Zig Zag Bottle Rack

Zig-Zag Wine Rack

Combine recycled paper, a couple compounds that resist moisture, and wine bottles together and what do you get? The Zig-Zag bottle rack. Wilfried from the Oenoline wine blog sluethed out this innovative, environmentally friendly, affordable wine rack. Retails for 3,90 euros or $4.86 US Dollars per 4 bottle sheet.

The “Zig-Zag” bottle rack has a wave like surface with four V-shaped slots at a 90 degree angle which allows horizontal allocation of bottles of all sizes with a diameter of up to 98 mm. Larger bottles such as Magnums can be slotted on the top of the structure. Made to suit different spaces and a design which allows you to pile different units whilst enlarging and/or changing the desired composition both horizontally or vertically. It adapts to everybody’s needs and to all spaces.

Check it out [Vincon.com]

WTG: 2001 Herb Lamb Vineyards EII Napa Valley Red Wine

Introducing the WTG, or wine tasting graph, (just to mix it up a little). Hopefully, this simple graph gives you a quick reference on the 2001 E II Red Wine.

Tasting Graph
Lets discuss:

EIIEverything about this wine is fantastic, and for around $50, this is a definite value from Napa Valley. The wine is beautiful, smells delicious; with notes of blueberry, chocolate, and coffee, and tastes the same way it smells, with a velvety finish that lingers around 30 seconds. The minor deduction on the finish stems from it’s medium length, and the 2 out of 5 for ageability is because this wine is drinking perfect right now, and it’s only 5 years old. But that’s the way the wine was made; for sipping on the back patio on a peaceful spring evening, with steaks on the grill, flowers blooming in the foreground, Chet Baker in the background, and the chatter of close friends soothing the days cares away.

If you start with 75 points, add in the 21 points here, a score of 96 emerges, which is what I will proudly stamp on this bottle. The only downer is, this was my last 2001, but I’m glad we drank it. I have a feeling we probably couldn’t have enjoyed it much more.

For more information on Herb Lamb Vineyards, read my review on the 2002 vintage of this wine, or visit the website.

Winexpression Episode 1 – Update

I got a ton of feedback from everyone via email about the first show, and just wanted to send a warm thank you for your encouragement, congratulations, and constructive criticism. It was also brought to my attention that some were having problems viewing the file, so I have embedded the Google video version onto the page. I have also made a few more edits, modified sound for clarity, added some scenes I had previously cut, and uploaded a better quality version. Most of the content changes start about halfway through, with the Karl Wente interview.

At this point, this is about as good as it’s going to get. If you haven’t had the time to view the episode yet, I hope it is now easier for you to do so. Just click here then hit play.



News From Other Wine Blogs

Surprisingly, I’m not the only person on this planet with a sweet wine blog. Here’s a few jems from some other wine obsessed geeks.

WBW #21 Announced: Lenn grabs the reigns on this popular virtual tasting event in May, and joins up with Is My Blog Burning, a popular virtual food event, for the Fabulous Favorites Festival (or F3 as I like to call it). Pair your favorite wine with your favorite food, or experiment with a new dish; it’s up to you. This should be the biggest WBW event yet.

Jon Bonne, wine writer for MSNBC.com and fellow blogger, received an email from Shafer Vineyards informing him of their exodus from the Sangiovese business. Is this because quality is lacking in Cal-Ital wines, or a sign that the almighty dollar always rules?

After a short Hiatus (one I take every weekend since I don’t post) Tom at Fermentation offers a Eulogy for the now defunct Carolyn Tilly’s Ultimate California Wine Blog. Her blog was really well done and she will be missed. Other now defunct wine blogs also include www.culturedwino.com, and www.corktease.com.

Doktor Weingolb gets in on the 2005 Bordeaux media circus, and compares a 2005 Château Roquetaillade La Grange with it’s 2004 counterpart. If you aren’t yet a fan of the Doktors in your face, unpretentious writing style, give this one a read, you will be soon.

Eric Asimov, wine writer for the NYT, discusses ratings and tasting notes. It’s plain to see why this guy has the job he does, he covers all the points in a well written post.

Oregon’s Wine Grape Acreage Almost Doubled In Just Over A Decade

From 7,100 acres in 1995, to 14,100 in 2006, Oregon’s grape growing regions are seeing tremendous growth. The primary varietal grown in the state is Pinot Noir at 7,974 acres planted. While the second highest varietal planted in 1995 was Chardonnay, that spot now goes to Pinot Gris, with 1,885 acres in 2006. It appears that Oregon has not only found a great red varietal for the area, but a suitable white as well.

