30 Dec 2009
Since I’ve only been at this blog thing for 7 weeks and December marks the close of my first full month, I thought I would start a tradition. I’m sure as history books of wine blogging unfold, this will be recorded as the start of something monumental. Those mentioned in these posts will receive world-wide notoriety and others will pine and clamor to be considered among the elite. Ah, who the hell am I kiddin’ this is what I liked and thought was cool this month!
Wines of the Month
I reviewed 25 wines in December. Several of them came from my video reviews of three local Spokane wineries. My bias is not Spokane, it’s just my geography.
Best Value Under $15: Lone Canary Bird House Red ($10-$12)
While I didn’t taste this wine during my video interview with wine maker Michael Scott, I did pick up a bottle for consumption. Of the 10+ bottles under $15 from this month, this was the clear winner.
- The Stuff - 55% Syrah, 22% Cab Sauv, 21% Merlot, 2% Sangiovese; Various Columbia Valley vineyards.
- The Swirl – a dark garnet color, not quite plum
- The Sniff – initial reaction was honey and vanilla but opened up to include the blueberry and spice of a Cab / Merlot.
- The Sip - Initially wasn’t feeling it. Left the glass and came back 15 minutes later. Dark berry with cedar and a slight cocoa finish. Medium tannin and a little hot on the alcohol.
- The Score – At $12 I would rate this a low 4 out of 5. Solid quality with good flavor characteristics, smooth finish and good structure. If I can find this wine at under $10 it easily becomes part of my Nectar Value Team.
*Runner up 2007 Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc ($7)
Best Wine: 2006 Mark Ryan Long Haul ($48)
We enjoyed this wine over Christmas (Episode #17 Christmas 2009). This was one of our purchases from the September trip to Woodinville, WA. The wine was spectacular then and even better to celebrate Christmas with. Hands down the best wine I drank all month.
- The Stuff: Right Bank style blend with 48% Merlot 46% Cab Franc and 6% Petit Verdot.
- The Swirl: Moderately opaque with translucent edges. Nice jewel tones
- The Sniff: Wow, this glass is alive with aroma ranging from spice to coffee to vanilla to dark cherries. Alive with juice.
- The Sip: An explosion of fruit with the right amount of structure balance and tannin to enjoy alone or with a big steak or red pasta dish. This is like sex in a glass. The orgasm of flavor blew me away!
- The Score: At $48 I would definitely buy this again and again as long as my credit card allowed. Taking into consideration the economy and value, this wine scores a 4+. Get it at $35 and it is a steal and a 5.
A twitter friend said they recently picked up several bottles for just $29. At this price I would buy a case.
*Runner up 2007 Robert Karl Claret ($20)
Random Favorites Highlights from December
The post that made me spit wine out my nose: Drinking With the Wine Whore (make sure you watch the video)
Best Wine Picture (Rated R): DrinksAreOnMe.net – Cork Taint
Best Wine Quote: WineTonite – Apples and Wine
“Men are like a fine wine. They begin as grapes, and it’s up to the women to stomp the mess out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have with dinner.” – Ed Thralls
Most ‘heady’ Wine Post Good Grape “When Altruism Needs to Equal Cooperation”
DrinkNectar Posts (Most Viewed) Wineries – Missing the Social Media Money?
30 Dec 2009
I’m honored to have an article featured on Cork’d today. This web site is part of social media and wine sensation Gary Vaynerchuk’s media empire, Vaynermedia.
In the article I talk about the Three Tiered distribution system in the wine and spirits industry and how the current laws are archaic, anti-competitive, suppressive toward capitalism, and communist in enforcement.
As long as the three-tier system is in place, the U.S. wine market will continue to be a crippled shell of what it could become.
Can we fix it? If Social Media has any power, it has the power to call problems to people’s attention and unite those of diverse geography into a solitary voice.
Read the article at Cork’d and leave a comment. Let’s look back at 2010 as the year that something revolutionary began to bring all wine to all people across the U.S.
20 Dec 2009
An accidental discovery or a destiny finally fulfilled?
