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
01 Sep 2010
Othello Washington, population 6700. Foxy Roxy Winery, production 4800 bottles. This small Washington winery can easily supply every adult with one bottle of wine per year and stay at their current production levels. Othello is a few miles south of Moses Lake, WA. Put your pencil directly in the center of the state and then go south about an inch (on a regular map) and you’re in Othello. I stumbled across this boutique winery because a friend of mine recently started representing them in Spokane.
Foxy Roxy Wines are sourced from StoneRidge Vineyard where long time Royal Slope farmers, the Davis family, grow over 120 acres of grapes for Foxy Roxy wines and renowned award winning winemakers. StoneRidge vineyards is proud to have produced the only scores of 100, 99, 98 and 97 for the Syrah grapes in the state.
While Foxy Roxy may seem like a novelty brand to some, the wine definitely has a more structure and character than your typical novelty label.
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from StoneRidge Vineyards, 12.3%ABV; no other information provided on their web site
- The Swirl: Typical Riesling golden straw. Slightly thicker viscosity.
- The Sniff: Aromas of sour apple, apricot, perfume and hints of orange blossom. Pretty fragrant fruit forward Riesling.
- The Sip: More sour apple. Reminds me of an apple that sat just a little too long. A moderate off dry sweetness that hints at 1.5%-3% residual sugar levels. The wine has some good layered fruit characteristics but comes across sour and doesn’t have the acidity levels to push through to the end.
- The Score: At $15 I have to compare this to other Riesling in the price range (Kung Fu Girl, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Chateau St. Michelle) and it comes up a little short. 3/5
- The Stuff: 100% Syrah from StoneRidge Vineyards; 13.9%ABV; no other information provided on their web site
- The Swirl: Medium thickness of color but still a dark brooding storm cloud of purple and black. The color presents as a lighter brewed black coffee.
- The Sniff: Fantastic aromas of coffee, black tea, smoked beef, cherry, and tobacco. Really loving the variety of scents that come off the glass here
- The Sip: This medium bodied wine surprises the palate with good layered flavor. If you’re into jammy Australian Yellow Tail Shiraz, then this wine will surprise you with a different flavor. Well layered stewed fruit, cherry, and prune flavors with a touch of spice. The finish is moderate that dies quickly.
- The Score: Put this wine in a blind tasting and it would score fairly well. Definitely an over achiever at the price point of $18. 3+/5
It is worth noting that these wines were tasted at a local bar with several people with various wine experience. The Riesling was a crowd pleaser and the Syrah was modestly received.
*Wines were received as an industry sample with the intetion to review
18 Aug 2010
Not every wine I drink ends up on camera. There are times where some wine ends up missing the casting call or they are a little camera shy. Some of these wines are amazingly talented and their art should be shared with the world. In the end the glow of the bright lights never illuminate their glory for the camera and the world to see. So, sadly they end up never seeing the stardom they deserve and are destined to the non-camera, off Broadway, performance that is this post…Drinking Off Camera.
2008 L’Ecole 41 Seven Hills Estate Syrah
I’ve previously reviewed several great L’Ecole wines (Apogee, Perigee, Luminesce, Seven Hills Merlot, and the Walla Walla Cabernet). From these reviews it is clear to see the consistent quality that connects each L’Ecole wine. While I haven’t tried everything, I can safely say that this little Walla Walla school house is tops in its class.
This 100% Syrah is a collection of grapes from three blocks in the Seven Hills vineyard. Winemaker Martin Clubb fermented the Syrah in stainless steel tanks before aging for 18 months in 40% new French oak. The result is about 1000 cases of a dark inky Syrah that comes in at 14.8%ABV. The strong dark plum color changes to moderately clear at the edges and gives off strong spicy aroma before even putting your nose to the glass. While the typical Syrah characteristics are present with bold jammy fruit, there is also a nice layer of smoke and earth. The mouth feel is moderate with the full flavor enveloping your tongue. The dense fruit quickly makes way for a velvety mid-palate and a finish of spice and strength. The Seven Hills Syrah provides a good layered flavor that would pair perfectly with pork, steak, and hearty pasta dishes. At $36, this may not be your every day Syrah, but it is certainly something to bring out when you want something “wow.” 4/5
2007 Gilbert Cellars Allobroges
Recently, I spent a weekend with Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report. Our agenda was world wine blogging domination but we did manage to get out and about in the town of Yakima for a few hours of wine tasting. One of our stops was the highly recommended Gilbert Cellars. The stop did not disappoint.
