Good Value Reds for the Holidays

If you’re looking for good value red wines for the holidays — for your dinner table or for a hostess gift — look no further. Here are four that we recently tasted and recommend: one from Washington state and three from Livermore Valley, located just east of San Francisco.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 6.12.30 PMMurrieta’s Well The Spur, 2011 Livermore Valley ($25)
This unique red blend not only drinks well but also has a great label that is a perfect hostess gift. This Livermore Valley wine blends 31% Petite Sirah, 29% Petit Verdot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec and 5% Cabernet Franc, and pairs well with roasted and grilled meats, dishes with red sauces or rich cheese. Marietta’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 — Murrieta’s Well is owned by Philip Wente of Wente Vineyards, the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery.

Wente Vineyards Southern Hills 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley ($18)
This estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon combines 76% Cabernet Sauvignon with 9% Petit Verdot, 9% Petite Sirah, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Merlot. This is a great everyday wine that is well balanced, with a depth and intensity that showcases the character of the grape. Just like Murrieta’s Well, vines at Wente Vineyards were planted in 1883. Today the winery draws from approximately 3,000 acres of sustainably farmed Estate vineyards.

TateDog 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Livermore Valley ($25)
TateDog’s slogan is “Great artisan wines at nice prices,” which perfectly describes the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. This flavorful, award-winning wine has a beautiful nose with a long finish. While medium-bodied, it pairs well with a ribeye or stands alone without food.

14 Hands Vineyards The Reserve 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills ($30)
Launched by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in 2005 as a restaurant-only brand, 14 Hands introduced “The Reserve” label of wines sourced from the Horse Heaven Hills appellation in Washington state in 2012. This is one gorgeous wine, which received 92 points from Wine Spectator. This beauty would also pair well with a ribeye or a rich mushroom tart. And if you are in Prosser, stop by their new tasting room, which opened earlier this year.

Thank you to these wineries who kindly provided us with samples of their wines. Our sample policy can be found here.

Cheers!

Time to Party with Alexandria Nicole Cellars

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 4.25.58 PMWe’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the wonderful people at Alexandria Nicole Cellars know how to party! And even better, they know how to throw a great party too.

Every year, ANC holds a Harvest Party in the Vines for wine club members at their estate Destiny Ridge Vineyard.

Every year, the party is a resounding success.

This year’s Harvest Party is on Sept. 13 and will be a special celebration of the Decade of Destiny – ten years since ANC opened the doors to their first tasting room in Prosser.

At that time, they celebrated the wines created from grapes first planted in 1998 at Destiny Ridge. Now, 16 years later, and with a second tasting room in Woodinville, ANC produces 10,000 cases of wine with more than 23 varietals planted in 267 acres of vineyard.

And that’s where the Harvest Party takes place!

The fun begins and the wine starts to flow on buses that take you to the vineyard. No worries about finding a designated driver for this party.

When you arrive, there are pours of the most recent ANC wines, while you can watch or participate in hilarious activities such as a grape stomp, wine balloon toss and skeet shooting. The vineyard and production team also compete in a barrel-rolling contest, cheered on by their fans.

Then there is an amazing dinner of steak and jumbo prawns, followed by dancing to a live big band.

So bring your dancing shoes!

We’ve been wine club members since 2007, inspired by some fabulous wine during our first visit to their Prosser tasting room, and further nudged by a Seattle Times article written by Washington state wine expert Paul Gregutt, who rated the ANC wine club as number 1.

Over the years, we’ve written about ANC wine often. We’ve also been lucky enough to become friends with winery owners Jarrod (winemaker) and Ali Boyle.

What, you’re not a wine club member? It’s not too late to sign up and grab tickets to the Harvest Party and save a space on the buses, which leave from Tri-Cities, Yakima and Prosser. Don’t live in the area? No problem — the Richland Courtyard Marriott and the Yakima Hilton Garden Inn both have special offers for wine club members.

We hope to see you there.

Cheers!

 

Double Canyon-New Winemaker, New Wine

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 3.52.31 PMWe recently became big fans of Double Canyon, established just seven years ago in Horse Heaven Hills, and named for the two ravines that run through the property in central Washington state.

Double Canyon’s first wine, a 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Double Canyon Vineyard, was awarded 93 points from Wine Spectator.

Earlier this year, at Taste Washington, we named Double Canyon’s 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, from Phinny Hill Vineyard, in our top three favorite wines.

At that time, we met new winemaker Jason Ledbetter, who had just come to Double Canyon from Pine Ridge Vineyards, Trefethen Vineyards and Cakebread Cellars in Napa.

We could tell immediately that Jason had a passion for appellation-focused estate wine, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, which is Double Canyon’s focus. In the months since then, he has frequently referred to Horse Heaven Hills as “a special place” and a leading area to produce Cabernet in Washington state.

One week ago, Double Canyon released its 2012 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon. In Jason’s words, “Classic wines from this appellation are lauded for their exceptional balance and acidity, and this wine is no exception.”

We can attest to this, and we are sure that our appreciation of this wine will be echoed by those who taste it. Obviously the wine is young, just released last week. But yes, it definitely rocked with potential. And after decanting it for a couple of hours, it paired very nicely with BBQ steak.

From the tasting notes:

“Luminous and dark purple in hue, this wine delivers a rich fruit and floral fragrance accented by an exotic vanilla spice. The palate opens with soft, rich flavors of bright red plum and dried red cherry accented by black tea leaf and fresh vanilla bean. The texture is smooth and luscious, and the wine’s balance and mouthwatering acidity make for a classic Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet.”

This 2012 wine is sourced from grapes at three well-known vineyards. Almost a quarter comes from the winery’s estate Double Canyon Vineyard, with the remainder sourced from Phinny Hill Vineyard, which is located across from Double Canyon and owned by vineyard manager Will Beightol’s family, and Zephyr Ridge, which Beightol previously managed.

AVA: Horse Heaven Hills
Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Syrah, 3% Malbec
SRP: $25
Released: July 2014
Production: 698 cases
Sample provided  by winery

We are looking forward to watching how Jason expands the Cabernet Sauvignon program at Double Canyon. And of course, we plan on tasting many more of his Double Canyon Cabs.

Cheers!