Write about Wine. Read about Life. WineWonks, the Wine Blog Community.
Oh, hell, so it's not about wine, it's about the economy, stupid! So I met Charlie in the hot tub. He's got arthritic aches and pains like so many retired people. Somehow it didn't take very long to get from physical pains to psychological, emotional, and fiscal pains.. Like most of us, his 401k is down 20%. It didn't take much to get us into a joint rant. Let's see, where to start? Neither one of us belongs to a party - not Democrat, Republican, Independent or Tea Party. Charlie is angry! About Wall Street, about Washington, about political dysfunction, about the fact that low (no) interest rates devastate retirees, about Congress people who have fat health plans and retirements that we don't have, about waste, about deficit spending and the debt which in the long run lead to the downfall of empires, about the fact that, after retiring from a major drug company, he may have to go back to work, about the dilemma that spending cuts destroy jobs. What the hell happened? What happened to his father's prudence.
Complexity is too much for the human brain, even though consequences are multi-determined to borrow a phrase from Freud. Although there is no single cause, we tend to look for a simple explanation and a simple solution. So if we want to play the blame game, we could finger Greenspan, Barney Frank, greedy mortgage brokers, sub-prime mortgages, Fannie & Freddie, the big banks, CDOs and SIVs, greedy speculators, Washington and Wall Street. Anyway here we are in this mess "Round Two.". Governments bailed out the banks, will the banks bail out the governments?
So here we are, and Charlie is angry. Do you think he is the only one? Do you think the Tea Partiers are the only ones? What did his Dad have to say? Here are the laws of the father. Here are the ten commandments
- Don't borrow
- Don't get into debt
- Never a lender nor a borrower be
- Don't overspend
- Pay off your debts every month
- Work hard
- Be innovative
- Take care of yourself, your family, your community
- Cut back
- Get a job
There's the rub! How can you get a job when everybody is cutting back? Corporations have discovered that they can have the biggest profits ever by simply not hiring (and firing). Look at Bank of America, where Ken Lewis fired 35,000 of his most competent employees and bought disaster areas such as Countrywide and Merril Lynch retaining the least expensive and most incompetent employees, only to take home one of those "$165 million bonuses" found only on Wall Street and in the executive suites of big banks. Most of us have been cutting back - Cash is King. And now the government is cutting back. We were on a spending spree encouraged by economists such as Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. Atlas shrugged and the world collapsed. " I see a flaw" - you're kidding me!!!
Since WWII, thery've called it demand pull. A house for every American and three SUV's in every garage. Greenspan thought it was fine to take out a second "home equity loan" when Charlie's father was saying, if you must borrow to buy a house to live in, pay it off asap. What happened to integrity, waht happened to civility, what happened to bipartisanship, what happened to our country, what happened to the world. Turn over any rock and you find money. Turn over any financial transaction and you find greed. "Greed is good?" Up to a point! Aren't rapacious capitalism and extreme socialism ( i.e., communism) two sides of the same coin?
Doe Charlie drink wine? I never asked him, but I wouldn't be surprised. In fact, I'll bet he he's drinking more and paying less just like in 2008-2009. Over 50 restaurants closed in Tucson in the fall of 2008. How many wineries will close this time around. Cheers!
Read Full Wine Blog Post
Summer? What's that? It the sun ever comes out here in Seattle you may want to have a picnic or maybe you live on the shvitz on the East Coast or in the inferno in the Midwest on in caliente Arizona. Once again, 2009 provided a way to cool off. How about some oysters (not the Rocky Mountain kind) with 2009 Chateau Des Cleons Muscadet from Trader Joe's for about $9 - crisp, fresh dry, tart - everthing a Muscadet should be, with just a hint of fruit to soften it up. Too hot to turn on the oven, too tired to fire up the BBQ? How about sauteeing some scallops for a simple salad compose? I have the perfect match - 2009 Domaine de Niales Macon-Villages. This amazingly rich Chardonnay is made from old vines and resembles white Burgundies at twice the price or more - perfect balance of fruit and acid with wonderful minerality at about $12 from K&L Wines in San Francisco. In Seattle, you can pick up some 2009 Borgogne Blanc from Lambdin at McCarthy & Schiering for thirteen bucks. Lambdin was recommended to me by son-in-law Laurent who found it at Andronico's in San FRancisco. A little drier feel than the Macon it would be fabulous with any seafood, fish or chicken. BTW, 2009 Drouhin and Louis Jadot Macon-Villages are widely distributed and quite good in the $10-$15 price range.
