By: Joel ~
WoW August News
AUGUST IS WASHINGTON WINE MONTH (again!) Yes, while we are in the Dog Days of August, it’s a perfect time to celebrate the wonderful wines we make in our Evergreen State. Especially some of the best white wines made on the West Coast!
2016 Nefarious Cellars Lake Chelan Estate Viognier $21.50—Heather and Dean Neff craft delightful, fresh and food-friendly wines at their Lakeside winery. The Lake’s cooling influence gives this tropical fruit, orange blossom-scented wine extra acid ‘lift’, with rich fruit, good minerality and a blessedly moderate alcohol level. TEXTBOOK VIOGNIER! Another strong argument for Washington being the New World’s “Northern Rhone’!
2016 Ardor Cellars Lawrence Vineyard White, Columbia Valley $25.85 — Owners Brandon & Emma Kubrock, with winemaker Aryn Morrell are fashioning some splendid Rhone-style wines, none better than this Roussanne-Viognier white wine from the higher elevation Frenchman Hills. Ripe honey-citrus lively flavors and aromas. Firm peach, honey flavors. Nutty, mineral flavors with lively acidity. Some salinity. Good length. Very distinctive. Long finish. Better than most N. Rhone whites!
2014 K Vintners Motor City Kitty Syrah, Columbia Valley $33.75 Well, Charles (Smith) is still in charge! And this MCK is still purring along with loads of fruit. The following says it all! “95 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate “Named after a cat owned by Charles when he was living in Walla Walla, the 2014 M C K Syrah sports a deep purple color as well as ripe, decadent notes of black fruits, plums, graphite, crushed rock and licorice. Big, sexy, seamless and pure, with present, yet ripe tannin, drink it through 2024. It’s worth noting that this comes completely from the River Rock vineyard in this vintage. As usual, it’s a crazy value.”
2014 Truth Teller ‘The Pun’ Red, Columbia Valley $31.50—Chris and Dawn Loeliger created TruthTeller Winery after years of practice drinking wine. Folks often asked them about the name and the ‘frolicking Jester’ logo. The answer lies in the Swiss origin of the family name (Loeliger); it translated into "village idiot". But Chris continued to investigate (wouldn't you?) and discovered the translation is actually closer to "jester" - an entertainer who tells the truth through comedy. The couple believe the Jester and wine share the trait of balancing truth and pleasure. Which leads to this Bordeaux blend of Cabernet, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot, a dark deep red that is dark ruby,-violet colored. It balanced strong black fruit aromas & cherry, accented by olive/black pepper aromas Good fruit, fine flavor concentration, balanced tannins, with nice 'chew' to finish. Good extract carries the vibrant fruit forward, the pungent (Pun intended!) aromas certainly awaken the taste buds, Truth be Told!
Don’t forget you can order on-line: www.worldofwinesonline.com
2012 Brunello di Montalcino
"The superb 2012 Brunello vintage represents a conundrum: a hot, very dry year that produced a large number of wines in a cooler-climate style.” - Ian d’Agata, Vinous.com
Ian is one of the most respected wine-journalists writing on Italian wines; someone Joel has known for years and tasted with several times. He certainly knows where-of he speaks about this most prestigious Italian wine. As he noted in his March 2017 review of the wines, “the 2012 vintage for Brunello stands out for its consistently high quality...with more good to outstanding examples than in any past vintage…(and) are characterized by impeccable balance, vibrant acidity and fine grained tannins...blessed with precise aromas and flavors…”
As Brunello must be aged at least four years before release, we are just now receiving the first wave of wines—all top choices, mirroring Joel’s opinion of these wines based on years of tasting in Montalcino. Brunello can often be intense and strong-structured when young, which often means the wines need a few years in bottle to refine and soften. But in 2012, there is so much fruit that even when the tannins are assertive, the wines can be enjoyed young, benefiting from decanting a couple of hours ahead of service.
Unless otherwise noted, the marks are from Ian d’Agata. The 2012 Brunelli are excellent wines, and will repay keeping for 10-15 years, if you can resist their charms today!
