Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Washington Cabernet v. Australia

The UCI Pro Tour kicked off the 2012 season with the Tour Down Under.  This race is building momentum and interest among the pro tour teams with many racers looking to test their early season form.  The early stages of the race were dominated by the sprinters and puncheurs.  Andre Greipel showed that he is going to be a force to reckon with when the Spring Classics fire up in a couple of months.

The Queen stage of the race took place in the McClaren Vale.  The new Australian based Green Edge team setup their man Simon Gerrans for the victory on the uphill finish, but he was out kicked at the end by Alajandro Valverde making his return from a 2 year ban for being linked to the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal.  The good news for Australia was that Gerrans took over the overall race lead and held his lead in the final stage for the Tour Down Under victory.

This week's matchup honors Australia with a Cabernet Sauvignon from the McClaren Vale taking on a Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley.

2007 McKinley Springs Cabernet Sauvignon v 2007 Mitolo The Jester Cabernet Sauvignon

Tale of the Tape

2007 McKinley Springs Cabernet Sauvignon

A combination of the old (1980-planted) block and some newer parts of the vineyard located in Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot.

Aged for 22 months in 50% new oak barrels (80% French & 20% American).

Purchased from Full Pull Wines for $13.49.

2007 Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon with 20% of the grapes dried in Amarone style.  The grapes were grown in the Willunga District in the Southern end of the McClaren Vale.

Aged for 9 months in 2 - 4 year old French oak barrels.

Purchased at Esquin for $15.99.

Round 1.  First Opening

What's this? The McKinley Springs luchador is descending into the ring from the rafters in a steel cage.  Steel bars may be the only thing that can contain the power of this Washington Cab.  The nose is showing dusty currants, some barnyard funk and light pepper.  The palate is full of rich black cherry, coffee, clove and cinnamon spices with a black cherry cola finish.

The Jester is already slipping into defense mode throwing out bad jokes like Don Rickles at a Celebrity Roast.  The nose is musty forest floor with herbal notes and dark fruit.  The palate is also showing dark black berries with a hint of vanilla and a dark sweet & tart finish.

The Jester is dark, brooding and a bit slippery.  The McKinley Springs Cab is big bold and looking to stomp the challenger into submission.  This mean streak is showing right from the start with McKinley muscling its way to a round one victory. 

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The McKinley Spring is pumping itself up like you would not believe.  The nose is black cherry, currant, cocoa and cedar spices including cinnamon and menthol notes.  The palate is also showing black cherry, menthol, eucalyptus, cocoa & semi sweet chocolate with a slightly tart espresso bean and clove finish.

The Jester is still relying on wit showing a nose that is earthy black fruit and a palate of black fruit with a tart spiced mouth drying finish.

The McKinley Springs has no mercy.  Sensing fear this Washington Luchador is all over The Jester from Down Under with a massive attack of chocolate spicyness.  I'm not sure, but McKinley could be hitting the caffeine too hard and may have to submit to a WADA drug test.

Pending the PED test the McKinley Springs takes round two as well.

Round 3. One day later

The McKinley Spring is showing no sign of slowing down with a nose of dark fruit, vanilla, toffee and some barnyard funk topped of with a bit of spiciness.  The palate is dark rich fruit, cocoa, clove &  cinnamon spices with a tart menthol semisweet chocolate finish.

The Jester is crying like a baby showing a nose of dusty dark sweet fruit with some musty seaweed forest floor.  The palate is dark fruit with a musty tart sweet finish.

The Jester was just never able to get started.  It was rich and sweet with a bit of must, almost like a grandmother.

Wrap up and over all observations

The McKinley Springs Washington Cabernet Sauvignon is like a covert agent.  Lurking in the background waiting to launch a sneak attack.  And you better watch out when it attacks cuz this Luchador is one bad mother.

The Jester was an interesting example of Cabernet Sauvignon from the land down under.  Interesting in the sense that the sweet dark musty character seemed to be more in line with a sweet dark Aussie Shiraz than a Cabernet Sauvignon.

