Cellar Notes Fall 2017


Fall 2017 Newsletter
After the wettest winter on record, we just went through the driest summer. Hmmm…climate changes going on? With the cold and wet spring delaying how the vines got started, we were a tad bit worried about the harvest this year, but with the sun that came on strong and the heat which came with it, we look to be right on track for a more ‘normal’ picking season. The nights have cooled a bit and things are shaping up quite well. The long term forecast does not show any issues on the horizon, so if all goes like it looks like it will, we should be in line for another great harvest this year.
We have a bunch of great events coming over the next few months, in addition to our weekly, Wednesday tastings. A guest appearance from a winery from Tuscany in October, our Decanter World Wine Awards tasting in November, and our annual Holiday sale and tasting in December. All the specific dates are on the back page and as we get closer to the event, the specifics on our Holiday tasting will start to show up in your email box. Wait, am I talking about the holiday season already? Yikes!
We still have a bunch of great weather coming in September and October, which are often my favorite months weather-wise, so check out all the goodies inside for some harvest time picnics, tailgating BBQ parties and fall salmon season. Everything from Sangria to Zinfandel and a whole bunch of tasty morsels in between.
With the cooler temps on the horizon, we will be shipping wines with abandon, so if you have been patiently waiting for your wine due to the sweltering heat of summer, your wait is just about over. We are also going to be able to finally get more Cougar Gold in stock, just in time for football season. We can never get enough of this yummy stuff so get ready to stock up on some of this legendary golden goodness.
On August 19th, I had the honor of presenting a 37 year vertical of Leonetti Cabernet at the Auction of Washington Wines, with original winemaker Gary Figgins and donor Hank Sauer. We were able secure a bid of $32,500 for this once in a lifetime lot and all of the proceeds will go the helping the children of vineyard workers who want to pursue a viticulture degree at WSU Tri Cities. What a great evening and a great cause. Go Cougs!
By the time you get around to reading this, we should have a great new employee aboard, so make sure you say ‘hello’ when you see a new face at the counter and don’t be too shocked when you see a new name on the email response sometimes.
Bring on the college football season!
Doug, Will, Laura, Sandy, Brandi (sometimes) and Theodore (from afar, via social media!)

Bodegas Enate Tempranillo 2015 $8.99
Spain has been one of the top wine growing regions of the world for centuries and for red wine, Tempranillo has been the king. The key grape in such fine wines as Rioja, Tempranillo has a more restrained feel with more primal and spicy notes than most of the usual suspects one sees on the shelf. This is a classic example. Dried cranberry, leather, dried herbs, pie cherries and gentle acids. Not a huge amount of tannin here, but the bright acidity pairs beautifully with grilled meats including pork and poultry. Great for all those end of summer picnics and those onion laded burgers one picks up at the local fair. Because this is historically such a versatile wine, this is one to stockpile by the case for those events coming on later in the fall. Pumpkins anyone?
Purato Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane 2016 $9.99
This gem hails from the island of Sicily. With the hot and arid climate there, grapes develop a ripeness which is not seen in the wines from further north. On top of this, the volcanic soils resulting from the numerous eruptions of Mt Etna are prime for organic farming. This is 100% organically farmed Nero d’Avola. Riper and much more lush than the Tempranillo listed above, this is a great counterpoint to pour side by side with it. Plum and black currant, with some notes of kirsch, lavender and just a kiss of mint. Rich and generous, this will appeal to fans of the wines of Southern Italy as well as the typical Merlot or Syrah drinker. The soils there also provide and environment to retain acid even in a full bodied red, so don’t be afraid to pair this with tomato and seafood stews or even grilled fish, which tend to be on the ‘bigger’ side like tuna or salmon. We have gotten away from pairing red wine with seafood in this country, but a visit to other parts of the world see that the key to pairing is structure, not color and with the right combination of fruit and acid, reds like this can pair beautifully with some of the ocean’s bounty.
Mirth Washington Chardonnay 2015, was $11.99, now $7.99
We are big fans of the Owen Roe family of wines, even more so since they officially laid claim to the Yakima Valley for their headquarters. Rumor has it that this is actually 100% Outlook Vineyard in Yakima as well, so talk about home cookin’! No oak on this, but it has a creaminess and lushness like it spent some time in barrel. Notes of ripe Bartlett pear, honeydew melon and lemon pie, with just a hint of almond paste and butterscotch in the finish. I know it is really cool to like oaky and buttery Chardonnay, but maybe those who have never tried this style, need to jump out of the box a bit and give this one a shot. The already great price has just been dropped to make room for the new vintage, so when this is gone, the price goes back up. Add in the great packaging which reminds one of the Poe bit about that big black bird, or that  Hitchcock film along a similar thematic trend and I can see this poured at many a Halloween party in a month or so. Get it while you can.

