Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2010 Tre Nova Nebbaro

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Tonight I've opened a bottle that I found in the cellar, and I have to admit raised more questions than answers!  By all accounts, this wine looks Italian, has a Super Tuscan sort of label, and it's a blend of Italian varietals, but it was from the Columbia Valley of Washington.  I looked further at the label and found it was produced by G. Cuneo, and I remember visiting their tasting room when I was in Walla Walla in 2015, but I don't recall buying this bottle.  In any case, here it is, the 2010 Tre Nova Nebbaro, a blend of Nebbiolo (51%) and Barbera (49%) from the Columbia Valley AVA.  Nebbiolo is the king of Piedmont varietals, from which we get classic Barolo, so let's see what this wine has to offer!


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass, somewhat darker than your typical Sangiovese, but just what you'd expect from a Nebbiolo or Barbera.  The nose is a cascade of leather, smoke, dried Italian spices over rich black fruit.  The taste is wonderfully fruit forward, with rich plum, black cherry and cassis amid undertones of dried spice with a hint of mint and licorice.  The tannins are well structured, providing nice backbone for a long, smooth dry finish with just a bit of tartness on the end.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a lovely example of some old world varietals meets new world creativity.  This wine would pair well with Italian dishes like a wild mushroom risotto, but it would also be great with a variety of steaks and roasts, ideal for winter.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a little offbeat dinner of oven roasted chicken with wild rice and steamed broccoli.  Cheers!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2015 Pepper Bridge Walla Walla Merlot

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around my house!  We had a bunch of snow today, so to avoid cutting down my Christmas trees in the snow, I went out yesterday afternoon to get them.  And in typical Clark W. Griswold fashion, I probably went a little overboard on the family room tree as it really fills the space!  In any case, you can get a sense of the holiday cheer in the photo below (and yes, that is an official Christmas Story leg lamp in the background!).  I also confess I'm apparently on a bit of a Merlot kick, but to be fair, wineries keep sending me Merlot in wine club shipments so I can't really help it!  In any case, tonight I've opened a bottle from the latest wine club shipment from Pepper Bridge Winery, the 2015 Walla Walla Merlot, which is a blend of Merlot (78%), Cabernet Franc (15%) and Malbec (7%) from the Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and Octave Vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley. 


The wine is a deep inky color in the glass, just what you'd expect from a nice Merlot.  The aromas of leather, black cherry, and tea leaf abound on this wine from a very warm vintage (based on my discussions with a lot of Walla Walla folks, the 2015 vintage will likely be much more fruit concentrated and likely better for early drinking rather than cellaring).  The taste is a fantastic rush of ripe black fruit, cherry, plum and layers of fig that yield to notes of black pepper and fennel.  The tannins are lush, supporting the warm, dry and voluptuous finish. 

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just a lovely Merlot that's versatile and food friendly.  This is a wine that just speaks to the upcoming holidays, and I could easily see this wine pairing with anything from fire glazed ham to turkey with cranberries, to dark chocolate and peppermint bark.  Tonight I am relaxing after decorating (more to finish tomorrow!) and enjoying this wine with a dinner of pan seared sea scallops on a bed of baby arugula with pesto penne.  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2015 Seven Hills Merlot

Happy Wine Wednesday!  It's been a busy week so far, but at least there's wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a recent wine club selection from one of my favorite wineries, Seven Hills out of Walla Walla.  And much to the dismay of "Sideways" fans everywhere, I am a bit fan of Merlot, and tonight I'm enjoying the 2015 Seven Hills Walla Walla Merlot, so let's see who's right!


The wine is a lovely deep, inky purple in the glass with bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is a subdued affair, with notes of leather, blackberry, cherry and cassis with just the slightest hint of green grass.  The taste is not nearly as fruit forward as some past vintages, but still nice black cherry at the outset that evolves into some lovely white pepper notes before diving into dark chocolate and mocha midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with somewhat tightly wound tannins with a reprise of tart cherry before the long, smooth and exceptionally dry finish.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's drinking quite nicely now, but has the potential to improve quite a bit with a few years in the cellar.  This wine would pair well with a variety of roasts and stews, classic chill in the air autumnal fare, but tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a prime eye of ribeye grilled Pittsburgh rare with some steamed baby red potatoes with butter and parsley and some steamed broccoli.  Cheers!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

2007 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, I've been somewhat of a slacker for the past couple months, but I finally remembered to Cellar Saturday, that magical first Saturday of the month where I raid the cellar for something interesting to open.  Tonight I've decided to open a nice one, a bottle of 2007 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, so let's see how this one stacks up!


The wine has the deep coloration you'd expect from a nice Cabernet.  The nose is an interesting combination of black fruit and earthy notes, blackberry, plum and prune interlaced with tar, peat and tobacco.  The taste is a rush of bright cherry fruit that envelopes the palate while easily transitioning to some warm spice notes midpalate.  The finish has a note of sweet cherry, as the well structured tannins still provide the backbone for the long, smooth and velvety dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's a really nice Cabernet and I'm glad I let it develop for the past decade as it was well worth it.  This is also a classic, "big" California Cabernet, so it's practically begging to be paired with a nice steak and tonight is its lucky day!  I'm enjoying this wine with a rare grilled filet mignon along with butter braised Yukon gold potatoes and steamed broccoli.  Cheers!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2015 Dona Paula Estate Malbec

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Tonight I’ve decided to open a nice Malbec from one of my favorite Argentine peoducers, Dona Paula Estate.  I’m feeling a bit lazy tonight and I’m hankering for some Thai food, so it seems that a 2015 Dona Paula Malbec from the Uco Valley in Mendoza just might do the trick!  So let’s see if I was right.


The wine is a deep, inky purple color in the glass. The nose presents aromas of ripe red fruit, cherry, plum and currant intermingled with green herbs and a touch of mint.  The taste is classic Malbec with a rush of red fruit mixed with green herbs, black pepper spice and earthy undertones that are just what you’d expect from a nice Malbec from Mendoza.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it’s a nice example of a classic Malbec and a terrific value for around $12. This wine would pair well with a variety of dishes beyond the classic steak, and tonight I am enjoying this wine with some Pad Kee Mao Thai take out, it’s always a challenge to pair wine with Thai food, but I’ve found a good Malbec is usually a solid choice. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

2015 Mark Ryan Winery "The Dissident"

Happy Taco Tuesday!  I bet you'll never guess what's for dinner tonight!  But at least the wine is settled, as I've decided to open a bottle of a wine club shipment from Mark Ryan Winery.  I'll admit to being a more recent convert to these wines (what was it 2012?), but I was hooked once I realized where the wines got their names.  And despite letting me reminisce about my grunge days, they are also terrific wine.  The 2015 Mark Ryan Winery "The Dissident" is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%), Merlot (27%), Cabernet Franc (16%) and Petit Verdot (1%) all from some of the best vineyards in the Columbia Valley of Washington.  So let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is the color and consistency you'd expect from a blend so heavily weighted toward Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  The nose is an earthy rush of smoke, oak and dried herbs intermingled with ripe black fruit, blackberry, cherry and cassis.  The taste is at once a rush of heavy black fruit, blackberry, cherry and a hint of prune that transitions smoothly to some notes of dusty limestone and white pepper midpalate.  The finish is delightful, with nicely polished tannins supporting the long, smooth and voluptuous finish that seems to linger more than a minute.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a great example of the quality of Bordeaux style blends being produced in the Columbia Valley, but I thought this vintage was just below the 2011 vintage that I last reviewed (see here).  And of course I'm enjoying this wine with some chorizo tacos, though it would pair well with anything from steak to salmon to lamb, or just sipping by itself.  Cheers!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

2014 Justin Justification

Happy Sunday!  It's been a busy week, what with all the turkey and shopping and such, so today we decided to take it a bit easy with a leisurely brunch and a late dinner with a nice bottle of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2014 Justin Justification, a blend of Cabernet Franc (55%) and Merlot (45%) from Paso Robles.  I recently found this wine at Costco, so let's see how it tastes!


The wine is a deep, inky purple in the glass with bright garnet at the edges, just as you'd expect with such a Merlot concentration in the blend.  The nose is a cascade of ripe black fruit, blackberry to cherry to plum, all with an overlay of leather and earthy peat.  The taste is a rush of blackberry and cherry at the outset, that transitions to some lovely notes of fresh herbs and a hint of mint midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with well integrated tannins providing the framing to a long, smooth and seductively dry finish that treats you to a reprise of black fruit at the end.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's a solid, well-structured wine that tastes a lot more expensive than it's $34 price tag.  This wine would pair well with salmon, roast duck, lamb or steak, quite versatile as we hit the winter months.   Tonight, we are enjoying this wine with grilled filet mignon, baked potato and butter braised Brussels sprouts.  Cheers!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Fruit Hills Winery “Two Shades of Red”

Happy Thanksgiving!  With all of the turkey and trimmings for the typical Thanksgiving feast it’s always a challenge to think of wine pairings. Many will go with a standard white wine, perhaps a Chardonnay or Pinot Gris, but it’s always a more interesting challenge to pair a red wine. Many will opt for a nice Pinot Noir or perhaps a Rhône blend, but today I’ve gone for a local Indiana wine, the non-vintage Fruit Hills Winery “Two Shades of Red” which is a blend primarily of Cabernet Franc that’s a bit lighter so as not to overpower the star of the feast.  This wine is one of the few that Fruit Hills produces from local grapes, in this case from southwest Michigan near the coast, so let’s see how this one tastes!


The wine is somewhat lighter in color, similar to a Pinot Noir.  The nose is a pleasant combination of leather, green grass, strawberry and blackberry.  The taste is a lovely rush of fruit up front, black cherry, blackberry and plum that transitions to some notes of tobacco, floral and strawberry midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with soft tannins providing for a short, but very smooth and dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it’s quite pleasant particularly given that Indiana isn’t exactly a hot bed of red wine production.  This wine is very nice with Thanksgiving turkey, with a nice balance of fruit and dryness to compliment a classic turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Cheers!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2013 Woodward Canyon Estate Dolcetto

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Of course it's also Thanksgiving eve, so we can throw that in there too.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of wine from Woodward Canyon, one of the first wineries I visited on that fabled first visit to Walla Walla nearly two decades ago.  Tonight it's the 2013 Estate Dolcetto from the Walla Walla Valley.  I reviewed the 2012 vintage here, so let's see how this one is faring!


