The Azamor Online Tasting: the Winos do some drinkin’ on the information superhighway

By Jesse on June 19, 2009

The Young Winos recently participated in a uniquely modern wine event that simply never would’ve been possible before the invention of the Internet in the early ’70s.  For the first time ever, Winos around the country opened the same bottle at the same time, then logged on to and live-chatted their tasting notes.  It was like one of those high-tech conferences where executives all over the world are linked together in a “virtual board room,” except with a lot more drinking and a lot less globalization.

Present in the chat room last Saturday afternoon were three of our local chapters — Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York’s Capital Region — each represented by either one or two typists who recorded the verbal responses of their assembled compatriots.  Additionally, we were happy to be joined by importer Tempe Reichardt of, and winemaker Alison Luiz-Gomes, who came to us live from Portugal (at midnight, no less).  The wine in question was the 2004 Azamor Red Wine (Alentejano), which the LA chapter first sampled when Alison and Tempe visited us a few months ago.

The chat produced plenty of memorable exchanges, including a varied litany of tasting notes, numerous questions for Alison about the winemaking, and a fair helping of inter-chapter ribaldry (though not as much as we might have liked).  At the keyboards were Max and myself in Los Angeles, Katie in San Fran, and Don in Albany.

Here are some snippets…

Jesse: I really like this wine.  Totally dark and earthy, but still light enough in body to not overwhelm a meal.
Alison: This wine is lighter, and more approachable as Brian an Jen pointed out. Our aim was a wine you could drink with or without food, and smooth
Alison: The heat reflects the climate – it was 40ºc there today. the acidity is quite fresh but not overpowering. It supports the other flavours.
Jesse: That’s like 100 ferenheit, right? That’s insanity
Tempe: Does it cool down dramatically at night?
Max: It’s actually 104ºF
Don: Are the winters mild in your region of Portugal?
Max: Are there other vintages where you’ve used more Aliante Bouschet?
Max: And, if so, what was the result?
Alison: The winters can be quite cold 0ºc to -2ºc but the summer extremely hot up to 40-45ºc. The wines are better in alentejo (2004 and 2007 &2008-) when these temperatures dont last for longer than 5 days.
Alison: We tend to use more Alicante Bouschet Max in the “selected vines”
Tempe: You guys have to try the Selected Vines 2004 — amazing
Don: We are up to 7 participants, more on the way
Don: Scratch that, 9
Jesse: Atta boy
Tempe: Sounds like a party!

The bottle in question; Max is pleased that he knows how to convert temperatures; nine (and eventually ten) Winos gathered around the dining room table

Alison: Regardning palete, our Alicante Boushet (not to be confused with Alicante – Spain) is really rich very buttery smooth and plummy. as a single variety (and not used yet) it can be almost beetrooty. It is relaly complemented with american oak
Jesse: Does anyone have any thoughts about what they might pair this wine with?
Alison: Jesse love to hear what you would pair the wine with
Jesse: I, for the record, really enjoy a touch of “beetroot” in my wine.  And I only seem to ever find it in European wines, not New World.
Alison: Thats interesting . could it be variety or “terroir”????
Jesse: Oooh, a couple of us have a touch of sediment in the glass.  Pretty.
Don: Yes we too found the sediment. I saw on the bottle that it’s to be expected.
Katie: we’re having brie over here and it’s going really well so far
Alison: Look at the back label. This wine has only been lightly filtered prior to bottling and may leave a slight deposit with time. that mens its had minimum handling.
Jesse: We’re talking about food pairings.  Max suggests “pork belly,” because he thinks it would pair well with something “salty, with a crispy skin.”
Don: Ok we’re at 12 people in NY, in case anyone is counting.
Jesse: I was actually going to go more in the London Broil direction.  Like a nice cut of steak, well done, a touch of char.  Might match nicely with the slightly bitter earthiness of the wine.
152_5293.jpgAlison: Actually i did a food and wine pairing recently here with french food, and the Azamor came out best with bousault or camembert foods.
Jesse: interesting
Max: Something game-y would be good too.  Some venison or duck.
Tempe: I like it with “exotic” dishes — Indian in particular
Alison: Sorry what is London Broil. Pork is very typical here in Alentejo
Alison: Its really good with venison or duck… but try the Petit Verdot, thats amazing with game.
Max: London Broil is a lean cut of beef.
Tempe: Alison, tell us a little about how the wine is made.
Alison: OK thats cool, you imagine it with meat, and with fiarly distinct flavours
Jesse: Doug hasn’t said much yet, but he likes it — he appreciates the raspberry fruit and the spice.
Jesse: He also gets a “lipstick” character.  No one else knows what he means, though.
Jesse: Every once in a while he just goes his own way.
Alison: the spicy, and the “heat” it could go well with curry too, if not overpowering curry. Love the lipstick idea….. did I drop one in the barrel????
Jesse: Max thinks it might be a “chalkiness.”  That actually makes sense.
Alison: Its quite mineraly. our soils make the wines like this and at times fresher.

