Archive for September 27, 2015

Strange Bedfellows

Sunday Sipping

September, 27th

11 to 5

Most wines from certain regions are what you have come to expect as far as the grapes that go in them. If it is red from Bordeaux it is likely to be Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as the major players. If it is the Rhone then Grenache and Syrah. In Tuscany, you expect there to be some Sangiovese in there setting the tone. But life is not always what you expect. This Sunday we’re pouring a couple of reds that are surprising blends for where they are from.

2013 Domaine de Mougin VDP L’ Aude $10
30% Syrah, 30% Merlot, 20% Carignan, 10% Grenache, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
From the South of France where the Atlantic grapes (Merlot and Cabernet) can get blown together with the more Mediterranean ones (Grenache, Syrah and Carignan). A dark and fruit driven everyday drinking wine with enough going on so your tongue never gets bored. What Vin de Pays should always be.
2013 Nottola, Tre Pezzi $13
80% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot
A Super Tuscan with bold red fruit flavors blended with soft tannins that linger through the long velvety finish. Aged for 6 to 8 months in French oak. No Sangiovese here, just big full wine.

Indie Wines Saturday

September 26th,

This Saturday we are pouring Indie Wines, a small importer that specializes in “Natural Wines”. All these wines are made by small producers, are hand harvested, organic and or bio-dynamic, with an emphasis on low SO2 and natural yeasts. As a result they don’t taste quite the same as the same grapes are used by the large commercial wineries that you find on the grocery store shelf. These wine are bursting with complexity and individuality just like the people who make them. Leave your preconceptions at home and come taste these distinct wines.

 

2013 Jean Christophe Garnier, Chenin La Roche $27

After 10 years as a sommelier, Jean Christophe turned his attention to wine making and bought a small vineyard in the Loire and makes his wines using an old apple press slowly extracting (10 to 12 hours) the essence from the grapes. His La Roche Chenin Blanc is a beautiful thing. Concentrated apple peel and pear skin, straw and honey, chamomile and citrus are just a few of the flavors that spring to mind. Fermented in old oak barrels and aged for a year, this is a sophisticated, incomparable wine.

 

2013 Omero Cellars, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $22

Omero is a small family owned vineyard and winery located in Oregon’s Ribbon Ridge AVA with 26 acres The estate is farmed consciously with the health and natural cycle of the vineyard and its ecosystem in mind with a focus on maintaining the natural bio-diversity of the land through minimal intervention, native cover crops and the integration of livestock. The 2013 is a lighter bodied, fresh Pinot with rose petal and cherry aromas, bright fruit and a refreshing finish.

 

2014 Cantina del Indie, Vino al Popolo Lange Rosso $15

50% Nebbiolo 20% Barbera 30% Dolcetto

Made especially for Indy Wines the Lange Rosso is aged in both stainless and barrel, this Lange red is a balanced and great tasting food wine. “The Barbara brings the acidity and bright fruit, the Nebbiolo brings the tannins and the aromatics, and the Dolcetto brings the softness and rounds out the blend.”

 

2013 La Torre alle Tolfe, Chianti $17

Sangiovese 80%, Canaiolo 10%, Colorino 10%

La Torre alle Tolfe dates back to 1316, and they have been making wine since then. Sergio Lo Jacono took over the wine-making and running of the estate in 2002 and converted the agriculture on the estate to organic immediately upon arrival. The cellar has also remained the same, except for the fact that the wines are now made with natural yeasts. The cellar is still filled with cement tanks and old botti where the Chianti is aged. This is a young and yeasty rustic Chianti with chiseled fruit and lots of character.

 

2012 Chateau La Baronne Corbieres Les Lanes Rouge $19

60% Grenache, 40% Carignan

La Baronne, cultivates some of the oldest Carignan vines of the Languedoc dating back to 1892. The Les Lanes is an attractive, fresh Corbières, full of fruit and charm. Rich and appealing, goes with friends & roast beef or grilled farmhouse poultry.

2pm

We Live For Wine

Even when we aren’t behind the counter at Madrona Wine Merchants, we are searching the world for wines – fortunately, they mostly come to us through distributors and through trade wine tastings. Occasionally we will slip out of the city to explore wine country. Here is what I found in Walla Walla.

First stop was Balboa. They aren’t in commercial distribution and the tasting fee was $5. My favorite on the tasting was their 2013 Sangiovese ($30)

There were a couple of wineries out in the sticks (like Balboa) that we carry – Sleight of Hand, Gifford Hirlinger, that weren’t open on a Wednesday. Had I actually planned this trip better I could have probably gotten them to open up for us.

Next up was Kontos Cellars in downtown Walla Walla. Please note the prices in the upper left hand corner – these are VERY TYPICAL for Walla Walla wines. I think its cartel pricing at work. And they are in distribution with one of our distributors, but the price point is a hard sell in our neighborhood. Favorite at this stop was their 2012 Malbec ($44).

The final winery was El Corazon – which the friend who I was visiting had called a week earlier to set up a private tasting. Not in distribution, and the same pricing structure as Balboa and Kontos, but definitely a different attitude. Hey, they even put out snacks for us! Toss up on my favorite between the2012 Pistelero, their Bordeaux Blend ($40) or the 2013 Swordfight, a Syrah/Mourvèdre Blend ($50)

And the décor of the place is a hoot!



And they do have an amusing policy of throwing out people who are assholes:

No cheap wines in Walla Walla, but it’s was all really good wine. Next time you are on a holiday, check out the local wineries – they are now in all fifty states (including Alaska and Hawaii). Expand your palate.

Balanced Bordeaux

The Equinox is approaching, that pivotal point where the day equals the night.  The weather this last week has been echoing the season, switching back and forth between sun and rain. September is like wine, balance is everything.  And this weekend we are putting on a balancing act as we taste our way through Bordeaux.

Saturday we will be jumping back and forth across the Dordogne river as we sip our way through some Bordelaise Beauties. In the Right Bank, Merlot dominates the vineyards, in the Left Bank, Cabernet Sauvignon plays a larger role. Come find out which side you are on.   We have two fine examples form the excellent 2010 vintage that you won’t want to miss.  We start at 2pm.

Sunday, we are pitting two right bank blends up against each other.  We’ll taste two Merlot heavy blends, one from France, and one from California. Who will win this Merlot smack down – come see which side of the pond offers the most pleasure.  11 to 5.

2011 Château De Fontenille, Bordeaux  $14
80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet
A good basic Bordeaux with red fruit aromas, a clean and sturdy palate with a long lingering of flavors.

2014 Bonny Doon $$&*#!! Merlot  $11
76% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah, 2% Grenache & Mourvedre
A riff on the movie Sideways, this Doonish blend is as playful as the back label and the wine maker himself.

Sunday is also the Artist Reception for our new show Blurred Edges / Distant Dreams by Jeanne Waters.  Come meet the artist and talk to her about her work from 3 to 5.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

Bordeaux!

Saturday, September 19th, 2pm

Bordeaux is the largest wine growing area in France, producing excellent everyday drinking wine as well as some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world  The villages are divided by the Dordogne river.  In the Right Bank, Merlot dominates the vineyards, in the Left Bank, Cabernet Sauvignon plays a larger role.  Join us on Saturday as we taste through a delicious cross section of the region including two examples from the great 2010 vintage. 
 
2012 Château d’Argendens, Blanc $15
65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon 
Château d’Argadens in named in reference to the noble family which founded the estate in the thirteenth century. Today the vineyards produce two solid Bordeaux of consistent value.  The Blanc has complex aromas of citrus fruit and boxwood, underpinned by notes that tend more towards vanilla and roasted almonds. The palate has an elegant, fruit-forward attack from the Sauvignon and a perfectly balanced, crunchy palate.
 
2011 Château d’Argendens, Rouge $16
63% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc 
The d’Argendens Rouge is from 30 year old vines and ages for 14 months in French oak barrels (30% new).  It is a modern Bordeaux with lots of concentrated fruit and an attractive, supple balance.  The rather complex nose combines ripe red fruits with vanilla and cocoa-like notes. The front-of-palate is ample and generous, with a perceptible but remarkably well integrated tannic base. The harmonious alliance of fruit and tannin make this an elegant wine of great finesse.
 
2010 Château Mangot, St Emilion Grand Cru $30
85% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon
Château Mangot is situated on a superb hillside limestone outcropping. This classic Right Bank 28-hectare organically-farmed vineyard is planted with vines averaging 40 years of age, primarily Merlot with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  The wine ages in oak barrels (40% new) from 12 to 16 months. The 2010 has an immediately flattering nose of warm plums and other ripe fruits, spices, and wood; bright, fruit-driven, fleshy palate; long in the mouth with fine tannins.
 
