Twitter Tasting With Karl Wente

Yesterday, we participated in a Twitter Tasting with Karl Wente of Wente Vineyards. No, we are not twits! Pull That Cork (@pullthatcork) was contacted by a San Francisco marketing firm and invited to participate in an online Twitter tasting of wines from the Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California. We received 5 wines to taste. We were unsure just how the tasting would work, but it turned out to be easy and it was lots of fun. Pete had the laptop with the video of Karl Wente and Kristin Namimoto, I had the iPad and Dave was here with his iPad. I should have taken a picture of all the technology along with 5 open bottles of wines.

Kristin and Karl introduced the wines and Wente Vineyards with a bit of history about the family, winery and Karl’s personal history. It was his birthday – Happy Birthday Karl.

Karl introduced each wine by describing the blend of grapes, his wine making philosophy and specific goals for each wine. It was interesting to hear the detail a wine maker can provide. While Karl told us about the wine we were tasting with him we, and other bloggers, made comments and asked questions via tweets. On their end was a woman who passed on the comments and questions to Karl. I’ll have to say this is a great format. It’s almost like a private wine tasting with the wine maker. Great fun!

First up was the 2009 Tamas Estate Pinot Grigio – This viscous, light yellow wine had a minimal floral nose but had lots of flavors. Citrus, mineral notes and orange blossom flavors with a round mouth feel and a bit of residual sugar made this a very pleasing white wine. In addition to Pinot Grigio it contains Viognier, Chardonnay and a bit of Orange Muscat. The blend varies every year. The combination of varietals lends a complexity of flavor and the viscous mouth feel was very pleasing. This wine had plenty of acid and a clean finish. It is a good choice for summer and will pair well with spicy food, cheese or drink well just by itself. The price point is excellent at $9.99 and the alcohol level is low at 13%.

Next we tasted the 2010 Tamas Sangiovese Rosato – The color was a lovely light strawberry. The nose had a hint of strawberry and hay. Berry flavors, good acid and a light mouth feel make this a pleasant glass of wine. This 100% Sangiovese rose is not overly complex or flavorful, but it has a bit of tannins to make it interesting. Only 300 cases of this wine was made. It is a pleasant light warm weather wine that would pair with a variety of food. The price point at $18.99 is fair and the alcohol is only 12.9%. This wine is available in the tasting room only, no national distribution is available. If you’re at the winery give it a taste. It can’t compare to a South of France rose, but it was pleasant enough and not too sweet, not to mention much less expensive. Karl described a pizza recipe featured in his aunt’s cookbook as a good pairing and it certainly sounded good to all of us.

2008 Tamas Estate Double Decker Red – This is only the second vintage of this Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Barbera blend. Once again, the blend varies every year so that Karl can produce the particular flavor profile he desires. This dark ruby colored wine smells very young with strawberry and blackberry on the nose. The flavors tasted of bright red fruit and spice with moderate tannins and good acid. This wine is not overly complex, but very pleasant. And, it tasted really good the next day. We pumped and corked the bottle overnight. I actually liked the flavor the next day better than just after it was opened. Go figure!

2008 Murrieta’s Well “the Spur” – This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. This wine is a real mutt, but in a good way! Karl blends these varietals to fill in the flavor gaps and add structure, tannins and acid. This wine had a ripe rich dark fruit nose. The flavors were ripe dark fruit with moderate tannins and good acid. This wine is a bit on the ripe side for my taste, but I think most people would really like it. Pete liked it more than the Double Decker Red.

2008 Murrieta’s Well Anniversary Blend – This Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo blend has the most amazing nose. Smoke and rubber tire make me think of Left Bank Bordeaux. I love that scent. The flavors were rich and filled with complex dark fruit. The tannins are significant and the acid well balanced. This wine is flavorful, but not overly ripe. It is a great food wine and would pair nicely with steak or lamb. While it isn’t inexpensive at $55 I recommend this wine for a special occasion (anniversary?).

This was a really interesting wine tasting. All except the Murrieta’s Well are screw caps. These wines are produced to appeal to a wide wine market and to be drunk young. Karl opined that some of the reds would be good in 20 plus years. The thought of keeping a screw cap wine that long just hasn’t sunk in for me yet. Although, maybe it will be pretty much the same in 20 years.

The Twitter format of sharing information worked really well. It was fun to be tasting wines together and hearing everyone’s comments. It was a bit challenging for Kristin to keep up with the tweets at times. I do hope we have the opportunity to participate in another wine tasting using this format. It was great to be able to taste and share via technology!

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