Saturday, July 26, 2014

2010 L'Ecole No. 41 Apogee

Have you ever had one of those days that just seemed to totally get away from you?  Like today, I've been busy all day long running errands, going to the gym, doing chores around the house, and suddenly it's after 8 o'clock and I haven't even started cooking dinner much less opened a bottle of wine!  Well this has to stop now!  So I'm opening a bottle of 2010 L'Ecole No. 41 Apogee, a great blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (33%), Malbec (7%) and Cabernet Franc (4%) all from the Pepper Bridge Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley.  Of the two top blends from L'Ecole, Perigee and Apogee, this one is my second favorite, but we won't hold that against it!

The wine is a lovely deep ruby color in the glass.  The nose has some lovely aromas of blackberry, cherry and plum with some rustic notes of leather, cedar, dark chocolate and spice.  The taste is quite smooth, with some subdued fruit up front and nice earthy notes of dusty limestone and iron midpalate.  The tannins are very well integrated, giving this wine some fantastic structure and a smooth, long and supple finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's a classic Bordeaux style blend for which Walla Walla is now well known.  Tonight, once I get off my lazy butt and start cooking, I plan to enjoy this wine with some cedar planked wild Alaskan sockeye served on a bed of baby greens with some aged white balsamic, some grilled golden beets and some linguine tossed with garlic and olive oil.  The earth and spice of this wine will be such a great foil to the richness of the salmon, I can't wait to eat!  Salut!

Friday, July 25, 2014

2007 Gordon Brothers Columbia Valley Merlot

Happy Friday!  And of course to start the weekend, we need some great food and some wine, check and check!  I stopped at my local wine store on the way home from work and found two interesting Washington wines that I hadn't seen before, one of which I will enjoy with the Hereford ribeye I picked up at my second stop to the butcher before picking up my dry cleaning (it's really not easy being me!).  So the wine I'll enjoy tonight is the 2007 Gordon Brothers Columbia Valley Merlot, a wine from a producer based in the tri-cities, specifically in Pasco, Washington.

The wine is a deep, inky purple, almost black at the center of the glass, typical of a classic Merlot (and don't give me any of your sideways comments!).  The nose is very attractive, with notes of black fruit overlaid with some nice cedar, leather and a hint of cocoa powder.  The taste is classic Merlot, but with a bit of a twist, as it's somewhat lighter at the outset, with flavors of blueberry and raspberry, but then it really transforms midpalate with some dark chocolate and dusty limestone.  The tannins are very nicely integrated leading to a velvety and extremely dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.  A very nice Merlot!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a lovely drinking Merlot with great quality at a super value price as I found this one locally for just $21!  Tonight I am enjoying this with the aforementioned steak, grilled rare and topped with bleu cheese crumbles, a baked potato with butter and sour cream and some haricots vert almondine.  This is a truly ideal wine for pairing with a big grilled steak as it certainly has the chops to stand up to the chops!  Cheers!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2010 Rotie Swordfight

Ok wine folks, I have to ask, how can anyone not like a wine called "Swordfight"?  Particularly when it's a blend of Syrah (75%) and Mourvedre (25%)?  Well, that's what I've decided to open tonight!  After a long day enjoying the local county fair, looking at animals and tractors and eating food that's just terrible for you, I've decided to come home to a nice bottle of wine and perhaps a healthy dinner (oh who am I kidding!).  The wine I've chosen tonight is one of just a few bottles that I brought back from my 2013 venture to Walla Walla when I stopped in at Rotie Cellars, a maker of fine Rhone style blends.

The wine has a deep, inky purple color in the glass, almost black at the center.  The nose is rich and jammy, with nice aromas of ripe plum, raisin and a bit of leather and toasted oak.  The taste is very fruit forward with a blast of dark fruit, black cherry and plum that transition nicely to some hints of mint, dark chocolate and fresh herbs.  The tannins are round and supple laying the foundations for a long, dry and velvety smooth finish that will leave you wanting more.  This is the type of wine that just makes a great companion, whether sipping it on the deck or enjoying it with a hearty dinner.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's truly a beautiful example of a great Rhone style blend half a world away from the Rhone Valley!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a healthy dinner of surf and turf, a petite T-bone grilled rare and some snow crab legs, along with some corn on the cob and sliced ripe tomatoes, a perfect summer dinner!  Salut!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

2012 Oliver Winery Dry Red Blend

What a day!  Saturdays are always full of chores but today was off the charts!  I started at the local nursery and bought some new hydrangeas and astilbe for the back yard, then went grocery shopping, then mowed the yard, then planted the plants and with all that activity I'm now up to 18,520 steps so far today and I haven't even had a glass of wine!  Well that's about to be corrected as I found a bottle of 2012 Oliver Winery Dry Red Blend at the local supermarket on sale.  Now I must admit I'm a bit skeptical of this as Oliver Winery is based out of Bloomington, Indiana, and I remember when I was in graduate school at Indiana University, the winery was known for white wines and sweet fruit wines, but definitely not the dry reds that I so love.  The interesting thing about this wine was that the grapes were sourced from California, but the wine was made here, so here goes nothing!

The wine is a bit lighter in color but it has nice clarity and a deep ruby at the center of the glass.  The nose is certainly better than I was expecting, some nice blackberry and black currant notes along with some green grass and hint of spice.  The taste is rather fruit forward, but not overpowering, nice fresh dark fruit flavors of blackberry and currant which transitions rather abruptly to some Asian spice and fresh herbs midpalate.  The finish is nice and dry, but it's very short, making it a bit disappointing, but still not a bad effort overall.

