06 May 2010
On Memorial Day weekend Spokane will officially welcome its 17th winery, Overbluff Cellars. I recently stopped and talked with John Caudill and Jerry Gibson about their opening and upcoming release in preparation for Spring Barrel tasting weekend. While some logistics keep them from having a fully operational tasting room for the weekend of May 7-9, you can get a sneak peek of their wine at Hotel Lusso.
Overbluff Cellars will be pouring their four releases at Hotel Lusso (on Post) from 11AM – 5PM, Friday through Sunday. In a previous post I outlined how you can attempt to hit ALL sixteen participating wineries over the weekend. Check out the post which includes a map you can download and print.
Now sit back, relax and enjoy the world’s first review of Overbluff Cellars wine (I think)!
2009 Overbluff Viognier
- The Stuff: 100% Viognier, 16.5%abv, about 90 cases made, vineyards are Spofford and Les Collines
- The Swirl: A walk down the yellow brick road. This wine shines pure yellow gold with hints of viscosity and some wicked legs (attributed to the high ABV); enclosed with a glass closure.
- The Sniff: Ripe cantaloupes, tubarose flower and that baked sugar cinnamon smell from an apple pie. Take a deep sniff and you’ll pick up on the strong alcohol aroma
- The Sip: Beautiful flavor profile with very nice mouth feel and tropical fruit flavors. A rippin’ acidity and overwhelming heat (from the alcohol) unfortunately throw off the initial flavors.
- The Score: At $19, I can only score this wine a 3 minus out of 5. The effort and fruit are spectacular but the misfortune of elevated sugar levels during harvest have resulted in too much alcohol during fermentation for my tastes. If you like your whites to have a sense of elegance and sophistication, then you may be surprised by the alcohol level.
2007 Overbluff Duality
- The Stuff: A blend of 50% Cabernet from two Walla Walla vineyards (LaTour and Windrow) The wine spent a full two years in oak (not specified) and is enclosed with a glass closure; 13.8%abv, 50 cases made
- The Swirl: Deep purple with excellent coloration at the edges that shine like jewels. The wine is about 70% opaque
- The Sniff: The immediate aroma on this wine is a beautiful cherry and blackberry. A rich fruit forward nose that lightens to subtle notes of dark chocolate. Lacks a definitive spice on the smell.
- The Sip: The fruit gently jumps across your tongue but is almost immediately encroached by some sharp tartness and tannin on the mid-palate. The acidity and finish are both nicely balanced. My general take is that this is still a very young wine that could see another five years before being opened. If opening early, decant for at least 30 minutes to allow the wine to breathe.
- The Score: At $31 retail, I score this wine a solid 3+ out of 5 for having good fruit presence and strength on the back end. My recommendation would be to buy and hold. If you want to open a bottle make sure that it is being accompanied by food and friends (as all good wine should be).
As a side note, I tasted the Duality Cabernet with a dinner that included strong garlic pasta with red sauce and a tomato basil garlic bread. The wine made the dinner better!
Concannon Vineyard was one of the first established vineyards and wineries in the Central Coast. Established in 1883, their Cabernet Sauvignon clones were used to plant much of what is now Napa Valley. Known for their rocky soil Concannon winery was the first in the world to produce the brooding, silky and sexy Petite Sirah and they discovered America’s first female wine-maker.
The two wines reviewed below are part of a new effort of wines made from vineyards that are part of a conservancy effort to protect the land from urban sprawl. The Conservancy label consists of Petite Sirah, Chardonnay (reviewed below), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each retails for $15
2008 Concannon Chardonnay (Conservancy)
- The Stuff: 100% Livermore Valley Chardonnay; Aged in French and American Oak (no mention of time). 6000 cases, 13.5%abv
- The Swirl: Clean and clear with a nice yellow hue. Lacks the typical Chardonnay viscosity.
- The Sniff: The wine presents a delicate blend of melon and lemon with a hint of creamy butter on the back end.
- The Sip: This is one of those Chardonnay’s that comes across even from front to back. There are no over the top flavors, but the wine showcases just enough to be enjoyable and interesting. Good flavors of tropical fruit and honeydew melon. A mild undertone of vanilla from the oak is pleasing. There is good acidity as well. As mentioned in the video there is an off flavor (mineral) in the finish that struck me as slightly disjointed. Very subtle but distracting.
