- Written by Rand Sealey
Over the past few weeks, in addition to tasting Washington wines for the May issue of the Review of Washington Wines, we have been drinking several wines that are particularly interesting. Here they are.
Lail Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the Napa Valley's most legendary figures was John Daniel Jr. who in the 1950's and 1960's headed Ingenook Vineyards which was founded by Gustav Niebaum in 1879. Today, Daniel's daughter Robin Lail and her daughters own Lail Vineyards in Calistoga, which continues the John Daniel heritage. A couple of nights ago, our next door neighbor brought over the following wine.
2012 Lail Vineyards "Blueprint" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($80) - Semi opaque ruby colored, this 88% Cabernet (with 8% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot) emits seductive, ripe aromas of blackberries, cherries, plums, crushed black roses, sweet tobacco, cedar, sandalwood and incense. The flavors are thick and fleshy, almost opulent, yet focused, with notes of licorice, Belgian chocolate, French roast and minerals. The saturation continues on the back with roasted berries and nuts, mocha, toffee and graphite. The alcohol registers at 15.4%, but is smoothed over by the continuing opulence that continues on through the lingering ripe tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
The Lirac Wines of Domaine de la Modorée
Lirac is a commune near Avignon in the South Rhone Valley. It is adjacent to Tavel which is known for its rosé wines. The principal grapes of Lirac are Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah for the reds and Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier for the whites. Domaine de la Modorée is one of the best producers.
2016 Domaine de la Modorée Lirac Blanc, "La Reine des Bois" ($39.99 - wine.com) - Composed of one third each of Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne, this displays a brilliant gold color and floral aromas of pear, peach, honeydew melon, papaya and citrus. The flavors are wide ranged, yet laser-like, with notes of peach stone, pear skin and granitic minerals. On the back, the wine turns deliciously juicy, yet crystalline, with sensations of poire and pêche liqueurs, and recurring melon and papaya rinds, and touches of nougat and grapefruit zest on the lingering, lightly spiced finish. 19/20 points.
2015 Domaine de la Modorée Lirac, "La Reine des Bois" ($39.99 - wine.com) - This combination of 34% Grenache, and 33% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre exhibits a deep purplish-ruby color and an intoxicating nose of wild raspberries, blueberries, pomegranates and black currants, with scents of crushed roses, mulberry, sweet tobacco, lavender, Provençal herbs and violets. The flavors, as well, are alluring, bathed with black and blue fruits that are imbued with licorice, dark cocoa, French roast and granitic minerals. The saturation continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted nuts, framboise and cassis liqueurs, orange peel and charcoal, followed by a lingering, spiced warm (15% alcohol) ripe tannin finish. 19/20 points.
The Villages Wines of Louis Jadot
Maison Louis Jadot, founded in 1859, is one of the most respected negotiant-proprietaires in Burgundy. Its portfolio comprises of wines from a wide range of appellations from Beaujolais and the Maconnais, Côte Chalonnaise, the Côte d'Or and Chablis. While the Premier and Grand Crus are the stellar wines, Jadot also produces fine wines from the communal "Villages" appellations. Here are some fine examples.