Corks Are Obsolete

So let’s get creative with the old ones that are going to stop piling up in our homes. I’m a little worried about the future of the cork, especially after one of Portugal’s premier wine producers maddened the country by switching to screwcaps.

Hanger with Cork BottomThis attempted pants hanger unfortunately doesn’t work, the corks are to heavy, and when pants are added, it bows in the middle. I guess you could make it work with some sort of reinforcement but that seems like a lot of work.

If you’re in a Martha Stewart mood, make some place holders with your corks, or a bulletin board.

Most Wines Sold Are Still Under $6

A study done by AC Nielson found that the majority of wines purchased are $6 or under:

Between July 2003 and July 2004, this category was responsible for 71 percent of the sales volume. Between February 2005 and February 2006, that market share fell 6 percent.

So, that segment is starting to slip, with growth going to the $15 and over segment instead, which grew by 123% between July 2003 and February 2006. The overall price of a bottle was up to $5.48 from $4.73.

But what does it all mean Basil? Today’s wine consumers are not only drinking more wine, they are willing to pay more for it. Should wineries target the segment with the most growth, or the one with the largest market share that is currently declining? There’s probably a happy medium somewhere in there.

WBW#20 Round-up Posted

Wine Blogging Wednesday LogoBill, over at the Wine for Newbies Podcast, has finished the wrap up of the 20th installment of Wine Blogging Wednesday: Anything but Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. Realizing that it’s a ton of work to post a roundup of more than 50 entries, he cleverly split it into 3 parts (Nice work Bill!):

Wrap Up Part One

Wrap Up Part Two

Wrap Up Part Three

You’ll find notes on Vouvray, Rousanne, Viognier, Semillion, Chenin Blanc, and a ton of obscure white varietals I’ve never heard of. We have a diverse group of bloggers from around the world who pull together their cumulative wine knowledge for this monthly virtual tasting, it’s definitely worth a look.

Episode 1 – Profile – The Livermore Valley Wine Country

The Livermore Valley California (Google Map)

This piece corresponds with this ten minute video on the area produced by Winexpression.

The Livermore ValleyA Rich History
Over a century ago, the Livermore Valley was the countries premier wine region. Robert Livermore came to the area in 1846 and planted the first vineyard in the area with the wealth he accumulated selling hides and tallow in Santa Clara, California. By 1882, over 1000 acres of wine grapes had been planted in the area, and in 1885 that number jumped to 3400. In 1889 Charles Wetmore of Livermore, and Gustave Niebaum from Napa, took wines to Paris for the 1889 International exposition for wine. Wetmore’s Sauternes style white wine won a gold medal, America’s first International gold medal for wine, and the area garnered recognition soon after. Up until prohibition Livermore’s wine business was growing and topped out at 50 wineries, but only two survived through the dry days of prohibition: Wente Vineyards and Concannon. Now, that number has finally grown again, to 34 wineries in early 2006.

The area can be compared to Napa turned on it’s side. The region extends 25 Miles long on an East to West notation and offers a climate similar to Napa, with hot afternoons and cool nights. The rocky soil in the area is similar to that of Bordeaux. There are different compositions throughout varying from deep sandy loam, to lean soil with a lot of gravel and rock, and redclay with rock and gravel. Charles Wetmore’s original site for his winery, Cresta Blanca, now owned by Wente Vineyards, is an extremely rare deposit of white limestone. The first Chardonnay vines in California were planted in Livermore in 1916. Now, about 80% of the Chardonnay vines in the state can trace their genetic roots back to a Livermore clone.

Why Not A Leader?

C.H. Wente, who came to the area in 1883 from Germany, made a marketing agreement with Louis M. Martini in Napa – Wente would produce white wine, and Martini Red. After prohibition, the majority of investors and entrepreneurs took to the increasingly popular Napa and Sonoma Valleys instead of Livermore. Growers still liked the rocky soils and the diverse Microclimates of Livermore, but most grew for quantity not quality, resulting in mediocre wines lacking the body and development of the neighbors to the north. Wineries that have recently purchased grapes from the area hide behind appellation names like “San Francisco Bay,” obfuscating the Livermore name. The region has been looked down upon, and struggles to garner press from the mainstream wine media. A single varietal still hasn’t stood out in the area, and most of the wineries are focused on different wines. But all of the elements are in place for that to change.

