Fodor’s “Show Us Your Argentina” Contest Invites Travelers to Flaunt Their Perspective


Fodor’s Travel announces the latest in their series of travel photography contests, “Show Us Your Argentina,” where visitors to will have the opportunity to upload and share their favorite photos of Argentina with other travelers and the chance to win prizes, including Fodor’s guides.

Until August 17, 2009, members are invited to “Show Us Your Argentina” by submitting their favorite vacation photos, and the stories behind them, of the hottest destination in Latin America. One grand prize winner will have his/her photograph featured in Fodor’s Argentina and will receive a suite of Fodor’s latest full-color guides. Ten runners up will win two Fodor’s guides of their choice and all winning photos will be featured in an online gallery at

“From the elegant boulevards, bright colors, and sizzling culture of Buenos Aires, to the wine lovers unique malbec vineyards of Mendoza to the northeast’s stunning Iguazu Falls, the country is brimming with sights,” said Fodor’s Publisher Tim Jarrell. “We’re excited to see what our travelers come up with.”

Photo submissions will be accepted at from August 3rd through August 17th, 2009. Fodor’s has previously run contests for Chicago, Maryland, New Mexico, Costa Rica, California, Florida, Turkey, Israel, and Alaska photos. Winning photos from these contests can be seen on

A 90+ point Lambrusco – incredible!

This is the stage where you begin to think that I've lost it. I go crazy over ...Lambrusco! But this is the real deal; one of the most enjoyable wines I've drunk this year. It's just barmy, and I love it. Camillo Donati Lambrusco 2008 A biodynamically grown, bottle-fermented Lambrusco weighing in at 12% alcohol. It's deep coloured, with sweet,...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

American Merlot Blind Tasting – Episode #718

Gary Vaynerchuk blind tastes 6 American Merlots to see if it is time to be drinking F*cking Merlot.

Having trouble viewing this video? Try the Quicktime version.

Comments on this episode(3) Leave a comment ›

  • “Bronze!!!!…..crap…” by Chris F.
  • “2?!
    xo…” by RANDI
  • View all 3 ›

Wines tasted in this episode:

2006 Summers Reserve MerlotSonoma Merlot play review at cork'd
2007 Flying Fish MerlotColumbia Valley Merlot play review at cork'd
2006 Woodward Canyon MerlotColumbia Valley Merlot play review at cork'd
2006 Duckhorn Merlot NapaNapa Merlot play review at cork'd
2006 Robert Karl MerlotColumbia Valley Merlot play review at cork'd
2005 Sebastiani Sonoma MerlotSonoma Merlot play review at cork'd

Links mentioned in todays episode.

Majella Sparkling Shiraz

Red sparkler?  Are you having a laugh?

Majella 2004

When I poured this Shiraz from the Lynn family in Coonawarra, it held all the promise of a Heston Blumenthal raspberry sorbet.  Alive fizzy and erm…raspberry coloured.

But it disappointed badly. A heavy wine with some cherry and banana but slightly stale like old cornflakes.

Champagne is about sparkling clarity.  The sort of brightness that streams in through your bedroom window on a Sunday morning in August, when a little bit of bedroom gymnastics is on the cards.

This was dull as dishwater and wouldn’t have even made a Chippendale stand to attention.  However, in fairness, I think it is simply past its best.  My mate JJ who graciously brought it over (and hopefully doesn’t mind me writing so ungraciously about it) has probably stored it in an airing cupboard for a few years which, one assumes, might not have helped.

I’ll try another (younger) bottle one day.

TN : Arboleda Viognier 2008, Vina Sena, Valle de Curico, Chile

This wine is a blend of Viognier, Rousanne, and Marsanne. The grapes for this wine were hand harvested on April 7th and 8th 2008. The grapes were pressed whole. 88% of the must was fermented in second and third fill French oak; the rest was fermented in steel tanks at a temperature between 12 and 15 degrees. The wine was matured for three months in a combination of steel tanks and French oak. Half of the finished wine underwent malolactic fermentation. The finished wine was bottled under screwcap.

Vina Sena was founded in 1995 by Robert Mondavi and Eduardo Chadwick.

Colour : Pale yellow

Aroma : Mango, peach, floral, oranges

Taste : Oak, mango, peach, white pepper on finish, oranges, full-bodied

Alcohol : 14.5%

Price : 89 SEK

Mark : B

Website : Arboleda Wines

TN : Constantia Saddle, Proprietary Red Blend, 2006, Constantia Glen, Constantia, South Africa

This wine is a blend of 61% Merlot and 39% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The grapes are planted grown high on the mountain slopes of Constantia overlooking False Bay.

This wine was imported by JPC Wines AB.

