% cabernet franc for this wine.

It’s worth pointing out for those who don’t know why I made the joke in the title: This isn’t the cheaply made, of questionable quality, slightly sweet California merlot that Miles rants about in the film Sideways. Instead, this is the lovingly-curated, classically balanced and agile French standard that made the merlot grape worthy of respect. And it is delicious and very well made, but designed to pair with food, not really to enjoy purely by itself.

TourPeyronneau

For most decent St.-Émilion wines, I’d expect to pay over $70/bottle. The ones I adore and have enjoyed rarely in my life (Angelus, Pavie, Cheval Blanc) are in the hundreds of dollars. This one strikes in alongside Simard but is a Grand Cru, and has been seen on both Garagiste and Wine Til Sold Out at under $20- a steal for French wine lovers like myself.

I opened this specifically to try with a decadently rich and savory beef short rib dish I was cooking and it ended up being a phenomenal pairing. It also paired nicely over several days with baked chicken, a dutch cheese, and dark salted chocolate. This wine is one more in the category of “I wish I’d bought a case” but too little, too late for me since I was being overly cautious. C’est la vie!

à votre santé!

 

 

 

 

The Beaune Ultimatum

9 Mar

Paul Croses Côte de Nuits-Villages 2011 Grand Vin de Bourgogne; Beaune, France. 13%ABV; $20/bottle from Garagiste.com. 

Color is a translucent and bright ruby with a rose center.  The nose shows cherries with a touch of funk, notes of fresh earth with sandstone. In the mouth the palate is rushed with bright acidity, young red cherries and raspberries with a hint of green vegetation, chalk, marle, limestone and cedar plank. The lengthy finish is surprising with multiple notes across the palate: minerality, young wood, dried fruit, and finally some beautiful floral notes that appear almost as an afterthought. A bright, delightful and young Burgundy that to my mouth feels adolescent yet tastes expensive.

photo

After a few minutes of air and a third sip, the nose has burned off the dark and earthy notes while the bright, fresh fruit remains. This is a classic, finely made burgundy capable of aging and ready for enjoyment or pairing, still at a far-below-market value, when competitive wines are fetching 2.5-5 times the price. If only I had purchased a case and not a few bottles. C’est la vie, more bottles to taste for my readers, no?

Et voilà, this wine has already made me start thinking in French. Malheureusement, il ne pas durera pas longtemps. On y va…

If you adore a delightfully bright and focused Burgundy with great potential to age, snap this up or come over and convince me to put a few planks of salmon on the grill and open my last bottle.

A vôtre santé! 

 

Wineist: Drink Something New!

8 Mar

I’m no stranger to the wine mini-bottle approach, having written about The Tasting Room “A New Model for Tasting: The Mini Bottle” so when Wineist asked me if I’d like to try their model, of course I was interested.

The Wineist concept is that a consumer buys (or is gifted ) monthly (either single, six or 12 month) subscriptions which arrive as a box containing six different mini bottles of wine. The package is compact, cheerful and straightforward, designed for simplicity and cost-effectiveness while providing both an attractive and safe-to-ship packaging. I noticed immediately the use of cute subheadings: “Small in size, big in wines.” Upon opening the box, just below the wines is printed: “Start your wine journey”. As an oenophile, already I found this experience fun, exploratory, and exciting. Were I a neophyte to the wine world, it would be even more so. 

 

wineist box

 

The samples are airline-sized 50ml bottles that pour a 1.75 ounce taste into a wine glass. Accompanying the six samples is a small brochure that offers initial lessons in how to taste and classify your wines, followed by individual details on each sample and winery or winemaker, with a brief description and pairing suggestions.

 

Wineist lineup

 

The goal of this packaging is to engage the consumer while developing their tasting profile over monthly subscriptions from which you can then order full-sized bottles. A different monthly theme is created, obviously designed to expose the consumer to a complete view of the wine world instead of finding their immediate comfort zone.

The package I received had one wine from Germany, two from South Africa, two from Spain, and one from Italy. They are focused on providing new wine tasting experiences to people who most likely have never seen them before- four of these wineries I had never heard of, only one of these I knew well. So yes, a new way to taste wines that are new to you!

wineist paper

 

An interesting aspect is that the bottles are labeled with roman numerals; the taster is encouraged to take notes in the space provided on the newsprint. The consumer won’t be tempted to ignore the details as it becomes key to knowing what wine one is drinking if they want to have more.

 

wineist white

 

Being able to come home from work late a night and find a sample box with six wines surely makes finding new wines easy! Pop a few screw tops, taste a few wines, order a bottle of what you enjoy, and know it will be in your mail in a few days. It offers the customer ease and reduces time constraints with little pressure. On the other hand, unless you share your samples with a friend, the social aspect of tasting is lost, but if that gets the consumer to try several wines from regions that are far outside their comfort range, then why not?

 

wineist rose

 

Wineist is a start-up company based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The business model is reported to function as a way for wineries to get greater exposure to buyers (and increase product demand), while simultaneously allowing consumers the opportunity to taste a wide array of wines with minimal liability and expense, thereby removing the wine-store worries a consumer might have that they will have to buy a 750ml bottle of something they won’t like.

What remains to be seen is how Wineist determines the likes and dislikes of the consumer. In their advertising, they advertise a unique feature of Wineist as “profiling our subscribers” to “analyze their taste in wine based on their feedback and over time create a unique wine DNA” for better, more personal recommendations, similar to having a personal sommelier.

 

The looming business question for customer retention and continued growth is how the wine DNA will be determined for each consumer? Obviously any time that a customer orders a full sized bottle from Wineist will qualify that wine as a “like”, but what about their dislikes? How do they calculate if the consumer prefers warm or cold climate wines, if they prefer South African or Australian Shiraz, or Italian reds from Piedmont instead of Tuscany? If a consumer has a very narrow range of preferences, will Wineist be able to retain them with an appropriate selection, or keep them interested with a worldly view?

If a customer subscribes to a full 12 month set of tastings, one might expect that emailed questionnaires become a key part to finding out that the consumer like samples number 2 and 5 from January and samples 4 and 6 from February, but there is no indication of such a program as of yet.

Regardless, I found the Wineist experience both fun and exciting. If I enjoyed it, many other people will as well, and I would suspect that this business venture has a future.

Wineist provides another exciting way to try wines from around the world with a unique angle. In a Harpers UK article,  Peter Bruner from Wineist was said to have reported that 70% of their then-current consumer base was in the USA, with 15% in the UK. Currently their website has prices listed in Euros, but with more consumers from the West coming aboard, that is likely to change, or become a selectable option if they have a savvy webmaster.

Is this the right tasting model for you? How do you feel about mini bottles of wine as a way to try new wines, wine regions, and winemakers? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, below.

 

à votre santé!

 

#MWWC23

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