Archive for month: March, 2013

The Evolution of Wine Recommendations

25 Mar
March 25, 2013

I’ve mentioned that by day, I work in word-of-mouth and social media marketing at Zocalo Group in Chicago. We specialize in making our clients the most talked about,  recommended and chosen brands in their categories. The idea behind this ties closely to my interests with wine, knowing that scores tend to be the ultimate form of a recommendation. I recently wrote a blog post about how wine recommendations are evolving, as well as the role wine bloggers play for the emerging Millennial market.

Here’s an excerpt from my post:

“Through [blogging], I’ve observed a fascinating, ongoing (and sometimes polarizing) discussion over the way wine is talked about, recommended and chosen. For the past 40 years, wine critic and founder of The Wine Advocate, Robert Parker, has helped to shape and define what success looks like for Napa Valley wineries. But, let’s face it, every individual has their own taste preferences and an entire industry has revolved around appealing to one person’s palate.

Today, there is a proliferation of bloggers sharing about wine, each in their own way… However, do wineries even care when we give a positive recommendation, since they can’t create more of their small-production wines to sell? A fellow blogger, who did not disclose he was such, recently told me he was talking about Yelp with a winery host during a tasting in Napa. Her closing comment was that, “there’s only one thing worse than a Yelper – and that’s a wine blogger.” What?! Could this be why’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry has featured only one blogger/online personality in the top 20? We have to consider that the Baby Boomers who brought much of the buying power (and were swayed by scores like Parker’s) have begun to be replaced by younger, socially-driven drinkers and Millennials, who are seeking high-quality wines at a much, much lower price point.

My advice to bloggers, critics of bloggers and to wineries would be to embrace the evolving landscape. Socially-minded drinkers are only going to grow and our sites are likely the places they’ll go for recommendations. Why should any one person, score or method limit the way we think about wine?”

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A Special Look at Buccella Wines’ 2010 Releases

10 Mar
March 10, 2013

Over the past year, Buccella has grown to become one of my favorite wine producers in Napa Valley. As a premium, small-production boutique winery, Buccella is largely known for its bold reds. Back in November, I wrote about my amazing experience drinking Buccella’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and noted that I’d love to be able to try the Merlot after several of my Twitter followers suggested it was equally impressive. I was thrilled to learn that I’d be able to do just that on my recent trip to Napa Valley.

Buccella WinesBuccella

Winemaker Rebekah Wineburg, along with owners Bill and Alicia Deem, welcomed us for an intimate tasting of their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cuvée Katrina Eileen. (Click each to read tasting notes.) As expected, we were blown away by all three wines, but I was particularly taken by the Cuvée, which is named after the couple’s first daughter. This shouldn’t have been very surprising to me because I am on a 100% Cabernet kick and this wine is made from perfectly-ripened fruit from Yountville and Coombsville vineyards. I actually hadn’t known it existed until we visited. Then, I would say, we all bonded over the Merlot. It’s not often we meet or drink with people who appreciate this varietal as much as we do. They say that even though some people have questioned their decision to make a Merlot, they do it because they like drinking it so much. And, we’re oh, so glad.

I couldn’t help but ask whether or not their youngest daughter, Tessa, would also have a wine named after her one day. I learned that Tessa actually means “harvest,” which was fitting for her fall 2009 harvest birth. To commemorate this, they created a special barrel of a blend of wines made from grapes harvested on her birthday. They offered 5 cases of this wine at the Napa Valley Vintners Premiere Napa Valley Auction in 2010 and it sold for $46,000! Buccella has continued to make this special barrel every year from grapes harvested on her birthday. Other than the Premiere Auction, the Tessa Blend has never been bottled to sell. Read more →