Speaking of Alexandria Nicole Cellars …

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

We just got back from our annual trip to Destiny Ridge Vineyard for Alexandria Nicole Cellars‘ Harvest Party in the Vines. This wine club event sparkles with fun every single year.

The weather in central Washington was much cooler this year than previous ones when the thermometer soared to near 100 degrees. But a little wind and rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the amazing ANC team, who worked for days preparing for the festivities.

In addition to the favorites of years past — a wine-balloon toss, grape stomp and dancing, accompanied by a vast array of stellar ANC wines and a delicious menu from Chef Frank Magana — this year’s Harvest Party also had a theme.

Cirque du Harvest 2013 featured entertainers in bright costumes and white face makeup, dancing on stilts, doing magic and passing out unusual appetizers, such as alligator bites.

The ANC team joined the fun, wearing top hats and multi-colored rings with flashing lights, and encouraged party revelers to step into a photo booth set up for the occasion.

Our hosts, ANC co-owners Ali and Jarrod Boyle, displayed their trademark warmth and humility, along with grace and down-home friendliness that permeated through everyone who attended.

We would be remiss if we didn’t flag the wine, created with talent, skill and passion by Jarrod and his hard-working vineyard and winery teams. In addition to old favorites and library wines such as Block 17, Destiny and Quarry Butte, wine club members tasted Little Big Man, Cabernet Franc, Jet Black, Shepherds Mark and Pinot Gris.

We’ve been members of the Alexandria Nicole Cellars wine club for years; it is the epitome of what we look for — stellar wine, fabulous people and incredible events. If you’re not a member, think about it. Seriously.

For party photos, have a look at ANC’s Facebook page. We hope to see you there next year.

Cheers!

 

Little Big Man vs. Mr. Big

Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Since its first vintage in 2007, we’ve been fans of Mr. Big Petite Sirah from Alexandria Nicole Cellars. But now there’s a new ANC Big Man in Town – Little Big Man Petit Verdot. And he is another winner from winemaker extraordinaire (and friend), Jarrod Boyle.

The name, Little Big Man, represents a diminutive grape and an enormous and expressive wine.

The 2010 vintage is Jarrod’s second bottling of his lush stand-alone Petit Verdot. This grape is typically used in classic red blends — a tradition that spans centuries since the grape was grown in Medoc on the left bank of Bordeaux.

The 2010 Little Big Man (94% Petit Verdot rounded off with 6% Cabernet Sauvignon) is an exceptional, full-bodied, robust red that showcases the grapes from ANC’s Estate Vineyard, Destiny Ridge.

From Jarrod’s tasting notes:

“This wine’s dark and inky black color foreshadows the seductively alluring earthy aromas of blackberries, violets, eucalyptus and cedar. The approach to the palate is generous and easy with deep black currants, more blackberries, tobacco and some plum.  The lengthy finish is complex, yet velvety smooth with hints of black cherry, espresso, and spice, backed up by solid tannins.  Enjoy this robust wine on its own or with a hearty steak.”

Our new love of Little Big Man does not take away from the long-standing appreciation of Mr. Big, which boasts huge flavors and bold structure, also from grapes sourced at Destiny Ridge.

From Jarrod’s tasting notes:

“Deep dark and purple in color, this wine offers a complex aroma of toffee, caramel, smoked meats and earth with distinct blackberry notes and a hint of spicy French Oak. A savory and rich-mouth feel ushers in flavors of ripe fruit, brown sugar, boysenberry and cedar for this big bodied wine. A perfect balance of acid and fruit, Mr. Big finishes long with bold drying tannins. Although drinking well now, this wine is showing all the signs of being cellar worthy for years to come.”

We highly recommend both of these big wines from Alexandria Nicole Cellars, along with many others. Keep in mind that Jarrod grows 22 different varieties at Destiny Ridge Vineyard; there is no way we could choose a favorite!

Cheers!

A is for Albatross and Amazing: Gorman Winery

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Hot on the heels of raving about Chris Gorman’s Force Majeure 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Collaboration Series, we opened a bottle of Gorman Winery 2009 The Albatross.

This exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is another Red Mountain beauty with the identifiable stamp of Chris Gorman’s winemaking.

The Albatross exemplifies power in a bottle, with 20% Petit Verdot blended with 80% Red Mountain Cab Sauv.

This big, bold red packs a punch – but from a boxing glove encased in luxurious velvet.

In this case, power is accompanied by elegance and a richness so strong that the wine can be enjoyed alone; it does not need to be paired with food.

That being said, just one sip immediately generates a craving for a big juicy steak.

If your favorite red wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, this is one wine you simply must taste. We wish we had the wealth for a never-ending supply! That being said, only 145 cases were made, so quantities are limited.

We first tasted The Albatross at Taste Washington last March, and immediately knew we had to bring a bottle home for a special occasion.

The Albatross received 94 points from Wine Enthusiast. In our opinion, The Albatross deserves an A+.

A is for Albatross and Amazing.

Cheers!

Two Washington Reds for a Special Occasion (or Because You Can)

Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

We were fortuate to have two special occasions in the last two weeks, so we opened a special bottle of red wine to celebrate on each evening.

