Crushpad enfuse(box)ed Blending and TTL OTBN!

Crushpad WineryOK.  So…what the heck is all that stuff in the title??  Don’t worry…all shall be revealed by me, your wine geeky host!  I joined a group of 8 wine enthusiasts at the kind behest of Luscious Lush Thea (Twitter) at Crushpad (Twitter) last Saturday for a custom wine blending session, replete with winemaker Tom Leaf.  Following this event we had the latest  Twitter Taste Live: Open That Bottle Night.

Fusebox (Crushpad)The afternoon tasting session was actually a hosted session of Crushpad‘s very innovative and dynamic fusebox custom wine blending kit/game.  Basically, you get 5 bottles of premium 2006 Napa Valley single-varietal Bordeaux wines and learn the tasting profiles of each of those wines; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.  You then have tasting cards that five the percentages of famous Meritage blends from Napa Valley, such as the Wine Spectator #1 wine of the year for 2005, the ’02 Joseph Phelps Insignia (78%CS, 14%Me, 7%PV, 1%Ma). You also get an informative manual to lead the tastings and a large tasting placemat where you can write down your notes on all of the individual wines and blends that taste, whether from the tasting cards, or custom blends that you come up with on your own.  The kit retails for $120 at the website or on Crushpad’s own store and comes with all the components one needs to blend, including a graduated cylinder (flashbacks of my dayjob) and multiple pipettes for measuring each wine.

'97 Opus One'94 DominusWe first started with the ’97 Opus One (82%CS, 6%Me, 1%PV, 5%Ma, 8% CF).  While this was tasty and as I put it succinctly, “good to great,”  I thought that we could do better, with more subtle oak and a better nose.  We tried 3 historical blends in all, with my favorite being the ’94 Dominus (70%CS, 12%Me, 4%PV, 14% CF).  This one had a dark garnet core color with brick edges.  The nose was black fruit with some meatier charred earth and truffle.  The mouth was very silky with more black fruit paired with black cherry and some dried herbs heading into the sensual finish.  Yum.

Then we embarked on our custom blends, where we tried 4 before sharing it with the other half of the table.  Number 4 was the winner with dark garnet hues and a ruby edges that showed big cherry and rhubarb on the nose with some meaty aromas.  The mouth had a good strong grip and more complex black and red fruit with fresh garden herbs, followed by a long black cherry finish.

Fusebox (Crushpad)Like many good things, such as a bottle of wine, all good things must end and we had to leave Crushpad and head off on our way to Thea’s house in order to join  Twitter Taste Live: Open That Bottle Night!  I found the whole experience to be incredibly enlightening and informative about what might go into blending a wine, as well as just general wine knowledge.  Newbie’s and experience enthusasiasts, such as ourselves, might all learn a large amount about wine in a very concentrated and easily retained way…by doing it!

We bid a very thankful goodbye to Tom for leading our blending session and the whole posse agreed to reconvene at Thea’s.  I rode with Thea, Brix Chick Liza (Twitter) and Alex from founders Marshall (Twitter) and Brittany (Twitter) followed in their own ride.

Twitter Taste Live was founded by Craig Drollett (Twitter) founder and proprietor of Bin Ends WineI’ve participated in a previous TTL with the same suspects earlier last year, and had a blast.  Basically, Twitter (Follow me!) “Tweeps” around the US and the world get online at the same time to taste a similar, if not identical, batch of wines and discuss, in 140 characters or less.  There’s always a theme and this time it was in conjunction with the 10th Annual Open That Bottle Night, originally founded by the wine team of the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher.  If there’s a bottle that you’ve just never opened because it wasn’t the best “special occasion,” well this was the night for that bottle!

Wilson DanielsAll of the wines were provided by Bin Ends Wine and the gang at Wilson Daniels (Twitter), who provided samples to Thea for us to try that night.  I also brought a special bottle that I recently received as a sample myself, the highly anticipated ’04 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cab, kindly provided by Craig Camp (Twitter), now at Cornerstone.  I won’t get into the impact that TTL has on the wine industry nor the wines, as others have done a great job doing that already, (thanks Joe/1WineDude!).  I’ll just leap right into the wines, instead!

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Alsace Les Charmes Kritt Pinot Blanc 2005 First up on the list was the two whites, the ’05 Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Pinot Blanc and the Domaine Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté.  I personally would have swapped the order of these two, because I found the Pinot Blanc to be a superior wine, as well as much fuller than the Aligoté.  Regardless, I did like both, with the Pinot Blanc pulling out as the winner, filled with aromas of honeysuckle and pear and a mouth that was a wonderful mix of crisp acidity and cream, with juicy pear there, too.

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Costières de Nîmes Valée du Rhône Perrières 2005Next up were the two reds, the Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Costières de Nîmes Valée du Rhône Perrières 2005 and the Tenuta di Biserno Toscana Insoglio del Cinghiale 2006. I was not that fond of the second wine, the Biserno Toscana (too much oak for me), so I’ll focus on teh Kreydenweiss red.  This I found to be quite tasty and doing a lot with the “GSC” Rhône blend. It showed good red and blue fruit on the nose, alongside meaty new leather.  The mouth was medium-full with very bright fruit and good smooth tannins and showed great overall balance…very good QPR here!

Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 The last wine of the evening was the aforementioned ’04 Cornerstone Howell Mt. Cab.  This one we figured, needed some decanting, so it sat for (unfortunately, only) about 30 minutes in the decanter prior to the glass.  This is a monster of a wine, yet still shows many good signs of future integration.  The oak is lush and a bit dominant right now, which is typically not my thing.  The depths of complex and multi-colored fruit however, alongside the rounding tannins and charred savory notes make me think that this will be a rather phenomenal wine in about 5 more years, lasting well into its 20’s.  I can’t wait to try this sucker once it gets some more age on it, when that mountain fruit really meshes with the structure!

All of the wines that we tasted out the fusebox kit and Twitter Taste Live: Open That Bottle Night are listed below.  If you would like to list these wines in your own WineLog, they are tagged with the terms above the two sections.  If you’ve played/used fusebox, please leave a comment about your experience with this great party game. Enjoy!

Wines tasted during Crushpad‘s fusebox: “fusebox

fusebox Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

fusebox Napa Valley Merlot 2006

fusebox Napa Valley Petit Verdot 2006

fusebox Napa Valley Malbec 2006

fusebox Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2006

Wines tasted during Twitter Taste Live: “TTL“, “TTL-OTBN” &

Open That Bottle Night: “OTBN“, “OTBN2009

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Alsace Les Charmes Kritt Pinot Blanc 2005

Domaine Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté 2006

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss Costières de Nîmes Valée du Rhône Perrières 2005

Tenuta di Biserno Toscana Insoglio del Cinghiale 2006

Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Livermore Valley Cellars Livermore Valley Caboose Zinfandel 2006

Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo

View posts by Vinopanion: Ward Kadel - @drXeNo
Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, former West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for and former Le Wine Buff for (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. Check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Like #Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.

1 Comment

  1. 1WineDude
    March 3, 2009

    Thanks, bro!

    Damn, you brought out some BIG guns for OTBN!

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