Friday, June 29, 2012

2005 Vitanza Chianti Colli Senesi

Another hot summer day, and since I just went to the gym I figure I should reward myself with a lovely porterhouse, and what could go better with a nice steak than a nice bottle of Chianti?  So tonight I've opened a bottle of the July selection from my office wine club, the 2005 Vitanza Chianti Colli Senesi.  Now you might be asking what makes this wine different from the typical Chianti, and that's a good question.  This wine is produced from grapes grown in the hills outside of Siena, so it tends to be a little more rustic, but definitely the genuine article, not unlike the people there!  The vineyards there are somewhat lower yielding, and the Sangiovese grapes grow in smaller bunches, resulting in more concentrated fruit flavors and higher tannins.

The wine itself has a deep ruby hue, with lighter red along the edges.  The nose presents a wonderful combination of leather, cherry, licorice and a bit of earthy spice.  The wine is wonderfully fruit forward with concentrated flavors of ripe plum and cherry, giving way to a bit of rustic earthiness and smoke midpalate.  The well structured tannins provide for a long, silky dry finish that's perfect for drinking at sunset, but still won't detract from a great meal!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, particularly given the bargain price of only $10 (thank you G.B. Russo!).  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with the aforementioned porterhouse along with a few sweet potato fries to round things out, a perfect dinner that is just a small reminder of the Bistecca a la Toscana that is so wonderful just outside of Florence!  Though admittedly mine was a tenth as thick as the genuine article. Cin cin!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2011 Muga Rioja Rose

So tonight is an exciting night, a first for the wine blog, a review of a wine that is not red!  It's been so hot lately, today it's 92 and it's supposed to be near 100 degrees this weekend, so it's a little warm to be enjoying a hearty red wine on the patio.  So I thought, there's been a recent surge in popularity of rose wines, so why not jump on the bandwagon and try some?  After all, they can't be any worse than the white zinfandel we used to drink in college!  So last weekend there were a few tastings at local wine merchants, in addition to a virtual tasting on, so I picked up a few bottles, including the 2011 Muga Rioja Rose I am enjoying tonight.

This wine was part of the Snooth tasting, and having tried it at G.B. Russo's last weekend I picked up a bottle and chilled it expecting a resumption of the unbearably hot weather we've had so far this summer.  So tonight's the night!  I figure I like Rioja, so that at least gives this wine a head start right?

The wine has a nice blush color in the glass, almost an orange-pink hue.  The nose is quite pleasant with aromas of fresh strawberry and citrus, with just a mild hint of grass.  The wine tastes of bright fruit at the outset, with strawberry and fresh cut melon, quickly giving way to a mild flavor of ruby red grapefruit and fresh herbs with a sharp acidity.  The finish is clean and crisp, with very mild tannins resulting in a very dry, but short finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7, but that's really just a wild guess since I'm so far out of my element on this one!  As for pairings, tonight I am enjoying this wine with some of the last of my wild Copper River Sockeye fillets, grilled on a cedar plank and served with a bit of wild rice and steamed sugar snap peas.  The bright fruit and acidity of this wine really does play nicely against the richness and fattiness of the salmon, making this a very delicious pairing!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

2010 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Merlot

Ahhh yes, another chance to enjoy the wines of Washington and the bounty from my recent adventure to Walla Walla!  Tonight I'm enjoying a bottle of wine from my second favorite winery in Walla Walla, Seven Hills.  Specifically, I've opened a bottle of 2010 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Merlot for the evening.

This wine is a rich, ruby color in the glass, just as you would expect from a nice Merlot.  The nose is very interesting, with a distinct sweetness, almost sugary scent of kid's breakfast cereal, maybe Frankenberry is what I'm smelling...hmmm...  I guess that would technically be strawberry then!  Along with the sweet fruit are hints of leather, charcoal, and spice, perhaps anise.  Despite the expectations of Frankenberry, the wine itself is quite dry, with just a bit of fruit on the front end, some nice ripe plum midpalate, and then the tight tannins make for a long, smooth finish.  The wine still seems fairly young, so it might do well in the bottle for a few more years before really hitting its stride, but still it's drinking very nicely right now.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, with definite room to advance as the wine matures.  Tonight I've paired it with a lovely rare Angus ribeye served with some fresh scapes, purple carrots and golden beets grilled in olive oil and a wonderfully cool Caprese salad for the joy of summer dining.  The nice tannic finish of the wine plays so wonderfully on the richness of the grilled root vegetables, I can't think of a better overall meal for the third evening of summer!