2010 Château Peyrabon, Haut Medoc $34
59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc & Petit Verdot
Situated in the Left Bank Haut-Medoc, Chateau Peyrabon is a 50 hectare estate of gravel soils which the Cabernet Sauvignon loves.  The wine is aged in barrel (22% new) for 14 months.  The wine is a succulent and solid Bordeaux from a great vintage.  “Some roasted herbs, damp earth, interwoven with red and black currants, cherries and spice box are all present in this classic Bordeaux, which exhibits medium body, good density and plenty of balance and elegance.”  Wine Advocate
 
Château d’Orignac, Pineau des Charentes  $34
Pineau des Charantes is a sweet aperitif made by blending year old cognac with grape must that is about to ferment. Château d’Orignac is made Merlot and Cabernet grapes and is aged in oak barrels for around four to five years.  The result is a fragrant, fruity fortified wine that is great as an aperitif or an accompaniment for dessert. It should be served well-chilled to truly appreciate the zip of apricots poached in syrup and delicate caramel and honey notes.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

Weekend Thirst

It is another beautiful September weekend in Madrona.  The sun is out, the temperatures are in the mid 70’s, and at Madrona Wine the cooler is packed with “it’s still the season” rosés.  We also have a full line up of wine tasting set to match the lovely weather.

Saturday we are pouring a sampling of Southern French wines from Gérard Bertrand.  Gérard has his fingers all over the Laguedoc & Roussillon making a cornucopia of wines from the area.  We’ll pop the cork on his Crémant de Limoux starting at 2.

Sunday we’ll be tasting some exotic Italians from two lesser known DOCs (Denominazione de Origine Controllata) from regions of Italy — One from Biferno, a region of Molise, and one Südriol, a region in the Alto Adige.  While both regions are somewhat obscure, they both over deliver in quality and they will be open all day 11-5.

2008 Casa Contini, Biferno Reserva DOC $12
A blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico from Molise, this reserva spends 3 years in barrel.  It is rich and plummy, with a smoky blackberry, chestnut, and peppery-sweet aroma that delights the senses.

2011 Castelfeder, Rieder Lagrein, Südriol DOC $15
From the Alto Adige the Rieder has fresh aromas of wild berries & violets along with rich notes of cherry and tobacco.

Come enjoy the weekend with us.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

Gérard Bertrand,

Saturday, September 12th, 2pm

Gérard Bertrand is a leading producer in the South of France.  As a wine-grower and owner of thirteen estates, he has acquired a unique expertise in the terroirs of Languedoc-Roussillon.  The grapes are cultivated using sustainable methods, most organic and or bio-dynamic.  Brought up in the Languedoc vineyards, Gérard Bertrand is committed to sharing the characteristics and exceptional diversity of each of the terroirs of this region which produces sparkling wines, reds, whites, rosés, varietal wines or appellation wines.  This Saturday we’ll be tasting a slice from this cornucopia. 
 
Crémant de Limoux, Cuvée Thomas Jefferson $15
70% Chardonnay, 15% Chenin Blanc, 10% Mauzac, 5%pinot noir
This crisp bubbly wine has aromas of white flowers and white fruit, a fresh and lively opening, with enjoyably smooth, indulgent bubbles forming delicate foam. Notes of dry and grilled fruit emerge in the long-lasting finish.
 
2010 Muscato, IGP Pays d’Oc $13
A blend of the Muscat d’Alexandrie and Muscat Petit Grain varieties, this cuvée comes from vines with limited yields giving the wine a rare quality and great complexity. This wine offers a bouquet boasting aromas of orange blossom, apricot and peach. Its highly expressive flavors give it astonishing freshness enhanced by great aromatic presence.  10% alcohol.
 
2010 Pic Saint Loup, Coteaux du Languedoc $15
Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache
The village of Pic Saint-Loup is a mountain peak in the Coteaux du Languedoc known for its distinct terroir. Flanked by limestone cliffs, with optimal sunlight exposure and light winds, these soils produce rich, concentrated wines with elegant notes of ripe dark fruit (blackcurrant and blackberry) and hints of thyme and spices. The wine has floral aromas of thyme and red fruit in the nose, nuanced with delicate hints of licorice, black olive tapenade and cherry brandy, mineral freshness and elegant tannins.
 
2011 Château Hospitalet, La Reserve, La Clape Rouge $18
40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre
Situated on the coast, Château de l’Hospitalet looks down on the Mediterranean from a height of a hundred meters.  The vineyard enjoys exceptional climatic conditions: the quantity of sunshine and the heat stored during the day by the limestone and released to the grapes at night, the Mediterranean influence reduces temperature differences and the altitude which counteracts the summer heat.  Aromas of spices and red fruit (strawberry) lead to fine, silky tannins which enhance the fruity freshness of the wine. 
 
