Murrieta’s Well Wins Again

We have been fans of Murrieta’s Well blends, The Spur (red), and The Whip (white), since 2011, and their latest vintages continue to impress.

We enjoyed samples of these two blends, plus a few other wines in the portfolio of this popular Livermore Valley winery, at a recent Snooth virtual tasting with Murrietta’s Well talented winemaker Robbie Meyer.

But before getting to our tasting notes, Murrieta’s Well has credentials worth mentioning – it is one of California’s original wineries, propagated in 1883 with vineyard cuttings from Chateau Margaux and Chateau d’Yquem in France. The winery is owned by Philip Wente of Wente Vineyards, the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery. And now, the wines …

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Le Bec Fin by Chateau Beck

Le Bec Fin by Chateau Beck is a new side project by Jean Claude Beck, the winemaker of The Woodhouse Wine Estates in Woodinville. We first met Jean Claude when he arrived at Woodhouse about ten years ago to lead their wine production, and we were immediately charmed and impressed.

He was born in the Alsace region of France, following several generations of winemakers; his family estate has been producing wine since 1579 in a small village south of Strasbourg. According to European gourmet magazine Feinschmecken, “everything this winemaker touches turns to gold in the bottle.” Jean Claude’s motto is “No boring wines!”

We also love another of his quotes: “As my Grandfather Char once said, ‘I don’t want to make the most expensive wine in the world, I want to make a wine that when you sit at the table and the glass is poured, you empty it and without hesitation you ask for another.’”

Jean Claude’s love for wine is evident in every conversation we have with him. (And you can see his creativity by his July 4th Facebook photo, above.) So we eagerly awaited the arrival of his three Le Bec Fin wines to sample: 2016 Vin Rosé, Vin Blanc and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. They were all lovely. Continue reading

Murietta’s Well

Murrieta’s Well  is one of California’s original wineries, propagated in 1883 with vineyard cuttings from Chateau Margaux and Chateau d’Yquem in France. Need we say more? Oh, one more thing: The winery is owned by Philip Wente of Wente Vineyards, the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery.

We were recently invited by Snooth to a virtual tasting with Murietta’s Well talented winemaker Robbie Meyer. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it, but we thankfully received some of his wines to taste.

Murietta’s Well is well known for its popular blends, The Spur (red), and The Whip (white). But the Livermore Valley brand offers other wines in its portfolio too.
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Columbia Crest Wines: Good Juice, Great Value

We’ve been fans of Columbia Crest Winery for at least a decade — the winery produces good, easy-drinking wines at bargain prices. We’ve purchased cases over the years, and we were delighted to receive samples of their recent releases.

Columbia Crest 2014 Grand Estates Merlot Columbia Valley ($12)
Merlot (87%) is blended with small amounts of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon; all fruit was sourced from Horse Heaven Hills for texture and body, and from the Wahluke Slope for aromatics and complexity. This is a rich Merlot with a balance of fruit and earthiness, punctuated by notes of dark cherries and chocolate. Pair this with blue cheese, dark chocolate, pork, grilled salmon or beef.

Columbia Crest 2014 Grand Estates Red Blend Columbia Valley ($12)
This vintage’s blend combines Merlot (55%), Cabernet Franc (36%), Petit Verdot (8%) and a splash of other red varieties. The result is layers of dark berry flavors, with more layers of spice and caramel on the finish. Pair this with grilled meats or tomato-based meat dishes such as lasagne.

Columbia Crest 2014 H3 Merlot Horse Heaven Hills ($15)
This is a medium-bodied Merlot, lighter than the Grand Estates. The nose is beautiful with aromas of spice and blackberry, followed by cherry and cocoa on the palate. We have enjoyed several vintages of H3 Merlot, paired with cedar-plank barbecued salmon and grilled meats.

Columbia Crest 2015 Grand Estates Unoaked Chardonnay Columbia Valley ($12)
We much prefer unoaked Chardonnay like this one, which was fermented only in stainless steel. This is a refreshing summer sipper on the deck – or pour it any time of the year to accompany seafood dishes. Tart and crisp, this Chard has aromas of lemon, pear and orange blossoms, followed by citrus fruit and lively acidity. Where we live, Chardonnay pairs well with fresh crab in August and September, or crab cakes all year round, along with other shellfish, halibut or salmon, with a dash of lemon.

Other wines that we’ve tasted recently from Columbia Crest Winery:

Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Les Chevaux Red Wine Horse Heaven Hills ($15)
Named after the horses (Les Chevaux in French) that once roamed Horse Heaven Hills, this is a lovely, vibrant red blend of Merlot (59%), Syrah ($36%), Viognier (4%) and Cab Franc (1%). You can enjoy this with strong cheeses such as blue or stilton, or with well-seasoned pepper steaks, beef stew or lamb.

Columbia Crest 2014 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley ($12)
This is a great value estate Cab to pair with beef tenderloin, hearty pasta, blue cheese or chocolate. This wine features dark fruit, a wonderful mouthfeel, and a smoothness, complexity and structure not often seen at this price point.

Columbia Crest 2015 H3 Sauvignon Blanc Horse Heaven Hills ($15)
We’ve enjoyed previous vintages of this Sauv Blanc as a summer sipper on the deck, but we recently tasted it on a rainy, windy day, paired with garlic prawns, and it was delicious. The Sauv Blanc features citrus notes and crisp minerality, just the way we like it. You can also pair it with halibut, crab or quiche.

With summer around the corner, we might open these wines with BBQ hamburger or fresh seafood. But at these prices, you can stock up for any season!

Cheers,
Margot and Dave