The Regions Stars

Steven Kent Winery

The Steven Kent Winery
Steven Kent Mirassou is a sixth generation winemaker from the oldest winemaking family in California, The Mirassou’s, who just celebrated 150 years of making wine in 2004. He and his father Steve created the Steven Kent Winery in 1996 to show the world that Livermore is capable of producing a world class Cabernet. The wineries slogan is “wines for those who know” and seems to be fitting, as it’s Collector’s Circle wine club is currently sold out with a waiting list still filling up. (Those interested in the wines can still sign up for the Future Release program, or purchase wines direct from the winery or website.)

Steven is a focused and engaged winemaker. His passion for his wine, the industry, and the region isn’t hard to miss. The website is simple and to the point with a focus on the wine. He has an amazing, well trained palate, and a poetic way of describing each wine. This isn’t to say he riddles the tasting notes with buzzwords, but offers an honest opinion on each bottle, and the flavors therein. His vineyard management style promotes quality fruit, and he only purchases grapes from growers that meet his strict requirements. New French Oak barrels with medium toast are used for every vintage to add depth of flavor, but also to avoid producing an overly oaked wine. The result? The wines and winery are being noticed and many of the wines are now starting to sell out.

For more information on the winery, visit http://www.stevenkent.com

Wente VineyardsWente Vineyards
Established in 1883, the oldest continuously family owned and operated winery in California has become a major player in Livermore. Often willing to extend help to new winemakers in the area, this winery is focused on good camaraderie in the region. The wines are available in over 100 countries with 20% of production going overseas. On a percentage basis, they are the largest exporter to foreign countries of any United States family owned winery. The winery controls 2000 acres in Livermore and 700 acres in Monterey.

The winery has become a popular destination, with it’s Summer concert series that attracts top talent every year like Boz Scaggs, Chris Isaak, Tony Bennett, and the Gipsy Kings; and with its Greg Norman designed Championship golf course that just hosted a PGA Nationwide Tour tournament. The Restaurant has gained recognition every year from Wine Spectator with a “Best Award of Excellence” and is honored regularly by other publications and journals.

The fifth generation of the family is very involved in the business. Karl Wente, 29, is the winemaker, and has spearheaded the new Nth degree program, a venture aimed at producing high quality, small lot wine. His sister, Christine Wente, has her hands deep in the business as well, serving as Vice President of Marketing, not a small responsibility. They work closely with the forth generation Wente’s, Eric, Philip, and Carolyn. One of Karl’s sayings is to think globally, but act locally, as the winery keeps its success in check. They do this by offering help to new vintners in the area, and by best practices in the vineyard, like sustainable farming.

For more information on Wente Vineyards, visit http://www.wentevineyards.com/

Tenuta VineyardsTenuta
In June of 2000, Ron and Nancy Tenuta invested $5,000,000 to purchase a 5,000 square foot home and build a 16,000 square foot winery in South Livermore. The winery is capable of producing 12,000 cases, but they only make 2-3,000 cases a year of their own wine, with the rest of their production for clients of their custom crush operation. Residents in the area that have vineyards on their property don’t always have the resources to produce wine. Tenuta fills that need with their facility, and the winemaking skills of Kirstin Nolte. Customers only have to handle the sales of their finished product and a few decisions along the way.

Kirstin came to Livermore by chance from South Africa, when her husband’s job moved them to Silicon Valley. With a different approach to the area than some of the other wineries that have been here for years, Kirstin is willing to experiment with different varietals, and wants to raise the quality of fruit available from growers. With a recent addition to the family, a love of art, and a demanding job, she has a very busy schedule, but that doesn’t stop her from making good wine.

For more information on Tenuta Vineyards, visit http://www.tenutavineyards.com/

Through the efforts of these and other wineries in the area that are focused on quality, Livermore finally has some nice wines to offer consumers. This is a wine region where most tasting rooms still don’t charge a fee, and where the owners or winemakers are the ones pouring the wines. You can find more information on the wineries of Livermore at http://www.livermorewine.com the website run by the Livermore Valley Winery Association (LVWA).

Full Disclaimer: I am not a club member at any winery, nor will I benefit from the sales of any of these wines profiled.

Update: Kirstin Nolte is no longer at Tenuta, and is consulting on high end wine for Deer Ridge Vineyards. Currently she sells art through her website, Art by Kiki.

Winexpression Episode 1

Video No Longer Available.

The premier episode of the Winexpression vidcast highlights the Livermore Valley Wine Country in California, and three winemakers from the area; Steven Mirassou from the Steven Kent Winery, Karl Wente from Wente Family Estates, and Kirstin Nolte from Tenuta Vineyards. This 10:33 minute video will explore the focus of these winemakers and their vision for the future. Click here for more information on the area, and the wineries profiled in this episode.