By: Joel ~
WoW March Highlights
March is Washington Wine Month!
WoW will have Chris Peterson of Avennia Wines here on march 15 to showcase their marvelous 2016’s (Hail Chris!).
Do give us a shout if interested in the newest and finest from other great local and statewide WINERIES LIKE Mark Ryan, EFESTE, SAVIAH, DOUBLEBACK , Isenhower, WATERMILL AND more.
Fine NEW WINES FROM ELSEWHERE
2015 Piaggia Carmignano Riserva $43.50
Mauro Vanucci has once again produced one of the stellar Tuscan wines of the year; among the best Tuscan wines I have tasted in the last year! A Tre Bicchieri winner again (Italy’s top Wine Critics Award) in the upcoming 2019 Gambero Rosso guide. Deeply colored thanks to its Cabernet and Merlot content, it maintains the dense dark cherry and earthy, leather/anise flavors of super ripe Sangiovese, balanced by solid extract and fine tannins to age well over a decade if desired. A classic example of Carmignano, one of the earliest delineated appellations in the world dating to 1716 and Duke Cosimo de Medici, whose family likely helped to import Cabernet and Merlot to Tuscany in the 18th Century.
2015 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Tapestry Reserve Napa Valley RED REG: $65, WOW $55
The art of blending the 5 main Bordeaux varieties is beautifully illustrated in this classic Napa Valley red from one of the premier heritage wineries making some of its finest wines today. Three quarters Cabernet Sauvignon, and sourced primarily from BV’s great original Vineyards #1 and #2 in Rutherford, you cannot find a finer example of a Napa Cabernet blend for the money than this one. Additionally, it represents the last vintage of BV’s longtime winemaker Jeffrey Stambor; a great vintage to retire on!
2015 Bodegas Inteus , Aviadores del Terruno Graciano, Rioja, $29.75 Luís Palacio’s father planted the first certified organic vineyard in Rioja in 1980, and quickly converted the rest of his family’s holding when he saw the results. Three decades later, Luís has the most beautiful vineyards in Rioja (see photo below - pools of green life in a desert of red clay). A plot of 150 year-old own-rooted graciano and tempranillo peludo vines provide the genetic material for four generations of vineyards, the last of which Luís planted himself. His debonair wine reflects the simple genius of generations of patience and observation—distinctive fruit, thoughtfully presented. Luis says that Graciano is too often ignored in Rioja and Spain, but “if it’s produced with various determinants (Old vines as here, low yields) it can be one of the best varieties in the world.” This is a beautifully aromatic, rich wine from 80 year old vines, fermented for three weeks on skins and aged for over 12 months in French and American oak barrels. Deep, intense coffee-black plum and smoky bouquet, showing torrefaction, ripe fruit, mint-herbs and licorice. Medium full body, rich flavors with firming tannins and integrated wood spice, vanilla on finish. Rather chewy, youthful, focused flavors that beg roast lamb, fennel sausages, or another 4-6 years in the cellar to acquire even more complexity and softness. Terrific wine.
2002 Warre’s Late Bottled Vintage Porto $36.50
Warre’s is one of the oldest Port producers, and one of the few that still makes Late Bottled Vintage Ports in the traditional manner with no filtration. In other words, it will yield a lot of sediment, like Vintage Ports do, with age. The advantage of this process is longer and better aging potential, and here’s a 16 year wine at the peak of its maturity. A superbly balanced rich, velvety near Vintage-quality Port, now with sufficient age and complexity. Bottled after 4 years aging instead of the 2 years required for true Vintage Port. Medium ruby not purple, showing some maturity. Mature, dark mulberry, earthy, spice-cake bouquet. Lovely fruit, fine texture and medium sweet finish. Resolved tannins with velvety richness to finish, yet some 'chew' left with good acid and nice woodsy accents. This is a wonderful wine with chocolate, to be sure.
