I’ve tasted a lot of wine during my journey as a wine business owner and wine blogger, but being a wine judge for the inaugural Great Northwest Wine Competition was an immersion in wine like I’ve never experienced. I was part of a panel of 4 judges and tasted over 200 wines in a 30 hour period. In total our group of 16 judges tasted and evaluated over 850 wines to determine the Greatest Northwest Wines.
28 Nov 2012
I’ve been told I’m trouble. I wouldn’t classify myself as a troublemaker but I certainly like stirring things up a bit. The Austin Hope Troublemaker blend is my Wine of the Week (#wowwine on twitter). If you’re looking for something that breaks a few rules and creates a bit of trouble. I highly recommend this Rhone(ish) style blend.
NV Austin Hope Troublemaker
Producer: Austin Hope
Region: Paso Robles
Cooperage: Multi vintage; older vintages see about 8 months in oak
My Suggested Food Pairing: Chopped Lamb Steak With Garlic and Spinach
The Troublemaker was a gift from a friend for my 40th birthday. I think he was trying to tell me something in relationship to my life. Dark in complexion, the outer rim shows a lighter gentle plum color. The multi-vintage blend is 55% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache and 5% Petite Sirah all from the Paso Robles region in California. Love the soft aromas of licorice, banana peel and game. The flavor profile is also very soft (surprising for the amount of Syrah) with flavors of vanilla, pepper spice and black cherry. The wine is fruit forward enough without being overly fruity like many inexpensive California fruit bombs. I like the attention to detail on the complexity of the palate. $20
Austin Hope did a fun ‘Office’ parody when releasing the first vintage of the Troublemaker.
05 Sep 2012
It’s pretty rare that I try a wine under $15 that is a must buy, but the 2010 Graffigna Reserve Malbec is now high on my list to have again. Originally sent to me for Malbec Day #malbecday, this wine sat at an old address until just this past weekend. I’ve never been a huge fan of many lower price Argentine Malbec because of their jammy single dimension character but this wine, but this week’s #wowwine (hashtag on Twitter) is a winner.
2010 Graffigna Centerario Reserve Malbec
Producer: Graffigna Wines
Appellation: San Juan
Cooperage: 12 months in 85% French 15% American
My Suggested Food Pairing: Broiled Lambchops with mint chimichurri
The Graffigna Malbec is very dark and extracted in the glass with hints of ruby red tones around the edges. It’s a pretty, yet ruggedly handsome wine with a thickness of hue. Aromas of plum, tobacco, blueberry and vanilla erupt from the glass. It reminds me of a few Washington Malbec that I’ve had over the years. The palate is definitely fruit forward without being over the top like sucking on a jolly rancher. There is a hint of blueberry preserve action going on like in a jelly filled donut. I like how the palate evolves to include black pepper and the characteristics of strong oak aging. You’ll like this wine if you enjoy full flavored (fruit first) wine. If you’re turned off by full fruit with medium oak characteristics, this wine may leave you feeling a little like a tree hugger. I’m all in at the price point of $13
See other Argentine Malbec reviews
29 Aug 2012
A few weeks back, Ben Hilzinger (aka The Wine Slinger) was rummaging through the pile of un-tasted samples in the basement and said, “Hey, mind if we break open the Smoking Loon Old Vine Zin.” Fresh off my commitment to blog more, I complied. This week’s wine of the week (#wowwine on Twitter) is 2009 Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel.
2009 Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel
Producer: Don Sebastiani & Sons
My Suggested Pairing: Sweet & Sticky Baby Back Ribs
Having had dozens of value California Zinfandel I thought I knew what to expect when I opened this wine. It was partly what I expected and partly full of surprises. First surprise was the thin color of the wine with the watery edges. The nose of the wine was a little smoky (but no loons) and had a spicy hot burnt rubber aroma as well (the surprise). In the mouth the wine was classic bold jammy prune, stewed berry and spice (expected). This old vine Zin would appeal to a lot of people and would be a nice Tuesday wine or something to have with pizza on family game night. When asked to guess the price, Mr. Wine Slinger said, “I would put it at $18-$20.” WRONG, Benny, this vino is only $10 retail, oft found for less. BOOM, value!
21 Aug 2012
As I sit here just freshly back from the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland Oregon, I’m reminiscing back to when I started this blog (November 2009 – nearly 500 posts ago). At that time I was passionate about reviewing wine, reading other blogs, and building a brand for a future business. At one point I had something new on the ole bloggy every day for 9 consecutive months. It paid off, I have you…the readers – over 12,000 of you every month. I have 3 businesses, Nectar Tasting Room, Spokane Wine Magazine and nectarMEDIA. BUT…I sure do miss the wine reviews and other fun and educational blog posts that got me here.
Don’t call it a comeback, I never went away, but it’s time to get back to regular wine reviews and weekly features. While I still have three businesses to tend to, blog posts to write for my consulting contracts, and local Nectar news and events to write about, I’m going to bring back the regular content.
What you’ll see:
- Wine of the Week #wowwine on twitter
- Local find #buywinedirect on twitter
- Other wine musings like craft projects, wine humor, wine news, etc.
All of my social media posts have moved to nectarMEDIA site, so if you like those tips, please subscribe.
So, with that, I’ll just share my thoughts on the wine that is in my glass right now:
2010 Alexandria Nicole Jet Black Syrah
AVA: Horse Heaven Hills
Vineyard: Destiny Ridge Vineyard (Single Vineyard)
Cooperage: 20 months in French/American oak
My Suggested Pairing: Braised Pork With Plum
The wine comes across as bold and dark in the glass – a real teeth stainer. aromas of ground coffee, black berry fruit, and bark. The flavor is elegant and thick with a hint of oak and a mildly grippy tannin. As the name suggests this is a jet black feeling and tasting wine. Alexandria Nicole (in Prosser and Woodinville) is one of my consistently favorite wineries. Winemaker Jarrod Boyle is one of the most talented hard working people in the wine business.
Rating: Buy and hold – unless you’re like me and just can’t wait 4/5