2012 Scopetone Brunello di Montalcino-94 pts. $57.50
2012 Livio Sassetti Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino-98 pts (James Suckling) $89.50
2012 La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino –92 pts $58.50
2012 Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino-93+ pts $86.75
2012 Salicutti Brunello di Montalcino Piaggione-95+ pts $94.50
2012 Ciacci Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Pianrosso-92+ pts $79.95
2012 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 90 pts $40.50
2012 Costanti Brunello di Montalcino 94+ pts $97.50
2012 Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino 93+ pts $99.50
GRAMERCY CELLARS NEW RELEASES
(pictured- Les Collines vineyard, source of Gramercy John Lewis Syrah) ©Kevin Pogue/Whitman.edu
Greg Harrington is one of Washington’s best, most consistent producers, and given his formal career as a Master Sommelier, put his money where his mouth was when he started Gramercy in 2005. We love Greg’s wines for their finesse, depth of fruit, moderate alcohol and above all intense flavors that don’t overwhelm the palate. His commitment to crafting fine Rhone-style wines, red and white, highlight just how wonderful our eastern Washington region is for these varieties. Unfortunately, Greg, his wife/partner Pam and partner Brandon Moss’ wines have limited availability, are highly desired by restaurants around the country and generally allocated, so we only get a limited amount. Give us a call to reserve what you would like soon.
2016 Picpoul, Walla Walla $21.50– Picpoul is a deliciously aromatic, very dry white wine native to the town of Pinet on the Mediterranean coast west of Marseilles. Gramercy’s version from Los Oidos Vineyard at the foot of the Blue Mountains. As Greg says: “Think Pinot Grigio with attitude!” Unusual and refreshing!
2016 Rosé Olsen Vineyard, Columbia Valley $29.50—Ok, this isn’t cheap, but it is the first single vineyard rosé made, and the first where the Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah were co-fermented together after being harvested early in September. The combination of 6 hours maceration on the skins combined with its early harvest has given the wine vibrant, minerally flavors with fresh strawberry, orange/melon accents and great bouquet.
2016 Viognier, Antoine Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley $25.85— From a cool vineyard near Lake Chelan, this is gorgeous Viognier! Exotic, peachy, creamsicle Viognier nose. Good fresh acidity, vibrant, keen fruit, more northern Rhone in style. Rich and still mineral tinged flavors that bespeak perfect ripening in a cooler area and deft winemaking.
2014 Lagniappe Syrah Yakima Valley $67.75—Always one of my favorites, this terrific blend of Red Willow & Minnick vineyards Syrah and co-fermented Viognier has all the perfume, ripe fruit, meaty –berry aromas and well-toned muscle of a fine St. Joseph from the Northern Rhone. A stunning beauty now, but give it 5-7 years for real magic.
2014 John Lewis Syrah, les Collines Vineyard, Walla Walla $94.50—Named for Pam Harrington’s father and the top “grand cru” of the Gramercy portfolio, Denser, more wild mineral-firmer tannins. More flesh and chewy notes with greater finesse than above. Very classy, more concentrated, along the lines of great Hermitage, but softer.
AMAZING 2015 CÔTE RÔTIE from Ch Saint Cosme’s Louis Barruol $63.50
2015 is a great vintage for Syrah in the Northern Rhone—its homeland! Barroul sources this dense wine from original “Serine” selection mature vines in 3 prestigious crus of the zone. The result is nothing short of classic, reminiscent of the grand wines of 50-75 years ago; meaty, deep cassis-charcoal, roast game and cassis flavors, firm tannins, great freshness and capable of aging 15-20 years. Archetypal Syrah from a fine producer!
New Rosés from 2016 Vintage
Sales of Dry Rosés continue to increase year after year - and why not? Refreshing, flavorful, versatile and lovely to look it, as well as inexpensive (mostly), here are our current WoW recommendations. We are firm believers in the less expensive the better; with a few exceptions to the rule, we don’t find there is a significant quality difference between wines costing $10-15 and those at $20+, especially not the over-hyped and marketed Rosés from Provence, France! We taste dozens of Rosés and only select a handful. Freshness is imperative!
And join us throughout the summer for new Rosé tastings once a month. Check the Events calendar on our website for dates
2016 Idylle Rosé Pamplemousse, France $12.50 (fizzy!)
2016 Rocca di Montegrossi Sangiovese Rosato, Chianti $17.50
2016 Ch Beaulieu Rosé de Provence $15.75
2016 Cavalchina Chiaretto Bardolino Rosé, Veneto $15.75
2016 La Spinetta Il Rosé di Casanova, Sangiovese, Tuscany $20.50
2016 Dom. Sorin Cotes de Provence Rosé $12.50
2016 Amalie Robert Pinot Noir Rosé Willamette Valley $22.50
NV Gratien & Meyer Cremant de Loire Rosé Brut, Loire Valley $17.50
2016 Ch Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé, Rhone Valley $18.85
New Arrivals from the powerful 2015 Rhone Valley vintage!