2017 Colene CLEMENS DOPP CREEK PINOT Noir, Willamette VALLEY $29.50
Joe Stark and his wife Vicki started Colene Clemens Vineyard (named after her mother) around 2007. Both are local to the area and after developing their own business to a successful level, realized their fondness for Pinot Noir ‘necessitated’ planting their own vineyard. They found an abandoned farm (on Dopp Road, naturally!) with fallow fields in the Chehalem Mountains with perfect south exposure, fine slopes and good drainage. Planting various clones, they brought on as winemaker Steven Goff, who had spent six years prior at Beaux Freres Vineyard nearby. This vintage showcases the bright black fruit aromas, lightly savory, earthy flavors of Pinot Noir expressed by the several Dijon Clones planted. Well balanced and fairly rich, this is one of the best Pinots from OR at the price now in the market.
2011 Quinta do Romaneira Douro Tinto, Portugal 32.50 One of the Douro’s oldest (1757), finest, and largest Quintas (vineyards), Romaneira has gone from strength to strength in the last decade under the guidance of it superb enologist, Antonio Agrellos, who also manages Quinta do Noval nearby. While Romaneira makes excellent Ports (we carry them!) they are focused increasingly on quality red wines. This 2011 Tinto, from a great year, composed mainly of Touriga Nacional, reveals strong graphite, black berry aromas with floral sage/violet accents. Plush, rich and luxurious flavors show some mature softness, yet still room for even more development, and complex hints of cassis- berry leather and spicy oak. Very like N. Rhone Syrah or rich WA Cabernet, but more floral, elegant tannins, lower alcohol and softer finish. Rich flavors but elegant, effortless finish. If this is the future of Portuguese red wines, we want in!
2016 Clos des Rocs Macon Loché En Près Foret Chardonnay $22.75
Vigneron Olivier Groux is one of the best growers in southern Burgundy, as this gorgeously textured white burgundy attests. Tasting more like a fine ‘cru’from Meursault, it comes from vines 35 yrs old. Aged in 25% used oak for textural richness and lightly oaky aromatics. Lovely, light honey-toast, with hint of almond nutty/lees aromas Fairly rich and fleshy flavors with lovely oak creaminess, hint of peach, spiced apple, good acidity balanced by full extract. If anything, this is better than 90% of the more famous Pouilly Fuisse’s made not far away. A perfect wine with richer fish dishes, or simply roasted chicken, even Pad Thai!
March Value Wines
2015 SANTOS Lima Colossal Reserva Tinto, LISBOA $15.50 Portugal’s unique heritage of indigenous grapes along with more experienced winemakers in the last 15 years, makes for exciting wines at very good prices. This is one of the best we have tasted recently. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Roriz, Bouschet and a dollop of Syrah, the ‘Colossal’ shows violet purple ruby, near opaque color. Really strong flavors of black berry, black pepper and licorice along with roasted savory herbs, suggest a more expensive wine. The fruit intensity carries into the finish and there is enough tannin backbone to counterpoint grilled meat dishes. Chewy finish, balanced alcohol and dense texture tells me you could enjoy this even more now by decanting ahead of time, or keeping in the cellar 3-5 years.
2015 Ch. Massiac Minervois (Grand Vin), Minervois $19.50 Minervois is one of the most beautiful wine areas in Languedoc, surrounded by limestone escarpments, medieval villages and lovely hillsides carpeted by vineyards and wild herbs which somehow lend their perfume to the finished wine through osmosis! Massiac is an excellent Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre blend. It is all about the vineyard here; one month fermentation in concrete vats, then another 20 months or so aging in same before bottling. Minervois is a truly Mediterranean wine; gamy, wild herbs-garrigue like bouquet with black pepper, anise, creosote smoky notes. Riche and sweet darker berry flavors on palate with refined mature finish. A deliciously rich, savory wine for those who want more than just fruit! Grilled sausages or Portobello mushrooms, anyone?
2017 Photobomb Pinot Gris Columbia Valley/Ancient LAKES PINOT Gris $12.75 Brett Isenhower’s other label, Photobomb, is all about great fruit, in this case from famed Ancient Lakes Vineyard, and pricing below the wine’s real intrinsic value. Too much Pinot Gris in WA can be blowsy and lacking in fresh flavors. Here’s one that is not only fresh, but also full flavored! Toasty, leesy aromas, with hints of sweet corn. Solid fruit, fresh acidity, medium full body and good definition to finish. Nice florality and flesh with just a hint of sweetness to enrichen the finish makes this an ideal pre-prandial sipper, an accompaniment to sautéed halibut, or a great happy hour wine!