The wine is a lovely deep ruby color in the glass.  The nose is chock full of leather, green grass and blackberry fruit that just beckons you to take a sip.  And the taste is just lovely, with a rush of cherry cola, blackberry and plum flavors that envelope the palate, while lush mineral notes combine with dark chocolate and prune midpalate.  The tannins are wonderfully structured providing a nice foundation to the long, lush and very dry finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just another wonderful example of the great quality of Dolcetto being produced in the Walla Walla Valley.  This is an exceptionally food friendly wine as I could see this pairing well with holiday turkey or ham, wonderful salmon dishes or a beautiful cheese course, but tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a rare grilled New York strip with sauteed onions and peppers and a big baked potato with sour cream and chives.  Cheers!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2014 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson

Happy Sunday!  It got a bit chilly today, so a perfect day to enjoy a nice Walla Walla red blend!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of the 2014 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson red wine, a classic Bordeaux style blend from the Walla Walla AVA in Washington.  This wine is also a special treat as I had the chance to visit the Ferguson Vineyard back in 2013 (you can read about that here).  This particular vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (56%), Merlot (32%), Cabernet Franc (6%) and Malbec (6%), so let's see how this wine is shaping up!


The wine is a deep, inky purple in the glass.  The nose is a beautiful combination of leather, blackberry and dusty mineral aromas that really speak to the terroir at Ferguson.  The taste is a rush of ripe fruit up front, black cherry, blackberry and plum that transition to some lovely mineral and smoky notes midpalate.  The finish is near perfect, with well structured tannins providing the backbone and just a hint of spice and characteristic Bordeaux "funk" coming in at the end of the long, smooth, and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's a pleasant drinking wine right now, but I'm confident it will get better with some time in the cellar.  This wine would pair well with a variety of dishes, from firmer cheeses to roast beef, to wild Pacific salmon, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with a Thai chili rubbed New York strip with grilled broccoli rabe and mini peppers and a baked potato.  A perfect Sunday dinner, cheers!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

2014 Seven Hills Pentad

Happy Saturday!  It's been a dreary and rainy day here, so I thought I'd brighten the mood a bit with a nice bottle of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle from one of my favorite wineries, Seven Hills and specifically a wine that's not produced every year, the Pentad!  This Bordeaux style blend is only produced when conditions are right, so although we have seen the release of a 2014 and just recently a 2015 vintage, prior to that we only saw the Pentad released in 2012, then earlier in 2009 and 2007, so in all, we have seen only 10 vintages released with the 2015.  The 2014 Vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (61%), Petit Verdot (19%), Malbec (9%), Cabernet Franc (7%) and Merlot (4%) from the Walla Walla Valley AVA, so let's see how last year's wine if faring!


The wine is a deep inky color with bright ruby along the edges, suggestive of the heavy presence of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, blackberry, clove and dried spice that welcomes you to take a sip.  The taste is wonderfully smooth and balanced, with casual notes of ripe black fruit intermingled with mocha and dark chocolate that transitions to some lovely green herb notes just before the finish.  And the finish is lovely, with chewy tannins that make for a long, firm and exceptionally dry finish that lasts a minute or more.


Overall, this wine is really the gold standard in Walla Walla Bordeaux Style blends and I'd rate this one an easy 9, perhaps even a 9.5 with another couple years in the cellar.  This wine is very food friendly, and best enjoyed with a nice family dinner or some cheese and charcuterie with friends.  This wine would pair well with a variety of steaks and chops, heavier Italian pastas or beautiful autumn stews, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with a rare grilled New York strip along with some bucatini tossed with garlic, olive oil and broccoli rabe.  The wine really stands up well to beef, cheers!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

DaMa Cowgirl Blanc

Happy Sunday!  It's been a good day to stay indoors and watch old movies, as it's been cold and snowing/sleeting all afternoon.  And given the melancholy weather, it also seems appropriate to enjoy a little comfort food for dinner, which is what I plan for tonight.  But what wine to enjoy with this particular comfort food was a challenge, but one that I was up to when I got out a bottle of a recent wine club shipment from DaMa Wines, the non-vintage Cowgirl Blanc.  This wine is a blend of Chardonnay (65%) and Viognier (35%) from both the Mill Creek and Sagemoor Vineyards in the Columbia and Walla Walla Valley AVAs of Washington.  So let's see how this unusual evening of white wine progresses!


The wine has pleasant aromas of rich tropical fruit, mango, passion fruit and some apricot notes with some mineral notes over the top.  The taste is more subdued tropical fruit on the outset, which seems more dominated by citrus notes and bright acidity, which easily transitions into some earthy mineral notes midpalate.  The tropical fruit makes another appearance on the crisp refreshing finish, which is surprisingly long for a white wine.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as you know, white wines are really not my thing, but I could easily see this wine as a Thanksgiving favorite.  Tonight I am enjoying this one with my Mom's recipe for classic tuna noodle casserole, creamy goodness that of course is topped with crumbled potato chips, it doesn't get more comfortable than that.  Cheers!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

2014 L'Ecole No. 41 Perigee

What a day, full of gathering leaves and getting them up to the street for the city to take in a few weeks.  This is the time of year when we work outside in the cold, then come in to a nice warm meal and a glass of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open up a bottle from one of my long-time favorite wineries in Walla Walla, L'Ecole No. 41, and in particular, one of my perennial favorite blends, the Perigee.  The 2014 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Franc (12%), Petit Verdot (5%) and Malbec (3%).  I brought this bottle back with me from my trip to Walla Walla back in August, so let's see how it tastes!


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose is an elegant blend of leather, blueberry and smoky oak, that exudes richness and thoughtfulness in the blending.  The taste is a rush of ripe black fruit, blackberry and plum that evolve into dark chocolate and tobacco.  The tannins are youthful but refined providing an ideal base for the long, smooth and well structured finish that seems to last a minute or more.

Overall, I'd rate this wine a solid 9, as the Perigee is still one of my all time favorites.  This wine would be fairly versatile with food, but it really deserves to be paired with a nice steak, whether a prime filet mignon or as I'm enjoying tonight, an Angus Porterhouse with baked potato and grilled leeks.  Cheers!

Friday, November 10, 2017

2013 Chateau Buena Vista Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Friday! I've been working in the yard gathering leaves all afternoon, so it's definitely time to have a glass of wine!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle of 2013 Chateau Buena Vista Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that I got at Costco just a few weeks ago, so let's see how this wine tastes!


The wine is lovely deep ruby color in the glass, just as you'd expect from a quality Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is a rush of smoke, leather, blackberry and cherry that just exudes ripe Napa Cabernet.  The taste is a rush of ripe black fruit and warm spice, blackberry, plum and cassis overlaid with white pepper spice and kirsch.  The tannins are beautifully structured providing for the backbone of a long, smooth, voluptuous finish that seems to last more than a minute.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's just what you'd expect from a Napa  Cabernet.  This wine practically screams to be paired with a big honkin' steak, and it just so happens I have a thick, Angus porterhouse to enjoy with this wine tonight, grilled rare with some grilled leeks, Brussels sprouts and a big baked potato with some sour cream and  chives. A perfect finish to a long week, cheers!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

2014 Forgeron Malbec

Happy Wine Wednesday!  It's been a lovely day so why not end it with a wonderful dinner and a nice bottle of wine?  Yes on both counts!  Tonight I've decided to open a recent wine club bottle from Forgeron Cellars in Walla Walla.  I've been a fan of Marie Eve and her wines since I visited there in 2012, or maybe it was 2010, in any case, they have been doing some wonderful things with some less explored varietals in the region, including Malbec.  This particular wine is 100% Malbec from the Stone Tree Vineyard (89%) on the Wahluke Slope in Washington's Columbia Valley with the remainder from the Minnick Hills Vineyard (11%) in the Walla Walla Valley.  So let's see how this one tastes!


The wine is a stunning, deep purple color in the glass, picture perfect for Malbec.  The nose is a symphony of aromas that bring you to images of gauchos in the Andes of Argentina, leather, smoke, black cherry and hints of white pepper spice and mocha over the top.  The taste is refined and complex, pretty much the opposite of a big, gut punching Cabernet that's so popular among so many today.  There is a rush of ripe fruit up front, cherry, pomegranate and currant that transition effortlessly to some notes of peppery dark chocolate midpalate.  The finish is just the best part of this wine, with incredibly polished tannins supporting a velvety smooth finish that seems to last the better part of five minutes.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, maybe even a 9.5 as this has to be one of the best Malbecs I've had.  This wine practically begs to be paired with a big hunk of beef, and it would certainly be delicious with a prime ribeye, but tonight I am going off the rails again, pairing this wine with a lovely grilled mango marinaded pork tenderloin with grilled peppers and Brussels sprouts.  The wine just brings out the richness of pork while the complex fruit just makes the perfect complement.  Cheers!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

2006 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino

Happy Sunday!  I have to admit, I've been a total slacker when it comes to Cellar Saturday, I totally missed in last month, and I totally forgot about it yesterday too!  So I'll make up for it today, as I have a delayed Cellar Saturday blamed entirely on Daylight Savings Time!  So instead of yesterday, tonight I've decided to raid the cellar for a bottle that's been at least a decade in the making, and tonight it's the 2006 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino!  I am a big fan of Brunello, and like a good Barolo, I remain convinced they need at least a decade to show their true potential, so tonight this one has a chance to shine.  Keep in mind, I've decanted this wine and let if breathe for about an hour, so let's see how it tastes!


The wine is a lovely bright garnet color in the glass, with great clarity, just as you'd expect from a nice Sangiovese.  The nose is classic Brunello, with strong notes of smoke, leather, dried Italian herbs and some floral notes of lavender and rose.  The tastes is a rush of ripe fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry that transitions nicely to some notes of dried herbs, cardamom and peat midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, as the tannins are robust and support the long, smooth and very dry finish that treats to a reprise of red fruit at the end.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's not the best Brunello I've had, but it's quite good, particularly 11 years on in its life.  This wine would pair well with bistecca alla fiorentina or a variety of Italian dishes, but tonight I've gone rogue and I'm enjoying this wine with some pan seared lake perch topped with pineapple jalapeno salsa, roasted baby potatoes and grilled baby bok choy.  The bright red fruit of this wine really compliment the lighter flavor of the fish.  Cheers!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

2014 DaMa Collage

Happy Wine Wednesday and Happy November!  Today the UPS man was kind enough to drop off my fall wine club shipment from DaMa Wines, so it seemed appropriate to open a bottle this evening!  I've decided to open a bottle that caught my eye, the 2014 Collage, a blend of Merlot (69%), Cabernet Sauvignon (26%) and Cabernet Franc (5%) from the Golden Ridge Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington.  So let's see how this Wine Wednesday is shaping up!


