Georis Winery 5th Annual Wine Club Event, Carmel Valley

Georis WineryEver since 2003, the middle of September brings a certain feeling of excitement to my mind.  It brings to mind dusty, hot vineyards, absolutely full of virtually mature grapes. It brings thoughts of BBQ, zydeco music and twisting mountain roads.  Walter and Syliva Georis welcome the middle of this month each year with their annual Georis Winery Club Event, celebrating the harvest.

This vintage’s party was last weekend 09/13/08, high in the Cachagua Valley at the Estate vineyards and winery within the Carmel Valley appellation. Under the vineyardsThat morning Daniel, Christine, Beth and I all piled into Steve’s car and headed off South towards wine and various predicted shenanigans. Beth and I have made all but one of the previous years’ parties, indeed, I wrote about last year at my old personal blog on my MySpace. This year’s party proved to be just as much fun as the last one!

We accidentally arrived a little early, mistaking the start time by an hour, but things were already starting up and we got our first glass of wine, the crisp 2007 Cowgirl White made from Monterey County Chardonnay.  Georis WineryThis is a zesty and refreshing style of this variety and was a perfect start to the event, with it’s mild sea breeze and high 70 degree weather.  I got a chance to chat a little with Damien Georis, the Georis winemaker during this early downtime (no relation, incredibly). Damien also makes his own wine, the alluring Madeleine, a chameleon wine whose composition changes with each vintage.  The latest vintage is still unreleased and is the ’06, a blend of Cab and Syrah.

Georis WineryAs the day wore on the happy, imbibing crowd of wine club members grew and enjoyed the chicken BBQ and various side dishes under the oak trees.  The Cachagua Playboys kept a lively musical set flowing throughout our time there, with various folk, rock and blues covers and zydeco tracks from their own release, Surf Zydeco.  At this point most of us had moved onto the latest vintage of the wine that first got Beth and I into dry rosé, the ’07 Georis Carmel Valley Carmelo Rosato.  Georis WineryThe varietal composition changes each year and this year’s wine was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has that lovely mix of juicy strawberry, light citrus and floral notes that originally made me fall in love with this wine. My favorite rosé of all remains the Georis Carmel Valley Les Abeilles, which has proven to be a tremendous effort towards a Provençal-style rosé during its first two vintages.

Georis WineryAs we settled into lunch, I made my way into the third wine that was offered, this time the wine that first led me to understand Merlot back at our first visit to Georis in 2000, the Estate Merlot.  Damien and friends were pouring the ’03 Carmel Valley Estate Merlot that day and it paired nicely with our lunch. After lunch we decided to skip the winery and vineyard tours, led by Walter, as usual (but both are highly recommended in the future if you have yet to attend this event!).  We did our own exploring and basically just relaxed amongst good friends both that included ourselves as well as others that we see there every year (hi Nate & Kelly!).

One item remained on my list for the day however, which was to taste the new wine that was being released that day solely to the wine club members, the ’05 Georis Carmel Valley Deux Frères Estate Merlot.  The vines for this wine were planted in 1996 by the two sons, Max and Klaus.  Georis WineryTheir first wine was produced in 2000 and this year is the first year that the family has decided to release any to the public, a mere 10 cases worth of wine, or less than half a barrel.  The wine was intensely aromatic already, with big structure and plenty of dark anise at this early stage.  I loved it and bought two bottles in my cache that we picked up after we made it back down the mountain to the tasting room in Carmel Valley (after Steve’s Wild Ride).

Myself and Walter GeorisTragically, the day was winding down, but I was reluctant to leave without my yearly photo with Walter.  We said our goodbyes to Walter, Damien, Padi, Jessica, Nate and Kelly and headied back to the tasting room. We finished the daylight with some ’06 Georis Petites Vignes at Carmel Beach and a down-home dinner at the Hog’s Breath.  Yum.

Please see below for my full reviews of the wines we enjoyed that day and evening in Carmel.  All of these wines are tagged with “5thGeorisWCE2008” if you would like to list these wines in your own WineLog.  Enjoy!

Poured by the glass at the winery & vineyards:

Georis Monterey County Cowgirl White 2007

Georis Carmel Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Carmelo Rosato 2007

Georis Winery Carmel Valley Estate Merlot 2003

Tasted at the winery & vineyards:

Georis Carmel Valley Deux Frères Estate Merlot 2005

Drank at Carmel Beach for the (cloudy) sunset:

Georis Carmel Valley Petites Vignes Merlot 2006

Another Wine Luminary Passes: Didier Dagueneau

Didier DagueneauKnown as the “wild man of the Loire,” Didier Dagueneau made some of the most unusual and exceptional Sauvignon Blanc-based wines from his estate in Saint-Andelain, in the Dordogne of the Loire Valley, France.  Dagueneau passed away after a microlite plane accident at the age of 52.

Always ecentric and in later years, considered more of a hermetic luminary, he consistently produced absolutely stunning wines and he will be sorely missed.

