September 27, 2006
Teach Meet 06
Teachers like to blog too it seems. And with all that rain in Scotland, Scottish teachers like Ewan McIntosh need to more than most!
Armed with umbrellas and waterproof jackets, Educators, Administrators and Live Web folk from around Scotland & Europe (inc. one woman who flew in all the way from New York), managed to make it to meet face to face at TeachMeet 06 in Glasgow.
Apparently the wine really helped the creativity flow (always good if the wine can be functional as well as delicious). In fact they were all so inspired and came up with such good ideas at this event that the National Education Department (who attended along with the schools inspectors) decided they want to make it part of the main education festival of the year.
Never considered that wine could help you get a good education before. How cool. Now there's an idea...
September 18, 2006
This vine is painted red to show that it is one of the Semillon vines in our old block
that has bunches of red grapes. In winter, without leaves or grapes the red ones look the same as the green ones. We have taken the prunings of the red grape Semillon vines to grow as cuttings to make a new vineyard, exclusively red.
Red wine is made from grapes with skins that appear to be black. White wine is usually made from grapes with green skins.
A third category is those vines that have red skinned bunches, not as deeply coloured as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. One is these is Pinot Grigio. As the juice is white, we normally make white wine from these grapes.
Semillon can act as if it is colour blind and some vines have white skins and others red.
It is rare to see this today as Semillon cuttings for the propagation of new vineyards have been exclusively taken from vines with white skins. Winemakers prefer to work with the white skins. The red skins have to be handled with care not to get rose wine.
We have a block of 1048 Semillon vines planted in 1972. Of these 153 have red skinned grapes every year. We pick the whole block at the same time and the red grapes are crushed with the white ones.
As the skins of these grapes play no role in the winemaking, we get white wine which we barrel ferment, every year.
The red skinned grapes make no more than 100 litres, too little to fill a barrel. So we’re going to make a new small vineyard – all red.
September 16, 2006
STORMHOEKING IN ARIZONA
It appears that the folks at Cost Plus like their Stormhoek. They are the first retailers to sell the wine in Az. The ultra lovely Jenn Mello will be sending us more state updates next week.
Store Address City, State, Zip Phone
Cost Plus 865 North 54th Street Chandler, Arizona, 85226 (480) 763-4774
Cost Plus 4988 South Power Rd Gilbert, Arizona, 85236 (480) 840-3232
Cost Plus 1349 Alma School Road Mesa, Arizona, 85210 (480) 827-1500
Cost Plus 7419 W. Bell Road Peoria, Arizona, 85382 (623) 486-1300
Cost Plus 1750 East Camelback Phoenix, Arizona, 85016 (602) 263-7744
Cost Plus 2501 West Happy Valley Rd Phoenix, Arizona, 85027 (623) 879-9900
Cost Plus 3320 Gateway Blvd Prescott, Arizona, 86303 (928) 776-7945
Cost Plus 16223 N. Scottsdale Road Scottsdale, Arizona, 85254 (480) 905-0218
Cost Plus 4821 North Stone Avenue Tucson, Arizona, 85704 (520) 887-3000
Cost Plus 5975 E. Broadway Tucson, Arizona, 85711 (520) 571-1460
September 15, 2006
Pendock Starts A Blog
Neil Pendock is a contributory writer for the excellent website Wine.co.za.
I enjoy reading his stuff, he's frank, witty and, at times, abstract and obtuse.
Glad to hear he's set up a blog in conjunction with Wine.co.za.
Well, I wouldn't have put money on it myself, but the rumour proves to be true.
My good pal Jack "Desert Eagle" Hibberd is leaving his position as deputy editor at Harper's Wine & Spirit Weekly and taking up the role of Research Director for, new start up recruitment company, Match Consultants.
He tells me that the drinks industry lacks a truly professional service for placing top candidates in the right jobs. I reckon he's got a point. It seems as though our industry is bedevilled from selection within and often fails to attract talented professionals from outside.
Good luck, Jack.
