Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
January 26, 2015 | Mark Aselstine

GSM Blends in California

A short intro to GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre) blends in California. Why they're more important than you probably think:

Hi guys. Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures.

First, happy Monday. Secondly, I hope everybody on the East Coast, especially in New York City, is going to survive what everyone seems to be calling The Storm of the Century.

Wine club shipments have been delayed a couple days. They're going to go out in the next day or two, especially if you're on the East Coast. I didn't want the wine sitting somewhere in the Midwest or on the East Coast where it was going to show up to you like a wine Popsicle, so we avoided that. The wine will go out today or tomorrow.

In any case I did want to take a couple minutes then to talk about something that I see happening more and more within the wine industry. When you look at kind of traditional France, Bordeaux and Burgundy you see single varietal wines, or at least in parts of Bordeaux it's like that. Burgundy, especially with Pinot Noir, it's like that. Napa has kind of made a name for itself with both kind of single vineyard or single source Chardonnay, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon. But there's this whole wider wine industry that's starting to turn more toward blends and there's a couple reasons for that. First, if you don't own your own vineyard you're constantly sourcing stuff from multiple vineyards. It's a heck of a lot easier to have more of a consistent style if you're sourcing from multiple vineyards and blending it together yourself as opposed to sourcing a single vineyard and saying, you know, we've got this great example of a cool climate Russian River Valley Saralee's Vineyard Grenache, only to see Saralee's Vineyard then sell the Grenache to a larger winery after you've done it for a few years and you're basically stuck at zero. We saw that happen to a few folks that we know pretty well.

In any case one of the natural offshoots, if you can't own a vineyard in Napa or Sonoma and you are left a little bit more on the periphery of the wine industry, you may find yourself growing Rhone varietals. As we've talked about numerous times, in this space at least, Syrah is a difficult sell in California and elsewhere, so you're probably looking at a GSM blend as a way to present your label, your style, and get the wine out there without having to fight the whole consumer sentiment that "I don't like Syrah." Here's a couple great examples. First [inaudible 00:02:07] this is a GSM blend from down in Paso Robles. According to the bottom of the bottle 48% Grenache, 29% Syrah, 2% Mourvedre. The Mourvedre, if you're familiar, it's traditionally a blending grape in the Rhone. It's used the same way here in California. In essence the wine maker puts that in for only one purpose so it is a little chalky and it's thick and syrupy, but more than anything else the biggest thing about Mourvedre is that it's dark purple in color. It's one of the darkest, non-black skin grapes that you're going to find. That's why they use it, because it darkens everything up a little bit. Fore Family Vineyards, it's another good example of the GSM. I don't think they even have the percentages here listed, which is something that frankly I don't mind. If you're saying it's a GSM then it just kind of is what it is, whatever the percentage is. It can change from year to year. Fore Family is based up in Lake County. It's kind of one of the preeminent growers up there in Lake County. I think they're, kind of, other than an estate wine program that's starting to take steps forward that kind of commensurate with the quality of wines that are being produced by others with their fruit. I think that's what you're starting to see. If you're a wine region on the periphery of what thought of as the classic wine regions in California and also in France, [inaudible 00:03:29] France in Languedoc where they've kind of adopted GSM blends as one of the things that they do, and they do quite well. You're going to see that continuing more and more. I would be frankly quite surprised if there wasn't another ... there's this whole other 46 movement and that's the wine producing states in the United States that in essence are not California, Oregon, Washington, the three we cover, and not New York because you have New York City and you don't have to try very hard. I'd be surprised if one or two of those didn't focus on Syrah or at least on GSM to try to see what they could get in the market place with it. These are kind of bold, intense wines and that's something that people are gravitating toward. If you look at the success of Cabernet in the market place you can see why somebody would think well if Cabernet does so well and Syrah does so poorly, maybe we can blend to something and get it closer to Cabernet, even if I don't have grapes from a Cabernet vineyard that would lead itself to $125 wine.

In any case, Mark Aselstine, Uncorked Ventures. I hope everybody is staying warm. I almost hesitate to admit that we're sitting at close to 70 degrees here in the Bay Area and everybody is feeling quite good about that.

Hope everybody is doing well. Thanks again.

Mark Aselstine
January 18, 2015 | Mark Aselstine

January 2015 Wine Club Shipments

Just a really brief update that we'll be shipping January 2015 wine club shipments over the next 3-4 days. Looking at the weather forecast, it appears there is a pretty good set of weather being predicted for the next week to ten days, so we'll have all January shipments out during that time frame.

Please note, with the holiday things may take slightly longer than usual to get to the east coast, so we'll find a nice warm section of the country to have your package spend the weekend.

If you have questions about an upcoming, or even a past shipment, please don't hestitate to drop us an email.

Staff Writer
January 18, 2015 | Staff Writer

Simple Sangria: Recipe & Information

There are not many versatile ways to drink a bottle of wine, you simply open the bottle and pour it into your glass. It’s a fuss free drink. Every once in a while it’s fun to try and spice things up a bit.

A fabulous alternative method for drinking wine is to use it in conjunction with fresh fruit and club soda. This concoction is called Sangria. Even though the origins of this fruity cocktail is not native to the United States, doesn’t make us love it any less. While it is possible to purchase a pre-made version of this drink, it can easily be made at home with a few easy steps. The process is so easy, that it may become your new go-to party drink.

The original Sangria’s were made with the use of red wines, and this is perhaps still the most common ways it’s made. However, this is not the only way that you can make this beverage. Feel free to use any wine that you may have on hand or that you are interested in trying. The best aspect of making Sangria is that it’s completely customizable. It’s a simple recipe that you can continuously tweak until you find the combination that blows you away.

A quick Google search will bring up a slew of easy recipes to use, but that basis for all Sangria is as follows: -bottle of wine -fresh fruit of your choice -sparkling water, club soda or tonic water - sugar (optional to taste) -liquor (such as brandy, optional)

The process of making the drink is as easy as gathering the necessary ingredients. To begin, you will need to chop your fruit and add it to the empty pitcher. Next, add the wine. If you choose add in the optional liquor at this point too. Stir it well to ensure that everything is mixed evenly. At this point it is common to do a taste test, completely normal; you’re creating a masterpiece so why not get a quick glimpse of your hard work. While it is okay to taste it now, understand that the end result will differ greatly. Cover and refrigerate. It’s best if you let the blend sit and marinate overnight, if possible. When you do this it allows the fruit to absorb the flavors of the wine.

When ready, pour in the club soda or sparkling water and stir. Add sugar if needed, but the sugars from the fruit should be enough to sweeten up this lively cocktail. Sip and enjoy. You will need to add an additional bottle of wine or an extra cup or two of the other ingredients depending upon how many people you are serving. Regardless of the crowd size, whether you’re solo or serving 24, the Sangria is sure to please. It’s a great way to enjoy a nice glass of wine. When you’re done, don’t forget to eat the fruit that will be left at the bottom of your glass. Eat it and savor the wine infused flavors. As delicious as this drink is, it’s easy to get caught up and have another one or two to follow. Just remember to please drink responsibly.

(Editor's Note: Yes, it's a bit different for us here at Uncorked Ventures, but we have considered a party pack type of gift basket in the past, so why not consider Sangria? We hope you enjoyed a slightly different and hopefully fun, article)

Staff Writer
January 17, 2015 | Staff Writer

Learning the Basics of Wine

Why do we drink wine?

Is it simply because we like the dry taste of the warm Merlot, or the sweet tingle of the Moscato? Could it be because movies and T.V. shows romanticize wine, that we feel like we want to follow suit?

While many of us drink it for taste alone, we would be remiss to say that we didn’t enjoy the pleasant sense of relaxation that we feel after a glass. The depiction in movies and shows couldn’t be more accurate. You usually see someone opening a bottle after a long day at work or alongside a candlelight dinner. A small glass of wine can indeed help you to relax. Just savoring the taste alone and concentrating on what you inhale with that very first sip, is a sure way to ease your mind off of the day’s woes.

To begin one must notice the obvious when it pertains to wine, the color. There are specifically two distinct classifications of wines, the reds and the whites. One of the major differences between these two is the manner in which they are served. Red wines, such as Merlot’s and Cabernet’s, are known for being served at room temperature. Most reds can offer you powerful warmth, unlike any other, that will be sure to elicit the taste buds with its array of flavors. It’s because of this temperature that we may feel that these wines are often stronger than their lighter counterparts, the whites.

