Category Archives: Best Value

Washington state wine auction week, Journey to Walla Walla

My journey began on August 10 flying into Seattle’s airport spending the night and a relatively comfortable Marriott Courtyard hotel,  and getting up Monday morning August 11 and driving with a bunch of wine lovers down to Walla Walla Washington. As we were looking for the city of Yakima Washington and was not able to locate the downtown area, we stumbled upon two wineries Bernard Griffin and J Bookwalter these were two fabulous wineries.

We tasted approximately 15 wines at these two wineries and they are very good wineries within Washington state.  Our first stop in Walla Walla was long shadow winery and two of the highlights were The Pedestal one of the finer Merlot made in Washington state and 2011 Feathers.

Sleight of Hand Cellars, owner is Trey Bush this is a fun and exciting winery taking after their owner and the best way I can describe it is that he makes serious good juice. If you can find it you should buy it.

Va Piano vineyards established in 1999 and the owner is Justin they make a few different wines at this winery but his reserve Rhone blends are phenomenal. And worthy of exception praise.

The second day began with L’Ecole 41 a winery that has been extremely consistent in wine making for a very long time in Walla Walla and has recently received an award for their 2011 Ferguson Cabernet as Washington states wine of the year.

ABEJA, first of all I would like to thank Molly and John for their unbelievable hospitality during our visit. Their Chardonnay was the finest Chardonnay I’ve tasted in a Washington state, and their consistency in making a wonderful Cabernet is unmatched in Walla Walla.

Corliss estate, owner Michael Corliss is one of the great winemakers of Washington state and has consistently made great wines from Red Mountain and his 2008 Cabernet Franc is just one example.

Seven Hills Vineyard, Casey is the winemaker and owner he’s what you might call an experimental guy that likes to grow several different grape varietals and believe it or not he grows them all very well.  His top wines are from Red Mountain in Washington state. Ciel Du Cheval is a Bordeaux blend and Pentad 2012 red wine blend was an incredible complex wine and the best wine that we tasted at the winery that day.

Charles Smith winery, and we were hosted by the owner Charles Smith, he does not make anything small his wines are big lots of fruit, complex and built to give you great joy.

On Wednesday morning our first stopped on Red Mountain was Kiona the oldest winery on Red Mountain first planting grapes in 1982 a very good winery with some serious complex wines being made there. These wines are being made by the son of the owner, who calls himself “The one eye winemaker”

And finally Hedges winery these people have been making wine on Red Mountain for quite a long time and have been doing an exceptional job of not only making great wines but wines that are very affordable with excellent quality.

Bodega Gascón

Today, the wines of Don Miguel Gascón are crafted in the City of Mendoza at the same winery that was built in 1884 and by the Spanish visionary whose name bears it.  The winery is also the home to1884, an award-winning restaurant operated by world renowned Chef Francis Mallman.

In 1993, another family became stewards of the winery, the Catena family. Dr. Nicolas Catena, known as a modern pioneer in the development of Argentine Malbec, gathered a group of investors and bought the winery in order to carry the legacy of Don Miguel into a new millennium.

During the 1940’s, the Gascón family bottled Argentina’s first 100 percent varietal Malbec. Now, Ernesto Catena, a fourth generation winemaker, has brought the wines of Bodegas Escorihuela Gascón to high status in Argentina, and to prominence with critics and connoisseurs throughout the world.

Bodega Gascón is a winery that makes several different varieties of wines from which I tasted through the following wines with the assistance of their very talented Sommelier: Extra Burt Sparkling, Viognier, Pinot Noir, and Malbec.

These are well made wines that were complex in structure and balance, and they have the expertise in making a world class Malbec for the past 100 years.

Bodega Caro

Bodega Caro is a partnership between Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and the Catena family, was started in 1998. Initial enthusiasm quickly became a concrete plan to produce a single wine that would combine French and Argentine cultures and the two signature grapes of each producer, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both partners brought much to the party.

The Catena family has produced wine for three generations. Consequently, it was able to draw on its vast knowledge of the high altitude terroirs of the Mendoza region as well as its passion for Malbec. DBR (Lafite) contributed its centuries-old skills in growing, vinifying and ageing great Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as its know-how in blending different grape varieties to produce one wine that is greater than the sum of its parts.

CARO’s first vintage in 2000. The success of the early vintages resulted in the creation of another wine in 2003: Amancaya which, like its older brother, is based on a harmonious balance between Argentinian identity and Bordeaux style. Bodegas Caro then decided to celebrate the grape variety for which Argentina’s vineyards are famous by selecting a pure Malbec, ARUMA, starting with the 2010 vintage.

The Bodegas Caro winery, in the heart of Mendoza, has been producing the wines since the 2003 vintage and serves as the anchor of the CARO project. The renovation of the historic building and gardens in order to expand the winery and open the Bodega to the outside brings the final touch to the original project.

2002 CARO, from Catena and Rothschild, has Rich Cherry, Spice, Red Licorices, and a strong  elegance, complex finish through blending with Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination has made a rich and refined wine; a harmonious balance between the Argentine and Bordeaux styles.

Grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon 65 to 75% and Malbec 25 to 35%.
Length of aging in oak barrels: 18 months, including 60% in new barrels.
Average annual production: 5,000 cases.

2011, Amancaya, means white flower that grows at the base of the Andes Mountains. A more fruity style coming from the higher percentage of Malbec and shorter aging 12 months in oak.  I thought the wine was well structure from beginning to end.

Grape varieties: Malbec 40 % to 60 %, Cabernet Sauvignon 40 % to 50 %.
Length of aging in oak barrels: 12 months in oak barrels (20% new).
Average annual production: 30 000 cases.

2012, ARUMA means “night” in the language of the Quechua, the native Indian, is a pure Malbec made from a blend of grapes from the best terroirs in the Mendoza region. This wine was fresh lively, easy to drink and the price is right. The wine maker was able to achieve the balance, elegance and depth of flavour that make great Malbecs.

Grape variety : 100% Malbec
Length of aging : 8 months (50% in oak barrels)
Average annual productionn10 000 cases

 

Vina Cobos

The wines of Viña Cobos are the result of a shared dream inspired by the passion of an American winemaker and two partners from a wine-producing culture deeply rooted in European traditions. Their founding aspiration: to produce a Malbec of power and elegance unequaled anywhere in the world. The inaugural 1999 vintage of Cobos Malbec received the highest score upon release for any Argentine wine. Since then, Paul and partners have grown their family of wines, which continue to receive even greater accolades. Cobos, Bramare, and Felino offer three tiers of exceptional Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Marchiori Vineyard 60 to 80 year old vines and other select properties within Mendoza.

Cobos Malbec represents “true north” for Viña Cobos; it is the founding inspiration for the Argentinean portfolio. It is produced only in exceptional vintages from the oldest vines (60 to 80 years) in the Marchiori Vineyard. It exhibits levels of concentration and power rarely achieved in Argentina – or in other top wine growing regions of the world – for that matter.  I didn’t get the opportunity to review the Vina Cobos wines and hopefully next time I will get the opportunity to tastes these wines to let you know how good they are.

2010 Cobos Malbec

Bramare Appellation wines are sourced selected vineyard blocks to express the full lushness and personality of both the Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco growing regions.

I tasted through six of these wonderful wines, they are beautifully made from Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. These are big rich powerful wines that displays fruit of blackberry, blackcherry, cinnamon and  blueberry fruit on the palete. Even though the wines are big and powerful they still possess a very elegant velvet finish.

The Felinos exhibit a great balance of pure, concentrated fruit, lively acidity and smooth tannins. Our Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Chardonnay are vibrant, mouth-filling wines that pair exceptionally well with food.

The Felino Malbec 2012, was a very easy drinking wine somewhat spicy, cinnamon and blackberry fruit, I thought it was a very good mid priced Malbec for the market