September 14, 2006
Where to buy Stormhoek in Mass
So today onto The Bay State. You can now find Stormhoek in the following places:
Thanks to Ruby Distributing:
Lenox Wine Cellar 60 Main Street Lenox MA 01240 (413) 637-4491
Luke's West Yarmouth 511 Main St W Yarmouth MA 02673 (508) 775-6364
Wellfleet Marketplace 295 Main St Wellfleet MA 02667 (508) 349-3156
Wine Emporium Tremont 607 Tremont Street Boston MA 02118 (617) 262-0379
We'll keep you updated of more locations in MA as and when we get them confirmed.
That's it for today girls and boys... tomorrow we'll tell you an enchanting tale about New Mexico.
Cautious approach is best
There’s a road to nowhere in the Cape mountains where the dusty track winds this way and that, diminishing in width as it goes. Finally, in front of a set of horse stables, it peters out.
Few cars are seen on this Boven Vallei (upper valley) road, usually abbreviated to the Bovlei, north east of Wellington. They bring trade and business to the valley, mostly suppliers of wine equipment and horse feed.
After heavy rain and we’ve had a lot this winter, finding your way around the holes makes for a slow trip.
There are a few wine lovers who make the effort, searching for the holy grail of Nabygelegen (near enough), Doolhof (labryrinth), De Companie (the company) and Stormhoek.
Many turn back without finding their destination, believing they must have lost their way somewhere.
September 13, 2006
Where to Buy Stormhoek
I have to report that we have been under increasing and persisitent pressure from lots of people to let them know where they can buy Stormhoek in the USA.
In the UK, the wine is sold nationwide, pretty much in any town with a Threshers, Sainsbury's, Asda or Waitrose, but being that we are new to the US, the roll out has taken longer than expected.
The lovely Jenn Mello at Palm Bay Imports was kind enough to email us a list of retailers in certain markets today and we will start to post them.
For today, we will turn our eye towards The Garden State. Thank you to all of the following retailers and Fedway Associates, our wholesaler.
K Discount Liquor 14 Somerdale Rd. Sui Blackwod (856) 374-8222
Buy Rite (Bound Brook) 260 W Union Ave Bound Brook (732) 469-5020
The Wine Cellar 2129 Branch Pike Riverton (856) 829-1301
World of Liq. Bayway Liq. 639 Bayway Ave Elizabeth (908) 353-6300
The Cellar 570 River Rd Fair Haven (732) 741-4847
Smart Buy Wine & Spirits 102 Linwood Plaza Fort Lee (201) 242-9463
Logan Liquor Inc. Routes 322 & I295 Bridgeport (856) 467-1453
Willow Grocery 841 Willow Ave Hoboken (201) 798-8966
Garden Wine & Liquor 700 Park Ave Hoboken (201) 659-8241
Village Market 702 Washington St. Hoboken (201) 792-6261
Village Wine and Spirits 116 Newark Ave Jersey City (201) 433-5566
Ridgeway Plaza W&L 3875 Ridgeway Rd. Whiting (732) 657-7521
Leonia wine & Liquor 307 Broad Ave Leonia (201) 944-0956
Colonial Liqs of Linden 1014 W St. George Ave Linden (908) 486-2300
Buy Rite 1405 Hwy 35 N, Unit 1 Middletown (732) 671-1445
Traino's Liquor (Marlton) 100 Church Rd. Marlton (856) 983-0056
Buy Rite (Cream Ridge) 613-615 RTE 539 Potte Cream Ridge (609) 758-9400
Runnemede Discount Liq 312 N Black Horse Pik Runnemede (856) 939-5100
Blooms Liquor Store 6500 Ventnor Ave Ventnor City (609) 822-2742
Krauszers Liquor Locker 645 Bloomfield Ave Verona (973) 857-5055
J&B Liquors 2352 Rte 206 So. Vincentown (609) 267-5020
Vigneto 3712 Park Ave Union City (201) 271-1662
Tomorrow we will list Massachusetts.
Wine Hacking at Home
How to play with your Wine
One of the secrets of making truly kick ass wine is blending. The concept of blending is no different than making soup or a sauce. A pinch of this, a knob of butter, a sprig of tarragon, a few turns of the salt mill and voila.