About that picnic, shift to 2010 for one of the best Roses I've ever tasted. My friend Carol doesn't like Rose I think because she associates it with sweet white Zinfandel. Personally, I don't like sweet Roses either whether from France or the U.S. I have never had a Rose from the Loire Valley of France that I found enjoyable. Similarly, most American Roses are too sweet for my taste. A number of years ago I visited the Enotheque in Les Arcs - more than 50 Cotes de Provence wines to taste almost all Roses. I wished I could take them all home with me. So when I opened Carol & Stevens fridge in Morro Bay and saw a 2010 Cotes de Provence Rose, I couldn't resist a little sip. WOW! The perfect Provencale Rose! It is hard to describe the essence of this bliss producing wine. Of course, the salmon color is pleasing, flavors superb and the dryness of the wine just right. Perhaps it is the restraint and incredible lightness that is so magical - the essence of the sun and sea of Provence in a glass. You might think you would pay over $20 for a wine made so close to the famous Bandol, but Luc & Serine Sorin have kept the price amazingly reasonable. I got my bottles at McCarthy & Schiering for $12 a bottle. Where else can you buy such wine in Seattle? Tune in ...
Read Full Wine Blog Post
You know I'm on a 2009 kick, drinking my way through the bottom of the barrel searching for values. Trader Joe's is a frequent haunt in the hunt for values, though the results vary tremendously. Two more Bordeaux raised an interesting question. Can you really drink Bordeaux with pizza, pasta, burgers The answer is a definite yes. Chateau Moulinde Beausejour 2009 proves it, Like most 2009 Bordeaux, Moulin Beausejour has fruit, but more acid than I would like in a Bordeaux, so I re-imagined it as a Chianti. Now it tasted like a classic Chianti with lots of good berry fruit and the tangy acid finish needed to pair with pizza and pasta. Amazing! French Merlot in the style of Italian Sangiovese. The second wine, an old Trader Joe's standby was more of a hamburger wine. The 2009 L'Estey Reserve is a negociant's blend from Calvert, better than Mouton Cadet and, IMHO, Two Buck Chuck. It had good fruit and balance but seemed a little dull, unidimensional - a good everyday wine
Read Full Wine Blog Post
What am I drinking these days? 2009 Bordeaux! Am I a Chinese billionaire? Am I a wine killer? Committing infanticide? No way! While 2009 First Growth Futures sold for around $1000 (a bottle!), the other end of the barbell is coming into it's own. For years now the the prices of fancy classsified wines have skyrocketed while the rest of Bordeaux wine was virtually unsaleable. Finally, some French vignerons are figuring out how to sop up the " lake of wine." Of course the weather helped. The 2009 vintage is so balanced and fruit forward it was a bit easier to produce delicious wines even at the low end. If you've always been curious about Bordeaux, but figured you couldn't afford it, think again. There are so many excellent Bordeaux coming ashore from the big appellations like Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux Superior, Cotes de Fronsac, etc.,. So far all the wines I've tasted have had good fruit with gentle tannins and acid. Some are very fruity, almost American in style, lots of Merlot here, but others have complex flavors and some balancing tannin and acid. These wines are all drinkable now, and some will improve with a few years of ageing. It is unlikely that they will last more than 6 to 10 years. And the coup de grace? An average price of $10 to $12 a bottle.
Here are some Bordeaux I've tasted:
- 2009 Chateau Grand Pierre, Bordeaux Superior, about $10 at K&L - This wine grabbed us - medium bodied, delicious black fruit some soft tannins and good backbone this will probably get even better over the next year or two. Drink now to 2015 - definitely our favorite.
