Posts Tagged ‘Yakima Valley’

A Pair of Wines from aMaurice Cellars

December 11, 2013 Leave a comment

The 2009 aMaurice Cellars, Pour Me appears to have been released in 2011 for the Metropolitan Market.  Quite frankly I found it over oaked so I would avoid it. Much better is the 2010 aMaurice Cellars, Syrah/Grenache, Boushey Vineyards.   I cannot write that I am an expert with regards to Boushey Vineyards but this bottle immediately reminded me of the 2008 Ross Andrew Winery, Syrah, Boushey Vineyards.  That is a good memory.  This current release from Amaurice is on the young side so I would keep it in your cellar for at least a year before revisiting.  I believe it is worth the patience.  These wines were purchased at Whole Foods in Seattle.


2009 aMaurice Cellars, Pour Me, Red Blend, Columbia Valley – $18
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Cabernet Franc, 28% Merlot aged two years in 40% new French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  Aromas of sweet vanilla waft up from the glass.  In the mouth there was sweet vanilla from the start with Jenn calling it, “overt.”  The wine was round and soft with black and red fruit, and salivating acidity.  It was tougher towards the finish.  With air it took on chocolate notes.  Not my style.  * Now.


2010 aMaurice Cellars, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley – $34
This wine is a blend of 72% Syrah and 28% Grenache sourced from vines planted in 1980.  It was fermented in stainless steel then aged for two years in used French oak.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose revealed a subtle mix of orange, potpourri, and berries which was evocative of Boushey fruit.  The mouth followed the nose but the fruit firmed up in the middle.  There was acidity and an orange note.  With air there was a hint of round mouthfeel and some spices in the finish.  *** 2015-2024.


Spanish and American Wines Made by Spaniards

Earlier this summer I really enjoyed the 2010 Idilico, Graciano made by the Spaniard Javier Alfonso.  You may read about this wine in my post Trying a Few New Wines in Seattle. During that trip I stopped by Pike & Western Wine Shop where Jeremy helped me out with some selections.  There was a large range of Idilico wines so I picked up the 2010 Idilico, Monastrell and the 2010 Idilico, Tempranillo.  The Monastrell was the youngest wine of the three I tried and will benefit from cellaring.  I do not think it will reach the level of the Tempranillo and Graciano.  The Tempranillo and Graciano respond really well to air, you can feel them become more expressive in the mouth.  I rather like these two wines and think they are attractive for the price.  They are worth looking for.  The wines of Bodegas Marañones are made by Fernando “Fer” Garcia who produces these “natural wines” from old vines located on granite soils.  As Garcia is interested in terroir he is a member of Chicos del Terruar.  Both the Marañones and Labros were interesting, for they are produced the same so they highlight the characteristics of the plots.  The former showed attractive strawberry flavors and the later engaged with minerals.  Give both of them a go but be sure to cellar them at least one year.  These wines are available at Pike & Western Wine Shop in Seattle.


2011 Vinateria Idilico, Monastrell, Upland Vineyard – $20
Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose was tight with ripe red fruit.  In the mouth the flavors open up after a few hours of air to reveal low-lying and expansive flavors, integrated acidity, and a little juicy acidity at the end.  ** 2014-2018.


2010 Vinateria Idilico, Tempranillo – $20
This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from Snipes Mountain, Yakima Valley, and Horse Heaven which was aged in French oak for 12 months. Alcohol 14%.  The nose revealed a little leather, earth, and herbs.  In the mouth there were interesting flavors of black fruit, some tobacco, along with firm ripe tannins that were drying.  There was some vintgae perfume along with berries.  *** Now-2017.


2010 Bodega Marañones, Garnacha, Marañones, Madrid – $33
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from 50-70 year old vines from two plots at 750-850m.  It was whole cluster fermented in open top barrels using indigenous yeasts, underwent pigeage and foot treading, malolactic fermentation, then was aged on the lees for 12 months in used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose was rather subtle with low-lying, dark red aromas.  There was good character in the mouth.  This young wine had finely ripe strawberry and black fruit.  The acidity was integrated and watering before the flavors became drier in a sense.  There was a hint of dried herbs and wood box with a firmer nature in the finish.  It feels like there was extract to match the structure.  Perhaps a touch of warmth breaking through.  *** 2015-2023.


2010 Bodega Marañones, Garnacha, Labros, Madrid – $33
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from 70 year old vines from a single 0.7 ha plot at 650m.  It was whole cluster fermented in open top barrels using indigenous yeasts, underwent pigeage and foot treading, malolactic fermentation, then was aged on the lees for 12 months in used French oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose revealed cherry aromas.  This wine was the more forward of the two with a firm but riper, powdery core of black and red fruit.  There were minerally black fruit in the middle along with ripe and drying tannins which coated the lips and teeth.  The long aftertaste bore persistent, mineraly black fruit.  This remained more forward with a little roughness in the aftertaste, this should settle with some age.  There were gobs of robust sediment at the end.  *** 2014-2023.


Trying a Few New Wines in Seattle

June 21, 2013 2 comments


I grabbed several bottles of Washington State wine during my first evening in Seattle.  I picked them solely because I knew nothing about the producers.  I tried two of these wines during the course of my stay because the pure bottlings of Graciano and Cabernet Franc sounded interesting.  My favorite of the pair is the 2010 Idilico, Graciano made by Spanish winemaker Javier Alfonso.  He previously worked for Pomum Cellars.  Apparently the Graciano was planted at Upland Vineyands specifically for Javier’s use.   I believe these vines must have been planted in the mid 2000s because Full Pull Wines states the 2009 Pomum Tinto was the first Washington wine to incorporate Graciano.  In any event, this was a pretty good wine drunk out of a hotel tumbler.  I would have bought another bottle to bring back home for a second taste but I decided to carry back two other Idilico wines.  So if you are in Seattle, grab a bottle!  The 2010 PB Wines, Cabernet Franc is no cool-climate Cabernet Franc.  It is sourced from the Weinbau Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope.  This is a ripe and athletic version which could stand a little time to settled down.  While it is a little bit too much for me it should appeal to many.  These wines were purchased at Whole Foods on 64th St.


2010 Indilico, Graciano, Snipes Mountain, Yakima Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Graciano sourced from the Upland Vineyard in Snipes Mountain AVA.  The nose was complex with herbal and floral black fruit with a bitters-like complexity.  There was a lot of good flavor in the mouth which became drier as floral black fruit clung to the mouth.  There was tart acidity on the lips and tangy fruit with ripe,drying tannins giving substance to the wine.  *** Now-2017.


2010 PB Wines, Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc which was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for two years in 60% neutral French oak and 40% new French oak.  The light nose revealed toasty, purple fruit.  There was a ripe and rich start to this mouthfilling but not creamy wine.  There was lots of fruit which was a little rough in the middle.  The fruit had density and ripe tannins which could stand another year of age.  In the end this is a big and ripe Cabernet Franc with gobs of flavor.  **(*) 2014-2018.


Rulo Winery: Worthy of the Cellar


I have been drinking the wines of Rulo Winery for a few years.  Typically I drink the Syrca and Syrah, usually in my hotel room in Seattle.  With Maryland allowing direct shipping I thought it would be fun to tasted a range of their wines back home with Jenn.  Rulo Winery is the product of Kurt and Vicki.  They built the winery with their own funds, vinifiy the wines themselves, and even distribute them.  The fruit is sourced from strong vineyards and I think this shows in the quality of the flavors.  What also shows in the red wines are an ample dose of very fine, powerful tannins.  It is true that this may be distracting at times but it is best to let these age for the short-term.  If you must try a bottle then do so with food.  These wines were purchased from Rulo Winery.


2011 Rulo Winery, Grenache Blanc, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Grenache Blanc sourced from the Boushey Vineyard.  Alcohol 13.2%.  The color was a very light straw.  The light to medium nose was evocative of Sauvignon Blanc with its vibrant, fresh grassy aromas.  In the mouth there were similarly crisp flavors of pink grapefruit, vibrant acidity, and a tangy finish.  It revealed some ripe texture in the aftertaste.  ** Now.


2011 Rulo Winery, Chardonnay, Birch Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley – $20
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Birch Creek Vineyard.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The color was a very light yellow straw.  The light nose was of white and yellow fruit along with some toast.  There was bright white fruit in the mouth which slowly built controlled ripeness.  There was creamy weight, spices, and texture along with vibrant acidity.  With air peach flavors came out and some juiciness.  This showed good integration of acidity and spices.  *** Now-2016.


2009 Rulo Winery, Syrca, Columbia Valley – $16
This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Red Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills and 30% Syrah sourced from Red Mountain.  It was aged for 26 months in 50% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium purple, black cherry.  There was tight, dark red fruit in the mouth which left a sense that the wine was firming up.  There was a hint of vanilla, good acidity, and very fine, powerful tannins which coated and dried the cheeks.  **(*) 2014-2018.


NV Rulo Winery, WCF, Columbia Valley – $25
This wine is a blend of 64% 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from The Benches in Horse Heaven Hills and 36% 2009 Syrah sourced from Clifton Vineyard in Wahluke Slope.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was a medium+ purple, grapey darkness.  The nose was light and tight with savory aromas of vanilla and black fruit.  In the mouth the Cabernet Sauvignon comes out with black red fruit.  The wine is weighty and a touch savory as some vanilla comes out.  It becomes bigger and riper as a wave of flavor fills the mouth.  There were very fine, tannins which, though riper than the Syrca, still dried the mouth in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2017.


2009 Rulo Winery, Syrah, Columbia Valley – $25
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from River Rock in Walla Walla, Ranch at the End of the Road in Red Mountain, and Clifton Hill Vineyard in Wahluke Slope.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose preceeds the mouth with its slightly creamy blue and black fruit.  There was a little vanilla flavor before spicy tannins from oak came out.  It showed more structure with air in the way of very fine, powerful tannins.  The finish mixed a dark note with Big Red spices.  Stick this in the cellar.  **(*) 2018-2030.


