Saturday, March 26, 2016

Review of Wineist Tasting Kit


"Small in size, big in wines."

Living in wine country it is natural for me to encourage my customers to, "Taste the wine, before you buy the wine."  And on the subject of the context of wine and expanding ones palate, I recently wrote, "...I have come to realize over the years that it is also important to understand where the grapes came from and what the wines taste like from their country of origin." March 15, 2016.

But how do you taste before buying if you don't live in wine country? Is there another way to taste wine before buying? And could you easily try wines from all over the world too? Yes.

I was contacted by Wineist to evaluate their wine subscription service.

Wineist is a European startup that presents a unique monthly subscription service which includes a set of six mini wine samples of various styles, regions and price ranges. Included in the package is information about each wine and winery. Wineist offers wine newbies and connoisseurs alike, the opportunity to experience new wines and to learn the story behind it without spending money and time on full-sized bottles of wine. Taste before you buy a full bottle and expand your palate to new regions. Wine tasting in a box!

Wineist Awarded Start Up of the Year
eCommerce Expo 2015.

With Wineist, you receive periodic samples of 6 different wines from around the world. You taste them, and then order full-size bottles of the wines you like. An easy way to taste a world of wine at home, before you buy. The first gift package is sent within 48 hours after the order is received, while all the following ones are sent every second Friday of the month.

Well packaged with informative brochure.

Flying Start

The package I received was the Flying Start, which had six 50ml samples of the following wines: Cal Y Canto 2014 ($5.72 USD), Chianti Rufina Cru Basciano DOCG 2012 ($11.33 USD), Danie's Backyard Blend 2011 ($11.44 USD), Navarra ($6.96 USD), Pinotage Rosé ($10.10 USD) and Riesling Kabinett 2014 (out of stock).

This kit was well packed. It shipped from Slovenia with six 50ml bottles. The package I received was for welcoming in the new year of 2016. The bundled brochure had information on each wine including: Name of winery, vintage, ABV, serving temperature, description of the wine aroma and taste, recommended food pairings, blend, country, and information on the winery. Room for tasting notes too. Well done.

Problem with tiny screw cap closure removal.

Thoughts and one issue: 
  1. Is 50 ml per wine enough? I was able to get 3 good tastes out of each 50ml bottle. Enough to make a purchasing decision on style and flavor of each wine. See my tastings notes below.
  2. There was an issue with the screw cap closure on most of the bottles. The closures were difficult to remove and I had to carefully pry them off. See photo and notes.
  3. Drink when you receive your kit. The kit was dated "Best before 15.03.2016" (March 15, 2016). I appreciated this date. Smaller bottles have a shorter shelf life.

Tasting Notes I - VI


I. Ernst Riesling Kabinett 2014 by Weigutt H.J. Ernst
  • ABV: 12%, 
  • Riesling, Germany, Eltville, Rheingau.
  • *Difficult to open. Screw cap did not release.
  • Good nose. Crisp and tart citrus. 
  • Tasting notes state Riesling in description, but Wine Geek Info states 100% Sauvignon Blanc (typo). 
  • Enjoyed this wine and would have enjoyed a full-size bottle. Big Like
  • Food pairing suggestions made me hungry too.

II. Delheim Pinotage Rose' 2015
  • ABV: 12.5%, 
  • 95% Pinotage, 5% Muscat de Frontignan, 
  • South Africa, Simonsberg Ward, Stellenbosch.
  • *Difficult to open. Screw cap did not release.
  • Lovely nose. Packed with flavor. Tasting notes spot on. Food pairing spot on too. Big Like.

III. Pagos de Araiz 2013 by Navarra
  • ABV 14%, 
  • Rose', Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, 
  • Spain, Navarra DO.
  • *Screw cap was difficult to remove. Had to pry it off.
  • Flavorful wine, tasting notes accurate in description. Like
  • Recipe suggestion of spiced salmon with mustard sauce appropriate.

IV. Chianti Rufina Cru Basciano 2012 by Renzo Masi
  • ABV 13.5%, 
  • Sangioves, Canaiolo, 
  • Italy, Valpolicella region.
  • *Screw cap was difficult to remove. Had to pry it off.
  • Good nose on the wine. Nice pour. Tasting notes spot on. 
  • The suggested pairing of roasted rack of lamb also spot on. Like.