- 2009 Grand Bateau, Bordeaux about$10 at K&L. This seems to be a negociants blend kind of like Mouton Cadet only infinitely superior. Mainly Merlot, this is pure simple fruit. A good quaff, but not too interesting
- 2009 Chateau de Riberbon, Bordeaux Superior, about $15 from WTSO online. Good fruit with enough tannin so that it really needs at least two years before it wil come around to easy drinkability
- 2009 Chateau Haut Sorillon, Bordeaux Superior, about $9 at Trader Joe's. That's not a typo! Eight bucks for a delicious, balanced, fruity red with a nose of violets and lavander. Ready to drink, good for at least four more years. A best buy!
Next on my list to check out are 2009 Reserve de L'Estay and 2009 Moulin de Beausejour both from Trader Joe's.
Read Full Wine Blog Post
Yes, friends, we are on the first page of this past Sunday's New York Times Travel Section with a big blowup of a handsome server with a platter of Northwest Fruits de Mers.from the Walrus and Carpenter. Despite occasional condescension, Frank Bruni did a pretty good job of covering some of the newest venues in Puget Sound - Walrus and Carpenter, Seatown, Revel, Madison Park Conservatory, and the Willows Inn. For booze, he discovered Knee High Stocking Company and Tavern Law. Having resided in Seattle for 40 some odd years it has been a long time since I stayed in a hotel. I must admit I found $300 a night for a standard double at the Edgewater (not exactly the epitome of luxury) a little shocking. Willows Lodge in Woodinville for a little over $300 I found a little more comprehensible. Frankly, I'd rather stay at my cabin on the Hood Canal.
Where Bruni missed the ferry, or the boat, was in the wine department. He did have the good sense to recommend DeLille Chaleur Blanc and give a nod to the Buty Sauvignon blend, but where are the Chards from Buty, Amaurice, and Cougar Crest. Somehow Bruni managed to find his way to Willows Lodge, but avoided the excellent Herbfarm and Barking Frog. What about Betz and Brian Carter and Hestia and Adam's Bench, Novelty Hill, Januik, Gorman, Sparkman, Mark Ryan to name just a few. Apparently, Frank stayed downtown just a hop skip and a jump from Cadence, Fall Line, O-S, and Note Bene. The man seems to prefer Vodka and speakeasies to the garagistes of Seattle. Tant pis pour lui, too bad for him. Maybe he only stayed a weekend and fled the rain. Still, not bad for a New Yorker!
Read Full Wine Blog Post
You thought I might be talking about the 2009 Bordeaux vintage. That will be the next post. Today I want to remind you that 2009 was a great year in many places, but if you like Zinfandel, you had better run, not walk to the Dry Creek Valley. Why? Because 2010 was a wet, miserable year in Dry Creek Valley, and "09 was great.
I can't wait to taste the "09 Zins. I would definitely start with Mazocco and Quivera, I.m hoping that the '09 Quivera Zin will be as good as the '07
Read Full Wine Blog Post
I have traveled this road less traveled many times, but I have never gotten to the end of it. That's because I always get distracted at the tasting rooms in Los Olivos and then only get part way up Foxen Canyon Road. Canyon is sometimes abbreviated to Cyn in California which always makes me think of the Welsh word "cyn", so then I am hoping to get there "soon." Unfortunately, some canyon roads are too long to get you anywhere soon. This time I left early and drove almost straight through with a brief stop at Foxen winery. They now have two tasting rooms - the original "Sideways" one and a brand new modern building. This time I stopped at the modern one where they were serving up mostly cooler climate grapes such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The 2009 Bien Nacido Chard was light, fresh, and tart. The 2009 Tinaquaic Vineyard was round, balanced and medium bodied - two very distinct styles. The 2010 Rose of Mourvedre had a very fruity nose and sweet strawberry flavors. The 2009 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir tasted of sour cherry, while the 2009 Tinaquaic Syrah was spectacular with great color and fabulous fruit.
