If there is one wine store in Seattle that I make sure to visit then it is Pike & Western Wine Shop. During my most recent trip I asked Michael Teer for several recommendations. Of the Northwest quartet of wines, the 2015 Savage Grace, Cabernet Franc, Copeland Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills is my favorite. This is a lively wine with bright red fruit and no sense of greenness. It is a fun wine to drink now but I suggest you let this age through the winter so that it will open up. Combining both character and value is the 2013 Southard Winery, Syrah, Columbia Valley. With air the grapey flavors become more floral and take on hints of smoke. The final two wines will benefit from some age. Drunk over a week, the 2015 ORR, Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley shows a respectable amount of tropical, floral, and nut flavors to be an elegant wine leaning towards the ripe side. The 2014 Leah Jørgensen Cellars, Malbec, Crater Lake Vineyard, Rogue Valley is from Oregon. It is a tense and focused wine best left in the cellar.
2015 ORR, Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Chenin Blanc fermented with indigenous yeasts. Alcohol 12.9%. Though very pale in the color, the nose is rounded with aromas of slightly tropical white flowers. The offers a taut start with vibrant acidity moving through similar flavors. There are hints of nuts matching the tropical, floral, white fruit. It shows some lifted and controlled ripeness. It will benefit from a year in the cellar. **(*) 2017 – 2020.
2014 Leah Jørgensen Cellars, Malbec, Crater Lake Vineyard, Rogue Valley – $32
Alcohol 14.34%. The nose is slightly black and floral. The flavors begin with tart red fruit moving into a citric and black middle and a tangy finish. The structure eventually comes out with a moderate amount of focused tannins. There is more of an acidity driven wine that comes out as tension. It certainly has a future potential. **(*) Now – 2020.
2015 Savage Grace, Cabernet Franc, Copeland Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills – $27
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc that was aged for 5 months in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 12.5%. This lively wine has a slightly electric start of brighter, red fruit. A fuzzy ripeness builds as an underlying inky spine becomes apparent. There are no green nor black pepper flavors. It is all bright red fruit, with subtle, bright red berry ripeness in the finish. With good acidity and fine texture, this is a fine wine. I would only age to let it open up. *** Now – 2018.
2013 Southard Winery, Syrah, Columbia Valley – $18
Alcohol 14%. There are some flavors of dark, red fruit, a touch of tang, and a ripe haze. There is plenty of watering acidity which matches the grapey hints. With extended air the wine develops a smokey start and becomes more floral. **(*) Now – 2020.
There was no shortage of grilled food and wine this Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to many generous people I got to try decades worth of wine. An inexpensive bottle of NV L.A. Cetto Vino Espumoso from Baja California enlivened a lunchtime sangria. The first serious wine is a magnum of 2006 Macarico, Aglianico del Vulture which smelled and tasted great from the very first pour. It still has strength but the tannic edges are receding such that you notice the dark fruit and minerals. I wish I could age more of these wines. The 1998 Chapoutier, Hermitage Monier de La Sizeranne showed much better oak integration than when tasted last summer. It is a substantial wine with a long future. The 1971 M. Mascarello, Nebbiolo d’Alba held up for several hours after double-decanting. It was sweaty on the nose, in an attractive old-school way to me, but better in the mouth with lively acidity and a core of flavor.
The 1971 M. Mascarello helped show how a 1976 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape was even fruitier with notes of old wood. It made for a perfectly good drink. I will follow this post with a real tasting note. The magnum of 2007 Domaine Ponsot, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Cuvee des Alouettes showed on the elegant side of the spectrum with very clean fruit. Other drinks include a 2003 Le Vieux Donjon, Chateauneuf du Pape that is youthful and packs quite a lot of forward fruit.
Roland opened a slew of bottles including 1990 Alain Graillot, La Guiraude, Crozes-Hermitage. This wine is made from a selection of the best barrels and is certainly the oldest Crozes-Hermitage that I have tasted. This was still clean and fresh with that sense of lightness a Crozes can offer. It was almost suspended in time.
