By: Joel ~
New Arrival Highlights from Washington
While it’s somewhat early in the new year, already some of our favorite wineries (and friends!) have put their newest releases on offer. And over the next month or so, we will try to feature some of them during our weekly tastings. Here’s a peek at what’s upcoming.
2014 Mark Ryan Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain $67.75
2014 Mark Ryan Water Witch Cabernet blend, Red Mountain $59.50
2014 Mark Ryan Lonely Heart Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain $98.50
2015 Board Track Racer Chardonnay, Olsen Vineyard Yakima Valley $27.85
2015 Board Track Racer The Chief Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley $27.85
2014 Avennia Valery Right Bank Bordeaux blend Columbia Valley $52.00
2014 Avennia Sestina Bordeaux Blend Columbia Valley $67.25
2014 Avennia Gravura Bordeaux Blend Columbia Valley $34.50
2014 Avennia Justine Rhone Blend, Columbia Valley $41.50
2014 Avennia Cabernet Red Willow Vineyard, Yakima Valley (limited, call for price)
2014 Amavi Cellars Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon $31.49
2013 Efeste Winery Ceidleigh Syrah Red Mountain $42.50
2015 Efeste Feral Sauvignon Blanc Ancient Lakes $20.50
2014 Two Vintners Some Days are Diamonds Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills $51.50
2014 Two Vintners Some Days are Stones Syrah, The Rocks $51.50
2014 Two Vintners Lola Syrah-Cabernet Walla Walla $30.50
2012 Northstar Merlot Columbia Valley $46.50
2012 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon reg. $52, WoW $39.75
One of Napa Valley’s most historic wineries, Freemark Abbey’s history dates to 1886, when Josephine Tychson became the first female winemaker in Napa Valley. Later in 1939, new owners took parts of their three names to name the original stone winery Freemark Abbey. Since the late 60’s. Freemark Abbey has been a stellar participant in the rise to prominence of Napa Valley Cabernet, particularly from the famed Rutherford Bench. Ted Edwards, winemaker since 1985 (above), continues to refine the winery’s classic style. To quote the rave review in the recent Connoisseurs Guide to California Wine: “This generously filled, very well-focused offering is a textbook expression of the richness, the fruity succulence and supple feel that have made the Napa Valley version the standard by which all others are measured, and it does so at a price that makes it one of the best buys to be had among collectable Cabernets.
And a new Fine Napa Cabernet producer, by way of France!
2012 Rafael et Fils. Oak Knoll District Cabernet Sauvignon, $57.50
Marc Rafael the ‘fils’ (son) of George Rafael, was raised in France but his parents had the foresight to buy land in Napa 30 years ago, so the winery name pays a little homage to their European heritage. His parents came to America in the 1970s, and were able to discover a Napa Valley still in its infancy. More amazingly yet, In 1985 an opportunity presented itself to own a magical patch of dirt in the then unnamed Oak Knoll District; 50 acres of former cattle ranching land, so steeply inclined that only 25 acres could be planted. Once planted the family began merely as grape growers, selling fruit to some of Napa’s finest producers, which they still do, since they only bottle about 1500 cases of wine total! Marc came back from France to take over management in 2010, and to launch their own estate bottled brand. Their cabernet’s style echoes a fine Bordeaux, but with great Napa Valley fruit expression., aged in 50% new French oak for 22 months. Dark ruby. Dark currant, black olive, herbal nose. Black currant liqueur flavors. Very savory, sweet fruit, fine velvety texture and medium full body. Refined, fresh, flavors. The flavors showcase lovely cassis/licorice accents and a touch of graphite. This is a very strong and classy wine which represents a great value in age-worthy Cabernet.
Distinctive New Arrivals
2013 Bodega Tomero Malbec Reserva, Mendoza $19.85
Tomero is a sister winery to one of our favorites, the Bodega Vistalba. Founded in the late 19th Century, Tomero’s vineyards in the Uco Valley are in the shadow of the Andes, many of which are decades old. Yet remarkably, this effusively rich, velvet ripe and juicy Malbec is from a single vineyard, Finca Don Antonio, planted in 2000! Aged in French oak it is everything you want in Malbec,—loaded with dark blue/black berry flavors, rich texture and full body, plus an extra degree of intensity and complexity from 15 months aging in barrel (nicely toasted ones at that)!
2014 Domaine Magdalena Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain Reg. 42.00 WoW $29.75
A terrific new intense, rich and sleek new property on Red Mountain, courtesy of Maggie Hedges (yes, that Hedges family!). We were truly struck by the baroque, wonderful label on first sight, then even more so by the quality of this specially priced estate bottling. This vineyard, planted in 2004, is also noteworthy as it Demeter certified Organic and Biodynamic. In line with this, the fermentation (overseen by Sarah Goedhart) is entirely done with ambient east and the wine is unfiltered before ending up in French Barrels for 7 months. The final result is one of the purest expressions of Red Mountain we have tasted recently, and there were only 500 cases made. opaque black ruby. Deep, black-fruit, new oak vanilla. Medium intense dark berry flavors, fine but insistent tannins, and fairly dark anise/cocoa powder and chewy flavors. Drink now with a couple hours aeration for its full savory, power, but we think it needs 5-6 years to really blossom. A terrific value in Red Mountain Cabernet!
2015 Broadley Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $26.85
One of the richest versions of this perennial Pinot Noir favorite we have yet tasted; nearly 30 years since Craig Broadley released his first 1987 vintage! Darker shades of ripe cherry fruit, some oriental spice (clove, cardamom, star anise) medium body and light tannins frame this delicious fuller than usual Pinot Noir. A superb accompaniment to local grilled salmon!
