15 Sep 2010
Audio issues at about the 5 minute mark…darn gremlins
With summer winding down, it was time to head to the cellar for something magical, something that could beckon the yellow orb to make an extended presence well into October. Rumor has it that there are magical powers in Rias Baixas. Each September the mythical creature Albariños stumbles from its cave, shaking off the prior evening’s rager to make a proclamation on the extended season. One wine glass, and the warm nights are cut short for crisp cool evenings. Two wine glasses (probably from seeing double), and the warm rays of the sun are enjoyed for six more weeks. With this in mind, I made careful preparations for the ritual.
Rias Baixas is in the Northwest portion of Spain and boasts a coastal lush growing area. The region, known as the wines of the sea, is moist and cool. Grapes are grown on a trellis to maximize the sun and air exposure. The grape Albariño, is the most widely planted in the region and is known for its Riesling and Viognier complexities. Albariño can be crisp, tropical, and full of citrus and apple, while providing a massive acidity that pairs well with the regional seafood.
I slowly peeled back the foil, in hopes to arouse the great Albariños from his slumber. As the cork popped, a fragrant citrus, apple, peach and pear aroma filled the room. The Albariños, enticed by the fragrance, restlessly stirred in his cave. The wine poured into the glass, and the creature awoke from his nap, rubbed his drunken eyes, and peered across the room. What did he see? Would there be six more weeks of summer? Would fall and frost come early?
- The Stuff: 100% Albariño from Rias Baixas, Spain; Whole berry crushed and fermented in stainless steel; 40% malolactic fermentation; 12.8%ABV
- The Swirl: A nice crisp and clean straw color in the glass.
- The Sniff: During a blind tasting I could potentially mistake this for a Riesling with the petrol, citrus and apple aromas. The fragrant aromas help drive the point home on the palate
- The Sip: Slightly tart, slightly crisp and slightly tropical describes the flavor profile on this wine. A very enjoyable flavor that has a slight steely minerality on the finish. A nice full mouth feel is present from the malolactic fermentation.
- The Score: At $12-15, this is a nice wine that leaves a feel good flavor in the mouth. Not a sipper for me, but definitely a fun wine to pair with light summer food and seafood. 3+/5 Recommend
- The Stuff: 100% Albariño from Rias Baixas, Spain; stainless steel fermented; 12.5% ABV
- The Swirl: Lightly golden in the glass, slight effervescence and mildly cloudy
- The Sniff: Soft and gentle on the nose with aromas of pear and peach
- The Sip: This wine is very even and smooth from front to back. It lacks the tart pucker of the first wine as well as lacks the acidity. Slight fruit components of pear, and tropical fruit. While this wine may be more enjoyable to many as a sipping wine, there was a lack of depth and character to really make me go “wow.” 3/5
Overall, very enjoyable wines for the price. Albariño is certainly a grape you should keep your eye out for, especially if you’re looking for a fun alternative to your daily Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier. Keep poppin’ the corks on summer sippers in the hopes to lure the yellow orb to the sky!
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
13 Aug 2010
When releasing a wine, what are the typical process flows? PR to media – check. Email to mailing list – check. Save the date card to mailing list – check. Tasting room party – check. Send dozens of wine writers some samples and have a tweet up? Desert Wind Winery recently released their 2009 Ora (white blend) and utilized relationship marketing to engage writers and influencers virtually. Not everyone had the capacity to go to their beautiful Prosser, WA tasting room, so Amber and Greg Fries send the wine to the people. The result, nearly 500 conversations between 77 people. “It’s a success in our eyes,” says marketing director, Amber Fries.
The Ora is the newest edition to the growing family of Desert Wind wines out of their estate vineyards in Wahluke Slope. The unique blend of Chardonnay, Semillon, Riesling and Gewurztraminer combine the rich mouth feel of Chardonnay and a crisp refreshing lemon lime flavor of Riesling and Gewurzt. The Semillon shines through with elegant underpinnings of nuts and vanilla. I applaud Desert Wind for integrating social media and relationship marketing into their overall release strategy. I look forward to following up with them to see how the minimal investment paid off in the long term. As part of the release, the Ora (pronounced like hoorah, but OH-rah) is currently on sale for only $12 per bottle out of their tasting room and online.
2009 Desert Wind Winery Ora
- The Stuff: 60% Chardonnay, 20% Riesling, 15% Semillon and 5% Gewurztraminer; 8% fermented in oak barrels, a touch of residual sugar at .36 g/100ml; 13.8%ABV; 316 cases produced
- The Swirl: Very golden yellow in the glass, makes me think of “drops of Jupiter” like a sun kissed golden blonde
- The Sniff: Very lively nose with immediate aromas of lychee, tropical fruit, and hints of vanilla, nuts and honey. Maybe this would be a good pairing with Post Honey Nut Oat Clusters for breakfast.