Hailed as one of the best growing regions in the state in 1970 remained virtually unplanted until the accidental discovery in 1992. Walter and Judy Haig were flipping through a scrapbook from the original homesteader that listed an old US Agriculture map identifying what crops were planted in 1900. Wine grapes were on the list.The journey to fulfill the lands destiny began.
The lower Lake Roosevelt area formed by the Grand Coulee Dam creates the perfect microclimate for growing Bordeaux varietal grapes. The long summers, cool nights and extended growing season allow for maximum hang time producing fruit forward low sugar wines.
The Haig family wine story began with providing world-class grapes to wineries across the state through 2004. With the 2005 vintage, son Michael Haig, took over vintner and winemaking responsibilities. It’s obvious in talking with Mike that he loves his fruit and he loves the process. “My job is to stay out of the way and produce wine that tells the story of the vintage.” “Too often,” he says, “wineries try to make a wine that doesn’t fit the style of the grapes they have.” We talked about fads in the wine industry and Michael is a believer in staying true to what his vineyard produces (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.) “We are 100% estate grown. We don’t buy grapes from anyone.” A fact he is very proud of.
Whitestone has a tasting room, storage facility, and production facility in Wilbur, WA (about 16 miles from the vineyard). In April 2009, they opened a tasting room at 111 S. Cedar in West Downtown’s Carnegie Square. “Business has been great, but everyday we still hear from people who had no idea we’re here.” Part of the successful launch can be attributed to Whitestone’s commitment to Social Media like Twitter and Facebook. Whitestone is one of the few Spokane wineries taking advantage of this medium to connect with their consumers to drive brand loyalty. Mike, a self-professed techie says, “With Facebook we can post an event notice and see immediately who has responded.” Their first holiday release, Pieces on Earth V.1 went on sale just before Thanksgiving and all 135 cases are sold out (or will soon be after this prints). Promotion was done mostly through e-mail list, wine club members and social media.
Mike and I also spoke about the near term future for Whitestone. Currently producing 2500 cases per year, they are pursuing a new production facility – preferably right on the vineyard. He says, “too often people are pre-occupied with being the ‘next’ Chateau St. Michelle or whatever, I want to be the ‘first’ Michael Haig. From what I can tell the Whitestone line up is big, fruity with big tannins for grilling, steak, pot roast, and ham. The wines are held in oak for up to 30 months and will cellar well for another 5-7 years.
Whitestone is finally seeing the destiny of the land fulfilled 40 years after it was proclaimed.
The Stats: 111 S Cedar – Spokane Tasting Room is open Thursday – Sunday from Noon – 6pm. Friend them up on Facebook Whitestone Winery and follow them on Twitter @PIECESOFRED. WEB: www.whitestonewinery.com
Pieces on Earth V1 (2009 limited release – 135 cases)
- The Stuff: 34% Merlot 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Cabernet Franc
- The Swirl: Very dark plum, nearly opaque. Strong legs indicating high alcohol (14.1%) and acidity
- The Sniff: Dark cherry, plums, nutmeg, smoke, with a subtle hint of cocoa at the end
- The Sip: Wow, it’s like I dove into a pool of cherry nutmeg pool, drowning in that Chocolate Chucker Cherry sauce (not as sweet). Very berry front end with strong acidity on the upper mouth and medium tannins. The finish goes on for a good 10 seconds going tart then finishing smooth.
- The Score: At $17.95 (if you can still find it) I rate this wine a 5 out of 5. Mike and Whitestone have created a fantastic holiday season wine that will sip well around the fire and hold up to cranberry, prime rib and ham dinners.
In the video Mike mentions that Social Media is great but the goal is to get people to enjoy life over a glass of wine! I couldn’t say it better myself. Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends and there is no better way than over a glass of wine or cup of coffee.
17 Dec 2009
Thanks for stopping by. I just wanted to post this quick note to all the new visitors to the site today. My name is Josh and my passion is wine, coffee and writing about them.Take a look around the site. I think you’ll find a unique take on reviews that are creative, funny, witty, entertaining as well as informative. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I do take my wine and coffee seriously. You’ll find local wine and coffee reviews, winery visits, social media tips, and stuff to make wine accessible to everyone! Follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/nectarwine and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drinknectar. Have fun and stay a while.
