Time to Try Gard

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Wine Comments Off

Gard Vintners was created in 2006 by the Lawrence family, who has been farming the Royal Slope, near Royal City in the Columbia Valley, for more than 45 years. We enjoyed some of Gard wines a few years ago, but hadn’t tasted any recently.

So we were delighted when we received three samples of Gard wines from Lawrence Estate Vineyards on the Frenchman Hills in the Columbia Valley AVA.

We had been told that Gard wines had developed over the years and indeed, that is absolutely right.

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 5.11.18 PM2009 Syrah Reserve packed a punch from the minute we opened the bottle.

Super dark, super ripe, super layered and super intense, this magnificent wine is smoky, earthy and powerful with a hint of black pepper.

Pair it with barbecued anything or a nice spicy bowl of spaghetti, or drink it alone, simply enjoying the lingering taste that builds sip after sip. (Released May 2012, $45)

2010 Syrah is an incredible value at $29. We recommend decanting this medium-bodied wine for an hour or two to truly experience its evolution into a rich and silky mouthfeel. Or better yet, cellar it for 2-4 years and prepare to be wowed. (Released May 2013)

2011 Don Isidro Red is a medium-bodied blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Syrah and 8% Merlot that will complement a meal such as roast beef, beef stew or even a good steak. At $22, this red could be described as an easy-drinking, food-friendly value wine that could grace any table. (Released September 2013)

Props to Gard winemaker Aryn Morell – we are adding Gard Vintners to our list of favorites.

Cheers!

 

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

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

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

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!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Beautiful food, wine and oh, what a view!

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine Comments Off

Oh what a night! We were fortunate to be invited to a bloggers’ tasting of the fall menu from Six Seven Restaurant at The Edgewater recently.

Let us start out by saying run, don’t walk, to this gorgeous spot on the pier, if you are looking for a special evening out or well, just because you can.

The food was as inspiring as the stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, and the spectacular sunset as well.

Chef John Roberts prepared delectable choices from his new fall menu, paired with the just-released 2011 Delille Cellars D2 and Woodward Canyon 2010 “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon. The D2 shows much promise, while the Cab Sauvignon is highly drinkable right now, and wow, heaven in a glass.

Here is the menu of the scrumptious dishes we were served.

  • Salmon Crudo appetizer with sweet chili pepper puree, apple salsa, avocado and yellow curry oil
  • Sweet Potato and Leek soup with kale, pine nuts and chanterelles
  • Golden Beet salad with candied pecans, craisins, oranges, blue cheese, fuji apples and sherry reduction
  • Pan Roasted Halibut with mussels over a saffron risotto
  • Roasted Rack of Lamb and rosemary roasted vegetables, which was enhanced by the rich, robust Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pear and Frangipane Tart

These tasty dishes are described in our live tweets on Twitter @writeforwine on Oct. 17. For mouth-watering photos and descriptions, we also suggest that you visit the blog of our new friends and well-respected Seattle-area foodies, Mary and Joy, at A Passionate Plate.

Not only do we recommend Six Seven as a must-visit (often) restaurant, but also we encourage you to stop by the luxury waterfront Edgewater Hotel where the restaurant is located.

The Edgewater is a wonderful place to stay — check out these photos and you’ll see why one of my colleagues said he never wanted to leave — and also has such a rich history.

The Edgewater is the only over-water and waterfront hotel in the Seattle area. Shortly after it was built, zoning changes prevented additional construction of further hotels on piers.

In its early years, many hotel rooms offered fishing poles, so guests could cast-off from their rooms’ windows. The Beatles stayed at The Edgewater in 1964, followed by the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

But back to the present – we highly recommend that Seattle residents and visitors to the area stop by for a meal at Six Seven and a visit to the historic hotel.

We also want to thank Chef Roberts at Six Seven and Sarah Kiepe and her  Edgewater team for one of the tastiest and fun evenings we’ve had this fall.

Cheers!

 

Quilceda Creek 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine Comments Off

What can we say about Quilceda Creek 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, a Washington state wine that received 99 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate? A wine that is recognized in every fine restaurant we have visited in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe? A wine that in four previous vintages won 100 points, only one of five wines in the world to earn consecutive 100-point scores?

No words can describe this wine adequately. Nonetheless, here are our thoughts.

First, this wine should be put in the cellar for a few years. Forget about it.

We were too impatient to keep our hands off. Dave’s birthday was upon us and we wanted to celebrate in style.

Thankfully, we knew we had to decant. The bottle was opened eight hours before pouring, and then sat in the glass for another 30 minutes.

And then we had our first sip. Wow. It was an incredible combination of luscious and muscular, intense, expressive, complex, a deep, dark ruby red color, with aromas of black fruits and licorice, and velvety flavors of chocolate and berries.

Winemaker Paul Golitzin describes this wine as “graced with layers of blackberry, plum and cassis fruit with complex floral nuances of violets, star anise, dark chocolate and Asian spices. The wine has an amazing texture and depth while maintaining great purity, elegance, and focus. Anticipated Maturity: 2015-2029.”

According to the Wine Advocate: “This line up was one of the highlights of my trip through Washington and without a doubt, this awesome estate, which is run by Paul and Alex Golitzin, is producing some of the top Cabernet Sauvignon blends in the state, and I would venture, the world. While all of the wines are incredibly age-worthy, the tannins are so well managed and the textures so polished, they dish out immense pleasure even in their youth.”

Our friend and Washington state wine expert Sean Sullivan gave us the best advice on Facebook: “Don’t be afraid to have a glass or two and let it sit over night if it’s still locked up! Always good to be patient.”

We heeded Sean’s words and did just that. We also put our other bottles away in the cellar for special occasions in a few years, allowing the wine to evolve over time.

So we have one word of advice, if you find yourselves with one of these beautiful bottles and little patience, like we had:

Decant!

Cheers!

Mercer Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

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!

Fidelitas Cabernet Heaven

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine Comments Off

Put together Red Mountain fruit and an excellent winemaker such as Charlie Hoppes and what do you get? A slice of Fidelitas heaven in a glass. Or two.

On a recent trip to Red Mountain, we stopped at Fidelitas Wines, had a great chat (as always) with Charlie and tasted through his stellar line-up of red wines. As usual, we loved them all. But two in particular resonated with our palates.

2009 Fidelitas Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain Ciel du Cheval Vineyard

A beautiful rich red color with aromas of cherry and strawberry were the first things we noticed about this standout wine. The texture, the balance, the elegance were next. This is one silky, rich sip of velvety smooth, with a long, striking finish. According to Charlie’s tasting notes:

“Aromas of red cherry, ripe strawberry, and spice tones leap from the glass. Currant, dark cherry, tomato stem, and coffee flavors swirl through the palate, set in fine grained tannins.”

The beauty of this 100% Cab Sauv stems from the grapes from the warm slopes of one of the oldest vineyards on Red Mountain. This is a perfect special-occasion wine, ideal for the holiday season. But only 310 cases were produced, so don’t wait until next month to purchase a bottle or two.

2010 Fidelitas Cabernet Franc Red Mountain Ciel du Cheval Vineyard

When you think of Cabernet Franc, it’s probably in the context of a blending wine that adds more complexity to the robust Cabernet Sauvignon, or adds more structure to the softer Merlot. Indeed, Cab Franc is one of the main varieties in Bordeaux-style blends.

But regular readers of this blog know that we adore Cabernet Franc as a single varietal, a purebred. And this beauty — 100% Cab Franc — showcases the true expression of the wine, with complex aromas of cherry and berry, with notes of herbs, spices, chocolate and cedar.

The 2010 production is the second vintage from Fidelitas and the only varietal Cab Franc from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. According to Charlie’s tasting notes:

“The wine is a deep ruby tone, nearly opaque, showing aromas of blueberry, tart cherry, green bell peppers, and a hint of salted caramel. Tart yet balanced acids on the palate lift flavors of cranberry and dried thyme. Soft tannins carry a bright and lively, lingering finish.”

We heart Cab Franc, and this is one of the best we’ve tasted this year.

As big fans of Fidelitas, we were delighted to hear about the opening of a tasting room in Woodinville. We highly recommend you stop by there or at the Red Mountain winery, and taste Charlie’s wines for yourself.

There’s a reason why he was named Winemaker of the Year 2013 by Seattle Magazine‘s Washington Wine Awards.

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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