Nick camps out in the corner; Jason makes sure he wasn’t misquoted; good thing we had two bottles!

Jesse: Ok, final thoughts?  Have people had Portuguese wines before, and where does this fit in to people’s understanding of wines from Portugal?
Don: I’ve had some Portuguese wins in the past. This seems to have the same New World taste that some Australian wines display
Jesse: Interesting!  Maybe it’s the combination of the Syrah and the warm climate?
Tempe: To me this is very “modern” winemaking even though native varieties are being used
Don: NY agrees
Alison: In Portugal there are 200 varieties of wine…. many you may not heard of and appear in Blend. I love the Australan wines and thy are usually very well made. In Portugal because of varieties we will never taste exactly the same as anywhere in the world
Alison: The winery was built in 2005 and finished in 2007, it has 2 lagars, and the winery was build for the blocks that we have in the vineyard. Estate grape, made and bottled
Alison: the first year we equiped and Built the winery in 4 months, and had an Australian vintage winemaker Tim Smith to run the vintage. We didnt know if we’d be making the wine in buckets. that also may account for style.
Jesse: Alison, do you feel like Portugal represents good value in European wines right now?  Have people not quite discovered Portuguese wines yet?
Jesse: Or are they just as trendy as French and Spanish?
Don: John from NY “This is quite possibly perhaps the best Portuguese wine I’ve ever had.”
Jesse: John’s our kinda guy
Tempe: Right on!
Alison: portugal does represent very good valuie wines… which should be good news in the US
Don: John just arrived and took a swig, haha
Max: from the bottle?
Don: We were able to provide a glass, luckily.
Alison: John enjoy your swig…
Jesse: Alison, of all the vintages of Azamor red, which one is your favorite?  How does the ’04 stack up against other vintages?
Tempe: By the way you guys can get even better value on this wine. offers 15% discount to the Young Winos.  Go to to sign up for the discount when you order!
Jesse: Thanks for giving us our own page, Tempe!
Alison: Regarding vintages my favourite Petit Verdot is the 2005 (really red fruitish and beautifully fresh) The Azamor my favourite so far is the 2005 for the sames characteristic (the hot year) although I like the complexity of 2004, and it has a good few
Jesse: The LA people really like this.  We wish we had more.
Tempe: You know where to buy it!!!

And if you’d like to try this wine for yourself, now you know where to buy it.  Stay tuned for our upcoming online tastings, and make sure your local chapter gets involved!

Once the tasting was done, we moved on to other bottles and light refreshments, as well as a main course that deserves its own story.  Last November, for no explicable reason, I found myself aimlessly wandering the aisles of Ralph’s at 2am on the morning after Thanksgiving.  To my great interest, I observed that the frozen turkeys had been dramatically reduced in price, no doubt due to their sudden uselessness to most people.  My mind raced — was this some kind of tremendous opportunity?  The taste of roasted turkey from hours earlier still seemed to linger on my palate.  Might I enjoy that same delicious flavor whenever I wanted?  I snagged a discounted bird and vowed to cook it the following weekend.

Seven months later, the twelve-pound gobbler I bought that day for somewhere around the price of a beer in most LA bars still remained in our freezer (much to the chagrin of my roommates, as space is a premium in there).  We reckoned that a 4pm wine tasting offered the perfect opportunity for a modest dinner gathering following its conclusion, and that an oven-roasted turkey might be the perfect centerpiece.  The unique roasting method, which produced such positive results at the last two Winos Thanksgivings, carried the day once again, and the results were delicious.

Thanks to everyone who came out and brought food and wine for our little gathering.  It was truly a memorable one.

One thing they’ll never say about me is that I don’t know how to mash a potato; we chopped up some fresh parsley from that neglected herb garden on the windowsill; oh yeah, that’s the stuff

Our twelve-pound turkey, no worse for wear after seven months in the freezer; Max unenthusiastically stirs the gravy; a serious banquet

The Young Winos of LA — edutoxicating Los Angeles since 2005.

1 Comment

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    Comment by Mary — June 23, 2009 @ 7:48 pm

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