2016 Alder Ridge 6 Prong Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Horse Heaven HILLS REG $23, WoW $16.50
Not much we can say, except…Deliciously rich and savory! One of the best vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills overlooking the Columbia River (see photo), Alder Ridge’s ‘bargain’ brand truly reflects how good the vineyard is. Aged in 30% new French/American oak barrels to add some sweet cocoa/vanilla aromas, there is plenty of ripe dark berry fruit, velvety texture and medium weight to make this an ideal rich flavored wine to enjoy throughout the week and with everything from lighter poultry dishes through rich BBQ!
By: Joel ~
WoW February Highlights
Vinous Valentines & Chocolate!
The Greeks did not have a god[dess] of chocolate--just Dionysus, the god of wine and theater. Too bad! I think he and Ixcacao, the Mayan Goddess of Cacao/Chocolate, would have enjoyed each other, and much to celebrate together. Both beverages are made from fermented fruit that give people cause to celebrate and be closer to others. This should not be lost on us mortals, especially in February celebrating Valentine’s day.
Which brings us to the question: Does wine, especially red, REALLY taste good with chocolate? The Answer: Yeah…sort of. Depending on how dark the chocolate is and how sweet/strong the wine, palatal pleasure is possible. If you are in the neighborhood on Wednesday the 13th, we will taste a range of wines fit for the gods [and good chocolate!] Our ‘research’ suggests that the best wines with dark bitter[sweet] chocolate are rich red wines with medium high alcohol and some residual sugar. Big cabernets, not so much, but full-flavored softer reds like Malbec, Zinfandel and red blends can be tasty. Even sparkling red wines! Our favorites are sweet red wines like recioto di Valpolicella, late harvest Zinfandel, honied, fortified muscats and of course, Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry. We like Port as well, especially late Bottled Vintage styles which are mature enough to have lost much of their ‘spirity-ness’.
Need Your Chocolate and Wine Fix? Try a couple of these:
2015 Monte Zovo Recioto di Valpolicella 500ml $36.75 Perhaps our PERFECT complement to dark chocolate. Monte Zovo makes quite forward, delicious and balanced Valpolicella wines from grapes dried four months. Their Recioto shows rich chocolate/raspberry dried cherry flavors, moderate sweetness and takes quite well to a moderate chill!
BODEGAS SAUCI S NARANJA HUELVA 500ML $24.85 One of our favorite and decadently delicious wines discovered in the last year. A blend of rich dark sweet PX and pale palomino grapes harvested late and fermented/macerated with bitter orange peels. The resulting rich and sweet (but not too sweet, given refreshing acidity) is then aged like sherry for 10 years in barrel, which yields a lusciously fresh, distinctive wine. As one of our customers said it, “kicks ass with chocolate-covered strawberries”. Wonderful served chilled, too!
2016 Sparkman Wilderness Red Rhone Blend $21.75
Chris Sparkman’s latest (and very affordable) Rhone blend, composed of 61% Syrah, 19% Petite Sirah, 15% Grenache and 5% Sangiovese may be one of the best dry reds featured here to complement chocolate, or a fine cut of roasted meat or game! Indeed, given that it was aged in toasty, cocoa-accented French oak barrels (27% new), as well as the Petite Sirah lends a dark chocolate coated coffee bean flavor, we can imagine this full-flavored wine becoming a regular feature on your dinner table.
2017 Fiorini Lambrusco Grasparossa Becco Rosso $15.50 Lambrusco, the real thing from near Bologna, slightly frothy with red fruit flavors, freshness and bitter-sweet flavors is slowly gaining appreciation again. The Fiorini family’s Becco Rosso is an absolute delight: Medium deep ruby, floral, rose, violet/cherry nose. Dry but not austere with lovely freshness, vibrant berry flavors and with the kind of acidity and fruit intensity that cuts through all sorts of rich dishes with aplomb. I can see this with Korean-style cocoa-barbecued short ribs.
2011 Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port $30.75 Graham’s is one of Port’s greatest producers, owned by the renown Symington family whose family interests in the area date back to 1670. They acquired Graham’s in 1970. Late-Bottled Vintage Port, especially from a great vintage like 201, is not much less concentrated than Vintage Port; the difference is its softer texture due to being aged 4-6 years in cask before bottling, instead of just two years. Rich, ripe boysenberry and yes, even chocolate-coated cherry flavors abound here, framed by is the perfect wine for those decadent dark chocolate truffles (and other trifles!), or if you prefer in front of a fire with good blue cheese and nuts.
