Showing posts with label Columbia Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Columbia Valley. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"It's Just Wine, Drink It"

Every time I open a bottle of wine, I want it to the best I've ever had.  With the pop of each cork, hope rises anew.

Of course, it doesn't always work out that way.  Some bottles simply don't overwhelm.  It's alright with me when they don't, though.  People sometimes have ways of making themselves likable despite an absence of dazzling good looks, perfect hair or expensive clothes - relying instead on charisma.  Charles and Charles Merlot reminds me of a twist on that old blind date scenario: "Is she pretty?" "She's got a great personality."

With a lead-in like that, you may expect that I think this red is the kind which makes people say, "I am not drinking any @%$#ing Merlot!"  It's really not, but I had a hard time coming around to it.  It's a blind date wine.  "Does it taste good?"  "It's got a great personality."

Charles & Charles is a collaboration between winemaker Charles Smith and wine importer Charles Bieler.  Smith is a big believer in iconic labels - he was inspired by the Ralph Steadman drawings on early Bonny Doon labels - and he targets his marketing directly to the people who buy his wines.

The back label on the C&C Merlot features both Charleses having a brief, static conversation in front of an abstract American flag, Bieler speaking and Smith replying in each panel.  Different bottles have different panels on them.  "Party on, Charles." "Party on, Charles."  "Dude, you rock." "No, you rock."  "Washington Merlot is..." "My bag, man." "Dude, looks like you're posing for a mug shot." "I am."  "Are you crying?" "I love a Merlot, man. Tears of joy."  "Pairs well with." "Aah man, just drink it."  It was the final response - emblazoned on their website - that finally won me over.  I just drank it.  I liked it.

Charles and Charles teamed up with Napa Valley-based Trinchero Family Estates, which makes their line the first Washington state wines for the group.  There were 7,000 cases of Merlot made, and they are exclusively available through Whole Foods Market for about $14.

The wine is a blend of 78% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec from the Wahluke Slope AVA on the east side of the Columbia River, a warm climate site.  It is aged ten months in French oak, 40% of which was new.

The 2013 Charles and Charles Merlot shows as a medium-dark ruby color in the glass.  The nose is quite nice, bringing plenty of blackberries, blueberries and toasty oak notes with sage and smoke just peeking through.  There is maybe a little too much oak peeking through - possibly the preponderance of new oak used in aging is the reason for that.   On the palate, ripe plums and oak lead the way, with tons of oak spice jumping for joy on my taste buds.  It seems at first sip a fairly uninspired wine, with the oak effect overplayed.  On the second and third nights it was open, it did seem to settle down a bit and become much more enjoyable.  The wine is full-bodied and finishes spicy.

As far as a lifetime commitment goes, I can’t do that.  But if we’re just talking about being friends, I’m good with it.  The popping of the cork, in this case, did not change my world.  It did, however, gain me a new friend.


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

14 Hands Merlot 2010

Lunching at Wood Ranch restaurant in Los Angeles is always a bit of a treat, but especially on Tuesdays, when all their wines are half-price.  At $7.50 by-the-glass and $12 per bottle retail, $3.75 was a true bargain for a glass of 14 Hands Merlot 2010.  Even if I didn't like it.  But I did.

This Washington wine, from vineyards in Columbia Valley, is a blend of  78% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah, 1% Grenache and 1% Cabernet Franc.  The various varieties are aged in American and French oak and blended after vinification.  Alcohol hits 13.5% abv.

Medium ruby in the glass, this Merlot gives a jammy nose of blueberry, strawberry and raspberry.  The palate shows a beautiful collection of oak-tinged fruit.  Dusty cherries lead the way, with clove and nutmeg rounding out a great flavor profile.  It does have a rather thin feel, but the finish is medium-long with spices lingering.

While you may have something a little more special in mind for your holiday spread, this bottle should be appreciated when you bring it to holiday parties, as long as they are okay with drinking some "@#$%! Merlot."  It's reasonably priced, good tasting and easy to find, even at the supermarket.  



Thursday, September 2, 2010

WASHINGTON HILLS RIESLING 2008


Washington Hills Riesling

A week-long stay in the Wilkes Barre, PA area supplied me with the opportunity to sample a few Pennsylvania wines.  This day proved to be a departure, as several of us decided to have lunch at Kazimi's Restaurant in Kingston.  Kazimi's has a reputation as a “date night” dining establishment.  Its old-school red leatherette and white cloth napkins are thought to be quite fancy amongst the locals.  Try the quiche du jour.

The wine list was not so fancy, with no local or regional efforts to offer.  When I saw Riesling, I realized that was what I was thirsty for.  The Washington Hills Riesling is a Columbia Valley wine, a 100% Riesling from Washington State.  To top it off, it was only $6.75 per glass.  I didn't expect to have a problem with this wine.

The nose shows plenty of minerals with a strong presence of melons, pears and peaches.  The fruity palate shows tropical notes, and a trace of lemon peel.  It's on the dry side, but with a sweetness that lurks just out of sight.  A good acidity level provides a crisp and refreshing finish.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"They Got This Recession On" Wines, Part 1

Paraphrasing a line from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, I will spend a few posts sampling some bargain-priced wines to see how much bang I can get for under ten bucks. Here is the first in a series of Recession Buster Wines.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling 2007

(Disclaimer: The author bought this wine at the supermarket.)

The Bottle: The sleek Rhine-style bottle is one of my favorite wine containers. On my list, it comes in just after the box. Just kidding. The slender bottle may contain a sweet delight or a dry and pungent, well, delight. I can take a Riesling however it comes. This one is produced by Washington's "founding winery," as they call it, from vineyards in the Columbia Valley. The Chateau Ste. Michelle brand is well respected and readily available in a large variety of retail outlets. I don't like the way "grocery store wine" sounds, because there are many fine wines available at our supermarkets in Southern California. This brand is one you've probably encountered while shopping. It usually runs about $13, but I spotted it on sale for $7.

The Nose
: There is a trace of that wonderful petrol aroma right away, although it doesn't define the smell. It's a really gorgeous nose, with melon and minerals appearing stridently. Don't drink it too chilled - I'd hate for you miss out on the bouquet.

The Taste
: It's a clean and fresh taste on my palate with a variety of flavors. On one taste, the melon. On the next, some orange peel. Then there's that tinge of gasoline. And on each sip is the ever-present sense of minerals that really makes a white wine soar. In my mouth, a full and rich feel is accompanied by great acidity. This would be a perfect wine for a plate of grilled calamari or steamed mussels.