Bottlenotes in Houston: A Hip, Millennial Appeal

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Around The World in 80 Sips™ hit Houston last week, featuring 80-plus wines from all over. Set in the Union Station Lobby at Minute Maid Park, the event brought young, professional wine enthusiasts together to taste some of the world’s best bottles.
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We sent our own millennial wine enthusiast, Bridget Brett to check out the Bottlenotes-sponsored event. Here is her report.

Sipping, Socializing, and Shopping!
by Bridget Brett

The Bottlenotes event is upbeat, casual, and a great tasting for dabblers in wine. The crowd is markedly 30s/40s, not retirees. The wine hosts are jovial, not snooty. The bottles are young, not overly complex. The pours are generous, not restrained. The DJ is spinning Mackelmore, not The Beatles. Whether intentional or not, this event is relaxed and chic. Sips include the turquoise BeatBox wine, the Skinny Vine 90 calorie vintages, and bottle labels paying tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Fortuitously, my first stop in the unmapped territory of “Around the World in 80 Sips” was the Chateau Montelena Winery table. The Napa vineyard spared no expense and served their high-ends: 2010 Chardonnay, 2010 Cabernet and 2009 Estate Cabernet. The $150 Estate Cab is an outright remarkable wine with an unbeatable oaky finish that lingers as a non-stop reminder of how special that sip really was. Most crucial, the wine is young – but its youth only makes it a more attractive and well-rounded cherry, floral Cab. The Chateau Montelena crew was overwhelmed with a steady line until they eventually poured the last drop of the Estate more than an hour before any other table had a visible drought. This was certainly an event with drink-and-tell, so word of the Estate and other must-haves spread like wildfire as guests met one another at the high-top tables sprinkled throughout.

Two value standouts from Bordeaux Wines are Chateau Sainte-Marie 2011, Entre-Deux-Mers and the Le Dauphin de Guiraud 2006, Sauternes.
Wine budget in mind, my quest began for impressive wines at a lower price point. The Bordeaux crew had a beckoning array of wines of which two were stand-outs. The Chateau Sainte Marie 2011 was a welcomed white that retails at a more-than-reasonable $11. One sip of the Sainte-Marie is as refreshing as a bite into a crisp, Granny Smith but followed by a not too tart and smooth finish. This wine will certainly be my next for a summer day of reading poolside; no food needed to enjoy this one. The 2006 Le Dauphin de Guiraud is a surprisingly drinkable sauternes. Unlike its syrupy, honey-intense counterparts, this is a clear winner for those in the world that recoil when in the presence of honey. Apricot broke-through this $14 Bordeaux delight and made me crave a soft goat cheese. Since the only cheese in sight was cheddar, I made my way to the kimchi fritters, a hipster delectable.

If a kimchi, crab-cake like fritter isn’t convincing enough of the contemporary vibe, my next stop was unpredictable. Neon colors illuminated a table covered with shoe sized boxes. Earlier this spring, BeatBox debuted their orange wine-based beverage on the University of Texas campus. Founded by four of the school’s MBA students, the startup has a fun-loving product that brings back memories of blue-raspberry Ice-es at carnivals. Perfect for a casual refreshment while catching waves at the beach, the box of sweet wine can be frozen and served slushy style at $20 a box.

Remember Bethenny Frankel’s SkinnyGirl empire? Well she has competition The Skinny Vine. The Thin Zin and Slim Chardonnay have a naturally-limited consumer base and I hope to only ever partake in these wines again at a bridal shower or book club. The Zinfandel was a disappointing, watered-down cranberry cocktail. Conversely, it was a bit more difficult to discern the lower calories of the Chardonnay and its vanilla undertones. In a blind taste-test between the 86 calories Chardonnay and any other 120 calorie vintage, see if you can peg the light version! Personally, I’d choose to spend five more minutes at the gym and enjoy a splash of the Cannonball collection.

Read on…

Cannonball_logoThe Cannonball Wine Company team is so confident that tasters would walk away as advocates for their joy-inspiring wines, they offer you a Cannonball logo temporary tattoo as you sip. I laughed when I saw the wine caps scattering the table embossed with the words “DIVE IN”. I’m new to this Sonoma vineyard and was thrilled to find the 2010 Chardonnay is absolutely wonderful! An inviting nose, rich lemony, truly-fulfilling finish. Yes, it’s worth the calories. Sorry Skinny Vine. My ears perked up to hear each of the Cannonball wines retail for $15 at Whole Foods. Go ahead and pickup a bottle of Cannonball’s 2010 Cabernet if you like rich, dark-fruit, not overly complex Cabs and are likely to grill some steak kebabs in your backyard. The Sauvignon Blanc left me with just three words: lip-smacking goodness. Well done, Cannonball! You are convincing in the first three tastes.

Two hours into the evening, there were more of the 300 attendees conversing than there were sipping. One vendor table capitalized on these moments and led a taste with imparting values and memorable stories. The largest company in North America dedicated to importing and distributing wine harvested by native vintners, Heritage Link Brands prides itself on bringing the best of Africa’s wines to the global marketplace. With vineyards committed to generating opportunity for the people of Africa, Heritage Link Brands are proud to have Nelson Mandela’s daughter and granddaughter lead the House of Mandela collection. The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc has hints of vanilla and orange and will be debuting at Target this year for around $14. Those that taste this wine become cultural ambassadors and pass along the inspiration.

candleFor those that seek something beyond tasting notes and a wine glass to memorialize the spectacular evening, there were some mementos to browse. One gift was particularly notable for the wine aficionados in your life. While these friends have The Rabbit, cork trivets, and decanters galore, it’s unlikely they have a handcrafted Rewined Candle in their home. At $25 per candle, it’s the perfect price point for a clever gift that’s not over-the-top. The antique feel and pleasant aroma of this Champagne candle is rewarding, so much so that it may be difficult to give away. Go ahead – light it, pour some of your favorite, and tell us what you think.

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bridgetsnow Bridget Brett is a 20-something wine enthusiast hailing from Reston, Virginia (Washington DC area). An Ocean Engineer, Bridget studied at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts for both Bachelors and Masters degrees to satisfy her love for massive ships, shipping logistics, and the ocean. She currently works as a business analyst for a global energy company in Houston. Bridget says her dream job is to be a cruise ship captain, but she has decided to put that on the back burner for now as it would require living at sea for all the years of her youth. You can often find her sipping at our First Friday events!