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Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesday

Date: Wed, Apr 17, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Estate-bottled

First of all, this is a term used and regulated by the TTB, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Estate-bottled means that 100% of the wine came from grapes grown on land owned or controlled by the winery. Also, the vineyard must be located in a AVA desginated area, and both land and winery be on the same AVA area, as well.

Therefore, the winery must grow, crush, ferment, age, finish and bottle the wine in a continuous process on the same winery's premise.

In the Walla Walla area, a few estate-bottled wines to look for would be those from Leonetti, Woodward Canyon, L'Ecole #41, Pepper Bridge, Spring Valley, Tero Estates, Cadaretta, Dumas Station ... to name a few.

Besides, doesn't everyone that works in the Walla Walla wine industry live in an humble little home like the one in the photo?

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Dowsett Family Mourvèdre - 2010

Date: Thu, Apr 11, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

It may surprise you to hear that a local winemaker, known for his shiny Gewurtz belt buckle and hailed for his dry cool crisp Gewürztraminer, just released a Mourvèdre.

Chris Dowsett produced his first ten gallons of Gewürztraminer in junior high school. Later, he would put in a year studying wine science at Roseworthy College in the Barossa Valley of Australia. He would return to America and work harvest for Robert Mondavi. You've heard of the Mondavi name, right?

Chris would later make a move back to the Northwest, work a few years at Canoe Ridge Vineyard/Winery in Walla Walla and assist with their Columbia Valley Gewürztraminer. While winemaking at former winery, Lattitude 46, also in the Walla Walla Valley, Chris would also produce a dry barrel fermented Gewürztraminer under the Lattitude 46 label. In 2007, he would become winemaker for Artifex Wine Company in Walla Walla. It was there, at this world-class custom crush facility, that Dowsett Family Wines was conceived with its first 300 cases of wine. Chris has since moved on from Artifex, but when Chris isn't producing his own wines, he is now the head winemaker for Buty Winery, also in Walla Walla.

So with all of this background in a white wine with strong Germanic roots, it seems rather an extreme to make a red wine with French roots and is the latter, but prominent component in "GSM" blends where Mourvèdre is the "M" blended with "G" for Grenache and "S" for Syrah. However, if you are familiar with Dowsett Family "Devotion" red blend, then it makes perfect sense. "Devotion" is exactly that, a GSM styled wine and like the back label of the wine bottle says: "Three varieties, one wine."

However, this new release of a red wine is "one variety, one wine" -- and one vineyard. Heart of the Hill Vineyard is in the Red Mountain AVA west of Walla Walla. The vineyard itself lies mid-slope and is known to be a very warm site.

The notes of Dowsett Family Heart of the Hill Mourvèdre is dark, yet bright in color. Notes of cherry and flint in the nose. The flavors are rich, with just enough tannins to remind you they are needed to be age worthy. On the palate more red berries shine through, and even a hint of licorice with a finish of black pepper. Spicy.

This is a wine meant to be paired with foods: roasted and grilled meats (I understand Chris eats a lot of lamb due to an active 4-H family), and spicy sausages. However, if you prefer more vegetables dishes such as chili rellenos, grilled vegetables of charred eggplant, summer squash, peppers, and mushrooms.

I wouldn't hesitate to grab this very special bottle of wine.

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Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesday

Date: Wed, Apr 10, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Saignée
Saignée is the French word meaning, "bleed" (pronounced “sen-yay”). Sounds delicious, doesn't it? Okay, so it may not sound exactly appetizing, but the results can be tasty especially when it is applied to red wine grapes and used for pretty pink rosés.

During crush, red grapes are processed as usual, de-stemmed and crushed. And as usual, the grape skins will separate from the juice and will rise, creating a "cap." At this time, winemakers who are looking to produce a rosé will separate the juice from the skins. The pink juice will be pumped or “bled” into barrels or tanks to ferment.
This method is also referred to as “cap and drain.” The free-run juice is now treated like a white wine and most often allowed to ferment to dry. All the taste of the red grape varietal, such as Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese, but much lighter and crisper for the long hot summer months - - and in a variety of colors from pale peach to hot warm pink.

