This wine is like a old-time fairy tale of sorts, in my mind. And in a good way. Picture for yourself a forest floor of blackberries blueberries and black currants, juicy and supple forest fruit from the late summer. It’s a comforting scene in mouth and mind, but as with any old school fairy tale, there’s a darker side. Wonder what it is that goes bump in the night? It’s that beast that only wine drinkers know so well. Indeed, the oak monster lurks in the shadows. But don’t be too afraid, especially if you’re not shy about the soft vanilla and toasty notes it brings to the table – there’s a harmonious balance of oak and fruit here.
And for such a young thing, it’s mature for its age, and instantly drinkable. Tannins are smooth, the mouth feel “round” for lack of a better word, and without heat despite clocking in at a hair above 14%. Perfect pairing for your favorite red meat off the grill, but stands up well on its own as a sipper.
As a footnote of sorts, Hester Creek states that this wine is aged in specially selected barrels. I’m curious, who selects them and what’s the criteria? Are the other barrels envious? And did the selector of barrels at any time stop and mutter to themselves “these are not the barrels you are looking for”? Let me mull on these with another glass.
For more on wines from the Okanagan valley, this is the best book I know.
Happy New Year everyone! Hope you have a great 2013 in and out of wine.
2012 was fabulous. We had a chance to taste some great great wines, and there’s only one corked bottle among the bunch that comes to mind, which is a Dionysian blessing itself. Great new connections were made, and can’t wait to keep spreading these here Wineshout wings in 2013.
One of my favorite things from 2012 was a video that won the Wine Spectator video contest last year. It’s called “A Brief History of Merlot” and was made by the folks at Gundlach Bundschu, the oldest family owned winery in California.
Can’t embed it here, so we’ll link you up. Hop on over to http://www.winespectator.com/video/index/playerid/609848879001 for your viewing enjoyment!
JM Cellars is one a hidden slice of serenity tucked away in a pocket of Woodinville just a stone’s throw from the bustle of Seattle. It’s a place to unwind while you take your palate for a whirl. The grounds are tranquil and the tasting room subdued and inviting with its warm tones and even warmer people.
So what did we taste?
JM Cellars 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (Yakima valley) – Clean, crisp but sufficient fruitiness. Pears, yellow Golden Delicious apples that, like Macintoshes, are going out of style but of so delish.
JM Cellars 2008 Tre Franciulli (Columbia Valley) (53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and 14% Syrah) – Licorice nose underlined by blackberry, very elegant, violets. Extremely smooth, complex finish with peppery prickles.
JM Cellars 2008 Longevity (Columbia Valley) – Silky nose of dark fruit, cherries & hint of licorice. Powerful tannins. Long finish.
JM Cellars 2008 Red Mountain Cab Sauv – Peppery ‘n’ powerful, meaty, gamy, a hero of a finish that rides off into the sunset.
JM Cellars are onto a very good thing, and their winery is a must visit for anyone in the area. And if you don’t believe me, this is what Robert Parker had to say:
“John and Peggy Bigelow’s JM Cellars is a required visit for wine tourists in the Seattle/Woodinville area. The winery’s landscaping is breath-taking and, most important, the wines are first-class and reasonably priced.”
The Folonari Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2009, is a blend of Merlot and Sangiovese from Veneto, one of the foremost wine-producing regions in Italy, both for quality and quantity.
The Folonari is medium bodied with a ruby complexion. I didn’t get a sense of the dry fruit – slash – raisin aromas that some have touted, but there was a discreet spiciness, plump cherries, and a soft touch of oak that compliments rather than dominates. The finish is on the shorter side. A nicely balanced wine with an old-world sensibility.
Pricewise, the Folonari offers great value, especially so when discounted a couple bucks.
Like most wines from Italy, this one is best served with grub. We paired it with some Italian cold cuts – what’s the Italian word for charcuterie? – though pasta, risotto and most meaty things Italian will do the trick.
NOTE: Also check out Steve Thurlow’s review of this vintage in Wine Access.
Here’s some recommended reading on the wines and wine regions of Italy.
We soothed our sweet tooth today with 2010 Cupcake Central Coat Merlot from Cupcake Vineyards. People have been mentioning it on and off the past few months so we wanted to see what’s the hype about.
We like the faux-classic branding that’s simple but surprisingly eye-catching. The wine itself is fruit-forward, jammy and sweet, but lacking in complexity. But at this price point, a hair’s breadth under $10, it delivers an easy drinking Merlot that’s suited to many North American palates. It’s a wine that doesn’t demand much, and asks that you just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The Cupcake Vineyards site recommends this wine with the very specifically noted “decadent chocolate molten cupcake”. We went with chocolate truffle cheesecake from Chuckanut Bay, which was a good fit. The chocolate does a good job of cutting the sweetness of the wine, and made for a decadent enough pairing, and it should go down well with most things chocolate.
With a solid performance from this entry-level wine, we’re looking forward to tasting other wines from Cupcake Vineyards.
In this edition of Brandalicious, we’re going back to the remote and oh-so-beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. There we find Therapy Vineyards, a truly unique wine brand that’s been finding a place in many-a-person’s brain’s pleasure center with the taste of its wines.
The Rorschach logos, created by Vancouver-based Brandever Strategy Inc., and catchy wine names like Freudian Sip and Pink Freud create an immediate and strong identity that make you want to see what’s behind the label. But don’t take just our word for it.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art liked it so much that the Therapy Vineyards label designs are being featured as part of their current exhibition, How Wine Became Modern: Design + Wine 1976 to Now. It runs until Sunday, April 17th, 2011.
But to be truly “brandalicious”, it’s equally important what’s in the bottle, and winemaker Steve Latchford surely has concocted some much needed therapy for your taste buds in his elixirs. When our Wineshout team visited the winery, we found their Merlot, with elements of chocolate and rich coffee, to be the standout. The Merlot is now sold out, so looks like everyone else liked it too. But not to stop there, Therapy’s wines have garnered numerous awards and many of them are sold out within months of release.
So if you’re in for some adventure or a road trip, head on up to Penticton in the Okanagan Valley and get some therapy for your wine cravings. But hey, you can also find them on Twitter.