New lower price on distinctive Walla Walla Syrah!!
2013 Result of a Crush Syrah (the Rocks)Walla Walla: was $36.50, now $22.50
We are not sure of the reason, but the Reynvaan sisters and their brother/winemaker Matt Reynvaan have lowered the price of their delicious, northern Rhone style Syrah, just as it is reaching its peak of flavor!. Dark berry fruit, meaty-bacon or graphite aromas and rich, peppery flavors abound in this now-more affordable wine! A fine showcase for the style and quality of Walla Walla (including the Rocks District) Syrah.
Two Great Blends Old World, New World
2014 Henschke Henry’s Seven Red,
Barossa Valley Australia $41.50
One of the greatest wineries in Australia and the world even, Stephen and Prue Henschke’s (pictured) wines from Barossa and Eden Valleys include the legendary Hill of Grace Shiraz whose vines date to 1862, and sells for upwards of $700/bottle. But this fifth generation couple and their children also are noted for other very expressive wines that uphold the traditions of the Barossa dating back to the mid-19th Century. AND one of the most affordable and delicious of these wines, from a fine Barossa Valley vintage, is Henry’s Seven!
The shiraz, grenache, viognier, mataro blend is a tribute to Henry Evans who planted the first vineyard of seven acres at Keyneton in 1853. He quickly developed a reputation for producing the best wines in the southern colony. Following Henry’s death in 1868, his widow Sarah exercised her temperance convictions by closing the winery and uprooting all the winegrapes. This blend highlights the historical introduction of southern French and Spanish varieties to South Australia in those early pioneering days and reflects the history, religion and culture of the Barossa. Most of the fruit is from older head trained vines and the wine shows real freshness, but also is ripe and plummy. Lots of fine berry and spicy fruit flavors, with a hint of mocha-oak spice adds definition. Fresh well balanced, sleek yet rich and just impeccably balanced and delicious for drinking over the next 6-8 years.
2013 Quinta do Crasto Old Vines Red
Douro Reserva $41.25
Spectacularly situated on a bluff above the Douro River, with terraced vineyards tumbling down the schist-based steep slopes, Quinta do Crasto today has been in the forefront of Port producers who have broadened the fame of the region by producing high quality, age-worthy red wines from the Port varieties. This Old Vines blend from their Maria Teresa vineyard (steep slope facing left in picture) has over 47 varieties, the average age of the vines is over 70 years!
The wine is as dramatic, dense and flavorful as the terraced slopes are steep. Dense purple ruby color, strong anise, dried roasted herbs, bitter chocolate and dark blackberry aromas lead to rich, firm flavors. The distinctive graphite, licorice and ferrous flavors are enveloped by fine firm tannins ensuring a long drinking window. This is one of Portugal’s rarest and finest red wines —one that captures centuries of tradition as well as the distinctive flavors of its origins.
Wednesday night winners!
Check out this group of wines for weekday drinking, affordable wines for when you just want something easy and quaffable!
2012 Chateau Canon Canon Fronsac Bordeaux $20.50—Super delicious minerally pure Merlot from one of the best but least known appellations in the Bordeaux region. Great fruit, earthy, dark cherry and plum aromas, fine medium body . Perfect with grilled lamb Here’s what ‘original’ Merlot tastes like!
2015 iLauri ‘Salto’ Sangiovese Terre di Chieti $11.50—Chieti is in the mountainous Abruzzo zone of central Italy east of Rome overlooking the Adriatic Sea. More famous for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the Abruzzo does have a fair amount of Sangiovese, especially in the higher areas around Chieti. This inexpensive gem is full of vibrant cherry fruit, soft texture yet very fresh and energetic; the perfect wine for daily drinking with just about anything!
2015 Powers Malbec, Columbia Valley $11.85— Washington Malbec is ready to take on the popular wines from Mendoza Argentina. Here’s one that competes just fine for price and quality. We are not sure how the Powers family can produce such a delicious, affordable and flavorful wine but more power to them!
2013 Cantina Argiolas ‘Costera’ Cannonau (Grenache), Sardinia $15.50—Argiolas is one of Italy’s finest wineries, and certain the most prestigious in Sardinia. Cannonau is Sardinia’s ‘chosen’ variety, probably brought over from Spain 5 centuries or so ago when Sardinia was part of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. Costera is Arigiolas’ easygoing, full-flavored juicy version, made to drink young and fresh. Truly delicious, with crunchy black cherry, pomegranate, sweet spice flavors.
2015 Vistalba Corte ‘C’ Malbec-Cabernet, Mendoza $13.50
Carlos Pulenta, founder of Vistalba, is one of the most innovative, forward thinking
producers in Argentina, particularly with his emphasis on blending. This lovely,
Forward, fruit-filled blend of 82% Malbec (60 year old vineyard) and 18% Cabernet
(35 years old) is made to be drunk young, yet has loads of flavor, as the Cabernet
lends distinction and length. Dark color, dark fruit flavors-- very solid fruit, with graphite/cedar flavors from the Cabernet, and excellent Malbec blueberry accents.
2014 Thurston Wolfe Family Red Columbia Valley $15.75
Wade Wolfe is one of Washington’s wine pioneers, having first established a reputation at Ch Ste Michelle in the 70’s-80’s then establishing his own winery with his wife in 1987. A gregarious guy, Wade’s Family red is just as friendly; a distinctive blend of Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Lemberger. Deep earthy, black cherry/dark plum aromas, rich crunchy licorice and hint of black pepper flavors. Full bodied and fleshy with strong texture and very spicy finish. A delicious, earthy, robust and fruity Washington blend to drink with almost anything!