Just a regular guy that enjoys food and wine with a concentration on wines from my home state, Washington. I'll be providing tasting notes, thoughts, and hopefully gossip and info on new and even old WA wineries.
One of the true pleasures in this world is drinking someone else's Bionic Frog so you don't have to lessen your own personal stash by one. Thanks Dad, and thanks to the sucker who let this go for $85 at silent auction! Deep purple with ruby red edges, this wine exuded Cayuse class from the get go. Now Cayuse class may be different from the dictionary definition of class, i.e. Sophia Loren or Jackie O. Cayuse class is down and dirty. Intial aromas of crumbled earth, smoked meat, picked fennel, some black raspberry, and a heavy dose of minerality. Christophe's wines are starting to show such a depth of minerality that I now believe we need to add another element to the periodic table--Cayusium--with the symbol Fg for f*@king good. Not quite as intense as the 03 I had recently, but maybe a touch more complex. Sweet layers of dark fruit interwoven with briny olives, soy, umami, pepper, and even more minerality. The balance this wine achieves with sweet vs. savory is bordering on genius. No noticeable oak or tannin on the back end allows the finish of brown spices and blueberries to linger on your palate for minutes. Free Bionic Frog rocks. Dad, let's open that 05 this weekend! 97pts.
Spent about 2 1/2 hours inside "the box" on Saturday and came away impressed as usual. There always seems to be a theme across the board/vintage when doing a Cayuse tasting. The theme for the 08's came straight from Christophe's mouth -- "Iron, Blood, and Liquid Rock!" He was spot on as these wines possessed a level of minerality unparalleled in Washington as well as some nice meaty/blood overtones. I was also surprised at how accessible the wines felt. Usually, the Frog, Widowmaker, and Impulsivo are a little tight and not quite open for business but tasted terrific on this day. On to the wines...
2008 Cayuse Edith Rose -- 100% grenache. Don't seem to be a fan of this until it gets in bottle. Last year it seemed like a light pink viognier but was terrific out of bottle a month ago. Same this year. Some strawberry and metal. Decent acidity. Look forward to drinking oen next summer. 87-89pts.
2008 Cayuse Flying Pig -- 60% cab franc/40% merlot. This wine keeps getting better with each successive vintage. Aromas of poblanos, juicy plums, herbs. Layers of peppers, ripe blackberries, and black cherries with some stout tannins. 93-95 pts.
2008 Cayuse Camaspelo -- 80% cab/20% merlot. This wine always seems to be treated as the red-headed stepchild of the group. While not my favorite Cayuse wine, it always tastes good. Herbal-ly, musky, with some nice red/black fruits. Tannins and alcohol integrated nicely. Very nice. 89-91pts.
2008 Cayuse Cailloux Syrah -- This vineyard probably has improved the most year to year. Big punch in the face of dark ripe fruit, earth, violets, smoky spice. Lush and velvety with balanced layers of earthy goodness and roasted fruit. Pretty damn good. 94-96pts.
2008 Cayuse En Cerise Syrah -- Kind of the surprise of the tasting for me. Not much cherry for me, which I always seem to get. More game meat, blood, and crushed rock. Much more complex than previous vintages. Smoky meat, dark cherries, and some pomegranate. Very impressive. 93-95pts.
2008 Cayuse En Chamberlin Syrah -- The funk is toned down just a bit this year. Leaving behind super-concentrated dark fruit, rare meat, saline, black tea, concrete. Always so good. 94-96pts.
2007 Cayuse Armada Syrah -- There was a palpable buzz going on around the room that this was a stunner. True dat! Powerful and beast-like, this puppy was a punch to your taste buds. Tons of black pepper, seaweed, baking spice, blood, pork, black cherries, coffee, chocolate. So much potential. 96-98pts.
2008 Bionic Frog Syrah -- I was surprised at how approachable this was. Most of the time, the barrel samples of the Frog are fairly tight. Huge ripe fruit, hints of scorched earth, bacon fat, iron, funk, fur, dried blood. Everything to keep a growing boy happy. I think this wine possess greatness. 97-100pts.
2007 Cayuse God Only Knows Grenache -- Continue to be impressed with the femininity and grace of this wine. Pretty, floral aromatics with strawberries, herbs, earth, raspberries, pomegranate, dried oregano. Not a huge wine, but it doesn't need to be. Elegant and satisfying. 93-95pts.
2008 Cayuse Widowmaker -- 100% cab. Much more cab-like than in previous vintages. Gone is most of the herbs but what is left is a powerful, meaty cab. Black currants, smoky plums, black raspberries, ripe tannins, game. Long life ahead. 93-95pts.
2008 Cayuse Impulsivo -- 100% tempranillo. Huge wine. Deep and dark with massive structure. Seemed to have more fruit this year versus the savory components of the 06. Dark raspberries, blackberries, plums with some cabbage and meat. Needs a little time to come together but when it does, lookout! 95-97pts.
We were also lucky enough to venture into the back room with Christophe and sample some 09's that were about 2 weeks old.
