Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Washington Tempranillo v. Catalunya

This past week featured the Volta a Catalunya a 7 stage race in North East Spain.  This time of year the pros are searching for races outside of Belgium so they can race in decent weather.  Unfortunately for the racers this year the weather in Catalunya did not cooperate.  The third stage was set to finish at a ski station in Port Aine'.  The only problem was that the weather was more suited to skiing than bike racing.  The finish line was covered in snow so the stage was shortened and results were not counted toward the General Classification.

Similar to the pro racers, the Lucha Vino matchup encountered some unexpected twists.

First, locating a Tempranillo from Catalunya turned out to be more difficult than the promoters anticipated.

Second, the Tempranillo challenger from Catalunya showed up with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon as backups!

Third, after a judges ruling allowed the Tempranillo blend into the ring it went rogue!  The Luchador turned out to have gone bad.  Major disappointment.  The previous bottles from my cellar had been pretty enjoyable.  Discovering that the third bottle had gone bad was a letdown.

Scrambling for a replacement Luchador, the promoters were able to find a Tempranillo from the Penedes DO in Catalunya.

2009 Castillo de Feliciana Tempranillo vs. 2005 Castell del Remei Gotim Bru 2007 Torres Coronas Tempranillo

Tale of the Tape

2009 Castillo de Feliciana Tempranillo

75% Tempranillo from the Rosebud Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA
15% Merlot from Cockburn Vineyard
5% Malbec from Cockburn Vineyard
5% Cabernet Sauvignon from Blue Mountain Vineyard

Aged in 70% Neutral and 30% New Oak Barrels

Purchased for $28.00 at the Poverty Bay Wine Festival.

The original challenger

2005 Castell del Remei Gotim Bru

65% Tempranillo, 20% Merlot & 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Aged 10 months in American and French oak.

This Luchador went rogue, whereabouts unknown....

The Replacement
2007 Torres Coronas Tempranillo

86% Tempranillo and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Penedes DO in Catalunya.

Aged for 9 months in French Oak Barrels

Purchased for $11.99 at The Spanish Table


Round 1.  First Opening

The Feliciana Tempranillo is not phased by all the turmoil surrounding the Luchadors from Catalunya.  In fact, she is dancing into the ring like she is ready to do a tap dance of death on her opponent.  The nose is showing dark red cherries, smoke, leather and cedar cigar humidor character.  The palate is dark cherries with some earthy cocoa  and tart sweetness that leads to a dry light pepper finish.

Torres Coronas, our replacement Luchador, comes from a family that boasts over 100 years of experience in the ring!  Let's see how that experience stacks up.  The nose is dark fruit, currant, smoked meats, coffee and chocolate.  The palate is dark fruit some smoke, pepper spice and coffee bean with a tart slightly sweet and nutty finish.

The first round is a close call, but the Feliciana barely edges the Torres on the judges score cards.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

Everybody is wondering where this replacement Luchador came from.  It put up a very impressive showing in the first round of our match.

The Feliciana is taking notice and building a strong defense with a nose of dark red fruit, smoke and dusty pepper.  The palate shows dark fruit, smoke, leather and a dry finish featuring some coffee bean and cocoa sneaking in at the end.

The Torres continues to draw on the family pedigree with a nose of dark fruit, currants, smoke and light white pepper.  The palate is dark currants, smoke, pepper and a coffee bean tinged tart finish.

Another close round with the Feliciana barely squeaking by on points again.

Round 3. One day after Opening

The only hope for the Spanish challenger is a knock out.  The other choice is to mount a solid effort and score some points to avoid a total sweep by the Washington Tempranillo.

The Feliciana has developed an interesting style for the final round.  The nose is showing peppermint patty mint chocolate and red fruits with a palate of currant and menthol with a tart spiced finish.

The Torres is building power and looking for the knockout blow.  This Luchador is bigger and badder in round three than the preceding rounds.  The nose is dark currant, coffee and smoky cracked pepper.  The palate is dark cherry and tart cedar Asian spice with a tart dry finish that resolves to cherry and raspberry.

The Torres didn't score a knock out, but it did score enough points to take the final round earning the respect of Feliciana and the judges.

The final score of this match was Feliciana 2 and Torres 1.  The Torres proved to be a valiant warrior.  Thrown in to the ring at the last moment, this Luchador did more than hold its own!

Wrap up and over all observations

This was an interesting match that had plenty of drama before either Luchador even entered the ring.  Both of these wines are classified as Tempranillo even though they contain a healthy amount of other verietals to boost their power.

Both Luchadors proved their ability to boost their power like a street racer hitting the nitrous.   The big difference was staying power.  Both of these Luchadors hit the nitrous and then kept on delivering the goods for days following the match.  I would recommend both of these Wine Fighters with one caveat - if you walk into a dark alley, make sure you have them by your side and not in your face!

I give the Feliciana an 88 and the Torres an 87.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Singles Going Steady

1 Wine Dude has the Wine Blogging Wednesday #75 going on tonight.  The theme is single vineyard wines.  I'm taking inspiration from the Buzzcocks with a Singles Going Steady theme.  Not only am I selecting something from a single vineyard, it is also a single varietal from the Lake Chelan AVA.

So, in honor of The Buzz Cocks one of the most pop sounding punk rock bands ever...  Here is an ode to Lake Chelan set to the Buzzcock tune Orgasm Addict that fires off something like:

Well you tried it just for once and found it all right for kicks
But now you found out its a habit that sticks
And you're a "Lake Chelan Addict" a "Lake Chelan Addict" (you get the idea)

My single vineyard, single varietal, selection for WBW75 is the T'Sillan Cellars 2008 Lakeside Reserve Estate Syrah

I seem to have spent most of my time singing the praises of wines from the North side of Lake Chelan.  That changes tonight as I highlight the T'Sillan Cellars 2008 Estate Reserve Syrah that features grapes from their very own Lakeside Vineyard on the South side of Lake Chelan.

This wine starts out with a nose of dark fruit, smoked meats, pepper and light dusty and earthy spiced tannins.  The palate is showing dark creamy currants, black cherry and a cracked pepper spicy sweet finish.

After an hour of air the wine makes a surprise attack.  All the characteristics have mellowed out, with positive impact on the overall character of this wine.  The nose is smoother and lighter with dark fruit, all spice and some light pepper.  The palate is dark fruit, black cherry with some clove spices, salt-n-pepper all leading up to a slightly tart finish that includes some notes of semi-sweet chocolate.

If you are ever in Lake Chelan you should make time to stop in at the T'Sillan Cellars winery.  This is by far one of the fanciest joints you will encounter.  The place is designed like an Italian villa and has fabulous views of Lake Chelan.  Sitting on the lawn enjoying a nice full bodied red wine like the 08 Lakeside Reserve Syrah will lead you to becoming a Lake Chelan Addict too.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Washington Nebbiolo vs. Piemonte

This week features a return to Italy with a major splash.  The Milan San-Remo one day classic is the longest professional bike race on the calendar.  In fact, it is so long that the UCI had to grant it special permission to exceed the maximum allowable distance for a world tour race.

I've said it before, and I will say it again, you cannot beat Italian style.  They like things big and expressive.  If you had any doubt all you need to do is check out the details on the Milan San-Remo classic.  Then check out this video to see the wild finish of this year's race.  You can also check out some big, bold and expressive Italian wines.  And that is what I am about to do.

This week's Lucha Vino challenge features a Washington Nebbiolo taking on the original from Piemonte.

2005 Cavatappi Maddelena Nebbiolo vs. 2008 Eugenio Bocchino Roccabella

Tale of the Tape

2005 Cavatappi Maddelena Nebbiolo

Little is known about this Luchador and it appears that he prefers to be shrouded in mystery.  100% Nebbiolo from the Red Willow Vineyard.  All other details are left to your imagination.

There are some details here on the 2005 from a Full Pull wines offering.

Purchased at Esquin for $23.99

2008 Eugenio Bocchino Roccabella

100% Nebbiolo from Langhe area of Piemonte.  Aged for 12 months in barrel.

Provided by Vinum wines.  This Nebbiolo is available for $20-ish at retail.

The Eugenio Bocchino lineup is part of the Indie Wineries team. 


Round 1.  First Opening

The Cavatappi seems to be a bit intimidated by the Italian challenger.  The nose shows cherries, cedar and stony spices.  The palate is super sour tart cranberry with an equally tart finish.  This Luchador may need some more seasoning.

The Roccabella is rocking it right from the gun.  The nose is showing currant, dark cherry, underbrush and light herbal light spices.  The palate is also showing dark cherry and Asian cedar spices with tart dry spicy finish.

The Roccabella is indeed rocking.  The name reminds me of the first Judas Priest album: Rocka-Rolla.  This tough Luchador is definitely showing the strength worthy of leather and studs.  Roccabella easily takes round one.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The officials are having trouble coaxing the Cavatappi out of its corner for round two.  The nose is still very tart with notes of cranberry and citrus grapefruit spice.  The palate is also showing cranberry and a bit of toastiness with a tart cedar finish.

No sooner than the Cavatappi left the corner than the Roccabella delivered maximum pain with a flying body slam off the top rope.  The nose is showing musty mineral, funky dark cherry fruit with a bit of savory vinegar soy and light pepper spice.  The palate shows dark cherry, clove and a tart cedar dry finish.