This match was never close from the moment the McKinley Springs dropped into the ring and popped out of the steel cage that was holding it back.  I gave the McKinley Springs an 89 and the Jester an 85.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scouting Chelan Luchadors

This past weekend Lake Chelan hosted their Winterfest Fire and Ice Festival.  Once again the festivities included the Wine Walk which featured more than 40 wines from wineries with connections to the Lake Chelan AVA.  Many of the wineries are located on the North and South shores of Lake Chelan.

This was my second year attending the event and just like last year there were some surprise wineries along with the familiar wineries.  In the spirit of the 80’s version of KISS, here is my list of Smashes, Thrashes and Hits. 

Wineries I have experienced in the past that really strutted their stuff.

Angela, the wine maker, is also a past Rat City Roller Girl.  I've said it before and I will say it again.  The next best thing to Lucha Libre is Roller Derby!  You might call me on favoritism, but that is not the case. Angela is turning out some fabulous wines under three different labels: My Derby Wife, Fira' and Kamari.

My Derby Wife 2009 "Leeloo the 5th Element" Merlot

Dusty dark cherries with a sassy finish that features clove spices.  This bad girl may just knock you for a loop if she catches you off balance.

Kamari Black Label Reserve Red Wine
(Photo is the Kamari Cab Franc)

A blend of 37% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Malbec. 

Aged for 22 months in American and French oak

Dark cherry, spices, cocoa and an espresso bean tinged tart finish. Big and bad, there is nothing subtle about this wine and it has nothing to hide coming at you front and center with bad intentions.

Nefarious Cellars
Located on the South side of Lake Chelan Nefarious is making some of the best wines in the Lake Chelan AVA.  Once again, they delivered the goods packed with power like a Hulk Hogan punch to the solar plexus...

2009 Defiance Syrah
Dark stone fruit with plenty of smokey pepper on the palate and finish.  

2009 Defiance Malbec
Dark plum sweet savory soy and a spicy pepper finish.  

Both of these wines feature grapes from Nefarious' estate vineyards.  These wines are sneaky good.  See the goblin in the photo?  Imagine what kind of havoc this little guy would like to unleash and you will begin to imagine the brilliant sneak attack these wines will perpetrate.

Surprise (new wineries) wineries that stood out from the crowd with stellar offerings.

This winery is actually located in Woodinville.  The name is taken from Alta Lake which is about 15 miles North of Lake Chelan.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot sourced from the Sagemoor Weinbau & Dionysus Vinyards and Meek Vineyard.

Dark and brooding with black cherry, Asian spices, pepper and a nice tart finish of cocoa and espresso bean.

2008 Escape Red Blend 

51% Cabernet Sauvignon,  43% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot sourced from the Sagemoor Weinbau vinyard, Meek family vineyard, Seven Hills vineyard and Sagemoor Dionysus vineyard.                                     
Medium red fruit, black cherry, cocoa and light clove spices.  Sultry and enticing.

2009 Barbera  
Dark black fruit heavy licorice eucalyptus on the nose.  Lighter on the palate with similar bold character and a nice spiced tart finish.  Big and bold yet light on its feet.  This luchador possesses the style and finesse needed to deliver some serious pain via the Superplex.


The Wine Walk is hosted in a number of retail locations in downtown Chelan.  My only complaint about the event was the unusual aromas in some of the host locations (especially the Ace Hardware).

Mellisoni was most affected by this.  I was really looking forward to trying their wine and the Ace Hardware aromas were too distracting to make a good judgement on their wines.  I will visit them on a future date.

All in all this is a great event that gives a good opportunity to sample the wines coming out of the Lake Chelan AVA.  The people are friendly and many of the wines are fabulous.  Keep your eyes open for these wineries.   Take advantage of other events where you can sample their wines or pick up a bottle if you can find them on your favorite wine shop's shelves.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Washington Syrah v. New Zealand

Pro cycling is in full swing South of the Equator with the Australian and New Zealand road championships happening over the past week.  In the mean time, the US National Cyclocross Championships were taking place in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin, Australia?  New Zealand, Wisconsin?