2009 Cayuse En Chamberlin Syrah -- Now I know what a monkey's ass smells like. Now I know that I like what a monkey's ass smells like. Guess I'm "that guy!" I can already tell this EC will have the stuff I love.
2009 Cayuse Cailloux Syrah -- Much more tame than the EC. Tasting fairly good as it goes the malo. Hard to say but my glass was empty.
2009 Cayuse Armada Syrah -- Already powerful. Game and earth. Shaping up to be a great vintage.
After Cayuse, we ventured up to my new favorite producer, Reynvaan. I was very impressed with their debut vintage that I tasted first in July, so looking forward to giving the 08's a go. They have added one syrah to their lineup, "The Unnamed Syrah." After drinking it, I think the name should be "Damn Good." They were also pouring the 07's again which was a terrific surprise. If you are not on their list, get on it. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but right freakin' now!
2008 Reynvann Syrah The Unnamed -- Big, powerful, and structured. Ripe concentrated fruit with steely tannins. This may have been a little lightly wound but was still giving off the promise of a damn good wine. I'm going to be a buyer. 92-94pts.
2008 Reynvaan Syrah In the Rocks -- Not quite as big as the Unnamed, this had aromas of white flowers, blackberries, bacon, and just a touch of earth. Concentrated dark fruit in the mouth with firm tannins. Another successful follow-up to the 07's. 92-94pts.
2008 Reynvaan Syrah The Contender -- Wow, is all I can say. Well, I can say a lot of other things but this is a famliy BB! Drop dead gorgoeus nose with violets up the wazoo. This wine possesses such strength and power but is also extremely elegant. Crushed blackberries/raspberries, meat, smoke, umami. A Certain contender for wine of the day. 95-97pts.
2007 Reynvaan Syrah In the Rocks -- This puppy has all grown up since July. I thought this was just a step below The Contender back then, but it has caught up. Smoky fruit, ripe tannins, earth, tad of funk, weighty mouthfeel. Delicious. 94pts.
2007 Reynvaan Syrah The Contender -- Lush, with concentrated dark blue/black fruit. Smoky elegance. Very complex for such a young wine. Can't wait to drink another. 94pts.
First off, I'd like to thank Travis for putting this together. I know it can be a pain dealing with 20 winos Secondly, I'd like to thank the jimgermanbar and its staff for putting together a great menu and providing us with top-notch service. That was a terrific room to hold a wine dinner. Lastly, thanks to everyone who attended. The selection of wines just goes to show the generosity and passion everyone who attended possesses. Freakin' insane wine and company! Lastly #2, a huge thanks to Christophe, Trevor, and the Cayuse gang for supplying us with 3 magnums of the most drop dead wine around. Here is the list of wines one more time along with my notes and thoughts... The Cayuse offerings: 2005 Camaspelo, 2004 En Chamberlin Syrah, 2006 Cailloux Syrah, 2006 Armada Syrah (x2), 2006 God Only Knows Grenache, 2005 Impulsivo Tempranillo, 2003 Bionic Frog Syrah, 2003 Coccinelle Syrah, 2003 En Cerise Syrah, 2005 Wallah Wallah Cailloux Syrah (Neutral Barrel) 3x Magnum (Gift from Christophe, Thank You!!!)
The Other offerings: Whites 1999 Joh.Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese (Magnum), 2007 Donnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese, 2007 Reynvaan Queens Road White Champagne 1996 Duval-Leroy Champagne Femme de Champagne, NV(?) Louis Roeder Brut Champagne French 2005 Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas La Louvée, 1996 Chateau Beaucastel, 1995 Clerc Milon, 1999 Chateau Pavie, 2001 Chateau Ausone, 2004 Chateau Lafite Napa/Sonoma 1999 Raymond Napa Valley Cabernet Reserve, 2006 Orin Swift Mercury Head Napa Cabernet, 2004 Kosta Browne Amber Ridge Syrah, 2004 Kosta Browne 4-Barrel Pinot Central CA Coast 2003 Sine Qua Non Omega Pinot Noir (Magnum), 2006 Sine Qua Non Raven Grenache, 2006 Saxum Booker Vineyard, WA State/Walla Walla 2007 Reynvaan In the Rocks Syrah, 2007 Reynvaan Contender Syrah, 2007 Rasa Vineyards Principia Syrah, 2007 Rasa Vineyards QED Syrah, 2004 Gorman Winery The F.O.G., 2005 Betz La Serene (Magnum), 2007 Idle Hands Syrah (Not yet Released), 2005 K Vintners Ovide, 2004(?) Copain Cailloux Syrah, 2004 Pedestal Merlot (magnum)
The really cool thing about this list is how it eclectic it is. Heavy hitters plus smaller producers equals fun and frivolity! Plus, my first ever 100 point wine... 1999 Joh.Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese (Magnum) -- Gorgeous light straw color. I was a little worried to drink this first but the sweetness was kept in check by a nice dose of petrol and minerality. Tasty beverage. 91pts. 2007 Donnhoff Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spatlese -- Every subsequent Donnhoff I drink just solidifies my opinion that I love these *****ers. Golden, with a dense core of honey, apple, and lemon. I used this as my palate cleanser all night as the minerality and acidity were a step above. 94pts. 2007 Reynvaan Queens Road White -- One of my new favorite WA State producers. They didn't make much of this wine at all and I felt priviledged that Matt gave me a bottle to take to this dinner. Rhone whites are usually tough for me as there just never seems to be enough acidity, plus I'm, not a huge fan of oak in my whites. This was a pleasant and balanced blend of marsanne and viognier. Not much oak, if any at all. Nice creaminess from the viognier along with some pear. Nice first effort. 90pts. 2003 Cayuse Bionic Frog -- Sh#t. This was the three D's...dark, dense, and dominating. For me, most of the funk has blown off this wine and a lean, mean fighting machine is left. Tons of iron, blood, soy, and game accented by concentrated blue fruits. Hefty and lengthy finish. So close to perfection. 99pts. 2003 Sine Qua Non Omega Pinot Noir (Magnum) -- As many of you know, I'm not a huge pinot guy but was excited to try SQN's take. More purple than red, this wine was like no other domestic pinot I'd had in that it seemed to have all blue fruit and not much red. Blueberries and blackberries. Tons of oak still left. Needs lots more time, I think. 88pts. 1996 Beaucastel -- This is really my first experience with Beaucastel as the previous three tries all resulted in corked bottles. Definitely has some age with its brick red color. Really liked the nose of hay and fur. Not a ton of fruit left but what was present was pleasing and fun. Looking forward to drinking more. 90pts. 2005 Cayuse Impulsivo -- Another dark beauty from Chrsitophe. Cured meats, superconcentrated dark fruit, woodsmoke. Very good now but in 3-5 years I think it will be outstanding. 93pts. 2006 Cayuse God Only Knows Grenache -- Wow, this was a nice counter to all of the powerful wines. Silky, lush, and feminine with the kind of nose I enjoy --herbs and some underbrush. Tons of strawberries, cherries, and some red twizzler action. Better than the first vintage (2005) which I loved. 96pts. 2004 Kosta Browne Amber Ridge Syrah -- Hefty, new world syrah. Gobs of blue/black fruits interwoven with some nice spice and oak. Pretty darn good. 92pts. 2006 SQN Raven Grenache -- My first SQN grenache. These wines are so freakin' superconcentrated. Massive core of dark fruit. Really big wine. I think it needs a couple years to settle down its alcohol which was hot on the finish. 92pts now but with the potential to get to 95pts. 1999 Pavie -- I was amazed at the color and freshness of this wine. For a 10 year old wine it certainly was deep and dark with no signs of ageing. This will most definitely age gracefully--not like one Pamela Anderson. Plums, black raspberries, smoke and nicely intergrated tannins and oak. Feels like a complete bordeaux, although I don't have a ton of experience. Delicious. Seemed to be a lot of people's WOTN until the Neutral Barrel showed up. 95pts. 1995 Clerc Milon -- Really liked this Paulliac. Certainly aged but with some nice secondary characteristics that the Pavie didn't have. Still had some tannin but just enough fruit to make drinking this a pleasure. 92pts. 2005 Cayuse Cailloux Neutral Barrel -- This is when the party really got started. Christophe was generous enough last year to send us a mag of this mythical beauty but decided we needed three mags this year. Thank you! As much as I liked this wine last year, it is in another league this year. The first whiff buckled my knees like a Dwight Gooden curveball circa 1986. It possessed every smell I love. Herbs, seaweed, dried pineapple, roasted berries, rare meat, sausage, blood, soy, violets. I literally sat there and smelled it for an hour. At this point, people were threatening to kick my ass if I didn't finally take a drink. I acquiesced and was blown away. Layers of flavors. Pineapple, smoke, dark fruit/berries, black pepper. Makes you think it's massive but conveys no excess baggage. Seamless and silky tannins along with the layered flavor and aromatics make the finish last for what seems to be hours. Otherworldly. 100pts. 2001 Chateau Ausone -- Dark ruby red/purple. Gorgeous plums and berries. Nice bit of smoky oak as well. Juicy acidity and coffee. I really liked it and would love to try it 15 years down the road. 95pts. 2004 Kosta Browne 4-Barrel Pinot Noir -- This was my surprise wine of the night. I wasn't really expecting this. The first thing that blew me away with this wine was the tremendously bright fruit. Such pure raspberry and strawberry fruit--lively. It just made my tongue dance inside my mouth. the tannins were firm, but who the hell cared when the fruit was in such attack mode. Are there any other domestic pinots like this? 95pts.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try a lot of the other wines or just simply can't remember as there was a sh#tload of wine. I definitely have things to say About the Reynvaan syrahs but will do that in my Cayuse/Reynvaan Barrel Tasting post. Thanks so much to everyone for a damn fine time!! Until next year... __________________