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Month in Wines: October 2014

November 9, 2014 1 comment

Ahh, the ever accelerating pace of the days, weeks and months flying by like a runaway train, as we are getting closer to the holidays… Another month becomes a history, and as usual, it is the time to summarize the wine experiences. Typically, this is not a very difficult task with may be 12 -15 wines which would be typically mentioned in this “month in wines” posts. It seems to be a challenging undertaking for October 2014, as it included a trip to Washington with 7 excellent wineries and lots of great wines. Well, I will do my best to control of size of this post and not to inundate my readers with repetitious details. Quick reminder: only the wines rated 8- or higher are included into this post (yes, with possible exceptions).

Let’s go:

2013 Mark Ryan Viognier Columbia Valley – Perfumy, bright, with crisp acidity and medium body. Delicious overall. 8

2012 Sparkman Cellars Enlightenment Chardonnay French Creek Vineyard Yakima ValleyElegant, with a touch of the Chablis-like gunflint on the nose, and enough of butter, vanilla and substance to make it a soulful wine. 8

NV Ayala Champagne Brut Majeur (12% ABV) – One of my all time favorite Champagnes. A full package – yeasty nose, freshly baked bread, toasted apple, perfect mid-palate weight. One of the best QPR for Champagne that I know of. 8

2013 L’Ecole No 41 Chenin Blanc Old Vines Columbia Valley (13.5% ABV) – I read it many times that acidity is often brought up as a primary characteristic of Chenin Blanc – but my experience doesn’t support it. This wine,. similar to some of the best Vouvray wines I ever had, was showing a bright white fruit, medium to full body, ripe apples and balancing acidity. 8

2011 Tikveš Barovo Red Wine, Macedonia (14.5% ABV, 65% Kratosija, 35% Vranec) – we can call this wine the “dark power”. Almost black in the appearance, with tar and espresso at its core, ripe blackberries and soft tannins. Vranec is considered one of the most heart-friendly grapes. And Kratosija adds one more grape to the collection. 8-

2011 Field Recordings Petite Sirah Edna Valley (15% ABV, 100% Petite Sirah, Crocket Hill Vineyard) – ripe blueberries, packaged into the soft frame, with bright nose saying “drink me” and blueberries all the way on the palate. Round, smooth, elegant – a “dangerous wine” – it is gone before you notice. 8-

2008 Henri Cruchon Gamaret Morges AOC (13% ABV) – Restrained, delicious old world wine. Earthiness and minerality, somewhat muted on the nose. Touch of blackberries and smoke on the palate, more earthiness, soft tannins and excellent balance. 8-

2009 Chateau Greysac Médoc AOC, France (14% ABV) – Chateau Greysac is one of the Bordeaux staples – always reasonably priced, and very consistent, year after year. Good dark fruit on the nose with a touch of earthiness, blackberries. More blackberries on the palate with a touch of cassis, refreshing acidity, well integrated tannins and medium to long finish. 8-

2012 Laplace Madiran AOP, France (14% ABV) – a rare breed – Tannat from its place of origin, France. Dark, dense, concentrated, with tar and ink on the palate, but showing fresh fruit surprisingly well. Full bodied wines, very dense and present. 8-

2006 Trapiche Broquel Malbec Mendoza, Argentina (14% ABV) – no sign of age – fresh, approachable, touch of sweet oak, dark fruit, well noticeable tannins and perfect balancing acidity. Delicious. 8

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonoma County (13.1% ABV) – classic, classic, classic – dark smokey fruit on the nose, same on the palate – cherries, hint of mushrooms and forest floor, vibrant acidity, more smoke on the palate. 8

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And here are the [red wine] highlights of the Woodinville trip (lots of them) – for the tasting notes, please click on the wine name:

2010 Elevation Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley – 8
2011 Elevation Cellars Jammin’ Red Blend Red Mountain and Columbia Valley – 8-
2010 Elevation Cellars Merlot Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley – 8-
2009 Elevation Cellars Monolith Bordeaux Blend Hedges Vineyard Red Mountain – 8+
2011 Pondera Entwined Columbia Valley – 8-
2011 Pondera SVS Number One Columbia Valley – 8-
2011 Pondera Malbec Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley – 8+
2009 Pondera Prima Donna Columbia Valley  – 8
2010 Des Voigne Cellars Montreux Syrah Columbia Valley  – 8-
2010 Des Voigne Cellars “Untitled” Columbia Valley – 8-
2011 Des Voigne Cellars The Composer Wahluke Slope – 8-
2012 Sparkman Cellars Ruckus Syrah Red Mountain – 8
2011 Sparkman Cellars Rainmaker Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley – 8+
2011 Guardian Cellars Gun Metal Columbia Valley – 8
2011 Guardian Cellars The Informant Syrah Wahluke Slope – 8
2011 Guardian Cellars The Rookie Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain – 8
2011 Fidelitas Boushey Vineyard Red Wine Yakima Valley – 8-
2012 Mark Ryan NumbSkull GSM Walla Walla – 8
2012 Mark Ryan The Dissident Columbia Valley – 9-
2012 Mark Ryan Long Haul Red Mountain – 8+
2012 Mark Ryan Dead Horse Red Mountain – 9-
2011 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley – 8-
2011 Leonetti Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley – 8+

And we are done here. So, what were your wine discoveries for the past month? Cheers!

Wines, Wines, Wines – Part 2

August 18, 2013 15 comments

As promised, here is the second part of the Wines, Wines, Wines post. In the first part, we talked about great Riesling and Gewurzrtraminer wines, with some extra value wines and Prosecco. Let’s continue our “memorable wine extravaganza” with a couple of Chardonnays.

