Four Great Wines from Guardian Cellars

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 4.05.31 PMWe have been fans of Guardian Cellars since first tasting the heavenly 2004 Gun Metal, the winery’s flagship Bordeaux blend. We happily joined the crowds at the 2007 opening of the winery’s tasting room in Woodinville.

Since the beginning, owner and winemaker Jerry Riener has maintained a policy: to cellar each premium red at least one year before release, something not common in new world winemaking styles.

The result is beauty in a glass.

From three wines and 300 cases in those early days, Riener increased production to nine wines and about 5,000 cases in 2013.

We visited the Guardian Cellars tasting room over the holidays and were not surprised to find out that the 2010 Gun Metal sold out shortly after its release. But we were delighted to find three more beautiful reds:

2011 Chalk Line is a scrumptious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, rounded off with a splash of Malbec, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. Jerry describes this sixth vintage as “a bona fide buffet of delicious grapes” and we couldn’t agree more.

2010 The Alibi is a stellar blend of Red Mountain fruit — 54% Cab Sauv, 31% Merlot and 15% Cab Franc from three vineyards, Obelisco, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun. The Alibi is absolutely gorgeous in its third vintage, in our humble opinion.

In its fifth vintage, the 2010 The Rookie is 100% Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, blended from grapes grown at Obelisco, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun vineyards. The Rookie was aged for 21 months in 100% new French oak, and 17 months in the bottle, before being released a couple of months ago and is, simply, amazing.

Next time you’re in the Woodinville wine warehouse district during a weekend, be sure to stop Guardian Cellars and try these wines for yourself.

Cheers!

Special Wines for New Year’s Eve

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Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.30.32 AMSome wines are just perfect for special occasions, and bringing in a new year seems like a great time to pop open the cork on one of them.

There are so many to choose from, we decide to list several special-occasion wines from Washington state and decide later which one we will open!

We highly recommend all of them!

Let us know some of your favorites.

Cheers to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014 from your friends at Write for Wine!

Margot and Dave

Where is the Love?

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Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.53.01 AMWe just got back from a trip to New York, where we played tourists for a weekend and had an incredible time.

That, despite a 20-degree snowstorm with high winds during an evening of a lot of walking around to see the lights and the sights.

So it was understandable that we wanted to take breaks to “come in from the cold” — and what better places than wine stores and wine bars? Since you’re reading this blog, we’re sure you’ll agree!

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 8.37.48 AM It was a very cold night. So we went into a lot of places to get warm. And we looked for Washington state wine.

We were not happy with the results.

One wine store had a couple of bottles from two Washington state wineries, on a shelf clearly marked “California.”

Another wine store said they only had one Washington state winery represented … until we pointed out a bottle from another one. The person helping us had no idea that bottle was from Washington state.

The third and fourth wine stores did not have any Washington wine whatsoever.

We didn’t fare much better at wine bars or even at restaurants with extensive wine lists.

We’re sure there are many good reasons why Washington state wineries don’t ship to New York – but we’d love to hear your take on it.

Meanwhile, we’re back at home, and loving our Washington wine.

There’s no wine like it!

Cheers!

Mackey Vineyards, Walla Walla

Cabernet Sauvignon, GSM, Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 5.34.39 PMWe recently had the opportunity to taste wine described as “hidden gems” from Walla Walla: Mackey Vineyards 2009 Syrah ($32), 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($32) and 2009 Concordia ($38). We give a thumbs up to all three.

Mackey Vineyards was launched in 2010 by Philip and Roger Mackey, who collaborated with winemaker Billo Naravane of Rasa Vineyards. Although gaining some local acclaim, the portfolio is not very well known across the state. As a result, Write for Wine received these samples to taste – and we are glad.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Syrah, Walla Walla Valley

This wine manages to pack a wallop, while being silky and elegant at the same time. Big and beautiful, this Syrah has a lovely nose with aromas of blackberry, vanilla and minerals, and is full of flavors of spice, black pepper and smoked meat — a showcase of the way this grape is crafted in Washington state. We enjoyed it with Dave’s amazing spaghetti, but this robust wine would also go well with grilled meats, game, beef stew and meat lover’s pizza. This Mackey Syrah is strong enough to simply pair with some tasty cheese, too – a mild but smokey blue cheese or a white cheddar.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Concordia, Columbia Valley