2009 Rulo Winery, Silo, Clifton Hill Vineyard, Columbia Valley – $30
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the Clifton Hill Vineyard.  Alcohol 14.7%.  The color was a medium+ black cherry with a purple rim.  The start was a little tart with fresh red and black fruits, showing some controlled ripe, red fruit in the middle.  There were concentrated black fruit and minerals that were well integrated with salivating acidity on the sides of the tongue.  The minerally and steely finish made way to an aftertaste with very fine, powerful tannins.  Despite this dose of tannins the fruit readily absorbed it.  *** Now-2025.


Drink Urban Wine: The Tasting Room

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment


I took a look at the winery map on Seattle Urban Wineries and noticed that Wilridge Winery is located in Seattle.  Wilridge Winery is the oldest winery in Seattle having been founded in 1988. It was originally located underneath the Madrona Bistro. Today they are in a facility built in 1996 but there is also a tasting room downtown in Pike Place Alley. I had a bit of time before dinner so I headed over. It turns out that The Tasting Room is actually a cooperative tasting room of some five wineries: Camaraderie Cellars, Harlequin Wine Cellars, Latitude 46 N, Wilridge Winery, and Winelgass Cellars.


The Tasting Room is located within Pike Place Market. With concrete floors, exposed beams, walls full of wine, and a copper-topped bar it give off the feel of a very laid back wine cellar. Wines are available to taste by the ounce, half-glass, glass, and bottle. I opted for one ounce pours which ranged from $2 to $3 each. Several of the glasses were filled from just opened bottles with the rest dispensed from a pressurized preservative gas system. The base of the glasses are marked with the wine name to prevent confusion. Despite the efforts to present fresh wine they are served at room temperature which was far too warm for these wines. Temperature has a tremendous effect on a glass of wine. I suspect these wines would show better if cooler.


I was here to try the Wilridge wines so it was my first focus. They were out of the Zwiegelt so I picked three different red wines. My favorite of the group was the 2010 Estate Syrah-Mourvedre. Many of the wines are made from purchased fruit but in 2007 they planted their own vineyard in Naches Heights. Naches Heights is Washington’s second most recent AVA. This wine revealed good varietal character which started to integrate by the time I got to the bottom of my ounce. I would be curious to try it again.


2006 Wilridge Winery, Merlot, Klipsun Vineyards, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
Alcohol 13.8%. The light nose was slightly odd with thinning fruit aromas. In the mouth there were older, mature flavors, softer fruit, and some wood box. The fruit thinned in the middle as it became a bit tight and a little tart. The mature note returned in the aftertaste.


2009 Wilridge Winery, Estate Melange Rouge, Wilridge Vineyard, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 16% Malbec, 7% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.7%. This wine had a subtle nose of darker fruit, vintage perfume, and incense. The vintage perfumed fruit continued in the mouth then took on darker red fruit flavors and red cherry candy. The flavors faded a bit midpalate as it firmed up and the structure came out. The perfume then returned in the aftertaste.


2010 Wilridge Winery, Estate Syrah-Mourvedre, Wilridge Vineyard, Naches Heights
This wine is a blend of 78% Syrah and 22% Mourvedre. Alcohol 13.5%. The peppery nose steps out of the glass with a subtle, earthy berry undertone. The mouth follows the nose with the Syrah really acting as the spine of flavor and the Mourvedre supporting it from underneath. The two integrated with air followed by black fruit and acidity in the finish. Young tannins provide structure.

I had a bit more time before dinner so I departed from my urban theme to try a wine from Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles and Latitude 46N in Walla Walla. Both of these came recommended. At first inspection I would have sworn they were from the same winemaker for they bore a similar dark and dense profile. But then with air they separated with the Camaraderie showing drier structure and the Latitude 46N attractive grip and bramble.


2007 Camaraderie Cellars, Grace, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%. There was a subtle, dark nose. In the mouth the flavors were dense with dark red and blue-black fruit. There was a little racy aspect before the touch ripe and coarse midpalate. The wine was drier in the finish with fine+ drying tannins. This could age for several years.


2005 Latitude 46N, Merlot, Katherine Leone Vineyard, Wahluke Slope
This wine is 100% Merlot which was aged in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%. There was a subtle nose of dark blue fruit. This wine immediately shows a fair amount of grip to complement the ripe, almost brambly core of fruit. Towards the finish it took on a soft density with blue fruit and some spice. There is a forward personality. This should age but its vigor is quite enjoyable.

Drink Urban Wine

January 12, 2013 Leave a comment

I did not have a particular wine theme in mind for my recent trip to Seattle.  As I browsed around I caught some unknown wines so promptly decided to drink local.  That is local to downtown Seattle.  While there are several dozens of wineries nearby in Woodinville there are also just over a dozen in the city.  Queen Anne Winery is/was located on Queen Anne Hill which I can see from my hotel room.  From what I gather it is no longer in business.  Eight Bells Winery is located a bit further to the North-East in the Roosevelt/Ravenna neighborhood.  There is a building in the way so I cannot quite see where it is.  Now most wineries typically purchase fruit from established vineyards so no need to be looking around Seattle for a vineyard.  But if you want to look for one of these local wineries check out the Seattle Urban Wineries website.

