Archive for December 29, 2015

Bubble Up!

As New Year’s Eve draws near celebratory bubbles come to mind.  Is it because like bubbles, time is fleeting?  Or is it something in the POP of a Champagne cork that bodes well for a start of the New Year?

While we ponder that, Madrona Wine Merchants will be OPEN from NOW until New Years. So if you have bubbles in mind or need anything else to usher in the new, swing by and pick some up.

We will be closed New Year’s day, but open again on Saturday with a new start.

If you want a little reading material Eric Asimov has a good article this week on Grower Champagnes in the NY Times:   http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/dining/new-champagne-brands.html 

Madrona Wine stocks a great selection of Champagne made by the people who grow the grapes.  And if you want something really special, we have
the largest selection of Special Club Champagnes in Seattle.

Happy New Year
from Jim & Mark

Boxing Day & Beyond

Happy Boxing Day!

We’ve made it through Hanukkah, the Solstice and Christmas here in Madrona.  Before we get to New Years, it’s time for a break.  We ‘re looking to a full relaxing weekend that starts with Boxing Day

Saturday we’re we are pulling the corks on four favorite wines.  There is no punch in these beauties, just smooth, full delicious flavor.  Take a break and stroll on up to the shop for a taste.  It is also the first day of Kwanzaa, a week of feasting and celebration that calls for a good bottle or two.

2013 Quinta Apolonia Belondrade  $18
100% Verdejo
A full Verdejo from Castilla y Leon.  30% comes from the cellar’s signature wine Belondrade y Lurton  which is fermented and aged in French oak barrels for three months -the other 70% from the property’s youngest vines which are fermented slowly in stainless steel tanks. The wine is light and crisp on the tongue with notes of stone and citric fruits and an ever so slight acidity, while the palate is round and full leaving behind long-lasting aromas.

2014 Gray, Syrah  $17
This 100% Syrah with fruit from the famed Den Hoed Vineyard, was crafted by Kerloo Cellars Winemaker Ryan Crane.  It full of dark dry fruit with a bit of earth and spice.

2013 Moulin de la Gardette Gigondas, Cuvée Tradition  $27
80% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault
For five generations the Meunier family has devoted itself to caring for the vines on the upper garrigue slopes of Les Dentelles. The Cuvee Tradition is rich and luxurious with soft tannins and a long finish.  A nose of herbs, plums and warm rooftops, then a supple almost gamey palate, with hints of aniseed on the finish. A lick of Mediterranean rusticity adds texture and color to the impeccably ripe black fruit.

2012 JB Neufeld, Yakima Valley Cabernet  $36
89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc
Justin Neufeld is the winemaker at Gilbert Cellars as well as an assorted lot of other folks.  We like his Gilbert wines but we especially like the wines he makes for his own label.  A three vineyard blend this year in JB’s Yakima Cabernet.  A full fisted but not heavy handed Washington Cabernet.

Sunday we’ll be pouring a couple of warming Reds from Italy.

2008 Colognole Chianti Rufina $13
Sangiovese
Medium deep red. Hints of fruitiness red berries, herbs and tobacco. Dry, acid finish, perfect with short ribs, good value.

2012 Terre del Barolo, Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC $13
Terre del Barolo is a collective winery located in the heart of Barolo sourcing fruit from its 400 members.  This Nebbiolo ages for 12 months in large Slavonian Oak barrels.  The wine has the characteristic aromas of leather, rose petals, & cherry.

After that we will be closed Monday but after that open again on Tuesday and open for the rest of the year.  Come grab some bubbles to ring in the New Year.

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.

The Shop Is Going To The Dogs

Got a well-mannered mutt? We have treats for them and treats for their owners.

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.

Old World Pairing For the Solstice,

Sunday Sippers

December 20th, 11-5pm

Sunday we’ll be pouring two classic old world wines to keep the chill of the longest night out of the bones. After the 22nd of December the days start getting longer. That’s something to toast to.

2013 Cá Salgari Valpolicella $15
Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara and Croatina
This Classic Classico shows fragrant notes of red flowers, fruits and prominent notes of cherries, soft tannins and good persistence. 12.5% alcohol by volume

2012 Triennes, Saint Auguste $15
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
Saint Auguste is Triennes’ flagship wine, coming from a selection of their best cuvées. The wine is rich with alluring aromas of ripe black cherries, nutmeg and clove. The palate is full of life with plenty of structure. Was $18 now $15

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.

