Tribute to Doug Long of Obelisco Estate, R.I.P.

It is with both tears and smiles that we write this tribute to our friend, Doug Long, who lost his 18-month fight against leukemia on November 29, 2017 at his home in Gig Harbor, surrounded by his loving family. Tears, because we miss him. Smiles because he brought such joy to so many people, including us.

Washington state’s wine industry lost a great man and we lost a friend. Doug was so warm, welcoming, gracious and passionate, with a wonderful smile and lots of entertaining stories to share.
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Four Great Wines from Guardian Cellars

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!

Fidelitas Cabernet Heaven

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!

 

Rules for Attending a Wine Festival

We’ve headed into the season of major wine events, so it was particularly timely to receive an email from Hedges Family Estate titled, “Rules for Attending a Wine Festival.”

Not only was it timely, the words rang true according to several winemakers we’ve talked to over the years.

It’s also pretty funny.

So props to Hedges Family Estate – enjoy!

 

Rules for Attending a Wine Festival

by Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain, WA

  • Don’t tether your wine glass to your neck.
  • Don’t pinch your fingers and say, “Just a little.”  Dump it if you don’t want to finish it, but I’m going to pour as much as I damn well please.
  • Don’t violently lift your glass mid-pour and say, “That’s enough.”  Same deal as above.
  • Don’t say, “Give me the biggest thing you have.”  This isn’t NASCAR.
  • Let “smooth” take the day off from your vocabulary… the whole day.
  • Don’t shove.  I mean… really.
  • Don’t say you hate Merlot. We all saw Sideways. Guess what: Miles didn’t want to drink Merlot because it reminded him of his ex-wife. That bottle he drank in the end—his most precious bottle—had a ton of Merlot in it.
  • Don’t tell every winemaker about the winery that was down the street while you lived in Lodi.
  • Don’t ask how the wine scored… ever.
  • Do wear a “Wine’er, Dine’er, 69’er T-shirt.
  • If you are going to wear one of the those little food trays that has a cutout for your glass, you better be damn sure you are cool enough to wear it.  Note: no one is that cool.
  • Over-buff late thirties guy: Don’t try to impress your date by contradicting me.  You’re going to fail.  Yeah, try me.
  • Don’t lick your glass… pig.
  • Don’t talk about your sulfite allergy.  There is a good chance you have no idea what you’re talking about.
  • Don’t dump into the water pitcher.  And always look before you drink out of it.
  • Practice spitting at home; it will come in handy.
  • Don’t talk about the legs after you swirl the glass.  Here’s a tip: the legs don’t matter.
  • Don’t take your heels off and puke in the lobby.
  • Don’t ask what the most expensive wine on the table is.
  • Keep the rim of your glass food free.
  • If you proclaim that you don’t like white or rose, we will make fun of you when you walk away.
  • NO Perfume!  And go light on the lipstick, honey.

Do you have any tips or rules to add?

Cheers!