On to Riverbench winery, no longer really in Foxen Canyon, but sitting on the south river bench of the Santa Maria river, home to the best commercial strawberries grown in the U.S. First out of the shoot was a nice 2010 Pinot Noir Rose that was fresh and fruity and tasted of... strawberries. Next up the crisp and citrusy, stainless fermented 2009 Bedrock Chardonnay followed by the oaked 2007 Estate Chardonnay which had a very nice nose and was balanced and round with a nice touch of vanilla.The 2008 Estate Pinot Noir had a nose of smoke, tobacco, and leather followed by rhubarb flavors. The 2008 Reserve Pinot was light in color with cherry flavors and leather accents. The 2008 Mesa was the standout, again with light color, and round full fruit flavors - here is an Oregon style Pinot to go with your locally caught salmon.
Several years ago, I tasted a Kenneth Volk Chardonnay that made me want to taste more from the former owner of Wild Horse winery. Now, out on his own, Ken seems to be brewing up a storm. I counted approximately twenty different wines on the list. Ken seems to love to experiment with different varietals, Verdelho, Negrette, Touriga, and Aglianca for example, The wonderful 2008 Verdelho reminded me of figs, the 2009 Viognier was round and fruity, the 2009 Rose of Grenache, very fruity and sweet, the 2008 regular Grenache light and pleasant, a good patio or hamburger wine. The 2008 Negrette had a sweet mouthfeel like a perfect French Aperitif. The 2008 Touriga had the feel and flavor of Port , but without the sweetness - a perfect Port for diabetics? The 2006 Tempranillo also had the same sweet mouthfeel. Ken appears to have a distinctive signature of full roundness and fruit with some "sweet" mouthfeel. He certainly leaves his mark on the wine. Among my faves were 2008 Mourvedre, Enz Vineyard which had a fabulous nose and the 2006 Sierra Madre Chardonnay which really expressed and benefited from Ken's stylistic preferences with its full creamy mouthfeel. The highlight, though, was a comparison tasting of two very different 2007 Pinot Noirs - same vintage, same winemaker, but different clones, different styles. The "Old School" Pinot made from Pommard clones was light, elegant and silky on the palate with complex fruit flavors - very Oregon in style, perfect with salmon. The "New School" Pinot made from Dijon clones was big, spicy and full, - very California in style, perfect with buffalo steaks. The New School" reminds me of a good Nuits St. Georges, while the "Old School" is reminiscent of a Savigny Les Beaune. Kenneth Volk's prices in the 20s and 30s are very reasonable these days for what you get. It was definitely worth it to finally get to the end of the road. BTW, Kenneth Volk is very close to Cambria winery whose excellent Chardonnay is widely available, frequently at Costco for a very reasonable price. On to Paso Robles!
Read Full Wine Blog Post
Back to my old stompin' grounds! First stop? Stolpman! First taste? 2009 Rose -salmon-colored, dry, tart with citrus accents, very Provencal. Next in the flight, 2009 L'Avion, a very round, full Roussanne with an interesting hint of nutmeg. The vineyard crew made the next wine in the tasting room lineup, the 2009 La Cuadrilla from Syrah and Grenache co-fermented with a little Viognier thrown in, next up 2007 Sangiovese - soft, mellow and creamy -a dreamy Sangio you can even drink on its own. The 2008 Originals had a meat and rhubarb nose and fruit and pepper flavors, the 2008 Hilltop Syrah was much nicer, more elegant and pleasing. The '08 Grenache was medium bodied round, fruity and pleasing. All in all a lot of stars for Stolpman this time around.
Fortunately, the tasting room person at Stolpman recommended the new kid on the block. Just across the street we found Steve Dragonette of Dragonette Cellars. Famous opera singer Aunt Jessica changed the name from Dragonetti. No matter the name, a bunch of winners here. Dragonette specializes in Sauvignon Blanc making three different bottlings. The three star 2009 Santa Ynez Sauvignon Blanc was beautiful, round, and fruity with none of that in your face grapefruit so common in Sauv Blancs. The 2009 SB from Vogelzang Vineyard was balanced and carefully crafted, too. A good 2009 Pinot Noir was followed the 2008 Syrah with hint of eucalyptus and mint in the nose. The bombshell, 2008 MJM, named after the owners' wives was big and beautiful with a fabulous nose. This is definitely a winery to watch..