I don't know about you, but I am going with New Zealand and Australia!  All the National Championship races were exciting regardless of the hemisphere.  It was a weekend of "firsts" throughout all the races...

Jeremy Powers won his first US National Cyclocross Championship.

Simon Gerrans, from Australia's first UCI Pro team, fittingly took the Australian Men's road championship.

Over in New Zealand Michael Vink took the Men's road championship.  He is only 20 years old so that means he won the U 23 (under 23) championship too!  The first time that has ever happened in New Zealand.

To honor Michal Vink's achievment the Lucha Vino matchup features a Washington Syrah taking on a Syrah from New Zealand.

2008 Nine Hats Syrah v. 2008 Man O' War Dreadnought Syrah

Tale of the Tape

2008 Long Shadows Nine Hats Syrah

Nine Hats is the second label for Long Shadows.  The grapes for the Nine Hats Syrah were not quite worthy for the Long Shadows Sequel Syrah.  But still plenty good enough and a great value at 20 bucks!

94% Syrah and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Alder Ridge (Horse Heaven Hills), Klipsun & Candy Mountain (Red Mountain) and Lonesome Springs & Boushey Vineyards (Yakima Valley).

Aged for 19 months in French Oak Barrels.

Purchased from Costco for $19.99

2008 Man O' War Dreadnought

100% Syrah harvested from the steepest Man O' War estate vineyards

Aged for 15 months in 15% new French, 5% new American, 80% Old Oak.

Purchased at Esquin for $28.99.

Round 1.  First Opening

Is it Man O' War or Dreadnought?  Either name is enough to make an opponent want to run crying to their mama.  Let's see how this bad boy from New Zealand performs in the ring.  Stepping through the ropes the Dreadnought is already looking tough sporting a nose loaded with barnyard funk, smoke and brambly black fruit with a dalop of cream.  The palate is equally smokey with plenty of dark fruit finishing with sweet black cherries.

Nine Hats may need nine lives to survive this bout.  The nose shows sweet dark loganberry and  blackberry with some light smokey notes.  The palate has similar character of dark berries with a tart sweet finish. It is as if the Nine Hats is attempting to misdirect the Dreadnought's attention in order to mount a sneak attack.

This round goes to the Dreadnought.  The name could have been enough to win the opening round, but this Luchador backed up the bad ass name with some bad ass character. 

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The Dreadnought is keeping up the fiery attack punishing your senses with a nose of smoked meat, musty leather, dark fruit, candle wax and some hints of salt n pepper.  The palate shows dark fruit and candle wax with a watery back end leading to a tart leather finish.

The Nine Hats is calling on backup hats and it looks like help is on the way.  Sliding into the ring with a lethal dose of rich dark fruit and baking spices on the nose and a similar palate of spicy dark fruits leading to a tart finish.  This Luchador still has more in store.  The tart tannin filled finish leads you to believe there is some serious staying power on tap here.

This round was much closer.  Dreadnought is working to light the ring on fire.  In the mean time, Nine Hats is calling on mystic resources for more lifeforce.

We had to go to the judges cards for this round.  Even the judges are split on this one.  Nine Hats takes the round based on growth potential and style.  Leaving the Dreadnought to ponder the value of playing with fire.

Round 3. One day later

The Dreadnought is really burning this thing down.  One day later and the nose is still showing smoky campfire with some forest floor and more notes of dark fruit.  The palate is also showing dark fruit with smokey leather and a finish of menacing dark leather.

The Nine Hats fights back with Kung Fu awesomeness rarely seen before.  The nose is showing dark black & blue berries, light smoked meat and some musty menthol.  The palate has plenty of black & blue berries, cedar spices and a tart dark cherry bark finish.

Round 3 is awarded to Nine Hats on the basis of style points.  It is hard to compete with the awesomeness of Kung Fu! 

Wrap up and over all observations

Nine Hats took this bout due to the resourcefulness and awesomeness of its Kung Fu.  The Dreadnought was a mighty challenger and a Luchador you want to keep away from the matches (if you know what I mean).

This was the first Lucha Vino match to feature a challenger from New Zealand.  I was really surprised by the big bold smoky character of this Syrah.  Surprised in a good way.  The results of this week's match certainly encourages me to continue to explore the wines of New Zealand.

