Monday, July 25, 2011

Washington CdP v. Chatauneuf-du-Pape

Congratulations to Cadel Evans for winning this year's Tour de France!  The final week of the race included some great action, lots of aggressive riding and great drama.  Here is a review of how Cadel performed in each of the stages leading up to his overall victory.

The final week of the tour started in the South of France and moved Northeast.  Finishing a stage in Italy before heading back into the French Alps.  Back in the early 1300s the Pope moved the papacy to Southern France. This week's matchup features a Chateauneuf du Pape cage match in recognition of this unusual move and the route traced by the Tour de France's final week of racing.

2005 Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape v. 2005 Banneret CdP

Tale of the tape

2005 Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape

A blend of 56% Grenache 38% Syrah and 6% Cinsault from the Columbia Valley AVA.  Aged for 30 months in 40% new French Oak.

Purchased from Full Pull Wines for $31.49

2005 Domaine du Banneret  Chateauneuf du Pape

70% Grenache 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre

Purchased at Bin 41 for $37.99.

Round 1.  First Opening:

The Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape has a nose of cedar, dark fruit, baking spice, leather and some earth and dry twigs.  The palate is rich dark currants, clove, cinnamon and cocoa with some nice baking spice that moves in to the finish and finally ends with tart spicy cherries.

The Banneret CdP is showing a nose of mushroom, forest floor, baking spice, tobacco leaf and red fruit.  The palate has lots of tobacco leaf dry red fruit and a dry finish.

This round goes to the Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape taking the fight directly to the Banneret.  Both Luchadors are feisty, but showing very different styles that could make for an interesting battle in the later rounds.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Slice of Pape is getting stronger firing off round two with a nose of currant, baking spice, clove and espresso bean.  The palate is showing dark notes of chocolate, black fruit, licorice and clove spices that continue on to the finish.  This Luchador is dark and brooding, complex and demanding showing some style that indicates no mercy will be given.

The Banneret is crafty and consistent continuing to show a nose of tobacco leaf, red fruit and some barnyard funk is beginning to show through.  The palate has built more tobacco leaf character along with cedar tart red fruit and a tart finish.

Round 2 goes to Tranche Cellars again.  In a surprise move, the judges award a half point for style to the Banneret.

Round 3. One day later

The Slice of Pape is continuing to evolve with a nose of clean Asian spices and leather and a palate of rich black cherry, cloves, cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate with an espresso bean and spice finish.

The Banneret continues with its unique style showing a nose of tobacco leaf, cedar spices and sweet cherries.  The palate has hints of mushroom leading to tobacco leaf and cedar red fruits with a  tart cedar dry finish.

Round 3 goes to the Slice of Pape as it continues to evolve and take a new bigger and bolder approach to dominating the French Luchador in each round of the match.

The Banneret has been amazingly consistent through all three rounds.  Earning another half point for consistent style.

Wrap up and over all observations

Both of these wines proved to be worthy Luchadors.

The Washington Columbia Valley Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape dominated the match growing stronger with each subsequent round.  The Banneret was consistent throughout demonstrating a very interesting style dominated by the tobacco leaf characteristic.  The final tally in this match was 3 - 1 in favor of the Washington CdP with the French Luchador earning a point for style.

I give the Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape an 88 and the Banneret Chateauneuf du Pape an 87.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Washington Syrah v. Cotes-du-Rhone

The Tour de France is tracing a route through the south of France and the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region.  They have finished up three stages in the Pyrenes mountains and complete their second week with a sprint stage finishing in Montpellier.

Robert Millar has another good review of the racing that has happened so far.

The Lucha Vino tour challenge continues with a Syrah smackdown featuring a Washington State Syrah from the Columbia Valley taking on a Cotes-du-Rhone.  This matchup was inspired by Hestia Cellars and Esquin.  Thanks for the assistance on making the Luchador selections for this week.

2008 Hestia Cellars Syrah v. 2010 Saint Cosme Cotes-Du-Rhone

Tale of the tape

2008 Hestia Cellars Syrah

97% Syrah and 3% Viognier.  The Syrah is sourced from two vineyards 70% StoneTree Vineyard, 30% Andrews Ranch Vineyard.  The Viognier is all sourced from Andrews Ranch.

Purchased at Esquin for $28.99

2010 Saint Cosme Cotes-Du-Rhone

100% Syrah from the Cotes-Du-Rhone region Vin Sobres AOC and aged in clay vats. Here are the Wine Maker's notes.

Purchased at Esquin for $14.99.

Round 1.  First Opening:

The Hestia Cellars is showing a nose of dark rich fruit, smoked meat, menthol and clove spices.  The palate show similar dark fruits, cloves and a rich spiced finish.  

The St. Cosme has a nose of dark fruit, pepper, some tart floral notes and hints of baking spices.  The palate is full of dark currants, black cherries and some tart smokey traces that trail off into a lightly spicy sweet finish.