Colour : Dark red

Aroma : Smoke, plums, blackcurrant, burnt undertones, herbs

Taste : Smoke, tobacco, cedar, plums, herbs, blackcurrant

Alcohol : 15%

Price : 129 SEK

Mark : C+

Website : Constantia Glen
Website : JPC Wines AB

A Jack Daniel’s Legend Passes Away

The No. 7 must-read over at the Daily Beast's Cheat Sheet, appropriately, is the obituary for master distiller Jimmy Bedford, one of only seven men responsible for sipping new batches of Jack Daniel's iconic Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey. Bedfo...


There is no profits in lower priced wines. Producers lose money and this creates a issue for the entire national wine production.
Who wrote this? Our minister of Agriculture? the head of INAO ? Of the CIVB? No! It is a high ranking Australian official : Mr. David Lowe.
There, or here, we come to the same conclusions.

Stronger than VINOGUSTO ? Will they replace todays media ?

Snooth is the equivalent of Facebook for wine and was created in 2007. I heard about it only last August 6, 2009 ! In Château de Carles, where a few young guests, not interested in “old” styles of wine showed me the site on their Blackberries or i-pods or whatever sort of hand held device they used!
Wines reviewed are mainly for the American market. (with 600,000 visitors per month, it’s huge).

Why this name. Stronger than Vinogusto. Two days after, I met in my store, l’Essentiel, the creator of Vinogusto, Mr Marc Roisin (his name should have been Raisin (grape in French) !

I wasn’t paying attention to this site Vinogusto which claims to have 500,000 visitors, mainly Europeans, French, Belgium.

BREAKING NEWS: Heron Hill Cuts Ties With Winemaker Thomas Laszlo, Begins Search

By Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes Editor

Thomas Laszlo Just days before veraison, Heron Hill Winery on Keuka Lake has cut ties with winemaker Thomas Laszlo. The Hungarian-born winemaker had been with the operation since the summer of 2002.

The winery declined to explain the decision.

"We're starting the search for a new head winemaker immediately," explained marketing director Kitty Oliver. When asked about the urgency with harvest approaching, Oliver said that Heron Hill will not make any rash decisions. "We're going to be very specific," she said. "We're looking for a world-class winemaker. We're not going to do this fast; we're going to do this right."

Assistant winemaker Brian Barry will remain with Heron Hill, Oliver said. 

Laszlo brought attention to Heron Hill's for the winery's highly regarded late harvest wines. He recently directed the launch of Heron Hill's Blaufrankisch, a red wine more commonly known as Lemberger.

With an active wine blog and an expanding portfolio of bottlings, there was no clear sign of an imminent departure.

Wine Scents for all Occasions

In the past two years, many of my high school and college friends have had their first child. I try to find unique gifts since you can only use so many gift certificates or baby outfits.

Recently, I tried The Wine Aroma Perfume Collection from Salud Scent Studio. I absolutely loved them all. Below is a list of the collection. I noted the scents to look for in each perfume and my experience with them as well.

Sauvignon Blanc – noted for fresh cut grass, grapefruit, ginger, and crisp green apple scents. I tried this scent in the roll on and loved it. I now like roll on scents better then sprays. It allows you to have better control over where the scent is applied on the body. I really noticed the smell of fresh cut grass and the crisp green apple the most. This scent is great for spring and summer.

Chardonnay – scents of honeydew melon, vanilla crème Brule, and toasted oak. This was my personal favorite scent initially. I could smell each of the scents listed. This is an all occasion scent for me, but could easily be saved for special occasions too.

Riesling – white peach, Anjou pear, bergamot, and cypress aromas. I enjoyed this scent and it appealed to me for every day use.

Merlot – red currant, rhubarb, fig, candied violet. The Merlot smells wonderful but was not initially my favorite until I wore it. I just loved how it smelled on my skin. I wore this during dinners on a recent vacation.

Syrah – notes of black peppercorn, summer berries, and leather. This scent reminds of me winter and I felt that it could be enjoyed by both men and women.

Salud Scent Studio offers custom blends as well. You can pick from a wide variety of scents that fall into categories including: fresh, floral, fruity, foody, woodsy, essential oils, and tea inspired.

The Wine Aroma Perfume Collection can be used in conjunction to wine tasting, as the perfumes are supposed to enhance the nuances of both. If wine tasting is out of the question, regardless of the reason, this is a nice way to enjoy wine notes without having any wine.

I definitely recommend the scents and suggest that you stop by the web site for more great perfume ideas.

Palmer Vineyards 2006 Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Franc

By Lenn Thompson, Founder and Editor-in-Chief


Miguel Martin, the Spanish-born winemaker who joined Palmer Vineyards just in time for the 2006 harvest, has already impressed with what he's done with the winery's white wine program, especially sauvignon blanc and blended whites.