Friday, June 22, 2012

2008 Maggio Old Vine Zinfandel

Oh how I love me a good Zin!  And as I've said many times, I'm a firm believer that the best Zins come from Lodi, and tonight we have the pleasure of tasting one! I remember when I first tried a glass of nice Lodi zinfandel I was quite skeptical, given the experience of "white zinfandel" in the 1990s, but my fears were certainly misplaced as a good red zin has a richness of fruit and wonderful tannins that make it a special wine!

For tonight's pleasure, I've not tried a wine from this maker, but I saw this wine on a recent trip to the World Market, and thought I'd give it a try, after all, old vine zin from Lodi, where's the risk in that?  The wine itself is a deep purple hue with bright ruby around the edges.  The nose exudes licorice, leather and baking spice, with a good bit of red fruit character.  The wine is somewhat fruit forward, but not as jammy as some zins, the rich ripe plum and red berries give way to cedar and smoke mid-palate.  The tannins are nicely structured giving the wine a nice tart finish.  I've read some reviews that complain about the finish being too short, but I didn't experience that at all.  It wasn't an exceptionally long finish, but certainly adequate given the structure of the wine.

Overall, I would rate this one a solid 7.5, especially given the price point at $8!  Tonight I am pairing this wine with a bit of Italian, some rigatoni with some spicy red sauce, as I find that a little spice in the pasta sauce plays very nicely against the fruit of a nice zin.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

2004 Carmela Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, here's a new wine from my recent road trip out west, the 2004 Carmela Cabernet Sauvignon.  Now as I traveled, I learned that wine making has taken root in a variety of spots, from Missouri to Iowa, to Montana and Idaho.  It appears the Snake River Valley has become somewhat of an emerging wine region, perhaps comparable to Washington 30 or 40 years ago.  So as I was driving toward the Oregon border I saw a sign for a winery and decided to stop at Glenns Ferry, Idaho.

Now as you can see, this was a pretty little winery, not far from the Snake River, and they have about 40 acres of grapes that they grow themselves, but they also source from some other vineyards in the Snake River Valley.  I went into their tasting room and was surprised by the quality of the wines, though they weren't like Napa Valley, some of them were quite good, so I ended up leaving with a half case!

Tonight's wine is the 2004 Carmela Idaho Cabernet Sauvignon.  Now I let the wine open up a bit in the glass for about 45 minutes, but it's still a much lighter bodied Cab than might be typical of the big wines of Napa, but it's nice to see the way different terroirs express themselves through the grape and into the glass.  The wine present a nose of cedar, black pepper, an black currant, along with stronger notes of earth and musk.  The taste is somewhat fruit forward, with hints of blackberry and a peppery spice, the tannins are surprisingly mellow creating a very smooth, dry finish.

It's an interesting wine that really shows the dry climate and volcanic soils of the region, and although I had to drive 1,800 miles to get it, I'd rate this wine a solid 7.  From a region whose wines I hadn't tried before, this one was a nice surprise.  As for pairings, tonight I am having it with a typical Idaho dinner of rare Angus T-bone steak, along with some wonderful grilled veggies, including red onion, leeks, purple asparagus, red, orange and white peppers, yummy!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Road Trip to Walla Walla Wine Country

So I just go back from my 2-week road trip driving cross country to visit my favorite wine region, Walla Walla! Now to be fair, I enjoyed wine on the way out and on the way back. I stopped in northwest Missouri to try some wines made from the Norton grape, which is the official grape of the state, as well as some wines in the Snake River Valley in Idaho, which is still an emerging wine region.

So back to Walla Walla, which was the point of this. It's been about 8 years since I last visited the valley, and more than a decade since my first visit in 2000 (I lived in Portland and then Seattle from 1999-2004). Back then, there were relatively few wineries, and Walla Walla was still a sleepy little region, but a good friend of mine from Santa Cruz who loved wine more than I do, convinced me to stop and pick up some wine on the way to visit her in Spokane. In fact, U.S. 12 was the main highway into town, and you would start at the western end at L'Ecole No. 41 and Woodward Canyon, then pass 3-Rivers and a couple others before the wine tour ended downtown at Seven Hills. The whole tasting tour could be done in an afternoon!

Today it seems like there are 150+ wineries, all over the city and surrounding areas, such that you could probably spend a week just to see a quarter of them! There is a new U.S. 12, which has been transformed into a 4-lane superhighway heading into downtown, but I felt a little bad for wineries like 3-Rivers, which was about 1/4 mile off the new highway and still on the old route 12. When I first visited, they had a nice new tasting room, and that was just left in the dust as progress rolled by them. In addition to so many new wineries, the other piece of good news was the addition of so many new restaurants to provide high quality food to enjoy with the wonderful wines (I had a lovely pan seared salmon salad at the Green Spoon, it was Copper River season!).

So, on my day of tasting (yes, unfortunately it was only a day since I was trying to cram so much into my 4,000 mile trip!) I started downtown at Seven Hills, which is probably my second favorite winery after L'Ecole. Enjoyed some of their Columbia Valley Merlot (it was surprisingly good), the Pentad and Ciel du Cheval, they were all quite wonderful, so I bought 5 or 6 bottles and asked for advice on where to go next (I got a new "wine guide" at the hotel, but since you have to pay to be in there, not all wineries are represented).

Based on their advice, I next went to visit Forgeron Cellars which has a tasting room downtown on 3rd street. The tasting room manager, Anne I think was her name, was such a wonderful host. We tasted through their current releases and I bought a bottle each of the wines that were only available in the tasting room, and of course I don't recall exactly which those were, I think it was the Petit Verdot and the Cab Franc, but I could easily be wrong! I also bought some other bottles, including a couple of the Walldeaux Smithie table wine, which was very nice!

Next stop was my favorite winery, L'Ecole No. 41. I've been in their wine club for quite some time and have ordered a bit of wine from them in the past. This was somewhat funny, since I had been communicating with them on Twitter that I was coming to visit on my wild road trip, and when I finally narrowed down the day to Tuesday, I let them know.

When I walked into the tasting room, of course no one recognized me, and how could they really being a nondescript internet wine buyer. So they asked me if I was familiar with their wines (of course) and we started through the basic tasting when I tweeted to them "I'm here!" and within 30 seconds Jaime came into the tasting room and introduced herself! We tasted a bunch and then she gave me a wonderful tour of the cellar and told me about some recent wonderful wines she'd opened, including a bottle of '99 Walla Walla Merlot.

So in line with my desire to get wines I could not get at home or online, I raided the library! I ended up with a bottle of the '99 Merlot, a couple bottles of the Ferguson blend from the 2004 vintage, a magnum of '01 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon, and double magnum of the '09 Walla Walla Cabernet, which I think will turn out at least as good as the '08 which received such high ratings and quickly sold out. I also considered buying a 6-liter bottle, but where could I display such a work of vintner art? At any rate it was a lovely visit with some wonderful people and great wines!

My next stop was a walk across the parking lot to Woodward Canyon. They have a lovely tasting room in a farmhouse, and have produced wonderful wines under their Woodward Canyon and Nelm's Road labels. I tasted some wonderful Cabernets and ended up buying a couple bottles of their house red, a Nelm's Road Cabernet and a bottle of the latest "Artist Series" Cabernet.

The next stop was just up route 12 to Cougar Crest. I hadn't stopped so much based on a recommendation, but more for the name! Knowing some of the ladies I work with, and who are part of our office wine club, I could not resist stopping! The tasting room was quite nice, and they have a number of wonderful reds I tasted under their two labels, Cougar Crest and Walla Walla River Estate. I ended up with a couple bottles of their "Dedication Five" red wine, which is produced in honor of the doctors and nurses at the Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, who saved the winemaker's daughter back in 2005. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the wine are donated to the hospital, which I view as a wonderful gesture.

The last stop on my wine tour was to Reininger, which was a little further along on route 12. I walked in and there was a full house! Apparently a group of about 10 friends were doing a tasting tour and we crossed paths in the tasting room at Reininger. Like many other wineries, they have two labels as well, the Reininger label and the Helix Label. I tried about all of their reds, it seemed like at least a dozen! I ended up buying a few bottles, including "Mr. Owl's Red" (named fir their winemaker Raul, who apparently the owners' children had trouble pronouncing when they were small, so they called him Mr. Owl) and a Helix Sangiovese which was delightful!

Alas, the wine tasting done, I raced back across the border to Pendleton to buy a few blankets before they closed (my old blanket bought there in 1991 is really starting to wear out!). Then it was off to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks before heading back east across Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana and home to Michigan. It was a super fun trip that I would do again in a heartbeat, so for those of you who live in the Northwest, you should appreciate the Walla Walla Valley even more!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

2009 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

What a busy day!  I started this morning at the farmer's market to get some fresh veggies, they had a wonderful selection of fresh asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, lettuce and wonderful fresh ripe strawberries.  Then off to the World Market to pick up a few items, then to the fish market to get tonight's dinner (more on that later on), then the meat market to get some wonderful Angus T-bones (I've had a craving for a T-bone since hearing the "beef it's what's for dinner commercials on the radio all through Idaho and Wyoming!) and some thick juicy ribeyes.

And so now that the chores are done, I can relax with a nice glass of wine that I brought back from my recent trip to Walla Walla.  Tonight I am having a nice bottle of 2009 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Now there are many differences between the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley wines beyond the price, and one of the most basic differences is that the Columbia Valley wines tend to drink quite well when they are younger, as they tend to be somewhat less harsh and tannic.  Of course you also miss the wonderful, dark chocolate hints that Walla Walla is famous for, but in a pinch, I suppose we can make do!

This wine is a wonderfully dark, inky sort of color with bright ruby around the edges.  The nose presents a hint of sweet cherry, cedar and a bit of licorice.  The taste is a rush of fruit, with ripe berries that gives way to fresh herbs, while the more subtle tannins provide for a smooth, dry finish.  It's not a big "in your face" sort of Cabernet, but a more refined, structured wine that would really accentuate a food pairing.  And speaking of pairing, tonight I am enjoying this with a perfect meal that screams Northwest cuisine, a wonderful cedar planked wild Copper River salmon fillet, with some grilled purple asparagus and some wild rice.  And of course for dessert, I'll have some of those wonderful strawberries and vanilla ice cream!

I would rate this one a solid 8.5, and I know I have a bias for this being my second favorite winery from Walla Walla, but there's a bonus reason for my high rating.  You see, I was at G.B. Russo's last weekend and he had another Columbia Valley wine on sale, but I was not a fan of that one, but I seemed to be the only one that noticed that he had marked down this wine from the normal $29 price to just $15!!!  Needless to say I got a case and this will be one of our future office wine club selections!  Cheers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2008 Bonizio Sangiovese di Maremma

Tonight I'm enjoying a bottle of my office wine club's latest selection, the 2008 Bonizio Sangiovese di Maremma!  You know how much I love wine and my wine club buddies, so this is bound to be something fun.  Now many of you are probably already quite familiar with the Sangiovese grape, the foundational grape in so many wonderful wines of Tuscany, from classic Chianti to the king of the hill, Brunello di Montalcino.  Well, unlike a typical Sangiovese, the Sangiovese di Maremma comes from the southern and western section of the region, where a combination of the warmer climate and red soil provides for a more robust varietal.

Unlike a typical Tuscan Sangiovese, this wine is somewhat more fuller bodied, presenting a deep, brooding garnet color in the glass.  The nose is an interesting combination of ripe plum and sour cherry with hints of smoky herbs and anise.  The taste is somewhat fruit forward, with ripe berries, black cherry and cassis, yielding to licorice midpalate and finishing with bright tannins for a nice bit of tartness at the end (however, it's essential to note that letting this wine breathe a bit will diminish the tartness of the tannins significantly, leaving you with a smooth, almost creamy finish).

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7, it's very pleasant for what it is, and an unbeatable bargain at only $8!  Though I'll have to give a downgrade for not having a natural cork, but I can overlook that on occasion.  Tonight I am pairing it with a little linguine with some Italian sausage and arrabbiata sauce.  The initial fruit and hint of sweetness plays wonderfully against the spice of the red sauce, so well I have an urge for a second helping!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

2006 Chateau Pavillon Bel-Air Lalande de Pomerol

Ok, I'll admit it, but I hate taking a break from so many great Walla Walla wines, but I am guessing you're getting a little tired of them even if I'm not!  So today let's take a break and go back to Bordeaux for a wonderful summer wine, the 2006 Chateau Pavillon Bel-Air Lalande de Pomerol!

This wine is a nice, classic blend of Merlot (75%) and Cabernet Franc (25%) which creates a somewhat lighter style of wine, but one with some complex flavors and nuances that really make it a wonderful wine for food, or just sipping on the patio.  In the glass, this wine is a translucent bright ruby color, with a nose of soft ripe fruit and a hint of rose petals.  The taste is well rounded, with soft berries and ripe plums which give way to well structured tannins providing for a wonderful, smooth, dry finish that is so characteristic of a nice Bordeaux.

I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out, I think on a cheapskate Wednesday, so how could I beat that?  This one is a great everyday drinking Bordeaux, and with a lighter body it's perfect for warm summer evenings.  At a price of just $14, I can't help but love this wine and would give it a solid 7.5!  Tonight I am beginning by enjoying a glass of this wine with some wonderful red and green Cerignola olives on the patio (wine and olives are such wonderful companions aren't they?) but soon enough I'll grill a wonderful 2" thick ribeye I've been marinading since this afternoon!  Combine that with some roasted peppers and a lovely Tuscan white bean salad and I'll be wonderfully sated! Sante!

Friday, June 8, 2012

2008 Cougar Crest Dedication Five Columbia Valley Red Wine

Another day, another wine from Walla Walla!  Tonight I am enjoying a bottle of 2008 Cougar Crest Dedication Five Columbia Valley Red Wine that I picked up from my summer vacation adventure to Walla Walla!  Cougar Crest (come on now seriously, with the friends I have, how could I not stop at a place with "cougar" in the name?) has a tasting room just a mile or so up U.S. 12 from L'Ecole No. 41, so it was an easy stop as I was making my way back to Oregon on my wine tasting adventure. 

A bit about the "Dedication" part, it's an interesting story.  The winemakers dedicated this wine to the Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland, Ore. as their doctors and nurses saved the life of the winemakers' daughter in 2005, and ever since they've dedicated their wine and donated a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the "Dedication Five" to the hospital each year as a sign of their gratitude.  It's really a neat story and great symbol for what these folks stand for.

As for the wine, Cougar Crest has received some pretty nice accolades over the last few years, and after tasting some of their red wines it wasn't hard to figure out why!  The Dedication Five is their basic table wine, and it is a little different than many of the basic red wines I tasted in Walla Walla.  This wine is a blend of four varietals: Merlot (43%), Syrah (33%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Cabernet Franc (9%).  This wine is a little lighter in color and the body matches the lighter color.  The nose still has that sharp aroma of leather and spice which suggests a nice bit of that Columbia Valley quality.  The taste is quite dry, but that quickly gives way to some nice ripe fruit flavors mid-palate.  The nicely structured tannins provide for a smooth finish without the harshness that so often accompanies a house red like this one.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it's a wonderful wine, but the $20 price is a little steep for an everyday sort of wine.  Tonight I am enjoying a bottle with a grilled tenderloin, but I think it would pair nicely with grilled or smoked meats, and especially a nice barbecue (that reminds me I need to get some ribs!).  So if you happen to be in Walla Walla, or if your local store carries the line, pick up a bottle today and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Woodward Canyon Columbia Valley Red Wine

So did I mention I just did a fantastic trip to the Walla Walla Valley to enjoy some delicious and wonderfully hand crafted wines?  I didn't?  Well hold that thought, because I think I'll do an entire blog post devoted to my summer vacation this weekend, so stay tuned OK?