White WineDidier Dagueneau Fume de Pouilly 2004

Sources: Walla Walla Wine Woman; Oliver Sytles, Decanter.com

Excited: North American Wine Bloggers Conference

I’m very excited to announce that I will be attending the very first North American Wine Bloggers Conference when it hits in October in Sonoma County.  Wine Bloggers ConferenceMany of the wine bloggers that you may follow and that are nicely listed by Catavino at WineBlogger.info will be attending. Fast-growing wine biz networking site OpenWine Consortium and global (wine) adventure company Zephyr Wine Adventures are organizing the conference right on the heels of the very successful first European Wine Bloggers Conference that took place earlier this month. The conference hits town October 24-26.  A very big thanks goes out to Jason and Kim of WineLog for giving me the opportunity to attend!

The conference will be located at the Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa in Santa Rosa.  While there are no longer discounted rooms available, the resort does have other rooms available, as do many hotels within walking distance (as of the posting of this article).

The Agenda for the conference is chock full of wine-related activities such as multiple tastings and live-blogging segments, vineyard tours by their managers and owners and dinners hosted by Wine 2.0 luminaries such as Gary Vaynerchuck of Wine Library TV.  There are also many educational and informative breakout sessions, such as the blogger ethics panel.

So register and come out to Sonoma just in time for the end of harvest!  I’m personally looking forward to some wine education and mayhem with Vinquire, WineQ, Winehiker and Wannabe Wino.  I’ll be blogging live throughout the conference and uploading wine reviews as quickly as possible to my WineLog. Join us!

WineQ.com: Your New Favorite Wine Club

WineQ.comI’ve always had a tough time with wine clubs over the years. On the one hand, there are so few wineries whose wines are so in tune with my palate and the styles that I like, that I don’t find it worthwhile to join their club and be forced into some wines that I don’t absolutely love.  I’ve also joined many a wine club at a winery whose stable of vino changes over the years, so much so that I quit due to the change in my palate or their winemaker’s.

On the other hand, once I find that match, I love the convenience and thrill of getting that box of wine in the mail at my day job and knowing that I’ve just received some great wine that I’m going to be slurping in the future.  That match occurs pretty rarely, more so as I expand my palate…there’s also the issue of boredom, in that you receive so many wines this way that you don’t get the chance to go out and shop for new wines that you’ve never tried.

One new wine site has changed that equation. WineQ.com has managed to come up with one of those ideas where you just have to hit your head and say “ACK!  Why didn’t I think of that (and implement it really well)!?!”

While there are many non-winery specific wine clubs out there (and many that push dubious wines), Marshall Sontag (Twitter) and Brittany L. Dean (Twitter) the couple team behind WineQ have come up with a great hybrid wine club that focuses on the consumer and the wineries, in tandem.

Right from the start, there are 3 main things that you need to know to really appreciate WineQ.com (besides their neat blog!):

1. You queue up the wines that you want to drink from 25+ different wineries and place them in your WineQ (much like Netflix).

2. You choose the order size and frequency.

3. Shipping is free with any order over $35 dollars.

While there is a $4.95 membership fee with every order (after the first 3 free months), you’re saving much more than that with the free shipping (particularly by the case) and you also decide how often you pay that fee based on the frequency of shipments that you choose.

WineQ also has a lot of great social networking functions (such as the ability to form your own wine club and attract members) and is continuing to add more functionality to their site.  There are currently wines available from 25 different wineries, many of whom are small boutique wineries and/or produce wines made from organic fruit. The wineries get a pretty good bargain out of the deal as well, with the limited risk that comes with working with WineQ.com and the ability to get instant feedback & buzz on the wines that they sell to the directly from engaged WineQers.

Twisted Oak/WineQI’ve gotten quite a few shipments from my WineQ (Twitter) already and most of those reviews are listed below (I haven’t had a chance to drink my latest ones. Yay more wine!).  One of my favorite wines that I’ve Q’d up is the ’06 Twisted Oak Alta Mesa Silvaspoons Vineyard Verdelho. It’s a wonderful expression of that Portuguese varietal and rather rare domestically, much less available from a single vineyard.  I first tasted it from El Jefe himself, at the WineTwo Spring Fling.  An outstanding substitute (or even replacement) for Sauvignon Blanc, with some outstanding zingy citrus and tropical fruit, including canteloupe.

Also, look for further integration between WineLog.net and WineQ.com in the future; we’re continuing to expand collaboration with our respective wine-related social networking fun factors!

Feel free to click on the links to the reviews of my WineQ orders below.  They are also reposted on my Q Feed on my WineQ profile.  All of these wines are tagged with “WineQ” for listing in your own WineLog. Enjoy!

Ceja Napa Valley Vino de Casa White 2006

Escafeld San Antonio Valley Petit Verdot 2004

Jeriko Estate Mendocino Estate Chardonnay 2005

Ceja Sonoma Coast Bella Rosa 2007

Ceja Sonoma Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Bonneau Los Carneros Catherine’s Vineyard Estate Chardonnay 2004

Twisted Oak Alta Mesa Silvaspoons Vineyard Verdelho 2006

Lava Cap El Dorado County Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Deerfield Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Deerfield Ranch Sonoma County Red Rex 2004

Ceja Napa Valley Vino de Casa Red 2005