Thursday, June 2, 2016

Washington Cabernet Sauvignon v. Alexander Valley

The Tour of California originally took place early in the season to avoid conflicts with bigger races in order to draw top cycling talent to the States.  As the race grew in popularity the promoters took the plunge and went head-to-head with the Giro d' Italia.  Much like a lucha libre matchup, these two heavy weight bike races contend for top talent every year in the month of May.

This past week saw the pros giving it their all in the state of California, battling for victory from San Diego to Santa Rosa.  The penultimate stage of the race took place on Saturday with Santa Rosa hosting the race start and finish.  The riders encountered 8,600 feet of climbing over 6 classified climbs as they road west to the California coast and then back inland to complete several finishing circuits through the streets of Santa Rosa.

Sometimes crazy things happen in bicycle races (just like they do in a Lucha Libre wrestling match).  This past Saturday provided a great example of the unexpected.  Even with the substantial number of climbs, a sprinter hung on to take the stage victory!  Kudos to the Norwegian, Alexander Kristov, for hanging on through the hills to hold his position and then set himself up for the sprint glory.

This week's Lucha Vino matchup honor's Alexander's tenacity with a matchup of Washington Cabernet vs. the Alexander Valley.

Eight Bells 2011 David's Block Cabernet Sauvignon v. Simi 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Tale of the Tape

Eight Bells 2011 David's Block Cabernet Sauvignon

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot all from David's Block on the Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley.

Provided as a sample by the winery.  Available at retail for $35 per bottle.

Simi 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec all from the Simi estate vineyards located in the Alexander Valley AVA.

Purchased for $23.99 at the Vashon Island Thriftway.

Round 1.  First opening

Ocho Campanas takes the ring with an air of confidence.  This Washington State Luchador is ready to back the swagger with some serious muscle.  The nose is featuring dark currant, black cherries, dusty forest floor and herbal mint.  The palate is showing dark cherry and savory umami herbal white pepper with a slightly peppery finish.

The Simi Sonoma Luchador is battling back with a nose of dark cherry, stony minerality, forest floor and mushroom.  The palate brings out notes of dry cherries and leather with a dry white pepper finish that is slightly grippy with slight notes of graphite tannin.

Eight Bells definitely rang the Simi Luchador's bell in round 1.  The first points go to Eight Bells, aka Ocho Companas.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

Ocho is on fire as the Washington State luchador unleashes a wicked attack that is driven by a nose of dark cherry, dusty herbal mint, menthol and violets.  The palate follows up with dark cherry, white pepper, light cocoa powder and menthol.  The finish is dry with tight menthol tinged tannins.

Simi is reeling from the onslaught of power and flair unleashed by the Eight Bells Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Sonoma challenger is building strength but still wobbling around the ring with a nose of dark cherry, forest floor and a hint of toffee.  The palate is also showing dark cherry notes with some forest floor, mushroom and a dry tannin spice driven finish.

The Simi challenger is showing character by stepping up to the Ocho Campanas challenge.  Character is great, but the judges still awarded the round to the Washington Luchador which gives Eight Bells a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

Round 3.  One day after opening

Go big or go home! 

That is the challenge for the Simi Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley.  And the Simi is doing its best to muster a challenge.  The nose is continuing to flash notes of black cherry along with rose petals, dusty leather and a hint of herbal mint candle wax.  The palate is showing dried cherries and subtle hints of herbal spices on a dry finish.

El Ocho continues the domination with power and finesse.  The nose is continuing to evolve with notes of currant, dark cherry, mineral wet stones, coffee bean and dusty herbal white pepper spices.  The palate is following suit with dark cherries, dried flower petals and white pepper spices followed by a finish that is dry and slightly spicy.

Eight Bells brought the pain and the dominance to take round three and the match with a resounding 3-0 victory! 

Wrap up and overall observations.

Both of these wines were tasting good straight out of the gate and continued to show solid evolution in the first hour.  After that the Simi started to falter.  I would recommend finishing this bottle the same day you open it  The Simi Cabernet Sauvignon shows solid character and is a nice bottle of California wine for the price.

The Eight Bells David's Block Cabernet shows excellent Washington Cabernet and Red Willow Vineyard character.  The guys at Eight Bells are making some fabulous, and affordable, wines in the heart of Seattle.  Look for these wines at your favorite wine shop.  Better yet, make a visit to the Eight Bells winery if you are in the Seattle area. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Washington Sangiovese vs. Chianti

The Giro d' Italia is going full gas coming into the conclusion of one full week of racing.  The 8th stage finished in Tuscany on Saturday.  Gianluca Brambilla took a solo stage victory after going on a long range attack.  Not only did he win the stage, he also moved into the Maglia Rosa taking the overall lead in his home country's grand tour.

This week's matchup honors the brash style and panache' of riders willing to put it all on the line for a chance at victory.  Washington Sangiovese takis on a long range challenger from Chianti.

Mellisoni Vineyards 2013 Sangiovese v. Travignoli 2006 Chianti Rufina Riserva

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Washington Barbera vs. Piemonte

The past two weeks have featured several major races in Northern Italy.  Milan San Remo is one of the biggest single day classics on the pro racer's calendar.  What makes the race unique is the distance.  Milan San Remo is the longest race of the season at 298 km.  The Pogio and Cipressa are well known climbs that come near the finish of the race.  Even though these hills are given special reverence, they rarely make a substantial difference in the outcome of the race.

This year was somewhat different.  There was a crash near the base of the Cipressa that caught out the eventual winner, Arnaud Demare, the first Frenchman to win La Classicissima in 21 years.  The issue at hand is the question: Did he, or Didn't he?  There is a controversy surrounding how Demare was able to reconnect with the lead group after being caught behind the crash on the Cipressa.  His race data suggests that Demare recorded the fastest time up the Cipressa.  Sprinters aren't known for their hill climbing capabilities.  They are known for occasionally getting a favorable tow up a hill by their team car.  We may never know the truth.  Unfortunately, this could leave a dark shadow over Demare's victory. 

This week's challenge salutes the first of the Spring Classic Monuments with a matchup that features Washington Barbera taking on Piemonte.

2013 Hard Row to Hoe Barbera vs. 2013 Etorre Germano Barbera d'Alba

Thursday, March 10, 2016

WA Mourvedre vs. Bandol

The South of France has some of the more appealing weather this time of year.  That is reflected in the number of races happening in the Provence region in February.  In the past few weeks the Tour de Mediterranean and Tour la Provence both took place.

For the most part these races are an opportunity for the seasoned pros to stretch their legs and test their fitness.  The neo-pros seize these early season races as their chance to prove they are worthy of bigger contracts and possible team captain opportunities in the future.

The veterans ruled the day at both races with Thomas Voeckler taking the overall at the Tour la Provence, while Andriy Grivko claiming victory at the Mediterranean.

This week's challenge pits a Washington Mourvedre against Bandol.

2010 McCrea Cellars Mourvedre v. 2012 Domaine Sorin Mourvedre