Monday, December 26, 2011

Washington BDX Blend v. Tuscany

Why should French Bordeaux get to have a stranglehold on this particular style of blended red wines?

Giorgia Bronzini, the UCI Women's Road Racing World Champion, is making a similar statement this week.  Why isn't her World Champion Jersey considered the equal of Mark Cavendish's World Champion Jersey.  She has a legit claim and points out a fundamental inequity in professional sports.  Men get paid more than Women in the same sport.  Why?  Advertising and sponsor dollars seem to be at the root of most answers.

That brings me back to my original question.  Why do the French get to lay claim to a particular style of wine making?  Much like Bronzini, the Italians have been showing their disdain for the French by making the very same style of wine in Tuscany.  The Super Tuscan wines are double rebels, striking out against the restrictive Italian DOC wine making requirements AND flaunting their style at the French.  And just like a professional wrestler, the Super Tuscans have proven their ability to take the authorities to task applying wine making skill that equals the power of a Suplex.

This week's Lucha Vino matchup features Bordeaux style blends with Cabernet Franc supplying the bulk of the muscle.

Fall Line 2007 Exhibition v. Tenuta di Trinoro 2007 le Cupole

Tale of the Tape

2007 Tenuta di Trinoro 2007 le Cupole

40 % Cabernet Franc
22% Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Merlot
8% Petit Verdot

Aged for 8 months in 2nd, 3rd and 4th use French oak barrels and an additional 10 months in cement.

Purchased from Garagiste for $19.99

2007 Fall Line Exhibition

46% Cabernet Franc
22% Merlot
18% Cabernet Sauvignon
14% Petit Verdot

The grapes were sourced from the Aldercreek (Horse Heaven Hills), Artz (Red Mountain) and Boushey (Yakima Valley) vineyards.

Aged for 18 months in 42% new French oak barrels.

Purchased at the winery for $20.00

Round 1.  First Opening

Le Cupole seems to be lacking interest in this confrontation.  Like a jaded actor, this Luchador seems to be asking "What's my motivation?"  The nose shows notes of medium red berries, clove and dusty brambles.  The palate is unusually dry, showing dry red berries and a tart cherry bark finish.

The Exhibition is well named putting on an exhibition of strength with a nose of currants, logan berry, clove and hints of buttery cocoa.  The palate also shows juicy currant and logan berry with a finish that features some coffee bean and light notes of semisweet chocolate.  The longer you hang around you start to notice some buttered popcorn character.  (Is the Exhibition kicking back and enjoying some popcorn while waiting for the Tuscan to remember its lines?)

The Le Cupole definitely did not live up to expectations for a blend with Cab Franc as the dominant grape.  The Exhibition rose to the occasion and took the first round with relative ease.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

What's this?  Le Cupole has awakened!  Rising from the mat le Cupole is showing some interest with a nose of herbal spices, dusty brambles and dark berries.  The palate is brooding with dark logan berries and a brambly dark tart spiced finish.

The Exhibition is going toe to toe with the revitalized Tuscan.  The nose has dark smokey fruit and cracked pepper character with a palate of dark fruit and a tart finish that features coffee bean and light notes of cocoa.

The judges had to go to the review booth on this round as the action in the ring was nearly dead even.  Le Cupole takes the round as a result of new found motivation and points awarded by the judges for coming back from the land of the lost.

Two rounds into the match this fight is even up with both Luchadors having earned one point.  On to the third and decisive round.  The winner will take all!

Round 3. One day later

Le Cupole is showing remarkable stamina with a nose that features dusty raspberries, logan berries and a slight brambly funkiness.  The palate is similar with juicy red berries, brambles and light cedar spices that trail off into a tart sweet cherry bark finish.

The Exhibition is leaving nothing to chance muscling up for the final round with a nose that has evolved to feature earthy notes of dark fruit and buttery leather.  The palate is also showing earthy dark fruit and cracked pepper that continues on to the finish rounding out with some buttery savoriness.

This round was close with the Exhibition showing greater muscle and strength, thus taking the final round and the match.

Wrap up and over all observations

The le Cupole from Tuscany didn't deliver on my expectations for a Bordeaux style blend dominated by Cabernet Franc out of the gate.  As the match heated up the le Cupole began to rise to the challenge.

On the flip side.  The Fall Line Exhibition hit the ring ready to rumble.  It left no doubt as to the strength and character of the Cabernet Franc in the mix.  In the end this strength and stamina carried the Exhibition to the top step of the podium and victory.

The le Cupole shows promise and I will check back with my other bottle in about a year to see how it has evolved in the cellar.

I give the le Cupole an 87 based on potential for the future and the Exhibition an 88 for the here and now.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Washington Syrah/Cab Blend v. Australia

The end of the year is coming and I can't help myself, the new year brings the start of road racing.  Don't get me wrong,  I love cyclocross.  But, so many of those races happen in Belgium, a great country for bike racing and beer, but not much for inspiring Lucha Vino wine match ups.

So, I am already looking toward the new year.  The Aussies kick off the pro road season with a series of criteriums called the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic January 1 - 4.   The Lucha Vino matchup looks toward the future with inspiration from Australia (and the past).  This week's featured challenger is the Penfold's Koonunga Hill Seventy Six - an homage to the first vintage from this estate that features a blend of 72% Shiraz and 28% Cabernet.  Taking on the challenger is a Rulo Syrca from Walla Walla.  A giant killer that consistently delivers quality while staying out of the limelight. 

2008 Rulo Syrca v. Australia's 2006 Penfold's Koonunga Hill 76

Tale of the Tape

2006 Penfold's Koonunga Hill 76

70% Shiraz
30% Cabernet Sauvignon

Sourced from premium vineyards across South Australia, including parcels from McLaren Vale, Barossa and the Limestone Coast.

Purchased from Garagiste for $11.76

Note the link is to notes on the regular Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet blend.

2008 Rulo Syrca

72% Syrah sourced from the River Rock Vineyard
28% Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Red Mountain AVA.

The Syrah was aged for 22 months in 30% new French Oak barrels from Billon, Cadus and Francois Freres.  The remaining 70% was aged in 1-3 year old French Oak.

The Cab was also aged for 22 months in 100% new French Oak barrels from Seguin Moreau and Taransaud.

Purchased by a friend at the winery for $15.00.
Special thanks to Kurt and Vicki Schlicker for sending me the details for the tale of the tape.

Round 1.  First Opening

Penfolds Seventy Six appears to be showing the wear and tear of being in the wrestling ring for 30 years.  The nose has character of dusty floral perfume, brambles and dark fruit.  The palate is also showing dark fruit with a tart cedar toned finish.

The Rulo Syrca is rocking right from the bell.  This Syrah/Cab blend is a bruiser.  Showing a nose of currant, dust and light pepper funkiness.  There are also subtle floral notes intended to distract the opponent from a barrage of body blows that are about to follow on the palate which shows currant, clove spices and black cherry cola that persists on to the finish.

Round 1 goes to Rulo nearly knocking the Penfolds back to the 1970's.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Penfolds is showing some inspiration fighting back developing a nose of barnyard funk, clove, all spice and dark fruit.  The palate is similar with a tart sandal wood finish.

The Rulo Syrca fights fire with fire showing a nose of smoke, barnyard funk, dark fruit, coffee bean and leather.  The palate also shows dark fruit with cocoa and a sweet tart and spicy finish.

A major comeback by the Penfolds in round 2 is not enough to fend off the Helicopter Karate moves of the Rulo Syrca.  The judges award another round to Rulo.

Round 3. One day later

The Penfolds Seventy Six is reaching into its bag of tricks.  Some say that old age and treachery will defeat youth and skill.  Let's see what happens.  The Penfolds has a nose of dark fruit, light pepper and sandal wood.  The palate is dark fruit, tobacco, sandal wood, olives and pepper especially on the finish with a bit of clove and menthol on the finish as well.

I'm not sure it is possible, but the Rulo is continuing to bring the power.  The nose has developed rich cocoa, espresso and dark fruit with a palate of dark currant, menthol and clove spices with a tart dry cedar pepper finish.

Style points to the Penfolds for continuing to add to its attack with a variety of grappling moves that have not been witnessed since the late 70's.  Unfortunately, the late show of style is not enough to overtake the Rulo which continued to build a massive attack.

The final round is close, but ultimately Rulo prevails taking the match three rounds to nil.

Wrap up and over all observations

The Penfolds Seventy Six seems to have lost a step.  Despite a valiant effort it was not able to overcome the youth and power of the Rulo Syrca.  The Rulo is truly a giant lurking in the shadows.  The 2008 is sold out so you may need to wait until the 2009 is released to experience the power of this wine from Walla Walla that shows an exceptional QPR.

Both of these Luchadors are worthy of seeking out for further fights to be conducted in your own homes.  Warning, any damage incurred is not the responsibility of Lucha Vino!

I give the Rulo Syrca an 89 and the Penfold's Seventy Six an 87.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Washington Bordeaux Style Blend v. California

Things are getting down right silly with the pro cycling teams.  Some are pretending to be Israeli Commandos.  Others are jumping out of airplanes.  Why?  To develop the bonds that will make them feel like a team?  More like, to prove that they will do whatever their Directeur Sportif tells them to do.  And that they are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes for "the Capo."

Whatever the reason, it is safe to say that things are in deed pretty silly.  To honor the strange, unusual and the silly this week's Lucha Vino matchup features a Bordeaux style blend from Washington taking on a California Borudeax style blend with a twist.

Washington 2007 High Tower Red Mountain Red v. California 2007 Audelssa Tephra

Tale of the Tape

2007 Audelssa Tephra

Sonoma Valley AVA

55% Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Syrah
10% Merlot
5% Zinfandel

Aged in 40% new French oak barrels and an additional 12 months in bottle.

Purchased at Bin 41 for $27.99

 2007 High Tower Red Mountain Red

Just like the name says from the Red Mountain AVA
53% from Shaw Vineyard and 47% from Out of Line Estate Vineyard

63% Cabernet Sauvignon
11% Merlot
16% Cabernet Franc
5% Petit Verdot
5% Malbec

Aged for 20 months in oak barrels.

Purchased from Garagiste as a Mystery Wine.

With relatively equal parts of the two boss grapes Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot this battle could come down to how the California Syrah and Zinfandel matchup against the Washington Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  Let's get it on!

Round 1.  First Opening

The Audelssa springs from the top rope with a signature half gainer with a twist.  The nose is medium red berries, earth, leather and light hints of spice.  The palate is medium red berries and clove spices that continue on to a slightly tart and spicy finish.

When will you learn not to mess with Officer High Tower?  This luchador has a spicy temperament showing a nose of dark fruit, currant, earth and some funky forest floor.  The palate is equally evil with dark stone fruit and a serious spicy clove finish.

The battle is fierce between these two red blends with High Tower taking the first round with a slight edge on points.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

Audelssa still has a spring in its step showing a nose of medium red fruit and light cedar spices with a touch of hot alcohol.  The palate is also showing medium red fruit and spicy tart cedar notes that carry on to the finish.

High Tower is demonstrating strength and power with a nose that is deep dark and brooding with earthy spiciness.  The palate is dark fruit, bitter sweet chocolate and tart spiced finish.

Another close round with Audelssa dancing around the ring and playing some rope-a-dope working to avoid the the High Tower thunder.  A good survival tactic, but not one for winning.  High Tower is the aggressor and earns the points for round 2 from the judges.

Round 3. One day later

Audelssa made it to the third round and is looking for some late match fireworks.  The nose is bright red berries, raspberry, loganberry, earth, leather and light pepper.  The palate shows off the same red berry character with earthy brambles and a slightly tart and spicy finish.

High Tower stomps into the ring showing this luchador still has plenty of power in the tank.  The nose is dark fruit, earth and candle wax with some savory soy sauce notes.  The palate is big as well showing dark fruit and some pepper and menthol spices finishing off with a bit of cloves and cedar tartness.