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Beguiled and Bedazzled - Julia's Dazzle 2012

Date: Tue, Apr 9, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

What can I say that I haven't already said about Dazzle? No worries here, I will find more to say about this pretty pink wine. See my past posts:
Beguiled and Bedazzled - Juliettes Dazzle
Beguiled and Bedazzled la Deuxième Partie! Juliette's Dazzle 2011

Once again, Dazzle has proven itself to be one of the top rosés in Washington State. And not only is it delicious, but the packaging is quite delicious, as well.

This vintage, with a slight name change - "Julia's Dazzle," is once again a special project of Allen Shoup, CEO and founder of Long Shadows Winery and Long Shadow's managing winemaker, Gilles Nicault. Gilles' talent and his time spent making wine in Provence, the world leader in Rosé, gave him the skills to craft this unique Rosé.

The wine is named afterAllen's granddaughter, Julia. And as a reminder, you won't find Julia's Dazzle at Long Shadows or on their mailing list as it is an independent project,and isproduced to be sold only at restaurants and wine shops - - and it is going fast.

As the last two vintages, the packaging is stunningwith it'sclear glass bowling pin shaped bottle and the gold silk screen label.The fruitis still the same as last vintage, with 98% Pinot Gris and 2% Sangiovese sourced from The Benches (formerly Wallula Vineyards),a vineyard that Long Shadows acquired. It's a dramatic vineyard that overlooks the Columbia River from the Washington side, three miles south of the Wallula Gap.

Pinot Gris, a grayish pink grape which is classified as "white," was lightly macerated and fermented like a red wine on its skins, giving the wine it's sole source of color as in traditional Provence rosés. Gilles added the skoosh of Sangioveseto add more fruitiness and to tinge the wine a lovely pink color. The grapes were whole-cluster pressed and the clarified juice was fermented at cool temperatures to retain its intensely vibrant aromatics and flavors.

The release for Julia's Dazzle - 2012 was the weekend of this last Easter, so of course a bottle for Easter dinner was most fitting, along with a bottle of Juliette's Dazzle - 2011, that I could not believe I still had tucked way in the wine cooler.

We tasted both vintages side by side and both vintages had hints of ripe strawberries and rhubarb on the nose. Both were easy sippers, especially chilled. I noted both wines left a mouth full of juicy ruby red grapefruit and red berries, but the 2011 ended with a slight caramel finish, while the 2012 had a long finish that was a bit off-dry, but still crisp and bright. There were definitely more acids on the 2012 like when I first tasted the 2011 a year ago. The 2012 was fruity and tart and an easy sipper and perfectly paired with our meal of creamy deviled eggs, ham, asparagus, and gourmet macaroni and cheese (four different cheeses including Bleu).

So what more can I say? Well, for one thing recycle the bottle. It makes for a perfect vase or a chilled drinking water container for a casual dinner party or BBQ. In the mean time, run, don't walk to get dazzled.

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A Rocky Start: Proper Wines

Date: Fri, Apr 5, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Wouldn't you know, the Eastside girl is often the last one to tout about one of the newer, and most distinctive wines around. That Sullivan character from the Westside beat me to it.

The word on the street is they're calling the Proper Syrah, "Baby Cayuse." When I received a bottle, not only was I intrigued with the simplicity and style of the packaging and of course, the stone on the label, but I also wanted to know the story of these five men from Colorado. I wanted to know more about the rock on the label and yet, I didn't realize how close to home I was.

In Colorado Springs, during the year of 2005, two friends, Conor McCluskey and David Houle were sharing the #3 with egg roll, as well as sharing visions and potential business ventures. You know how, as friends do.

I've heard of crazier ideas, but eventually, after a visit to taste the wines of Walla Walla, McCluskey and Houle's thirst for adventure brought them the opportunity to purchase a small eight-acre parcel of cherry trees at the state line in the Walla Walla Valley and Milton-Freewater area. Now it just so happens this cherry orchard wasn't located in just any area, but in the famous area in the Walla Walla AVA, known as "The Rocks."

The Rocks area is known for its vineyards that are planted in ancient riverbed rock, or rather Oregon’s answer to Châteuneuf-du-Pape. The Rocks is home to the world class wines of Cayuse Vineyards, and most recently, the celebrated wines of Reynvaan Family Vineyards.