Solstice Sunshine

The sun is poking out of the clouds in Madrona this morning.  Maybe to remind us that the Solstice is coming and the days will once again start getting longer.  Let’s celebrate!

Saturday we’re pouring a fine line up of Northwest wines to fit the season.  The wines hail from Walla Walla and other sundry parts of Washington.  We’ve picked some classic winemakers.
2013 Gård Vintners, Freyja White Blend
2010 Helix, Sangiovese
2013 Syncline, Subduction Red
2012 Reininger, Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Stephenson Cellars Syrah

Sunday we’ll be pouring two classic old world wines to keep the chill of the longest night out of the bones. 

2013 Cá Salgari Valpolicella  $15
Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara and Croatina
This Classic Classico shows fragrant notes of red flowers, fruits and prominent notes of cherries, soft tannins and good persistence.

2012 Triennes, Saint Auguste  $15
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
Saint Auguste is Triennes’ flagship wine, coming from a selection of their best cuvées.  The wine is rich with alluring aromas of ripe black cherries, nutmeg and clove.  The palate is full of life with plenty of structure. Was $18 now $15

And it is a good time for Holiday shopping.  We’ll be closed on Monday, but 12 to 7 Tuesday to Thursday this coming week.  Wine makes a great gift and is seldom regifted.

Home for the Holidays

Washington Wines for the Season,
Saturday, December 19th, 2pm

We’re coming home for the Holidays. This Saturday we’re pouring a fine line up of Northwest wines to fit the season. The wines hail from Walla Walla and other sundry parts of Washington, but they have bit of a European inspiration.

2013 Gård Vintners, Freyja White Blend $14
67% Viognier, 33% Roussanne
More Roussanne gives this Rhone inspired white more volume and weight. The Freyja has a mixture of pear, citrus and stone fruit with notes of honeysuckle and white tea.

2010 Helix, Sangiovese $16
This neutral oak aged Sangiovese from Walla Walla winemaker Chuck Reininger is aged and ready to go. “Fresh Raspberry and cranberry erupt from the glass with the first pour then immediately morph into their darker counterparts melded with pepper, allspice and cracked leather. A soft palate with a little more than moderate acidity brings forth pomegranate, black raspberry, and plum with date and black olive, sprinkled with allspice, celery seed, and a hint of black pepper. The acidity hooks into the finish accentuating the black raspberry with a hint of raisin.”

2013 Syncline, Subduction Red $20
31% Mouvedre, 25% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 12% Cinsault 7% Carignan, 4% Guess?
A blend of classic southern French varieties that are unique and expressive on their own; with each contributing to create a harmonious whole. Ripe and hedonistic, this charming wine exhibits flavors of dark berries and black pepper; This blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Counoise, Grenache and Cinsault immediately appeals with its aromas of plum, candied raspberry and garrigue, with no oak influence anywhere in sight. It’s fruit laden, focused and supple,

2012 Reininger, Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon $32
96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot
From Pepper Bridge & Seven Hills Vineyards, Chuck Reininger’s Walla Walla Cab has “spirited aromatics of black cherry, currant, plum, a suggestion of rose buds and a breath of baking spice. Its lively palate plays with road stand fresh red cherries, black raspberries, figs and black currants, with interplaying tell tales of herb, loamy minerals, and graphite. The wine’s vivacious character is perfectly balanced by very fine tannins that extend long into the finish of buoyant cherry fruit.

2008 Stephenson Cellars Syrah $32
Dave Stephenson arrived in Walla Walla in 1999 to work at Waterbrook Winery and was able to hone his skills making wine for both their label and their custom crush clients before starting his own winery. This 100% Syrah opens with a floral-infused perfume on the nose. Rose petal is most pronounced, with a noticeable dose of jasmine and orange blossom that intermingles and awakens the senses immediately. The flavors are powerful red fruits such as currants, cranberry and ripe raspberry with a subtle touch of tannin to anchor the lengthy finish. Classic Syrah elements such as cracked pepper, spice and a hint of smoke and game are noticeable after the glass is put down and the palate clears.

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.


Tasting Report: Gruet Cellars

Saturday, December the 5th we sampled Gruet’s Sauvage, a non-dosage (bone dry) Blanc de Blanc from New Mexico at Madrona Wine Merchants. Yummy! And a big seller.

Since I was already planning to be in New Mexico I arranged a tour of their facility in Albuquerque and thought I’d pass along my impressions.

While their estate grapes are grown outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the augment their non-vintage sparklers with grapes from California and the Northwest. Coming online in the next two years will be Pinot Meunier grapes from a joint venture with the Santa Anna Pueblo near Santa Fe. They even have a few vines in front of their urban winery. Fun fact: Gruet is the largest (by square feet) winery located in an urban environment, followed by Seattle’s own Charles Smith in Georgetown.

I had a chance to run through their entire tasting room menu and take notes:

After working through the wine list it was time for a personal tour of the winery by their production manager:

Normally these tours are only available on the last Saturday of the month at 2PM. The tasting room, which is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico is open to the public Monday-Thursday 10am to 5pm. Friday-Saturday 10am to 7pm, Sunday noon-5pm.

I was lucky enough to arrive as they were bottling their non-vintage Rose.

After the bottles come off the bttling line, they are first stacked in massive wooden crates:

Before getting loaded in to rotating steel rakes that perform the “riddling” – the quarter turn twist to get all the sediment to float down to the neck of the bottle.

Before final labelling the bottles go through disgorgement – which done by freezing the neck of the bottle and then upcapping the bottle which because it’s a sparkling wine, blows all the sediment out of the bottle. Next up is the adding of the “dosage” – a bit of sugar to restart the fermentation to get bubbles to form again. Then it’s recorked, wired, and sometimes foiled. Fun fact – the clear bottles for the rose are made in Seattle down in the Georgetown neighborhood on Highway 99.

We had the Gruet Sauvage open on Saturday, December 5th. In addition, we also carry their Blanc de Noir. Tasting notes for both of those are below:

Gruet Blanc De Noirs    $16
Pinot Noir
New Mexico
Méthode Champenoise & aged for a minimum of two-years, berry aroma with toasty notes and a creamy texture.

Gruet Brut Sauvage Blanc de Blanc    $18
Chardonnay
Low-dosage domestic bubbles! Aromas of bright mineral notes followed by traces of green apple, lemon Meringue pie, with a hint of daisy. This wine finishes with bright, crisp acidity on the palate with a light yet long finish. With limited residual sugar, the Gruet Sauvage is for the sparkling connoisseur who appreciates bone dry acidity.

So, if you find yourself in Albuquerque with extra time, they are located just off the freeway – stop on by and sample their wares, which include still wines. Fun fact: the grapes for their Cabernet Sauvignon come from our own Columbia Valley.

Special Club Champagne,

By Reservation Only

Sunday, December 20th, 5:30pm

$30 plus tax

The Special Club, or Club Trésors de Champagne, was founded in 1971 by 12 of the oldest families of the Champagne region. Since then, the club has expanded to include 26 producers of grower Champagne. The members of the Club act as their own judge and jury. Every year they taste one other’s vin claire or still base wine which is only submitted for review when the producer truly feels it could be something really special. Not every member will submit a vin claire every year. The members of the club taste the base wines “blind”, and together decide which ones have the potential to be truly exceptional Champagne. Once they’re approved, the wines undergo the second fermentation, and a minimum of 3 years of aging (twice as long as is required of other Champagnes) in the uniquely shaped Special-Club bottles. After that time, the Champagne is disgorged and tasted once again by the members of the Club. If it’s up to snuff, it can then be further aged and sold as Special Club Champagne.

Sunday the 20th we will be having a Reservation Only Special Tasting of 5 Special Club Champagnes.  

Space for this tasting is limited so contact us at info@madronawinemerchants.com.  We start at 5:30, have a few snacks to go with and you can still get home for Sunday dinner.

2007 José Michel Special Club Champagne Brut          $70
50% Pinot Meunier, 50% Chardonnay
This traditional grower has owned vineyards from 1847 is one of the oldest winegrowing families in the village of Moussy.  The grapes for the Special club are The vines are all at least 60 years old and represent the oldest plants in the Michel vineyard.