- The Sip: The Ora has a very full mouth feel that provides just a touch of sweetness without being sweet. The flavors are softer tropical and peach with a mild white pepper on the back end. The wine finishes with medium low acidity and a hint of a disjointed aftertaste. If you are a Chardonnay lover but sometimes crave something a little more crisp and tropical, think Ora.
- The Score: At $15 retail the wine is very enjoyable and paired very well on two different nights (first with Salmon and spicy potatoes and second with Carne Asada). We took a second bottle to enjoy at a friend’s house and shared it to rave reviews. The Ora leaves me saying hoorah and hoping I can find one more bottle before the end of summer. 3+/5
23 Jun 2010
Need a custom label for a wedding, non-profit event, business gift or product launch? Kirkland based, Northwest Cellars provides award winning wine with personalized labels! Founder Bob Delf spent 30 years in the software industry and worked as a CEO at three different companies. Bob’s passion for wine, keen business sense, and unique business model came together with wine makers Dave Moore and Robert Smasne to form Northwest Cellars in 2004. Bob and his wife Kathleen do all the blending work to bring their creation to market.
I was introduced to Northwest Cellars initially on Twitter. Bob participated in our two online tastings, WAMerlot and WAWine. Recently a good friend of mine, Rebecca Templeton became their wine rep in Spokane through her company Blends of Vino. I’m excited to help Rebecca get the word out about the personalized labels and have even been to a few events lately that featured Northwest Cellars wine.
But…How is the wine?
Rebecca knows that I’m honest in my reviews. I’ve reviewed another of her clients, Anelare Cellars, and didn’t care much for one wine, but really enjoyed their Saint Helena Syrah. So before I get to the review, if you’re in need of a custom label and you live in Inland Northwest, contact Rebecca Templeton at BlendsofVino.com and she’ll walk you through the process.
Now, on with the review:
- The Stuff: 61% Sauvignon Blanc and 39% Chardonnay from Columbia Valley, 13.5%ABV, 448 cases produced
- The Swirl: Extremely pale yellow in color with only a hint of tint
- The Sniff: I would bet $50 that the Chardonnay in this wine saw some oak. I couldn’t find anything in the literature, but the wine comes across with good lemon zest and a hint of vanilla and pears.
- The Sip: While adagio may be a musical term for at ease, this wine doesn’t strike the relaxing chord with me. It feels like it has a dual personality where the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon Blanc are fighting for position in your mouth. In one instance you can taste the strong grapefruit and citrus play and then a smooth oaky apple tries to come through.
- The Score: At $15, I could certainly encourage you to give it a try to see if it fits your tastes, but for me I can only score it 3 out of 5. Nothing off about it, but feels disjointed and unbalanced.
- The Stuff: 75% Merlot, 13% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon from Olson Estate, Roza Ridge and 3 Rocks Vineyards; 13.8%ABV, 3000 cases produced
- The Swirl: An interesting brownish rust colored purple hue that is showing some good signs of aging. Reminds me of cola.
- The Sniff: I love the nose of this wine. Strong dark fruits with leather, stewed plums, and just a hint of sweet milk chocolate. Fragrant and engaging!
- The Sip: Not your traditional Columbia Valley Merlot. Really loving the black tea, coffee and gamey meat components to this wine. Very complex in the mouth. The fruit is slightly thin on the front but the dynamic presence of the other flavors quickly engages your palate.
- The Score: At only $17 this wine surprised and mesmerized me. I loved the different interpretation of Merlot and enjoyed the soft, yet captivating flavors. I score this wine 4 out of 5. Be warned that if you love bright fruity cherry Merlot, this might not be for you.
Links you need
*Wine was provided as a sample with the intention to review
24 May 2010
Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility. Legend tells us that Dionysus was the only Greek god born of a mortal parent, Semele. Known for his dual personality, Dionysus could bring erotic passion and happiness along with rage and madness. During his wandering, Dionysus taught people across the regions how to cultivate wine. It’s curious or coincidence that even 6000 years ago in the mythology of the Greeks, wine was a significant part of Mount Olympus.
Wine in Greece dates back to 4500 BC and is considered to be the second oldest wine production in the world (central China being the oldest). Greek colonization of the area, along with the help of Dionysus of course, is thought to be the origination of wine across France, Italy and Spain. With all this history, it’s pretty amazing that the majority of Americans have zero experience with Greek wine.