Every year I seem to have missed Tensley winery, but not this year. The wines were all good, but a little light for my taste. The most interesting wine was Detente a combined effort of Joey Tensley and Cecile Dussurre. The wine is a blend of 50% Domaine de Montavac Gigondas and 50% 2008 Tensley Colson Canyon Syrah.We first tasted Gigondas in a small Rhone style restaurant in the Maubert Mutualite area of Paris in 1970. The 1962 Gigondas was unforgettable. Gigondas could be called the poor man's Chateauneuf Du Papes, but in my book, anyone who gets to drink Gigondas is rich. BTW, Gigondas is another one of those reliable, not well known wines that you should jump at on a restaurant wist list.
Qupe has become one of my favorite wineries in Los Olivos. This is truly a family winery. Every family member makes wine - Bob, the father, Louisa, the wife, and Ethan the son. Louisa's Spanish style wines are bottled under the Verdad label. 2010 Verdad Rose was a little sweet for my taste, but the 2009 Albarino was wonderfully dry with good fruit that gave it a fuller mouthfeel, almost like a Galacian Albarino, but with riper California fruit.The 2008 Qupe Roussanne "Bien Nacido Hillside Estate" had a nose of pear and fruit, and a fruity big bodied mouthfeel. The widely available Qupe Los Olivos Cuvee was excellent as usual and the even more widely distributed 2008 Qupe Syrah "Bien Nacido Vineyard" was even better Virtually all of the Qupe wines were excellent, esepcially the 2009 Sawyer Lindquist - "amazing", "fantastic", leather, tobacco, panoply of spice, garam masala.
I got to Los Olivos early so I had a cup of coffee and an egg croissant at Corner House Coffee.
Los Olivos is a lovely place with great tasting rooms, but the city, which only offers portable restrooms to tourists and wine tasters really had better clean up its act. As Jimmy Durante used to say only the nose knows!
Read Full Wine Blog Post
Thanks to my friends Carole and Steve, I found the real thing in Morro Bay. Real eggs from Los Osos Ranch, real strawberries from Santa Maria, real fish from the Dockside Market. How convenient to pick up a dozen burst of flavor eggs at Spencer's Market, the Real Food MarketI dreamed of in my last post. Santa Maria strawberries are by far the best commercially grown strawberries from California. What a problem to have, choosing fresh off the boat fish at the Dockside - three kinds of rockfish, halibut, locally caught Salmon, cod, ling cod. We chose Vermillion Rockfish which we sauteed in olive oil, butter, white wine and a touch of Anisette paired with a light, tart 2009 L'Aventure Viognier. What a pleasure to taste some locally harvested real food.
Read Full Wine Blog Post
Apparently, breeders have come up with the second "Other" white meat - goat! Seriously, I'm not kidding or just trying to get your goat. Really! Most Americans have never eaten goat and might even be turned off by the idea, but, trust me, many people around the world eat goat - all over South America, Mexico, Somalia, Eritrea, the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Spain and our very own Southwest to name a few. Goat is good, but I recently tasted some that was truly denuded, neutered, no goat flavor at all. Apparently Turkey was the first white meat and pork was promoted as the "other" white meat after being "deflavored", now goat joins the list as the second "other" white meat. It was tender, but flavorless like lamb without any lambness, or veal without any vealness. After a long hard search, I found some goat online from a company in Colorado, but was the search worth it? It reminded me of pasteurized, homogenized, corporate American eggs. The last time I had a really flavorful egg was in the South of Italy where I was served eggs the color of the orange southern sun and bursting with flavor. Then there are the simulacra passing for strawberries, and tomatoes that look perfect and have no flavor. I mean, where's the beef? How about some locally grown, sustainable, non-genetically modified real food. The name of my next supermarket will be Real Foods. How about you?
