Thursday, March 31, 2011

Washington Wine Month, a last Hurrah! 2007 Januik Columbia Valley Red

Wow!  This week has been one right from the crapper as far as work goes!  It's 8:43 and I just got home from work (you know I just mistyped "for work" and I think that's more than a Freudian slip!).  So I don't know if I'll even have time for dinner tonight, so I better open some wine!  And to celebrate the last day of Washington Wine Month, I opened one of my 6-pack from, this one is the 2007 Januik Columbia Valley Red, what a treat!  Unbeknownst to me, Mike Januik is a very consistent winemaker who according to Robert Parker "does is make good wine, year after year, without a lot of fanfare or glitz."  This wine is a blend of 62% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Franc 6% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec (but I won't hold that against it).  And the grapes are sourced from some of Washington's great vineyards, including Klipsun, Stillwater Creek, Alder Ridge, Seven Hills, Lewis, Ciel du Cheval and Weinbau vineyards.

The wine itself is quite pleasing, with a deep ruby color and a nose exhibiting aromas of leather and cedar.  The wine is nice and dry, with flavors of black currant and berries that really holds up remarkably well.  With some initial spice, at the end, this wine has a wonderfully smooth finish.  Although I appear to be drinking this one for dinner, I could imagine it holding up quite well to grilled steaks, but also going quite well with salmon or a nice dry rubbed pork tenderloin.  I have no idea what this one cost me, since it was a 6-pack for $160, which averages out to $26.67 per bottle, so at that average cost it's not a great value, but still a solid red that I would rate an 8.0! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2008 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon

Ok, so it's been a rough day and a rough week or so filled with a lot of work, so now I am going to relax a bit and celebrate Washington Wine month, since there's only 1 day left!  Today I am enjoying a bottle of 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon, from Washington's Columbia Valley, an area known for wonderful cabs.  This wine is a very nice, easy drinking red that would be wonderful to enjoy all evening, though I will enjoy this one with dinner too.

The wine is fairly dry, with a very smooth taste.  It has a dark ruby color and exhibits flavors of dark cherry and currant, that finishes very nicely.  The aroma offers a hint of fruit, leather and earth that perfectly sets your expectations before your first sip.  I am enjoying it with a dinner of crab cake, rice and fresh asparagus, and it really matches well with the spicy seasoning in the crab cake.  And perhaps the best part is the value!  This wine is a nice drinking red, available in most areas for around $10, making this one a solid 7.5 in my book!  Cheers!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

2007 Snoqualmie Whistle Stop Red

Happy wine day!!!

So today was one of those weird but good days, with a whole lot going on!  I started early this morning helping an older lady from church to move, and since there were so many of us it look a lot less time than I expected, not bad.  Then I had to stop by Russo's in Grand Rapids to pick up a case of Sangiovese that I had put aside for my office wine club (less than $7 per bottle!  they will love that!), but when I got there, the wine guy got my order and there was a problem and a surprise. The problem was that when I e-mailed them to put aside a case of the Sangiovese, they mistakenly put aside a case of the Malbec they were also offering in the same e-mail (oh, let me tell you I am NOT a fan of Malbec!).  No problem, they had plenty of the wine I wanted so we just swapped out cases.  But at the same time, the wine guy brought out 3 more bottles, and said, "this has been sitting back there with your name on it for a couple months, would you like to pick this up too?"  Well he showed me 3 bottles of a wonderful 2005 Margeaux that I had reserved months ago, but I had already picked up!  I told him I already picked it up, but if they had 3 more I would be happy to take them off his hands!  So a hidden surprise treasure, a nice margeaux from the super 2005 vintage that I got to buy more of when I thought it was completely sold out!  I love surprises!

Ok, so then I went back home, put the wine away (and yet, my closet cellar is over capacity now, so I really must start drinking and blogging, in case you haven't noticed), so after getting some work done this afternoon, I finally had a chance to celebrate Washington Wine Month and opened the 2007 Snoqualmie Whistle Stop Red I bought a week or so ago!  Well if you're just getting to know me, I just love trains, and I volunteered on the crew of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle #700 locomotive when I lived out in the Northwest, just to show you how committed I am (or maybe that should say "should be committed"!).  For those of you who are not familiar with train trivia, a whistle stop is a stop between main stops/stations on a train line, where the train does not always stop, but sort of stops whenever someone needs to catch the train.  Far more common in rural locations, but a fun bit of trivia nonetheless.  So this wine combines two of my loves, wine (duh) and trains!  The bottle has a wonderful image of a crossing signal too:

The wine itself is a wonderful example of a nice Washington red table wine, nothing fancy, but a nice easy drinking red.  I am enjoying a glass as I type this, with a couple pieces of aged parmesan and asiago cheese (whoever thought of combining wine and cheese is a super genius!). The wine itself has a nice dark purple color, but it's not opaque, and a nice aroma of leather and cherries.  The taste is very dry, like so many of the high-quality reds coming from the Columbia Valley in Washington, and it paired so well with the cheese, I could spend all evening doing this!  But alas, I have a friend celebrating a birthday today, so we are off to dinner downtown.  Overall, this is a solid red table wine, nothing too outrageous, but considering I bought this bottle for less than $10, it is an outstanding value!  Overall, I would rate this one a 7.5, and will be heading back to Grand Central Market (ohhh, just caught the train connection there!) to get some more!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