Both wines reviewed are from the small island of Santorini in the Aegean. Santorini has a volcanic soil composition and enjoys hot summer days that are cooled in the evening by strong sea breeze. The Assyrtiko grape in this review is a hearty multi-purpose grape that can be crafted from dry to sweet and is similar in presentation to Riesling.
2008 Boutari Assyrtiko
- The Stuff: 100% Assyrtiko from the Santorini region; 13.5%abv; cork enclosure
- The Swirl: Very pale yellow in color; clean, clear and bright
- The Sniff: An appearance of sulfites strikes the nose along with a ripe cantaloupe and house cleaner. Something about the nose feels off-putting.
- The Sip: The Boutari has a mellow mouth coating feel that presents flavors of melon, red apple and stone. The finish is mild and crisp but then presents a slight sour aftertaste.
- The Score: A refreshing wine that is more deserving of food (fish, shrimp, or spicy fair). The acidity was lacking but at $15 I score this wine a solid 3 (out of 5) and would be a fantastic introduction to anyone wanting to experience something new.
2008 Argyros Assyrtiko
- The Stuff: 100% Assyrtiko from Santorini region; 20% aged in oak for 6 months; 13%abv; cork enclosure
- The Swirl: Very light in presentation, almost completely clear with mild hints of straw
- The Sniff: A tight nose that presents strong citrus components and hints of lime
- The Sip: Take a large pink grapefruit, squeeze the contents into a glass and add a spritz of lemon lime. This is what the Argyros presents. The acidity is strong and the finish is tart and steely…pucker up.
- The Score: A very crisp and refreshing wine that will be a strong addition to Mediterranean food pairings. At $15 this wine earns a score of 3+ out of 5.
14 Apr 2010
Viognier and Semillon may not be grapes you are very familiar with, but I can assure you that with summer coming, consider these worthwhile reasons to stray from your Sauv Blanc and Rose. A Southwest oasis in the desert of central Washington, Desert Wind Winery was born out of a need for more fruit variety at Duck Pond Cellars (Dundee Oregon). In the early 90’s Duck Pond began planting the 480 acres located on the Wahluke Slope, East of Yakima and West of Tri-Cities. In 2001winemaker Greg Fries presented the first release of Desert Wind Winery. Seeing the phenomenal grown of the corridor between Prosser and Yakima, WA, Desert Wind set out to open a premium tasting room, event facility, restaurant, and retreat center. Considered the highlight of his career, Greg and team opened the Desert Wind Winery in 2007. You have to check out their web site, the space looks amazing! I wonder if Greg and Amber are going to invite me out (wink)?
I previously reviewed the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and it walked away with my March value wine of the month. At just $15 the wine was alive with tropical fruits and a balanced flavor.
For those that skip the videos and just read the text, you’ll want to check out the final minute as I actually pull the guitar off the wall and play it (yes @clivity, I do play the guitar).
- The Stuff: 94% Semillon, 3% Chardonnay and 3% Sauvignon Blanc; aged six months in neutral oak. 100% barrel fermented; 14.5%ABV; 568 cases
- The Swirl: Bright golden wheat color, with honey tones, seemingly thick viscosity
- The Sniff: Light undertones of lemon, vanilla and pear. Subtle but pleasing
- The Sip: Great mouth-feel, velvet and soft with mild fruit flavors of pear or apple and hints of lemon shavings. Reminiscent of light lemon shortcake.
- The Score: At $15 this is a mellow wine that provides simple flavor profile. Would definitely recommend with creamy shellfish pasta or smoked salmon. I score this a 3 out of 5
- The Stuff: 100% Viognier, 91.5% stainless fermentation 8.5% new French oak fermentation for 60 days; 14.5%ABV; 414 cases made
- The Swirl: Light, nearly clear with hint of lemon lime soda coloring
- The Sniff: I think Don Ho came up singing Tiny Bubbles bringing aromas of lychee, peaches and other tropical fruits. Reminded me of some mixed drinks I got in Florida last year.
- The Sip: The tropical fruit was mild on the front palate with good zing of lemon zest and minerality on the mid palate. Amazingly strong acid finish was perfect for palate cleansing. The finish was beautiful and balanced
- The Score: At just $15 this is another winner from the desert heat of Desert Wind. I score this a 4 out of 5. A strong recommend for summertime pleasure or served with spicy foods.
Cellar Tracker scores (none for 2009, 1 at 84 points for 2008)
*These wines were provided as industry samples with the intention to review