The wine is a bright ruby in the glass, with nice clarity.  The nose is a beautiful cascade of leather, strawberry, black cherry and smoke that just screams Autumn.  The taste is a rush of black fruit, blackberry, cassis and cherry cola that swirl around to some notes of dusty limestone, dried herbs and sweet cherry midpalate.  The finish is very well structured with smooth tannins surrounding the velvety smooth and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as this Merlot blend is just a fun wine to sip.  This wine would pair well with a variety of steaks and chops, as well as pasta and hearty fall soups, but tonight I'm enjoying this wine with some barbecued pulled pork, baked beans and Asian slaw.  The fruit in this wine and lovely herb notes really set nicely with smoky, sweet barbecue.  Cheers!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

2014 Helix Cabernet Franc

Happy Sunday!  I've spent the afternoon raking and blowing leaves and trying to get my leaf vac to run, but without luck today (more on that in another installment of "I'm not a mechanic, nor do I play one on TV").  At least the day is done and it's time for some dinner and a glass of wine.  Tonight I've decided to open another bottle of the recent wine club shipment from Reininger, the 2014 Helix Cabernet Franc from the Weinbau Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope in the Columbia Valley of Washington.  Unfortunately I lost my tech sheet on this wine, but I'm confident that it's mainly Cabernet Franc, with a bit of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to bring some added complexity, so let's see how it tastes!


The wine is a deep ruby in the glass, somewhat lighter in color than a Merlot.  The nose a fabulous array of aromas, from candied plums to fresh herbs to hints of violet.  The taste is a rush of black cherry, raspberry and plum that transitions nicely to some notes of cocoa and green herbs midpalate.  The tannins are a bit tightly wound, providing a bit of a snap on the finish, which is long and extraordinarily dry, with just a hint of funk at the very end.  This is a wine that reminds me of some of the best right bank Bordeaux, with lovely fruit, earthy undertones and a great finish.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's only the third vintage since 1997 and this one has the potential to develop nicely over time.  This wine would pair well with a wide array of dishes, from lamb to grilled pork tenderloin, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with a alder planked wild Alaskan salmon filet over a bed of baby arugula and topped with fresh pineapple jalapeno salsa with some steamed asparagus.  Cheers!

Friday, October 27, 2017

2014 Helix Petit Verdot

Happy Friday!  I spend much of the day working in the yard as it's getting to be the heart of leaf season around my house (that's the price you pay for living in your own private forest).  But at least now it's time for a nice glass of wine with dinner, and tonight it's a recent wine club selection from Reininger, the 2014 Helix Petit Verdot, an extremely limited production available only to wine club members.  This 100% Petit Verdot is made from fruit from the Stone Tree Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope, so let's see how this interesting varietal stacks up!


The wine is a deep, inky color in the glass, somewhat like a nice Cabernet.  The nose is a blast of lovely floral notes, lavender, lilac, and rich black fruit. overlaying the mildest hints of mineral notes.  The taste is a rush of cool ripe fruit, blackberry, cherry, plum, all singing together before rushing into some subdued spice notes of black pepper midpalate.  The tannins are the most beautiful background singers for the star of the show, as this wine just croons with a voluptuous dry finish.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's one of my favorite pure examples of this varietal.  This wine would be great with a lot of fall dishes, from hearty stews to chili to Yankee pot roast, but tonight I am enjoying one last blast of summer as I was at the market today and they had spare ribs on sale, so I'm enjoying this wine with barbecued spare ribs, fried sweet potatoes with peppers and some rich baked beans.  This has to be one of the best wines with barbecue I've ever had!  Cheers!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2014 Forgeron Barbera

Happy Wine Wednesday!  It's been a wonderful day today, though a little chilly, but at least it's stopped raining!  So tonight I've decided to open a recent wine club selection from Forgeron, a wonderful producer of some great wines out of Walla Walla.  Tonight I've opened a bottle of the 2014 Columbia Valley Barbera, so let's see what this wine has to offer.


The wine is a deep ruby color, almost inky at the center, very similar to the color on a nice Merlot.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, smoke, graphite and red fruit, raspberries, cherries and currant.  The taste is a lovely rush of cherry cola, blackberry and pipe tobacco that transitions effortlessly to some lovely notes of dark chocolate and dried Italian spices midpalate.  The finish is very smooth, with fine grained tannins supporting a long, dry finish with a reprice of spice at the end.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's one of my favorite vintages of Barbera from Forgeron over the past several years.  This wine would be wonderful with steak, roasts or even barbecue, but in my eyes it practically begs to be paired with classic Italian pasta dishes, so tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a simple linguine with tomato basil marinara topped with shaved Parmesan.  Cheers!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

2013 Helix Sangiovese

Happy Sunday!  So last night I invites some of the folks that went down to Houston for a bit of a reunion dinner and it was wonderful, lots of Italian appetizers and the main course was bucatini with mussels fra diavalo, a classic!  So all that Italian had me looking for some sort of Italian or Italian inspired wine to enjoy with tonight's round 2 of mussels.  I found it in the 2013 Helix Sanviovese from the Stillwater Creek Vineyard of the Columbia Valley of Washington.  So let's see how this wine stands up to some serious Italian food!