V. Backyard Blend 2011 by Allesverloren
  • ABV 13.5%, 
  • 30% Tinta Barroca, 70% Shiraz, 
  • South Africa, Riebeek Valley of the Swartland.
  • *Screw cap was difficult to remove. Had to pry it off.
  • Tasting notes accurate. Though I did give this wine a bit more air. Lot of fruit, dry, spicy. Like.
  • Suggested food pairing worked for me and to drink on its own. 

VI. Cal Y Canto 2014 by Bodegas Lopez Mercier
  • ABV 13%, 
  • 80% Tempranillo, 15% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 
  • Spain, La Mancha.
  • No problem removing screw cap.
  • Tasting notes not very descriptive. Dry wine, berry, almost candied, grip on the gums, young wine which showed well and food worthy. Like
  • Food pairing accurate. 

Learn more or order a subscription:
00386 41 841 790

Verdict: You better have a bottle of wine waiting for you after going through this package. Really whetted my appetite for wine. Even with the screw cap issue, this was a fine showing of six international wines. Yes, 50 ml is just enough for three good tastes of each wine. Suitable for swirling, smelling and tasting. This was an enjoyable way to preview wines which can be purchased by the bottle and delivered to your home. Also a wonderful gift for the wine lover who wants to explore international wine regions and wine styles to improve their wine knowledge.


Pricing. How much does this cost?

As for the pricing, original prices are in euros, so the system automatically converts them every time an order is placed according to the exchange rate. Prices in USD that follow are approximate:
  • Monthly subscription: 29.00 € per month ($32.50 USD) + free shipping (recurring payment, cancel any time)
  • Six-month subscription: currently on sale for 149.00 € ($167.00 USD) + free shipping
  • Twelve-month subscription: currently on sale for  299.00 € ($335.13 USD) + free shipping
Gift packages (gift-wrapped with a personal note)
  • Three-month gift: 99.00 € ($110.96 USD) + free shipping
  • Six-month gift: currently on sale for 165.00 € ($184.94 USD) + free shipping
  • Twelve-month gift: currently on sale for 330 € ($369.88 USD) + free shipping

The Wineist Tasting Kit is another option for expanding your knowledge about a world of wine. You can taste before you buy. Study up on several wine regions. And purchase more by the bottle. All delivered direct to your door. Pretty neat.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Trump Winery - Decidedly Virginian @trumpwinery


You cannot judge a wine, a winery or a wine region if you have not visited or tasted the wines. 

Today I will share with you the origin of Trump Winery located in Monticello, Virginia. I will also review four Trump wines. We should not discuss politics on this post, only wine. It seems irresponsible and inconsiderate to dump on a winery because of politics. When you insult a Virginia winery, you are insulting not only the owner, but also the grape growers, winemaker, winery staff, and the wine region. That crosses a line which reflects poorly. We are better than that.

In 2011 I visited Virginia wine country (Dreaming of Virginia Wine). It was a magnificent time with many captivating wine tastings and wine related conversations. I’m excited about and for Virginia wineries and I discovered that there are some real gems. Wines easily recognizable as world class.

Yes, I am a fan of Virginia wine. Virginia has realized Thomas Jefferson's dream of producing fine wines from European vinifera. Quality is strong. My friend Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like has kept me engaged with the Virginia wine industry. He has graciously included me in many online Virginia wine tastings and conversations via #VAwinechat. And the reason for this post.

History of Trump Winery
In 2011 Donald Trump purchased the former Kluge Estate winery and vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia. Due to financial difficulties, the 776 acre property with a 195 acre vineyard planted in 1999 was in foreclosure. The Donald knows a good deal when he sees one and snapped up the property well below the appraised value. He purchased the remaining Kluge Estate properties the following year.

"It appears Mr. Trump has taken the first step toward making Virginia wine," Todd Haymore the state secretary of agriculture said. "We believe if he’s successful, he’ll help take Virginia wines to greater heights." Source: Washington Post, April 2011

The Winery Today
Eric Trump is president of Trump Winery. Eric oversees the winemaking, marketing, global distribution and sales. He is also the Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions for The Trump Organization, and responsible for all aspects of real estate development and deal flow, nationally and internationally. His is the guiding hand leading Trump Winery.

Trump Tasting with Frank Morgan (left) and Jonathan Wheeler (right).

Jonathan Wheeler is the Winemaker of Trump Winery.
Jonathan was with the original estate and has worked at the winery since 2006. He leads the sparkling wine program. Jonathan has worked as winemaker in Sonoma and Monterey, California, Marlborough, New Zealand and his home of Fingerlakes, New York.

