As of today I have a new rule…a bad day at work equals a good bottle of wine. Today happened to be a bad day at work so I thought I’d try out the new rule and open a good bottle of wine. Since it’s been ages, I thought I’d do a quick review as well….a review of the wine, not of my bad day.
- Wine Info: 40% Cab Franc, 30% Syrah, 30% Petit Verdot
- Appearance: Dark ruby, lighter around the edges
- Nose: Great fruit – plums and cherries mostly; hint of vanilla and maybe a little clove?
- Taste: Initial ripe fruit and then it reminds me of the skin of a plum – good fruit and just a little tart
- Finish: A little spice initially (maybe from the Syrah?), the fruit lingers for a bit mid palate, medium tannins
- Price: $30 range
- Remarks: This is a great wine with or without food. I’d like to say how it will mellow and improve with age but the truth is, I can’t seem to age this one too long. My only regret is that I didn’t buy more of it when it was available. I won’t make that mistake when it becomes available again.
We’ve got another wonderful trip to Woodinville planned for tomorrow. I took at quick look at my blog and realized that I need to do a lot of updating. Sometime between now and Thanksgiving I will not only recap the trip tomorrow, add some specific wine reviews and add some pictures but will also update the “Woodinville Wineries” tab. So many changes and new wineries/tasting rooms to report on. I’ve been falling down on the job…or maybe falling down because of the job – ha! Either way…lots of work to do. I’ll get my act together soon, honest! Besides, it’s the cold and rainy season which means I’ll have more time to be indoors and writing. Okay, okay…it also means I’ll have more time to be inside drinking wine. Winter ain’t all bad.
It was time. The boxes were almost all unpacked. The prints were on the walls. The new patio furniture had been purchased and (painfully) assembled. Hell, there were even new wine glasses. It was time to throw a party.
The theme was a blind tasting of Cabernet Francs. My group of friends and family have these parties a few times a year and usually there is some kind of theme (Washington Merlots, $10 Cabs, Bordeaux blends, Syrahs, you get the idea) and we all bring a wine of our choosing and hide it in a paper bag so as not to be influenced while we taste everything. At the end of the blind tasting, the wines are revealed and we talk about which ones we all liked best…and least. There are always surprises on both ends of the spectrum. More often than not, the most expensive bottle does not win. This time I decided to add a couple twists. Instead of wine, I had everyone bring the food. Boy did that ever cut down on the pre-party prep and stress! In turn, I supplied all the wines. As usual, they were disguised during the tasting (I even got overly-crafty and covered them with wine inspired artwork) and we all took notes about what we liked and why. The other twist was that I also gave them a list of possible wineries that the wines came from. So along with looking at the color of the wine, analyzing the nose, discussing the finish, etc, etc., etc. – they also had to take a guess at what winery it might be from. Now some of you out there might be thinking that we are all very sophisticated and have amazing pallets to be able to do something like this. I assure you, that is not the case. There was a four way tie at the end – all four people had managed to guess one correct winery. Even my dad (who’s pallet far surpasses any of ours) only got one right. It was neat to have everyone else see that even he couldn’t pick them out. It was basically a guessing game and fun to see how close (or far) everyone was from guessing right. During the tasting (6 wines total) I also had trivia questions – wine related of course – and even handed out prizes! I think I probably had more fun than anyone; what a blast to plan it and put it all together. I was sad to see it end but so very happy that I was home and didn’t have to drive anywhere. I think I was in my jammies 10 minutes after the last car was out of the driveway. I can’t wait to start planning the next party…a true housewarming party complete with grilling (still need to buy a grill) and lawn games. Glad a I have over a month to get ready for that one.
Here are the Cabernet Francs that we tasted and a few comments on each. Let me preface by saying that we did not have any bad ones in the bunch – thank God. I did take the added precaution of opening up and tasting all the bottles before everyone got here, just in case something was corked.
Here’s the list – in the order we tasted them:
- Hollywood Hills (WA) – Lighter style than the others, a good one to start with. Nice (but soft) nose, good fruit, very little tannins, nice smooth finish. Most ranked it about an 8.