2006 Pierre Gimonnet Special Club Brut Blanc de Blancs   $90
From Grand Cru and 1er vineyards 65% Cramant (Grand Cru) 22.5% Chouilly (Grand Cru) and 12.5% Cuis (1er Cru) 8 years in bottle before disgorgement. Very dry (technically qualifies as Extra Brut).

2008 Roland Champion Special Club Chouilly Grande Cru            $75
Chardonnay
The big wine from this small grower is located in the Grand Cru Village of Chouilly.  Special clubs are only made by a small group of artisan growers who submit their best wine from good vintages to the group.

2007 Gaston Chiquet Special Club Champagne Brut   $75
70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir
From vineyards around the villages of Hautvillers, Dizy and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, the base wines for this Special Club are aged on lees a minimum of 7 years on average.

2010 Marc Hebrart Special Club Champagne Primier Cru  Brut    $80
55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay
The 2010 is a Vallée de la Marne, Coeur de Cuvée (heart of the free-run) blend of old vines that average 55 years of age. Jean-Paul says “Old vines don’t move from one year to the next and the best plots always produce the best grapes”

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.

Arizona (and more) On Our Minds

Sunday, December 13th, 11-5

Sunday we are pouring two wines from Arizona that may come in handy later in the week or later in the year. Both are on a bit of a markdown. Come have a taste; you might reconsider your feelings about Arizona (or at least their wine). And if that isn’t enough to keep your tongue happy, we’ll also be sampling a new locally produced Vermouth from Solera Bravo.

2010 Arizona Stronghold Dala Chardonnay $10
Pineapple and star fruit notes play off just a hint of fresh cream, almonds and baked apples in this broad chardonnay, which shows zesty, enlivening acidity, providing lots of muscle. The firm acidity finds precision balance with the silky, mouthwatering texture. Was $20 now $10

2012 Arizona Stronghold Nachise Red $12
42% Syrah, 30% Petite Sirah, 18% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre
A very spicy Southwest red blend with aromas of blackberries mixed with hints of mint, juniper, roasted desert herbs and white pepper corns. Long firm finish, with a hint of oak well-embedded and framed by medium tannins. Was $26 now $12

And last but not least:

Vermut Del Sol, Sweet Red Vermouth $26
From Solera Bravo Wines, this Vermouth is aged in the solera method blending the herbal infusions with Washington State Moscato. This is the first wine from this new Vermouthery. The owner will be pouring from 2-3.

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.

Dry Out This Weekend

It has been a wet week in Madrona, and that calls for some bold wine with a dry finish.  Fortunately we happen to have some on hand.  Come by and see what is open.

Saturday we’re pouring robust wines for the holidays that are great for celebrating and gifts.  Capping the lineup will be the Sagrantino di Montefalco from Scacciadiavoli.  Few wines are bolder or drier than this indigenous grape from the hills of Montefalco in Umbria The wine is a dark purple, nearly black color with thick legs, and aromas of intense red fruit, plums, spice earth and leather. It has a big flavor with lots of good mouth drying tannins. We’ll also have four other favorites to tickle your fancy.

Sunday we’ll be pouring two specially priced wines from Arizona.

2010 Arizona Stronghold Dala Chardonnay   $10
Pineapple and star fruit notes play off just a hint of fresh cream, almonds and baked apples in this broad chardonnay, which shows zesty, enlivening acidity, providing lots of muscle.  The firm acidity finds precision balance with the silky, mouthwatering texture.  Was $20 now $10

2012 Arizona Stronghold Nachise Red   $12
42% Syrah, 30% Petite Sirah, 18% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre
A very spicy Southwest red blend with aromas of blackberries mixed with hints of mint, juniper, roasted desert herbs and white pepper corns. Long firm finish, with the a hint of oak well-embedded and framed by medium tannins.  Was $26 now $12

And Sunday we’ll also be tasting:
Vermut Del Sol, Sweet Red Vermouth $25
From Solera Bravo Wines, this Vermouth is aged in the solera method blending the herbal infusions with Washington State Moscato.  This is the first wine from this new local Vermouthery.  Master infuser Nacho Bravo will be on hand at 2pm to talk about his creation.

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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