This deep, dark red wine is a Rhone blend of 77.4% Syrah, 12.9% Grenache, and 9.7% Mourvedre. In some circles, this big, peppery combination is known as GSM. Frankly, unlike many of our friends and colleagues, we are not big fans of Mouvedre or Grenache as stand-alone wines; there are many good ones in Washington state, but they aren’t to our palates. So we were always hesitant to taste a wine that blends those two grapes with Syrah. That is, until about a year ago, when Seven of Hearts in Carlton, Oregon encouraged us to stretch our palates and wowed us with their version. Thanks to Seven of Hearts, we decided to try again with this Concordia, and we loved it. The 2009 Mackey Vineyards Concordia showcases flavors of white pepper, black fruits, dark chocolate and vanilla. Mackey describes it as complex and decadent, and we agree.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Our palates favor Bordeaux-style wines, so how could we not enjoy  a Cabernet Sauvignon that is rounded off with 15.8% Cabernet Franc and 5.3% Petit Verdot? This wine features a silky texture and good complexity, and we both talked about how it is a good every day wine to pair with some of our favorite home-cooked meals. But notably, we both also think it will age to become a special-occasion wine, if we cellar it for 5-8 years. In other words, it definitely is drinkable now, but has the potential to be be really powerful a few years down the road.

By the way, both the 2009 Mackey Vineyards Cab Sauv and Syrah won a gold at the 2012 Seattle Wine Awards and silver at the 2013 Tri-Cities Wine Festival last month. The 2009 Concordia received 92 points from The Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast, and 91 points from Wine Spectator.

Give all three a try and let us know what you think!

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Belated Thanks!

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Thank you for your patience while our blog, Write for Wine – it’s Wine O’clock Somewhere, was offline for more than a week after being hacked. As a result, this Washington wine blog was not accessible during Thanksgiving.

We are thankful that you stayed with us, and we’d like to send belated Thanksgiving wishes to family, friends and our readers. We’re thankful for many, many things.

First, always is health and family, followed by good friends and good jobs. We’d also like to give thanks for any unknown blessings already on their way.

We are thankful that we’ve had an opportunity to become friends with many people at Washington wineries including:

Jarrod and Ali, Vida and Ross, Matt, Kathie, Rachel, Shanah and Carah at Alexandria Nicole Cellars; Rod, Leslie and Marcus at William Church Winery; Angie and Kevin, Daniel and Helen, Peter and Nancy at Efeste; Kevin and Rebecca at Barrage Cellars; Doug and Manny at Obelisco Estate; Bijal, Sinead and Jean Claude at The Woodhouse Wine Estates; Marie-Eve at Forgeron Cellars and Gilles at Long Shadows; Charlie, Jess and Cindy at Fidelitas Wines; Mike and Kate at Northwest Totem Cellars; Justin at Va Piano; Neil at Cooper Wine; John and Peggy at JM Cellars; Tim and Nancy at Fall Line; Judy and Don at Hard Row to Hoe; Hope at Heaven’s Cave; Chris at Gorman Winery; Darby at Darby Winery; Marty and Chris at Avennia; Trey at Sleight of Hand; Amber and Greg at Desert Wind; Bart at Bartholomew Wine; and Mike, Karen, John and Kelly Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard.

And a special shoutout to our Walla Walla gal-pals Jamie at L’Ecole 41; Muriel at Otis Kenyon; Shari at Woodward Canyon; and Catie at Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman; and to our special friends who are now in Walla Walla, Brennon and Paige Leighton.

Of course there are dozens of other fabulous friends and wine enthusiasts in Washington state, Oregon, California and other places — too many to name — and we wish you all the best too.

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Stay safe over the holiday season.

Cheers!

Margot and Dave

 

Wines for Thanksgiving

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carlton Wine Country, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Washington wineries, Wine, Zinfandel Comments Off

Wondering what wines to share over the Thanksgiving holidays? A special bottle to take to a family dinner or an evening with good friends? Here is our list of current favorite red wines of different vintages.

But first, a note: We strongly believe that people should drink whatever varieties of wine they want, red or white. Our preference for Thanksgiving happens to be robust red wines – some with a bit of funk, such as 2009 Reynvaan In the Rocks Syrah, and some that are rich and smooth, such as 2009 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon.

In addition to those two beauties, here are the wines (in alphabetical order) that we recommend for Thanksgiving – all are from Washington state unless otherwise noted as from Oregon.

What’s on your list of Thanksgiving wines?

Cheers!

 

Do Not Miss Taste of Tulalip (2013)

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This has become our annual post about a weekend extravaganza we like to attend each year. Taste of Tulalip is one of the best wine-and-food events offered in the northwest.

Run, don’t walk, to get tickets because two of the four passes for the Nov. 8-9 weekend are already sold out.  The remaining tickets for this fifth annual festival will go quickly, and this is one experience you do not want to miss.

The kick-off tasting reception and celebratory dinner on Friday, Nov. 8 is already sold out, as is the all-access pass for Saturday, which includes special reserve tastings, a beer summit, cooking demonstrations and a magnum party.

But there are still individual tickets left for the magnum party, our personal favorite, which features some of the most highly sought-after wines from around the world, in addition to the “Rock-n-Roll Cooking Challenge.”

Also still available, the weekend’s highlight, the Grand Taste, spanning four hours on Saturday, Nov. 9, and featuring pours from more than 120 wineries from Washington state, California and Oregon, along with multiple lavish food stations by Tulalip Resort‘s award-winning chefs.

This year’s honorary winemaker is the talented Bob Betz from Betz Family Winery. He worked closely with the Tulalip wine team to create a one-of-a-kind fifth anniversary blend from Bordeaux varieties (75%) and Syrah (25%) sourced from Washington’s top vineyards in Red Mountain (25%), Yakima Valley (33%) and Horse Heaven Hills (15%).

In Betz’s words: “We are very pleased with this new blend featuring penetrating Cabernet Sauvignon aromatics — yet a supple mouthfeel from Syrah.”

We expect this wine, to be released at the Nov. 8 dinner, to showcase not only Bob Betz’s exemplary winemaking style but also the best of Washington grapes.

Tickets are available at the Taste of Tulalip website or Ticketmaster.

We heart Taste of Tulalip, and we hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

Mercer Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

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If you love Cabernet Sauvignon, you simply must experience the Mercer Columbia Valley Reserve 2009. We tried it for the first time at the winery’s tasting room in Prosser at the end of September and brought a couple of bottles home with us.

It was that good.

This well-balanced, complex, structured, yet voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon is part of Mercer’s Twenty-Barrel Program, representing the very best 20 barrels at the winery.

A luscious blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 2% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Syrah, this beauty is sourced from grapes grown in the Wahluke Slope’s Desert Wind Vineyard and Sagemoor Vineyard, north of Pasco, in addition to Mercer’s Spice Cabinet Vineyard, located in the Horse Heaven Hills.

From Rob Mercer’s tasting notes:

“This sumptuous wine expresses the very best of what the growing season has bestowed upon us. It delivers delicious black cherry and currant with serious length and complexity. Enjoy a mouthful of spice, rich fruit and chocolate — this wine truly captures the essence of our 2009 vintage.”

Priced at less than $40, 2009 Mercer Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was awarded 90 points from Wine Advocate, 88 points from Wine Spectator and a bronze medal at the Tri-Cities Wine Festival 2012.

According to our palates, it is worthy of higher points and should have taken home the gold.

By the way, the Mercer Family has farmed and ranched in Horse Heaven Hills for 125 years, 40 of which were spent growing grapes in the AVA.

If you’re planning a visit to Central Washington’s wine country, be sure to put Mercer Estates on your list of must-visit tasting rooms.

Cheers!

Speaking of Alexandria Nicole Cellars …

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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!

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