- The Score: At only $15 this can easily be your stand by Chardonnay. If you like your Chardonnay to still retain the traditional hints of butter, toast, and oak without being over the top, you’ll love this wine. It earns a score of 3+ out of 5
2007 Concannon Petite Sirah (Conservancy)
- The Stuff: 97% Petite Sirah and 3% Petit Verdot from Livermore Valley. 24 months in French and American Oak (new/used not specified); 6000 cases, 13.5%abv
- The Swirl: Upon the pour of this wine you are immediately struck by the dark and brooding purple storm clouds that role in. A beautiful bright violet ring forms around the edge of the glass making the wine feel less intense.
- The Sniff: Plum jam with a little more sweetness. A hot spice (or could be alcohol) comes through as well. The use of American oak is evident on the nose.
- The Sip: The wine softly seduces you with thin fruit on the front and then grabs you by the neck and chokes you with big try tannin and tartness. Those that like to play with Syrah or Zinfandel will not enjoy this wine. A decent structured wine that would definitely come alive with the right food pairing – BBQ Chicken, Smoked Lamb
- The Score: The lack of fruit on the front palate and overly thick back end lowers the score of this wine to a 3 (out of 5). Not a bad score, worthy of a try at only $15 retail.
Every so often I’m reminded of the reason I love wine and the reason I love reviewing wine. Tonight’s review is an example of that. I get the privilege of sampling wine before most people in the world. I get a sneak peek into the passion and heart that a wine maker has put into his craft. One wine is a new flagship from a veteran wine maker, the other is a very special limited release of juice from a young winery.
Latah Creek is an icon in Washington Wine. Producing 20,000 cases per year, Latah Creek was one of the first 20 wineries in the state of Washington (currently at 650). – SEE MY INTERVIEW WITH MIKE CONWAY – For 28 years, Latah Creek has been synonymous with white and specialty sweet wine. Over the past five years Mike and daughter Natalie have been changing that. The Monarch series, of which the Monarch Red is the first, is a distinct departure in effort, direction and label. The Monarch Series will be a focus on premium reds including Petit Verdot, Zinfandel and stylistic blends. The label is their first NOT using their traditional wildlife artwork. The bold new label is a replica of a 30×36 painting from acclaimed Spokane artist Edward W. Gilmore. The new label releases April 23, 2010.
NV Latah Creek Monarch Red
- The Stuff: 50% Zinfandel 25% Syrah and Cabernet from Columbia Valley, 12.5%abv and 112 cases produced
- The Swirl: Dull plum color with garnet edges, about 80% opaque
- The Sniff: Mellow fruit with pleasing vanilla and red fruit notes
- The Sip: Very well balanced from front to back. The wine begins with a nice cherry vanilla and offers a hint of spice. The finish concludes with beautiful tannin and well played acidity. The velvet smoothness will play well with food or as a casual quality drinker.
- The Score: At $25 I can easily score this wine 3+ out of 5. It is well made and offers a good amount of character and complexity to please the casual drinker and the wine connoisseur.
Nodland Cellars 2006 Reserve Cab is simply one of the best 5 wines I’ve had this year (out of close to 100 formal reviews and dozens of other samples). Tim and Tracy Nodland began their boutique winery in 2007 with the release of the 2005 Reserve Blend and are committed to making “small amounts of the best wine we can make,” says Tracy Nodland. - SEE MY INTERVIEW WITH TIM AND TRACY – The 2006 Reserve Cabernet (from McClellan Vineyards) was born when making the 2006 Red Blend. During blending the McClellan Cab was so over the top that each blending percentage they tried resulted in a Cab forward flavor. While they eventually ended up with a blend that represented all six Bordeaux grapes, they held back a few barrels of the 06 McClellan Cab for this reserve. The result is pure Cabernet bliss. The wine is bold without being over the top, provides drinkability while still letting you know it can be stored.
- The Stuff: 94% McClellan Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 % Seven Hills Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot; 50 cases produced, 14.9%abv
- The Swirl: Elegant dark black purple with hints of leathery brown. Edges are subdued tan. Color is about 90% opaque
- The Sniff: Ominous aromas of fresh pepper, big cherries, dark fruit and earthy soil. A hot alcohol smell when taking a deep breath.