The 2007 Henri Bonneau, Chateauneuf du Pape was quite tight right after double-decanting. Nevertheless a few minutes of swirling coaxed an elegant wine. It has quite a bit of focus and certainly more heft than the ethereal Marie Beurrier can have. The 2001 Domaine Bois De Bourson, Chateauneuf du Pape showed great right out of the decanter. It is drinking near peak with earthy flavors and garrigue delivered with grip. A pour from the end of the 1990 Jamet, Cote Rotie provided a really good glass. There was an aspect of elegance to the maturing and complex flavors.
The 1994 Chateau de Fonsalette, Cotes du Rhone drank quite well. This is a generous Rayas wine made from Syrah. It is floral with dark blue fruit, wood notes, and good complexity.
I also tried a surprisingly savory, dense, and fruity bottle of 1996 Chateau Ste Michelle, Merlot Reserve, Columbia Valley. This came from a mediocre vintage and if this took a toll on the wine it was only that the finish was a bit short. This wine was made under David Lake MW which probably explains why it is still balanced and lively. There is not much Charbono around so you should try whatever you can. The 2011 Calder Wine Company, Charbono, Meyer Vineyard, Napa Valley is still not up to the quality of the 2009 vintage but it reveals vintage perfume unique to the grape.
As for dessert wines the half-bottle of 1983 Zilliken, Saarburger Rausch Riesling Eiswein contained only 7% alcohol. The undoubtedly high levels of residual sugar were perfectly balanced by the acidity. It is really easy to drink and is entering the middle of life. Finally, a double-decanted 1977 Warre’s, Vintage Port needed just a little air before showing dense flavors of dark blue, racy fruit. Good stuff! There were some other wines I tried but I did not get a look at the bottles.
From the moment I landed in Seattle, I knew my trip would be cut short due to the impending Snowzilla back home. That left only one choice for which wines I would try…old favorites. The 2014 Syncline, Subduction Red, Columbia Valley is a lovely, forward drinking blend full of youthful blue fruit flavors. The 2012 Owen Roe, Ex Umbris Syrah, Columbia Valley steps things up with fat accenting the deep blue and black fruit flavors. Fat works well with Syrah and all this wine needs is just a little more time to open up. These wines were purchased at Pete’s of East Lake.
2014 Syncline, Subduction Red, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 46% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre, 14% Grenache, 8% Carignan, 3% Cinsault, and 2% Counoise. Alcohol 14.4%. There were plenty of young, berry fruit flavors which settled in on rounded blueberries. The wine showed slight grip, good acidity, and youthful age. The blue fruit lasts throughout, taking on some baking spiced wood notes and a little heat in the end. Fun stuff. **(*) 2016-2020.
2012 Owen Roe, Ex Umbris Syrah, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah. Alcohol 14.1%. The hints of fat worked with the deep black and blue fruit. The wine showed weight and density before black minerals, and some spirit came out in the finish. There is no need to mature this wine for different flavors, rather it needs just a bit of time so that it can open up. In that time the oak influences should absorb. Attractive with its slightly rough manner. *** 2017-2019.
Several years ago I estimated that the 2009 Baer Winery, Ursa, Columbia Valley could be drunk with pleasure this year. While the wine has gained some suppleness it still plays it close. It shows some bottle age with the floral aspects replaced by leather but the wine largely remains tight. There is still a good core of fruit with balanced acidity and structure so why not cellar it a few more years!
2009 Baer Winery, Ursa, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 38% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Malbec which was aged for 18 months in 70% new French oak. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose revealed sweaty leather aromas which made way to a tight but slowly loosening core of black fruit that is wrapped around a dose of fine, drying tannins. Tasted over many hours this wine oscillates in openness. At time it does show some suppleness with cola like spices, other times the structure is evident with cinnamon spices, coffee, and a spicy tannic finish. ***(*) 2019-2026.