Remoissenet’s affordable, delicious Burgundies
The other day an old friend, Pierre Rovani (ex-Wine Advocate Burgundy Reviewer) and for many years now Estate Manager at Remoissenet, dropped by the store to taste afew of his new and excellent 2015 wines. Remoissenet has been around since 1877. New management and a return to organic practices, estate run vineyards (they buy no juice, just grapes) combined with the talents of Claude Jobard and Bernard Repolt in the cellar, along with Rovani’s expert palate, means a renaissance of quality here. Finding expressive red burgundy at a fair price these days resembles a treasure hunt; one must explore a lot of terrain before finding jewels. Rovani’s visit offered up that treasure trove!
2015 Remoissenet Bourgogne Rouge $28.50 Sourced primarily from vineyards in Pommard and Volnay, aged in 350L barrels for almost a year, this is pitch-perfect Burgundy Pinot Noir. Beautifully textured, medium rich and with lovely wild berry aromas, it is a lovely intro version to Pinot Noir from the ‘Home Country”.
2015 Givry le Preferé du Roi Henri IV $33.50 A richer step up, Givry is one of the Chalonnaise region’s finest villages for Pinot Noir, producing wines such as this with more wild fruit aromas, fuller body, more minerality and great quality for the price. In the 16th century, the wines of Givry were noted as some of the French King Henri IV’s favorite wines. Aged for 14 months in French oak barrels, about 22% new, it shows solid, deeper, darker cherry and autumnal aromas. There is lovely fruit, solid density and weight with fine texture and velvety tannins for enjoyment now or in 5 years.
2015 Beaune Marconnets 1er Cru $69.50 Marconnets is the northernmost of the fine Beaune 1er Crus that Remoissenet has vines in, thus producing among the most powerful wines of the appellation. It is farmed biodynamically and from older vines, which accounts for the luxurious fruit framed by strong yet velvety tannins. This really sets a great standard for what Beaune wines are all about. Worth every penny!
2015 Savigny Les Beaune Blanc $39 From the Vermote vineyard at the top of the hill overlooking Savigny, this is classic white burgundy, with the extra sheen derived from a warm year. Rich, fleshy, yet fine acidity. Old vines too, Top of hill freshness. quite rich and more nutty complexity than most wines of the village, aged all in oak 350 liter. Well balanced with a fine honey-hazelnut and light peach finish. A lovely, expressive wine at a moderate price.
West Coast Wines
NV Marietta Old Vine Red #68 CA $15.85
Textbook delicious Zinfandel blend from the late Chris Bilbro and family, first made in 1982. Bilbro started making old vine Sonoma blends and zinfandel over 40 years ago, when we first met him. He saw all of these old vineyards languishing, and decided to do something about it! His Old Vines blend is a steal for everyday drinking. Bold, ripe yet very fresh, with a long peppery finish and the sweet Zin-ny raspberry, black cherry fruit of classic Zinfandel. Great everyday wine, especially with tomato-ey dishes!
2016 Saviah Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla $31.50
Rick Funk makes delicious wines, period. His cabernet captures the voluptuous dark cherry-cocoa/wheaty richness of Walla Walla-grown wines from four distinct vineyards. Blended with a little Merlot for extra definition and aged in 30% new French oak barrels, there is no denying this wine’s ripe yet fresh intensity. Good to drink now, we are sure it will be even better in 5-6 years. But why resist its pleasure now?
2016 JK Carriere Pinot Noir ‘Provocateur’, Willamette Valley $28.75 Jim Prosser’s 20 years experience working with Pinot Noir in Oregon truly shows in this well-priced medium full-bodied Pinot that combines old vine fruit from the great Temperance Hill vineyard and younger vine fruit from two other vineyards Jim farms. Very pretty floral raspberry-kirsch & cedary bouquet. Solid ripeness, good length, lovely fruit ripeness with florality, soft tannins and subtle toast adding nuance. A best buy in ‘serious’ Pinot Noir from Oregon!