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
The San Francisco Wine Competition is the largest competition of American wines in the world. With a record-breaking 5,600 wine entries from 1,379 wineries from more than 25 states, 65 judges from many aspects of the wine industry met in Cloverdale, Calif., to determine the top wines of the year.
A quick look at the list of winners reveals another very strong showing for Washington wines. The highest recognition going to Barnard Griffin as the 2011 Rose of Sangiovese sweepstakes winner for that category. Other Washington wineries winning “Best in Class” are:
- Dry Riesling > 2010 Chateau St. Michelle Riesling $9
- All other white wine > Nicola’s Redmark 2009 Table wine $10
- Grenache > 2009 Maryhill Proprietors Reserve Grenache $19.95
- Cabernet $20-$25 > 2009 Milbrandt The Estates Cabernet $24.99
- All other reds up to $20 > Kiona 2009 Lemberger $11.99
One of our very own Nectar Tasting Room wineries scored well at the SFWC too! A huge congratulations to Walla Walla’s Skylite Cellars for the following recognition. Two of these wines are new to Nectar, so you better stop on by and give them a try.
- GOLD – 2008 Walla Walla Valley Soiree (Category: All Other Red Varietals/Blends – up to $19.99)
- SILVER – 2007 Yakima Valley Minnick Vineyard (Category: Syrah/Shiraz – $25.00 to $29.99)
- SILVER – 2007 Walla Walla Valley Estate (Category: Merlot – $25.00 to $29.99)
Skylite’s wine maker, Robert Smasne also received some top recognition in a very high quality category. Congrats Robert:
- GOLD – 2008 Owens Reserve (Category: Bordeaux – $50 and over)
- GOLD – 2008 Carmenere (Category: All other red – $20 and over)
- SILVER – 2009 Grenache (Category: Grenache)
See the complete list of award winners at winejudging.com
The Washington Wine Commission’s “World Class Wine in Our Own Backyard,” does it deliver? I recently receive the press release on the newest WWC (Washington Wine Commission) campaign. “Supported by more than $100,000 in radio, print, online, and mobile advertising, the campaign marks the first advertising and marketing campaign of its kind in the Northwest sponsored by the Washington State Wine Commission.” Exciting! At first glance, I was pumped about the potential. A 60 day focus on value and helping Washington residents discover (or rediscover) the amazing wine in our state. But, does the program deliver all that it could?
First, let me say, I’m a huge fan of the WWC and their efforts. In a recent Skype interview, Ryan Pennington, WWC Senior Communication Manager, shared the program with our readers. I think the program deserves a spin free zone and a hard look at what is being offered to consumers. Additionally, I’m a little hyper sensitive to how the WWC is going to use the dollars saved by NOT hosting a Taste Washington event in Spokane.
Kudos to the WWC for trying something new. “More than 40 of the participating restaurants are also involved in Seattle Restaurant Week, which takes place from October 17 – 28. These restaurants will offer diners a three-course dinner for only $25, with some also offering three-course lunches for $15. Many “World-Class Wine in Your Own Backyard” participating restaurants will be combining this three-course meal with special offers on Washington wine for World-Class Value Pass holders.” To me there is a blurring of two programs. The Seattle Restaurant Week is great…for people who live in Seattle, but does adding these things into the “Value Pass” program really add value? Is the program geared toward “pass” savings or is it just an awesome promotional awareness of Washington wine?
Here is how the program works. Download the World-Class Value Pass and enjoy BIG savings on Washington wines from September 1 – October 31, 2010. What are the values you’re receiving? If the WWC is spending $100,000 to promote this program, and encourage people to use a “pass,” what are we getting with that pass?
Washington boasts 700+ wineries, yet only 50 are participating in this program. Are economic conditions so good, they don’t need the extra ad revenue? Was there an additional fee to buy in to the program? I would love to hear from some of the wineries. For the most part, the consumer benefit is pretty good with these wineries that are participating. I applaud their efforts to offer free tasting fees, extra % off on bottle or case purchases. At a glance of the offers, the benefit seems to give consumers the “member” prices at most of the participating wineries, even if they are not wine club members. But why only 7% of the total wineries for such a signature program?
