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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jenise » Thu May 24, 2018 2:12 pm

So though I put all this in another post, here's a bunch of Cab Francs from Washington state that came to a 'Global Cab Franc' tasting, along with a little bully pulpit stuff.

2013 Rasa Vineyards Cabernet Franc QED Axiom of Choice Walla Walla Valley
Beautifully balanced, fruit/complexity/acid/tannins--everything just right for a new world CF. Excellent. I love what the brothers are doing at Rasa--I have yet to have one of their wines that didn't impress.

2014 Bonair Cabernet Franc Puryear Vineyard Rattlesnake Hills
One of Washington's oldest wineries that no one's ever heard of, including most Washingtonians. Very inconsistent producer who had a great year with cab franc a few years ago, a wine that sold for just $13, and might have been '13 vintage, and suddenly their wines were everywhere but newer vintages, like this one, just haven't held up. Major brett on the nose, rustic palate, fades quickly. Junk.

2013 Spring Valley Vineyard Cabernet Franc Katherine Corkrum Walla Walla Valley
Here's a winery I kind of ignored based on the belief that their wines were overwrought with oak. A few bottles in the last couple years have shown me that I made a mistake. Sure, there's new world berry fruit and some oak here, but also mushrooms, herbs, orange peel and other things Loire-like. However a brown paper bag note brought disagreement about corked or not. I voted 'not'. Very good.

2013 Tero Estates Cabernet Franc Windrow Vineyard Walla Walla Valley
Never heard of Tero before and never want to again. Chocolatey, quite sweet but more like artificial sweetener than real sugar, ripe and goopy, drinks like an Orin Swift wine (yuck). But hey, does anyone remember Scott Windrow? Long time ago was active on the Compuserve board and made the move to WLDG, I think. This was his vineyard--used to sell most of it to Seven Hills, but i have no idea if he's still around.

2016 Savage Grace Wines Cabernet Franc Copeland Vineyard Rattlesnake Hills
Michael Savage is a new force in Washington wines. Very much a purist in style, his wines never show oak or other interferences, but he's not yet well off enough to hold them the extra year needed before release to show as they should. For instance his Malbec, which he calls Cot, usually throws some to-me bubble gummy notes that remind me of carbonic maceration, which I can't stand, and time would take care of that. His cab franc gets high marks for being Loire-ish. This bottle, however, shows light bodied with more strange cardboardy vegetal flavors than fruit. Those present argue about whether this is flawed (I voted flawed) or just in juvenile detention.

2015 Whidbey Island Winery Cabernet Franc Yakima Valley
Very little acid. Cocoa and graham crackers for fruit, tannins shut things down. Clunky. A surprise, I'd liked this winery's CF a lot in the past.

2013 Andrew Will Cabernet Franc
Shows more ripe sweetness than complexity, and it lacks brightness/acidity. Might be asleep. Nonetheless, I was disappointed, I quite liked another bottle a year ago.

2016 Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley
Great new label, big improvement. Fruit forward but sturdy, there's power here in the good new world ripeness. Very enjoyable.


So this was a very interesting tasting. Eight or ten other wines present were from France or California. With very little exception it was pretty clear when we tasted a wine whether or not it was old or new world, and if new, if it was from California or Washington because the Californians were all bigger. And not in a bad way, just different. The one misdirect where we thought one thing might be something else was a Charles Joguet from 2014, and only because of the ripeness, but it's nonetheless evidence of the similarity between Washington and Loire for this grape when bad winemaking doesn't get in the way. And unfortunately, it usually does.
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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Re: 2015 The Pundit, Syrah, Columbia Valley, WA

by JC (NC) » Thu May 24, 2018 9:18 pm

Produced and bottled by Tenet Wines, Paterson, WA. 14.5% alcohol by volume. Collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle, Michel Gassier and consulting oenologist Philippe Cambie. Owl-face graphic on the front label. In the glass, dark purple, dense and opaque. Juicy on the surface, but with some underlying depth. Dark fruit flavors and aromas. At around $20 a good qpr for everyday drinking. I had it with beef stir fry with bell pepper and onion. Next up, two Oregon Pinot Noirs.
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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Tim York » Fri May 25, 2018 6:13 am

Having complained about lack of availability of wines from the American NW here in France, I was cheered by an offer from an internet wine seller of Sorella Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills Washington State 2013 - Parker 94 points. But then I saw the price; €119,90 :shock:. I'll pass on that one.

