15 Nov 2009
Tonight, I want to continue our experience from last nights visit to Left Bank Wine Bar in downtown Spokane (thanks again to Aaron, Katrina and Jennifer).
Of the four wines we tasted, the Amavi definitely had the most personality and structure. Left Bank wine buyer, Jennifer, mentioned that it is their best seller and the only red that has been on their menu for the entire seven months they’ve been open.
For the visual experience refer to Episode 2 of DrinkNectar.com
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla, WA was big and bold, but not quite as big as most Washington Cabs. Amavi has a great reputation and I remember trying an earlier vintage of this wine when we visited Walla Walla in 2008. This wine is 81% Cab, 12% Merlot, and small %’s of Cab Franc and Syrah. I believe the Merlot and Syrah have helped to tame this beast. My overall impression of the wine was big, but the finish (after you’ve swallowed and the taste lingers), left me feeling like I was chewing on my tongue. This wine, in my opinion, would be best with food. I could imagine a big whiskey burger, or steak that is heavily marinated in a spicy tomato BBQ sauce. If I was at home, I would have put this away until I was ready to eat. The wine still feels really young, the 16 months in oak should tame down if left in a cellar for 2-3 years.
- Swirl – Very dark in color, opaque, and slightly cloudy
- Sniff - Big dark berry fruits, medium cedar, and dark chocolate. Imagine a raspberry smore using cedar chips instead of graham crackers
- Sip – Here is where the oak barrels can be found, heavy spice and herbs, letting it linger produces more subtle chocolate flavor. The finish is moderately acidic, high in tannins.
- Rating to Price Value – $$$, in a few years, easily a $$$$+ out of 5
The fourth wine of the night was called Night & Day. I swear the menu said Washington, but all I have been able to find online is this Oregon label to the right.
This wine is not your garden variety kitchen sink blend where wineries sell their excess juice wholesale to avoid dumping it or diluting their brand. To be honest, I had never had a blend with so many varietals – Cab Franc, Malbec, Syrah, Cab Sauv, Sangiovise, Grenache and Tempranillo.
At first taste, my wife was very impressed. After she had a few more sips, I had pretty high expectations from her ‘oohs’ and ‘aaaahs’. To be honest, I was a little less than blown away. The wine was alright. It would be a good drinking wine or served with a mild pasta dish, basic burger, or pizza, but there was nothing distinct about it. I would serve this to a friend who was on the fence about red wine. It would be a good starter wine thats not too big to offend.
2006(?) A-Z Night & Day; Oregon(?) – $17
- Swirl – cloudy, basic red wine, zero legs (meaning little acidity)
- Sniff – honestly just your basic juice smell, grape licorice rope, very soft spice
- Sip- Very basic, very little tannin, no structure
- Rating to Price Value – $$; I expect a wine like this to be under $10 but at $17 a bottle; $7 a glass, I’ll pass for a better experience.
DOTD? – Alexandria Nicole 2008 Viognier (reminded me of summer when we have snow on the ground) – Didn’t pair super well with what was served at our dinner party (jambalaya) – but that was my fault, I should’ve brought a big spicy red (like the Cabernet reviewed above) to compete with the sausage. What are you drinking?
Enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY
14 Nov 2009
Left Bank is Today’s GROUPON OF THE DAY! < Click to buy
Get $25 worth of wine and food for only $12. Sign me up.
Tonight we were excited to explore a new(er) wine bar in downtown Spokane, Left Bank Wine Bar. I Saw a tweet that local musical genius Darin Hilderbrand was performing at 8pm, so we hopped in the Jeep, braved the snow and headed downtown. I brought my flip cam hoping to capture the essence of the place .
Left Bank is at 108 N Washington (although I refer to it several times incorrectly in the video – to my credit the door does say 105 on it, but that refers to the suite number at the American Legion building). Their logo is great and the building they are in is BEAU-tiful. While the space they have is on the long/narrow side, they make great use of it. The decor is fantastic juxtaposition of elegant chandeliers and exposed brick (tres-chic). Once word gets out about this place I think they’ll struggle with seating. Most of the available seating was at the bar.
Walking in to the great lighting, acoustic music, tall ceilings, and friendly fireplace transported us away from the cold dreary night of Spokane. The vibe in this place is trendy without feeling cold, warm without feeling like a lodge and hip without feeling like a night club.
We sat at the bar, introduced ourselves to the wine buyer and proceeded to order four glasses of wine (described later).
The small staff, busily tended to the needs of about 15-25 wine drinkers. I didn’t get a chance to look at the menu too closely, but did learn later that Left Bank offers light fair food service with salads, sandwiches, and paninis. We handily devoured a double dutch chocolate cheesecake (while not made onsite - it was very delicious). They have an intriguing menu of 3 and 5 cheese plates that I will have to experience during a future visit.
The wine selection is a nice balance of white and red, consisting of about 60 bottles (all available by the glass) ranging in price from $6-$10 per glass. A majority of the selection was Washington, Oregon, and California wine regions. New items are rotated on every 4-6 weeks (so stop by often to explore new tastes). If you have a glass you like, you can even buy the bottle and take it home.
The owner, Aaron Kelly, quickly introduced himself and was glad to have us around. He was a little apprehensive to be on camera, which is understandable because he was coming off a long shift and not feeling his best. After a brief chat, we talked at length to his wife, Katrina and learned of their journey to opening Left Bank April 2008. They are beautiful people, with a desire to share their passion for wine with others.
As the music continued, we enjoyed our wine and the conversation. Several new people joined the party, but very few left.
Check out my first ever on location review at Left Bank (November 14, 2009)
The place was clean, had a balanced atmosphere. I felt their business model and understood what they were going for. You can even pick and choose various wines from the menu for small pour flights to expand your wine experience. The staff was incredible and made all the patrons feel welcome and tended to. The restroom was a shared restroom with other building tenants, so no wow factor there (but it was clean). The wines were well priced for the quality (no $7 a glass Sutter Homes or Hogue Fume Blanc here). Highly recommend a stop after work, with a date, or before / after a show at the INB Performing Arts Center. Parking is either pay parking or metered parking (before 7pm). The location is near perfect walking distance from RiverFront park, the INB, and several downtown financial buildings.
Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel - This is one of our favorites that we’ve had several dozen times. I won’t review it here, but it is one of my all time favorite wines and the wine by which I measure all Zins (except maybe the Kana that I had in 2007). $25 retail
La Dolce Vita Pinot Noir; Oregon – I’m not a huge Pinot Noir fan, but I’m also a rookie when it comes to tasting them. The color is always intriguing. After the swirl, I wasn’t sure I wanted to taste the wine. Very much a musty, dirty, earthy smell. Not to be crude, but smelled like a wet dog. Kimberly came up with one of my favorite descriptions ever – “smells like a musty Aquanet hairspray smell after being at the bar all night” (not sure how she knows that). During the taste, I noticed a strong cigar taste with a hint of black licorice. At first I wasn’t a big fan. A finished about 1/2, then set it aside to taste other wines and to talk. After about an hour, I came back to it and it had settled quite well. Could be a good wine with a game meat, spicy pork, ect. For me, not a sit around and drink wine. $22
- Swirl – Great light plum color. Nearly see through, very jewel like
- Snif – As said above, very dirty smell, wet dog, smokey hair spray, cigar box
- Sip – After sitting became more tame, smooth on the finish, recommend with food
- Score 3-/5 (but I’m not a huge fan of Pinot Noir)
Two other wines were tasted (and possibly will be reviewed tomorrow – because right now, it’s 1AM). Thanks for watching and reading. Stop by and have your own experience at Left Bank – tell me about it here. Check in regularly as we explore the wonderful nectars of coffee, wine, (tea and more).
The DOTD (Drink of the Day) – for me my favorite was the Seghesio Zin – how about you? What are you drinking?
Enjoy life with friends and <drink.happy>
13 Nov 2009
I am totally excited to post my first video blog. Welcome to EPISODE 1 – November 13, 2009. Inside, I provide some basic introductions and a quick review of a 2007 Red Diamond Merlot from WA. Not a bad wine for $7.
- Taste: Big, fruity, bold
- Flavor: Cherry, Plum, Vanilla, hints of Cocoa and Caramel
- Finish: Mild tanins, mildy acidic
- Rating to Price ratio: 3 out of 5
Check out the video and provide your comments. It’ll take me a few more days to set up my first ‘on the street’ nectarview.
Thanks for watching drink happy
12 Nov 2009
Tonight we went out to dinner celebrate my mom’s 56th birthday – happy birthday mom! The wine list was short, and the dinner menu was basic (baked spaghetti, lasagna, turkey dinner, sandwiches, etc). The quality of the food was fantastic. We ordered a bottle of a generic Merlot, but they were out. Not much else on the list jumped out but we decided to try the Covey Run Cabernet Merlot blend ($18). My mom and I had the baked spaghetti and my wife (the other wine drinker) had whiskey burger.
The wine arrived before dinner. The nose wasn’t overwhelming, but the glasses were not great for swirling to get more air into the wine. The only thing that jumped off of the smell was a musky cherry smell and a hint of black pepper. The taste was good, but not great. Not really recommended as a sipping wine. Once the food came, it had a really nice balance with the garlic bread and the red pasta sauce. With food is where this Washington Wine (Zillah) comes alive.
After dinner we came home, played a little Roulette game we brought home from Vegas and watched Glee!
I’m excited to report that I purchased my Flip Video Cam from Radio Shack for only $99. I’ll be setting up my first ‘nectarview’ in due time. Tomorrow, you’ll have to endure an introductory test run of me in my office. We’ll see what popular children’s cartoon character you can spot in my office.
DOTD: Covey Run Cabernet Merlot Blend (about $12 retail) YOU?