The wine is a light, garnet color with great clarity as you'd expect from a nice Sangiovese.  The nose is chock full of leather, anise, dried flowers and a bit of white pepper.  The taste is somewhat subdued with black fruit notes up front, plum, blackberry and currant that transitions nicely to some peppery spice notes and tart cherry midpalate.  The tannins are wonderfully structured, bringing some mild acidity to the long beautifully dry finish.  This is a departure from the typical Chianti, but a pleasant one that provides ample fruit, spice and complexity to lift the dish it accompanies.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as I think it's solid vintage and somewhat better than the past few vintages I've tried.  This wine would pair beautifully with a wide variety of classic Italian dishes, from pasta to risotto, but tonight I am going for round 2 of last night's dinner, with some modifications.  Tonight it's linguine with the remainder of my PEI mussels sauteed in garlic and olive oil and then simmered with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, red wine and a bit of hot pepper for the kick, all topped with a bit of shaved Parmesan.  Cheers!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

2015 Mark Ryan "Little Sister" Columbia Valley Merlot

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Tonight I have multiple special treats from what I'm drinking to what I'm eating, but let's start with the important business of what I'm drinking, after all, this is a wine blog!  Tonight I've decided to open a bottle that came with a recent wine club shipment from Mark Ryan Winery, the 2015 "Little Sister" Columbia Valley Merlot, a blend of Merlot (97%) with just a touch of Cabernet Franc (3%) to mellow things out.  You know how I love me some Merlot, so let's check out the Little Sister!


The wine is a deep, inky purple with bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is an intriguing blend of leather, tart cherry, cardamom and baking spice.  The taste is classic, old school Merlot with a rush of ripe fruit up front, cherry, currant and plum, that transitions to some interesting notes of buttered popcorn jelly belly midpalate.  The finish is smooth, with young tannins providing a bit of punch to the long, smooth and dry finish.  This wine is such a pleasure to drink!


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, as it's one of the nicest Merlots I've had in quite some time.  Although I'm happy as a clam just sipping this wine, it would be ideal with a variety of dishes, from lobster bisque, to steak, to hearty pasta.  Tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a 28-day dry aged Prime New York strip, with grilled asparagus and a baked potato.  The sweet to dry fruit of this wine is ideal for a hearty steak, cheers!

Monday, October 16, 2017

2011 Reininger Cima

Happy Monday!  Today I spent the afternoon trimming branches from some of the smaller trees around the house.  These are what I consider the annoying trees, like the thornapples and other trees that can never have straight branches, but only branches that naturally grow into bird nest like monstrosities, but I digress.  So after trimming a pile of branches, I am definitely in the mood for a nice glass of wine.  Tonight it's a recent wine club selection from Reininger that I've been anxious to try, the 2011 Cima, a blend of Sangiovese (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Petit Verdot (17%) and Merlot (8%) from the Seven Hills and Pepper Bridge Vineyards in the Walla Walla AVA.  So let's see what I've been waiting for!


The wine is a lovely bright ruby in the glass, typical of the Sangiovese in this Washington Super Tuscan.  The nose is a symphony of soft leather, graphite and spice box with emerging hints of ripe cherries and rose petals.  The taste is surprisingly youthful despite the more than five years this wine spent in barrel, with lovely notes of strawberry, cherry and red plums bursting forth at the outset, only to give way to some lovely notes of black pepper spice and tart cherry midpalate, no doubt a testament to the wonder of Sangiovese.  The finish was velvety smooth, as the tannins were mature and expertly integrated to provide a lasting dry finish that begs you to take another sip.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's just s fantastic and fun wine that speaks volumes to the creativity, passion and talent that Chuck Reininger pours into every bottle.  This wine would be great with almost anything, from smoked brisket to roast chicken with fire roasted root vegetables, but tonight it an average day at my house which means I'm enjoying this wine with a wonderful Angus porterhouse, grilled veggies and a baked potato with all the trimmings.  Cheers!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

2015 Board Track Racer "The Chief"

Happy Sunday!  It's been a light weekend for blog posts as I was in Chicago on Friday visiting the Art Institute and didn't get back until late, and last night I had a wedding to attend, so that leaves just tonight.  But at least I have a nice bottle of wine to open, the 2015 Board Track Racer "The Chief" a second label of Mark Ryan Winery out of Washington.  This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), Malbec (11%) and Petit Verdot (4%) from the Columbia Valley of Washington, so let's see how she tastes!


The wine is a deep purple color, classic for a Cabernet.  The nose is a lovely combination of oak, overlaying some lovely black fruit, blackberry, cherry and plum with hints of mint and graphite over the top.  The taste is just wonderful, with a rush of black cherry up front that transitions effortlessly to some lovely mineral notes midpalate, only to treat you to a further evolution to dark chocolate and tobacco on the finish.  The tannins are young, but very smooth, leading to a lovely long, velvety and very dry finish.

A little Grant Wood painting I saw on Friday that prevented me from posting!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just a lovely Cabernet and a great value, as I ordered this from the tasting room in Walla Walla back in August and I'm sure it was under $30.  This wine would be great with steaks, lamb or hearty Italian dishes, but tonight I am enjoying this wine with a Thai Chili rubbed Tagliata steak, with grilled leeks and asparagus and a big baked potato with sour cream and chives.  Cheers!

Monday, October 9, 2017

2015 Flying B Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Monday!  I had a rather unremarkable day, but at least it's time to make some dinner and have a glass of wine!  Tonight I've decided to open another bottle of my recent wine club shipment from the Bledsoe Family Winery, the 2015 Flying B Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (94%) with a bit of Malbec (6%) from the Bob Healy and and Seven Hills Vineyards, in southwest edge of the Walla Walla AVA.  So let's see how this one tastes.


The wine is a deep, brooding purple color in the glass, with bright garnet along the edges.  The nose presents aromas of leather, cedar, blackberry and smoke, perfect for a big Cabernet.  The taste is lush, with ripe black fruit bursting from the outset, but quickly settling in for some lovely notes of tart cherry, sage and black pepper midpalate.  The finish is warm, but very big, with still youthful tannins providing nice backbone for the long, smooth and voluptuous finish that urges you to take another sip.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9, it's really a lovely example of a great Walla Walla Cabernet, but it's still young with a lot of potential to get even better over the next decade.  This is the type of wine that as wine maker Josh McDaniels said, "begs for a T-bone or ribeye steak" and wouldn't you know it, I stopped on the way home tonight and picked up an extra thick Hereford T-bone which I grilled Pittsburgh rare along with some grilled leeks and asparagus and some butter braised red potatoes with chives.  Cheers!

Friday, October 6, 2017

2015 Stolen Horse Walla Walla Valley Syrah

Happy Friday!  For those who've had a long week, the weekend is here, for others, it's still a reason to celebrate.  Today I have a special reason to celebrate as the Fedex man delivered my Fall wine club shipment from the Bledsoe Family Winery, the first such shipment from this new, more approachable spin-off from Doubleback, Drew Bledsoe's first effort in Walla Walla.  So tonight I've decided to open a bottle of the 2015 Stolen Horse Walla Walla Valley Syrah, a blend of fruit from the Loess (60%) and Les Collines Vineyards (40%) made from Syrah (95%) co-fermented with Viognier (5%).  The wine is from an interesting vintage, 2015 being quite warm, and as I recall from my vacation to Walla Walla that year, quite smoky from the many forest fires that were going on around the state.  So I'm interested to see how these wines developed.


The wine is a lovely, deep purple color in the glass.  The nose is a wonderful combination of green grass, with hints of smoke, mint and red berries.  The taste is just lovely with a subdued array of raspberry, cherry and red currant up front that transitions to some some heart smoked meat and tobacco notes midpalate.  The finish is marked by youth, with the lush tannins providing for a lovely and long, dry finish that's countered by a bit of bright acidity to bring some balance.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as I think it will mature a bit with some age to be more in line with the 2013 vintage I've tried in the past (see here).  This is one of those very versatile, food friendly red wines that I could see pairing with anything from barbecue to hearty steaks, to roasted beet salad, but tonight I am enoying it with some classic comfort food of stuffed peppers topped with aged parmesan and asiago cheese.  Cheers!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

2013 Cadaretta Springboard Cabernet Sauvignon

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Tonight I've decided to have a special treat, since it's been somewhat cloudy and rainy all day, I figured I should open a nice bottle of wine to make up for the dreary weather.  So I've opened a bottle that I brought back from my vacation to Walla Walla in August, the 2013 Cadaretta Springboard Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (71%), Malbec (23%), Petit Verdot (5%) and Merlot (1%) from the Columbia Valley of Washington.  I tasted this wine at the Cadaretta tasting room in Walla Walla and I liked it, so now I have a chance to share it with you.


The wine is a classic looking Cabernet in the glass, deep inky purple with bright ruby along the edges.  The nose presents aromas of leather, cassis and white pepper spice, a tribute to the heavy blend of Malbec.  The taste is a rush of black cherry and blueberry that transitions to some lovely mineral notes of dusty limestone, white pepper and hints of vanilla bean midpalate.  The finish is warm and voluptuous as the beautifully integrated tannins provide the necessary backbone for the long, dry and seamless finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's a wonderful example of the great quality of Washington varietals and how an inspired blending can further elevate a wine.  With the heavy Malbec presence in the blend, this is a perfect big steak wine, which is a good thing, since tonight I am enjoying this wine with a big Angus porterhouse grilled rare with some grilled asparagus.  Cheers!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

2013 Helix Bacchus Vineyard Merlot

Happy Tuesday!  It's been a while since I've posted because last week I was actually in Houston all week helping with the relief efforts down there.  It was quite a bit of hot, sweaty, backbreaking work, but it was really worth it to see the appreciation of the folks down there that were in such desperate need of a helping hand.  In any case, I'm back now and ready for some wine!  Tonight I've decided to open a recent wine club wine from Reininger's Helix brand, the 2013 Helix Columbia Valley Merlot from the Bacchus Vineyard.  So let's see what this one has to offer.