In 2007, the old orchard was replaced with vines soon to bear grapes of syrah. A few years later, the duo would be joined by other close friends, Kevin Dibble, Billy Adams and David Kunstle. Enter a former geologist, who understands rocks, with a reputation for producing wines with Old World style of the Rhone region, Walla Walla winemaker, Sean Boyd. Long story short, the wines of "Proper" were born with the first release of 2010 Syrah and Rose'.

The name of their winery defines that when something is “done proper” it’s done in the same style of its origin, paying homage to its roots. The goal of the quintet is to showcase the uniqueness of the Walla Walla Valley and keep the integrity, as much as possible.

So the burning question is, how does the wine taste?

I just happened to share the bottle with two other fellow wine industry and eno/vit grads, and once the bottle was opened, I wished I had not been so generous and kept the bottle for myself - - kidding. The three of us just sat around for several minutes and kept our nose in the glass. The aromas were compelling. We discovered notes of blueberries, bacon, blackened meats, strong coffee and briny black olives. The taste was earthy and rich with a touch of minerals - wet rocks. The dark purplish-black and inky liquid brought flavors of blueberries, espresso and almost a bloody quality, again of blackened, but rare roasted meats. The wine was smooth and supple on the palate. Distinguished.

Typically, when I reach for a syrah, I expect a lot. Therefore, I don't reach for syrah very often, unless the syrah is done 'proper." With that said, this syrah is worth reaching for.

100% Syrah - 2010. Aged 16 months in 20% new French oak. Approximately 450 cases produced.

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Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesday

Date: Wed, Apr 3, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Meritage

Merit + Heritage = Meritage. The term was originally created by a group of California
wineries in 1988 to satisfy labeling requirements since they could not name Bordeaux-style wines a varietal unless it was 75% or more of the grape variety. And of course, most definitely the name 'Bordeaux' was out.

Now let me say that some of you like to "Frenchify" this word up a bit in your pronunciation. Too many times, I hear the term, 'Meritage' with the last syllable, "tage" sounding like that in the word, "taj," as in Taj Mahal.

Nope. Don't do it, or I will roll my eyes at you. Check for yourself on the Meritage website. Meritage rhymes with "heritage." Like, duh.

For red wines to be a Meritage they must be the following and with no grape dominating more than 90% of the blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Carmenère.

For white wines to be a Meritage they must be the following, and with no grape dominating more than 90% of the blend: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais.

Also, the above red or white blends will not qualify as a Meritage if the blends includes any other grape variety. Keep the pinot noir or the chardonnay away. It's also mportant to know that to use the word 'Meritage'on a label, you must be a member of the Meritage Society. Meaning, you will pay the dues and follow their trademark regulations.

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Dance Chardonnay - 2011

Date: Fri, Mar 29, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Allen Shoup and Gilles Nicault of Long Shadows Consortium did it again.

Teamed with John Kaiser of Kaiser Vineyard at The Benches, perched high on a windy bluff in the Wallula/Columbia River area, this talented trio created a sophisticated Chardonnay sourced from The Benches estate fruit located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

This wasn't their first attempt, either. After five experimental vintages exploring other sites, it was this unique terroir (including a magnificent view), that gave this visionary team the character and complexity they were looking for in Chardonnay. I understand that the previous experimental vintages were shared with family and friends. Ahhh - - the benefits of wine experiments.

Keeping with tradition of this vibrant grape with strong French roots, yet often misunderstood, this elegant wine was fermented with Montrachet yeast and aged in French oak barrels from Burgundy, 50% new and 50% one-year old. After being aged for 11 months, the "cream of the crop" was reserved for the "Dance" Chardonnay label and a smaller quantity, but lighter in style, was used under the second Long Shadow's label, "Nine Hats."

Crisp and bright flavors of stone fruit, such as white peaches and apricots, also show off another layer of stone, but this time of minerals. No doubt these notes of minerals tell the story of the miles of basalt that line the great Columbia River at Wallula. A hint of candied citrus teases the tongue with a touch of creaminess, leading to a long finish. Rich. Complex. A dance on the palate.