Trump Winery is located in the foothills of the blue Ridge Mountains on a nearly 1,300 acre estate. It is located a few miles from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Planted to 195 acres of vinifera, There is space for another 40-45 acres potentially. Trump Winery has Virginia's largest vineyard, almost half of which is planted with Chardonnay.

Vineyards were planted in 1999 - 2001, 2003-2007.

The winery has over 50,000 square feet dedicated to state of the art winemaking, 100,000 gallon tank capacity and a 750 barrel wine cave. This is a true wine country destination with views of rolling hills, vines, a charming tasting room and outdoor terrace.

The recently renovated Albemarle Estate Bed and Breakfast at Trump Winery. Situated on a truly gorgeous property, with five guestrooms inside the house, amenities include the Jefferson master suite with his and hers bathrooms, a pool house and a cabin. Guests share the well appointed living room, library, bar, and manicured gardens all within view of the estate vineyard. Director of hospitality Derek Hunt said, “...we just want them to feel like they're at home.” Contact details below.

The Wines
And the wines, what about the wines? I was impressed by these four Virginia wines and recommend them. The Trump Wines tasting was especially enticing because it started with two bottles of sparkling wine. I love a wine tasting that begins with sparkling wine.

Sparkling wines are thriving in Virginia. Of the 253 Wineries in Virginia, at least 21 are making sparkling wines. Sparkling wines are tasty, fun to drink and pair with almost any kind of food or occasion.

Virginia wine country should be on every wine enthusiasts must visit list. Its quality is obvious, its character diverse and changing. Has Mr. Trump remained committed to Virginia wine and is the wine any good? Yes, decidedly yes. Read on. 

Trump Winery Tasting Notes

You can find Trump wines in stores and restaurants and you can purchase online.


1. Trump 2009 Blanc De Noir Sparkler $24
Lovely with apple, pear, off dry, terrific value, creamy, light yeast, tropical note, flavorful, good bubbles, creamy core, lively, used a little neutral oak for texture/mouth feel, my speed. 100% estate grown, 36 months on lees. The Chardonnay for the sparkling wine is harvested 2-3 weeks before the grapes used for the still wine. Typically at the beginning of August.
Strongly Recommended.


2. Trump 2009 Sparkling Rose $28
An aromatic sparkler, flavorful, with raspberry into strawberry, rhubarb, crisp, nectarine, yeast, good bubbles, good focus, savory/sweet with minerality on the medium finish. Excellent wine. 92% Chardonnay, 8% Pinot Noir.
Strongly Recommended.


3. Trump 2014 Chardonnay $16
A solid Virginia Chardonnay, with ginger, pear, white peach, smoothness, easy drinking, hint of nuttiness, not heavy...balanced. Grapes were harvested on September 1, 2014. Aged 90% in stainless steel and 10% in new and one year old French oak barrels. No malolactic fermentation.


4. Trump 2014 Meritage $20
Liked the nose, savory dark fruit, good structure, focused to middle, tasty finish, big like on this wine. Pair with meat. 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot, 11% Malbec. Drank well over three days.
Strongly Recommended.  

My Thoughts
I was impressed by these wines. They are beautifully made and delivered a great deal of pleasure. Prices are set appropriately and are offer good value. My wife and I have even ordered the Trump Sparkling wines for special occasions at home. Yes, they are that good and they shipped to us quickly and securely.

I strongly encourage you to add Trump wines to your list of go to and must try wines. When in Virginia, add the Trump Albemarle Estate B&B and Winery to your wine country destinations. You can leave your politics at home.

Sincere thank you to Trump Winery, Jonathan Wheeler and Frank Morgan.


Albermarle Estate Bed and Breakfast
355 Albemarle House Dr. , Charlottesville, VA , 22902, US  434-977-4001

Trump Winery Tasting Room
3550 Blenheim Road
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902

Tasting Room Hours
Open year round 11am-5pm daily. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. Patio closes 30 minutes after close. Full menu is offered until 5pm

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Taste Washington 2016 Prepare to be Dazzled


Experience Washington wine and food at Taste Washington March 31 - April 3.

To all you wine lovers, I encourage you to make plans to attend Taste Washington 2016.  Do your research before you walk through the doors and you will be rewarded with some truly remarkable wine experiences and an expanded palate for describing Washington wine.

Prepare to be dazzled!