This round was really close.  The Hestia is big and spicy, while the Saint Cosme is flashing a bit more panache' emulating the leader of the Tour de France, Thomas Voekler.  The Lucha Vino rules follow the rules of wrestling, not bike racing.  That means the Hestia Cellars Syrah takes round 1 as a result of its bigger, badder character, earning the nick name "The Crusher" in the process.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Crusher just stepped into the ring and threw down a huge double bicep pose.  The nose is showing dark fruit, black cherry, clove spice and semisweet chocolate notes.  The palate is similar dark fruit, black cherry, cloves and light cocoa that moves on to a slightly dry finish that includes some spicy cedar and clove.

The nose on the St. Cosme has buttery red fruit up front with some light pepper and floral notes on the back end.  The palate is dark stone fruit with some dry cedar notes that carry over to a dry finish.

Round 2 is more decisive with the Hestia Cellars really opening up and living large. While the St. Cosme has built some muscle, it is no match for The Crusher who just delivered a devastating pile driver.  The St. Cosme is wiley and I expect it to come back and put up a fight in round 3.

Round 3. One day later

The Hestia Cellars is still showing off its bruising style.  The nose is dark berries, floral salt and pepper with some toffee and espresso character.  The palate shows black cherry fruit with cinnamon and cocoa with an espresso bean finish.

St. Cosme is looking to sneak up on The Crusher in the third round.  The nose is showing deep dark fruit with pepper and light smoke.  The palate is similar with notes of cedar and spice that goes on to a slightly dry finish.

Both wines held up well over night for round three.  The Hestia Cellars takes round three by maintaining most of the muscle noted during round two.

Wrap up and over all observations

The Washington Syrah was bigger and bolder while the Cotes-du-Rhone showed some serious style and panache'  This match was closer than the 2-1 score would indicate.  Two solid Luchadors traded some serious blows with the Hestia Cellars Crusher coming out victorious.

I give the Hestia Cellars Syrah an 88 and the St. Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone an 87.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Washington Bourdeaux Style Blend v. Bourdeaux

The pros are finishing up the first week of the Tour de France. The route has started heading South through Central France.  There has been lots of action in the first week of the race, including the first Tour de France win for Washington's own Tyler Farrar on the 4th of July!  Tyler is the first American to win a stage of the Tour on our Independence day.

Here are a couple of good reviews of the first week of racing.  Robert Millar won the climbers jersey (polka dot jersey) in the 1984 edition of the Tour.  He has a solid racer's perspective on the race.  And here is a review from our anonymous insider.  He has access to inside details and another good analysis of what has happened in the first week of the race.  And finally, our Bike Snob talks about working for the weekend.

The Lucha Vino tour challenge picks up with a Bordeaux match up.  Both of these Luchadors feature similar blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  They differ when it comes to the third varietal in the mix.  Washington will feature Cab Franc, Bordeaux will feature Petite Verdot.  A tag team match up with a Cab Franc v. Petite Verdot wild card thrown in for triple the fun.

2008 Fall Line Red Willow v. 2006 Chateau Moutte Blanc Grand Vin (Bordeaux Superieur)

Tale of the tape

2008 Fall Line Red Willow

53% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley.  Aged in 36% new French oak barrels for 18 months.

Purchased at the Fall Line winery for $28.

2006 Chateau Moutte Blanc Grand Vin (Bordeaux Superieur)

50% Merlot, 25% Cab, 25% petit verdot aged for 14 months in 30% new French Oak barrels.

Purchased for $15.83 from Garagiste.

This match up will feature covert tag in from Cab Franc and Petit Verdot as they lurk in the shadows waiting to pounce when least expected.  Let's see what these black ops varietals bring into the ring.

Round 1.  First Opening:

On first opening the Fall Line Red Willow has a nose of plum, toast, some peat bog funk with some cedar baking spices.  The palate is big and spicy with plum, a bit of cedar, black cherry and toffee that lingers on into the finish.

The Chateau Moutte Blanc Grand Vin has a nose of earth, forest floor, underbrush and sour citrusy pie cherries.  The palate features bright light red fruit with cranberries and a dry tart cedar finish.

The Red Willow is making like a Red Devil dealing out the pain right off the bat easily taking round one and putting the Grand Vin in a spot of bother.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Red Willow is really getting sassy.  The nose has big notes of dark fruit, black cherry, coffee and some spicy cedar & cocoa.  The palate is equally bold with rich spicy black cherry and semi-sweet chcocolate that moves on to a finish of espresso and more cedar spice.

The Grand Vin has loosened up a bit, but still seems to be a bit tight and intimidated by the Red Willow.  Showing a nose of red fruit, brambles, white pepper and earth with a palate of red stoney fruit with a bit of menthol that finishes with tart cherry pit.

Round 2 goes to the Red Willow with the Grand Vin putting up little resistance.

