Uncorked Ventures Blog

Mark Aselstine
September 21, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Exciting Stuff on the Central Coast

Paso Robles Images
This photo of Paso Robles is courtesy of TripAdvisor

One of the most exciting things to happen to California wine in some time has been the emergence of Santa Barbara and Paso Robles into the world wide wine elite.  SB took advantage of many decades of quality production and the hype surrounding Sideways to finally gain the recognition it has deserved for some time, while Paso Robles has been in many ways the golden child of the American wine industry for the past decade, seeing dramatic increases in not only quality, but production and tourist facilities in the area as well.  Having lived on the central coast myself for some time, when I first began hearing about Paso Robles becoming a world wine capital, it sounded almost humorous.  A decade later though, you can make the arguement that the wines from Paso Robles are among the best values in the $30+ price segment produced anywhere.

Those increases in quality have, in my opinion, only helped to continue pushing the traditional fine wine regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma to new heights.  I think it goes without saying that the average bottle produced in either region, is usually among the best at its respective price point.  Innovation in terms of plantings and winemaking techniques also seems to be on the upswing, which I think can be partially attritubuted to the increased competition from the central coast.

With all that in mind, I thought it would be a good day to introduce theTravel Paso blog as our wine blog of the week.  I appreciate that they cover a wide range of topics in and around Paso.  I know when my wife and I visit wine country for pleasure as opposed to going for work, we do spend time taking part in a wide range of activities outside of wine tasting.  Seeing posts on hiking trails might seem strange to some, but I think for someone spending a few days in Paso Robles, that type of information is going to be both welcomed and appreciated.

Of course, Travel Paso also features plenty of information on local wineries, interviews with local wine industry insiders and anything you'd ever need to know about food festivals and tasting information for the area.  

If you're planning a trip to Paso Robles, Travel Paso's blog (and wider site) is a great place to start.

Mark Aselstine
September 19, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Shipments Coming Soon

It’s always an exciting time at Uncorked Ventures when we begin to prepare wine club shipments. We’re set to ship both our California shipments (which go out Golden State Overnight) as well as our out of state shipments which go out Fedex tomorrow.

Over the coming days in this space we’ll feature a few of the wines which we’ve shipped over the past few months in our Wine Exploration Wine Club as well as our Special Selections Wine Club. This month brings another set of small production, high quality wines straight to our customers.

Personally, I’m exciting to be shipping a white wine from one of my favorite winemakers to our Wine Exploration Club members. Matt and I will also spending a few extra days this month in wine country getting ready for the holiday rush.

Mark Aselstine
September 16, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

1st International Pinot Noir Symposium

Personally, when I think of Pinot Noir a few places come to mind.

Burgundy. The Russian River Valley. Coastal Santa Barbara. Oregon. New Zealand.

Germany wouldn’t have been on my list of the top 25 Pinot Noir producers in the world, yet Germany’s Ahr Valley will host the world’s first international Pinot Noir Symposium at the end of February.

I bring up Germany’s status among Pinot Noir wine drinkers because it is actually the 3rd largest producer of Pinot Noir in the world. However, with a grape only coming into the public consciousness during the past decade or so (at least among American casual wine drinkers) Pinot Noir producers still needs to do a better job explaining the grape and where it grows well. Germany’s cool climate is actually ideal for the grape, even though I doubt many of our readers could realistically buy a German Pinot Noir at a local wine store tonight if they wanted to. For that reason alone and as someone who counts Pinot Noir among his favorite wines, I hope more international cooperation can bring the type of on-going attention that a movie cannot.

For more information please visit http://www.spaetburgunder-symposium.de/ and turn on your page translator as they don’t currently have an English version available.

Mark Aselstine
September 14, 2011 | Mark Aselstine


We’ve featured only wine blogs thus far on our Wine Blog Wednesday series, but I think it is self evident that people who enjoy fine wine also are very much into food.

For that reason, over the coming weeks and months we’ll pick food blogs which we find interesting, entertaining and educational to share in this space. We’ll try and find blogs which are either national in focus, or are centered in an area known for great food.

For those reasons, we’ve selected Gastronomie as our first food blog to feature. Located in San Francisco (ok in this case Oakland and the greater Bay Area), which certainly comes with an impressive list of credentials as one of the true world wide food destinations, we also wanted to feature a local blog for our first week.

Personally I enjoy reading the blog for a few reasons. To start, aside from the type of high end food which has largely made SF famous, Fatemeh also covers lesser known restaurants and cheaper dining options such as Epic Roasthouse.

Of course, to me a good blog covers a lot more than the intended topic, so it’s nice to read Fatemeh's thoughts on protests in Iran (which closely monitor a college roommate’s thoughts on the topic) and the health care debate.

As with many blogs written about SF food, there is an intense local focus on both restaurants as well as ingredients. That’s something I hope the rest of the country is willing to try to emulate for a number of reasons.

Mark Aselstine
September 13, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Chinese Wine on the Upswing

Image Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald

There has been a lot written about the Chinese wine market of late. Some vintners and winery owners (those at the low end of the price per bottle spectrum mostly) believe it is the answer to all their ills. Of course, when the market in a mid sized city can consume 36,000 bottle per month, or more you can see the argument in their favor.

I have wondered for some time how long it would be until the Chinese started producing their own wine at a solid enough price to quality ratio to start curbing the demand for imports. While I can’t see Bordeaux ever taking a back seat in the country and wines from California as an example are still largely unknown. The real problem which comes from a domestic wine program in China isn’t for the more expensive wine coming into the country, but what happens for Chile, Argentina and others existing in the value segment is far less certain. At this point we know the average Chinese wine drinker likes high end imports, but they’ve never had the chance to drink domestically produced, good, affordable wine before. How will they react to having local wineries and wine? In most regions of the world, the increase of local wineries also leads to increased wine consumption in general and oddly, increased imports. Simply put, it is a sign of a healthy wine market.

A story over at the Sydney Morning Herald might be the beginnings of changes in the Chinese wine market. In a highly respected Decanter wine competition (blind tasting mind you) a Chinese winery won for the best Bordeaux style blend in the $15 price point.

Long term, I don’t think there is any question that increased consumption and demand for higher quality wine in China is a good thing for American wineries, especially those in California which hope to eventually benefit from a positive attitude toward the Golden State as well as easy shipping access from both Oakland and Long Beach.