The wines of California can certainly deliver on flavor with the 2012 Relic Wine Cellars, The Archive, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast being an excellent example. I would not particularly think that this is a Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast but perhaps that does not matter. If you are looking for aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, and acidity this offers all of that in balance so just enjoy drinking glass after glass. The 2012 Gorman Winery, The Devil You Know, Columbia Valley is young and tight so there is not much to write about at this time. Leave it in the cellar for a few years. I do not know what to make of the 2010 Robert Sinskey Vineyards, POV Los Carneros, Napa Valley. I was completely overwhelmed by the forward fruit and oak influences that I promptly recorked the bottle. Strange enough, upon revisiting the wine, it had completely changed course. It showed more restrained green house infused fruit, minerals, and structure for aging. It could actually develop quite well. Who knows!? Personally, I would avoid the gamble and just buy The Relic. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2012 Relic Wine Cellars, The Archive, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast – $27
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from the Kashaya Vineyard that was destemmed then fermented with indigenous yeast and aged for 11 months in 50% on the lees in new French Burgundy barrels. Alcohol 14.3%. The wine bore riper fruit than expected but it quickly fleshed out to be balanced. There were sweet spices and a vanilla hint that mixed with the good fruit. The wine had noticeable acidity on the tongue tip, a subtle glycerin mouthfeel, and barely any tannins. There was a bit of a zip and a pepper note in the finish. Not necessarily evocative of Pinot Noir but very tasty. *** Now-2016.
2012 Gorman Winery, The Devil You Know, Columbia Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 13% Petit Sirah, and 8% Petite Verdot that was aged for 16 months in French oak. Alcohol 14.7%. The nose was subtle with low-lying aromas of dense young fruit. In the mouth were slightly tart flavors of red over black fruit and some powdery bitter chocolate. The acidity was more noticeable than the structure. **(*) 2016-2019.
2010 Robert Sinskey Vineyards, POV Los Carneros, Napa Valley – $33
This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 19 months in new and used French oak barrels. Alcohol 14%. Very forward and overwhelming aromas of cocoa and spices followed by mouth filling flavors. The wine completely changed on the second night to show fresh, ripe, green house flavors mixed with tart black fruit in the finish, black minerals, and more structure. *(*)/**(*) 2015-2022.
Jenn and I celebrated our latest wedding anniversary by spending a family weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. The one person I happen to know there is Erin Barbour Scala (Thinking-Drinking). We previous met in New York City during her days as sommelier at Public NYC followed by The Musket Room. Having had diverse and fantastic wines with her before I knew there was no other choice than to dine at Fleurie restaurant where both she and her husband are now based. As Wine Director, Erin’s wine list focuses in on France and Virginia but she is far too curious to neglect the rest of the world as was evidenced by her selections that night. We were greeted to glasses of NV Rolet, Crement de Jura for ourselves and locally made sparkling grape juice for our daughter. The Rolet was great by itself, accessible with a nice balance of yeast and fruit. It left me thirsty for more wine.
I select the wines we drink at home on a daily basis so it is nice to step away from making any choices. We gave no direction to Erin as to what we felt like drinking or avoiding. With Coravin in hand Erin proceeded to pour a utterly fun variety of wines. To go with our shrimp risotto with carrots and shellfish sauce she poured the 2009 Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet Les Chaumes. It was utterly satisfying and drank spot-on with its balance of maturity, fruit, and supportive toast. Jenn’s herb crusted halibut was joined by the 2010 Schäfer-Fröhlich, Bockenauer Felseneck, Riesling trocken Grosses Gewächs, Nahe. The glass was incredibly and persistently aromatic with herbs, stones, and some petrol with great balance in the mouth. Great stuff! For my venison Erin poured two different red wines. The 2011 Avennia, Sestina, Columbia Valley is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc blend with fruit sourced from the Bacchus and Red Willow vineyards. It was forward and complex with darker, racy fruit that was hard to resist. Avennia was only launched in 2010 so if this second vintage is an example of their other wines this is a new name to follow. My second red wine was completely different being the 2010 Cambridge Road, Dovetail, Martinborough. As Erin pointed out this field blend of mostly Pinot Noir with Syrah is not such an oddity given the affinity for these varieties to perform in cooler climates. Its oscillation between Pinot Noir and Syrah aromas was rather intriguing.