Spokane Wine: Because I live in Spokane, I tend to keep a keen eye out for Spokane centric wine offers. Spokane represents with 3 of our 17 wineries (a higher % than at the state level). But, is there extra value offered for holding a “World-Class Value Pass?” Overbluff Cellars is offering 10% off purchases to pass holders. Spokane wineries Barrister and Mountain Dome are offering other very awesome promotions, but a pass is not required.
70 participating restaurants are offering “deals” for pass holders. Sounds exciting. Deals? 10% off a bottle of wine – so, that $6 wholesale bottle of Seven Hands Merlot that you have priced at $30 a bottle, I get to buy for just $27. Okay, okay, I know I’m being cynical. Of the 70+ restaurants on the list, 50+ are participants in the Seattle Restaurant Week. 1) The deals being offered are more of a result of the Seattle Restaurant Week promotion. 2) Clicking through a few of the deals revealed very generic offerings that are a part of the restaurant’s every day offering. One restaurant offers, “Wine all you Want Mondays. Put an end to Monday blues with Wine all you Want. Enjoy 50% off all bottles of wine ordered with dinner. With over 160 choices, ask xxxx or xxx to recommend a bottle.” This is no different than what you could get any given Monday without the pass. Outside the Seattle Restaurant Week, are the 20 other restaurants are supposed to be a broad representation of the other 35% of Washington’s population base in Vancouver, Walla Walla, Tri-Cities, Wenatchee, and Spokane?
Spokane Restaurants: A whopping TWO Spokane restaurants are on the list. One offers nothing special apart from their normal offering and the other says they are “featuring” Washington wine flights but makes no mention of any special deal for pass holders. This is a total failure in my opinion. The WWC is not to blame for this, but I would be interested in the recruiting process and “requirements” to play.
Eight retailers are participating in the program. Two are statewide, Albertsons and Safeway. The other six are independent wine shops. Great work to the independents for offering between 10-25% off wines for value pass holders. Two complaints here – Albertsons and Safeway, really – are you kidding me? Albertson’s says they will “offer % off Washington wine in their weekly ads.” They do that anyway. Every week, Albertson’s offers “10% on select Washington wines.” Safeway?! You’re even worse. “Mix and match six wines and you’ll receive 10% off the entire purchase.” Uh, yeah…I can do that with six bottles of Yellow Tail Shiraz every day! Where is the value pass value?
Spokane Retailers: The only participating shop here is Vino! I have to offer props to John Allen and team for offering a pass specific savings of 10% off each Washington wine. My only question here is – where is Rocket Market, Huckleberry’s, Bottles, Wine Styles, Williams Seafood?
So, Is there Value?
World Class Value Pass. Winery value? Yes, at about 40 of the 50 participating Washington wineries, there is specific value pass savings, but that number seems awfully small. Restaurant value? At only about 30% of the restaurants – especially considering the super high 400% mark up at most restaurants. Retailer value? Yes, at the 6 independent shops but absolutely NOT at the two state-wide chains mentioned.
With $100,000 in ad space being purchased, the participants should certainly see some good exposure. The WWC has a great concept here, I only wish that the participation rates were higher, a more balanced “outside of Seattle” approach was taken, and more specific pass value was offered. Keep moving forward WWC – I hope to see greater things from this program in the future.
I do want to reiterate my support for the program and the effort of the WWC. Venturing out into something new like this is a great effort. I applaud those wineries, restaurants, and merchants for being progressive and lending their support to the program. When / if version two of this rolls out, I hope to see three times the support and involvement with more pass related discounts.
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
28 Jul 2010
Budweiser may be the “King of Beers” but it has nothing on Cabernet, the King of wine. Okay, yes I realize Barolo has been deemed the “wine of the kings,” but in America, King of Rock is Elvis, the King of Pop is Michael Jackson the King of burgers is Burger King and the KING of wine is Cabernet! I have to admit, I love the king!
Last week we explored the noble queen of wine, Pinot Noir. Each of the lovely ladies paraded their wears without shame. They pranced across the stage seeking to be chosen for the night. Some pushed forward their lush fruit while others were coy and playful with a velvet touch. The same night, five big bold king Cabernet sat across the room posturing for position. With their broad shoulders, each stood erect, claiming their dominance over the other.
In the previous review, Signorello Estate Vineyards stood proud and represented two of the five Cabernet Sauvignon. Today we explore two more California Cabernet based wines and one Walla Walla rock star! Of the five, who is crowned the king of kings?