- The Sip: Velvet blackberry and plums on the initial attack with a strong pepper mid-palate. Subtle hints of toasted cocoa add intrigue. Very bold tannin without being chalky. The acid is big and makes your mouth water. There is a slight high alcohol heat on the swallow. A beautifully elegant representation of Cabernet without being over worked by the oak.
- The Score: At $45, it may out of the price range for some consumers but rest assured I can score this wine a 4+ out of 5, being one of the five best wines I’ve had thus far in 2010.
For those reading this early enough and in the Spokane area, the release parties for these wines are below. For those NOT in Spokane and lucky quick enough to react, contact each of them directly to purchase.
Latah Creek Monarch Red – Release party is Friday April 23 from 5-7pm – call to order 1800-LatahCreek
Nodland Cellars 06 Cab – Release party is Saturday April 24 from 4-9pm – call to order 509-927-7770
19 Apr 2010
Ford, Chevy, Dodge. Ted Nugent, Motown, and Eminem. Tigers, Red Wings, Lions. Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Blue Franc. If we were playing the game “one of these things is not like the other,” some would quickly call out the last group as not representing Michigan. With 71 wineries (and growing) Michigan is making quite a statement with quality wine. Still young, the region is expanding acreage and seeing improvements as the vines continue to age. Really, Michigan wine?
When approached by blogger friend Shannon Casey of Michigan by the Bottle to participate in a Twitter tasting event, I didn’t hesitate in saying, “yes.” I’ve been following Shannon and Courtney’s blog for several months and as ambassadors of Michigan wine he and his wife, Courtney, have had me intrigued by the wines produced in Michigan. Due to absurd wine shipping laws, Michigan wine is hard to come by, so any opportunity to taste what I’ve only seen and heard on their pod casts became top priority.
Shady Lane Cellars was the featured winery for this taste and tweet event. Producing over 7000 cases from 52 acres of estate vineyards in Northern Michigan, Shady Lane planted grapes in 1988 and produced their first wine in 1992. Located on 150 acre 100 year old fruit farm, Shady Lane’s Adam Satchwell is “committed to producing the highest quality fruit with the lowest impact upon our surroundings.” Their wine line-up consists of dry and semi-dry Riesling, sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, and more!
A Taste and Tweet event is a showcase of all that is awesome about social media. People who would have otherwise never met, share a glass (or in this case 3) of wine for education, entertainment, and awareness of something new. With more than 50 tweeters, even more participating in group gatherings, Michigan was spotlight for the night. The tasting line up consisted of the three wines reviewed below (also shown in the video).
Twitter tasting events show the power of social media. Brand impressions and marketing awareness all lead to increased sales and market presence. The next tasting event is #Chardonnay on May 6. Follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #Chardonnay or share your experience through Facebook at Community Wine Tastings on Twitter.
2008 Shady Lane Dry Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% estate grown Riesling, 142 cases, no residual sugar, 12.2%abv
- The Swirl: Light straw, slight honey color with a ton of bubbles in the glass, but not a sparkling wine
- The Sniff: Very lively floral aromas with yeast and tart apple being predominant. Hints of honey undertones round out the sniff.
- The Sip: A dry crisp apple with medium tart finish. The acidity is nice but the minerality is slightly off on the finish. Beautiful representation of a new world dry Riesling.
- The Score: At $16.50 this is a fantastic deal. I score it a 3+ (out of 5) and would recommend this as a great food wine with spicy food, sushi, and veggie driven pasta dishes.
Great tweet description from @farlanewastaken “Sharp, definitely brash. I think that you’ve got a bombastic hussy on your hands.”
2007 Shady Lane Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% estate grown Pinot Noir, 752 cases, no residual sugar, 13.8%abv
- The Swirl: Very translucent (70%) with tawny port rusty purple tones. Solid color out to the edges.
- The Sniff: Bright candy cherry with hints of sour fruit. Slight pepper and cocoa on the undertones.
- The Sip: Slight cranberry, cherry fruit and rocks; powerful acidity. A slight earthiness throws off the finish. Medium tannin indicates that this wine would cellar well and improve with 1-3 more years in bottle.
