Four Red Wines To Know and Appreciate

English: Modified version of Commons image Ima...English: Modified version of Commons image Image:Rhone transit suspension.jpg to show the major cities, rivers and wine regions of the Northern Rhone Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I drank a bunch of wonderful wines that just have to be noted. I was up in Seattle for a birthday dinner of a friend. The first was the Le Petit Cheval, 2003, a Bordeaux blend that was light, silky and smooth. It was very clearly ready and and delicious.

The second wine that just needs to be known about is from a winery I have become a fan of. Domain de Mourchon, is a Rhone Valley producer I have gotten to know this year. Nestled up in Seguret, not far from another winery I'm fond of, Chene Bleu, is the McKinley family's winery. The 2007 Domaine de Mourchon Family Reserve is made from 100 percent Grenache, and is so complex and rich, layered with forrest floor, raspberry, blackberry and cherry flavors. The wine is nowhere near showing any age, and will clearly go for another 8-10 years. It's complex, knitted and tasty. 

The last two wines are wines that are special to me. The first is the 2009 Comunicano Wine Company Syrah, that I blended in conjunction with friend and winemaker Doug Margerum. The second is the 2007Domaine d'Aupilhac Les Cocalieres. Both are moving along nicely, and are showing forward development and lots of years ahead. The Comunicano red is becoming the Northern Rhone style red that I envisioned when I first started with Doug on the project. The Aupilhac wine is numbingly complex and requires an hour or two to open, but when it does, it goes from being a very good wine, to something for the textbooks of what a wine from the Languedoc should be. Garrigue herbs, fruity middle and an amazingly long, lingering finish.


The Gourmet Food Truck Movement

It started up in SF, or maybe in Los Angeles. Then again, some would say that back in the day when I was a student at Temple University it may have started there. But the Gourmet Lunch Truck movement is alive and well, and really, something that is clearly part of the mobile enterprise in its own way.

The truck owners are not just serving up food and drink, but are making use of blogs, Twitter, Facebook and now, thanks to one of my teammembers, Jordynn, even getting the message out via Tout, a new social video network that we're working with. 

Here in San Diego the gourmet trucks have their own blog, complete with a listing page that makes it easy to find out where your favorites are, Facebook and Twitter pages which get updated almost daily with which trucks are where, plus many have found their way into a Roaming Hunger, an iPhone app that tells you where they are on a daily basis in many cities across the USA. Plus they even have their own regional vendor association and another new local organization looking out for their rights.

Technology is also reacing into the trucks too, with an app called FastPass, that makes ordering from a mobile phone easier, and brings a loyalty program to the rolling eateries.

Oh, and the food. Its a combination of healthy, fresh and tasty. These are not the "roach-coaches" of old and given the lack of good healthy fast food, we're finding trucks like these are better than other options...now, if they would only have hotspots.....

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Retailers-Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Starbucks in WashingtonDCImage via Wikipedia

I'll admit, that I love to go to Starbucks as my "get away" from the home office office.  Meeting are easy to arrange at their locations, as most people in the technology world know where one is. So of late, after returning from my exhaustive 6 week European business trip and mini-vacation, I found my Starbucks card in my USA wallet, not my EU/UK version. And guess what, I've yet to switch back.

But after a week of using "cash" I remembered I had the Starbucks Mobile Card app on my iPhone (it also works on the iPad and iPod touch) so between that app, and my drivers license, a headset with mic and an Amex card, who needs more? I mean, you can do just about everything you need to do away from the office on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad that's work related. I can check email, surf the web, make VoIP and Skype calls over the AT&T WiFI  and of course get caffinated to go back to the home office and do more work. 

With apps like GoToMeeting, Calliflower and WebEx, even virtual meetings are possible in what I've dubbed Conference Room S for many years.

So while you can only have the Starbucks Mobile Card active on one iOS device, it does mean my wallets a lot thinner. Digital...if you're not.. Wake up and smell the coffee.