2015 Louis Jadot Givry ($31.99 - wine.com) - From the Côte Chalonnaise, this Pinot Noir offers a medium brick red color and attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry and red currant, with scents of red roses, tobacco leaf and whiffs of white incense. The flavors are pleasingly supple ("tendre," as the French say) with notes of red licorice, herbal tea and light earth, leading nicely into a smooth moderate tannin and acid finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Louis Jadot Mercurey ($32.99 - wine.com) - Mercurey, along with Givry, produces mostly Pinot Noir. This one shows a medium brick red color and perfumed aromas of strawberries, pomegranates, and red currants, with scents of crushed roses, light sweet tobacco and violets. The flavors, as well, are alluring, with pleasing medium bodied red fruits that are imbued with red licorice, cocoa powder and medium roast coffee. The back picks up fraise and cassis liqueurs on the way to a soft moderate tannin and acid finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Louis Jadot Santenay ($39.99 - wine.com) - Santenay is situated at the southern end of the Côte d'Or, adjacent to Chassage-Montrachet. This version offers a brilliant purplish-ruby color and an unmistakable Pinot Noir nose of strawberries, cherries, cassis, rose petals, orange peel and light incense. The flavors are generous and round, yet focused, with notes of red licorice, cocoa powder, medium roast coffee and earth. The back reveals sensations of pressed berries, toasted nuts and soft pencil lead, followed by a smooth light tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2015 Louis Jadot "Le Chapitre" Bourgogne ($35.99 - wine.com) - Le Chapitre is a Jadot Domaine wine, sourced from vineyards in Chenôve, adjacent to Marsannay at the north end of the Côte de Nuts. It displays a medium purplish red color and enticing aromas of wild strawberries, black currants, red plums, rose petals, sweet tobacco, wildflowers and light incense. The medium bodied flavors comprise pressed red and blue fruits that are endowed with red licorice, cocoa and chalky earth. The supple textured back picks up pressed fruits, toffee and light graphite, followed by a smooth soft tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Louis Jadot Côte de Nuits Villages ($37.99 - wine.com) - From selected vineyards in Fixin, Brochon, Preméaux and Comblanchien, this shows a brick red color and enticing aromas of fraises de bois, framboise, and cerise, with scents of red roses, orange peel, spring flowers and whiffs of incense. The flavors are supple, yet well delineated, with considerable Pinot character, accompanied by notes of licorice, chocolate and chalky earth. The back picks up pressed berries and red fruit liqueurs on the way to a supple finish. This is what the Burgundians call a vin de plaisir. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Louis Jadot Fixin ($41.99 - wine.com) - Fixin is located near the north end of the Côte de Nuits, just past Gevrey-Chambertin to whose wines this is similar. It displays a brick red color and enticing aromas of fraises de bois, wild cherries, black currants, crushed red roses, tobacco leaf, sweet pea flowers and white incense. The medium bodied flavors are varietally pure, replete with red licorice, cocoa powder, medium roast coffee and minerals. The seduction continues on the back with sensations of pressed berries, toasted nuts, fraise and cerise liqueurs, and creme de cassis, followed by a moderate alcohol (12%) and satiny tannin finish. As a vin de plaisir, this gets a plus. 18.5+/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Back on 24 October, 2017, I wrote in my Review of Washington Wines Blog:
"At this stage, the 2015 reds are showing very well. In general, the wines are well fruited and structured, with fine aromatics (phenols) and depth. Acid levels are, for the most part, sturdy, more so than for the 2013s from another warm year and with well balanced tannins. Most of the 2015s released so far have been from other varieties than Cabernet Sauvignon, many of which will be released next Spring."
Now that the 2015 Cabernets and "BDX" blends are coming on the market, it appears that the climate gods smiled on Cabernet Sauvignon in 2015. After a hot summer, a moderate cooling trend in October allowed the flavors and aromatics of Cabernet Sauvignon, typically a late ripening grape, to develop.
Here's what we have so far and coming up in the way of high scoring 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet dominated BDX blends.
In the March issue, I reviewed the 2015 Long Shadows "Feather" Cabernet Sauvignon ($65) and the "Pirouette" BDX Red ($60), both scoring stellar 19.5/20 points.
In the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines, just now on line, we have:
2015 Guardian Cellars "Gun Metal" Red Wine ($42) - 19/20 points
2015 Andrew Januik "Stone Cairn" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($40) - 19/20 points
2015 JM Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Shaw Vineyard ($55) - 19+/20 points
2015 L'Ecole No. 41 "Perigee" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, Seven Hills Vineyard ($55) - 19+/20 points
2015 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson Vineyard Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($65) - 19.5/20 points
2015 Avennia "Sestina" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($65) - 19.5 points
In the May issue, there will a quintet of single vineyard 2015 Cabernets from the Seven Hills Winery: Seven Hills Vineyard, McClellan and Summit View in the Walla Walla Valley; Klipsun Vineyard on Red Mountain; and Elephant Mountain northwest of Zillah. Also, there will be the 2015 Mark Ryan "Dead Horse" Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain (19+/20 points).
I expect there will be more outstanding 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and blends being released in the coming months. Stay tuned!
- Written by Rand Sealey
On Monday, February 19th, we went to the Seven Hills Industry Night where the winery's 2017 Dry Rosé was released. Three weeks later, on Monday, March 12th, Lagana Cellars debuted its 2017 Rose of Pinot Noir. These marked the kickoff of the season's 2017 rosé wines. Here's a preview of the rosés to be reviewed in the upcoming April and May issues of the Review of Washington Wines.
To be Reviewed in the April Issue
2017 Seven Hills Dry Rosé, Columbia Valley ($18) - Primarily Cabernet Franc with a bit of Petit Verdot and Malbec, this offers a pinkish light copper color and enticing aromas of strawberry, pink peach Rainier cherry, white flowers and white incense. The flavors are fresh and sprightly and picks up fraise and cerise liqueurs on the way to a mouth watering finish.18.5/20 points.
2017 Three Rivers Rosé Wine, Columbia Valley ($16) - Composed of 70% Syrah, 27% Sangiovese and 3% Riesling this shows a pinkish-copper color and enticing aromas of strawberry, red currant, grapefruit, spring flowers and whiffs of clover and spice. The flavors are gently extracted, accented by fraise and cassis liqueurs and a twist of grapefruit peel, followed by a juicy, dry finish. 18+/20 points.
2017 Brook & Bull Rosé Wine, Columbia Valley ($19) - Ashley Trout's March Cellars has been renamed Brook & Bull. This debut rosé is composed of 47% Mourvèdre, 33% Syrah, 18% Grenache and 2% Sangiovese. It shows a pink-copper color and attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry, watermelon and tangerine. The flavors are fresh and lightly extracted, followed by crisp, juicy, nicely balanced finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Lagana Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, Breezy Slope Vineyard ($20) - Light salmon colored, this possesses expressive aromas of strawberry, cherry, red currant, strawberry and spring flowers. The flavors are quaffable, yet textured, with notes of grape skins, melon run and minerals, followed by touches of orange peel and hazelnut on the juicy, dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
To be Reviewed the May Issue
2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle Rosé, Columbia Valley ($8.99 at QFC) - I ran across this at the Totem Lake QFC in Kirkland while picking up some takeout sushi. Packaged in a tall pot shaped bottle, it resembles a Côtes de Provence Rosé. It shows fresh aromas of raspberry, pomegranate, tangerine, lavender, pepper and white incense. The flavors are fresh and lively with a nice, dry finish. Will retaste later when I can get another bottle. 18/20 points.
2017 Isenhower Cellars Cabernet Franc Rosé, Yakima Valley ($17) - Sourced from 27 year-old vines at the Dutchman Vineyard, this offers a light copper-pink color and attractive aromas of strawberries, Rainier cherries, tangerine and watermelon. The flavors are pleasingly juicy, with notes of grape skin, fraise and cerise liqueurs and recurring tangerine peel, followed a lingering, faintly honeyed yet dry finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Sleight of Hand Cellars "The Magician's Assistant" Cabernet Franc Rosé, Yakima Valley, Blackrock Vineyard ($19) - This features a light salmon coli and intriguing aromas of strawberry, pomegranate, pink lilac and spring flowers. The young fruit flavors are accented by grape skin, pomegranate skins and stony minerals. The back picks up fraise and cerise liqueurs and tangerine peel on the way to a crisp, bright finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Saviah Cellars Rosé Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($18) - Composed of 57% Sangiovese and 43% Barbera from the Dugger Creek Vineyard, this shows a light salmon color and intriguing aromas of raspberry, cherry, tangerine, cherry blossom and white incense. The flavors are nicely extracted with notes of grape skin and creekside minerals, followed by a crisp, recurring tangerine peel accented finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Browne Family Vineyards Grenache Rosé, Columbia Valley ($20) - Light pink-copper colored, this shows aromas of strawberry, Rainier Cherry, red currants, strawberry blossoms, spring flowers and white pepper. The gently pressed fruits pick up fraise and cerise liqueurs and tangerine peel on the way to a crisp light alcohol (11.8%) Provence-like dry finish. 18+/20 points.
2017 Maryhill Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($9.99 at Albertson's) - This is the nicest 2017 Sangiovese Rosé I've tried so far. Brilliant pink colored, it possesses attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry, watermelon and ruby grapefruit. The flavors are delightfully fresh and lively, with notes of light grape skins, minerals and fraise and cerise liqueurs, followed by an, again, fresh, lively finish. 18+/20 points.
2017 Tranche Cellars Pink Pape Rosé, Yakima Valley, Blackrock Vineyard ($20) - Composed of 47% Grenache, 27% Counoise and 26% Cinsault, it shows a light pink-copper color and a fragrant nose of strawberry, Rainier cherry, pink grapefruit, cherry blossoms, spring flowers and a whiff of white incense. The flavors are sprightly and fresh, with notes of fraise and cerise liqueurs, followed by a zesty grapefruit peel accented boy finish. 18.5/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
This morning, we returned to Walla Walla from Seattle after a trip to Woodinville. There, we visited six wineries - Gorman, Guardian cellars, Efesté, Novelty Hill/Januik, JM Cellars and Avennia. We tasted a goodly number of outstanding wines which will be reviewed in the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines which goes on line March 23.
Coming up later this month, on Sunday the 25th, I will be flying over to Seattle to attend Taste Washington, the premier Washington Wine Commission event. Nearly 300 wineries will be represented. I will report on this event in the May issue.
Also coming up in the Walla Walla Valley are Cayuse Weekend on April 6-7 and then Spring Release Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley on May 4-6. In the April and May issues there will be preview reports on the wines being poured during Spring Release. I will be doing a lot of traveling the coming months as we will also be going to Kansas City, Bentonville, Arkansas and Dallas-Fort Worth in April. More later!
- Written by Rand Sealey
A week ago, on February 22, Lynn and I hosted a tasting of Cornas wines for the Sons of Bacchus and Daughters of Dionysus. Cornas is one of the principal appellations of the North Rhone Valley. It is situated across the Rhone River from Tain l'Hermitage and northeast of the town of Valence. By law Cornas wines must be 100% Syrah. The tasting comprised 20 wines, curated by Billo Naravane MW. There were four flights of five wines each, a few North Rhones from outside Cornas and a couple of "ringers" were included. Here are my notes on the more outstanding wines with my scores.
2012 Domaine Balthasar Cornas, "Le Chaillot" - Semi opaque purplish colored, this possessed an enticing nose of sweet fruits, crushed roses, lavender, violets and incense. The flavors wee mouth encompassing with Syrah purity and a long, complex finish. 19.5/20 points.
2012 Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas, "Les Rochets" - This showed a deep ruby color and classic aromas of raspberry, cherry and currant, with scents of tobacco, lavender and incense. The flavors were thick, earthy and vigorous, with considerable varietal purity and a long peppery finish. 19+/20 points.
2015 Domaine du Tunnel Cornas, "Stéphane Robert" - This was thick, almost massive with an intense nose of raspberries, cherries and black currants, spice, garrigue and incense. The back picked up roasted berries and nuts and a long terroir and varietal driven finish. 19.5/20 points.
2010 Domaine Lionnet Cornas, "Terre Brulée" - This wine lived up to its name with scorched earth aromas and flavors of wild fruits, garrigue (lavender, herbs) and smoldering incense. The flavors were well saturated and pure, with a long burnt charcoal and spice finish. 19.5/20 points.
In between flights two and three, Steve Maxood popped open a Champagne Camille Salvès which made a delicious, frothy nearly bone dry palate cleanser before proceeding to the following flights.
2015 Vincent Paris Cornas "Granit 60" - Deep ruby colored, this showed a smoky almost super ripe nose of roasted berries and scents of roses, lavender and violets. The dark fruit flavors were vivid, matching the intensity of the aromas. 19+/20 points.
2012 Vincent Paris "Granit 60" - This vintage showed a ruby-crimson color and a rich, berried nose of raspberry and cassis with scents of crushed roses, lavender and violets. The flavors were deep and taut, showing much Syrah character. 19+/20 points.
2015 Domaine Durand Cornas "Premice" - This was one of the most attention-getting wines of the tasting. Ruby crimson colored, it possessed lovely aromas of raspberry, blueberry, cassis, roses, lavender, sweet tobacco and violets. The flavors were deep and beautifully structured with a long, pure finish. 19.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine Clape Cornas "Renaissance" - This showed a ruby-crimson color and a sweet, smoky, spicy nose of blackberries, blueberry and cassis with scents of crushed roses, lavender and violets. The flavors were thick and generous, yet focused. The chewy textured back picked up roasted berries and nuts and charcoal, followed by a long finish. 19+/20 points.
There were a couple of interesting "ringers:"
2013 Le Crête Syrah, Valle d'Aosta - This Italian Syrah showed a deep ruby color and an attractive nose of raspberry, cherry and currant with supple fruits and bright acidity, medium full bodied, spicy and peppery. 19/20 points.
2006 Pax Syrah, Mendocino County, Alder Spring Vineyard - Semi opaque colored, this showed a sweetish nose of blackberry, cassis, bayberry, tobacco and garrigue. The flavors were thick and generous, with considerable Syrah character. 19/20 points.