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WTN: Where do I begin

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WTN: Where do I begin

by Jenise » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:51 pm

to tell the story of how great a wine can be
a simple story that is older than the sea
where do I start....

So last weekend some wine friends in Seattle threw a cellar culling party. 27 attendees sampled starter wines of an excellent 2004 Jose Dhondt BdB from magnum (I brought this), a lovely 2007 Bollinger grand annee, a pretty Cremant rose from Burgundy that I never got to try and a NV Digby champagne from England which was a bit simple ('extra dry' level sweetness with big bubbles) by comparison to the others. No match for the Camel from England I had earlier this year, not even close.

The group was then divided, by the draw of cards from a deck, to one of four tables scattered around the first floor where 10 wines each. all bagged, were assembled for tasting.

We knew this: they were all cabernets or cabernet blends and most were California and Washington. There were no dupes. Each table had a different set of wines but each included a varietal ringer of good quality and a cheap $10 or under wine. After the reveal we would be free to roam the room and drain the remaining bottles. After we did that she'd pull out whiskeys (including a Pappy Van Winkle).


These were the wines at my table:

2006 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Red Mountain Red Bordeaux Blend
Big dark fruit with dark chocolate and incense-like spice. Tannins are fairly resolved and silky, giving the wine a supernatural elegance. It just glides. Superb.

2013 Joseph Swan Vineyards Tannat Matthew's Station Russian River Valley
Cabbish but I'm not sure of grape, others suggest cab franc but fruit seems too dense and the green notes are less herbal than raw green bell pepper. Reminds me of early WA cab sauvs, many had that green bell pepper thing. . Shocked by the reveal, oh and 16.1% abv.

2010 Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux Red Bordeaux Blend
Could be the Betz! (There was one, somewhere.) Blackish fruit, cedar, hypnotic nose but restrained on the palate, clearly a blend, grippy tannins, loads of resonance, long finish. One of my two top wines in the flight and of the day.

2014 Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Selection Kiona Estate Red Mountain Red Mountain
Big new world fruit, cab sauv's obvious but it's simple compared to other wines in the flight with a clipped finish. Gotta be the cheapie. (And that was wrong, though Kiona excels at value the 'Signature' bottling is their top drop, probably north of $40.)

2010 Obelisco Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Nefer II Obelisco Estate Vineyard Red Mountain
Tannic, shy fruit, short finish and mildly nondescript, hard to read. A later retaste showed no improvement. Once revealed, ouch! I know this wine from other vintages, have to think it's closed down hard and just didn't get enough time to open up. It's a better wine than this.

2011 Wallis Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Little Sister Diamond Mountain
Amber's, blind. Kind of international--not quite Bordeaux, not quite new world. Definitely not WA. Very dry, savory, herbal, could be a very good Bord Sup. Quite surprised on the reveal.

2012 Bevan Cellars Red Wine, Oakville, Curmudgeon Red Bordeaux Blend
Initially believed I was drinking a particularly elegant WA syrah or cab/syrah blend: Rocks funk, white pepper, concentrated red bell pepper and bing cherry fruit, bay leaf, sweet hammy smoke, layers of depth. Young with profound potential, and my WOTN. A later retaste was more cabbish but no less exciting. Today I went to the Bevan website and spent a lot of money.

2013 Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon California
In full honesty I must report that I did not even suspect this wine of being lesser pedigree let alone the cheapie wine. Liked it a lot better than the Kiona, for one. But mostly it did not have the overt, mass-appeal polish and sweetness I expect from Bogle, just solid fruit, dust, spice, black cherry and cigar box typical of Napa, and good palate presence for a young cab. Way outperforms its price, reputation and my estimation.

2013 Moone-Tsai Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
Very old world in style, fat and a bit unctious yet seriously structured. Would love to taste this again in a few years after more secondary development. Still, excellent.

That's nine wines. The tenth was actually a wine each table DID get a bottle of, a joker wine we hadn't been told about existing before the tasting! Sneaky Amber!!! My notes detail horrors there's no need repeating: it was the Apothic Cold Brew.


After the tasting I got to taste some of the other bottles. Here's what I could get to before they got drained:

2012 Andrew Will Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley
Very Washingtonian. Pleasantly approachable with no noticeable tannins as befits the velveteen year of big soft fruit that is 2012. Not built for aging; ready now.

2014 Rubus Shiraz Barossa
One of the other tables' ringers. Well oaked in the typical Oz export style, dark cherry, earth and boatloads of chocolate. A high end Mollydooker was rumored at the Spades table but they loved it and drained the bottle.

2007 Betz Family Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille Columbia Valley
Intense, youthful wine with blackberry fruit. Could use more time for the secondary nuances to marry up a bit better but it's sure obvious why Betz is Washington royalty.

2007 Groth Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville
Classic Groth-Napa. Warm and cozy-familiar like an old blanket; tannins quite resolved. Wouldn't hold any longer than 2019.

2011 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard Napa Valley
Has put on some weight in the past year, though it is still an '11 and lacks the density of riper vintages (for me, that's a plus). Very, very good.

2013 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley
Quarterback Drew Bledsoe's winery. And it's a real winery, not one of those "just put my name on the bottle" so-called wineries.
Notes just say: WOW. What I recall: black cherry and cigar box, silky tannins, smooth mouthfeel. Quite classy, and closer to CA than WA in style. I was very impressed.

2013 Sheridan Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla
Typical Sheridan: new world and on the higher end of alcohol, but saved from sheer hedonism by some dusty tannins.

2012 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
Tiny impression from a few drops left: like the Andrew Will from the same vintage, plusher and tamer than I've come to think of as usual for this brand, which I do like.


Then last night Bob and I opened this with dinner:

2012 Fritz Winery Pinot Noir Reserve Russian River Valley
Sweet fruit but dark and plummy with forest notes, more like OR than CA. Nicely evolved (and not done yet); showed well with eggplant kung pao.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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David M. Bueker

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Re: WTN: Where do I begin

by David M. Bueker » Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:04 pm

You will be happy as a direct customer of Bevan. Russell makes great wines, and Victoria (his partner) is amazing. I will advise you to steer clear of the Pinots. Focus on the Cabs.

FWIW, I had a horribly corked Ontogeny that I bought direct. They are making it right.
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