Appellation Spotlight: Columbia Gorge AVA.
Note: I strongly encourage you to sign up for one of the wine seminars on either Saturday or Sunday. These are world class tastings and discussions on my favorite subjects. Truly one of a kind, not to miss sessions. I attended the Columbia Gorge AVA seminar last year and learned a great deal. Today I am a huge fan of white wines made from Columbia Gorge AVA vineyards. I thank the seminar I attended as responsible for this as it brought this region to my attention.

Join us March 31 – April 3 for the 19th Annual Taste Washington

Indulge in the premier wine and food experience. From a Grand Tasting featuring over 225 Washington wineries, to the exclusive Red & White Party, thought-provoking seminars, farm excursions and the energized and modern The New Vintage – experience it all at Taste Washington.


You owe it to yourself not to miss Taste Washington Seattle this year. This is one of my favorite Washington wine events. Don't come only for the wine, some of the best Washington restaurants will be serving delicacies to accompany all of those amazing wines.

Tips For Taste

Tip 1. Plan Ahead. Make a List.

With 225+ wineries pouring hundreds of lovely wines, how do you choose? An event this size can be overwhelming. Look over the list of wineries featured at the Grand Tasting then pick the ones you want to taste. Prioritize. Use that list to navigate around the floor. I like to visit with the wineries I don't know, so I put them at the top of my list.
Note: The more popular wineries will pour out early. As in no wine to taste. Prioritize.

Note: Book your hotel early. Downtown Seattle hotels fill up fast.

Tip 2. Eat and Pair.

With 70+ restaurants serving some of the best Pacific Northwest cuisine, there is no excuse to go hungry. Be adventurous and try something different. I like to be creative at wine and food pairings. Take time to pair the wine you are tasting with food served from the restaurants.

Tip 3. Attend a Seminar.

On Saturday and Sunday there are featured educational wine seminars at the Four Seasons Hotel. Topics showcase aspects of Washington wine. Register early as they sell out fast.

Taste Washington features educational seminars led by top national wine personalities, sommeliers and producers, that dive headfirst into what makes Washington State a world class winegrowing region. From tastings to interactive panels, these events are entertaining, enlightening and in high demand. Join us!

Seminars run concurrently each day.

Tip 4. Take Notes.

If you discover a wine/winery you enjoy, make a note. No matter how good your memory, you will forget if you don't write it down. This is your opportunity to find some gems you can purchase later and share with family and friends.

Tip 5. Make Plans for After.

I've made the mistake of forgetting to make plans for after Taste Washington. Don't make the same mistake. Put together an itinerary for afterward. There are restaurants, pubs, theaters and live music venues in Pioneer Square, downtown, Belltown and around the Seattle Center. Plan ahead.
Ride the Big Wheel or relax on a scenic Seattle Ferry ride.

Related Posts:

How do you Describe Washington Wine? Reflections on TasteWashington @TasteWashington

What to do in Seattle after Taste Washington.

 Washington State Wine Facts
  • National rank: 2nd largest premium wine producer in the United States
  • Number of wineries: 890+
  • Number of wine grape growers: 350+
  • Varieties produced: 40+ varietals
  • Ratio of red to white: 49% white to 51% red
  • Wine production: Approx. 16 million cases
  • Wine grape acreage: 50,000+ acres
  • Record harvest: 2014 with 227,000 tons
  • Most recent harvest: 2015 with 222,000 tons
  • Total Economic Impact: $4.8 billion in 2013
  • Wine market segment: Washington State is focused on the premium wine market segment (wines sold for $8 and higher).
  • Average hours of summer sunlight: 16 hours per day, about 1 more hour than California's prime growing region
  • Annual rainfall: Eight inches (20.32 cm) in Eastern Washington (the major grape growing region) 48 inches (121.92 cm) in Western Washington
  • Source: Washington State Wine

About Visit Seattle

Visit Seattle, a private, nonprofit marketing organization, has served as Seattle/King County’s official destination marketing organization (DMO) for more than 50 years. The goal of these marketing efforts is to enhance the employment opportunities and economic prosperity of the region. For more information, visit

About Washington State Wine

Washington State Wine represents every licensed winery and every wine grape grower in Washington State. Guided by an appointed board, Washington State Wine provides a marketing platform to raise positive awareness of the Washington State wine industry and generate greater demand for its wines. Funded almost entirely by the industry through assessments based on grape and wine sales, Washington State Wine is a state government agency, established by the legislature in 1987. For more information, visit

This year I will not be attending Taste as media. Instead, I will be stationed at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center booth during the Grand Tastings on Saturday and Sunday. Stop by and say hello.