Both were 2010 Cabernet Sauvignons from Red Mountain: Force Majeure Collaboration Series and Obelisco Estate Electrum.

These are two stellar Washington wines that both have the WOW factor!

Force Majeure 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Collaboration Series, Force Majeure Vineyard, Red Mountain

This Red Mountain beauty is 100% Cab Sauv created by rockstar winemaker, Chris Gorman. This is one big, intense, complex, bold, inky red that exemplifies the terroir, the attributes of our favorite grape and the stamp of Chris Gorman.

We’ve been fans of Chris’s red wines for a few years now, but this one takes the prize — an amazing, heaven-in-a-glass special-occasion wine.

Force Majeure is French for “superior force” and was chosen to describe “the relentless, powerful elements of Nature that form the terroir of our vineyards.” The Wine Advocate recently scored all of the Force Majeure Collaboration Series red wines from the 2010 and 2011 vintages between 94 and 97 points.

2010 Obelisco Estate Electrum, Obelisco Estate Vineyard, Red Mountain

We’ve applauded Obelisco’s Electrum since we first met winemaker Doug Long a few years ago. But this vintage is our favorite, probably because the estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with 7.5% Merlot and 2.5% Malbec to round out the rich flavors.

The 2010 is almost black in color, full-bodied, lush, velvety and simply exceptional. Not surprisingly, Electrum wins Double Golds every year at the Seattle Wine Awards and sells out quickly.

In case you’re wondering, Electrum is an alloy of gold, silver and other trace metals, carefully layered at the top of a Pharoah’s obelisk to reflect the sun.

These two show-stopper reds are our recommendations for your next special occasion … or just because you can!

Cheers!

 

 

It’s Not Too Late For Summer Sippers! Five Whites for $16-$25

Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Who says summer is over with Labour Day? No way – there is still a month left for summer sippers on the deck in Washington state!

Here are five white Washington state wines to enjoy in the weeks ahead.

2012 Wysling Band of Sisters, Parejas  Cellars: $16

This refreshing white wine “bands” together a unique blend of 55% Marsanne, 34% Roussanne and 11% Grenache Blanc. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if we’d like it because our choice in whites tends to favor Sauvignon Blancs and Viogniers. But this dry white was a pleasant surprise and is well worth the price point. According to the tasting notes: “Band of Sisters has “exotic & refreshing perfumed aromas of spiced herbal tea, spring blossoms, Asian pears, Greengages, and honeysuckle.” Interestingly, we experienced grapefruit, which is one of the reasons we enjoyed it so much. We also appreciated its full body – this wine drinks well alone or with food. (Note: We were sent this wine to sample; as stated in our sample policy, we accept free samples with the understanding that we only write about wine that we like.)

2012 Feral Sauvignon Blanc, Efeste: $20; 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, JM Cellars: $25

2012 Efeste Feral follows in the footsteps of previous award-winning vintages by a different winemaker. Brennon Leighton created Feral using indigenous, wild yeast, which showcases the crisp, clean minerality pure to this varietal. Current winemaker Peter Devison continued this style, crafting another winner for Efeste. From the tasting notes: “On the palate lemon, yellow grapefruit, and sugarcane flavors are supported by ripe phenolics and gooseberry-like acidity, which is persistent and mouthwatering. The finish is long and elegant. This wine demands shellfish.”

2012 JM Cellars Sauv Blanc is another stellar white from winemaker John Bigelow. We have enjoyed several bottles of this beauty on our deck throughout the summer and saved one for the perfect warm September evening ahead. It is thoroughly refreshing alone or paired with prawns or some excellent cheese. From the tasting notes: “We ferment the juice in stainless steel tanks to show off beautiful tropical fruit aromas and flavors found in Klipsun Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and dry, our Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly with a summer picnic.”

A few years ago, these two Washington Sauvignon Blancs, along with one from Goosecross in Napa Valley, brought us back to loving white wine in the summer after a decade of strictly reds.

2012 Viognier, Alexandria Nicole Cellars: $20; 2012 Viognier, William Church Winery: $23

Jarrod Boyle, ANC’s winemaker and co-owner, describes his 2012 Alexandria Nicole Viognier as a “golden gem,” and we couldn’t agree more. The lavender, peach and citrus aromas are gorgeously summer. This Viognier has generated numerous accolades with its textured mouth-feel and luscious flavors. We found it pairs well with grilled seafood or some chicken dishes. From the tasting notes: “Beautifully balanced it lingers with the richness of apricot and orange blossom, with a lively mouth feel of crisp granny smith apple and a touch of pear on the finish. A clean and refreshing wine that pairs well with food or a summertime patio.”

William Church Viognier is known as the winery’s signature, winning many awards over the years. Winemaker Rod Balsley recommends pairing this fragrant, lush wine with creamy cheeses or foods with a dash of asian spice. We’ve also appreciated it without food. From the tasting notes: “Our flagship Viognier has beautiful aromatics of fresh pear and honeysuckle. What follows are rich peach flavors and citrus with enough acidity to keep the wine fresh and lively.”

So raise a glass of refreshing Washington wine to Summer 2013 – and its continuation into September.

Cheers!