Just when you thought it was safe to play in Washington’s vineyards, an angry and thoroughly pissed off Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench into harvest. The first full week of October saw temps drop into the mid 20’s in spots, effectively putting the brakes on ripening and putting the pickers into overdrive. Those who brought in early fruit are raving about the great flavors and lower alcohol levels, while those who waited may have their work cut out for them. The quality seems to be quite high overall, but this will be one of those vintages which separates the great winemakers from the pretenders. Oregon got it even worse. Slow ripening, rain, mold issues, then cold. The proof will be in the pudding for these folks. Unlike Washington, I have yet to hear anyone raving about the fruit quality. Time will tell. This is one of those years where folks new to the industry are reminded that all of this is based on farming, not checkbooks. You can have all the funding in the world, but without nature cooperating, none of that matters at all. While us northerners are dealing with this, California is facing blackouts as a prelude to wildfire prevention, and nasty fires again in the wine country. Yes, the climate is definitely on the move and we need to be ready for it. Politics aside, farmers, grape growers and winemakers all over the planet are having to adjust to these new ‘norms’. Maybe you pick earlier, maybe you need to plan harvest around power outages or maybe you need to plant new heat resistant varieties. We all need to remember that this is an agriculture driven business and without protecting and adapting to the world as it changes, there will be no wine industry as we know it.
As harvest winds down, the mayhem of the holiday season is fast upon us. We are gearing up now with lots of great party wines, bubbly galore and maybe the most insane lineup we have ever had for our Holiday Open House. Check out the back page for all the specifics, but in a nutshell, we have some of the biggest hitters in the history of the Washington wine business pouring that day, as well some of the brightest new stars in the state. As is the norm with this event, we don’t charge for tasting, but we do ask folks to bring non-perishable food, or $20 cash, for the foodbank to help those let fortunate during the holiday season.
Remember to get on our email list to get all of our weekly specials, and remember to watch for our always fun ‘Holiday Advent’ emails. From December 1-24, there will be a different feature every day, available only to our email subscribers. Also, remember to get your credit card on file with us to hold your wines. We cannot guarantee to hold or order your wines without one!
Plan your holiday shipping NOW! With the new shipping regulations for retailers still causing headaches for businesses like ours, we need to get wine moving about a month in advance for anything outside the west coast. If you need wine somewhere by Christmas, we need to get it out by Thanksgiving, just to be safe. The days of ‘next day it for me’ are regrettably behind us, so get your orders in immediately, if you want your wine there on time.
Bring on Festivus!
Doug, Will, Laura, Sandy, Gabriela, Alicia and Theodore
Essay is a play on the initials of the country of origin of this gem, South (ESS) Africa (AY). How clever. However clever the naming is, the wine is extremely serious and tasty. A blend driven by Chenin Blanc, with the addition of Viognier and Roussanne. I know I yack about South African wines a lot, but I do so because they are amazing values and customers just love the way they taste. These South African Chenin Blanc blends have been our most popular white wine category, from anywhere in the world, in the store for over 5 years. Pears, honeydew melon, apples, a hint of pineapple and just a kiss of fruit in the finish. Pretty much a total crowd pleaser for the holidays.
Caparzo Sangiovese Toscano 2018 $10.99
From one of the more famous producers in Tuscany, comes this gorgeous, easy drinking and fabulously easy to match with food red. These guys are most famous for their amazing Brunello di Montalcino, so this fruit has some serious heritage. Bright and zingy, with cranberry, pie cherry, red currant and raspberry notes, followed by cinnamon, clove and just a bit of mint. Perfect with red meat, but with this is one red which can switch hit over to poultry as well. Need a red to go with that Thanksgiving turkey? Here you go. A fabulous value from a legendary producer.