Am I missing something good?
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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by JC (NC) » Fri May 25, 2018 2:33 pm

I like the Sorella but I don't buy it now either because it is expensive even in the USA.
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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jenise » Fri May 25, 2018 6:41 pm

Tim York wrote:Having complained about lack of availability of wines from the American NW here in France, I was cheered by an offer from an internet wine seller of Sorella Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills Washington State 2013 - Parker 94 points. But then I saw the price; €119,90 :shock:. I'll pass on that one.

Am I missing something good?


The producer on that is Andrew Will, and it's his top bottle--an ageable Bordeaux blend that shows A List Washington state terroir and talent. I think here it runs around $75. Great vintage, too. If money were no object it would be a great window into what we do here. Unfortunately, that's a lot to pay for an academic experience.
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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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jenise » Fri May 25, 2018 7:06 pm

Okay, so last Friday night the not-so-little local wine group I run had 80 guests present to taste the wines of Chateau Ste. Michelle with CSM's head winemaker (and exec VP) Bob Bertheau. Here are the wines we tasted:

2017 Rose
2016 Dry Riesling
2015 Indian Wells Red Blend (46%syrah, 32% merlot, plus bits of Malbec, grenache, mourvedre, viognier and cinsault)
2014 Austral GSM Blend Limited Release

2016 Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauv Blanc
2016 Eroica Riesling
2014 Ethos Reserve Chardonnay
2013 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot
2013 Cold Creek Vineyard Cab Sauv
2013 Artist Series Red Blend (all five bdx grapes)
2014 Eroica Riesling Ice Wine

The first four were served by roving pourers during the Mingle Hour, and the rest were poured for a sitdown tasting and buffet dinner.

So here's my history with CSM: I respect what they do--they have a style and they nail it, but it's not been my style. I go to the Chateau for concerts every year and buy the better seat that gives me Chateau access (you can take a bottle back to your seats), but in general I buy chardonnay or sauv blanc because it's a warm summer evening and I generally find the reds a bit oaky and sweet. In fact though they make every grape in the book (there are myriad Limited Release wines available only at the winery that the general retail public never sees, not that you were looking) I've joked that all the reds taste alike.

Also, such was my opinion of CSM's wines that I expected the head winemaker to be a fairly square guy. 'Square' as in what was meant back in the 70's by square. So I was completely unprepared for the irreverent and extroverted force of nature that is the 56 year old Bob Bertheau. That man can really work a crowd. I'm not ready to join their Wine Club or anything, but spending an evening with him and tasting all the wines we did made a very favorable impression.

First of all, he's really hands-on. He has a staff, sure, but he truly makes the wine. The wines aren't being made in a lab, there are no wine designers on the staff. (Well, maybe there are, but they're all assigned to the people-pleaser brands like 14 Hands and Hot to Trot). The CSM wines aren't afraid to show the vagaries of vintage fluctuation.

But yeah, though they like their oak the wines we tasted were consistent and solid. I was very impressed that a leftover half bottle of the Astral that I found too sweet the night we poured it had evolved beautifully four days later. And yeah, the Eroica chardonnay's oak was a bit too toasted for my tastes, but it was far more refined than the fruitbomb expected based on a bottle we had from a previous vintage on one of those concert nights.
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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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jenise » Sun May 27, 2018 12:18 pm

Last night we had steak, a prime grade rib-eye given a one-hour cure with salt, sugar and curry powder (it's a divine combo that gets great crusty color, try it). I chose a 2004 Long Shadows Feather, a 100% cab 'made' by California winemaker Randy Dunn in WA with WA state fruit.