Of the two wines I tried the Eight Bells, Roosevelt Red was the most interesting.  Tim Bates, Andy Shepherd and Frank Michiels own Eight Bells Winery.  They have been making wine for sometime in their basements and kitchens.  Back in the fall of 2009 they moved into a commercial warehouse.  They produce around one dozen wines with the majority being red.  I thought this wine was surprisingly good, the fruit is after all from the Red Willow Vineyard, and I am glad the price is fair.  The Queen Anne Winery was purchased at Wine World & Spirits.  The Eight Bells was purchased at Whole Foods.


2007 Queen Anne Winery, Petite Sirah, Columbia Valley – $18
This wine is 100% Petite Sirah.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color is a medium+ purple ruby which is almost opaque.  There is not much on the nose perhaps some cherry.  In the mouth there is tart red and black fruit in this firm wine.  The flavors tighten up then fade in the midpalate.  It is rough and warm in the finish.  * Now.


2009 Eight Bells, Roosevelt Red, Yakima Valley – $18
This wine is 100% Merlot sourced from the Red Willow Vineyard.  The fruit is destemmed, fermented in stainless steel, the undergoes malolactic fermentation and approximately 20 months of aging in oak barrels.  Alcohol 14.2%.  The color is a light to medium cranberry garnet.  Admittedly it was hard to smell in a tumbler but there were darker fruits.  In the mouth there was a creamy start with a lush attitude, good weight, ripe flavors then some sweet spiced black fruit in the finish.  There were soft tannins in a gently supportive structure.  There was some heat in the finish then a darker aftertaste.  It seemed to  balance out better on the second night with the heat disappearing.  Not too complex nor exactly subtle but good fun out of a tumbler in a hotel.  ** Now-2014.


A Lovely Evening of Northern Rhone Wine

January 8, 2013 2 comments

This past weekend a small group gathered in my dining room for a casual wine tasting.  Present were Lou, Phil, Roland, Andy, and myself.  Though the theme of Northern Rhone was picked just 24 hours in advance we ended up with a range of wines from 1995 to 2011 representing France, Washington, and Maryland.  Of the Northern Rhone wines there were four wines from Cote-Rotie, two from Cornas, one from Hermitage, one from Crozes-Hermitage, one from Saint-Joseph, and one from the Ardeche.  Two ringers in the form of Cayuse Vineyards and Black Ankle Vineyards were included.  All of the wines were served blind.

It was a fun evening.  Every person has a deeply set love for wine and a noticeable curiosity about what is in their glass.  I believe all enjoyed the wines for the conversation kept weaving back to the wines and regions amongst noises of approval.  I honestly prefer tasting wines when the people I am with and their remarks keep drawing me away from my notes.  Wine is a social beverage and is best drunk when the people you are with are just as much of a draw as the wines themselves.

I started off the tasting by serving the 2011 Syncline, Grenache Blanc blind.  This was one of the only white Rhone inspired white wines in my basement.  I have become curious to try Washington State Grenache Blanc so I thought it would be a fun start.  New World was concluded with Washington and Oregon narrowed down based on my travels.


Starter – 2011 Syncline, Grenache Blanc, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley
This wine is 100% Grenache Blanc which was whole-cluster pressed, fermented with indigeneous yeasts, racked into older French oak, no malolactic fermentation, and aged on the lees for roughly five months.  Alcohol 14.1%.  The nose was lighter and brighter with focused white fruit and tree fruit.  In the mouth there was fresh, acidity driven fruit, a little hint of toast, and a citric finish.  It has a bit of grip, along with some tartness and leaves the overall impression of youth and freshness.  On the second night there was a core of grippy white fruit, tart green apple flavors, and enjoyable tannins in the aftertaste.  I was surprised by the quality of the acidity.  *** Now-2015.


The red wines were tasted in flights of three.  In retrospect I could have grouped these by age but being more interested in not know what we were tasting I automatically mixed them up.  I do not think this harmed any perspectives.  Unfortunately the 1996 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Hermitage La Chapelle was not drinkable and the 1995 Chapoutier, La Mordoree, Cote-Rotie was only made somewhat drinkable by additional decanting.  The 2008 Barret, Brise Cailloux, Cornas was an oddity and I think showing too many flaws.  Shame.

There was a lovely glass to be found in the 2008 Cayuse, Syrah, Armada.  Perfumed, effortless, and elegant it was easy to grasp why this was one of two bottles to be finished.  The only other finished bottle was the 2010 Champet, La Vialliere, Cote-Rotie.  While young there is strong attraction to this old-school wine which should develop quite nicely.  The 1998 Ogier, Cote-Rotie stood out with its striking nose.  The flavors could not quite keep up but it was a beautiful wine overall.  Perhaps the biggest surprise came from the 1998 Tardieu-Laurent, Crozes-Hermitage.  Tardieu-Laurent’s northern Rhone wines do very well with the Syrah easily absorbing all of the new oak.  This bottle had been kicked about the shop floor a bit but despite the figurative footprints the wine inside was a treat.

The 2003 Durand, Cornas is hybrid between the old with its earth and vintage perfume and the new with forward, ripe fruit.  A bit of an oddity in that combination but this drank great on the second night and should develop for some time.  The 1999 J. Vidal-Fleury, Brune et Blonde, Cote-Rotie is perfectly mature and complete in what it is, which provides for a good glass.  The 2003 Corbis, Les Royes, Saint-Joseph is a very solid glass of wine and while it drank well on the second night, it may not gain much more complexity so I would drink it now.  The 2007 Black Ankle, Leaf Stone Syrah stood out with its candy and sweetness but it was a great start for the second night.  I doubt anyone guessed Maryland.  Ed said the 2007 is more New World and the 2008 is Old World.  I should like to try the 2008.  Lastly the 2011 Gonnon, Les Iles Feray which was literally and figuratively the youngest of all the red wines.  Produced from vineyards located right next to Saint-Joseph this showed unique flavors and worthy of seeking out for the cellar or wine fridge.


1 – 1996 Paul Jaboulet Aine, La Chapelle, Hermitage
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced primarily from Meal, Bessards, and Greffieux.  All of the fruit is destemmed and crushed with fermentation in a mix of concrete and steel vats.  It is aged between 13-17 months in some to no new oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  Double-decanted right before tasting.  The color was a tired, medium tawny garnet.  There was a firm nose which smelled old. In the mouth the firmer palate was tired, perhaps a touch of ripe fruit, but showing past prime.  Not Rated.


2 – 2010 Domaine Joel Champet, La Vialliere, Cote-Rotie
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the three hectare vineyard of La Vialliere which was fully planted in 1999.  The fruit is not destalked, fermentation is in concrete vats followed by 18 months of age in < 10% new foudres.  Alcohol 12.5%.  Opened right before tasting.  There was a lovely nose of young fruit and pepper.  In the mouth there was tarter, focused black fruit which took on weighty, ripe red fruit.  There was fine grip, old-school personality, and fine drying tannins.  A powerful, balanced wine which is young with a very strong future ahead.  ***(*) 2018-2028.


3 – 2003 Domaine Corbis, Les Royes, Saint Joseph
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 12 hectares of vineyards on Les Royes with soils of limestone and clay.  The fruit is destemmed, undergoes punch downs, pump overs, and emptying/refilling.  It is aged for one year in 33% new, 33% one year, and 33% two year old casks.  Alcohol 14%.  Double-decanted half an hour prior to tasting.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The light nose was tight with dark, earthy aromas.  In the mouth there was red, weighty fruit, some vanilla, a little red candy, and tart acidity.  There was a  fine wood box flavor and good density to the fruit which had a sexy personality.  On the second night the nose became more restrained.  In the mouth the black and red fruit was dense with a light, creamy feel.  There was subtle black fruit, minerals.  The acidity and flavors were fresh, almost Eucalyptus like.  There were fine polish and drying tannins in the aftertaste which stuck to the gums.  Should last for some time but might be best now.  Better on first night. *** Now-2018.


4 – 2008 Cayuse Vineyards, Syrah, Armada, Walla Walla Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the Armada Vineyard planted in 2001.  It was aged for 22 months in puncheons.  Alcohol 14.2%.  Decanted for two hours prior to tasting.  The color was a medium, garnet ruby.  There was a beautiful, effortless nose of perfumed fruit.  In the mouth there was lovely weight to the fruit which bore gentle power and subtle creaminess.  There was black fruit in the finish along with a minerally bit.  Well integrated all around.  With air it took on an orange peel note.  This should age well.  Elegant!  **** Now-2023.


5 – 1998 Tardieu-Laurent, Crozes-Hermitage
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  Alcohol %.  Double-decanted half an hour prior to tasting.  The color was a light to medium garnet.  The nose has more old wood and a touch of smoke.  In the mouth it was an interesting wine with dark red fruit, minerals, and a more upright personality than #4.  There was a youthful core of fruit which matched a good structure.  On the second night this was still drinking well and took on elegance.  **** Now-2023.


6 – 2007 Black Ankle Vineyards, Leaf Stone Syrah, Frederick County
This wine is 91% Syrah, 4% Pinot Noir, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Merlot which was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak.  Alcohol 14.6%.  Double-decanted half an hour prior to tasting.  The light nose revealed more candy aromas with ripe fruit and a barrel note.  In the mouth the riper fruit has good weight, sweetness, and a forward personality.  It was mouthfilling with a touch of powder.  On the second night the good weight continued with cool black cherry fruit, a creamy texture, and some raciness towards the finish.  There was a bit of black licorice and some barrel sweetness.  *** Now-2020.


7 – 2003 Eric & Joel Durand, Cornas
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from three hectares in Chaillot, Champelrose, Sauman, and Tezier.  The fruit is destemmed, fermented in regulated vats then undergoes malolactic fermentation in oak casks where it is aged for 12 months in 10-15% new oak casks.  Alcohol 14%.  Opened one hour prior to tasting.  The red nose offered up some candy aromas.  In the mouth there were flavors of red candy and strawberry with some ripeness.  There was a tang on the sides of the tongue followed by very fine, drying tannins.  On the second night the weighty fruit showed more complexity with minerality, black flavors, structure in the middle, and good acidity.  Then there were earthy and vintage perfume notes.  A nice wine which continued to drink with confidence on the second night.  ***(*) Now-2028.