I would rate this wine a solid 7, it won't knock your socks off, but it's a pretty decent wine for only $8!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled T-bone, baked potato and some haricots vert, as this wine has enough backbone to pair quite well with beef.  I can't say this will be a go to wine in my house, but I wouldn't have any problem serving this to my guests.  A new perspective on the old home town winery, cheers!

Friday, July 11, 2014

2009 Helix Sangiovese

Happy Friday!  It's been a long week and I'm still getting everything ready for my first summer cookout tomorrow, so I think I've earned a little break this evening, and what better way to enjoy a break than by opening a bottle of wine?  Tonight it's the 2009 Helix Sangiovese from the Columbia Valley of Washington.  For those unfamiliar, Helix is the second label for Reininger Winery of Walla Walla, so usually a quality bottle.

The color of the wine is a deep, brooding purple at the center leading to some bright ruby along the edges with a bit of opacity.  The nose is a very rustic combination of ripe black fruit, plums, black cherry and black currant, over earthy aromas of leather, green grass and a bit of forest floor.  The taste is wonderfully fruit forward, with a blast of black cherry and currant that subsides rather effortlessly to some warm spice notes midpalate.  The finish is somewhat smoky and earthy as the fine tannins provide ample structure for the long, smooth, dry finish that leaves me wanting another sip.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a wonderful example of Sangiovese at a reasonable price (I think this was about $25, though I don't recall exactly).  It would pair nicely with a variety of hearty pasta or meat dishes, but tonight I am going in a different direction, enjoying this one with some kielbasa and pierogies, an Italian varietal with Polish food!  Cheers!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

2009 DaMa Wines Cowgirl Cab

It's always astounding to me, that even in the face of a three-day weekend how little I get accomplished around the house!  Here I had plans on cleaning, getting everything ready for my barbecue next weekend, and all I managed to do is replant some grass and clean the kitchen, so much for my own productivity miracle.  At least there is always some good wine to enjoy as I grill my last meal of the weekend, and tonight it's the 2009 DaMa Wines Cowgirl Cab, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State.

The wine is a deep ruby in the glass with excellent clarity.  The nose is warm and full of ripe black fruit, blackberries, cassis, and black cherry with hints of smoky black pepper and Asian spice.  The taste is really quite nice, a burst of fruit at the outset that quickly transitions to some earthy notes of green grass and limestone.  The finish is really quite nice, the tannins are somewhat subdued creating a smooth, warm finish that is very dry, perfect for a big beefy dinner!  Speaking of beefy dinner, this was the adorable dog that welcomed me to the DaMa tasting room in Walla Walla when I visited in 2013:

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, its a very nice Cabernet that is drinking quite well right now, and the price is a super bargain at just $21 from the winery.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled New York Strip (how could you get anymore cowgirl than a rare steak?), some grilled leeks and corn and a baked potato with all the fixin's.  The dryness of the wine really is a perfect foil to some hearty grilled meat and for that I am quite thankful.  Cheers!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

1997 I Balzini White Label Super Tuscan Blend

All right!  It's the first Saturday of the month, and you know what that means, Cellar Saturday!  That day of the month where I raid the cellar for something a little more mature or out of the ordinary to taste and share with all of you.  Tonight it's a relatively recent acquisition, as I just bought a 4-year vertical of this wine from Wines Till Sold Out, and tonight I've opened the oldest, the 1997 I Balzini White Label Super Tuscan, a blend of Sangiovese (50%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), two varietals that I know age quite well.  Given its age, I opened this wine and decanted it about an hour before tasting, so here goes nothing!

The wine is an inky, deep purple color in the glass with some ruby around the edges.  The nose is very earthy, with quite a bit of smoke, oak and cedar over a layer of leather and black pepper.  The taste is surprisingly fruit forward with rich flavors of blackberry and plum at the outset that quickly transitions to some stark mineral notes of limestone and iron midpalate.  The tannins are quite mellow after nearly two decades but they still give nice structure to the smooth and very dry finish.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's drinking quite nicely, but I believe it's somewhat on the downhill side of its life.  As for pairings, it would be very nice with a wide variety of steaks or spicy Italian dishes, but tonight I've gone the other direction and am enjoying it with a grilled wild Alaskan salmon steak served over a bed of baby greens with all sorts of picnic sides, including corn on the cob, cole slaw and potato salad with a bit of fresh dill.  The fruit of the wine and mild acidity offer a great complement to the rich fattiness of the salmon, the perfect summer fare!  Salut!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

2012 Maxwell Creek Napa Valley Rose

Happy Independence Day Eve!  Here we are on the evening before the 4th of July and I decided to stop at the supermarket after work and they were having a big seafood sale, so what wine should I open knowing that I'll be eating seafood for dinner?  Well it just so happens that I stopped by the World Market yesterday and picked up a couple bottles of rose, so why not open a bottle of the 2012 Maxwell Creek Napa Valley Rose?

The wine is a lovely orange-pink color in the glass, sort of the color of ripe grapefruit at the center, leading to a white translucence around the edges of the glass.  The nose is very different from what I was expecting, with lovely notes of strawberry and citrus, but it also had some interesting floral notes as well as a nice bit of vanilla bean.  The taste was crisp and refreshing with flavors of citrus and green grass at the outset which transitioned to some interesting notes of flowers and tea leaves midpalate.  The finish was quite nice, with a distinct dryness, but also a burst of honey flavor at the very end which I found quite endearing.

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, as it was a pleasure to sip and very versatile in pairing with a variety of dishes.  It was also a solid value at only $10 at the World Market.  Tonight I paired this wine with a lovely dinner of sea scallops seared in toasted sesame oil and served on a bed of baby greens with some spicy curried couscous on the side.  The wine is really a perfect match for seafood as the crispness really played well with the richness of the scallops, while the honey finish was a nice foil to some of the bitterness of the baby greens.  Cheers and have a lovely Independence Day!