2006 Cepa 21 Ribera del Duero - which I think loosely translates to I have a really short attention span...

Ok, so I'll admit it, maybe I have attention deficit disorder, or maybe it's not a disorder at all, but just a fun part of being me, being totally distracted by the latest shiny object!  Take yesterday, a perfect example of me being distracted by shiny objects multiple times!  I went out for lunch to pick up sandwiches at the Grand Central Market on Monroe Center in Grand Rapids.  Well, this market offers great sandwiches and a nice selection of natural products, and a wonderful wine selection.  So as I am waiting for the kind folks in the deli to make my sandwich, I browse the wine and see a Snoqualmie Whistle Stop Red, DING DING DING!  Shiny object #1, a combo of two of my favorite things, trains (it has a nice grade crossing signal on the label)and a nice red wine from Washington State (did you know that March is Washington wine month?).  So I learned that Grand Central has a March Madness sale going on and all wines are 10% off in March, so WINNER! A nice Washington Wine for under $10!

Went back to my office, finished lunch and then just before I was getting ready to leave for the weekend, I got an e-mail from G.B. Russo's in Grand Rapids about an unannounced sale!  DING DING DING!!!  Shiny object #2!  Wow!  A 2006 Riscal Tempranillo from Spain closeout for only $3.49! And a 2008 Gru Montepulciano D'Abruzzo from Italy closeout for only $2.99!  I can't afford not to drive out there after work and buy a couple cases!  Then as I am at Russo's, I get a call from some friends up north in Rockford and they are making some dinner and want to play this card game called "Dominion" that our other friend introduced us to a few weeks ago (it's really quite addictive), so I go home drop off the groceries and race up to Rockford for a late dinner (so much for celebrating Washington Wine month!)  At any rate, I did open a bottle of the closeout Tempranillo and it was very nice despite having a screw cap, bur more on that in a future posting!

So, after all that, our wine for this evening is the 2006 Bodegas Cepa 21 Tempranillo Ribera del Duero, which I am finishing tonight (I bet you couldn't see this one coming!).  This is a really nice tempranillo, quite dry with a beautiful deep purple color that sits heavily in the glass.  The nose presents a heavy scent of leather with a hint of chocolate and berry.  The taste is somewhat fruity, with hints of cherry and cassis, but still quite dry with a pleasant finish.  I had this wine tonight with leftover corned beef and cabbage from St. Patrick's Day, so at the very least you can call it versatile, but I think it would go quite well with a rare grilled steak with some grilled veggies and olive oil as well.  Of course it's not after dinner and I'm quite enjoying my final glass all by itself.  This bottle I bought from wineshopper, and I think I got it for $22 which is a little pricey in my opinion.  The wine itself I would probably rate higher, but given the price I would downgrade this one to an 8 (though I'll note that others have rated it higher).

In the end, this post might have given you a taste of what ADD is like, or at least what it's like living a day in my world, handicapped by having the attention span of a gnat!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Celebrate Washington Wine Month in March!

Ok, having lived in Seattle for a couple years and learning to thoroughly enjoy the great wines of the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla in particular, I was looking for something to do to celebrate March as Washington Wine Month.  Today I got my chance with a simple e-mail from, an great wine store in Seattle that thankfully has an online presence!  Today's offer was for a 6-pack of great Washington reds for $159 with free shipping!  Yes, I know with an average cost of over $26 per bottle, it's not for the penny pinchers among us, but for lovers of great cabs and Bordeaux blends from Washington, this was a treat!  Now, this order was not without challenges, as apparently they were having some problems with the checkout function on their website, so I e-mailed them back and said basically let me know when it's fixed and I'll complete my order.  Well, the sales people replied quickly, apologized for the technical problems and offered to complete the sale by phone, but how could I possibly do that in the home of Microsoft?  So I told them I'd wait and hopefully the sale would still be going on when it was fixed.  They e-mailed this afternoon that it was fixed, I completed the order and almost instantly got a confirm for the order and notification that my wine was shipped!  Same day shipping is uncommon in internet wine sales, but same hour shipping is just crazy!  So absolute hats off to for superb customer service and a great deal on wine, you just moved way up on my list of favorite wine merchants!

Now, here's the important part, the wines!  The special 6-pack included the following Washington wines, none of which I have ever tried before, so this should be a treat!  Here are the madwine descriptions of the wines:

Efeste 'Final Final' Red 2007
A smooth wine with an extraordinary, focused acid, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah is accented with a splash of Mourvedre, produced by acclaimed winemaker Brennon Leighton.

