I’m a first rate procrastinator, so clearly I waited until the day of this month’s Twitter chat to find my #Under25Challenge bottle. I feel like I haven’t been to a wine shop in ages because I’ve been buying mostly online. When I came upon the store, I kinda felt like I didn’t want to go through my whole Twitter spiel and explain what I was trying to do. But then I said to myself, “Oh just do it,” and I’m so glad I did. I had such a great conversation and connection with Luciana who owns the store with her husband. She loved the #Under25Challenge concept, and though they don’t really do social media, she promised she’d try out Twitter and say hello.
Once I gave her the task of selecting her best bottle for $25 or under, I could see her wheels start spinning. She had so many choices to walk me through, and I was just about ready to go with an Australian Shiraz, but then she pointed out the 2012 Educated Guess Merlot. It had a really fun label and a purple neck capsule, but the description on the back is what really sold me:
Have you ever found yourself in a wine shop…perusing the wines and wondering…how do I choose the best wine for the money? … in essence you’re making an “Educated Guess.”
Could it be any more perfect for the #Under25Challenge? I think not!
Given that I’d just gotten back from Bordeaux, I was originally thinking I would go with something French, or at least lead my new wine friend in that direction, but I’m a sucker for a good ol’ bottle from Napa Valley. Big, juicy, jammy. Luciana sealed the deal when she said this Merlot drank like a Cabernet. Yes please!
If you missed the chat last night make sure to mark your calendar for next month! We’ll be back chatting about our new wine adventure on May 17 at 8 pm EST.
To: Alleged Blog Readers
Date: April 20, 2016
Wine: 2012 Educated Guess Merlot
I’d characterize the nose as “heavy.” There’s a lot going on and it just smells hearty. I get that typical Merlot smell, you know what I mean, something along the lines of toasted fruit. Maybe even a bit jammy. Deep, deep purple, almost magenta around the edges, the wine is a beautiful color. Some nice legs running around the glass. Nice fruit and tannins on the first sip. Full mouth feel, fairly dry all around with an almost silky finish. Definitely did not disappoint, and with Husband’s homemade pea soup, this was an excellent way to end the day!
Educated Guess is a wine line of Roots Run Deep Winery located in St. Helena, CA. Started in 2005 by Mark Albrecht, a wine industry veteran, their mission is to make delicious wine at an affordable price. Their grapes are grown at vineyards throughout Napa in the Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and Carneros wine districts. The label is a representation of actual chemical formulas, broken down here, used in the wine making process. How cool is that?
The 2012 Merlot was actually a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet and was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Twenty five percent of the wine was barrel fermented. Now I know generally what fermentation is, but I’d never heard of it being done in the barrel.
Some fermentation basics:
The process of fermentation turns grape juice into wine. During fermentation, yeasts transform sugars present in the juice into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Fermentation of red and white wine usually takes place in stainless steel vats, but when it happens in oak barrels, the barrels obviously impart something more to the wine. Wines & Vines explains that
There are essentially two ways to barrel ferment. One is to pop the head off a barrel, fill it with must and leave it in a vertical position. In this fashion, the barrel serves as a small open-top tank, and cap management is achieved with punch downs. The other method is to fill the barrel the same way, replace the head and seal in the must. The barrel then can be laid on a rack, but it needs to be spun to wet the cap and achieve extraction. It’s through this more complicated and labor-intensive method of replacing the barrel heads and spinning—at least twice a day—that winemakers say they achieve the full benefits of introducing oak to fermenting must.
So a portion of this blend was barrel fermented, and I’m assuming the other 75% was done in stainless steel. You learn something new every day! It’s mind blowing to think about how much effort goes in to each of the bottles we drink.
At under $25 a bottle, mine was about $23, I’d definitely go out and give this one a try!
 There’s been so much traveling, eating and drinking going on, I don’t think I’ve blogged about an old fashion bottle of wine in weeks!
 Thanks Last Bottle.
 For those of you who don’t know what the #Under25Challenge is, me and some of my Twitter friends get together once a month to talk about a new wine we’ve tried from a new wine shop for under $25. More details here.
 Does Facebook count?
 If you haven’t tried this yet, you’re missing out. Even if you don’t Tweeter, go find a new store and ask for a recommendation. It’s a great way to engage a (hopefully) knowledgeable wine friend and try a new wine!
 So much to tell you about this trip! Read about the day I arrived here.
 Ever since I got back from #FancyinFrancey, I do that mouth sucking in/gurgling thing automatically, like I don’t know how to just sip a wine anymore. I think it’s ok though, it just means I’m cultured. But sometimes it’s loud…#awkward
 Sounds like my kind of people!
 The only reason I passed chemistry was because of cheating. Yep. I said it. I cheated in chemistry. #overmyhead
 Fun Fact: this vintage was bottled on January 1, 2014. #HappyNewYear
 Thanks Wikipedia.
 Source: The Kitchn.