Do You Love Cabernet? Rick Bakas of St. Supery Winery is hosting worldwide Cabernet day on September 2. Use the #Cabernet hash tag when posting on Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, Twitter, blogs and all the other sites you hang out on. You’ll be able to connect and chat with other Cab drinkers around the world that day. I’ll be there! If you’ve never participated in an online tasting, it is an amazing experience as hundreds (and potentially thousands) of wine lovers share their passions. Drink.Share.Connect.
2007 Edge Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, aged 16 months in a combination of new French and American oak; extended maceration; 14.4%ABV
- The Swirl: Lush plum color with good color to the edges. A nice ruby jewel tone refracts in the light.
- The Sniff: A shy nose that offers up hints of oak and dried cherries. Over time the nose softened and reacted very well to aeration bringing out better aromas of pepper and brier.
- The Sip: A darker feeling Cabernet that showcases dark blackberry fruit, cloves, tobacco and vanilla. Looking for bright cherry fruit and full tannin? You won’t find it here, but the wine offers a medium balance and an average finish for the price point.
- The Score: At just $20 retail, this is a good tasting wine that will pair well with hearty steak, blue cheese sirloin burgers, and testarossa pizza. The Edge provides enough layers of flavor and structure to feel more expensive than $20. 3/5
Other Scores: 90 points Wine Enthusiast; Cellar Tracker 88.2 with 18 reviews
2007 L’Ecole 41 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 100% Cabernet from Seven Hills, Loess, Va Piano, Pepper Bridge, and Yellow Jacket vineyards; aged 22 months in 40% new oak; 2300 cases produces; 14.5%ABV
- The Swirl: Bright crimson and plum in color with slightly thin edges
- The Sniff: The fruit seems to be somewhat absent from the nose as dusty earth, spice pepper and cocoa float from the glass
- The Sip: Hello fruit, I’m glad you decided to join us. A full rich and thick cherry fruit mixed with hints of plum and white pepper. There is flavor that moves across all areas of your mouth that make this for a fun sipping experience. The tannin is mild and the acidity and finish are medium.
- The Score: At $40, this is a high quality, well layered Cab that reminds you of why Walla Walla is so great. $40 is fairly steep for a large percentage of people but know that you can trust this label (not to be confused with the Columbia Valley version) to be a special wine for parties, gifts, or a celebratory dinner. 4/5
2006 Fuse Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 75% Cabernet and 25% Syrah; cold soaking and extended maceration; aged 16 months in French and American oak; 6,000 cases produced; 14.1%ABV
- The Swirl: A very smooth velvet plum color that presents itself as about 90% opaque; a slight tanning from age is presenting itself at the edges.
- The Sniff: A very big and bright aromatic nose that has a perfume exotic spice, lavender, and big cherry fruit. A beautiful marriage of Syrah and Cabernet
- The Sip: Starts off with a cedar / oak attack that almost immediately softens to a very full and round velvet cherry mid-palate. Subtle spices of nutmeg and baking spice jump up on the back end with the medium tannin and lingering finish.
- The Score: At only $25 the beautiful fusion of Cabernet and Syrah are showcased in the 06 Fuse. The blend highlights positive aspects of each grape and comes together to create a fantastic blend. 3+/5
Cellar Tracker 88 points in 12 reviews; 4 Stars Vines Magazine
Blind Cabernet Showdown
The Signorello reds participated in a blind Cabernet tasting that included a 2007 Walla Walla L’Ecole 41, The Edge and Fuse. The wines were bagged and tagged and 12 participants were asked to rate them with 1 being their favorite and 5 being their least favorite. The interesting results (from lowest to highest) are below:
- 2006 Signorello Estate Cab ($50) – Avg Score 3.8 – Received 4’s with a 2 and a 5
- 2007 Edge Cab ($20) – Avg Score 3.6 – Received several 2’s and several 5’s
- 2007 Fuse Cab ($25) – Avg Score 3.5 – Received all 3’s and 4’s
- 2007 L’Ecole 41 Cab ($32) – Avg Score 2.2 – Received mostly 2’s with a 1 and a 5
- 2006 Signorello Padrone ($110) – Avg Score 1.3 – Received all 1’s and a 2 (almost unanimous)
*Wines were provided as an industry sample with the intention to review