- NW Vine Project (OR) – Little darker in color than the first wine, but still lighter than most. Fantastic nose – smelled like juicy berries and a fairly long finish…one person even put “Must Have” on his tasting notes. Rankings ranged from 7 3/4 to 9
- Wente (Santa Cruise, CA) – The one had an earthy nose, and really stood out from the others in this way. Good taste and finished with slight tannins, not a fruit bomb kind of wine, although there was hints of fruit in the finish. Rankings ranged from 7 3/4 – 8 1/2.
- Kennedy Shaw (Rattlesnake Hills, WA) – Comments on the nose ranged from chocolate to violets and berries and someone even detected oak. It was the darkest and biggest of the wines we’d had up until this point and had a great, lingering finish. People loved it. Most ranked it at an 8 or 8 1/2.
- Cuillin Hills (WA) – Fruit, fruit and more fruit on the nose – comments were “juicy” and “jammie.” Didn’t taste like pure fruit though, nice hint of spice, especially on the finish. Mild tannins, did not overpower everything else that was going on. This one was the favorite of more people than any of the others and this was the first bottle emptied when we went back to drink more of our favorites. Rankings were either 8 1/2 or 9. If there was an “overall winner” then this was it.
- DiStefano’s (WA) (Their Cab Franc is called “Sogno”) – A classic and a well loved Cab Franc year over year. The notes mentioned berries and plums in the nose and moderate tannins on the nice/longfinish. I was stunned that the whole group didn’t know it immediately, but I believe only one guessed it correctly. However, I was not stunned that everyone rated it very high. Most ranked it 8 – 8 1/2.
Six days until the move and there is no way I’ll make a dent in the wine collection. I’ve been drinking as much as I can, which is probably why I am behind on the packing. I’ve even been having friends over to help, and still…I have around 200 bottles. Insane.
Unless I can pick up a neighbor’s WiFi signal, this will be the last post until I am moved in and set up at the new place. I thought I’d list some of the highlights of the wines I’ve been drinking over the last couple weeks, combined with a couple quick mentions about a few wineries. This will have to do until I get back to writing real reviews, complete with label pics.
- Guardian Cellars – Chalk Line: What a great blend this was! I’ve raved about this winery before…dog friendly, people friendly and great wines.
- Cuillin Hills – Claret: Great fruit up front and not too much oak to overpower it. Dad, Vegas and I were there recently and had the pleasure of tasting his new Cab Franc. We’d read a great little review about it in Northwest Wine Press and were thrilled that there was an open bottle for us to taste. I bought a bottle immediately.
- :Nota Bene Cellars– 2004 Miscela: Such a great wine, good fruit, no tannins and a really “full mouth” tast. This is one of the South Seattle wineries that I haven’t had a chance to write about. They have some AMAZING blends. Most of their wines are blends and, honestly, one is better than the next. I’ve never taken anyone there that didn’t go nuts for their wines. I know they have a winery dog (Labradooldle I believe) but not sure about customers bringing dogs. I’ll put together a wine day at these wineries soon and will have a section for them on this site as well.
- Barrage Cellars – Merlot: Best Merlot I’ve had in a while, hands down. Great fruit and it lingered for a long time. Loved it and will be buying more soon. Anxious to try his soon-to-be released Cab Franc. Also, this is a very dog friendly winery…Vegas and I were there not too long ago…several other dogs were in there as well.
- Fall Line Winery – Red Mountain Blend: Nice Bordeaux blend with great fruit and a great finish. Another great wine from another great South Seattle winery.
That’s all for now…time to get back to these never-ending boxes!!
I had a busy weekend but somehow managed to “force myself” to find the time to drink some wine. I also did a current count and the updated total after this weekend is 210 bottles. I have a little less than a year to get the count to 100 or less. If I keep inviting D over, that should be no problem at all – the kid is a self proclaimed Wine Disposal! Here’s what we had:
Baer 05 Ursa – Columbia Valley
- Wine Info: 55% Merlot; 28% Cab Franc; 7% Cabernet Savignon; 7% Malbec; 3% Petite Verdot
- Appearance: Deep dark red
- Nose: Cherries, chocolate, sweet red jam
- Taste: Initially we tasted ripe cherries, then tart berries leading up to juicy plums
- Finish: Lingers for a bit with nice soft tannins, mellows even more with decanting, great fruit and not over-oaked
- Price Range: $35 – $40
- Remarks: We started out having this with food (pizza) but continued to drink it after we were done eating. This is always a great wine. It’s the wine that first made us aware of the winery and it’s great every year. The price point has gone up over the years and as a result, I buy fewer bottles. That being said, I never pass up a chance to buy it. It’s only made in small amounts so when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Kenneday Shah 04 Reserve Cab Franc – Rattlesnake Hills
- Wine Info: Cabernet Franc
- Appearance: Translucent ruby red, like a stained glass window
- Nose: Floral and spices (maybe cinnamon?)