Audelssa made it to round three and launched a gallant attack on High Tower.  In the end, the strategy was not enough to topple the giant from Red Mountain.  High Tower takes round three and the match 3-0.

Wrap up and over all observations

This was a closer match than the score would indicate.  Audelssa narrowly missed taking the points in all three rounds.  The Syrah + Zinfandel duo added more medium bodied brightness to the battle while the Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec really brought out some serious bruising character in the Red Mountain Red.

I give the High Tower Red Mountain Red aan 89 and the Audelssa an 88.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Washington Tempranillo v. Navarra Tempranillo

Well would you look at this!  The UCI Cyclocross World Cup made a trip to Spain this past weekend.  That means it is time to bust out a little Tempranillo Tornado.  The World Cup race was in Igorre which is in the Northern Basque region of Spain.  The winner of the race gets to wear a crazy hat with three points called a txapela.  Not exactly what you might call stylish.  Hopefully, our challenger from the Navarra wine region will look better after this match than Kevin Pauwels or Chris Horner did in that lid...

This week features Washington Tempranillo v. Spanish Tempranillo from the Navarra DO.

Fall Line 2009 Tampranillo v. Ochoa Tempranillo Crianza 2006

Tale of the Tape

Ochoa Tempranillo Crianza 2006

100% single vineyard Tempranillo

Aged for 12 months in American Oak Barrels.

Purchased at the Spanish Table for $16.99

 Fall Line 2009 Tempranillo

This is the first vintage for Fall Line's Tempranillo, 100% Tempranillo from the Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley.

Aged for 18 months in 14% new French Oak Barrels

Purchased at the Fall Line winery's release party for $25.00.

Round 1.  First Opening

The Ochoa has a nose of dusty leather and cherries with a palate that is showing lots of tart cherry with some light notes of spice in the background.  The finish is dry and slightly acidic at the end.

El Otro oozes confidence even though this is its first trip into the ring.  The nose shows character of dust, earth, light smoke and ripe red raspberry and cherry notes.  The palate is dark rich currant, cherry and clove spices on a nice tart finish.

El Otro has a name made for Lucha Libre and doesn't disappoint easily taking round one over an opponent that is already showing signs of being over matched.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Ochoa is doing its best to bulk up and take the fight to El Otro.  Ochoa is showing a nose with more character including some barnyard funk, musty forest floor and mushroom with dark fruit and a hint of spice.  The palate is dark fruit with cedar cigar box spices and a dry tart finish.

El Otro storms into the ring with some brute force showing a nose that is driven by savory, smokey dark fruit with some notes of mineral.  The palate is equally bold with dark currant and smoked meats with a dry cedar finish.

Props to Ochoa for stepping up its game, but it is still no match for our Washington State Luchador.  El Otro takes round 2 for a 2-0 lead.

Round 3. One day later

The Ochoa has lost some of the spring in its step.  The nose has notes of earthy cranberry and the palate is predominantly cranberry tartness with a tart cherry bark finish.

El Otro is unveiling some sinister intentions.  The nose shows smoke, sandal wood and dark cherry along with some floral and cocoa notes.  The palate has dark cherry, leather and earthy clove and bitter sweet chocolate notes that linger on to a tart Asian cedar spice finish

Well played El Otro.  You may be called "The Other One" but in this competition you were Number One!

Wrap up and over all observations

This contest was really no contest from the opening bell.  I did not perform a background check on the Ochoa.  Selecting it as the challenger on first sight.  The only qualification I considered was being from the Navarra region of Spain.  Navarra may be close to Rioja, but based on this single sample I would say that Navarra has a lot of catching up to do with its more famous neighbor. 

El Otro showed no mercy and kicked some serious sand in the face of the challenger from Navarra.  The Washington State luchador showed an interesting evolution over the match gaining character and strength throughout.

I give the Fall Line El Otro a solid 89 and the Ochoa a generous 85.