Read Full Wine Blog Post
Please sir, can I have some Chard, actually anything chilled? A red on ice? Iced Tea? Some cold beer? Okay, okay, don't have a Twit in the desert! My wife found the first cold quaff. Nimbus ale, locally brewed, a cool draft at last. It seemed we had to hunt and peck for some chilled wine - La Chasse de Chardonnay! Finally, we scored. I had been hoping to score some Nichols and Nichols Chard but it was nowhere to be found. At this point Hess Chardonnay seemed like a good alternative.This was followed by fuller versions of Chard such as Decoy, ZD, and Stag's Leap. After cooling down we were able to summon some appetite and found the perfect Chardonnay pairings - tuna sashimi and marlin shashimi.- both were exquisite with any of the Chards. The marlin sashimi was incredible. In fact, the food in general was fabulous.
Tucson restaurants really put their best feet forward. Pulled pork sliders were the thing. At least half a dozen versions were presented - all good. Fabulous scallops prepared perfectly by the Grille at Hacienda del Sol greeted you just after the entrance. Scallops in the desert, tuna sashimi in the desert, marlin in the desert - a throwback to geologic times in Arizona? Nah, just fresh ingredients from some of Tucson's top restaurants.
So many restaurants, so little wine, but some of the wine was exceptional. We'll get to that in a minute. First, a list of restaurants to check out in Tucson: El Charro - a local chain of Mexican restaurants, Downtown - a bistro avatar of Janos , one of the top restauranteurs in the city, Harvest & Zona 78 new avatars of the Grille at Haciendo del Sol.
Survivors of the Depression II, excuse me, the Great Recession ( 45 Tucson restaurants closed in the fall of 2008): Vivace - old Italian standby, Acacia - moved North, Flemings - corporate steak house, Armitage - uptight apparently cool wine bar in the Foothills, Lodge On The Desert - remodeled and retrofitted just in time for the "recovery", Feast - still there, Azul - en el norte de Tucson a La Encantada. Pastiche - restaurant, wine bar and wine shop offered a unique and very useful feature - business cards with the wine name on the back and a brief description of the wine. The descriptions weren't that accurate, but then how many tasting notes are? Just to have the name of a wine that you like on a card is a tremendous help and reminder, clever marketing, too. How many times have you tasted a wine that you loved and you couldn't remember the name. What a great innovation which should be imitated at every wine event. Bravo, T.M.A. and Pastiche!
These little cards helped me to easily note the remarkable wines of the evening, Between all the food booths some interesting wines could be found. Although many of the wines seemed like the usual commercial fare, some wines stood out.In addition to the Chards already mentioned, The Henriot Champagne was a cooling fresh beverage that was a perfect match with the tuna shashimi. The reds that most stand out in my mindare from Niner, especially the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. While the 2005 Heitz Cabernet wasn't exactly on a par with the famous 1974, it was quite good, a significant improvement from recent decades of mediocre wine. The 2008 Robert Craig Affinity was delicious as usual, but surpassed UMHO by the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. If you are looking for a monster Cabernet, look no farther than The Sledgehammer - big with explosive flavors. Doube T Red from Napa had a more modest profile, but full of black fruit flavors - a little friendlier, not such a brute.If fruit bombs are your thing, the 2009 Manifesto from Lodi will be your friend..If you are looking for something lighter still, become a fan of 2008 Dutton Goldfield Pinot Noir.
If you don't follow California wines, poke around the wide selection of Italian wines from Zonin.The Prosecco was light and fruity - a perfect wine to start the evening on the patio. Seeing a Vermentino brought back wonderful memories of the Cinque Terra, but alas, this version from the Maremma was so fruity it tasted American, at least wasn't defective like so many Vermentinos from Sardinia. The big event was the Zonin Amarone, a beautiful, big rich version of this wine made from the unusual Corvino grape partially dried on bamboo racks in Valpollicella -rich, velvety, smooth, flavorful -perfect.
