Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Walla Walla Day #2

We somehow managed to get ourselves out of the house at 10am and that was no small feet considering the amount of Tecate we drank the previous night after dinner. Our first stop was one of the birthday boy’s favorite WA wineries, Five Star. So we piled in the cars and headed to the airport.

Five Star – several wines in their portfolio and they were a bit tough to take at 10am, especially if you don’t like wood. Well made wines and varietally correct but nothing that makes you feel like a rocket scientist. On to the wines that I tried:

2008 Kynzie Rose - Interestingly brown color and very tart. Nice taste bud wake-up call at 10am. Most of our group didn’t like it, but I did in a weird way. 87pts.

2007 Sangiovese – Immediate nose of cherry and wood. Good acidity and medium length. While a decent wine, nothing to write home about. 87pts.

2007 Syrah – Deep blue color with initial aromas of blueberries, blackberries, and toasty oak. My favorite of their wines. Medium bodied with good density. Even some pepper. 89pts.

2007 Malbec – Not sure why some wineries feel the need to make single varietal wines like this. $38 and not even close to worth it. Tannic and harsh. Young with not much going on as far as fruit goes. It may come out with some time. 83pts.

2006 Cabernet – Lots of wood for me and as someone who used to be Mr. Oak Tolerant that was disappointing. Some cassis and eucalyptus with good acidity and decent finish. 88pts.

There were four other wines that I didn’t try as I was trying not to get palate fatigue after our first stop!

Next airport stop has always been one of my favorite WW wineries, Syzygy. Say it five times fast…Syzygy, Syzygy, Syzygy, Syzygy, Syzygy. Even hard to type five times fast. Zach was pouring three of his wines. The 2006 Red Wine, 2006 Syrah, and the 2006 Cabernet.

2006 Red Wine – Blend of syrah, cab, malbec, and merlot. Great QPR at $24. Juicy wine with a nice core of cherry, black raspberry, and smoke. Smooth tannins and actually a nice elegant wine for the $. 90pts.

2006 Syrah – Talk about waking up the taste buds. Zingy, with mouth puckering acidity and nice ripe fruit. Big wine with integrated tannins and persists on the tongue. 91pts.

2006 Cabernet – Another great wine at $36. Tight, focused blue and red fruit with herbs and hints of toasty oak. This is one of the cabs that had me thinking of a cab renaissance in WA State. 92pts.

On to probably the most highly thought of Washington winery by the critics that I had never had the pleasure to try. Was looking forward to Spring Valley wines the entire week. While I was disappointed by a couple, the highs were very high.

2006 Muleskinner – 100% merlot. A little too oaky for my taste and merlot is always fighting and uphill battle with me to begin with. Plums, cherries, and blackberries try to accent the tannins and oak but lose the battle. This needs time. 88pts.

2006 Uriah – This mostly merlot and cab franc blend has always scored well from the WS but was a slight disappointment for me. Well made with lots of ripe fruit, oak, acid, and tannin. They just seemed a bit disjointed at this time. A little too much tannin and oak but plenty of fruit and acid to forecast a good future for this wine. Good now, but will get better. 90pts.

2006 Derby – 100% cabernet. This puppy was a beast. Ripe blue fruit with vanilla oak and herbs. Loved this wine. The cabs are bringing it! 93pts.

2006 Nina Lee – 100% syrah. Another monster. Deep, dark, purple with typical syrah flavors of blueberries, blackberries but with an edginess that I couldn’t quite explain. Good amount of acidity. This was very good now but will get a bit more complex with age, I would imagine. 92pts.

2005 Uriah – This was the Uriah I was looking for. Supple and elegant, this baby was loaded with ripe dark fruit, some currants, and a lusciousness that kept on through the finish. Tasty stuff! 93pts.

We were a bit late for our next stop, so we grabbed a ton of salumi, bread, oil, olives, and cheese from Salumiere Cesario and drove to see my favorite guy in the valley, Trey Busch, and do some barrel tasting of his 2008’s. If you haven’t heard of Sleight of Hand Cellars, give them a looksie. Great wines made by one of the nicest and rockinest dudes around. We appreciated the time Trey took to sample us through his 2008’s…especially for putting up with our dumb questions (whomever said there isn’t a dumb questions didn’t hear the ones that were asked of Trey!).

2008 Spellbinder – Barrel sample. Dark red/blue with aromas of black raspberries, plums, sweet smoke. One of the best QPR’s in WA. 88-90pts.

2008 Levitation Syrah – Barrel sample. Huge wine. Brooding purple with ripe blue fruit, hints of oak, smooth tannins. This was already seamless and lush. I think he should bottle it now! 90-92pts.

2008 Archimage – Barrel Sample. Can’t remember exactly, but I think this was predominantly cab franc with some merlot and cab. Correct me if I’m wrong Trey. Nice, elegant, dark. I’ve enjoyed this wine in the past and the 08 will be good as well. 89-91pts.