8 – 1995 M. Chapoutier, La Mordoree, Cote Rotie
Imported by Paterno Imports.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the oldest vineyards in Brune and Blonde which date back to the 1940s.  The fruit is destemmed, fermented in open wood vessels then aged for 15-20 months in 50% new oak casks.  Alcohol 12.8%.  Double-decanted right before tasting.  The color was a light to medium tawny garnet.  The light nose was tight with older aromas.  Decanting certainly helped but older, drying fruit remained.  There was firm black fruit, tartness, acidity, and a general lack of giving up anything. * Now.


9 – 1998 Domaine Michel Ogier, Cote-Rotie
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from lieux-dits Lancement (1979), Cote Rozier (1950s), Champon (early 1990s), and But de Mont (1988).  which is aged for 18 months in 30% new oak casks.  Opened right before tasting.  The nose was striking and stood out with smoke, vintage perfume, and pepper.  The flavors were tart on the tip of the tongue.  This salty wine slowly expanded in the mouth and does show some age.  At first the mouth was not as good as the nose but with air it eventually opened up.  There were lots of red fruit, a little citrus, and on the second night an earthy and bloody aspect.  **** Now-2023.


10 – 1999 J Vidal-Fleury, Brune et Blonde, Cote Rotie
Imported by W. J. Deutsch & Sons.  This wine is 95-97% Syrah and 3-5% Viognier sourced only from estate vineyards averaging 40 years of age.  It is aged up to three years in 50 hl barrels. Alcohol 13%.  Opened right before tasting.  The color was a medium garnet.  The nose bore older, ripe aromas with a fine quality and perhaps a touch of veg.  In the mouth the fruit bore riper weight, expansive in the mouth, and a younger personality compared to the nose.  There was a little cedar note and black fruit in the finish.  On the second night the wine was softer with gentle red fruit, wood box notes, and some puckering acidity.  There was a little earthy component.  Despite the good level of maturity the fruit had a youthful nature.  I would still drink this up.  *** Now-2018.


11 – 2008 Matthieu Barret, Brise Cailloux, Cornas
This wine is 100% Syrah which is farmed organically and biodynamically.  It is sourced from almost 10 hectares of vines .  Between half and all of the fruit is destalked, the cap punched, then aged for 18 months in used casks.  Very little sulphur is used.  Decanted for two hours prior to tasting.  There was a nose of pepper and pine.  In the mouth the fruit was very tart with citric red fruit flavors.  There were drying tannins and a hint of yeast in the aftertaste.  On the second night the yeasty flavors continued with red grapefruit in the aftertaste.  Not enough sulphur? * Now.


12 – 2011 Pierre Gonon, Les Iles Feray, Ardeche
Imported by.  This wine is 100% Syrah which was fermented with indigenous yeast then aged for 13-15 months in 600 liter casks which are 1 to 40 years old.  Decanted for one hour prior to tasting.  The color was a medium grapey ruby.  At first there was a strange nose with some mixed ripe berries.  With air the nose became muted with aromas of fresh berries.    In the mouth there was blacker fruit, a serious attitude, gentle weight to the unique and good flavors.  On the second night there were flavors of tart black fruit, berries, and minerals.  There was salivating acidity and a brighter finish where firm, drying, and somewhat grapey tannins came out.  The wine stands out and should be cellared for the short-term.  *** 2015-2025.


We Taste Canadian Wine Amongst Others

September 4, 2012 2 comments

Lou and I took advantage of some quiet time this past holiday weekend to taste a random selection of wines. Lou brought two wines from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The Summerhill Pyramid Winery was interesting for it was my first time tasting the Ehrenfelser grape. This is a German cross between Riesling and Silvaner. A far more interesting drink was the Stag’s Hollow red wine. While I have tasted both Canadian white and dessert wines I am confident that the Stag’s Hollow is my first experience with a Canadian red. There was a slightly underripe, greenhouse nose somewhat in contrast to the mouthfeel and alcohol level. With my last glass of the wine it managed to take the essential turn for I unknowingly cast aside all analytical thoughts and simply enjoyed the wine for what it was.

The Maison Bleue, Au Contraire is not my particular favorite style of white wine but it is impeccably balanced and I suspect will live for many years. The ungassed, unrefrigerated leftovers were still strong on the third day. The Tablas Creek, Esprit de Beaucastel is a lovely, deep wine which requires several hours of air for current consumption. I highly recommend cellaring it another 3-5 years. I can readily sum up the Colline St Jean, Vacqueyras as a young wine confident with blueberries and pepper. This too should be stuck in the cellar for several years. We wrapped the tasting up with the Clos Les Lunelles. Lou had purchased some of the 2009 vintage so thought it would be fun to try the 2001. At eleven years of age there are mature notes with the ample roast aromas and flavors. The color is almost impenetrable and the structure is still significant against the fruit so perhaps this is best to drink sooner?

The Tablas Creek, Colline St Jean, and Clos Les Lunelles were double-decanted about two hours prior to tasting. The other wines were opened up right before we tasted them. As usual the leftover were split up between Lou and I, gassed with Private Preserve, then tasted on the following night.

2010 Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Ehrenfelser, Okanagan Valley –
This wine is 100% Ehrenfelser sourced from organic vineyards and fermented with indigenous yeasts. It was Pyramid Cellared. Alcohol 11.0%. The wine is a very light straw color. There is a sweet, floral nose mixed with tropical notes. In the mouth the wine is moderately sweet with immediately mouthfeel from the residual sugar. The mouth follows the nose tropical fruits and floral notes with a good mouthfeel. The flavors dry up in the finish where, perhaps, a touch of chalk exists. Well developed flavors but not much depth and it could stand to have more acidity. ** Now.

2010 Maison Bleue, Au Contraire, Yakima Valley – $20
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from a 9 acre block of the French Creek Vineyard planted in 1980. It was fermented and aged sur-lie for seven months in a 50% stainless steel and 50% oak. 50% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation. Alcohol 13.2%. The color is a light yellow. The light nose reveals white fruit. In the mouth this wine is very precise with light, focused flavors. It is a little chalky. The acidity powers the entire wine even as it puts on a little weight. There is a good mouthfeel and a decent, lengthy aftertaste which leave some ripe tannins on the teeth. On the second night there were some yellow fruit, yeast, and barrel notes. *** Now-2017.

2009 Stag’s Hollow, The Heritage Block, Okanagan Valley –
This wine is a blend of 63% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from estate and purchased fruit. It was fermented with selected yeasts and underwent malolactic fermentation before aging 18 months in American and French oak. TA 6.6g/L, pH 3.63, RS 2 g/L Alcohol 14.1%. The color is a light to medium cherry ruby. The nose was tight with some greenhouse notes. In the mouth this Bordeaux blend showed some violet fruit then a touch of tart, red fruit. It was a little racy with some supportive licorice flavors and cherry notes. At first I thought the finish was a bit medicinal but that impression faded. Later that night and the next day the wine fleshed out nicely with some sweet spices along with dry tannins. In the end a satisfying glass. *** Now-2015.

2007 Tablas Creek, Esprit de Beaucastel, Paso Robles –
This wine is a blend of 44% Mourvedre, 29% Grenache, 21% Syrah, and 6% Counoise sourced from the 120 acre organic estate vineyard. It was fermented in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts then aged in French oak foudres. Alcohol 14.5%. The color is a medium ruby. The light to medium nose bore aromas of sweet ripe fruit, a little bramble, and tilts towards red fruit. The flavors immediately start off concentrated with a good mouthfeel. There are bluer fruits with power, very fine drying tannins, and some initial let-loose heat in the aftertaste. Still young with some carbon dioxide. After several hours the wine came together with garrigue, some sweet spice, and captivating dark, earthy notes which hang low through the aftertaste. The herbs are quite nice. A lovely wine but still tight. **** 2016-2030.

2010 Domaine de la Colline St Jean, Vacqueyras – $23
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils. This wine is a blend of 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre sourced from a 14 hectares of 50 year old vines on soils of clay and limestone. The fruit was fermented with indigenous yeasts in cement vats before aging in 70% cement vat and 30% used oak barrels. Alcohol 14%. The medium strength nose reveals young pure fruit with a powerful pepper note and eventually blueberry jam. In the mouth the pepper fruit shines through as the wine puts on complexity in to the aftertaste. There are strong, fine+ drying tannins and sweet spices. On the second night the wine remains young with an added graphite note to the blueberry fruit, a racy aspect, and a dark note in the aftertaste. There is prominent structure to this modern styled wine. ***(*) 2017-2025.

2001 Clos Les Lunelles, Cotes de Castillon – $35
Imported by MacArthur Liquors. This wine is an approximate blend of 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc.Alcohol 13.5%. The darkest of wines with a very dark core showing some garnet and brick on the thin rim. The medium strength nose carries older fruit, some roast, a little sour red fruit, wood, and dried tobacco. I also noted aromas of grilled hot dogs. In the mouth there are strong flavors of herbs and roast delivered in a surprisingly round manner. With air the dry red fruit mixes with fig and dried fruit. The acidity is balanced and the aftertaste is good. Plenty of life ahead but I suspect the tannic structure will outlive the fruit. *** Now-2020.

Tasting A Variety of Wines at Lou’s

We recently joined Lou and Adriene for dinner and wine in their newly renovated dining room….and kitchen.  I think the wine bottles look great on the marble countertop!  There was not much attempt to coordinating the wines and I am finding such diversity enlivening.  The Albert Morot and La Sirena were decanted a few hours ahead of time by Lou whereas the Fidelitas saw less than an hour of air.  As usual the leftover wine was divided up, dosed with Private Preserve, then retasted the next night.  The La Sirena was a standout wine for me, a lovely treat that I believe all of us very much enjoyed.  The Albert Morot is still young and in its oscillations revealed hints of what its future will be.  This was Jenn’s favorite wine of the evening.  The Charles Schleret was beguiling youthful, fresh, and virtually unchanged over both nights.  The Faury is an infant which should age while you drink the 2009.  What I remember most is that the evening was so relaxing.  We gently floated through the cheese, wine, and dinner, happily chatting with no regard to time.

