19 May 2010
“It looks like a sculpture.” “What are those mesh things…does that thing have speakers?!” These were the reactions from the wife and the boy when I set up the Vinturi Deluxe Aerator. When wino friends showed up later that evening for wine and dessert, they ooohed and ahhhed, exclaiming, “I’ve got to have one!” I’m not sure paying $80 for a conversation piece is worth it, but I have paid more for things that are far more useless and look way less cool!
So, why would you possibly be in the market for a Vinturi Aerator? Simple…in a word…impatience. We live in an impatient, instant gratification world. Here is what I mean. A lot of good red wine is not meant to be bought and consumed instantly. Patience is required to properly cellar the wine so that the tannins soften and the wine matures with 3-10 years of aging. Can’t wait…decanting can help. Decanting is the process of pouring the wine into a glass enclosure that allows maximum exposure of oxygen to the wine. Decanting a wine for 1-3 hours can significantly blow off a dusty earth, cork or oak smell and can also soften the strong chalky tannin found in a lot of big red wine. Don’t have time to wait 1-3 hours? Insert the Vinturi Aerator.
The Vinturi is a clever funnel devise that has two narrow holes at the funnel base that draws air into the wine before it enters your glass (see the video for cool close up). From the PR material: “We’ve found the Vinturi to be effective in enhancing aromas, flavors, and finish of virtually every red wine. The amount of improvement depends on the wines quality, age and variety.”
So, does it work? I haven’t done exhaustive research but with the three wines that I have tried I can conclusively and definitively say…I THINK SO. The aerated wine was more open in flavor and aroma. The most expensive wine (not on video) benefited the most. The wine was good before the Vinturi but it was something special after going through the modern art sculpture.
The Vinturi Deluxe comes with a cool table top base and stand to hold the actual aerator. There is also a nifty travel bag for when you want to be the ultimate wine geek and take your fancy toy to wine parties (be prepared to be mocked). The Vinturi is available for under $50, the deluxe kit is available for $80. Personally, I think it’s a pretty cool gift idea for the wino that has everything.
ATTENTION – THIS CONTEST IS OVER (5/31)
Do you want a FREE VINTURI AERATOR
The fine folks at True Fabrications (did you catch the nifty play on words there) – provided me with this sample to review and they want to give ONE LUCKY reader one to try too (free shipping too). True Fabrications is a pretty cool wine accessory shop. They’ve got some pretty fantastic things for entertaining, picnics, parties, and gifts. Once you’re done entering the contest, hop on over to their web site and look around. Here is how you enter to win. Leave a comment on this post. Your email address will remain confidential and you won’t be added to any list. One winning comment will be selected on Friday afternoon for the Vinturi Deluxe Aerator kit.
Watch the video, you’ll see it in action AND there are two wine reviews too.
NV Whitestone Winery Pieces of Red
- The Stuff: Proprietary blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; Estate fruit from Lake Roosevelt Whitestone Vineyard; 13.5%abv; Cork Enclosure
- The Swirl: Dark purple with hints of deep brown highlights. Has a semi-aged wine look with jewel tone edges
- The Sniff: Bight berry fruit with spicy pepper and a hint of cooking spices (all spice)
- The Sip: Elegant and beautiful flavor profile. The fruit is a little thin on the front palate with a ton of action happening on the back side of the mouth. Nice acidity and a lingering finish
- The Score: At $17 I can easily score this wine a 3+ out of 5. It would work for sipping or pair well with grilling, big steaks, pork, pasta and pizza. A fantastic every day red wine.
2007 Duck Pond Cellars Red Blend
- The Stuff: 48% Merlot 30% Syrah and 22% Cab from Desert Wind and Sacajawea Vineyards; aged 14 months in French and American new oak; 14.5%abv
- The Swirl: Bright purple that dances out toward the edges with beautiful jewel tones; Deep and rich with about 90% opacity
- The Sniff: Upon first sniff the wine was oak first then layers of dark berries. Most other aromas were covered by the oak. After aeration, the wine opened up a little more to present a good pepper spice.
- The Sip: A slight sweet cherry fruit on the front palate with a woodsy chalkiness that settles on the back part of the tongue. Moderate acidity with subtle vanilla and cocoa spices on the finish.
- The Score: A fairly complex wine with good structure. Leading with heavy oak keeps this one from scoring high. It’s a great value and a wine for lots of occasions. Better with food. I score it a 3+ out of 5.
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!
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
14 Jan 2010
We’ve all had Chardonnay, but have you ever had 100% Petit Verdot? My recent trip to Spokane’s Latah Creek was a pleasant surprise. In my mind I thought Latah Creek was all about sweet wines (not my favorites) like their Huckleberry Wine or Maywine. I was blown away by the quality of their Merlot, Vinosity (Red Blend), and the Petit Verdot.
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from Connor Lee Vineyards with 100% Malolactic fermentation. Two months in French oak. 760 cases
- The Swirl: Thicker viscosity, more pale yellow than a traditional CA Chardonnay.
- The Sniff: Mild nose with hints of pear and honey
- The Sip: Big and rich butter, vanilla and pear. No oak to speak of. Felt thick and meaty. Finished with a beautiful acidity that washed across the back of my mouth.
- The Score: At a retail price of $12, this is a very well made Chardonnay. I score it a 4+. So far this is one of the best “value” Chardonnay’s that I’ve had. Kudo’s, Mike!
I’m not really a Chardonnay fan but this was an incredible offering for the money. I would venture to guess that it could be found for under $10 in certain locations, depending on sales.
2006 Winemakers Reserve Petit Verdot
- The Stuff: 100% Petit Verdot from Alice Vineyards
- The Swirl: Dark inky plum with beautiful legs after heavy swirl
- The Sniff: Slightly musty and earth smell. Pencil shavings and banana. Not overly fruity at first. Eventually opened up to express some flower (Violets I think).
- The Sip: A very diverse tasting wine. It seemed to have different characteristics each time I sipped it. Started to pick up on the blackberry and it tasted floral and slightly sour cherries. Not tart on the back end and surprisingly smooth drinking.
- The Score: At $30 retail, I score this wine a solid 4. I would buy it again because of the variety of flavor and how different it is compared to the majority of other Washington reds.
This wine is a perfect example of how tastes can vary between individuals. While I felt it was a very well made wine with lots of character and interest, my wife didn’t care for it too much. For me this further solidifies the need for a variety of reviews. Don’t just trust Wine & Spectator’s 100pt scoring. Read tasting notes and reviews. Over time, you’ll know whether you like sour cherries or barnyard. If a wine is described like that, chances are you may not enjoy it, so why drop the cash.
Washington is growing some fantastic fruit. Over the next few years you will start to see more Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, and possibly more Petit Verdot. There is more to WA than your standard Bordeaux fruit.
Continue to explore new tastes, expand your palate and try not to ALWAYS drink the same thing. Life is meant to be enjoyed with friends, so DRINK.HAPPY!
29 Dec 2009
During round one of the Under $10 Quest, I stated that we drink a lot of wine. I listen to my twitter friends go on and on about specific wines and then I look them up only to choke at the $50 price tag (or more). I thought my day job paid me pretty good green, but I guess it’s not enough to afford the purple that my friends are drinking. Thus, the quest continues.
As I mention in the video, the goal of these reviews and videos are to provide you a resource of trustworthy wines. I want you to walk into a store confident in your pick of a specific wine label. Life is too short to drink crappy wine. Why waste your money on 3 or 4 cheap wines in search of the jewel when you can rely on others to do so.
Basically, I’m in search of a starting line-up of dependable wines that I can go to on a daily basis. I need designated hitters, relief pitchers, and pinch hitters to come into the game when the game is tight. Tonight’s lineup includes a rookie and two veterans called up from Triple A to show their stuff.
2007 Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc
- The Stuff: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Columbia Valley, WA (Bacchus Vineyards), never oaked
- The Swirl: Super clear with a mild golden delicious apple tone
- The Sniff: Cut open a pineapple, squeeze some lemon and spray a small spritz of vanilla room spray and you have the nose of this wine.
- The Sip: Strong acidity on the upper palate with a smooth citrus and lemon peel flavor across the tongue. There is no tartness and the alcohol is not hot. Not overly huge in structure but has great flavor for the price.
- The Score: $11 retail but only $7 at Cost Plus World Market, I score this a 4+ (out of 5) for value and flavor.
The wine reminds me of summer. When my wife and I were first dating we enjoyed a few bottles of this wine on the deck as we shared our stories and got to know one another. This is definitely a player who will be added to the roster for a crisp summer wine or a wine to pair with light seafood or poultry dishes.
2008 Root 1 Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 85% Cab and 15% Syrah from Colchagua, Chile. Vineyards are original non-grafted wine stocks brought over from Europe – sounds pretty cool. Neat looking bottle, taller than average with a real cork enclosure.
- The Swirl: Moderately opaque plum with watery edges
- The Sniff: Was difficult to pinpoint at first but the fruit was immediately overwhelmed by evergreen tree, minerals, rocks, and musky dirt. With much effort could smell the black currant.
- The Sip: Overwhelming minerality on the back immediately took over the fruit that was trying to come through. Very chalky, like eating dirt.
- The Score: At $9, there are way better value Cabernet Sauvignon’s out there. I score this a 3-. Could be the youth of the wine, but I’m not going to cellar a $9 wine. (See update below)
This wine strikes out and not only doesn’t make the team but gets sent back to Single A ball. UPDATE: After spending some time in Single A (24 hours) this wine is starting to show some promise. The minerality is nearly gone and most of the chalkiness has subsided. Decent fruit flavors of red currant and cherry along with leather. Root1 has moved up to AA ball, but I’m still apprehensive.
2007 Dancing Bull Zinfandel
- The Stuff: 100% California Zinfandel from various sourced vineyards. Synthetic cork enclosure
- The Swirl: Deep dark opaque plum, slightly cloudy with hints of ruby and garnet. Strong legs indicating high residual sugar.
- The Sniff: Good strong nose that leads with strawberry, vanilla, tobacco and cocoa
- The Sip: The wine was slightly disappointing as it came across as one-dimensional. The nose was a tease and the palate did not deliver. After two hours in glass, the flavor profile did open up. One dimensional is not bad, just not super interesting.
- The Score: At just $8, this wine scores a solid 3+. You won’t go wrong getting this wine and the predictable taste may score well with beginning wine drinkers.
This Zinfandel doesn’t make the starting team but is sent down to Triple A to potentially be called up as an injury replacement.
So far the team is struggling. I have a few good recommendations from fellow wine bloggers that I hope to try soon. If you have suggestions, please leave comments. I’m looking to field my team with a variety of wine styles.
2010 is the year of buying local! I want to strongly encourage you, when possible to buy your wine from a local retailer (wine store, wine shop) or directly from the winery. Doing this helps keep profits directly in your community.
Life is meant to be shared with friends. Share life over a glass of wine and DRINK.HAPPY!