The wine is a deep ruby color in the glass, the ideal representation of the varietal.  The nose presents lovely aromas of strawberry, red currant, leather and oak that just make you want to dive right into the glass.  The taste is as smooth as can be, with lovely flavors of ripe red fruit, cherry, currant, marionberry that transitions to some lovely earthy mineral notes midpalate.  The finish is quite smooth, despite the tightly wound tannins, which provide a bit of tartness right at the end of the smooth and very dry finish.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's drinking nicely now, but will likely improve with a few years in the cellar.  This wine would pair well with hearty fall dishes from stew to chili to lovely Italian pasta, but as always I am going against the herd.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with seared sesame crusted Ahi tuna on a bed of baby arugula with some wild rice.  I know red wine and fish may not make sense to some, but after all, Tuna is the steak of the sea!  Cheers!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tinazzi Vinum Italicum Opera No. 3 Red Wine

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Tonight I have a special treat, a bottle of wine that was a gift from a former boss, so I've been looking forward to trying it.  This one is a little different as well, as it's a non-vintage red blend from Italy, utilizing grapes from three distinct regions, Veneto, Puglia and Sicily, each with their own specialties when it comes to red wine.  From Veneto we typically see Corvina, Rondinella and Merlot, Puglia is known for Primitivo, Negroamaro and Black Malvasia and Sicily thrives with Nero D'Avola.  With such a blend of grapes, this wine should be a real treat!


The wine is a deep, inky purple in the glass, with bright ruby edges.  The nose is a rich combination of leather, black currant, kirsch, green herbs and black pepper spice.  The taste is just lovely, with a rush of ripe black fruit up front, blackberry, cherry and currant that transitions nicely to some mineral flavors midpalate.  On the finish you're treated to a reprise of spice box notes that bring you right into an Italian kitchen, while the well structured tannins provide for the long, smooth and very pleasing finish.


Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as it's a wonderfully pleasing and easy drinking red blend that would be quite versatile with a variety of dishes, from steaks to barbecue to hearty pasta dishes.  Tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a rare grilled Prime ribcap topped with bleue cheese, grilled corn and asparagus, a perfect end of summer dinner.  Cheers!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Taste My Vacation Dinner!

As you know, I spent a wonderful week of vacation in Walla Walla last month, and to help celebrate and share my experiences with my friends, I hosted a "Taste My Vacation" dinner with individual courses and wine pairings.  And now is my chance to share that with everyone else virtually!  So enjoy the photos and taste my Walla Walla vacation!


The first course was a classic summer Caprese salad, with fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella topped with 25-year balsamic, Tuscan herb olive oil and fresh basil.  This appetizer was paired with a lovely 2014 Maison Bleue Bourgeois Grenache, with lovely fruit and mineral notes that perfectly accented the sweetness of the balsamic and creaminess of the mozzarella.


The second course was wasabi seared sea scallops over a bed of baby arugula tossed with 25-year white balsamic.  This course was paired with a 2015 Helix rose, the dry rose was a nice contrast to the sweetness of the white balsamic.


The main course was a grilled price ribcap with roasted asparagus and butter braised Yukon gold potatoes.  This course was paired with a 2014 Seven Hills Clone 191 Cabernet Sauvignon which perfectly accented the robust flavors of the steak and the creaminess of the potatoes.


Ant to end the evening, we had a lovely summer dessert of vanilla ice cream topped with espresso balsamic, fresh raspberries and 86% dark chocolate.  A lovely finale to the taste of my vacation.  Cheers!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

2012 Cougar Crest Dedication Ten Red Wine

Happy Wine Wednesday!  Tonight I am enjoying a lovely bottle of wine that I brought back from my vacation in Walla Walla a month ago, wow how time flies!  Anyway, the 2012 Cougar Crest Dedication 10 Red Wine is a blend of Syrah (55%), Cabernet Franc (20%), Merlot (17%) and Petit Verdot (8%) from the Walla Walla Valley.  This wine also has a special story, in that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the wine are donated to Doernbecker Children's Hospital in Portland, Ore. whose doctors and nurses were instrumental in the recovery of the winemakers' daughter from life threatening injuries.  So let's see how this wine tastes!


The wine is a deep purple color in the glass.  The nose is a lovely combination of leather, lush ripe black fruit, tart cherry and a bit of fresh green herbs.  The taste is a rush of ripe black fruit with an overlay of tart cherry that transitions nicely to some notes of dark chocolate and mocha midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with well integrated tannins that provide for a long, smooth and very dry finish, with a reprise of vanilla bean as the Syrah makes its presence felt.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's an extremely pleasant and easy drinking wine, that not only supports a good cause, it's also arguably one of the best values in Walla Walla wine today, priced at just $20!  With this sort of blend, this wine would pair nicely with a variety of dishes, from salmon to grilled chicken to steaks and chops, but of course I opted for steak!  Tonight I'm enjoying this wine with a rare grilled prime ribcap, baked Yukon gold potato and grilled asparagus.  Cheers!