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Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesday

Date: Wed, Mar 27, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Kosher

A kosher wine begins like all traditional wines – they start naturally as grapes on a vine. These grapes may be grown and picked by any one, whether they keep kosher or not.

However, once these grapes reach the winery for crushing, then that becomes a different matter. This crush must be held under strict rabbinical supervision. Starting from the crush until the wine is bottled, the wine must be handled and processed by Sabbath-observing-kosher-keeping Jews - - and at this time, they must be male. Barrels are also kosher as they are built under rabbinical supervision and must be brand new or strictly used exclusively for kosher wines. Storage areas and tanks must be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized three times by using modern steam cleaners and/or scalding hot water.

Also, no animal products or by-products can be used in the making of kosher wine such as gelatin produced with meat products or egg whites, which are normally used as wine clarifying agents. And the most important thing of all? No work can be done on the Sabbath.

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Kosher Wines from Walla Walla Grapes: Pacifica Winery

Date: Tue, Mar 26, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

Move over Manischewitz. There is kosher wine being produced in Washington State.

Today is the beginning of Passover and it's with this celebration, I am here to tell that you will no longer have to settle for the overly sweet wines produced from Concord grapes grown in New York.

As you know, I typically do not stray much from Walla Walla when it comes to writing about wines. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered kosher wine produced, especially from grapes grown in the Walla Walla Valley.

This new winery and estate vineyard are located at Underwood, Washington in the Columbia Gorge AVA, and believe it or not, the kosher labels are owned by a non-Jew. The owner-winemaker is Philip Jones, who is also the proprietor of the Spencer Hill Winery, which produces Goose Bay kosher wines in New Zealand - - and now his newest venture at Underwood, named Pacifica Winery.

Pacifica is the first premium kosher wines to be produced in the Northwest. Their production will be around 7,000 cases. Phillip and his wife, Sheryl's newest investment in Washington State takes up 95 acres on Underwood Mountain to which 25-acres have been planted in vines. This special acreage has been named, Evan's Vineyard after the Jone's youngest son. The vines planted are Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Pinot Noir and Syrah, and with hopes of crushing Pinot Noir this year.

Pacifica Winery at Underwood is located where the great Columbia River divides the two states north of Hood River, Oregon. This magnificent geography makes it a perfect location for sourcing fruit from Washington, as well as Oregon. At this time, their first two kosher wines are Pacifica Pinot Noir - 2010 and Pacifica Meritage - 2010. A Cabernet-Merlot - 2011 to be released soon.

What immediately caught my attention is the Pacifica Meritage (traditional Meritage blend: Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot) are sourced from our famous Walla Walla vineyards at Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills.

The wines from Pacifica are distributed through the Royal Wine Corp, the leading producer and importer of kosher wines, domestic and imported.

Happy Pesach!

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Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesdays

Date: Wed, Mar 13, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Barnyard

"This wine tastes like #%$@!"

Is it a compliment or a fault? So, you put your nose deep into the glass bowl of aBordeaux or Rhône and an earthy, yet animal rich smell comes through. Merde! The aroma may have been a bit off-putting, but your nose keeps going back for more.

Barnyard or aka Brettanomyces ("brett" for short) is a wild yeast that can be found on grape skins. It can waft its way to wine barrels, make itself at home and almost impossible to evict. Brett-afflicted wines may range from leathery to wet doggie, or "barnyard" aromas like chicken manure or horse sweat.

Wine-geeks that lean more towards science advocate wines with brett as "afflicted" or "infected." Wine-geeks who lean more towards the romance of wine, will refer to the same wines as "interesting" or as a compliment.

For me, I don't mind just a bit of brett in Old World wines. They eventually blow off, for the most part. To those who complain, I remind them, you eat stinky French and Italian cheeses, right?

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To Haters of Red Wine and Chocolate Pairings: You Suck!

Date: Thu, Feb 14, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

So this is the time of year, on Valentines Day we are bombarded with the usual canonical line-up about the romantic pairings of wine and chocolate. Even by now you may have just attended a Valentine's Wine and Chocolate event.

However, this year is the first time I have read articles actually telling their readers that wine and chocolate do NOT pair well. Huh?