If you didn't make it to Crush this year, put it on your Facebook page next year. If you were there, we had a great time, didn't we? I even copped a few bottles of white Burgundy in the silent auction, maybe you will next year.
Read Full Wine Blog Post
Come and get it! Hot wine available for tasting. Hot food, too! April 1st, April Fools Day! To paraphrase a little, they say that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the desert sun. The sun was setting, but the thermometer was not. The plaza of The Tucson Museum of Art was in the 90s at the start and cooled down to 85 or so as the evening wore on. Last time I attended Crush, the temps were perfect, in the low 80s. Once when we were in Britsh Columbia, we commented on the rain to the first native we saw. "Well, it would be British Columbia, if it weren't raining." Commenting to a Tucsonian about the heat, "After all, it's Arizona." I guess I'm still a Northerner at heart. Though I usually do well in the low humidity of the desert with temps up to 93 or so, the red wines did not. They all tasted "hot" with lots of acidity and tannin standing out. In old "English Houses" the room temperature could be 55 Farenheit. Somehow I think the right temporature for reds in 63 degrees. I once tasted Kent Callaghan's Arizona Reds during a January windstorm that brought the winery to about 45 degrees. Kent had a remarkably simple system for bringing the temperature up. Pour the wine in the glass, place the glass in a pitcher of hot water, place the thermometer in the glass, remove the glass from the hot water when the temperature reachs 63 degrees, taste It took me a little while to get the hang of it. My first glass of ultra cold red tasted like liquid sandpaper. No flavor, no nothing, except tannin - purple/black liquid. The next glass at 63 degrees was full of complex black fruit flavors, balanced with gentle velvety tannins giving some backbone. I've learned so much about what a difference temperature makes to the taste of wine in Arizona. Once in a while, I get a glass pour of a perfect Chardonnay at a perfect 55 degrees.. A fresh stream of "stony", "mineral" liquid flows down my gullet and I feel as if I am by a cool stony brook. The heat led us to seek out cool Chardonnay. We found some excellent ones among the multiple food stations scattered around the T.A.M. plaza. In fact, this year, Crush seemed more like a food tasting rather than a wine tasting event. Tucson restaurants were strutting their stuff. Wine shops were strutting their stuff. The food was excellent, the whites refreshing and many of the reds delicious. Look for more about the wine and food at the Crush pARTy in the coming days and weeks.
Read Full Wine Blog Post
This is the fifth annual Unofficial Classification of Washington State Wineries. The 2010 Unofficial Classification Of Washington State Wineries represents my personal, perhaps idiosyncratic or eccentric, opinions of the quality of Washington State wineries. Out of more than 700 wineries, thereare well over a hundred producing great wine. About half of the wine produced in Washington comes from wineries owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle. The other wineries are mostly small artesanal family enterprises typically producing 2000-3000 cases, in some cases up to 20,000 cases or more. In contrast to other classifications of wine such as the 1855 classification of Bordeaux, the Unofficial Classification of Washington Wineries is not set in stone and changes every year. Since it is retrospective, it does not necessarily predict future rankings, past performance is no guarantee of future results.Wines at the topof the list tend to be special wines for special occasions, whereas wines in the "Cinqieme"group tend to be outstanding values. Exclusion from this classification, in no way represents a commentary on the quality of a winery. In many cases, it may simply mean that I am not familiar enough with the wines or winemaker to form an opinion. On the other hand, not all Washington wines and wineries are great, so only the best that I am familiar with are listed here. Wineries are listed in alphabetical order and not ranked within each category. Wineries are listed as "deferred," if I have reason to believe they are worthy, but haven't tasted enough of their wines recently to form an opinion. There are exciting new wineries added to the classification this year. Pomum, Elsom , and Caderetta to name just a few. Be sure to check through the classification for new additions many of which were suggested by you in your comments last year. This year there are well over 100 classified growths in Washington State. I would be happy to drink wine from any of these wineries and you will be, too.
