13 Dec 2009
I walked into the dimly lit room and they immediately caught my eye, seductively sitting in the back corner begging to be approached. Their style was intimidating. They had a sense of class that the others didn’t. I wrestled with how to approach. My senses were mixed. There were others in the room who seemed more my type; familiar and safe. I walked their way, struggling with what to say. Do I fumble to speak their language, do I remain silent and just admire their beauty? Their embrace was welcoming. After some stimulating conversation and laughter, I decided to take them home for a petite gorgee de trois.
French wine can be intimidating. With the long noble history, elegant labels, strict regional rules, and challenging names many Americans shy away from some great new experiences. Tonight, I decided to take two beautiful French ladies home for a little romance. Both wines hailed from the Rhone region, specifically the Cote du Rhone area that is known for its production of Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier.
These elegant sounding wines were 60% Granache and 40% Syrah (tasting notes below)
While it may be intimidating to try new things (especially ones that are difficult to pronounce), it is important to broaden your wine horizons to be able to order intelligently or even know what to enjoy (or avoid) when presented with something new. Starting with the basic offering from Rhone, Loire Valley, or Bordeaux is a perfect way to expand your taste experience.
These were not French nobility. The French maids were available for under $12 at the local wine shop and represent a lower price option for wines from the region (think Chevy vs. Cadillac). Neither were overly impressive, but I was glad for the experience because now I know what to potentially buy and what to definitely avoid.
A few words of wisdom before having your own French connection: Do your homework – investigate at Cork’d or Cellar Tracker; check your local blogs, do a Google or Bing search. The information you find can help you avoid the nasty and discover the jewels. Be confident – don’t let the fancy labels or foreign language intimidate you. Finally, be safe – have protection in the form of a designated driver. Too much of a good thing, even pretty French ladies can lead to your ruin.
2007 Domain de Couron
- The Swirl: ruby garnet and well filtered
- The Sniff: Cherry, Earth and Paper
- The Sip: Moderate dark berry fruits, chalky, cedar. Mild alcohol and mild tannins
- The Score: At $12 USD I score this a 3+ Better than your average $12 Australian Syrah with more structure and interest.
After thinking about this one further, I would buy it again for an alternate taste and would recommend to those wanting to slowly work their way into the world of new tastes.
2006 Paul Joubolet Aine Paralelle 45
- The Swirl: Ruby garnet cherry color with moderate legs
- The Sniff: Aromatically challenged but does present some earthiness and musty basement prior to the fruit.
- The Sip: Not much fruit, a little dry chalk with a hint of blackberry finish
- The Score: Even at $11 this is just a 3- in my book. Much better wines at this price. The wine does have a balanced flavor, just not one that I prefer.
I would pass on purchasing this wine again.
I hope this information is useful at some point (as well as entertaining). Enjoy life with friends, especially over a glass of wine.
10 Dec 2009
“I didn’t have the skills to be a plumber and the aromatics are much better.” This was the response from Lone Canary wine maker Mike Scott when I asked “Why did you get into wine making?”
**UPDATE MAY 14, 2010**
After 30 years of wine making in Spokane and 7 years as the co-founder of Lone Canary Winery, Mike Scott is no longer with Lone Canary. They company was sold in late 2009 to Spokane wine maker Don Townshend. While efforts were being made to bring the company into profitability, financial issues forced a change in direction. “The only thing I regret is not having the proper goodbye for the people who have grown to love Lone Canary and Mike Scott wines,” says Mike. After efforts of a third party investor fell through to purchase the winery, Don has decided to move Lone Canary to his Caterina Winery location on North Washington. What will become of Lone Canary? Will the wines be distinct and different from Don’s other brands? In this writer’s opinion, Lone Canary is on life support without Mike Scott’s involvement. The two are inextricably linked. How Lone Canary can survive is a story for another post…until then…thank you Mike for all the great years and all the fine wine.
Wine selling transformed into wine making which gave Mike the first real creative spark that he experienced in life. After learning the wine making craft at Latah Creek through 1990, Scott moved on to work for Steve Livingstone which led to the birth of Caterina Winery in 1993, in which he worked as the head wine maker. In 2002, Steve and Jeanne Schaub approached Mike for a business partnership that gave birth to Lone Canary in 2003.
Choosing a name was not only a difficult task but a potentially costly one. After researching a name that was memorable and conveyed Washington, they came across the state bird, the American Goldfinch also known as the Wild Canary. Perfect! The name was available and they proceeded with logo design, packaging, Federal approval, promotional materials…until…a call from lawyers representing bourbon maker Wild Turkey. Evidently the powerful Kentucky company owns the rights to the name “wild” on an alcoholic beverage – especially when paired with the mighty American Goldfinch (canary). Rather than pursue expensive litigation, the name Lone Canary was born.
With that behind them, Mike, Steve and Jeanne moved forward with the wine making operation. Six years of success – and a few missteps - has brought the operation to 4000+ cases. Crushing is done in Pasco and aging occurs in the Spokane tasting room / warehouse. Brand popularity necessitates growth, prompting the team to look at larger locations in the area. Current wine offerings are the 2007 Barbera, 2007 Syrah (reviewed below), Bird House Red (blend), 2007 Cuvee Rose, 2007 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, 2005 Merlot, 2007 Sangiovese, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, and a 2008 Pinot Grigio.
My final question, “What’s next for Mike Scott and Lone Canary?” Mike’s eyes lit up as he talked about his newfound passion for the Italian varietals that grow so well in the Yakima region. He’s excited about the Barbera, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, and the future release of Dolcetto and Nebbiolo at some point. I find it interresting that an English man moves to America to make Italian wine! “We were meant to drink wine,” says Mike, “I want people to be impressed with the quality of the wine in the bottle, rather than the price on the bottle.”