Januik 'Columbia Valley' Red Wine 2007
This red blend is medium bodied with dark fruit and soft tannins on the palate for a long, rich finish - from acclaimed winemaker Mike Januik.

Longshadows 'Nine Hats' Red 2008
This collection of ultra-premium wines pulls together the products of acclaimed winemakers from across the globe to create a big, unctuous, truly beautiful bottle of wine.

Waters Interlude 2008
A dynamo on the palate, the deep textures of this blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc is a fantastic medley of top-shelf fruit flavors and distinctive earthy elements.

Owen Roe Abbots Table 2009
This very balanced and smooth wine from winemaker David O'Reilly is another testament to his perpetual drive for perfection.

Sparkman 'Stella Mae' Red Wine 2007
Rated 91 points by the Wine Advocate, this blend is medium purple colored with excellent volume and intensity. Jay Miller states that it has “enough structure to evolve for 2-3 years and a lengthy finish.

So, it would appear that after the wine arrives next week, I'll have quite a few interesting bottles to share with you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

2005 Chateau de Launay Bordeaux Superieur

Ah...tonight I need to relax a bit, and that calls for a glass of nice red wine.  Today I received 4 bottles via Fedex from my favorite online wine merchant, WTSO so I am trying a bottle tonight.  This one is a 2005 Launay Bordeaux Superieur, which comes from a very solid vintage for bordeaux.  The Chateau is located on the highest point of the Gironde, a place known for Saint-Emilion, with exceptional chalky clay soils.

Since living in Seattle and learning to love the many Bordeaux blends from the Columbia Valley, the nose on this wine hit me with a definite sense of familiarity.  A blend of around 90% merlot, and the balance cabernet, this wine exudes aromas earth and leather with just a hint of dark coffee.  As for taste, it's a medium body, and really quite dry, as to be expected from a true French bordeaux, with hints of cherry, tobacco and cassis.  This is the type of wine where the nose adds so much to the taste, that it should not be consumed with any sort of nasal congestion!  Overall a wonderful blend, a wine I could spend hours on a porch enjoying on a spring afternoon.  Overall I would rate this one a solid 8, particularly given the value price of just $11!  À votre santé

Saturday, March 5, 2011

2007 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Did you ever have one of those days that started off pretty crappy and just got worse as the day wore on?  Well, that was the kind of day I had today!  It started with a lot of work nonsense, then a lot of errands, then I took off the passenger side mirror from my truck!  You see, we've had a lot of snow, and unlike every other building in my complex, the snow plow people insisted on piling the snow up right in front of my garage!

You can see here how there is a nice pile of snow and so I end up having to try to drive around the pile everytime I go in and out of the garage.  Well, I have a pickup truck and it's not like turning a tiny car in and out, it's a pretty tight fit when I just have to pull in straight.  So when I went out this afternoon to go grocery shopping, I tried to get out and ended up taking my mirror our on the side of the garage you're looking at in the photo.  Luckily the garage is fine, but my truck is not!  Now I have to deal with this next week, UGH!

So with that sort of day, there is no doubt that I absolutely need a glass of wine this evening (maybe a couple bottles!), and I decided to open the 2007 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I got on the recommendation of my friend and coworker Jeanine.  Well, it certainly shifted the direction things were going for me as it's a really nice cab!

This wine is really the standard Napa cab, though not the big bold type that seems so common nowadays.  This one is certainly bold, but it also has some spice and layered complexity that makes it so enjoyable after a tough day.  The aroma is warm and inviting, with hints of berry, oak and a certain earthiness.  Have a sip and the mouthfeel is rather velvety, but sharp.  The taste springs forth with blackberry, cherry and plum, with a spicy oak and subtle tannins, leaving you with a sense of the cool fall day that the grapes were picked.  Overall, a very nice wine, all you would expect from a Napa cab, at a very nice price.  This one was $19.99, not a screaming bargain, but certainly worth the price, and for that I would rate this wine a solid 8.

Friday, March 4, 2011

2005 Pope Valley Eakle Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

Well this one is a very interesting wine, not at all what I was expecting (you know, Napa Cabs, if you've tasted one you've tasted them all - Just Kidding!  please no hate mail from the Napa fans!).  This wine is very dry, with a very strong presence of oak and tannins which I think will evolve over time, and a nice hint of spice.  This may seem odd, but this wine really does remind me of the taste and finish of many of the fine bordeax that I tasted in Paris in the mid-90s that spawned my ongoing love of red wine.

At any rate, this is the sort of wine that is very easy to drink, oh look at that my glass is empty!  But it's also the kind of wine that won't distract from a meal.  Although this would be great with grilled T-bones, or spicy sausage, it would also go well with many lamb and chicken dishes or even a cedar planked salmon.  For a Napa Valley cab this is a very pleasant surprise for many reasons, not the least of which was the great value right now.  I picked up a few bottles of this wine for Wines Till Sold Out (WTSO), my favorite online source for discounted wines at a crazy price of only $15.99!  Bottom line, I enjoyed this wine very much, and would give it a solid 8.5!