- Taste: Fruit initially and then spices
- Finish: Lingering spice and moderate tannins
- Price Range: $35 – $40
- Remarks: We had this with chocolate cake and it was a great pairing, the spiciness of the wine cut the super sweet chocolate. It had a different taste without food and the tannins seemed to be more evident. This is not the ‘fruit bomb’ that some Cab Francs can be.
Brain Carter 04 L’Etalon – Yakima Valley
- Wine Info:
- Appearance: Deep ruby red
- Nose: Berries, spices (maybe cloves?) and light wood (sort of like a cedar closet)
- Taste: Juicy berries and plums with a mellow spice finish
- Finish: Nice lingering finish with soft tannins
- Price Range: $30 – $35
- Remarks: This is always one of my favorite Brian Carter wines. It’s a great blend that does well with or without food. Could probably cellar well for a while, but I’ve never been able to hang on to it long enought o find out.
Red Sky 03 Bordeaux Blend
- Wine Info: 57% Cabernet Sauvignon; 36% Merlot; 7% Cab Franc
- Appearance: Dark red, almost black
- Nose: Raspberries and chocolate (yummy!)
- Taste: All ripe and juicy fruit, raspberries, cherries, plums
- Finish: Soft finish with lingering fruit, very little tannins
- Price Range: $30 – $35
- Remarks: We absolutely loved this one. There was so much good fruit in this wine and it didn’t fade after being open for a while. We had no food with this one and didn’t miss it a bit.
I am so relieved tonight…so relieved that I opened one of the special wines from the “Cab Closet.” Of all the wines I stash away, Cabernets are by far the highest in number. I always feel like I need a special occasion to open one of these babies. Today is Thursday – that’s special, isn’t it? Granted I am feeling relieved about not having to move (more on that in a minute) but truth be told, I decide this morning that I was going to open something from the Cab Closet. Let me back up. I came home to find a Notice of Default attached to the house I’m renting. It said that the owner had not been paying the mortgage and that the foreclosure process was about to begin. I freaked. This isn’t my dream house and there are actually some things I look forward to leaving behind when I do move, but I was planning on staying another year before having to get my act together and pull together another move. I also don’t want to move over 200 bottles of wine…again. My dad I moved 2 car loads to California and then back a year ago and I can honestly say that it was a beast. It was the toughest part of either inter-state move. So when I thought I was going to have to move in 30-60 days, I decided to start drinking the Cabs. Thankfully, the owner of the house and I talked today and I found out that he’s in the process of renegotiating his terms with a different lender and that the house is not headed for foreclosure. When I got home, I saw the Cab that I’d set out earlier in the morning and figured, “What the hell?” So I had a terrific bottle of 2003 DeLoach O.F.S. Cabernet! There is a scene in “Sideways” where Miles talks to Maya about waiting for a special occasion to open a rare bottle of wine that he’s been holding. Her response is along the lines of…opening the bottle IS the special occasion. I’ll drink to that.
DeLoach 03 Cabernet OFS – Russian River Valley
- Wine Info: 98.5% Cabernet Sauvignon; 1.5% Petite Verdot
- Appearance: Ruby red
- Nose: Blackberries and a hint of floral – can’t pin point what kind though
- Taste: Great fruit, cherries initially and then it almost tastes like the skin of a plum
- Price Range: $30 – $40
- Finish: Slight tannins but really a very mellow Cab with lingering cherries
- Remarks: This was a great Cab and it took me back to when I bought it. Dad and I were together on our first Sonoma trip (right after he helped me move to California) when I bought this. He knew and liked this winery, but I’d never heard of it. It didn’t take long for me to realize that they had a lot of good wines. I bought this Cab and Pinot Noir.