Truth is, not everyone likes their wine warm. Sometimes you may prefer something a bit cooler rather than warm. For those that love the taste of a red but prefer it to be chilled, feel free to call in a red such as the Lambrusco. The red is best served chilled, and offers you’re a sweeter side of the group. White wines are best known as the cold or chilled wines. These wines also offer a wide range of flavors. From the Pinot Grigio, to the Chardonnay to the Moscato, each one will provide your pallet with a different interaction. Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay will leave you with a bit of a bitter aftertaste, while a Moscato will set your sweet tooth ablaze. Although known best as a dessert wine, the Moscato is perhaps one of the easiest wines for anyone to try. It’s rich in flavor and provides you with a sweetness that can easily be compared to that of a pure juice. So is it wrong to drink a white warm? Or perhaps to sip an alternate red, such as a Shiraz (Editor's note: we'll use the French term here most of time since that's where the grape calls home, that's Syrah), chilled?

Honestly speaking, it’s a matter of personal preference. The best way to figure you which wine is best for you is to use a simple process known as just trial and error. (That's where a wine of the month club comes in, we focus on helping you try wine and wines that you might not have otherwise) The serving temperature will have an effect on the wines overall taste. A strong red may seem less potent chilled and a warm white may offer you a more subtle taste. Dare to be different, push the boundaries and chill a Merlot or sip on your warm Chardonnay. You will be amazed at how different each will taste with the variation in temperature. Everyone has heard the saying that wine is an acquired taste, the only way to know for sure is to uncork that first bottle of wine and give it a try.

Staff Writer
January 17, 2015 | Staff Writer

Understanding a Label

Everyone observe things differently, we all have heard the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Something that catches your neighbor’s attention could very well be something that you will turn a blind eye to. For instance, when you walk into a store and look at the range of wines that are available. As you stroll down the aisles and browse the assortment, for a moment, you stop. Your eyes squint to gain a little focus. You tilt your head slightly as you reach for a bottle.

What was it that caught your attention? Was it the color of the wine or maybe the color of the label? Perhaps it was simply the artistry on the label. 

Everyone Observe things differently, we all have heard the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Something that catches your neighbor’s attention could very well be something that you will turn a blind eye to. For instance, when you walk into a store and look at the range of wines that are available. As you stroll down the aisles and browse the assortment, for a moment, you stop. Your eyes squint to gain a little focus. You tilt your head slightly as you reach for a bottle.

What was it that caught your attention? Was it the color of the wine or maybe the color of the label? Perhaps it was simply the artistry on the label. Choosing a good quality wine cannot be solely based on look alone. In order to know what you are purchasing you need to have an understanding of what is contained in the bottle itself. The label could easily be considered the most important aspect of your decision to make a purchase. Unfortunately, not everyone knows or understands exactly what is coded in the label.

A wines label can tell you the history of the wine, where it is from and what you can expect upon your first taste. Understanding this vital information can help you to make more informative choices when choosing a new wine.

The most obvious information that you may notice on the label first is the name. This could be the name of the wine itself or the producer of the wine. Knowing who made the wine can help you to recognize similar wines from the same producer.

The grape variety and/or appellation provide you with pertinent information on what you will taste and where the wine is from. If you are looking for a specific taste, pay attention to the grape variety because it will tell you what types of grapes were used to produce the wine. Some bottles may also have the appellation indicated. This tells you where the grapes for the wine came from.

The alcohol levels are noted on the label as alcohol by volume or simply ABV. This tells you the percentage of alcohol in the bottle. Paying attention to this detail is a great way to know how strong the taste of the wine may be.

Vintage, is perhaps one of the most well known keywords to look for on the bottle. It is often mistaken for the year that the wine was bottled, which is incorrect. The term vintage actually refers to the year that the grapes, to make the wine, were harvested. For example the grapes could have been harvested in 2000, but the wine may not have been bottled until 2002.

Another word that may be listed on the label is word reserve. This sounds fancy, right? It could mislead you into thinking what you are holding is a “top-notch” bottle of wine. The term reserve correlates to the aging process. It means that the wine may have had extra aging time. Whether it’s on the label or not is almost irrelevant. It really isn’t something that is a make or break kind of deal. (Editor's note, it's one of the most common questions that comes up from people who are members of our monthly wine clubs, but we don't ship many "reserve" wines simply because the term has absolutely zero legal meaning in California wine.....it's solely a marketing tool)

Understanding the information contained on the label will help you to choose better quality wines.