Those wines, of course, go from field to glass much more quickly than do reds.

We've had to wait a big longer for those, but one of Martin's first reds, Palmer Vineyards 2006 Proprietor's Reserve Cabernet Franc ($25), impressed in a tasting earlier this week.

2006 wasn't a great year for reds on the North Fork. It was cooler than usual and many reds didn't ripen fully, resulting in thin, green wines.

Not so here.

Sweet red cherries dominate the nose with brown spice, black pepper and hints of smoky oak. There is a subtle dried herb component underneath that emerges a bit more after the wine has been open for several hours.

Medium bodied, it has a core of sweet red cherry and raspberry (tasting almost of cherry hard candy) with dusty black pepper, cinnamon spice, light vanilla and leather that carries through on the long finish. The tannins are smooth and well integrated. 

I actually miss the herbal, vegetal notes that are so prominent in the cabernet franc variety, but this is a nice effort in a lesser vintage -- a nice wine to introduce people to the grape without pummeling them with green.

Producer: Palmer Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
ABV: 13%
Price: $25
Rating: 30 (3 out of 5 | Recommended) 
(Ratings Guide)

Swartland Showcase

“Oh my, here comes Jancis Robinson” exclaimed Adi Badenhorst at Bar Bar Black Sheep this afternoon as a glamorous windswept angular blonde of a certain age picked her way around the cacti and clutter on the stoep of this Riebeek-Kasteel culinary landmark-in-the-making colonized by twenty Swartland producers for an appellation-wide tasting. “On second [...]

Trust, plastic bottles, BYOB, Operation Mixed Wine – sipped and spit

blackstone_winerySIPPED: money back wine
The NYT reports on a new ad campaign from Blackstone, a Constellation wine brand, that is emphasizing “trust.” “We’re so sure you’ll enjoy the taste of Blackstone wines that if you don’t, we’ll pay you back,” the ads declare and even include a “money back guarantee“! Yes, the wine is $9.99 excluding shipping and handling charges. Call now! Operators are standing by! Actually, not all consumers can “relax, unwind, and uncork a flavor bomb,” as the Blackstone Winery web site suggests since the offer is not available in states such as California and New York. And it expires nationally on 8/31/2009.

SIPPED: Chateau Plastique
The LA Times reports on the rise of plastic wine bottles. While PET bottles are lighter and therefore welcome from a carbon reduction perspective, it bears mentioning that plastic can’t effectively be recycled (from plastic bottles to plastic bottles), only “downcycled” (from plastic bottles to park benches).

SIPPED: rise of byob
A piece on praises Philadelphia’s culture of BYOBs. But then adds this kicker: “For serious BYOBers, the only problem with this arrangement is that they’re better off purchasing their wine in another state.”

SIPPED: responding to critics
After Jeremy Parzen called reporting about Brunello on “egregiously disinformational,” Decanter handed the their most recent update over to Parzen and his co-blogger Franco Zilliani. Check out the latest on “Operation Mixed Wine.”


Divining Markets within Beautiful Chaos

Undoubtedly, an ancient scroll that holds key insights into the mysteries of the world lies next to the mythical Fountain of Youth. This scroll bears witness to the elusive nature of truth: it brings order to chaos, provides reason where none exists and distills the unknowable into enlightenment.  Perhaps there is even an aphorism on how to execute wine marketing.

Until this scroll is found however we’re left with less wine marketing enlightenment and more perpetual experiment; less empirical truth and more beautiful chaos. 

In many ways, my orderly mind wishes there was a field guide—something that brings a neat classification system to the scrum that is the U.S. wine marketplace. But, alas, it’s not Tide detergent we’re talking about, definable to key messaging points and a value proposition, it is wine.  And, the French screwed up that classification system a 150 years ago anyways … 

I’ve talked with two wine marketers over the last week and both are taking very interesting paths to market, going about it 180 degrees differently than the other.  One is executing a strategy of an “inch wide and a mile deep” while the other is going “a mile wide and an inch deep.”  Together they present an interesting study of contrasts.


In the “inch wide mile deep” category is Stormhoek, a South African brand led by Jason Korman.  Many in the online wine world are familiar with Stormhoek from their “Geek Dinners” blog promotion in 2006 as well as the marketing efforts of Hugh Macleod from  In a previous incarnation of Stormhoek their marketing efforts led the brand to a reported sales volume of 200,000 cases in the U.K. before business reorganization occurred last year.

With more mindshare than sales in the U.S. to begin with, the brand has retrenched and moved on from their importing relationship with Palm Bay International, a relationship that could have given them distribution virtually everywhere were it not for the fact that to do so would have required a gargantuan effort in pull marketing.

Instead, Stormhoek is forging a new path – a path that builds off of the realities of the market where pull marketing is costly and labor intensive, but push marketing affords small victories.

According to Korman, “What do you do when you’re from the wrong side of the railroad tracks (not a California wine trying to develop in the U.S.)?  You’re a winery from a small town at the bottom of the world where nobody, practically speaking, is going to visit?”

If you’re a South African brand like Stormhoek, penetrating the U.S., you go local, really local.

“Everybody wants to be everywhere and you end up nowhere,” noted Korman.


In conjunction with the marketing efforts of Hugh Macleod from his home base of Alpine, Texas a dusty town with a population of 6,000, a six hour drive from the San Antonio, the nearest metropolitan city, Hugh and the brand are working on a mico-level and helping West Texas residents revel in their remote desolation.

With the slogan, “Dream Big,” a notion that plays into the sense of frontier spirit that is simpatico with Texans, Stormhoek is slowly, but surely developing a beach head that will lead Stormhoek into becoming the best-selling South African wine in Alpine, Texas, before working on expansion in other areas of West Texas including the Mexican border town of Terlingua.

This is guerilla marketing at its finest, and a hand sell in its dearest form.  Check out the web site for Harry’s bar, the first place in Alpine to carry Stormhoek, and you’ll see what I mean.

According to Korman, the Chamber of Commerce is even considering naming Stormhoek the official wine of Alpine, Texas.

Bumper stickers and Twitter organized West Texas meet-up’s round out some of the efforts.

While many will tut-tut the effort, the reality remains – if a South African wine can win over consumers in West Texas and build momentum in one the most remote areas of our country, before moving east to the more cosmopolitan areas of the state, is there anywhere that this wine brand cannot go and be successful, one town at a time?

Persimmon Creek Vineyards

In contrast to Stormhoek is Mary Ann Hardman from Persimmon Creek Vineyards, going after a “mile wide, an inch deep” philosophy.

What do you do to gain mindshare for your winery, with quality and sustainability at its heart, when you’re located 12 miles outside of Clayton, Georgia a small town of 2000 people; a remote geographical area that was the setting for the backwoods movie Deliverance?


If you’re Mary Ann, you don’t take “no” for an answer, you tackle everyday with a geniality that belies a confident fierceness and you fight for respectability that bucks convention.

As Hardman noted, “I’ve had to use elephant skin lotion …”

And it helps that Hardman is a former Kindergarten teacher, able to coax direction out of the seemingly unruly.

Producing just 2000 cases of four varietals, plus a desert wine, sales aren’t hard to come by for Persimmon Creek, but that’s hardly the point for Hardman. 

With good wines and genuine charm to spare, Hardman has seen her wines placed at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, Little Nell in Aspen, CO and Quince in San Francisco, amongst others.

Hardman has achieved this through dint of hard work and a proactive effort to tell her story.

More important to Hardman than selling a case of wine for the sake of selling a case of wine is to act as a representative for expanding the notion of where good wine can come from, be it Georgia, Virginia or anyplace where the wine world typically looks down its nose.  It’s this busting of preconceptions where she excels; sales come as a collateral benefit.

With a very personal touch on all communication that leaves the winery, handwritten notes are works of art from Hardman.  Talking with her is a tour de force. A question begets a 15 minute monologue that is parts education, insight, and reflection, both hopeful and credulous.

I could listen to Hardman read a menu and it would be interesting if spoken in her beguiling southern lilt, an accent she acknowledges sometimes works against her, noting, “Sometimes it’s like having the bubonic plague.”

Taking an inspirational nod from Thomas Jefferson who would drink a French claret while extolling the virtues of Catawba, a native vitis labrusca grape, or Ted Turner who built the cable news empire CNN when others told him it couldn’t be done, or even Pliny the Elder, Hardman casually drops names like Hugh Johnson, Karen MacNeil, Dan Berger, Doug Frost and others, all of whom she has communicated with, while seeking the best day to day counsel she can from the likes of Randy Caparoso and Marco Capelli.

It is her effort at creating a mind-bending expansion, of working an inch deep, but a mile wide that has allowed her to continue to grow the profile of her business and the notion of where good wine can come from.

Stormhoek and Persimmon Creek Vineyard represent contrasting styles in telling their story, both authentic in their own way, and both acknowledge that quality in the bottle isn’t enough – it’s the personal touch, the effort and the desire to do something different that makes their contrasts more like similarities.

Ultimately, I’m not sure what that scroll next to the Fountain of Youth will say about wine marketing, but likely, in some form, it will tell all wine marketers to, “Dream Big.”