2008 Cabernet – Barrel Sample. Can’t remember the name of this 100% cab. This was my second favorite wine of the trip next to the Reynvaan Contender. So dark and huge. Oodles of blue fruit, currants, cassis, herbs, toast. Weighty in the mouth without feeling heavy. Everything was monstrous but wonderfully in balance. I think all of us wanted to pool our money together and buy a barrel but it just wouldn’t fit in the trunk. 93-95pts.

We then sauntered over to the patio and ate our lunch while drinking Trey’s 2007 lineup and bombarded him with even more asinine questions. I was having fun until Trey brought up the 0-12 record of my beloved DAWGS. It hurt, but I eventually got over it.

2008 Magician’s Assistant Rose – Best rose I’ve ever had. Nuff said. 91pts.

2007 The Magician Gewurztraminer – Maybe a touch too warm but refreshing nonetheless. Crisp apples, pears, decent acid. Good white for $15. 88pts.

2006 The Spellbinder – Another very good wine for the $. Seamless ripe fruit combined with sandalwood and smooth tannins. Great everyday wine. 89pts.

2007 Levitation Syrah – Much better to me than the 06. Sweet fruit with enough tannin and verve to make your mouth happy. While tasty now, I think another couple years and this wine will blossom. 91pts.

Again, thanks very much Trey!! We had a great time. Let’s do it again…soon!

Trust Cellars was the next stop and if you’ve ever been to Trust and chatted up Steve, you know we had fun. Great wines at great prices.

2008 Rose of Cab Franc – Beautiful rose with an even cooler label. Lots of strawberries, watermelon, spice, verve. Wanted to drink the entire bottle since it was 95 degrees out. 90pts.

2007 Syrah Columbia Valley – Blue fruit interwoven with pepper and bacon. Nice interplay of some new oak, tannin, and ripe fruit. Very good and for $28 a steal. 91pts.

2007 Syrah Walla Walla Valley – Not quite as good as the CV bottling but at $28, well worth it. Nose of blackberries, cassis (11% cab), cedar, and even a hint of game. Round fruit with supple tannins. Not quite as much zing as the CV. 90pts.

We then ventured to Va Piano and tried their Semillon, Bruno’s Blend, Syrah, and Cabernet. They were good wines but I didn’t bother to take our think about notes much as I was virtually shot at this point. I even think we went to one more winery, but I just can’t remember which one. Great trip with terrific company, good food, and outstanding wine!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Walla Walla Day 1 and dinner with Rulo, Mon Aieul, and Saxum

Spent two days in Walla Walla with friends drinking vino and stuffing our faces. Is a new winery sprouting up every day over there? They are everywhere and most I've never even heard of! My second observation was that there is a great deal of quality cab being made in Walla Walla. Kind of a cab renaissance happening. We didn't get there until 3pm so Day 1 has just 3 wineries and dinner.

Reynvaan Family Vineyards -- I had heard some scuttlebutt about this new winery here, on this board, and wanted to try the wines before plunking down the cash for some. They had just bottled their first vintage in May (two syrahs) made from their "In the Rocks" Vineyard (planted in 2004) which is littered with stones--remind you of a certain Walla Walla winery? Suffice it to say, the wines "rocked!" If you get a chance, take a look at their website and seriously consider ordering as they didn't make much and it's already almost sold out.

2007 Reynvaan In the Rocks Syrah -- Knockout nose of violets, dark blue fruit, pineapple and meat. Thick without being heavy in the mouth giving way to ripe dark fruit, spice, and some savory elements. Very floral on the finish (co-fermented with viognier). This is quality winemaking. 92pts.

2007 Reynvaan The Contender Syrah -- A contender it is! Nose was a bit muted but coaxed out some blackberries, dark cherry, and even a bit of bacon. The mouthfeel was pure elegance (co-fermented w/ marsanne). A heft again without the weight revealing a lushness I haven't had in such a young wine. Concentrated ripe fruit, stones, smoked pork. This was fantastic. Dale even remarked to our friend, Randy, that is was going to be all downhill from there! 94pts.

Next stop was Chateau Rollat. Their downtown tasting room was under construction so it had a nice rustic feel!

2008 Chateau Rollat Rose -- Tasty. Dry with some spicy strawberries although a bit tart. 87 pts

2005 Chateau Rollat Cabernet -- Wow, this was good. Densely packed fruit with herbs and eucalyptus. Nice balance of oak, tannin, ripe fruit, and acid. We were all nodding our heads to this one. 92pts

2005 Chateau Rollat Cabernet Edouard -- You could tell this was a more serious wine but just seemed a bit disjointed at the moment. A little more structure with more restrained fruit. Built for the long haul. 90pts +

We had an early dinner reservation so we had a brief stop at Nicholas Cole. Dale immediately broke his bottle of Rollat Cab on one of their "A Clockwork Orange" chairs so he headed back to Rollat to see if they would replace it. The punk kid pouring wine at NC said he wouldn't so we were excited at the possibility of great customer service at NC. The kid pouring was arrogant and frustrated at us for not hanging on his every word. Not a pleasant experience which was heightened by the fact that the wines weren't all that good, either. I didn't take any notes as they pissed me off but I do remember that their best wine was the GraEagle, their red table wine. Everything else was expensive and pedestrian.

On to dinner at Creektown Cafe where we had a good meal and some fantastic wines --Rulo Viognier, 2007 Mon Aieul, and 2006 Saxum Heartstone.

2007 Rulo Viognier -- From the frist whiff you could tell this didn't see any oak. Nose of apples, unripe pears, citrus. Nice mouthpuckering acidity balanced with that creaminess you can get from viognier. Great white for the price as most Rulo wines are. 89pts.

2007 Usseglio Mon Aieul -- I have been anticipating this wine for a couple of years now. I can't imagine it could ever have lived up to expectations. It wasn't as accessible as the 2006 out of the gate but has tons more potential. A little darker than I expected with a nose of cherry liqueur, black currants, spice, and garrigue. Never hot but just jam-packed with ripe fruit, glycerine, and tons of chocolate. This wine is just so big but never close to approaching over the top with its sweetness and structure. If you're lucky enough to own multiple bottles, drink one now for the experience, but let the rest sleep for awhile as this is going to only get better. 95+++++pts.

2006 Saxum Heartstone -- My first Heartstone and color me impressed. Dark as the Dark Knight, this puppy certainly held its own after the MA. Nice ripe fruit from the grenache, weight and sweetness from the syrah, and all things rustic from the mourvedre. While it doesn't have the depth of a Bone Rock or the playfulness of the Broken Stones, it does possess a little of each quality. Loaded with ripe blue fruit, no evidence of overt tannin. Just a seamless, balanced (I know), concentrated wine. I was worried it needed a decant, but it was ready to roll from the get go. Looking forward to trying the 07! 94pts.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

TN's: 98 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon and 2005 Long Shadows Pedestal

1998 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon
Damn, champagne is the shiznit. After our Champagne Offline a few weeks ago, I seriously was jonesing for more vintage champagne but that's like Billy Bob jonesing for Angelina again...not gonna happen, buddy. Luckily, my brother-in-law turned 40 on July 4th and he just happened to have a bottle of 98 Dom! Gorgeous pale yellow color and it just looked light on its feet. Toast, honey, butter, and custard on the nose which precedes the vibrant crisp apples on the palate accented by citrus and pear. This baby is lively and even a bit earthy. If you've got one, pop it. Why wait? 93pts.

2005 Long Shadows Pedestal
Decanted for around an hour. I decided to put aside my irreverence for New World merlot so I could enjoy my brother-in-law's 40th birthday. This wine certainly didn't change my mind. While it was well-made in that international style, it just didn't possess any remarkable components to make it stand out in a crowd. Dark blue with ruby edges, it initially had aromas of blackberry, plum, chocolate, some spice, and vanilla cream oak. The ripe fruit was immediately evident in the mouth but quickly vanished and gave way to a hollow mid-palate followed by oak and a hefty tannic bite. I'm fairly oak-tolerant but this was weaving back and forth between the imaginary line that we winos draw in the sand for oak allowance. All in all, an okay wine for $25 but not in the cards for $50. 89pts.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

TN's: 2006 Donnhoff Norheimer Dellchen GG Trocken and 2006 Cayuse Impulsivo

Had a terrific Friday lunch with Travis Allen at Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue. Some seriously good Greek and Lebanese food. Not bad wines either...

2006 Donnhoff Norheimer Dellchen Riesling GG Trocken
OMFG. That is all I could say after my first smell of this goldilocked beauty. Sit in my chair, eat my porridge, and sleep in my bed anytime you little vixen. Gorgeous bright straw yellow color that when swirled made you dream of that blonde 20 year old Swede you saw in Nice when you were 18. Immediate aromas of stones, white peaches, Japanese pears, and starfruit syrup keep you bottled up in that dream. Once it hits your lips, concentrated quince, citrus, and minerality pummel your taste buds into submission. The interplay between restrained sweetness and mouth shocking dryness bob and weave over your tongue as deftly as the Champ himself, Muhammad Ali. Layer upon layer of riesling complexity, density, and lusciousness made me furious for only buying 2 bottles of this Teutonic beauty. 94pts.

2006 Cayuse Impulsivo
Popped the cork and set aside for about 45 minutes while we drank the Donnhoff. The color out of the bottle was a deep, dark blue accented by blood red edges. Your nose is immediately blasted with the blackest of black cherries, crushed blackberries, olive, woodsmoke, sandalwood, and some sort of rare grilled game meat. The savory qualitites are all Cayuse trademarks and when paired with the ripe fruit, your nose becomes the Valhalla of convergence zones. The palate mirrors the nose as superconcentrated dark fruit fills your mouth eventually yielding to the carnal pleasures of blackened lamb, blood, and a distinctly saline minerality. An impressively heavy finish with Manute Bol like length had my tongue scouring the inside of my mouth for the next hour. 95 pts.