2005 Domaine Charles Schleret, Riesling Herrenweg, Alsace – $24
Imported by Neal Rosenthal.  The delicate aromas of Riesling fruit step out of the glass and reveal a delicate, floral perfume.  In the mouth the gently ripe fruit mixed with spice, lively acidity, and controlled ripeness before expansive darker flavors come out.  Tastes young.  On the second night the flavors tightened up a touch in the aftertaste otherwise it remained virtually unchanged.  Easy to drink and will undoubtedly drink for a long time.  *** Now-2022.

2010 Domaine Faury, St Joseph Blanc – $28
Imported by Kermit Lynch.  This wine is a blend of 60% Marsanne and 40% Roussane.  The light to medium nose is of delicate sweet herbs and white fruit, florals, and perhaps passion fruit.  In the mouth the bright white fruit flavors mix with stones in the supple, fruity body.  On the second night the acidity was well-integrated and the aftertaste had drying spices on the tongue.  Light compared to the 2009 vintage and in need of age.  **(*)  2015-2022.

2009 Bruno Clavelier, Bourgogne Passetoutgraine, Vieilles Vignes – $15
Imported by MacArthur Beverages.  This is a blend of old-vine Gamay and Pinot Noir.  Opened the night before. The nose was piercing with raspberry aromas and some spicy, Big-Red.  In the mouth the flavors bore gritty citrus tartness before becoming tart and cardboard-like.  * Now.

2007 Albert Morot, Beaune Toussaints 1er Cru, Beaune – $25
Imported by Robert Kacher.  This wine is 100% Pinot Noir sourced from 40-year-old vines.  It was aged for 16 months in new and old oak.  In the glass the color was a light garnet with a tinge of rose.  The nose bore brighter red fruit, a touch of celery, and a hint of Italian parsley.  In the mouth the flavors were focused with bluer-red fruit, a minerally acidity throughout that worked well with the wood notes.  This refreshing wine opened up to reveal roasted meats, herbs, and a richer nose.  On the first evening it did tighten up at time and on the second night it was less aromatic, tight, and youthful.  I would age this a bit more.  *** 2015-2022.

2003 La Sirena, Syrah, Santa Ynez Valley
From the wines of Heidi Barrett she is famous for being the winemaker at Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Grace Family, and others.  This wine is 100% Syrah aged for 20 months in oak.  In the glass the color was medium+ ruby with some garnet.  The nose was finely textured with vanilla notes and quite a stand out.  The flavors in the mouth were expansive with blue and black fruit, controlled power, and a youthfulness with some age.  With air it became ripe, gritty, and showed flavors of waffles with maple syrup.  On the second night it still showed lively blueberry flavors, concentration, and orange juice acidity.  Nice!  **** Now-2020.

2007 Fidelitas, Red Wine, Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley – $36
This wine is a blend of 53% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Cabernet Franc which underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel then was aged for 24 months in 50% new and 50% used American and French oak.  This wine was powdery with sweet spices, vanilla, in a soft personality. The flavors in the finish tilted towards cinnamon spice with a soft aftertaste.  On the second night the wine tightened up for the better with ripe black fruit, pleasing warm acidity, and a stone sheen.  I suspect this will not make old bones.  ** Now-2015.

Wine at Flying Fish

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

A group of us met up for dinner last week at Flying Fish in South Lake Union.  I did not realize the restaurant had relocated from Belltown even though I had been to Soul Wine, Serious Pie just to the north and Whole Foods to the south.  Unsure of whether to pick the 2009 Reinhold Haart or the 2009 Sparkman, Lumiere (I had enjoyed the 2010) the sommerliere, Claire Hansen, steered us towards the Reinhold Haart.  Having quickly polished off the Reinhold Haart she then recommend the 2009 Brian Carter Cellars, Oriana to accompany our variety of entrees.  My notes from memory are below.

2009 Reinhold Haart, Piesporter Grafenberg, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Saar Ruwer
This had a strong sulphur “burnt-tire” nose at first but that eventually blew off to reveal citrus and minerals.  In the mouth there were white stone fruits, almost citrus like acidity, with minerals, some overt sweetness, and a petroleum note running through.  Balanced and textured on all fronts, everyone was pleased by the wine. A good Kabinett that could stay a wee bit of aging to come together. **(*) 2014-2022.

2009 Brian Carter Cellars, Oriana, Yakima Valley
This is a blend of 55% Viognier, 29% Roussane, and 16% Riesling that was sourced from Elderling, Solstice, and Olsen Brothers vineyards.  It was fermented and aged for six months in 67% stainless steel and 33% neutral French oak.  This took me completely by surprise with its tropical nose of “papaya” then hard, Rhone-like flavors in the mouth.  There were still some tropical notes mixed with pear-like flavors with a hard edge, decent mouth feel, and a good amount of acidity.  It cut through the food quite fine but was ultimately not the most pleasant to drink. * Now.