This wine has never lived up to the Dunn reputation. Never had the complexity of his California wines, and now at age 14, it has passed it's peak already as the last glass devolves into soy sauce flavors without ever having developed anything in the way of satisfying secondary nuances. It's a real problem with Washington wines: too many don't age well--they just get old, and that's that. Sure vintage plays a part and 04 wasn't a great vintage, but Rob Newsom's 04 Boudreaux Reserve is absolute proof that beautifully aging cabernets with fantastic secondary complexity were possible. Why Allen Shoup's money and Randy Dunn's talent didn't produce one like it is beyond me.
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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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jenise » Mon May 28, 2018 3:40 pm

Something interesting I just read, is that where Washington state is full of south-facing vineyards, there are a lot of new vineyards being planted on north or north-ish facing slopes as winemakers are seeking out more cool-climate influences for our wines. That's a good, good thing.
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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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jim Grow » Mon May 28, 2018 10:04 pm

2007 Cadence Ciel du Cheval: Deep purple/black in color with a nose of plum and eucalyptus, the palate was more about plum and rosemary. Tannins are mostly (90%) resolved but still present. This wine might evolve into a bit more complex wine but was very enjoyable tonight . My last bottle. 39% CS, 35% CF, 13% Merlot and 13% PV. I'd like to see this wine in ten more years. It might be very interesting! abv of 14.4%
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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jenise » Tue May 29, 2018 5:17 pm

That wine doesn't have a reputation for that kind of longevity, Jim. I owned some '10s, which overall is a more structured vintage, and they's already peaked.
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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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by JC (NC) » Sun Jun 03, 2018 7:26 pm

Two Oregon Pinot Noirs opened in May but not yet recorded.

2009 Lumos Wine Company Pinot Noir Block 5 (produced and bottled by Lumos Wine Co. McMinnville, OR) 14.1% abv. I'm finding plum notes with a little too much astringency for full pleasure. The flavor on its own is attractive if it could somehow be separated from the astringency. It is structured and with some lingering tannins on the finish.

2010 Raptor Ridge Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Labeled as 13% abv. Grapes from several vineyards were blended in this wine. Strong aroma that reminds of purple grape skins (such as Concord grapes) and also medicine. Reminders of purple grape skins also on the tongue and palate (purposeful extraction or juice left on grape skins longer than customary?) A slightly bitter note makes the wine less appealing to me. I would rate it somewhere in the mid-80's but may be biased as it is not the type of Pinot Noir I prefer. I liked it better on the third night after I opened it than on the first or second night. I would choose the Lumos over the Raptor Ridge Reserve. Neither wine ranks among the better Oregon Pinots I have had in the past.
Last edited by JC (NC) on Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jenise » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:24 pm

JC, I've never even heard of Lumos (which isn't saying a lot, there are so many new, cool little wineries in Oregon.) But Raptor Ridge yes, and I've had a few of the wines over the years. I recall them as good but a bit flashy without remembering exactly what I mean by that, but the fact that I've never made a note to self to go buy any after drinking other people's bottles speaks to something. Wonder if the medicine flavor you mention could be iodine? It shows up in especially ripe and extracted pinots, and the '10 vintage and winery style might have produced same. I don't own ANY Oregon '10s, so no feel for it.
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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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by JC (NC) » Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:58 pm

Yes, Jenise, I think iodine could apply. I didn't get around to Pinots from Ken Wright or Carter Vineyard but may have some over the summer as they may be close to going downhill.
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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by Jenise » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:38 pm

JC, did you see my notes last August on the tasting of 2010 Ken Wright pinots a friend of mine hosted? Won't necessarily predict what you have to look forward to, but perhaps there's something info for you in it.

http://forums.wineloverspage.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=60019&p=463854&hilit=Ken+Wright#p463849
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Re: Wine Focus for May 2018: Northwest of North America

by JC (NC) » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:26 pm

Thanks for the link, Jenise. My Ken Wright Pinots are from 2008 and one from 2011 and I have Carter Vineyard Pinots from 2008, 2009 and 2010 all from Hillblock parcel with Pommard clone.
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