Chardonnay

It is so interesting how things work in life. You might walk past say, a picture, every day, and never notice it. And then all of a sudden you say “what is it? Was it always here, or is it something new??”, and people around you look at you like you have two heads or something. Where am I going with this? Give me a minute, I will make my point.

Couple of month ago I got a bottle of Chardonnay, accompanied by the words “try it, it is pretty good”. I’m a sucker for good Chardonnay (yeah, true, you can substitute “Chardonnay” with any other varietal – I’m just a sucker for any good wine, but this can be a subject for a different post). But this Chardonnay was from New Zealand. And New Zealand in by book is the land of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir – but not really a Chardonnay. So I finally got the bottle opened and … wow.

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Seresin Chardonnay

2008 Seresin Chardonnay Reserve Marlboro New Zealand (13.5% ABV, 11 month in oak).  The symbol of the hand on the label has a deep meaning. Quoting few words from Seresin Estate web site, “The hand is a symbol of strength, gateway to the heart, tiller of the soil, the mark of the artisan, and embodies the philosophy of Seresin Estate”. Here are my tasting notes for this wine: Outstanding, classic. Perfect nose of vanilla and white apples, just right. Very balanced fruit on the palate – hint of butter, vanilla, oak, good acidity – one of the most balanced Chardonnays ever. Drinkability: 8+

Oh yes, you are still waiting for me to connect to the opening sentence about passing by and not seeing things around for the long time, right? As of very recently, as I walked in the New Zealand isle in the store, I noticed all of a sudden that almost every producer now features Chardonnay in addition to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. When did it happen, how long this was the case with New Zealand Chardonnays – I don’t have any idea, but based on this experience, I definitely want to try more.

Frédéric Gueguen Chablis

Frédéric Gueguen Chablis

2005 Frédéric Gueguen Chablis Les Grandes Vignes (13% ABV) – I don’t have a lot of experience with Chablis overall. I had a few bottles of Chablis here and there, but never was really impressed with it (I never had Chablis of a Grand Cru or even Premier Cru level). I don’t know what possessed me to get this wine from the Benchmark Wine Company, I guess it was in the right price range ( under $20), and somehow caught my attention. Then I read somewhere, that Chablis requires on average about 10 years of age in the bottle to really start transforming and going past the initial “steely acidity” flavor profile to get to the next level. And then I tried this Frédéric Gueguen wine – wow. Here are my tasting notes: some darker yellow color, but not quite golden yet. Amazing nose, reminiscent of Côte-Rôtie – almost a touch of sulfur (think freshly burnt matches), or even more of a smell of a hot piece of granite on a summer day, a “roasted rock”. Side note: pardon my naive definition here – I recently learned that professionals call it a “gunflint” – but I will not use this term as it doesn’t lead to any associations for me. Perfect complexity on the palate – white fruit, vanilla. Lots and lots of minerality. Full bodied and very balanced, excellent wine overall. Drinkability: 8+

Pinot Noir

And we are moving along to the Pinot Noir wines – both of the wines below were excellent:

Siduri Pinot Noir

Siduri Pinot Noir

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonoma County (13.1% ABV) – perfectly clean California Pinot – good smokey nose, with a touch of red fruit aromas. Light cherries on the palate, hint of earthiness, medium body, perfect acidity, very clean and balanced. Drinkability: 8-

Carmel Road Pinot Noir

Carmel Road Pinot Noir

2008 Carmel Road Pinot Noir Monterey (14.0% ABV) – outstanding. Bright ruby color in the glass, raspberries and hint of smokiness on the nose. Raspberries, cranberries and cherries on the palate. Medium to full body. Excellent acidity, overall perfectly balanced. Drinkability: 8+

Cabernet Franc

I have only one wine for you here, but it was mind blowing.

Field Recordings Cabernet Franc

Field Recordings Cabernet Franc

2010 Field Recordings Three Creek Vineyard Cabernet Franc Santa Barbara (15.9% ABV, 90% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec, 18 month in French oak) – spectacular. If you read this blog on the regular basis, you know that I’m very impartial to the wines of Field Recordings – but this is not my fault, it is Andrew Jones’ fault ( Andrew Jones is the winemaker behind Field Recordings). This wine had beautiful garnet color in the glass. The nose was clean and open, withhint of black currant and other red fruit. The palate is stunning with black currant, cherries, touch of black pepper, dark chocolate, perfect acidity, soft and supple tannins, all in the format of full-bodied wine. Perfect balance of fruit, acidity, tannins and alcohol – which is pretty amazing at 15.9% ABV. Drinkability: 9

Last, but not least – Syrah

Villa Pillo

Villa Pillo Syrah

Appearance of the large amount of Italian Syrah wines is also somewhat of a revelation, similar to the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post. All of a sudden I start noticing that there are more Italian Syrah wines showing in the wine stores, and people are just talking more about them, in the blogs and otherwise.

2010 Villa Pillo Syrah Toscana IGT (14.5% ABV) – we got this wine when we visited Millbrook Winery in New York (this will be a subject of a separate post), as they are importing this and a number of other wines from Italy. Tasting notes: Dark garnet color in the glass. Nose of dark fruit and dark chocolate. Outstanding on the palate – hint of pepper, cherries, plums and raspberries, more dark chocolate. Full bodied, with the velvety texture weaved over firm structure. Drinkability: 8

Whew, we are done here! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and cheers!

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