Four Vines Old Vine Central Coast Zinfandel 2014 $10.99
How long has it been since you have seen a Zin featured in this publication? Quite a while! Zinfandel was once the mainstay of the California wine scene, before it got turned into that pink drivel in the 1980’s and 90’s, and poured in fern bars by blow dried waiters with hair stacked up like a pompadour from  the French revolution. We used to sell this classic Zinfandel (‘the red kind’) in pretty copious volumes, but it has been out of the market until recently. Boy, are we glad to have it back. We are talking about traditional, old vine Zinfandel here. Rich blackberry syrup, that bramble note one used to read about, hints of tomato leaf, milk chocolate cordials and a fair whack of tannin and acid in the finish.  Pretty much what everyone wants to see in a Zinfandel: size, color, weight, depth and at a great price. Zinfandel has never been a grape known for being subtle and this one is carrying on that tradition, but that being said, it is more elegant than most of the more modern versions out there. Not a shrinking violet by any means, but not a purple people eater either.
Pompita Sangria $6.99
Yes, we said ‘Sangria’, you are not imagining things. That classic summer quencher from Spain made up of wine, fruit and sparkles of some sort is back. This time, we have it in three flavors, in easy to carry single serving bottles and scarily addicting. When presented with these, we expected to like them, knowing the source and anticipated that we may bring one of the three in. However after tasting them, we pretty much went nuts over them and ended up bringing in all three. The blanco is named ‘Madrid’ after the city which it is inspired by and is based on Macabeo, and grapefruit with some other citrus essences. The rosado is called ‘Ibiza’ and is based on rose of Tempranillo with watermelon and citrus, and the tinto is called  ‘Barcelona’ and is again, Tempranillo based, but in red form with citrus and blood orange. They are only 5.5% alcohol and in 500 ml bottles, so I would call them beer replacements as much as anything. The case discount applies to 6 bottles of one flavor and if you wanted to take 6 of each, the discount becomes 15%. This is a big time guilty pleasure drink, like Bon Jovi is to a Motorhead fan.
Christopher Michael Oregon Pinot Gris 2016 $10.99
Sometimes, you cannot mess with the old classics and Oregon Pinot Gris, like California Zinfandel, is one of those. I will admit that in many cases, Oregon Pinot Gris at this price point just tastes like boring white wine to me, but not this one. Asian pear, granny smith, Thompson seedless grapes (funny, it tastes like grapes), and just a kick of fresh celery in the finish. With our local crab, oysters and clams this time of year and with the salmon starting to fill the rivers, this one in a bucket of ice will be just the ticket. I am a big proponent of serving wines from the same region as the food and Pacific Northwest seafood with a Pacific Northwest white wine fits pretty much into this model like a glove. If you can get your hands on some razor clams, drop me a line and I will get you my grandmother Tyberg’s recipe from Gearheart Oregon. She used to run around with this kid named James (Jimmy to her) Beard down there and they may have taught each other a thing or two along the way.

Upcoming Events:
Saturday, October 7 1:00-5:00, the wines of Italy, featuring Uccelleria with Neal Garone
You have seen Neal here many times before, typically with some great winemakers from Tuscany. This time, he is bringing in Uccelleria from Chianti, plus a bunch of other great Italian wines and his always awesome food. Come ready for some great food and wine at this one. Neal’s parties are some of the events of the year, so don’t miss this one. Free, of course.
Saturday, November 4 1:00-5:00 Decanter Magazine World Wine Awards Tasting
For the third year in a row, Decanter Magazine out of London has asked us to do an event featuring some of the top winners at their World Wine Awards tasting in May. We are thrilled to be just one of a handful of venues around the world asked to showcase these wines. Some stunning wines will be poured and again, a free event.
Saturday, December 2 our Annual Holiday Tasting and Sale
Mark this date down now and keep in on your schedule. More details to come, but rest assured, this is the biggest party of the year, and you won’t want to miss it.

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