The Rhone inspired Allobroges is Gilbert’s flagship wine. At only $20 the Syrah focused blend of 55% Syrah, 31% Mourvedre, and 14% Grenache is a wonderful blend of smooth spice, dried fruit, and earth driven structure. As we tasted through the selection of wine, the Allobroges stood out as being balanced and intriguing. I expected it to be at the top of their price tier, not the lower end. With a 700 case production, winemaker Justin Neufeld fermented the grapes in small one ton bins before moving the juice to age for 22 months in 17% new French and American oak barrels. 14.7%ABV. 4/5
2007 Molly Dooker Blue Eyed Boy
Molly Dooker has come on the scene like gang busters since 2005. Their wines have earned high praise from the magazine elite for amazing value “Lefty wines” and “The Boxer.” Their spendy “Velvet Glove” was their fifth wine to receive a 99 point score and was rated a “Classic” wine by Wine Spectator. I briefly tried the Velvet Glove and was very impressed with its smooth fruit and seemingly endless finish. The weight of the wine was impressive but the tasting scenario did not allow for a formal review.
I recently received several Molly Dooker wines and am excited to taste through each to see what all the fuss is about. The 2007 Blue Eyed Boy is certainly an impressive looking wine in the glass. The thick ink looks like jewelry and is reflective like purple crystal. The bold aromas are playful and jump out of the glass. From a distance a thick heavy blackberry fruit and licorice can be detected. When taking a deep sniff there are classic aromas of pepper spice and cedar. The 16.5%ABV is immediately detected on the nose and lead me to believe that if the wine lacks balance, we may be in for a hot sting upon swallowing. The mouth feel is elegant, opulent, and smooth (and other words similar in description). I can certainly understand the 85-90% Marquis Fruit Weight that is described a “the percentage of your palate that is covered by the velvety sensation of fruit, before you experience any of the structural components of the wine.” The wine is almost everything that it is cracked up to be. The finish is where the wine loses points (in my opinion). Even while letting the wine linger in my mouth I could feel the heat rising. After the fruit dissipated and upon swallowing, there was a less than moderate stinging sensation from the high alcohol. Every sense screamed love this wine but the lack of balance on the finish left the alcohol so dominate that it threw off the whole experience. At $55, this palate says 3/5. I look forward to comparing the 2009 vintage as the listed ABV is significantly less.
19 Jul 2010
Store shelves seem to be lined with large selections of wine at and around $10. The challenge at that price point is getting a wine that provides more interest than grape flavored alcohol, thin fruit taste, poor aroma, or big woody oak to hide inferior quality juice. With beer, it’s pretty safe to assume that most light beers have certain flavors. The majority of main line beer has distinct tastes that register in our memory. With so many wine labels on the shelves, selecting one can be pretty hit and miss.
I believe the $10 price point is pretty status quo for the daily drinking wino on a budget and the occasional wine sipper. Therefore it is important to have a list of trustworthy labels that can be counted on to deliver.
The Under $10 Wine Team
In early 2010 I began the mission of fielding a team of wine players that could score at parties, hit it out of the park for value, and be trusted to step to the plate in most any situation. The rules were that each wine had to be purchased for $10 or less (sales, club discounts, bulk discounts were considered). Wines showed up to spring training and specially scheduled tryouts to show their stuff for the coaches. Each was vying for a coveted spot on the 12 man roster of 9 starters and 3 reserves. While legal issues (state distribution) kept us from trying out every player referred to us, we made every effort to select players who are widely available. After reviewing the scouting reports and film, I am pleased to reveal the 2010 “Under $10 Wine Team.” I’ve included the coach’s summary, roster position, and stats for each player. Links to the full scouting report are included for your reference. Many of these players’ tryouts were filmed. Enjoy the footage and make a note of the jersey (label) so you can get an autograph next time you are in the store.
|2008 Chateau St. Michelle Riesling (WA)
|2008 J.Lohr Syrah (CA)
|2008 Caterina Chardonnay ($10-$12)
|2008 Dancing Bull Zinfandel (CA)
|2008 Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc (Chile) $10-13
|2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon (WA)
|NV Segura Viudas Cava Brut (Spain)
|2007 Velvet Devil Merlot (WA)
|2006 Kiona Lemberger (WA)
|The Bench Players and Reserves2008 Gozzo Malbec (Argentina)
2007 Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir (CA) **$11
2007 Bogle Petite Sirah (CA)
16 Jul 2010
Why tryouts? Why under $10? In my opinion, this is the most volatile price range for quality. It is also a common price range that non wine snobs shop in. The need for quality trusted wines under $10 is there. While 40+ wines have tried out for the team, most have struck out and been sent back to the minor leagues. Soon, you’ll have a team of nine starters and three alternates that you can bring to the table without fear!