The Cavatappi is reeling, staggering around the ring looking dazed and confused.  Chalk up another round for the Roccabella.

Round 3. One day after Opening

Based on the first two runds things are not looking good for the Cavatappi.  Can this Washington State Luchador rise to the challenge and knock the Italian Nebbiolo out cold?

It took some time, but the Cavatappi has arrived.  The nose has bulked up with cranberry and tart soy.  The palate is showing cranberry and tart cedar pepper with a sweet spicy finish.

The Roccabella is still rocking but has lost a decibel or two.  Swaggering in to the ring for the final round the nose is dark cherry, pepper spices and light savory notes.  The palate is showing dark cherry with tart clove spices and a very dry finish.

This round was the closest of all.  The Cavatappi took this round by the slimmest of margins.

The match ended with the Roccabella winning 2 rounds to 1.

Wrap up and over all observations

The Cavatappi had 6 years of barrel and bottle age on it.  Even with this much aging the Luchador showed skills and style that reminded me of a rookie rather than a veteran.

The Rocabella was much younger, but put up a fight like a true veteran.  Strutting around the ring like Rob Halford in leather and studs this Italian Luchador put a sound whipping on the Luchador from Washington. 

The Roccabella delivered the goods in this Nebbiolo knock out!

I give the Eugenio Bocchino Roccabella an 88 and the Cavatappi an 86.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Washington Cab Franc v. Loire Valley

Paris-Nice is an early season stage races that tests Tour de France contenders.  This race is also known as the Race to the Sun since it starts in Paris and traces a route South East to Nice, finishing on the Mediterranean Sea.  At this time of year the weather is usually cold during the early stages of the race and the riders are eager to finish in Nice where they can anticipate nicer conditions. 

The second and third stages of the race passed through the Eastern reaches of the Loire Valley.  That is enough of a reason for Lucha Vino to feature a clash of Cabernet Francs.  This week features a Bartholomew Cabernet Franc v. a Cab Franc from The Loire.

2008 Bartholomew Cabernet Franc v. 2010 La Grange aux Belles Anjou 

Tale of the Tape

2008 Bartholomew Cabernet Franc

100% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Coyote Canyon vineyard located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

Production was two barrels - one second use and one neutral.

Purchased from the winery for $28.

2010 La Grange aux Belles Anjou Rouge 53

This French challenger is a bit of a mystery.  Garagiste says it is 100% Cab Franc.  Some other clues suggest it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  Regardless, this fresh upstart Luchador isn't giving away very many secrets.

One thing we know for sure, this Luchador is from the Loire Valley.

Purchased from Garagiste for $16.84.

Round 1.  First Opening

Bartholomew is stomping on would be contenders and stomping into the ring with a nose of dark fruit, coffee, herbs and dusty underbrush.  The palate is dark fruit, spicy clove and hints of cocoa that linger on to the finish.

La Grange aux Belles is reminiscent of a classic ZZ Top tune singing the praises of border town girls.  This Luchador is interesting, but not in the way that Bill Gibbons made those Texas girls sound.  The nose has character of creamy currants, mineral and woodsy dry underbrush.  The palate shows medium red notes of cranberry and woody brambles with a dry finish.

These Luchadors are showing very different styles facing off in the Lucha Vino ring of doom.  In the ring of doom you need to be big and burly and in this round the Bartholomew is living up to the billing.  Round one goes to Bartholomew, our Washington State Cab Franc luchador.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

Bartholomew is gaining power boasting a nose of dark currant, black cherry, menthol and cocoa.  The palate is also up to the challenge with notes of black cherry, clove spices and cola with a cedar spiced finish that ends with semisweet chocolate.

La Grange is getting more eccentric with a nose of creamy vinegar, cranberry and brambles with a palate that is also showing cranberry along with notes of tobacco and a tart cedar finish.

Eccentricity can be enticing when you are visiting the border town ladies, but not when you are trying to deal pain in the wrestling ring.  Round two goes to Bartholomew.

Round 3. One day after Opening

About the only shot that La Grange has is to angle for a knock out.

Bartholomew has already shown some significant strength through the first two rounds.  Round three leaves no doubt.  The nose is showing currant, floral earthy notes along with some chalkiness.  The palate is also showing currant, black cherry and clove with cocoa that finishes with semi sweet chocolate.

La Grange has a nose of cranberry and earthy brambles.  The palate is also showing cranberry tartness and tobacco with a tart cedar dry finish that has the tobacco coming back again at the end.

Bartholomew continued building muscle mass through all three rounds while La Grange slid from interesting to eccentric to flat out crazy perhaps the result of too many head blows delivered by Bartholomew the Bruiser.

Bartholomew takes round three and the match 3 - 0.