From everything I can see, this funny little bird that went toe to toe with a wild turkey (and lost) is one to watch (and taste).
2007 Syrah (100%) $21.95 – only 40 cases left
- The Swirl – Very dark and opaque, low legs – indicating lower alcohol content
- The Sniff – An initial blackberry earthy smell is first. Subtle oak gives this smooth smelling wine enough anticipation heading into the sip.
- The Sip – a soft front with a little lilac floral component, mild acidity, and smooth fruit (definitely not a fruit bomb). Dangerous sipping wine because of its contagious taste.
- The Score – At $22 I score this wine a $$$$ (out of $$$$$) This is a Washington Syrah to put on your list to try. If you’ve grown tired of the $8 Australian Yellow Tail, give this Yellow Finch / Canary a try.
Visit Lone Canary at 109 S. Scott / www.lonecanary.com / Twitter @clooneycanary and Facebook at www.facebook.com/lonecanary. Stop by Thursday – Sunday from Noon – 5PM for your own tasting experience. Enjoy live music every first Friday of the month as a part of Spokane’s First Friday 5-9PM.
Enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY!
08 Dec 2009
The following post is in response to a fellow wine bloggers inspiration and challenge – Check out follow, tweet, Facebook @TheWineWhore http://bit.ly/5LjxI9
Prior to 2004, I was not a wine drinker. At 32, I came across a wine that changed the course of my entire direction in life. Okay, it was actually a woman but wine was involved from the beginning. I was coming out of a 9 year relationship and she was coming out of a 14 year relationship. Expectation was strong, desire was thick, and the anticipation of when we could see each other was unbearable. It’s the kind of feeling that makes you love falling in love. At 32 I felt like I was 15 again. Finally, time and fate allowed our complicated lives to come together and we were able to meet for something other than a work related event. Hours of conversation provided me the insight that she was a wine drinker; years of chasing women taught me that you don’t show up without flowers. I stopped at the local grocery store, quickly picked out the flowers and headed to the wine section. Entering this unknown land caused panic and anxiety foreign to me. Each label brought futher confusion. White or red? California or WA? What were all these names, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel? What did they mean? At the risk of not seeming cheap, I quickly ruled out the under $10 crowd. At the risk of overextending my recently single finances, I kept it under $20. I grabbed the bottle and hastily made my way to the checkout, to the car, up the hill, to her house.
I parked around the corner (it was complicated) and with my flowers and brown paper bag of juice, I quietly knocked on the door and entered a magical world of new experiences and passions. Over the next few years the youthful infatuation blossomed into an unbreakable soul mate kind of love. She introduced me to the beautiful, intricate, complex, and sexy world of wine. Things become les and less complicated and we moved forward with the next stage of our life. We purchased a house.
I had yet to ask her hand in marriage, but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. The closing of our home was quickly approaching. We signed the papers and awaited the final word that everything had recorded so we could get the keys. The weeks leading up to the closing, I had devised a plan. I arranged to pick up the keys a day earlier than what was originally communicated to us. I grabbed an old bistro table, CD player, went out and bought a few new house decorations that we had our eyes on and set up a magical after dinner surprise. This time I was at the same local grocery store picking up flowers, dessert for two, and headed to the wine aisle. The last two years had taught me that my first selection was on the generic side of a mass produced wine, but I knew exactly which wine I wanted and quickly scooped it up.
We headed to dinner and then went to a local hardware store to dream and scheme about all the changes we were going to make to our house. We decided to purchase a house warming plant (a palm tree that still lives in our front room) and headed back to the apartment. I suggested we make a detour to drive by the house. We walked up to the door with our plant and I pulled out the keys to our new life. Excitedly we entered. She was at a loss for words, overcome with joy and excitement. I quickly lit the fireplace, turned on the CD I had prepared, got out the dessert and opened the ‘special’ wine. The moment was perfect as if scripted from a movie. When the CD began playing ‘our song’ I quickly got up, went to the cabinet and slipped her final surprise on the wine charm and sat down. She immediately saw the sparkle and tears began to flow. I was barely able to choke out, “Kimberly, I love you, you are my soul mate, will you marry me?”
The wine: 2002 Meridian Merlot – CA $12 – The fondest memories are not always etched with the finest of tastes, it is the whole experience that stays with us.
P.S. She said yes!
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?
11 Nov 2009
I love Wine! I also love Coffee! My love affair with wine began in 2005 when I met my wife, Kimberly. I’ve been a coffee lover since I was in my early 20′s
I’ve always enjoyed exploring my passions. I believe there are other people passionate about similar subjects. My desire is for drinknectar to bring those people together. Specifically, to provide people in my community with an interactive social experience that can assist in making educated decisions when it comes to their wine and coffee drinking experiences.
what will you see at drinknectar.com
drinknectar will take to the streets of Spokane, WA (and elsewhere during my travels) for on location reviews of Spokane wine bars, coffee shops, local wineries and more (we may even explore the occasional pub or local brewery). Armed with my flipcam we’ll even get the ‘on the street’ taste test of wine and coffee. My goal is to expand the awareness of the great places serving nectar and help people explore tastes that they may have never considered. By no means do I consider myself an expert. I am a fan, like you, with a passion.
I’ll try to post daily, but not all posts will be reviews. Currently I’m setting up my first round of nectarviews, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, follow me on twitter @nectarwine or look for the facebook fan page drinknectar (all one word).
Drinking tonight: Lodi, CA Seven Deadly Zins Zinfindel – YOU?
QOTD: Where do you buy your wine?