A few weeks ago I joined Lou for a game meat (moose, rabbit, etc) dinner party at his house. I took few pictures and even fewer notes but I did stop when I tasted the 2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling. Lou purchased this bottle a few years back when he was in Vienna. Lucky me that he opened it. Bründlmayer produces this wine from a 4 hectare parcel in Steinmassel. This area was originally a quarry and that stone nature clearly comes through in the wine. This is really good stuff!
2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling
This wine is 100% Riesling that was fermented in both stainless steel and large oak casks. Alcohol 12%. The nose is aromatic with fresh floral notes and a petrol hint. In the mouth this vibrant wine begins with white fruit that morphs into petrol followed by a decidedly stoney finish. There is richness to the wine but the flavors are dry with a citric, grippy finish. This is on the upslope of maturity and will only get better. **** Now – 2026.
There were other wines too. A 2002 Robert Hunter, Brut Blanc de Noir, Sonoma Valley really hit the spot. It is mature with the right amount of bubbles and brioche. Others liked it as well for the bottle was rapidly drained. The 2010 Palazzone, Orvieto Classico Superiore Campo del Guardiano is far more mature than the Bründlmayer. The acidity is more piercing with flavors of orchard fruit, dried herbs, and lychees. A solid wine in comparison. We finally had a solid bottle of 1970 La Mission Haut Brion, Graves. It was completely drinkable, not too far over the hill, but not worth writing any more about.
I really liked the 2009 Pascal Aufranc, Vieilles Vignes de 1939, Chenas. It was four years ago that I last drank this and I now believe it is fully mature. There is less strawberry and Kirsch flavor now. It leans towards an autumnal spectrum with the tannins fully integrated. We soon swung towards the modern spectrum with the 2011 Clos St Jean, Chateauneuf du Pape (16% ABV!) and 2008 Cayuse, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley. Both wines were double-decanted for several hours. The Clos St Jean showed rather well with plenty of grip and some complexity. But it was the Cayuse which wowed me. My best description is as if Chateau des Tours made wine in Walla Walla. Ethereal yet backed by substance, complex with no assertive structure. Great stuff. There was a bottle of 2013 El Nido, Clio, Jumilla which I did not like at all. Too modern, clean, and massive. We wrapped the evening up with a bottle of 1986 Fetzer, Port, Mendocino County. This actually bore a resemblance to a traditional Port. It was a bit simple, short, and spirituous but the flavor profile was right.
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.
The 2006 Cadence, Bel Canto, Cara Mia Vineyard, Red Mountain represents the first bottling of Bel Canto where all of the fruit came from the Cara Mia Vineyard. This 10.5 acre vineyard was planted on Red Mountain in 1997. The wine itself is an homage to Cheval Blanc given the blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I cannot speak to any similarity in flavor, I have only drunk Cheval Blanc once or twice, but there is certainly no shortage of flavor! It takes a few hours for the wine to show better flavor definition but it still pleases from the start. The blue and black fruits provide plenty of mouthfeel which lets you experience the generosity a wine from Washington state may have without dialing it to 11. This wine was purchased many years ago in Seattle.
2006 Cadence, Bel Canto, Cara Mia Vineyard, Red Mountain
This wine is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc and 48% Merlot. Alcohol 14.4%. There is a juicy fruit start followed by ample ripe, dense, and almost grainy fruit. It is Cabernet Franc on steroids. With air, the cool blue and black fruit shows variety character with some ripe greenhouse notes. It is a powerful wine but not overdone. The structure of sweet ripe tannins with spiced flavors is only apparent in the aftertaste. *** Now – 2018.
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.
I managed to taste some interesting wines during a recent trip to Seattle. I had tasted a Teutonic wine exactly once so when confronted by a $28 bottle of 2012 Teutonic Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Laurel Vineyard Bergspitze Weisse, Chehalem Mountains no thought was required. It is in that lighter, more modern style coming from the west coast with clean flavors that showed tension between ripe and tart. It makes for a good glass to start off the evening. Also in the lighter vein is the outstanding NV Result of a Crush, Christmas Cuvee, Walla Walla. The Result of a Crush wines are produced using declassified fruit from Reynvaan Family Vineyards. Simply put, this beautiful wine had mouth filling flavors and an aftertaste that never quit! Buy all of the bottles you can find! At the opposite end of the spectrum, I find that the wines of COR Cellars are very flavorful and attractively priced. This bottle of 2012 COR Cellars, Momentum, Horse Heaven Hills managed to show the warmth of Washington State without being overwrought.
2012 Teutonic Wine Company, Pinot Noir, Laurel Vineyard Bergspitze Weisse, Chehalem Mountains – $28
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from 31 year old vines that was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 9 months in neutral oak. Alcohol 11.5%. This wine bore lighter flavors of Pinot Noir in a substantive body. The wine was tart towards the middle where a dose of acidity came out and with extended air, a stem-like structure developed. There was good tension between the tart and ripe before a hint of dry, black fruit came out in the finish. Overall while not the most complex wine it remained clean, flavorful, and in no way austere. ** Now-2016.
2012 COR Cellars, Momentum, Horse Heaven Hills – $20
This wine is a blend of 33% Merlot, 27% Malbec, 27% Petit Verdot, and 13% Cabernet Franc that was aged for 10 months in mostly French oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%. The nose remained aromatic and full-bore which preceded the dense, rounded start with its robust and firm black fruit. There was plenty of ripeness and young structure to boot. The wine clearly exhibits strength but it is not overdone. With air some salt and new wood pokes out before the good aftertaste. *** Now – 2018.
NV Result of a Crush, Christmas Cuvee, Walla Walla – $24
This wine is a blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier with 60% sourced from the 2013 vintage and 40% sourced from the 2012 vintage. Alcohol 13.3%. The light to medium strength matched the flavors and even took on some soil notes. In the mouth the wine had that lighter nature at first then became ripe and mouth filling with watering acidity and subtle expansion. This savory wine developed flavors of mandarin orange and revealed minerals at the finish. The ethereal ripeness of the aftertaste never went away! *** Now-2016.