With our trio of desserts and petit fours came the King Family Vineyards, Loreley, Monticello. This pure Petit Manseng wine was made in the vin de paille style. She poured this wine because it shares the same name as our daughter. It was a touching end to our meal. If you are in the Charlottesville area or need a break from the city I strongly recommend you dine at Fleurie. Due to the Coravin you can drink almost anything on the list by the glass. With a large order of wines soon to be added there will be even more reasons to stop by.
It seems to me that over the last several years the wine store scene has changed in Seattle. There seems to have been a loss of enthusiasm in some of the stores. This changed may have been signaled by the Whole Foods on 65th at Roosevelt Square opening up their walk-in wine cellar by removing the glass walls. The inventory at Pete’s on East Lake seems to maintain more of the same stock with less peppering of unique wines. Wine World and Spirits has a massive inventory of both but what good is all of the stock if no one has tasted the wine? There are still interesting stores in Seattle and one of them is Pike & Western Wine Shop. I personally think the selection here is even more diverse as of late. Michael Teer is clearly excited and has done an excellent job of editing through everything that could be sold.
I managed to see Michael during my recent trip to Seattle. Michael has an unabashed love for Italian wine which means his Northwest selections tend to be rather interesting. Of the few wines I purchased, Michael recommended the pair from Savage Grace Wines featured in today’s post. I was quite taken by one of the wines such that I decided to move this post up in my ever-increasing queue. Savage Grace Wines was only founded by Michael Savage in 2011. His stated goal is to produce “lower-alcohol, balanced, and expressive wines”. I do not select my wines based on alcohol level but I certainly appreciate lower-alcohol wines particularly when I feel like a bit of a drink. Once the 2013 Savage Grace Wines, Malbec, Dineen Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills opened up, the only compelling choice was to see the bottle to the end. Thus I appreciated the 12.8% alcohol. This balanced wine was round, savory, had good acidity and tasted like nothing else. A must try! Just be sure to double-decant it for a few hours or wait until the temperatures drop below freezing. The 2013 Savage Grace Wines, Cabernet Franc, Copeland Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills was clearly a Cabernet Franc wine. It was a good wine but it remained a bit tight and not as exciting. Perhaps I am unfair but then I hope you are reading this post because of my opinion. These wines were purchased as Pike & Western Wine Shop.
2013 Savage Grace Wines, Malbec, Dineen Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills – $25
This wine is 100% Malbec sourced from vines located around 1,000 feet in elevation. The fruit was 70% whole cluster fermented then aged for a short period in neutral French oak. Alcohol 12.8%. The nose was aromatic with nice ripe, floral black fruit. The mouth followed the nose becoming increasingly round and savory. It had a little citrus then a mouth filling middle. It reacted well to a few hours of air with the dark red fruit becoming a bit racy and round but balanced by the acidity on the tongue. It reminded me of a Washington state wine and in an absolutely horrible comparison, had a uniqueness of flavor such as Boushey Syrah can provide. ***(*) Now-2018.
2013 Savage Grace Wines, Cabernet Franc, Copeland Vineyard, Rattlesnake Hills – $25
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from vines located around 1,300 feet in elevation. The fruit was destemmed, whole-berry fermented, then aged for seven months in neutral French oak barrels. Alcohol 13.2%. The nose revealed berries overlaying greenhouse aromas. In the mouth were focused, round and tart fruit. The flavors became savory with a sweet strawberry start. There was acidity and a drier essence of flavors in the finish. It remained compact over two days. ** Now-2015.