BTW, I don’t wish to upset anyone, but your Cabernet from California can have 25% of anything else in it (Including Chilean, Romanian, etc. wine) Your Long Island Merlot can legally have a surprising percentage of Californian gear in it (and many do). Call it heresy or just a little dirty winemaking secret? But, in most countries a varietally labeled wine can have at least 15% other varietal wines in it. Wine makers generally use this variance to improve their wines, not to cheat.
Similarly, more conventional blending is what makes Bordeaux great. It is intuitive that mixing up the flavours of say, merlot, cabernet and Petit verdot, would yield a wine more interesting than just one of these single varieties on its own.
Yes, our Pinotage has about 15% Shiraz in it and our Sauvignon Blanc normally has 10% Semillon. We think that the wine tastes better for it.
So, Why not try it at home?
When I am pulling corks or unscrewing caps at home, I treat the wines the same way that I do with barrels in the winery. We are trying new wines all of the time and often I am happy with what comes straight out of the bottle. But sometimes, I say… well, I could have done a better job myself.
Recently, I had a Matua New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc open and completely coincidently, a really nice aromatic Nepenthe (Australian) Adelaide Hills Riesling from on the table. The SB was a bit too green and fat, the Riesling was really, really lean but had amazing ripe Riesling aromas. A bit of judicious blending in the glass yielded an amazing wine, The wines together (I can’t remember the proportions) resulted in bright, rich, ripe and intensely aromatic wines from two wines that I would have thought would have made a diabolical combination.
You can do it with cabernets, shiraz or anything else. I’ve blended up lean, low fruit reds with a dash of really good Crème de Cassis. The result is amazing. A pinch of sugar in a too-lean wine, can make it far more palatable.
Mom always warned: “Don’t play with your food.” But, she never said not to play with your wine.
Do try it at home.
So, while you are hacking your Ipod or mashing up your newest favorite apps, try some wine hacking at home.. the buzz is even bigger.
Moet & Chandon Gets Fresh
Green Point in Victoria, Australia forms part of Moet and Chandon's vast worldwide empire (which includes Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon, etc) and it seems that this remote outpost has been given the freedom by their overlords in France to experiment and innovate in a way that would normally be taboo in the heartlands of Champagne.
Last weekend, whilst browsing the shelves in my local Oddbins, I came across a bottle of Green Point Rose 2002. Two things struck me. Firstly, that being only 4 years old, the wine was young for a top end sparkler and, secondly, the bottle was sealed with a crown cap. You know, exactly the same closure used on beer bottles. I had a double take!
The wine cost £13.99 and was utterly delicious.
It would appear that Green Point have also had to deal with balancing the issue of product quality vs. cork aesthetics. Some might argue that flipping a crown cap doesn't quite carry with it the romance of popping a Champagne cork, but if the cap results in a better quality, isn't that what's most importatnt?
The interesting thing here is that one of the most traditional wine products in the world has made a statement about freshness being critical to quality. They are effectively saying " We are going to sell our champagne young and seal it with a cap to keep it fresh". If they want to be really daring, we'd like offer them the opportunity to use our freshness indicator.
September 12, 2006
Stop Press: Closure Innovation at Stormhoek Dinner
Beth aka KitchenMage, went all out for number 92 of the 100 dinners a couple of weeks ago. The lawn at Lucky Mud Inn was the venue and by all accounts, the food was good and the Stormhoek went down well. Sunrise and SomoneElse, of The Wahkiakum Acoustic Guitar Society (WAGS), provided the music.
These may look like normal Stormhoek Dinner guests in Wahikikam County, but Open Source to these guys didn’t just mean someone had left the cap off the ketchup bottle…
As if focussing on their Curried lamb, Spicy pork cubes marinated with lemon, habanero, oregano; and 'infamous' blueberry habanero chutney, (Ah, those foodies are so obsessive) wasn't enough, these party people were engaging in R&D between sips in an attempt to devise a way to simulate the pleasing ‘pop’ sound of a cork when unscrewing the Stormhoek bottles.