2009 Banyuls, Vin Doux Naturel $17
Grenache, Grenache Gris
Located on the slopes of the Pyrenees in Roussillon, Banyuls is a kaleidoscope of sea, mountains, sunshine and wind. The vines open to the generous climate and produce expressive, quintessential, rich, powerful, elegant and aristocratic wines.  The Grenache based dessert wines of the region are exceptional with aromas of very ripe red and black fruit and full and well-balanced flavors of blackcurrant and blackberry, backed by distinctive woody notes.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

Bordeaux vs. Banylus

Who is winning in our Bordeaux vs. Banylus contest so far? As of 12:30, the score is….


5                0

And as of 4pm, the totals are:

10               5

As of 5PM the totals are:

10               12

The results are in — If you count the pre-orders (we ran out of the Bordeaux at 2:20), for ten bottles of the Senhilac, we have a winner. Actually, we have TWO winners as they were both tasty.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

Labor Day Libations

The weather forecast is a rotation of sun and showers this weekend,  But at Madrona wine it will be pouring both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday we’re featuring some Hard Working Washington Wines in honor of the Labor Movement.  The wines are solid and diligently delirious and fit into a working man’s budget. The whistle blows at 2pm.
2014 Parejas Cellars, Albarino  $15
2012 Shooting Star, Blue Franc  $14
Vina Salida Vino Rojo  $15
2010 Basel Cellars, Estate Claret  $20
2011 Soos Creek Wine Cellars, Palisade Red  $20

Sunday we have a face off of two French Reds — Bordeaux vs. Banylus.  Both from 2011, both weighing in at 13% alcohol by volume, but made in different regions in different styles. Who will be the winner? You will be the winner when you taste these two lovelies side-by-side.

2011 Château Sénilhac Haut-Médoc  $11
55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
Château Senilhac is a small estate not far from Saint Estephe, which dates back to the 19th century, belonging since 1938 to the Grassin family.  The wine is a soft, supple, fruit-forward styled Haut-Médoc with berries, soft tannins and low acidity.  It’s an easy drinker for many occasions.

2011 Domaine de Mas Blanc, Piloums — Collioure $11
Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Counoise
Just off the boat from a small estate near Banyuls, this full rich southern French out delivers for the money.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

Hard Working Washington Wines

for Labor Day,

Saturday, September 5th, 2pm

It is Labor Day weekend, a “holiday honoring the American Labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.”  This Saturday we’ll be celebrating with some Hard Working Washington wines.  These wines diligently labor to provide solid, quality value that greatly our well-being.  Come taste the rewards of their labor.
 
2014 Parejas Cellars, Albarino  $15
Parejas is a boutique winery in the Yakima Valley that produces high quality, great value wines from locally grown Spanish varietals.  Their Albarino has stone fruit and spice notes and a good crisp mouthfeel.  13% alcohol by volume
 
2012 Shooting Star, Blue Franc  $14
Lemberger
Shooting Star is Jed Steele’s Washington label, and Lemberger is a founding Washington grape.  The Blue Franc is very clean and fresh with medium body and cherry and plum fruit along with notes of traces of pepper, almond, cherry and cinnamon.
 
Vina Salida Vino Rojo  $15
Malbec, Temprnillo
Vina Salida is Doug McCrea’s new project focusing on Spanish varietals with a side trip into Malbec. This non-vintage bottling of Vino Rojo comes mainly from the cooler 2011 vintage with some 2010 added to fill out the body.  The combo is totally successful balance between the spiciness of the cooler vintage and the full fruit flavors.
 
2010 Basel Cellars, Estate Claret      $20
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 12% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3.5% Malbec, & 0.5% Petit Verdot
Basel Cellars is based in Walla Walla.  Their Estate Claret is an example of precision blending  and a minimal use of new barrels and emphasizing the grapes.  The wine has aromas of dark fruit, cherry-cola, plum and cassis. The mouth provides a balanced acidity interwoven with dark fruit and a graphite-like minerality. The lingering finish is reminiscent of the dark spicy wrapper of a good Maduro cigar.
 
2011 Soos Creek Wine Cellars, Palisade Red  $20
82% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon
Soos Creek pulls it’s fruit from some heavy hitting Washington vineyards (Champoux , Ciel du Cheval, Boushey, Klipsun and Sagemoor,)  The Palisade has aromas of dark raspberry, dark chocolate, musky spices and earth. At once broad and juicy, it offers savory currant and dark raspberry fruit flavors complicated by licorice and smoky soil nuances. The wine is nicely concentrated wine with a restrained sweetness, and finishes with tongue-dusting, supple tannins.

Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.

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