Prior to opening day, I made my pre-season predictions regarding the MLB season.
AL Predictions / Current Standings
- East: Prediction Red Sox / Actual: Yankees (but there is still hope)
- Central: Prediction Twins / Actual White Sox (Twins 3.5 games out)
- West: Prediction Texas / Actual Texas
- Wild Card: Prediction Mariners / Actual Tampa Bay (sadly Mariners have cashed in their chips)
NL Predictions / Current Standings
- East: Prediction Florida Marlins / Actual: Braves (Marlins 10 games out)
- Central: Prediction St Louis / Actual: Cincinnati (Cardinals in the hunt)
- West: Prediction Arizona Diamondbacks / Actual: San Diego Padres (Diamondbacks one of the worst teams in baseball)
- Wildcard: Prediction Phillies / Actual: Dodgers (but Phillies are in the hunt)
The Final Tryouts
2008 Waterbrook Melange Blanc
- The Stuff: 30% Riesling, 20% Gewürztraminer, 15% Viognier, 10% Sauv Blanc, 10% Chardonnay, 10$ Pinot Gris, 5% Muscat; 4000 cases made; 12.2%ABV; 1.4% residual sugar
- The Swirl: Very light pale, nearly clear with a hint of beautiful honey highlights
- The Sniff: Taken by surprise with the abundant perfume, sweet honey, peach and lychee fruit. A fantastic aroma that keeps you coming back for one more sniff before you sip.
- The Sip: Not knowing the blend, I would have pegged this for a Riesling. The distinctive Riesling / Gewurz flavors come through but are contrasted with a nice mouth coating of the Chardonnay and the floral components to the Viognier. The wine is amazingly complex for the price point and delivers great off dry sweetness balanced by medium acidity.
- The Score: At only $15 retail, this is an amazing value. I love the nice subtle honey flavors that balance well with the wet stone minerality. I score this wine a solid 3+/5
Sadly the Waterbrook Melange was disqualified from the Under $10 Team for being overpriced. At the time of tryouts, it was assumed that this wine could be purchased for $10. Upon further investigation the officials have declared Melange Blanc intelligible for consideration.
- The Stuff: 100% Malbec from Mendozza Argentina; 6 months in new French oak, 14.2%ABV
- The Swirl: Beautiful rich purple with hints of bright amethyst around the edges. Light seems to dance off the glass.
- The Sniff: Hints of woody evergreen that make way for bright red fruits and subtle spice. Slightly under-ripe red fruit comes out as well.
- The Sip: Great big gobs of red berry wash across your tongue and give way to subtle blueberry undertones. The mid-palate is a little fleeting but the back end structure is no push over. Medium body and good finish make this a very pleasant value.
- The Score: At $10, I would buy this wine again. Perfect burger or pizza wine. The wine presents enough layers of flavor to be mistaken for twice the price. Easily score this wine a 3/5
2008 J.Lohr Estate Syrah $10
- The Stuff: 93% Syrah, 3% Petite Sirah, 3% Grenache, 1% other red; Paso Robles AVA; 14 months in 25% new French and American oak; 13.4%ABV
- The Swirl: Cloudy deep purple color that presents about 80% opaque.
- The Sniff: Aromas of boysenberry, toasted almonds, and dark red fruit on the nose. Very aromatic and full with subtle notes of campfire.
- The Sip: Medium bodied Syrah that is slightly thin on the front but opens up nicely to dark red fruit, hints of smoke and a beautiful long velvet finish. An easy sipping Syrah that will have you wanting more.
- The Score: Retail is $15 but I scored this wine for only $10. At that price this well balanced, nicely flavored Syrah scores a 3+/5 and will be a definite re-buy.