Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
July 22, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

How Do You Spill $1M In Wine?

How do you spill 1 Million Dollars in Wine?

According to CNN, you start with $185 a bottle Mollydooker Velvet Gloves Syrah. Then you have a forklift drop 462 cases of the wine which amounts to 5,544 bottles of wine, destroyed.

Yes, wineries have insurance for this type of event, so the financial loss is likely to be small. We bring it up here on the Uncorked Ventures blog, not because we could feature a Mollydooker wine in any of our three clubs (they’re both incredibly well known and international, which isn’t a fit) but instead to point out that winemakers and many winery employees are more like artists than business people. Since I started having the opportunity to spend time with winemakers at their place of work, I’ve been surprised by how much they remind me of filmmakers and artists in the way they describe the way they make blending decisions and picking date decisions.

"We just couldn't believe it," winemaker Sparky Marquis said in a report on Adelaide Now. "As you can imagine, this wine is our pride and joy. To see it accidentally destroyed, and not consumed, has left us all a bit numb.”

Given that Matt and I worked a day of bottling at Alpha Omega last year-we can appreciate both the amount of wine which is bottled and moved around a winery on a daily basis, but also for the difficulty in breaking bottles. While wine needs optimum storage conditions to age well, it’s pretty difficult to break wine bottles once they are filled. It goes to show, this must have been a pretty bad drop.

While I’m sure Mollydooker will come out on the other side without difficulty, there are going to be plenty of wine drinkers missing their favorite special occasion wine from 2010. It will also make those few surviving bottles incredibly expensive and likely for auction.

Mark Aselstine
July 21, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Del' Olivia Olive Oil

Del' Olivia Olive Oil in Burlingame California

Over the past few months, we’ve certainly seen an increase in the amount of olive oil stores throughout California. From Seaport Village in downtown San Diego to all the smaller communities in the Bay Area, it seems there are high end, luxury olive oil sellers sprouting up everywhere.

As many of our readers and customers already know, we’re based in the San Francisco Bay Area in the town of San Mateo and we were lucky that what is, perhaps the finest olive oil shop in California is based only a few miles away. We found the olive oil’s and vinegars to be not only higher quality, but the store also offers a unique environment where you are actually encouraged to taste products before you buy them. It’s exactly the type of place we’re happy to send our customers and exactly the type of product which made for a perfect inclusion in our gift baskets.

Del' Olivia Olive Oil is owned by a husband and wife team, who are passionate about their business. Having lived in Italy for a number of years, they certainly were in a perfect location to learn about great, fresh olive oil.

When we first started looking for an olive oil to include in our Gourmet Gift Baskets, we wondered if we should be including olive oil from Italy or Spain, or somewhere more exotic. After a few minutes a Del Olivia, we realized we were asking all the wrong questions in regards to where olive oil is made. Instead of where it is made, we should have been interested in how fresh our olive oil was likely to be. As it turns out, olive oil is only pressed half the year in each hemisphere. That means, Italian and Spanish olive oils are truly only fresh for 6 months a year. During the other six months of the year, you’re going to want to find olive oil’s produced in the southern hemisphere so that it is also sufficiently fresh.

Outside of passionate, friendly owners we couldn’t include an olive oil in our Gourmet Gift Baskets which wasn’t absolutely the best quality available. A few reviews on Yelp help to tell the story:

“AMAZING! So creative and different - exactly what Burlingame needed!!

Del'Oliva has somewhere around 40 different oils and balsamics that you can taste before you buy. Combining things like blood orange olive oil and tangerine balsamic or walnut oil and white peach balsamic or persian lime and white grapefruit is so much fun and gives you an opportunity to experiment and purchase different oils and balsamics that will not sit in your cupboards for long!

Did I mention the quality? OFF THE CHART! I'm Italian and thought I knew olive oil... After tasting what they have been able to source - I will never buy olive oil or balsamics from any other store ever again.

This really is one of those places you just need to go and visit and just have fun with it! And don't forget to taste the truffle oils. They are incredible and will give any pasta dish a major boost!” by Lori G of San Francisco

“What an amazing store-really, one of a kind!

The owners are knowledgable and charming. The oils and vinegars are...just amazing. I never knew balsamic vinegar had such variety and depth of flavor! Be sure to try some of their suggested blends-the blood orange olive oil with the tangerine balsamic vinegar was heavenly.

This is a wonderful store for anyone who loves to cook, and the oils and vinegars would make great gifts too.” By Anne C of Burlingame, CA

We hope that helps to tell the story about why we chose to include olive oil from Del’ Olivia in our Gourmet Gift Baskets. 

Mark Aselstine
July 20, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Gift Baskets

One of the things we’re most excited about at Uncorked Ventures is the launch of our gift basket program. Over the past few months we’ve spent time attempting to create what we think is the correct look and feel as well as product offerings for our gift baskets.


The focus for us and our gift baskets was two fold. To start, we wanted to only include products which fit well with our wine offerings. While quality is our foremost concern, smaller, artisan family owned businesses without wide distribution were what we were looking for if possible. I think you’ll find that the companies we’ve been able to partner with meet both of those parameters while offering some of the best gourmet foods available anywhere. We’ll talk more in this space in the coming weeks and months about what we like so much about Hurley Farms, Sonoma Valley Nut Company, Del Olivia olive oil and TCHO.