Wrap up and over all observations

These were two very different styles of Cab Franc.  The Loire Valley Cat Franc was full of earthiness, herbal notes and underbrush.  These characteristics held on over the course of the entire bout.  I'm going to leave my other bottle in the cellar for a couple years to see if this crazy Luchador will stop bounding off the walls of its padded cell.

The Washington Cab Franc was big and bruising the herbal notes along with some brambly notes were present but subdued.  The dominant characteristic of dark fruit, clove spices and semi-sweet chocolate carried this luchador over the top inflicting serious damage like a flying body slam off the top rope.

I give the Bartholomew a solid 88 and La Grange an 85.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Washington Sangiovese vs. Chianti

You can't argue with Italian style and this past weekend the Strade Bianche proved that point.  Italy hosted one of the coolest and most stylish one day races of the year in Tuscany last weekend.  The Strade Bianche includes 8 stretches of white gravel and dirt roads making up 70 kilometres of the 190 total km in the race, hence the name.  Depending on the weather it can be a dust storm or a mud bath for the racers.

This Saturday's race was dry and challenging (like a one day classic should be).  There were many strategic moves made by Team Radio Shack with Fabian Cancellara making the final decisive move soloing to victory from 10k to go in the race.  Cancellara won this race in 2008 and destroyed the Belgian Spring Classics in 2010.  He is also a multi-time world champion in the Time Trial discipline, so it is no surprise when he tears the legs off the rest of the field like he did in this year's Strade Bianche.

This week's Lucha Vino Challenge features a Sangiovese from Washington taking on a Chianti Challenger from Tuscany.  Let's see if one of these Luchadors tears apart its opponent!

2008 Covington Cellars Sangiovese v. 2006 Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico

Tale of the Tape

2008 Covington Cellars Sangiovese

100% Sangiovese with the majority from Seven Hills rounded out with fruit from Kiona and Kestrel Vineyards.

Aged in 20% new oak

Purchased at the winery for $25.00

2006 Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico

100% Sangiovese barrel aged for 12 months

Purchased from Garagiste for $16.99

Round 1.  First Opening

The Covington Cellars Sangiovese makes an early introduction with a nose of pie cherry, toasty earth and spices.  The palate is showing tart pie cherry with a super tart finish that includes hints of cedar and spices.  This Washington Sangio seems to be mocking the Italian Challenger by imitating the Chianti's style.

The Castello di Bossi is not amused showing a nose of wet earth, mineral, leather and pie cherries.  The palate fires off with ripe tart red fruit and raspberry with a tart leather finish.

These Luchadors are pretty evenly matched with the Castello di Bossi taking the first round based on complexity in its character and that unmistakable Italian style.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

Covington has changed styles like a boxer switching form righty to south paw.  Bulking up and getting burly the Covington Crusher is showing a nose of dark red berries, cedar spices and earthy leather.  The palate is full of dark rich fruit finishing with spicy tart cedar character.

The di Bossi has warmed up a bit with a nose featuring pie cherry and Asian spices.  The palate is primarily tart pie cherries with a very dry tart cedar finish.

Covington Cellars overpowered di Bossi leaving no doubt as to the winner of round two.  This round was so decisive there are shout outs in the arena calling for the "Covington Chianti Crusher."

Round 3. One day after Opening

Heading in to the final round the match is even at 1-1.  Who will rise to the occasion?

The Chianti Crusher is working to live up to its new name continuing to build power with a nose of earthy dark red fruit, leather, a bit of menthol and some shoe polish (in a good way).  The palate is dark currants, clove and eucalyptus spices that really reach out and grab you on the finish with some tart cocoa and espresso notes added for good measure.

The di Bossi is looking slightly dazed and certainly confused.  Staying true to its heritage the di Bossi remains consistent with a nose of dark red cherries and asian cedar spices.  The palate is juicy red cherries full of tartness that ends with a very dry finish.

Style will carry you only so far in the wrestling ring.  Sadly, the di Bossi has learned this lesson the hard way taking some serious punishment from the Covington Chianti Crusher.

Covington Cellars takes the final round winning the match 2 - 1.

Wrap up and over all observations

The young upstart from Washington showed little respect for the Italian challenger in this bout.  The real difference showed up in round two and three.  In round one both of these Luchadors showed very similar styles.  With time (and air) the Sangiovese from Washington developed into a bigger, richer and fuller wine. 

The Castello di Bossi did blossom, but not as dramatically as the Convington Cellars.  You could hear some muted cries from the di Bossi for some food assistance.  The character of the Chianti from Italy makes me think it would make a great partner for a big plate of pasta smothered in marinara sauce.

I give the Covington Cellars Sangiovese an 88 and the Castello di Bossi an 86.