Whether you prefer the potent, spicy and meaty character of the pure Syrahs of the northern rhone, or the jammy, warm and fleshy nature of southern rhone blends, here’s a quartette of expressive, rich, ‘high fidelity’ wines. All have received fine reviews.
2015 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage (pictured) $38.50 (91-92 vinous. Com)-Concentrated fruit, lurid violet color!
2015 Ch Fortia Cuvee Baron Chateauneuf du Pape $43.50 (89-91 vinous.com) Sappy, gamy dark cherry flavors; fleshy.
2015 Jerome Gradassi Chateauneuf du Pape $46.50 (90-92 vinous.com) A newcomer offering deep, spicy, juicy flavors and fine peppery finish.
2015 Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas ‘Tradition’ $28.75 (90-92 vinous.com) Strong, gamy, strong black pepper and black cherry flavors and muscular finish.
2014 Bordeaux Crus
“Much to the delight (and surprise) of many tasters, Bordeaux has produced very good wine in 2014. It is certainly the best since 2010.”-Decanter Magazine. Furthermore: “"The 2014s are generally mid-weight wines with expressive aromatics, medium-bodied structures and finessed, silky tannins...Simply put, the finest 2014s are utterly magnificent and well worth seeking out. Most importantly, 2014 is a very consumer friendly year.” Antonio Galloni-Vinous. We agree! 2015 & 2016 will be richer, more powerful and long-lived, but also more Expensive. These 2014’s are more approachable now, will easily keep a decade if you want, and show excellent fruit, balanced flavors and really reflect their origins.
We have chosen a small selection of what I (JB) think are some of the best recently tasted in San Francisco and London at large tastings and represent excellent Quality for Money rapport.
2014 Ch. Vieille Cure Fronsac (merlot-cabernets) 92pts Vinous.com $27.50
2014 Ch Cantemerle Cru Classe Haut Medoc 94pts J. Suckling $38.50
2014 Ch Retout Cru Bourgeois Haut Medoc 90 pts. Decanter $20.40
2014 Les Ormes de Pez Cru Bourgeois St Estephe 93 pts J. Suckling $37
2014 Domaine de Chevalier Cru Classe Pessac-Leognan 93 pts JB $68.75
…and two fine white Bordeaux 2014’s
2014 Clos Floridene Graves (SB, Semillon) made by the late, great Denis Dubourdieu at his own estate 90pts Vinous.com $32.50
2014 G de Ch Guiraud Bordeaux, the dry white of 1er Grand Cru Sauternes Ch Guiraud (SB, Semillon $23.75
Daily enjoyment Wines
2016 Cantina San Pietro Pinot Grigio Alto Adige $14.75–The newest vintage of this perennially crisp, but well flavored wine from vineyards at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains. Lively light pear flavors.
2016 Martin Ray Sonoma Chardonnay $16.50-A terrific, rich, yet fresh chardonnay showing light oak/vanilla aromas apple-melon fresh fruit and fine acidity to balance. A steal!
2015 Caparzo Sangiovese di Toscana $11.75-Always delicious, this blend of Sangiovese & Merlot is especially flavorful ripe and delicious in this superb Tuscan vintage! Supple, lightly mineral-dark cherry flavors round flavors. The perfect red wine to drink cool, and mellow enough for fish!
2015 Passatempo Verde Vinho Verde $9.50– Mainly Loureiro, a delicious fresh and slightly fuller bodied Vinho Verde than most. Ideal summer-time drinking!
2013 Paringa Shiraz S. Australia reg. $17.50, WoW $12.50 Paringa is an old family winery based in McLaren Vale. This is classic Oz Shiraz at a bargain price! Full color, dark berry fruit, licorice, black pepper and dark coffee flavors with medium full body.
2014 Bodega Garzon Estate Tannat, Uruguay $18,50
New vintage! Think Malbec meets Syrah and you have this ripe, full flavored savory wine. Quite well balanced, fruity, but with firming tannins (still supple), balanced slightly curranty finish. Very good, and better balanced, suppler than the fine 2013