- The Score: At $22, I score this a 3 (out of 5). The price is great for a well made Pinot Noir and definitely showcases the potential of Michigan Pinot
Great tweet on the Pinot from @aschie30 Pinot Noir is the one varietal (so far) where I really sense a distinct MI terroir in color, the nose & palate. #ttmi
2008 Shady Lane Blue Franc
- The Stuff: 100% estate grown Blaufrankish (Lemberger), 483 cases, no residual sugar, 12.3%abv
- The Swirl: Bright purple and about 50% translucent. Edges turn clear and watery
- The Sniff: Mellow aromas of blueberries and moss. Swirling generates a little more pepper aroma.
- The Sip: Round mouth feel with a bitter undertone defined by black tea and blueberries. A gentle punch of tannin and acidity finish out the sip.
- The Score: At $22, I score this a 3- (out of 5). I’m comparing this score to my previous experiences with Blue Franc / Lemberger.
NOTE: Some of the tweeters considered this wine their favorite. This shows the complexity and diversity that occurs among tasting.
Great tweet on the Blue Franc from @winegenie Blue Franc (aka Lemberger & Blauufrankish) Palate: velvety texture, soft velour tannins, grapey, smooth, rich warm blueberries.
26 Mar 2010
Six wines, two drain dumpers, two meh, and two certified “deals.” This is the result of the Grocery Outlet Challenge. Yesterday, I received a comment on my blog that I MUST pass along. Kelly shares this in regards to wine deal hunting at Grocery Outlet, “You have to kiss a lot of wine-toads before you find your prince charming vin.”
The last two GO posts have generated some of the most intense response I’ve seen to a wine review (over 100 comments between my Facebook page and this blog). This tells me two things, 1) people are looking for bargain wine in a big way and 2) people like the chance to win $50! For me the exciting part has been seeing actual consumers comment on the blog (usually wine blogs generate a lot of industry insider comments). I want to thank the hundreds of new visitors that have stopped by and I want to encourage you to keep coming back and to check out the blog links I read on the right side of the page. There are so many great wine reviewers there that can help with your wine buying decisions.
Today’s review is two reds and two labels that I recognize. In reading through everyone’s comments, this seems to be one of the themes. If you see a label you recognize at a price below what you would find at a grocery store, pick up a few bottles. The other theme is, if you’re into experimenting, be sure to just pick up one test bottle before you commit to the whole lot.
Now, on with the review.
- The Stuff: Sourced from a top Petite Sirah producer in Lodi then re-introduced to oak barrels for 12 months; 6000 cases produces 13.5%abv
- The Swirl: Dark brooding wine with a rusty purple tinge.
- The Sniff: Subtle and subdued but gives off hints of dried cranberry, blueberry, violets and nutmeg (Thanksgiving in a bottle)
- The Sip: Slightly disappointed because the nose was so nice, the structure seems very thin. The hint of cranberry on the front loses itself pretty quickly. The seems to be average tannin on the back end, but not as bold as I would hope for a Petite Sirah. Could be a decent sipper for some folks.
- The Score: G.O. says the retail is $15, but Cameron Hughes website says $11. The price I paid was only $6. At $6 I can score this wine a 3 minus (out of 5). Some people may love it, I was on the fence.
Cellar Tracker scores average 85 (with 7 reviews)
- The Stuff: 100% Grenache from the McLaren Vale; Aged 10 months in used oak 14.5%abv
- The Swirl: Brighter plum with hints of ruby red jewel tones.
- The Sniff: BAM – I just hit in the nose with a raspberry / blackberry fruit. Soft tones of oaky smoke are there too.
- The Sip: My mouth eagerly welcomed this Spanish lover! The fruit was intense but not over the top. It smoothed out nicely and provided just enough spice, leather and smoke as the finish lingered.
- The Score: At $22.50 retail, this is a good wine – at $12, this is a great deal. I score this a 3+ (out of 5)
Definitely the best of the six wines that I purchased.
Cellar Tracker score of 87 (1 review)
There you have it! Six wines down the hatch (or down the drain). Thank you for all your comments, encouraging words and suggestions. I love hearing about the DEALS you found. Please leave a comment for your chance to win a $50 Grocery Outlet gift card. You won’t be added to a mailing list and you won’t get spammed.
GROCERY OUTLET BI-ANNUAL WINE SALE IS MARCH 30-APRIL 3 20% OFF ALL STOCK
*All wine reviewed was purchased using a gift card provided by Grocery Outlet