Cantine Povero came right out of left field this year with maybe the most complete and delicious line up we have seen from any winery. We ran their delicious Dolcetto in an earlier newsletter, the Barolo, this wine and Barbaresco in emails and kept the Barbera in a 3 liter box on the floor of the shop. Here, we have again, their simply amazing value in a bubbly. I have no idea what grapes go into this, and frankly, I don’t really care. Very floral with honeysuckle, magnolia and rose blossom, with peach, nectarine and lemon in on the palate. Just a kiss off of dry, it has all the appeal of Prosecco, but I have yet to have one of those which can touch this wine for sheer enjoyment and price. Maybe the best wedding sparker we have seen in years, as the packaging is a gorgeous as the wine. This is one of the best wine values of the 2019 of any kind.
This wine, from earlier vintages, has been featured in the shop before, in newsletters and in various emails. I even made a point to visit this winery when I was in South Africa. This is maybe the finest version to date. Usually, Syrah at this price often just tastes like big, red wine, without any character. Not this one. This is from the Swartland region, home to some of the best Syrahs on the planet. Smoked meat, wild game, black pepper, grille mushrooms and black fruit. Incredibly complex for any wine at this price. I may go out on a limb and call this the best, year in and year out, Syrah value on the planet. Got a big roast planned, with a big crowd? This is just the ticket.
Don’t forget that we can custom build gift baskets and do your corporate gifting for you!
Finding inexpensive Malbec isn’t all that hard. Some would even argue that is it pretty darn easy. However, finding a Malbec under ten bucks, with complexity and style, is quite a bit tougher. Jean Bousquet moved from France to Argentina in the 1980’s and has pretty much flourished there. With a focus on organic farming, his environmental practices are being followed by many in the region. His idea with Malbec is with a decidedly more ‘old world’ bent. The same milk chocolate, coffee and black tea which one expects, but with decidedly more grace and style. Notes of cedar and vanilla, with a bit of baking spice in the background. Beautiful stuff and another fabulous value.
Even though the winter months are typically thought of as those where more red meat, hearty stews and roasts are consumed, it is also prime season for oysters and other shellfish. Spain is famous for white wines crafted with the right amount of acid for seafood and shellfish. This wine is just the ticket. Lime zest, passion fruit, guava and green plums, with the laser-like acidity of slightly under ripe pineapple. Icy cold, just like your oysters is the way you want this. The warming up, comes later, hint hint, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more.
Baron-Fuente is a small producer with little in terms of brand recognition, which means you don’t have to pay for glossy, full color ads in national publications with each bottle purchased. Their cuvees have typically a large proportion of Pinot Meunier in them, which gives them a slightly more complex character than what is often seen. Their ‘Brut Tradition’ is their intro level bubbly and it over delivers in a big way. A hint of freshly baked brioche with lemon marmalade in the nose, tight and lively bubbles and a crisp finish with citrus rind and a hint of dried lavender. Right now we have it a fabulous price and the case discount will apply on top. Anytime we see ‘real’ Champagne hit the shelf for under 30 bucks, we are all over it like a cat on catnip. However, this is the best price we have ever seen on this.
Wine Clubs are a great gift idea, and here is a brand new one to take a peek at.
Compass Wines Holiday Open House and Storewide Sale
Saturday, December 7 all day.
This is just an ‘early warning’ details to follow, but mark this down on your calendar now. Normally, this would show up on the back page with all the other ‘upcoming events’, but we know folks loose interest sometimes after a few pages, so we thought we would throw it at you a page early. This is shaping up to be a real humdinger, so start your holiday planning now.
Champagne for the Holidays
Friday, November 15, 4:00-7:00
Come taste a fabulous selection of REAL Champagne, just in time for the holidays. This is a rare, Friday evening event, so we are giving you lots of early warning on this one. How often you get the opportunity to taste a bunch of fabulous Champagne for free?
Holiday Open House and Storewide sale
Saturday, December 7, 10:00-6:00
his is the big one. Everything in the store is at least 10% off and from 11:00-5:00, the fun kicks into high gear with our free tasting lineup. Breadfarm will be here with their delicious breads, cookies and such, then, get a load of this winery lineup: