Sunday, August 28, 2011

Washington Tinto v. Ribera del Duero

The Vuelta Espana worked its way through Southern Spain last week and took a right hand turn through La Mancha and is headed in the direction of the Ribera del Duero region.  There has been quite a bit of climbing for the first week of a Grand Tour.  The Spanish riders are motivated to show well, and hopefully win, their home race.  Up until today El Purito (Joaquin Rodriguez) had the leader's Red Jersey.  He is in 2nd place trailing by one second.  There should be a major shake up in the race lead with the 40 km Individual Time Trial in Salamanca on Monday.

This week's Vuelta Espana Lucha Vino matchup features a 2006 Bodegas Lopez Cristobal Ribera del Duero v. a 2008 Pomum Cellars Tinto.

Tale of the Tape

Bodegas Lopez Cristobal Ribera del Duero

90% Tempranillo, 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Aged for 12 months in 50% American and 50% French Oak and then another 12 months in bottle.

Purchased from Bin 41 for $30.

Pomum Cellars Tinto

77% Tempranillo, 9% Garnacha, 9% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Purchased from Full Pull wines for $21.99.

Round 1.  First Opening:

The Lopez Cristobal is showing a nose of red fruit, leather, light spices and a bit of funkiness.  The palate is full of cedar spice box and red berries with a dry spicy finish

The Pomum Cellars Tinto has a nose of deep red black fruit, mineral and funky forest floor with a palate of dark fruits and a spicy dry finish.

Both luchadors showed a dry finish of cedar and spices.  The Washington State Tinto is a bit bolder and the Spanish Ribera del Duero showed a bit more complexity on the nose.  Very close with a slight edge going to the Cristobal for showing more diversity in its attack.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Cristobal Nose has mysteriously vanished with only a slight trace of some barnyard funk.  The palate has deepened showing currants and some cedar tannins with less spice on a finish that is still quite dry.

The Tinto is showing a nose of red fruit, pepper, asian spices and some light buttery character.  The palate is also demonstrating rich currants and pepper spices with a much smoother cedar spice box finish.

We had to send the officials down to the dressing room to see if the Cristobal was still in the building.  The Washington State Tinto takes round 2 with ease.

The crowd is wondering if the Ribera del Duero has thrown in the towel or if it will return for the final round.  Oh the drama...

Round 3. One day later

The Cristobal came raging back for round three with a nose of smoke, dusty dark fruit and cracked pepper.  The palate is showing some dusty floral notes with dark berries and a slightly acidic finish.

The Tinto has also builked up over night.  The nose is earth, leather, dark fruit and a bit of soy sauce and cedar spices.  The palate is red fruit and dry cedar spice box.  The dry finish has really mellowed over night.

With a surprise turn around the Cristobal narrowly edged out the Pomum Cellars Tinto.  Some observers may be calling for some Performance Enhancing Drug testing after this comeback by the Spanish Luchador.

Wrap up and over all observations

This was a close match with a surprise comeback for the Ribera del Duero in the third round giving the Cristobal a 2-1 victory over the Pomum Cellars Tinto.  You would almost think this match had been scripted and that wrestling isn't real!!

Both Luchadors were solid and I give them both an 87.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Washington Mourvedre v. Spanish Monastrell

The Vuelta Espana started on Saturday with a Team Time Trial (TTT)   If you have Universal Sports on your TV you can watch all the stages (live and replayed).  There are lots of other Internet Video Streaming feeds too.  Check out It is a good source for streaming video and details about the races.

The first week of the race is through South East Spain where the red variety Monastrell is the predominant grape.  I wonder what type of "recovery drink" the racers will be enjoying?

The first Vuelta Espana Lucha Vino matchup features a 2008 Bodegas Castano Hecula Monastrell v. 2008 McCrea Cellars Mourvedre

Tale of the Tape

Bodegas Castano Hecula Monastrell

100% Monastrell from the Yecla D.O.

Purchased from Bin 41 for $12.

McCrea Cellars Mourvedre

76% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah, 4% Grenache from the Ciel du Cheval, Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf vineyards in Red Mountain and the Yakima Valley AVAs.

Purchased from McCrea Cellars at the Urban Enoteca tasting room for $28.

Round 1.  First Opening:

The Hecula has a nose that is earthy, with pungent minerals and dark stone fruit.  The palate is mostly currant with some cedar notes and a dry cherry bark finish.

McCrea's Mourvedre is showing a nose of smoked meat, pepper, earth, cedar spice and dark red fruit.  The palate is black cherry, Asian spice and a touch of cedar cigar box with a dry finish featuring notes of all spice.

The Monastrell is down to earth, coming into the ring firing with both barrels.  The McCrea Cellars Mourvedre is more layered and complex easily taking round 1 with a variety of kung fu moves.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Hecula nose is showing some interesting notes of camp fire, funk and red fruit.  The palate is cherries, menthol and dry cedar spice that clings on to a dry finish.

The Mourvedre has a nose of smoked meat, salt n peppa and some cedar spice.  The palate is still showing currant, Asian spice and a cedar spicebox finish.

The Hecula Monastrell has built up some more interest on the nose and the palate while the Mourvedre has evolved slightly from the first round.  This round was closer with the McCrea Mourvedre barely hanging on to take the second round.

Round 3. One day later

The Hecula has a nose of ark red fruit and earth.  The palate is currants, black cherry, cedar and spices.  The finish is dry cedar and spice.

The McCrea is showing a funky dark fruit nose with a palate of black cherry and some slight bitterness that lingers on to the finish that is dry and dominated by cherry bark.

Both Luchadors lost some of their swagger over night with the McCrea losing quite a bit of its complexity.

Round three goes to the Hecula Monastrell.

Wrap up and over all observations

Being a simple-minded Luchador, I had no idea that Monastrell and Mourvedre are the same grape.  So, I learned something new during this match.  I also learned that there is not very much Mourvedre growing in Washington.

The final score was McCrea 2 and Hecula 1.  I have to say that this was another match that was closer than the final score.  Also, the Spanish Monastrell put up a huge fight against the WA State Mourvedre that cost more than twice as much as the Monastrell.  The Monastrell may have also been at a disadvantage since the McCrea Mourvedre had some hidden Syrah and Grenache tag team partners.  Before you cry foul, remember nobody ever said wrestling was fair!

I give the McCrea Mourvedre an 87 and the Hecula Monastrell an 86.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Washington Grenache v. Spanish Garnacha

It sees like the Tour de France just ended and here we are one week away from the Vuelta Espana starting!  Many of the pro teams will be doing recon rides preparing for the three week race through Spain.  Our matchup this week is a preview of things to come - a Washington State Grenache from Walla Walla takes on an old vines Garnacha from the Calatayud DO in Spain.

2009 Vinyl Wines EQ v. 2009 Evodia Garnacha

Tale of the Tape

Vinyl Wines EQ

100% Grenache sourced from Cockburn ranch in Walla Walla.  Aged for 16 months in third fill French Oak.

Purchased from Bin 41 for $25 during a wine tasting with the wine maker, Chip McLaughlin.

Altovinum Evodia Garnacha

100% old vine Garnacha (up to 100 years old) in the village of Atea.  Tank aged.

Purchased from Esquin for 9.99.

Round 1.  First Opening:

The Vinyl EQ has a nose of red berries, some light smoke, earth and macha green tea.  The palate is also showing sweet red berries with some nice cedar spice box and a sweet cherry bark acidic finish with some hints of green tea.

The Evodia is much darker, brooding with currant, black cherry fruit and spices on the nose with a palate of primarily black cherry and a sweet acidic finish with some drying cedar at the end.

Vinyl EQ takes round one showing a complex range of kung fu that the Evodia is not able to match.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The EQ is cranking the knobs up toward eleven with a nose of sweet-n-sour red berries, strawberries and tart cedar spice with some espresso bean lingering in the background.  The palate is showing off more of the green tea character mixed in with red berries and Asian spices.  The finish is nicely tart with similar green tea and notes of cherry bark.

The Evodia is bold, with a nose of dark fruit, black cherry, licorice and menthol spice.  The palate is also showing black cherry, some tea and cedar spices with a dry cedar spice box finish.

The Evodia came out swinging in round two with body blows and an attempt at delivering some double fisted pain.  The show of force was easily countered by the EQ's spinning leg sweep knocking the brutish Old Vines to the mat. 

Down, but not out, Evodia loses round two but seems to be gathering forces for a final showdown in round three.

Round 3. One day later

The EQ has maintained much of its complexity still showing many layers of subtle power.  The nose has maintained the sweet red berry character along with cedar and spice.  The palate is also showing the ripe red berry character with some notes of tea and sandal wood with a dry finish.

The Evodia is also still going strong with a nose of dark fruit, dusty leather and under brush with a palate of sweet dark berries and a tart slightly dry finish

Round three goes to the Vinyl Wines EQ for a clean sweep of all three rounds in the match.

Wrap up and over all observations

This was an interesting matchup.  The Grenache from Walla Walla showed many layers of complexity that continued to evolve over the three rounds in the match.  The Old Vines Garnacha was big and bold, but tended to remain in a narrower style band.

I liked both of these Luchadors, although their styles were considerably different.  In the end the Vinyl Wines EQ took the tournament three rounds to zero, but that doesn't tell the whole story.  Like most contests, there is more to the bout than the final score!

I give the Vinyl Wines EQ an 88 and the Evodia Garnacha an 86.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Washington Syrah v. Australian Shiraz

Well, Cadel Evans finally put it all together and won the Tour de France.  Congratulations Cadel!  Here is a great review of how Cadel won the tour.

To honor Cadel this week's matchup has an Australian Shiraz taking on a Washington state Syrah from the Columbia Valley.

2006 Tatiarra Caravan of Dreams Shiraz v. 2007 Rotie Cellars Northern Rhone Syrah

Both of these links are to the Winery's websites, but for different vintages then those that stepped into the Lucha Vino ring.  More specific vintage notes are below in the tale of the tape.

Tale of the Tape

Tatiarra Caravan of Dreams Shiraz

100% Cambrian Shiraz aged for 18 months in American Oak.

Purchased from Garagiste. 

Rotie Cellars Northern Rhone Syrah

97% Syrah co-fermented with 3% Viognier from the Columbia Valley.

Purchased from Cellar 46 for $28.99.

Round 1.  First Opening:

The Rotie Cellars nose has dark red fruit with a smoky pepper character.  The palate is showing similar dark fruit notes along with licorice and some spices, the licorice and spice both linger on to the finish.

The Tatiarra Caravan of Dreams seems to be lost in a dream.  I'm not picking up a whole lot on the nose, showing some light red berries and a bit of play dough in the background.  The palate has medium weight red berries and some pepper that lingers on to a slightly dry finish.

The Rotie Cellars takes this round without much resistance from the Caravan of Dreams.  Let's hope the Shiraz wakes up and joins the battle.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Rotie is showing a nose of dark fruit, smoked meats and pepper with a palate of dark red fruit, and cedar spice box notes that continue on to a somewhat spicy finish.

The Caravan finally rubbed the sleep out of its eyes and is ready to get down to business.  The nose is really expressive with cocoa, licorice and spices galore.  The palate is similar with a spicy sweet finish.

Both of these Luchadors stepped up their game in round two.  The Shiraz takes round two getting up off the mat with an aggressive response to the wake up call in round one.

Round 3. One day later

The Rotie Cellars entrant is continuing to build with the nose still showing dark fruit, smoked meats and pepper along with some interesting floral notes.  The palate is big black fruit, cola, cocoa and asian spices that continue on to the finish.  Rotie has gained some strength.  Will it be enough to fight back and take the final round of our match?

The Tatiarra has gone through another significant transformation with the nose showing mostly licorice and flowers with a bit of cocoa.  The palate is similar to the nose with a black cherry cola finish.

Round 3 is a really close call.  Both of the combatants have held strong into the final round of our match.  Interestingly, both have developed some floral characteristics.  Interesting, but not necessarily persuasive in a wrestling match (or a bike race).

Round 3 goes to the Rotie Cellars Northern Blend by the slimmest of margins and also the match with a score of 2 - 1. 

Wrap up and over all observations

This was one of the closest Lucha Vino matches yet.  There is always next time for the Big Australian.  Cadel Evans can certainly attest to this and my sense is he would say "keep fighting for another day!"

I give the Rotie Cellars Northern Blend an 88 and the Tatiarra Caravan of Dreams an 87.