To these keyboard-terrorist-anti-grape-cacao-minglers I say, "Boo! You suck!"

These articles may have proposed one less way to enjoy a glass of red wine or for the potential red wine lover, you may have possibly challenged a new palate to quit being adventurous. To you haters, wine retailers and marketers won't be sending you a Valentine.

To those of you who actually enjoy red wine and chocolate together, keep doing what you are enjoying. To the curious and possible newbie of this pairing, keep sampling until you find a red wine and a chocolate pairing that you enjoy. If you enjoy red wine and you love chocolate, you will find that perfect pairing.

In the late 70's and early 80's, when I was learning to "love" red wines, it was suggested to me the best wayto learn about dry red wines, was to pair them with food. And it was even suggested to pair a dry red wine with a rich chocolate dessert - - and it was all about how I drank the wine. It was suggested to first take a bite of the dessert, savor it on the tongue and take a sip of the wine. Bite, savor, and sip. Bite, savor, and sip ...

It was explained by a cook book author/chef that a rich creamy chocolate would lay heavy on the palate, while the juicy acids from the wine would "clean" and balance it. We would eventually discover the perfect dessert to enjoy red wines with - a "Chocolate Elephant."

"Chocolate Elephant?" Yes, think 100 times richer than a Chocolate Mousse. Try it. Pair it with a California Zinfandel or a bold, yet smooth Syrah with bacon, coffee and blueberry notes. Experiment and try a domestic Mourvedre. Better yet, pair it with a Washington State Merlot, especially one from Walla Walla.

Chocolate Elephant

Beat egg yolks with vanilla and butter and when thoroughly blended, add the Amaretto. Melt chocolate in a double boiler, and set aside to cool a bit. Beat egg whites with 4 Tablespoons white sugar until whites are stiff. Combine butter/yolk mixture and the melted chocolate, adding the chocolate a little at a time. Finally, gently fold in the stiff egg whites, and easing up when the whites are just incorporated. Spoon into wine or sherbert glasses and chill. May be served with dollops of whipped cream - - or not. But don't forget the glass of red wine.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesdays

Date: Wed, Feb 13, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Closed

This word best describes a wine that is not showing its potential, because the wine may be too "young."

Young wines often close up about 6 -18 months after bottling, and depending on the vintage, style and storage conditions, the wine may remain in such a state for several years to more than a decade.

Sometimes even an older wine may remain "closed" until it is given time to breath.

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Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesdays

Date: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Maderisation (also Maderization).

Stemming from the word, Madeira, this word is a term for oxidization.

Madeira is a type of a fortified wine from Portugal and is produced by a combination of aging and heating. The wine is aged in heated tanks or in barrels and tucked away in attics in the subtropical climate. All the things you typically do not want to do to wines.

However, when a wine has been "maderized"and not maderized on purpose like Madeira, then these qualities are a fault. The fault is oxidation and often from the wine being in a hot environment, like storing your good French whites in the garage or on the outside patio during the summer.

Not only will the maderized wine take on a sherry-like oxidized taste, but you will also note a change in color of the wine, especially if it is a white wine and has taken on a dull brown color. Red wine will take on a dark copper color.

Sometimes maderisation may be desirable in the case of certain dessert wines, where the change occurs due to long bottle aging, such as that 1929 Château d’Yquem you have stored down in your basement.

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Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Weekly Wine Word Wednesday

Date: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 Wine Tasting Wine Business

The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies: Legs

"Legs" is the name given to those long rivulets of wine that runs slowly down the inside of a glass, especially after a glass of wine has been swirled

Every so often I will notice someone swirling their glass of wine and raising the glass towards the light to watch the mythical indicator of the wine's quality appear. Legs, or "tears" were once thought of an indication of the quality of the wine - the more legs, the higher quality. Not so.

Legs are about physics. Now stay with me here for the science part of wine. Since wine is a mixture of alcohol and water, alcohol has a quicker evaporation rate and a lower surface tension than water. Therefore gravity pulls, overcoming the surface tension and the alcohol runs back down the side of the glass. So while this swirling experiment may be indicative of a higher alcohol content in the wine, it has no bearing of the actual quality of the wine.

*Drawing from Brampton Wine Studio

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