Premier Grand Cru ( Extraordinary)
Deuxieme Grand Cru (Outstanding)
Troisieme Grand Cru ( Exceptional)
Canon De Sol
Sleight Of Hand
Quatrieme Grand Cru ( Excellent)
Vin Du Lac
Walla Walla Vineyards
Cinqieme Cru (Best Buys)
Columbia Crest "Two Vines"
Martinez & Martinez
Pavin & Riley
Pine & Post
Wines of Substance
Columbia Crest Reserve
Glacial Lake Missoula
Latitude 46 N
Local wine Company
Terra Blanca - Onyx
Read Full Wine Blog Post
While Spain may not have successfully transformed its economy, it has radically transformed its wine. Back in the 1970s there was a lot of bad wine in Spain. Of course, there were some wonderful traditional wines with that distinctive smokiness, just perfectly matched to traditional foods such Roast Suckling Pig and Cabrito, Roasted Goat. More than any other European country, Spain has successfully created New World style wines in the Old World. Both Spanish food and wine have lightened up. The wine is younger, fresher, fruitier, and friendlier than those big old towers of smoke.
Tempranillo is the flagship grape of Spain. Originally the main grape in the Rioja region, it has spread throughout the counrtry and around the world. As a result of globalization, Spain adopted American technology such as stainless steel fermentation tanks, and America adopted Tempranillo. We wanted to see the result so we had a comparison tasting of Tempranillo from Spain, Washington, Oregon and California. Five of the wines were tasted single blind with our friends, Hans and Trude, and three were tasted stark naked with our friends Norm and Verni. The results were eye-opening.
Here are the results of the blind tasting ( 1=highest)
1.75 2006 Lan Rioja, Rioja, Spain - about $15 in supermarkets
2.13 2007 Pomum Tinto, Columbia Valley, Wa.- about $30 at the winery
2.37 2007 Opolo Tempranillo, Paso Robles, Ca. - about $30 at the winery
3.13 2009 Temenal, Yecla, Spain - about $4 at Trader Joe's
3.50 2006 Dominio IV "Sketches of Spain", Columbia Gorge, Or.- about $25
So, one could simplistically say that the Rioja was the winner and the Sketches of Spain the loser, but this is not so. There was so much variability among ratings that these are probably not meaningful differences. One of our number was a winemaker who was rating to his prototype of Tempranillo rather than simple hedonistic pleasure. All of the wines were good, but made in different styles. The blow away wine was the "Tinto" from Washington. So Spanish in style, yet fresher, fruitier and rounder than the Lan. Perhaps this should be no surprise as it was made by a winemaker from Spain, Javier Alfonso, a Boeing engineer who lives in Seattle.The Opolo was big, round and fruity, very American, very California. The Dominio had more tannin and seemed to need some more age, though it would be fine now with a roast or stew. The "Joker" or "Ringer", the "Four Buck Tempranillo" from Trader Joe did quite well. It was much rougher with too much tannin and acid, but it, too would go well with food. Don't try this one as a cocktail alone!
Is Tempranillo the next new thing? It may be a little early to tell ( tempranillo means a little early in Spanish), but it definitely is a candidate, especially in Washington. Since the overall quality in this tasting was so high, we thought we would check out a few more wines. We tasted two different vintages of Montobuena Rioja (about $10 at Total Wines), the 07 and 09. The 09 was lighter brighter and more acidic than the 07 which was more structured, more balanced and fuller flavored. We had the the 09 with the salad, the 07 with the Chicken Tagine, and the 06 Abecela Tempranillo, from Rio Vineyard in Southern Oregon, with the appetizer. Abecela was a Northwest pioneer with Tempranillo, but I've always found it to be kind of flat and dry. It did have enough fruit in it for one taster to describe it as being like Merlot. More good Tempranillo!
It looks like Spain has joined its former colonies in the New World, Argentina and Chile, in making high quality wine at reasonable prices. And North America, seems to have taken Tempranillo to a new level of fullness and fruitiness. Is Tempranillo the next new thing? It's a lttle early to tell.
Read Full Wine Blog Post