Round 3. One day later

The Fall Line Red Willow is still dominating.  The nose is dark red fruit, mineral with some forest floor funky mushrooms hinting in the background.  The palate is still spicy with semi-sweet chocolate,  rich red fruit and some coffee bean on the finish with steady notes of cedar and spice.

The Grand Vin is still dry and tart with the nose showing primarily funky underbrush with some light notes of cherry.  The palate is tart pie cherry and cedar that moves on to the finish that is still quite dry with cherry bark and cherry pit on the finish.

The Red Willow easily takes round 3 and the match with a score of 3 - 0.

The French may have put a rider in the Yellow Jersey before the first rest day, but this French Luchador certainly did not strike much of a menacing pose.  Nobody is going to mistake it for The Badger.

Wrap up and over all observations

The Washington Bordeaux style blend showed much more muscle than the actual Bordeaux Luchador.  The Cab Franc secret ingredient may have been the kicker.  Regardless this match was never in doubt with the Red Willow cracking the whip from the opening bell to the closing gong.

I give the Fall Line Red Willow an 88 and the Chateau Moutte Blanc an 85.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Washington Cab Franc. v. France

This is it.  The start of leTour, the Grand Boucle, the Tour "Day" France...  The route starts in North West France and then goes South through the Loire Valley in the first week.  Here are a couple of introductions to the Tour - one from an insider and one from a self professed Bike Snob.

The Lucha Vino tour challenge begins with a Cabernet Franc matchup featuring one of my recent Luchador discoveries from Lake Chelan battling the French Luchador from the Loire Valley.

2008 Tildio Cab Franc v. 2008 Domaine de l'Aumonier "Les Arpents" sous bois (Touraine)

Tale of the tape

2008 Tildio Cab Franc

100% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Columbia Valley.  I believe this is estate grown fruit from the Tildio vineyard in the Lake Chelan AVA and was aged in French Oak barrels.  The details are not available on the Tildio website so I am going from memory (which is a bit impaired after my Luchador Training Camp a couple of weeks ago).
Purchased at the winery.

2008 Domaine de l'Aumonier "Les Arpents" sous bois (Touraine)Most of the winery's website is translated to english, the page with the details on this Luchador is only available in French.  100% Cabernet Franc barrel aged for 10 - 12 months.
Purchased for $14.82 from Garagiste.

The details are light for both combatants.  That means neither one of these Luchadors was able to do any pre-match preparation.  Kind of like riding a stage of the Tour de France without a route profile, or a Directeur Sportif yelling in your ear via radio.  Time to stick your nose in the wind and go for it.  The winner will truly be determined in the ring.  Game on!

Round 1.  First Opening:

On first opening the Tildio has a nose of dark red fruit, cocoa, coffee, spice and some barnyard funk.  The palate has loads of spice on dark fruit, black cherry and pepper at the backend of the palate and moving on to the finish.

The Les Arpents has a nose of peat bog, red fruit, light spice with strange hints of grapefruit and herbal green pepper at the end.  The palate is dominated by the sour grapefruit citrus character on top of some cedar tannins, red berries and a very tart finish.

The Tildio stepped into the ring and promptly flattened the French opponent.  Round 1 clearly goes to Tildio and the training staff is vigorously working on reviving Les Arpents.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Tildio is gaining momentum, full of confidence after dominating round 1.  The nose is showing dark stone fruit, toffee and spice all wrapped in smoke. The palate is dark cherry, leather, semi sweet chocolate trailing into a spicy cedar finish.

Les Arpents was able to get up off the canvas and return for round 2...  barely.  The nose has evolved to show notes of sour currants, leather and a bit of spice.  The palate is also showing notes of sour red huckleberries with a tart cedar finish.  At least the green pepper and grapefruit appear to have been pounded out in the first round. 

Round 2 goes to Tildio, which does not seem to mind kicking sand in the face of the diminished French Luchador. 

Round 3. One day later

The Tildio is going strong.  The nose is big and full of black cherry, toffee and cinnamon.  The palate is even more in your face with dark currants, spicy white pepper and a mammoth finish of coffee bean, semi sweet chocolate and cinnamon.

After a good night's rest Les Arpents is back with a nose reminiscent of underbrush, dried leaves light red berries and a bit of pepper.  The palate is more of the same with the grapefruit notes making a return visit.  The finish is tart tannic cedar. 

I give credit to Les Arpents for returning to the ring, but this match was not even close.  The Tildio was a bruising, swaggering bully from the opening bell with a relentless attack leaving Les Arpents little opportunity to fight back.

Tildio takes this one 3 - nil.

Wrap up and over all observations

The Washington Cabernet Franc was much bigger and bolder than the Loire Valley counterpart.  It was really interesting to taste the difference between these two wines.  The style was dramatically different (like comparing B. A. Baracus to Urkel). I would not have recognized these as being the same varietal if I was tasting them blind.

I give the Tildio a solid 89 and the Les Arpents an 84.