Tag Archive | Cabernet Sauvignon

Two Good Cabs

I’m not a huge fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly not Washington made Cab.  I too often find that drinking some of those big, bold Washington Cabs is like chewing on a hunk of wood.  Dry oak.  But I have had a couple recently that have surprised me, in a good way.

2010 La Playa Claret

This is a big wine, and while it isn’t predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, it still has quite a bit of Cab.  The blend is 41% Petit Verdot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 4% Carmenere. It is a big tannic wine, but it isn’t too dry though – it has a nice balance.  On the nose, there is the strong scent of tobacco.  On the palate, it has flavors of stewed plums and leather.  It was harvested by hand and aged for 8 months in French and American oak.

This wine really reminded me that living in Chile was the main reason I started loving wine.  And I do love Chilean wine!  I really should drink a lot more of it.

2011 Revelry Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Jon poured me a glass of this wine when he couldn’t offer me any more La Playa, because…. you guessed it… he drank it all.  Revelry is a Walla Walla winery, sourcing their fruit from several areas in the Columbia Valley.  Although they are a fairly new winery, with their first vintage in 2005, they have managed to secure fruit from several elite vineyards, including Sagemoor Vineyard, and vineyards on Red Mountain and the Horse Heaven Hills.

On the nose, I got lots of blackberry, and on the palate, it had medium tannins and wasn’t super dry.  It was a fruity Cab, almost slightly jammy, but in a wonderful balanced kind of way.  Not a fruit bomb by any means, but certainly more fruit than your typical overly oaked Washington Cab.  I loved it!  The grapes for this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon came from various vineyards, including Red Mountain, The Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, and the Walla Walla Valley.  It spent 12-16 months in the 100% French Oak barrels, with 30% being new French Oak.

Jon and I both loved these two wines, which is unusual because we tend to go for something very different in a big, red wine.  If you have had either one, let me know what you think!

HIP 2013 Sagemoor Farms Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Smoky blackberries.  That’s the nose I get from our second mixed case wine. Jon decided to open this wine on a weeknight, and we hoped that it would be better than the first wine from our mixed case of wine.

2013 HIP Sagemoor Farms Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 HIP Sagemoor Farms Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine is produced by The House of Independent Producers (HIP); it is a second label for Hedges Family Estate in Benton City, WA.  The marketing materials describe it as, “a lean, angular, racy, penetrating, crystalline structure is excellent for those drinkers looking for a more conservative fruit approach. Too many times this grape is abused with oak perfume and picked late, like an old man, wrinkled, soft, and complacent. Take your Cabernet Sauvignon young, tight, transparent, and leave the Jam bombs for your sugar drinking friends. It’s time to taste the varietal, not the brand.” 

With that description, I was curious to see if I would like the “young” version with the “conservative fruit approach.”  Not to mention, I don’t think I would enjoy drinking a wrinkled, soft, complacent old man!  Yuck!

After pouring it into the glass, the color is dark garnet red.  It is quite beautiful actually.  Nothing like a wrinkled old man.  The nose is blackberry and smoke, making me a little bit nervous that it would be a big heavy Cab that I wasn’t going to like.  But the first sip eased my mind, with flavors of black currant and earth.  It has medium tannins, which I liked, because it doesn’t overwhelm.  But it has enough structure that someone looking for a big Cab will still be able to appreciate it.  In my opinion, this is a wine that does it right.  It makes me want to try more from the HIP!

And at $12.49, it is a perfect wine for a week night – you don’t need a special occasion!

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

This weekend, some of my coworkers and I had a Girls’ Weekend in Chelan, a lakefront resort community.  We were a few hours away at a conference for a good part of the week, so we had decided to spend a bit more time in the sunshine of Eastern Washington before coming home.  On Saturday, we went wine tasting and ended up at Lake Chelan Winery.

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Tonight Jon and I are enjoying the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon that I purchased that day.  On the nose, this wine has robust aromas of stewed plums, tobacco and cloves.  You know that it will be a big wine.  On the palate, there is more of a ripe blackberry flavor with the tastes of tobacco and cloves.  The wine is big, but it has nicely balanced tannins to make it an approachable wine.

Jon was as impressed as I was when he tried it, and was happy with my purchase.

Have you tried any of Lake Chelan Winery’s wines?  What did you think of them?

A Cabernet Guessing Game

Jon had the day off today, and went to visit his parents – on his way home he stopped by the grocery store for a few staples.  Caffeine, cereal, wine…

I haven’t had much wine for the last couple of weeks, because I have been battling a horrible cold.  Early last week I was feeling better, but then a few days later, I started to feel much worse again.  After being awake most of the night coughing on Thursday night, and seeing the vivid colors Friday morning (sorry if you prefer a little less information…), I made my way in to the doctor, who told me this cold had settled into my lungs in the form of bronchitis.  Ugh.

Today, with the help of a ZPak and some codeine laced cough syrup, I’m feeling a lot better – not great mind you, but way better than I was, so I am sipping a glass of Jon’s mystery Cabernet from the Horse Heaven Hills.  I know nothing more than that at this point, so I’m planning to describe the wine, guess what it is and see how well I do.

On the nose:  Stewed plums.  Tobacco.

On the palate:  The acidity comes through on the very first taste.  Not much in the way of tannins.  Raspberry, tobacco, earth – kind of grassy.  More acidity on the finish.

Not a complex wine – better with food, but certainly drinkable.

My guess:  Columbia Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012.

It was actually:  The Expedition, Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012 – Canoe Ridge Vineyard.  Their description: Spiced floral aromas lead to layered, juicy flavors of red currant and smoky plum, with a deep, velvety finish.

How do you think I did?

 

Winter Day in Woodinville: Dusted Valley

A few weekends ago it was another rainy, windy weekend, so Jon and I decided to spend the day tasting down in Woodinville, WA.  It had been awhile since we were there, and we didn’t have anything else going on, so we piled in the car and hit the road.

Ninety minutes later we had reached our destination, and after a stop at Panera Bread for lunch, we were ready to taste.  We decided to try some wineries that we had never been to before, and we ended up near the historic Schoolhouse building.  On the other side of the roundabout are several tasting rooms in a retail development that has only been there a few years.

We started our day at Dusted Valley.  The Dusted Valley winery facility is located in Walla Walla, but they have a tasting room in Woodinville as well.  We were greeted warmly by the server, and started off on the 2010 Cinsaut.  It is a light blend of 80% Cinsaut and 20% Syrah, from the Stoney Vine Estate in the Walla Walla Valley.  It is a excellent light, acidic wine, perfect for drinking now.

Next we had the 2011 Rachis Syrah, a wine containing 98% Syrah with 2% Petite Sirah blended in.  The grapes are sourced from the Stone Tree Vineyard in the Red Heaven area of the Columbia Valley.  After that we tried the 2011 Cabernet Franc – a Columbia Valley wine with 91% Cabernet Franc and 9% Merlot.  It is a big, smooth red wine.

The 2011 V.R. Special Cabernet Sauvignon was next – it is a 99% Cabernet Sauvignon with just 1% of Petit Verdot blended in.  It is named for the V.R. Special Chocolate Chip Cookie created by the winemaker’s grandfather Vernon Rhodes in the Midwest.  The 2011 Petite Sirah contained 95% Petite Sirah and 5% Syrah.  It is a dark, inky red color with strong balanced tannins.

And we finished off the tasting with the 2009 Late Harvest Syrah.  It is not a fortified wine, but is a heavy, syrupy wine with a strong alcohol content.  Jon really liked this wine.

Dusted Valley Tasting Room

Dusted Valley Tasting Room

All of the wines were excellent – there weren’t any that I didn’t like.  That said, my favorites were the Cinsaut and the Petite Syrah.

Dusted Valley also produces a second, value label – Boomtown.  They don’t taste or sell it at the tasting room, but I purchased a bottle later in the day that I found at Cost Plus World Market – given how much I liked the Dusted Valley wines that we tried, I am looking forward to tasting the Boomtown wine we bought.

Our next stop was Trust Cellars – I’ll blog about that next!

Have you tried Dusted Valley wines?  What did you think?

 

2011 Insomnia Cabernet Sauvignon

We can’t always drink expensive wine, so tonight we tried out a very affordable California Cabernet Sauvignon from Insomnia Wines in Buellton, California.  It was only $9 with the six bottle discount at Fred Meyer.

On the nose, there is lot of smoke and tobacco.  On the palate there are flavors of ripe figs, more smoke and tobacco, and vanilla on the finish.  As big as that sounds, this wine is very approachable, with enough fruit to make it an easy drinking wine.

I paired it with bratwurst baked in beer – an India Pale Ale, and vegetables baked in Greek dressing – red beets, carrots, red potatoes and cabbage.  It was delicious!

2011 Insomnia Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Insomnia Cabernet Sauvignon

And the extra bonus is the label – the label is actually a hologram, so when you look at it from different angles, the eyes change.  Too bad it doesn’t show in the photo…  Just proving that I am still a sucker for a good label.

California Marathon Road Trip: Sonoma and Tin Barn Vineyards

The day after Jon’s marathon, Jon and I decided to head to Sonoma for the day to do a bit of wine tasting.  The day was cold and clear, and we got to Sonoma right at lunchtime.  After wandering around the square checking out our lunch options, we decided to try the Plaza Bistro.

The place was pretty empty when we arrived, and the temperature was cold – I wish they would have turned the heat up a bit.  But the service was friendly and fast, and the food was excellent.  Jon had the beet salad, with roasted beets, fresh sliced fennel, Blue Lake beans, Chevre goat cheese, and almonds, all on baby greens topped with a sherry vinaigrette dressing.  Jon was very satisfied with the salad – but he wished it had been larger.

Lunch at the Plaza Bistro

Lunch at the Plaza Bistro

I had the salmon sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, arugula, and lemon garlic aioli on a ciabatta roll.  It came with a green salad with vinaigrette.  The sandwich was amazing!  My only gripe was that the salad needed something more; it was just lettuce and dressing.  The sandwich was more than enough for me, and I knew Jon would be hungry again soon if he didn’t eat more, so I was very kind to share a few bites of my sandwich with him.

My salmon sandwich at The Plaza Bistro

My salmon sandwich at The Plaza Bistro

After our tummies were full, we were ready to start our tour.  We headed first to Tin Barn Vineyards.  We were first introduced to Tin Barn wine when we went to Zuzu restaurant in Napa a few years ago.  Zuzu is a tapas restaurant (fabulous by the way) and we had a bottle of their Zinfandel with our meal that evening.  We were hooked.  It was well balanced, fruit forward, and not overpowered with tannins.  We even tried to visit the tasting room on that trip and struck out, because it was Tuesday and they were closed.

This trip we were lucky enough to be there on a Monday, one of the days that the tasting room was open!  They are located in a row of warehouses, and it looked pretty deserted.  But the sign said they were open, so we went inside.  We looked around the tasting room waiting for somebody to come out, and peeked into the winery area as well.  Eventually, the owner, Michael Lancaster, realized that we were out there and came out to pour – he had been working in the winery and didn’t hear us come in.

Tin Barn Vineyards Tasting Room

Tin Barn Vineyards Tasting Room

Mike was super friendly and guided us through the Tin Barn line-up, starting with the Sauvignon Blanc, a dry, crisp balanced wine with flavors of lemon-grass.  There were two Pinot Noirs, both from Ricci Vineyard in Sonoma County, the 2010 and 2011 vintages.  They were both excellent; and having two different vintages from the same vineyard meant you could taste the difference that weather imparts on wine.

There were also two Zinfandels on the list – both from 2011.  The first was from Gilsson Vineyard in the Russian River Valley – a nice, fruit-forward Zin.  Gilsson Vineyard has 50 year old vines, which make for a fantastic wine.  The other was more tannic, from Los Chamizal Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, but also delicious.

We finished the tasting with the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  This isn’t a vineyard designate wine, and it also contains Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  It was a great California Cab, with great structure and not over-oaked.

We left with two bottles of the Sauvignon Blanc and a bottle of each of the Zinfandels.  Our visit left me wishing we lived closer!