This makes me wonder sometime why others like Wal-Mart, BestBuy, Target, Vons and other so called forward thinking retailers haven't gone to the digital bar code app, that ties together the frequent buyer club data, with a digital wallet. Forget the emerging idea of NFC (near field communications) the implementation of the digital bar code by Starbucks inside an iPhone app and it's ties to their loyalty program and balance recharge program is just plain dumb, simple. It works, and it works very well. As a matter of fact between that and the Mobil/Exxon SpeedPass the whole idea of going cashless without a "credit card" seems a lot more personalized.

 

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Is GetSatisfaction's SXSW Blues A Ripoff Of Winemaker Randall Graham's Marketing Idea

Bob Dylan at Massey Hall, Toronto, April 18, 1...Image via Wikipedia

Is GetSatisfaction.com's SXSW HomeSick Blues remake/remodel of the Bob Dylan "Homesick Blues" true creative parody or is it a royal ripoff of long time wine maker Randall Grahm's "Sub-terroir Rhonesick Blues" marketing video?

Grahm, who I have casually known via wine events and mutual friends since 1989 totally punked the wine reviewer world, taking pots shots at the likes of the iconic Wine Advocate's Robert Parker, the WineSpectator, the misplaced hype and fuss over Crushpad, whimsically needled the wine snobs, expressed disdain of wine trophy hunters who seek out high scoring wines over great wines that are under appreciated, and more in his 2009 YouTube viral video. 

The best way to determine if it's a copy cat idea or not is to Take a look atGetSatisfaction's new release, which is well done, but not the first to use the web and Homesick Blues as the basis of parody.

Then go watch Randall's version that was uploaded by BonnyDoonVineyard on Nov 25, 2009.

If one watches both it's easy to walk away with feelings of "that's funny" or "that's nice" or "great idea." But if your are a wine insider who knows some of the players that Randall is singing about, and if you're startup insider, or industry type, you'll also gets the "humor" of who is being poked fun at, and who is being "punked." That means you'll quickly see the similarity of the two,  and how it all goes back to the Bob Dylan original. In the "Sub-Terroir Rhone-Sick Blues" video the inside humor goes all the way down to pals Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and Qupe's Bob Lindquist back in the day finding cuttings of Rhone and Burgundian grapes and reportedly doing the same thing Randall Graham reportedly also did--bringing them back inside a Samsonite suitcase. For long time Bonny Doon wine fans, the video is an extension of his irregular newsletter that has always been satirical and parody like. Longtime fans will recall the famed 2003 April Fool's Day edition that had people rolling on the floor as they read it. Dubbed the National Vinquirer, it was a total pun on the tattler/tabloid, National Enquirer, which to say the least, always had a flair for eye-catching headlines that would make many a popular blog a shrinking violet in today's era of headline oriented journalism. Then after going back and watching GetSatisfaction's version, listening and watching you'll see the execution of the same approach.

For those who go to baseball games you'll all recall that there's always a huckster outside the ballpark selling programs. He's using the time honored old line, "you won't know the players, unless you have a scorecard." Well in these two cases, if you happen to know the players, either wine or tech, you'll have a good laugh at both...

It's great marketing, but not original. Just give credit to where credit's doo....n 

 

 

 

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Wi-Fi and the Art of Working Where One Dines

A Wi-Fi detectorImage via Wikipedia

I'm a nomad, and I admit it. Put me on the road and I'll find what my heart lusts for. Wine, food and Wi-Fi. And the more time I spend in Europe, especially Spain, the more I find Wi-Fi in coffee shops, retaurants and gastro bars. And it's basically free.

Sure, you need to ask for the WEP key, but as a solo diner at times, being able to stay connected indoors, through the thick walls that makes 3G connectivity a challenge, but the restaurants and coffee shops are quick to offer the access to customers.

Sadly, I find less of this connectivity option in USA dining establishments and feel we're lagging behind. In essence if the cable operators and telcos in the USA worked WITH the dining establishments, adopted a "roaming" access model, the subsidized Wi-Fi would likely lead to more business for everyone.

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Trade Show Blur Begins on Wednesday

Modified version of Commons image Image:Rhone ...Image via Wikipedia

We're heading into the annual trade show season, where events seem to come up and out of nowhere for some, and for others are part of the business of their business. For me the seasons starts with the AT&T Developer Summit which is just one day before CES, moves to IT Expo which includes StartUpCamp Communications and then Mobile World Congress in February, before ending up with one of my favorite trade shows, Rhone Discovery Week, a bi-annual opportunity to taste the best wines from France's Rhone Valley.

Honestly, after the first five events, plus all the regular work I have over the next two months, which event do you think will provide the most fun....

 

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Hip Work Spot Opens in London-No More Need For Starbucks

Cameron Sinclair pens a piece about a new hipster style work spot called the "Hub Pavilion" that has opened in London this week, over on the Huffington Post.

I think we are seeing the rise of the temporary office, networking "hub" and candidly think Starbucks really missed it.

For many a year I referred to Starbucks as Conference Room "S" to many. You could head over to one, and then organize a meeting. They had chairs, tables you could rearrange, couches, work desks, all that you wanted, and of course, amazing broadband from T-Mobile.

Then somewhere along the way, as their success overcame them, they lost their way. First they turned up the music. Then they turned down the temperature. Next came less and less tables. And then the final blow. Bye Bye T-Mobile and the amazing bandwidth. Hello AT&T and usually a DSL line. A slow DSL line.

These new Hub Spots though are the wave of the future in my book. Already Regus/HQ has opened a similar spot, dubbed the Business Lounge in Cupertino, CA not far from Apple's HQ. While they haven't added all the glitz and "social" components of Hub and Hub Culture, what they have both done is given the road warrior, and the "no need for an office" type of worker, a series of quiet, well decked out and useful locations to get down to work in environments that are serene and very functional.

Plus, they serve better coffee than Starbucks.


Hip Work Spot Opens in London-No More Need For Starbucks

Cameron Sinclair pens a piece about a new hipster style work spot called the "Hub Pavilion" that has opened in London this week, over on the Huffington Post.

I think we are seeing the rise of the temporary office, networking "hub" and candidly think Starbucks missed it.

For many a year I referred to Starbucks as Conference Room "S" to many. You could head over to one, then organize a meeting. The had chairs, tables you could rearrange, couches, work desks, all that you wanted, and of course, amazing broadband from T-Mobile.

Then somewhere along the way, as their success overcame them, and they lost their way. First the turned up the music. Then they turned down the temperature. Next came less and less tables. And the the final blow. Bye Bye T-Mobile and the amazing bandwidth. Hello AT&T and usually a DSL line. A slow DSL line.

These new Hub Spots though are the wave of the future in my book. Already Regus/HQ has opened a similar spot, dubbed the Business Lounge in Cupertino, CA not far from Apple's HQ. While they haven't added all the glitz and "social" components of Hub and Hub Culture, what they have both done is given the road warrior, no need for an office type of worker, a quiet, well decked out and useful locations to get down to work in environments that are serene and very functional.

Plus, they serve better coffee than Starbucks.


Jaiku-The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Jaiku takes residence in the Boulevard of Broken Dreams is the visual I that came to mind of when I read Ken Camp's latest post about Jaiku. Maybe you know the painting.

"Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd is the song that I thought of as I reread Ken's post. Here's the part of the lyrics playing in my head:

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.

Where have you been? It's alright we know where you've been.

You've been in the pipeline, filling in time,

provided with toys and Scouting for Boys.

That's pretty much where Jaiku was within Google. "In the pipeline" and there the team that built it was "filling in time." They did their meetings, listened to what the Google Gods had to say, were given all the resources Google had to offer. To make the service bigger one day, they were off "Scouting for Boys" as they were told to find more support engineers to make Jaiku part of the "machine" we call Google.

Like I said...The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.