Invino: A Tale of Customer Service

Octavia Pinot NoirSome years ago my brother-in-law and I took something of a deep dive into the world of wine. It started with a monthly club membership that got us trying new things as a matter of routine.  The came some classes. Then some more classes. Then a test. He took still more classes. You get the picture.

We have both purchased wine from various online sources. I tried wine.woot.com. He tried Lot18. Last year Lot18 stopped shipping to Texas. This influenced my initial move to try Invino.com. I’ve placed a few ordered with them in the last 6 months. I’ve been pretty happy with the profile of their offering. It’s well matched to my tastes and budget.

Having earned my confidence earlier,  on January 3rd I rather impulsively ordered a case of 2009 Octavia Pinot Noir (Wine Searcher Listing) that was offered at a rather  modest $99/case, including shipping. That’s seriously inexpensive, a fact that would certainly temper my expectations.

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A New & Improved Michael

WSET-Level2-LogoIn the spring I decided to do something different. Just for fun I decided to signup for more formal training in wine appreciation. After a couple of years off occasionally taking casual classes at The Texas Wine School  I signed up for the more formal Wine & Spirit Educational Trust Level 2 Award, aka WSET 2.

I undertook this adventure along with my brother-in-law, Fred Salumunek. The WSET 2 classes took six weeks to complete, including a written exam. I happy to announce that I passed “with merit” and Fred passed “with distinction.”

Fred and I dove into wine as an area of interest at about the same time.  It’s funny, back then I had decided to sign up for Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV monthly wine club. That meant a monthly shipment of wines, to be tasted while viewing a recorded tasting online. It was a way to force us to try different wines, and hopefully come to appreciate them. Our first time was in April 2009.

Back then we both such simpletons. Now we’re truly wine-soaked simpletons. Now we are not only certifiable, but actually certified.

The very fact that we’ve gone through this schooling allows me to use the WSET logo that you see here. It remains unlikely that I will ever devolve into a wine blogger, but I thought it fun to use it at least this once.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon.

Sebastiani’s Cabernet Week Hangout

Did you know that this week was Cabernet week? That caught me by surprise as well. Somewhere in the Twitterverse I got wind of Sebastiani planning a Google+ Hangout with Mark Lyon, Head of Winemaking. As a Sebastiani club member for the past several years, and fan of their Cherryblock Cabernet, I thought it would be worth sitting in on the session.

I was somewhat surprised to be the only one in attendance.

In the course of the conversation I learned that they had a 2009 vintage of their Secolo. We had really enjoyed an earlier release of Secolo, which is an affordable red wine blend. I ‘ve come to wonder which I would appreciate more as a Wednesday night glass; the Alexander Valley Cabernet or Secolo?

There’s only one was to find out. The experimental method! All in the name of science of course.

Sonoma In The Heights Goes To The Dogs

Rarely do two of my passions come together so nicely. Saturday, February 2nd Sonoma Wine Bar in The Heights is hosting a fund raising event for SNAP.

Sonoma Paws For Wine

A Saturday afternoon spent tasting wine is a nice idea all in itself. The fact that its in support of a worthy cause makes it so much the better.

Grape Radio Wins Second James Beard Prize for “The Scent Of Black”

Grape Radio has been a favorite listen for some time. This 2010 video on the French region of Cahors was just awarded the James Beard Prize. It details the areas as a center for truffle production with reference in passing to it as the home of Malbec wine.

The Scent of Black (Cahors) from GrapeVisions on Vimeo.