In the mean time, tonight I am enjoying a bottle of Woodward Canyon Columbia Valley Red Wine, which is the standard house red for Woodward Canyon. Now to give you a little inside baseball, Woodward Canyon has a tasting room conveniently located next door to my absolute favorite winery of all time, L'Ecole No. 41 which is on Route 12 just west of Walla Walla (in fact, these two wineries, I think, still represent the western boarder of the Walla Walla wine region).  So after my recent wonderful visit to L'Ecole, I sauntered (oh you can visualize it) to the tasting room at Woodward Canyon to enjoy some of their offerings.

So in the tasting room, nothing had seemed to change since my last visit in 2000, except of course the new posters for the "Artist Series" and the new vintages, but it was still in the same house (see the photo above).  I tasted a few wines, and bought a few wines, one of which is tonight's selection, the Columbia Valley Red Wine, which is the everyday table wine.

Well, as I remember my last visit, Woodward Canyon had some wonderful wine, and even this simple table blend is no exception.  The color in the glass is a deep garnet, and the nose is a pleasant blend of leather, cedar and grass.  The taste is very dry, with some modest berries on the front end which gives way to licorice and a bit of chalk, and finishes with just a hint of dark chocolate as the tannins really step in to make this a tart, dry wine.

I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, and it would have certainly rated higher if not for the aggressive price.  At $21 this is a little too expensive for an everyday wine, but as a vacation wine it's certainly appropriate.  As for pairings, this would work very will with grilled red meat, or a nice Italian dish, though I can also imagine it complementing a cedar planked salmon!  So if you have a chance, enjoy a glass of wine from Woodward Canyon, Salut!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Forgeron Walldeaux Smithie

So I have arrived safe and sound from my grand adventure to the west!  I traveled from my home in Michigan to Missouri, then across the Oregon Trail (in general terms) to Pendleton, Oregon and Walla Walla, Washington, home to some of the most wonderful wines around today in my opinion.  Of course I stopped for wine all along the way, so we will have much to discuss over the coming months as we explore wines ranging from the classics of the Columbia Valley, to the emerging Snake River Valley of Idaho, even to the unusual Norton grapes of Missouri.  But enough forward-looking thoughts, let's get down to tonight's wine!

Forgeron Cellars was the third winery I visited on my day of tasting around Walla Walla, and it was a very nice surprise.  Marie-Eve Gilla is the part owner and winemaker at Forgeron, and she employs her background in French wines to make complex, food-friendly wines that really exemplify the wine potential of Washington state.  Using grapes sourced not only from the Walla Walla Valley, but also from the Columbia and Yakima Valleys, she crafts some wonderful wines that really reflect the tradition of Bordeaux style blends that made Walla Walla famous, but she also employs grape varieties like Barbera and Primitivo that many others have yet to try.

The Walldeaux Smithie is the non-vintage, everyday red blend offered by Forgeron, and what makes this wine interesting is that it is not only a blend of different grape varieties, but also different vintages (in this case 2007, 2008 an 2009) to provide a most interesting everyday table wine.  This current release is a blend of Merlot (25%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Syrah (16%), Zinfandel (16%), Petit Verdot (8%), Cabernet Franc (4%), Primitivo (4%) and Pinot Noir (2%), so you can see this is just about a kitchen sink sort of blend!  The color in the glass is a deep ruby, and the nose carries aromas of leather, licorice, cherry that are practically begging you to take a deep sip!  The wine itself is very fruit forward, with rich bright flavors of red berry, which gives way to notes of spice and fresh herbs midpalate, while the nicely structured tannins lend a smooth, dry finish. 

This is the perfect sort of wine to enjoy with a meal, or simply enjoy on a summer evening as I'm doing tonight.  Of course these are food friendly wines, so I'm also having a glass with my dinner of wasabi marinaded grilled pork tenderloin and steamed asparagus, as the spice of the wasabi plays well against the fruit of the wine.  Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, a wonderful everyday wine for $18 (since I bought it from the winery, I'm not sure how widely available it is outside the Northwest, but you can order it here: Santé!