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Jul 20

2000 Kenwood Artist Series

Guest Blogger Kevin back once again. I am trying to
prove I am the worst guest blogger ever since I have totaled 1 post in almost
as many months while having blog responsibilities. I’ll try to rid myself of
that moniker starting today with a review of the delightful 2000 Kenwood
Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County.
This was the 26th edition in the Artist’s Series and we picked it up at the
winery in 2005. The grapes were grown on the Mayacamas mountain range along Sonoma Valley.

Aged in small oak barrels
as well as the bottle until we drank it along side rib eye steaks. The deep red color of the wine and the peppery
aroma caused me to have great hopes of recovering from our misguided WBW a few
weeks ago. The steaks were rubbed with pepper, salt and garlic. Sadly, this
ended up clashing with the cherry and fruity flavor of the wine. So, we
finished dinner, then drank the rest of the wine! It wasn’t the original plan,
but it ended up working out quite well. The finish was representative of the
French Oak aging leaving a short, crisp and relaxed flavor. 

Overall, we both enjoyed dinner, we both enjoyed
the wine, but we are still 0 for 2 when attempting to combine the two together.

Final Wine Ranking:

6/3/07: For some reason this post is attracting excessive and offensive spam comments. We’re closing this post to comments until further notice.

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Jul 08

1996 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine

IcewineThis is sort of a live tasting note, as I wanted to express my thoughts as I was drinking this.

We were at my in-laws house recently while they were out of town. They keep everything. This includes all sorts of alcohol that never gets opened or stored, just stands upright because it looks nice on the table. There was a box of 1996 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine. When I lifted the box, I was shocked to discover it had a full, untouched bottle inside. We took the bottle, left the box. The in-laws will never know, as the box is still there, standing upright and looking pretty.

A year ago we spent some time in the Niagara wine country and one of the wineries we visited was Inniskillin. I was fascinated by the icewine process, from the picking of the grapes at such extreme – and perfect for the icewine – temperatures to the pressing. We left Inniskillin (and many other wineries) with enough icewine to last a while.

We were wary of drinking the wine, not knowing enough about this
icewine to know how it would withstand a decade of standing there. It
withstood time just fine.

On opening, we were very surprised that the color had changed to a dark amber color (about the color of Bass Ale). I let mine just sit there for a bit, letting the smell of honey and orange sort of waft over me. This is definitely potent stuff on all levels.

On tasting, there is a lot of honey in the flavor – almost like a botrytis. You can also taste some alcohol, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say this was fortified. There is a lot of orange zest in the taste, as well as jasmine and other light flowers. Kevin is also picking out some strawberry. It’s quite tasty, which is a relief. The alcohol content was only 10.5% at bottling, but can that change with age? I can’t find the original residual sugar content, as that would be interesting.

I’m really enjoying this little bottle and have no doubt that we’ll knock the whole bottle out tonite, and I’ll be sad to see it go.
Our top rating again (we’ve had a lucky streak lately):


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Jul 07

WBW #23: Roundup Posted

Wbwlogo_1Fastest roundup in the West I think! Wow! Joel has posted the BBQ Wine Blogging Wednesday Roundup. At last count, I think there were 27 different bloggers, many different foods, and many more than 27 wines that were tried. Go enjoy!

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Jul 07

Wine eLearning

This is such an interesting cross-section of my work (technical writing, instructional design, and eLearning) and my hobby that I almost didn’t know where to post it. In fact, I may still cross-post.

First, I came across a press release about Diageo Chateau and Estate offering eLearning to train their sales and distributors. What a brilliant use of eLearning! Everyday I see eLearning used where it isn’t appropriate, because it is cheaper and easier for the company but not beneficial to the learners. From an instructional design perspective, not all learning has to be done in the classroom. But not all learning is appropriate online either. I think Diageo have hit the nail squarely on the head.

The DC&E e-Learning solution has a video host that greets the
viewer and gives a virtual tour around the site and offers navigational
tips. The result is a dynamic, personal experience that would be
similar to having a private tutor, complete with pop-up facts, and
extra credit quiz questions.
Further, the program allows the
distributor sales force to review and train themselves from home
computers, 24/7 and on their own schedule. Most important, it allows us
to measure the success of our training through online tracking of
testing modules by distributor.
"Training a large sales force
to be effective at selling our portfolio of wine has always been a
challenge," said Will Smith, Director of Education at DC&E and
creator of the program. "With the speed at which brands are brought to
the market and the depth of our existing portfolio, it became apparent
to us that we needed a whole new approach. Our goal was to create an
online-environment that instantly engages the viewer and makes the
training experience both rewarding and enjoyable."

A mobile sales force is one of the best uses of eLearning methodology. A sales force (or distributors) trained by entertaining and measured learning is even better. As a note, if the training is not engaging, and the information not applied within 30 days, 90% of the information will leave the user’s head. No kidding. This is why it is so important that the learning is measurable and applicable as well.

The press release got me to thinking – wouldn’t an eLearning course on wine for the average consumer be just as useful? A few googles later and I realized I’m not the only one with that idea.

The European Wine Academy (EWA) is offering online programs, although they aren’t aimed at the average consumer. The e-programs include a Professional Certificate and Associate Degrees, with courses including Sommeliership and Hospitality, Wine Tourism, Wine Sales and Retail,
Wine Entrepreneurship, Wine Marketing, Wine Business Management, and
Oenology. The EWA is using a course management system to allow students to work together on global teams, chat, and of course, participate in class discussions and assessments. The part of me that wants to study to be a sommelier is someday is quite intrigued by this.

California State University’s Extended Education program offers classes targeted at the local community. With eLearning, they can now target a larger range of students and are attempting just that with Wine for Beginners. This is your basic how to sniff and swirl class – but it’s online.

I could post for a while on the various Wine eLearning classes offered out there. You can no longer think of distance learning as tv screens or books and tests. Distance learning is interactive and involves web cams, webex computer sharing, interactive presentations, chat rooms and discussion boards. While it does involve self-discipline, it also lets the user learn whenever the time is right, be it noon or midnight. Admittedly I’m a bit of an eLearning evangelist, but the applications, when applied correctly, are neverending.

The entrepreneur in me sees an opportunity here that I’m still turning over in my mind. I’ll keep you posted.

Toast This!

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Jul 06

WBW #23: BBQ Wines

Wbwlogo_1A day late and a dollar short is what I seem to be. Non-stop working. When you run your own consulting firm, it seems that things are either feast or famine. Right now, it’s feast time, which means very little time for blogging. Feast also means that we managed to prepare a rather tasty meal for wine blogging Wednesday. (Did you see that segueway coming?)

For dinner, we had one of our favorite meals that Kevin whips up on the grill: citrus-garlic pork loin. I’m not sure what all is in the marinade, other than grapefruit and soy sauce. As you can imagine, it’s quite tangy and delicious. To complement this, we also had jasmine rice and dinner rolls.

We’ve been searching for the perfect wine for this meal for months, and have failed miserably. This time, however, we came close. The wine was not a perfect fit, but the wine itself was immensely enjoyable.

2005 Ledson Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Ledson is a Sonoma winery, with the tasting room located in what I would call a dream chateau, but others call a castle. Some people seem to be turned off by this, but I was absolutely charmed by the building and the surrounding vineyards. It was so picturesque that I started planning my wedding. Well I did until Kevin reminded me that we already did the dream wedding thing on a beach and we probably wouldn’t be getting re-married at Ledson. We found the tasting room folks to be quite agreeable at Ledson as well, especially Brigitte, who still calls us every few months with dead-on suggestions.

I’m particularly fond of the Ledson Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc, so Brigitte thought I might enjoy this one as well. This Sauvignon Blanc is from their Napa Valley grapes in Yountville and it was definitely enjoyable. This is a tropical wine, with scents of pineapples and mangos. It made me think of the beach. It also tasted of the tropics. Pineapples, lemons, a little bit of orange. It is a perfect sipping wine for a hot summer evening.

Sadly the citrus flavors in the wine and the citrus flavors in the pork dish just didn’t complement each other. We obviously need lessons in wine and food pairing. Next time we have the pork, we’ll probably crack open a Sam Adams Summer Ale. And next time we have the wine, we’ll probably just enjoy it on its own, perhaps when we hit the beach this August. I think this wine will pair perfectly with a Siesta Key sunset.
Kevin and I are rating the wine at our top level:

Many thanks to Vivi’s Wine Journal for hosting this month.

Sigh. Back to work as life gets in the way. I have a deadline of July 20 for a project on which I’m industriously putting in the hours. In the meantime, Kevin will be guest-blogging from time to time so we don’t go another week or so without a wine entry.

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