What they came up with was the great idea of using an audio chip (the kind you see in greeting cards) to produce that 'pop' sound when you twist open the bottles. That way you benefit from the freshness of the wine, yet don’t miss out on the fun popping!
Genius. Why does it seem that the foodies have all the fun?
September 6, 2006
The Culture of Hacking
We think that the wine business is ripe for hacking.
Lots of people think of hacking in the illicit, sub-culture sense, but in the legitimate world of hacking, those folks are referred to as "Crackers". Hacking is simply about creating innovative solutions.
Hugh pointed out to us a year ago that using Aussie and Kiwi tech to make Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa, was a hacker move. We were not the first to do this sort of thing, but that just means that there is a community of hackers in the wine business and we believe that it is these guys who move the industry forward.
We think that the recent award that we won for the best Pinotage produced in South Africa was based upon a production ethos that hacked some more traditional production techniques. Freshness of course, in a world where older is considered better, is a bit of a hacker approach.
Wine is defined by historical paradigms and perpetuation of old beliefs: Place defining wine instead of a certain ethos of production that actually makes the difference.
Many people think that terroir defines a wine, but put the wrong winemakers, procedure or equipment into great terroir, and then terroir matters little. However, great technique can take the mundane and make it special. We see that with hacker driven producers like Andy Quady, making great wine in the heart of a commodity grape growing area. Randall Graham has done the same thing… created great products from mundane sources. How often has a great winemaker shown the potential of a hitherto under estimated area?
We’ve been privileged to meet a number of hackers in the tech and marketing communities over the last year and what seems to make many of them really shine, is an approach to innovation and pushing the status quo.
We’ll be talking more about hacking, how the approach can bring new levels of enjoyment to wine and a couple of new hackerish projects that we are working on.
We’re adding the little insignia above to the blog, which is known at the Glider. Check it out when you have a moment.
September 2, 2006
I can’t believe they don’t sell Stormhoek in Amsterdam yet!
And who ate my burger bun?
Sorry to disappoint you guys but no Stormhoek in Holland just yet. Watch this space though.
The ‘Software Social’ group in Holland, true to their name, had a great time socialising, talking tech & bbqing whilst enjoying some 'special delivery' Stormhoek.
Not strictly in the US we know… well quite a way away actually, but we felt these guys needed a get together to bring Holland firmly onto the Web 2.0 scene.
Software geeks in Holland… Isznt that veird?
Camping Geeks Air Their Clean, Rather Artistic Laundry
If you live anywhere near Montesano, WA, you may have noticed a group of geeks letting loose recently!
In a truly back to nature and - dare I say - quite an un-tech style, Laurie Banks and her pals were catching fish, letting off fireworks & generally having a blast on their Stormhoek Camping Trip.
But what geek camp would be worth its salt without some obligatory geek-speak & expansion of the blog mind with a bottle of wine? Be it with or without wireless access!
A trip of contrasts then.
September 1, 2006
The Nunda Boulevard Drinking Association
We were honoured to be the drink of choice for the Nunda Boulevard get together, hosted by Chris Carlsson a few weeks ago.
These guys live in a great neighbourhood! I’m lucky if my neighbours in Clapham, London don’t knock on my door looking for money or a fight. But to have your neighbour come round and invite you onto the street for some free wine, food and a party… Now that’s what it's all about!
The food looked delicious, the wine looked well received and the conversation… well I can’t guarantee it wasn’t about 'the latest road works blocking the street' or the 'trash men arriving too early these days', but I’m sure there were some interesting observations on life and the world in there somewhere!
These guys are cool.
Do I prefer the Stormhoek Sauv Blanc or Pinot Grigio?
It is a tough choice, but I think the Pinot Grigio just did it in the end.
Marcella Newhouse and her pals enjoyed their South African themed party on the deck with lots of Stormhoek, good food and company in attendance. They could have been in Cape Town with their traditional fayre of Bobotie & South African wine... if only you could go on safari in Santa Cruz!