Packaging was the second aspect we were concerned with. While we don’t necessarily have a problem with the sort of industry standard packaging (cellophane around a light wooden basket) we simply didn’t think those type of baskets would hold up when shipped across the country nor did we think that they offered the right high end feel to match the quality of products we’ll be including. Instead, we opted for wooden boxes to hold our products which we know will hold up better when shipped, as well as becoming an item which our gift basket customers will keep over time to store practically anything. Additionally, for our corporate gift basket clients, we can brand their company logo and a phone number directly on the wood box. I think our corporate clients will find that these branded wooden box options offer a lot of value.

Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear them, but we’re very happy with the three gift baskets which we currently have available with either one bottle or two bottles of wine included. Lastly, I should mention that all of our gift baskets feature Free Shipping.

Matthew Krause
July 19, 2011 | Matthew Krause

Every day wine vs. Special occasion wine

There are many different ways to categorize wine. Is it a red or bottle of white? Was the wine produced in the USA or abroad? Should I cellar the wine for a few years or just go ahead and drink it soon?

While the list of categories can go on and on, the one categorization that I find most people making about a bottle of wine is whether the bottle of wine they are purchasing is for a special occasion or for what I call everyday consumption (aka “not a special occasion”). Quite often, this question is asked and answered prior to buying a bottle of wine as it may be the driving force for actually making the purchase. As an example, just the other week I celebrated my wedding anniversary. We were out of town on vacation and I forgot to bring a special bottle of wine with me to help us celebrate. Therefore, I tracked down a good wine store and went on the hunt for a special occasion wine. In this particular case, my definition of special occasion wine included the desire to purchase a bottle that I could not just pick up anywhere. I also focused on wines where the quality level was high and the likelihood of enjoyment would be equally high. I made a wonderful choice as I settled on a 2008 Walter Hansel Pinot Noir.

With regards to an everyday wine, I define this as a bottle of wine that you can open on a Tuesday night without feeling guilty. In essence, it is a bottle of wine that you do not need an excuse to open. Every day wine should still deliver on the quality and pleasure meter, but it doesn’t need to blow you away. What should one spend on an everyday wine or for that matter a special occasion wine? My answer is, it depends. If you are billionaire living in Malibu, than your everyday wine may run you $100 a bottle without causing you any level of headache. Likewise, if you are a college student, your budget for a special occasion wine maybe $20. It is all a matter of perspective and circumstances.

Fortunately, we at Uncorked Ventures feel that we can satisfy all levels of consumers except maybe those who only focus on price without much care or concern for quality. Our Wine Exploration Club serves up a bevy of good wines for $40 a shipment (+tax & shipping) that many consumers will find perfect for their Monday – Friday consumption needs. With each shipment containing a bottle of white and red, you will be prepared for most any night and you won’t be breaking the bank to enjoy yourself.

Our Special Selections Club focuses on top top-notch reds from the west coast. With these wines often being scored in the low to mid 90s, many may consider these wines to be special occasion wines or at minimum, weekend wines. At $95 a shipment (+tax & shipping), we feel confident that we are shipping the best wines at this price point. These wines are limited in production and difficult to track down, making them perfect special occasion wines. That being said, life is short and you should enjoy yourself. If you have your health and are doing well, we advocate cracking open one of our Special Selections offerings mid-week and turning a Wednesday night into something a bit more memorable.

With regards to our Reserve Selections offerings, it is hard to position these wines for everyday consumption. Typically, these wines improve if cellared with the right conditions. It’s not to say that you need to wait for your 25th or 50th wedding anniversary or for the call from Publishers Clearinghouse to open up one of these bottles. Rather, we suggest that you pick the right meal or occasion to truly enjoy one of these magnificent bottles.

Mark Aselstine
July 13, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

More About that Happy Hour

As you can tell by our Happy Hour post, it has been an enjoyable weekend. We celebrated the launch of the new and improved Uncorked Ventures Website, by opening a few bottles of our favorites from past shipments.

Sojourn Sangiocamo Pinot Noir: Sojoun’s winemaker Erich Bradley has been a favorite of ours since we first tasted his work at Audelssa. Auselssa features mountain fruit and we enjoyed seeing how he was taking intense fruit and applying Burgundian winemaking principles to it, in order to help it become more approachable. We also noted, that since Erich was a Burgundian winemaker that it would make sense to find a winery at which he made Pinot Noir. Sojourn Cellars is that winery and we have especially appreciated Erich and his business partner Craig Hansert for both the wines they make, but also the way they do business. Sourcing fruit from some of the best vineyards in California.

Priest Ranch Petite Sirah 2007: Petite Sirah has become something of a favorite varietal for Uncorked Ventures. Yes, the grape does create a “big” wine but it is also only grown and made into quality wine by a select few vintners across the state. We think this version from Priest Ranch is among the best. With the 07 scored at 95 points by Robert Parker, we’re not alone and our customers can appreciate their $40 price point which makes this Petite Sirah among the best values anywhere in Napa Valley.

JR Wines Cabernet Sauvignon: While prices for top flight Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon have seemingly started to get out of control, we find one which delivers incredible value. JR Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, scored in the mid 90 point range by Robert Parker delivers the type of classic Napa Valley Cab which has made the region famous. A great wine to experience the best of Napa Valley, without the $100+ price point.

Robert Keenan Napa Valley Merlot: Keenan is one of the larger wineries we have featured in any of our wine clubs, with a total production of around 15,000 cases of wine per year. We thought that their Napa Valley Merlot was simply too good of a value to pass up for our Wine Exploration club. In a wine club which averages $20 per bottle, it is typically difficult to find quality wines from Napa Valley. Keenan is a mountain vineyard located on Spring Mountain.