10 Dec 2009
“I didn’t have the skills to be a plumber and the aromatics are much better.” This was the response from Lone Canary wine maker Mike Scott when I asked “Why did you get into wine making?”
**UPDATE MAY 14, 2010**
After 30 years of wine making in Spokane and 7 years as the co-founder of Lone Canary Winery, Mike Scott is no longer with Lone Canary. They company was sold in late 2009 to Spokane wine maker Don Townshend. While efforts were being made to bring the company into profitability, financial issues forced a change in direction. “The only thing I regret is not having the proper goodbye for the people who have grown to love Lone Canary and Mike Scott wines,” says Mike. After efforts of a third party investor fell through to purchase the winery, Don has decided to move Lone Canary to his Caterina Winery location on North Washington. What will become of Lone Canary? Will the wines be distinct and different from Don’s other brands? In this writer’s opinion, Lone Canary is on life support without Mike Scott’s involvement. The two are inextricably linked. How Lone Canary can survive is a story for another post…until then…thank you Mike for all the great years and all the fine wine.
Wine selling transformed into wine making which gave Mike the first real creative spark that he experienced in life. After learning the wine making craft at Latah Creek through 1990, Scott moved on to work for Steve Livingstone which led to the birth of Caterina Winery in 1993, in which he worked as the head wine maker. In 2002, Steve and Jeanne Schaub approached Mike for a business partnership that gave birth to Lone Canary in 2003.
Choosing a name was not only a difficult task but a potentially costly one. After researching a name that was memorable and conveyed Washington, they came across the state bird, the American Goldfinch also known as the Wild Canary. Perfect! The name was available and they proceeded with logo design, packaging, Federal approval, promotional materials…until…a call from lawyers representing bourbon maker Wild Turkey. Evidently the powerful Kentucky company owns the rights to the name “wild” on an alcoholic beverage – especially when paired with the mighty American Goldfinch (canary). Rather than pursue expensive litigation, the name Lone Canary was born.
With that behind them, Mike, Steve and Jeanne moved forward with the wine making operation. Six years of success – and a few missteps - has brought the operation to 4000+ cases. Crushing is done in Pasco and aging occurs in the Spokane tasting room / warehouse. Brand popularity necessitates growth, prompting the team to look at larger locations in the area. Current wine offerings are the 2007 Barbera, 2007 Syrah (reviewed below), Bird House Red (blend), 2007 Cuvee Rose, 2007 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, 2005 Merlot, 2007 Sangiovese, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, and a 2008 Pinot Grigio.
My final question, “What’s next for Mike Scott and Lone Canary?” Mike’s eyes lit up as he talked about his newfound passion for the Italian varietals that grow so well in the Yakima region. He’s excited about the Barbera, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, and the future release of Dolcetto and Nebbiolo at some point. I find it interresting that an English man moves to America to make Italian wine! “We were meant to drink wine,” says Mike, “I want people to be impressed with the quality of the wine in the bottle, rather than the price on the bottle.”
From everything I can see, this funny little bird that went toe to toe with a wild turkey (and lost) is one to watch (and taste).
2007 Syrah (100%) $21.95 – only 40 cases left
- The Swirl – Very dark and opaque, low legs – indicating lower alcohol content
- The Sniff – An initial blackberry earthy smell is first. Subtle oak gives this smooth smelling wine enough anticipation heading into the sip.
- The Sip – a soft front with a little lilac floral component, mild acidity, and smooth fruit (definitely not a fruit bomb). Dangerous sipping wine because of its contagious taste.
- The Score – At $22 I score this wine a $$$$ (out of $$$$$) This is a Washington Syrah to put on your list to try. If you’ve grown tired of the $8 Australian Yellow Tail, give this Yellow Finch / Canary a try.
Visit Lone Canary at 109 S. Scott / www.lonecanary.com / Twitter @clooneycanary and Facebook at www.facebook.com/lonecanary. Stop by Thursday – Sunday from Noon – 5PM for your own tasting experience. Enjoy live music every first Friday of the month as a part of Spokane’s First Friday 5-9PM.
Enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY!