Went to a fundraiser last night and was seated with Eric Dunham, winemaker of one of Washington State's better wineries. His wines were served throughout the meal:
2005 Chardonnay: From a vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills. Light green-gold color and apple strudel nose. Restrained use of oak--only 10% new. I guessed the alcohol at 14% and Eric confirmed "about 13.8". That plus a bit of RS on the finish kept the wine out of the crisp realm, but it's a nice effort.
2005 Rose: from 100% cab franc, 120 cases made. Exceptionally attractive color of pale warm creamy pink pearls. On the palate, cranberry and tarragon notes with a sweet creamy finish owing to what tastes like extended malolactic fermentation and the lingering residual sugar of very ripe grapes. Paired beautifully with a sturgeon, salmon and leek terrine doused with a citrus-caviar vinaigrette.
2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (labeled version VIII): 100% cab sauv sourced from five different vineyards. Served with pink peppercorn-coriander crusted rare duck breast, spring vegetable risotto and a truffled sauce--important because offhand I might have suggested that a cabernet was too heavy for duck, but in this case I'd have been wrong. A big, Bordelaise styled cab with cherries, berries, plums, green tobacco leaf, ripe tannins, and judiciously-used French Oak. Uncorked about an hour before service but not decanted, the wine drinks well now but will certainly reward time. Impressive.
2003 Syrah: Another impressive effort. Sourced from three vineyards, this wine shows the ripe, sweet fruit of a warm vintage without getting goopy. Absolutely correct and inviting cherry and floral nose, warm cherry compote on the midpalate and an interesting note of spicy, sweet sasparilla on the finish. Very well matched with it's food companion, a mache and herb salad featuring chervil, grilled nectarine and Cambozola cheese.
2005 Semillion Ice Wine: I immediately asked if this was a true ice wine or from frozen grapes, and Eric told me something I did not know. That, like some other wine terms that I did know about, the term "ice wine" is protected by Washington state law to describe only wines made from grapes that legitimately froze on the vine. These grapes were picked on December 8th at 42 brix. 90 cases were made. Elegant and full-bodied, with rich honeysuckle, tangy apricot, tangerine and lavendar, allspice and cloves, and a long, non-cloying finish. Having absolutely no sweet tooth I don't easily say nice things about sweet wines, but this is a stunner.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov