- Written by Rand Sealey
This year, Thanksgiving will be different from the past. Gatherings will be smaller and fewer will be traveling to them, for obvious reasons. But one thing that for us hasn't changed is drinking local wines with our Thanksgiving dinner. This holiday is a distinctly American one and calls for our own country's wines. I have nothing against foreign wines and we drink them often (see below) but for the celebration of our bounty, only our own country's wines will do.
Lynn and I will be having Thanksgiving together, just the two of us, this year. We will be having some Treveri bubbly and a Reynvaan Syrah with our turkey and fixings which will be supplied by the Walla Walla Steak Company for take out.
Go to your wine collection and pick out some fine American wines. Steer away from dry whites such as Chardonnay and tannic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon. For white, consider a Riesling or Chenin Blanc and for red, a Syrah or Cabernet Franc.
- Written by Rand Sealey
This ia a continuation of last week's blog (see below). More goodies from Esquin Wine Merchant's November specials. Go to www.madwine.com.
2018 Averaen Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley ($16.99 - Regular $28) - This is an attractively styled Pinot from 15 vineyards, fermented separately and then blended. It shows a brick red color and rich aromas of raspberry, cherry, red currant, rosebuds, tobacco and incense. The flavors are supple and medium bodied, but substantial, with notes of red licorice, cocoa, black tea and ancient volcanic and marine minerals. The back picks up pressed fruits, kirsch and creme de cassis, followed by a soft tannin finish, supported by bright fruit acids. 18/20 points.
2016 Lemelson "Thea's Selection" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley ($21.99 - Regular $36) - Deep brick red colored, this emits rich, earthy aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, black currant, crushed roses, tobacco, orange peel, anise, violets and incense. The medium full bodied flavors are replete with ripe fruits that are imbued with red licorice, cocoa powder, black tea and minerals. The pleasure continues on the back with pressed berries, kirsch and cassis liqueurs, recurring orange peel and touches of buttered toast and roasted nuts, followed by a grainy but smooth moderate tannin finish, lifted by bright fruit acids. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Moutard-Diligent Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($17.99 - Regular $25) - From 20-60 year-old vines northwest of Chablis, this shows a medium brick red color and intriguing aromas of strawberry, cherry, red currant, crushed red roses, tobacco leaf, orange peel, dried violets and white incense. The medium bodied flavors show definite Pinot character, with notes of red licorice, cocoa, Earl Grey tea and caliche minerals. The back picks up fraise and cassis liqueurs and recurring orange peel, followed by a subtle finely fruited dryish finish. 18/20 points.
2018 Terlaner Terlano Bianco, Alto Adige ($22.99 - Regular $45) - This South Tyrol white is a blend of 60% Pinot Bianco, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. It shows a brilliant lemon-gold color and intriguing aromas of pear, peach, melon and grapefruit with scents of peach blossoms, anise seeds, wild clover and white pepper. The flavors, as well, are striking, with vibrant white and green fruits that are imbued with grape skins, peach stone and saline minerals. The vivacity continues on the back with pear and peach liqueurs, melon rind, recurring anise, subtle spritz and dustings of cardamom and white pepper on the lingering, elegantly fruited dry finish. 19/20 points.
2016 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Rosso Veronese ($16.99 - Regular $25) - Deep ruby colored, this wine possesses enticing aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, crushed black roses, mulberry, tobacco, fennel and incense. The flavors are medium bodied yet bold, with dark fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, black tea and minerals. On the back, the wine intensifies with sensations oghtly sf pressed fruits, hazelnuts, semi-dried cherries and plum preserves, all followed by a deliciously juicy moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico ($16.99 - Regular $24) - This offers a ruby-garnet color and rich, earthy aromas of raspberry, cherry, currant, red roses, tobacco leaf, bayberry, oregano, sage and incense. The flavors are medium bodied but substantial, with notes of red licorice, cocoa, black tea and hillside earth and minerals. On the back, the wine enriches with pressed berries, roasted nuts, cherry liqueur and graphite, followed by a satisfying lightly spiced dry yet ripe finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Fratelli Revello Barolo ($32.99 - Regular $45) - This is a classic Barolo at a great price. It displays a deep ruby-garnet color and typical Nebbiolo aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, orange peel, dried roses, tobacco, road tar and smoldering incense. The flavors are deep and authoritative, infused with licorice root, Toblerone chocolate, Italian roast and Barolo hillside minerals. On the back, the wine tuns strikingly sweet-dry, with sensations of pressed fruits, hazelnuts, toffee, cherry liqueur, recurring dried orange peel and pulverized charcoal, followed by a long, savory finish. 19/20 points.
2017 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva ($14.99 - Regular $27) Cannonau is the Sardianian name for Grenache. This one shows a deep ruby-garnet color and intriguing aromas of raspberry, chart, blood orange, crushed roses, tobacco, lavender and rosemary. The flavors are medium bodied but substantial, with red fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, black tea and volcanic minerals. The back picks up pressed berries, roasted nuts, currant liqueur and recurring orange peel, followed by a chewy soft tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Zestos Garnacha, "Old Vines," Viños de Madrid ($8.99 - Regular $15) - This bargain-priced Grenache offers a medium ruby color and smoky aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, red roses, purple lilac, tobacco, Spanish lavender and spiced incense. The flavors are medium bodied and direct yet substantial, with notes of red licorice, cocoa and minerals. The flavor interest continues on the back with pressed berries, roasted nuts and cherry liqueur, followed by a ripe, smooth moderate tannin finish. 18/20 points.
2018 Protos Tinto Fino, Cosecha, Ribera del Duero ($12.99 - Regular $20) - This 100% Tempranillo displays a deep purplish ruby color and ripe aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, black roses, bayberry, tobacco, Spanish lavender and whiffs of incense. The medium full bodied flavors are generous yet focused, with notes of licorice, chocolate, chicory coffee and earth. On the back, the wine intensifies with sensations of macerated fruits, roasted nuts, lanolin ("legs") and a touch of vanilla oak (from 12 months in American wood), followed by a juicy, savory moderate tannin finish. Amazing quality/price ratio. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Tranche Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Blue Mountain Vineyard ($31.99 - Regular $40) - From the most exceptional blocks of the vineyard, this displays a deep ruby color and seductive aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plum, cassis, crushed roses, lavender, sage and spiced incense. The flavors are ample yet deep and focused, with black and blue fruits that are intermixed with licorice, espresso and crushed rocks. The penetration continues on the back with sensations of macerated berries, roasted nuts, creme de cassis, charcuterie, charcoal and crushed pepper, followed by a lingering smooth tannin finish. 19/20 points.
2015 Nine Hats Malbec, Columbia Valley ($20.99 - Regular $25) - Primarily from the Weinbau Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, this Malbec offers a a deep purplish ruby color and rich aromas of blackberries, blueberries, black currants, black roses, lavender, sagebrush and spiced incense. The flavors are vigorous with dark fruits that are marked by licorice, cocoa, French roast and Wahluke scorched earth. The back picks up macerated fruits, roasted nuts, cured meats light oak (30% new) and ground charcoal, followed by a savory ripe tannin finish that is lifted by bright fruit acids. 18.5/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Fall Release Weekend in Walla Walla
A week ago, November 6-8 was Fall Release Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley. This year, it was a subdued event, unlike previous years, due to COVID-19. Some small tasting rooms had already shut down for the winter. The ones on Downtown Main Street did a brisk business, but nothing like previous years. I had already done most of my tastings for the December issue of the Review of Washington Wines. We did go to one Winemaker Dinner, at Foundry Vineyards which also featured art works by Hunter Buck. It was catered by the Walla Walla Steak Company and featured cheese plates with a Foundry Vineyards Pét Nat, a 2017 Chardonnay with salad, the new 2017 Artisan Blend with roasted Chicken and 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon with chocolate mousse pie. The two 2017 reds will be reviewed in the January 2021 issue of the Review of Washington Wines.
The Esquin November Hot Sheet
For November, Esquin Wine Merchants (which I owned from 1969 to 1997) featured the Esquin Hot Sheet, a six page listing of super special deals. There were lots of goodies and I ordered twenty of them. Here are some of them.
2019 Ross Andrew Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge, Celilo Vineyard ($12.99 - Regular $20) - This bargain white possesses fresh aromas of pear, peach, melon, jasmine and lemon verbena and bright, juicy flavors and touches of hazelnut and creme fraiche. 18.5/20 points. Full review to be in the December issue.
2019 City Limits "Virginia Street" Roussanne, Columbia Valley ($12.99 - Regular $21) - This white offers attractive aromas of pear-apple, peach, melon, grapefruit, honeysuckle and white incense. The flavors are fresh and lively with notes of pear and grape skins and saline minerals. 18.5/20 points. December issue.
2017 Dunham Cellars "Trutina" Red Wine ($24.99 - Regular $30) - This is a super buy in a blend of 54% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Reviewed in the May 2020 issue. 18.5/20 points.
The following two wines are Esquin Exclusives. Full reviews to be in the December issue.
2017 Banned Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($10.99) - This packs a lot for the price with rich, ripe aromas and ample yet substantial red fruit flavors that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, coffee and earth followed by a lip-smacking finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Mill & Mine Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($15.99) - This shows more depth than would be expected at this price point. The flavors are robust and generous, with loads of up front dark fruits and a chewy textured back of pressed berries, roasted nuts and toffee. 18.5/20 points.
The Hot Sheet also included lots of great buys in European wines.
2019 Domaine Massaic Viognier, Pays d'Oc ($14.99 - Regular $16) - This bargain priced white from Southwest France offers a light straw-gold color and floral aromas of pear, apricot, orange, melon, pear blossoms, orange flowers, honeysuckle and clover. The flavors are bright and fresh, with notes of grape and pear skins and saline Languedoc minerals. On the back, the wine takes on a Condrieu-like resonance with sensations of poire William liqueur, melon rind and orange peel on the way to a crisp, lightly juiced finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Chante Cigale, Chateauneuf du Pape ($30.99 - Regular $42) - Composed of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah 10% Mourvèdre and 5% Cinsault, this offers a deep ruby-crimson color and rich aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, black roses, mulberry, lavender, violets and spiced incense. The red and blue fruit flavors are simultaneously supple and vigorous, intermixed with licorice, cocoa, coffee and mas earth. The back picks up pressed fruits, framboise and kirsch liqueurs, mocha, lanolin and graphite followed by a savory ripe tannin finish. 19/20 points.
2019 Cantina di Negrar Lugana Bianco ($11.99 - Regular $16) - This Veronese 100% Trebbiano shows a brilliant lemon-gold color and attractive aromas of white fruits - apple, peach, melon - with scents of apple blossoms, straw and white pepper. The flavors are fresh and lively, with notes of grape skins, peach stones and Lake Garda minerals. The back picks up melon rind and lemon zest, followed by a crisp, faintly savory, nicely fruited dry finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Tenuta Santa Maria "Pragal" Rosso Verona ($14.99 - Regular $22) - This wine is composed of 60% Corvina and 20% each of Merlot and Syrah. It shows a ruby-garnet color and intriguing aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, a bit of fig, crushed roses, mulberry, cigar box, rosemary and sage. The flavors are medium bodied but substantial, with notes of licorice, cocoa, medium roast coffee and Lake Garda minerals. On the back, the wine rounds out with sensations of roasted berries, dried cherries, nougat and pencil lead, followed by a sweet-dry moderate tannin and acid finish. 18+/20 points.
2017 La Atalaya del Camino Almansa ($12.99 - Regular $20) - Composed of 85% Garnacha (Grenache) and 15% Monastrell (Mourvèdre) this Castilla-La Mancha wine is a robust yet accessible red. It shows a deep purplish-ruby color and aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, crushed roses, tobacco, Spanish lavender and anise. The flavors are ripe and juicy, yet focused, with notes of licorice, cacao and earth. The back picks up cherry liqueur, plum preserves and white pepper on the way to a ripe moderate tannin finish. 18+/20 points.
2015 La Caprilla Ribera del Duero Crianza ($26.99 - Regular $39) - This is a powerful Tempranillo. It displays an opaque ruby-crimson color and intense aromas of black cherry, plum, juniper berry, crushed black roses, black tobacco, Spanish lavender and smoldering incense. The flavors, as well, are dramatic with dark fruits that are infused with licorice root, 80% cacao, chicory coffee and pulverized minerals. The wine intensifies further on the back with sensations of pressed fruits, roasted nuts, lanolin ("legs") and mocha, followed by a lengthy, savory ripe sweet-dry tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
More Esquin Hot Sheet Wines Next Week
Our next Blog posting on Thursday, November 19 will have a dozen more wines, including Oregon Pinot Noirs, more French and Italian wines (Barolo, Chianti Classico and others) plus ones from Spain. Watch for it!
- Written by Rand Sealey
I have been tasting quite a few 2018 red wines lately. There are 22 in the November issue of the Review of Washington Wines and there will be 21 in the December issue. They are very fine wines with few disappointments.
The 2018 growing season overall was somewhat warmer than in 2017. Early Spring was cool, followed by a warm May, continuing though July and August. September and October were moderate, and cooling in November ended the harvest, resulting in wines with "Big color, big flavors....a heck of a vintage," as one grower put it. Rhone varieties did particularly well.
Qualitatively, from my tastings, the 2018's are a bit softer and less complex than the 2017's, but some are nearly equal or better (especially in regard to Syrah and Malbec which perform well in warm years). Most Cabernet Sauvignons from 2017 score about a half point higher than for 2018's. The 2018 Merlots and Cabernet Francs are just a notch below the 2017's. The 2018's for the most part seem bit more fruit forward than the 2017's. They will be fine wines to drink while the 2017's develop.
More later! Watch for reviews in the December issue which goes on line November 24.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Two weeks ago (17 October) I wrote about "What Does Smoke Taint Taste Like?" Since then, I ran across an article (19 October) about how Walla Walla wineries are mitigating smoke taint in their wines. Here's what they've been doing:
Destemming grape bunches which reduces tannins.
No cold soaks that increase skin contact.
Using less oak. Aging in charred oak adds toastiness to wine.
Pressing at lower pressures which reduces skin extraction.
On the plus side, a bit of smokiness lowers pH levels and can, in some cases add some complexity to the wines. Also, for Walla Walla, distance from wildfires was helpful.
Another innovative way of mitigating smoke taint was found by Domaine Pouillon in the Columbia Gorge, which was hard hit by wildfires in Oregon. They are making Pet Nats, sparkling wines which are naturally bottle fermented, skipping malolactic fermentation and barrel aging, which circumvents smoke taint.
TERO Estates closing
On Monday, October 26, I got the news that TERO Estates was no longer going to make wine and would be closing the Rose Street tasting room. This is saddening news, but not unexpected. TERO Estates would never be the same without Doug and Jan Roskelley. The winery facility and the Windrow Vineyard are up for sale. Tastings can still be reserved at the Peppers Bridge and winery locations. This morning (Friday) we will be stopping by the Marcus Whitman tasting room on the next to last day to say hello to Janie Milgard.
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