The Nine Hats wines are the second label for Long Shadows wines, a really unique approach to making wine.  Long Shadows combines stellar wine makers from around the world with Washington State fruit.  The Nine Hats wines use grapes that are not selected for use in the Long Shadows.  The Long Shadows Sequel Syrah is made by John Duval.  One of the wine makers responsible for some of Pendold's most successful wines in the past several decades.

This was another close match with two different styles.  Both Luchadors were strong and stuck to their convictions.  I give both these wines a solid 88.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Washington Bubbles V. Euro Bubbles

Ringing in the New Year with bubbles!

This week features two matches turning up the heat on the Luchadors like being dropped into a bubbling caldron of pain.

Match #1

Treveri Cellars Blanc de Blanc v. Duval Leroy Brut Champagne

You may have heard that Treveri Cellars sparkling wine was selected to be served at the White House.  That leaves high expectations for our Luchador from Washington in this matchup with the Grandaddy of sparkling wine - Champagne the Real Deal from France.

Treveri Cellars Riesling Blanc de Blanc

From the Columbia Valley featuring 100% Riesling.

The nose is showing smokey pear and melon with some hints of fresh baked bread.

The palate is tangy green apple with some hints of honey.

There are load of bubbles sparkling across your tongue like pop rocks gone wild!

Duval Leroy Brut

From Champagne featuring Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The nose is smokey melon.

The palate is tart citrus notes of lemon with light hints of melon.

The Real Deal also show loads of excitement with bubbles galore ricocheting around your mouth like millions of flubber molecules.

This match lasted nearly as long as the last UFC heavy weight fight.  Which means not very long. The Treveri Cellars laughed in the face of the Real Deal, entering the ring with confidence and swagger most likely achieved by hanging out with Obama at the White House.

Treveri demonstrated bold character on the nose and palate.  The Duval Leroy was bitter, bordering on sour.  Perhaps this Luchador was harboring ill will for the aclaim this relative new comer has garnered.

Both Luchadors showed plenty of bubbles dancing across your tongue like rogue river dancers.  However, the bubbles were not enough for The Real Deal to rise to the occasion suffering a TKO in the first round.  Treveri Cellars takes match #1.

Match #2

Treveri Cellars is sending another Washington State Luchador into the ring.  This time it is the Syrah Brut sparkling wine taking on a Lambrusco from Tenuta Pederzana that likes to go by the name Italian Stallion.

Treveri Cellars Syrah Brut v. Gibe Lambrusco

Treveri Cellars Syrah Brut

From the Columbia Valley AVA featuring 100% Syrah.

The nose shows dark sweet plum and blackberries.

The palate shows similar dark notes of plum and blackberry along with some notes of dried leather and brambles.

This Luchador is showing split personality.  One moment sweet and innocent the next dark and brooding.  This combination of characters is boiling over barely keeping a lid on the bubbles.  All of this adds up to one wicked competitor in the ring.

 Gibe Lambrusco

From the Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC featuring 100% Grasparossa.

The nose shows dark sweet currant and black cherry with some notes of brambles and underbrush.

The palate shows light raspberry and rhubarb tartness on the finish with a sense of lightness in the bubbles prancing across your tongue.

This Luchador puts up a big front with a bold, dark and punishing nose.  Yet, has a sense of finesse that comes through in the lightness expressed on the palate.

This matchup was much closer than the first.  Both of these Luchadors are hard to read, showing a variety of personalities that were harder to decipher than a bad Stephen King movie.  The Italian Stallion from Lambrusco may not have lived up to the "Italian Stallion" moniker, but it did certainly display character and substance worthy of a top contender.

The Treveri Cellars did not fall for the Italian Stallion misdirection taking the fight directly at the Lambrusco.  In the end the battle was close, but the Treveri Cellars took the slim victory by showing unmatched strength and stamina.

Treveri Cellars also takes match #2 for a clean sweep.  These bubbles from Yakima are really impressive.  There is little wonder that the White House has selected this sparkler to represent the U.S. of A.