Sunday, December 9, 2012

Battle in Seattle I: Washington v. Australia

According to the Mayan calendar the world will end on December 21st.  Or, perhaps, the calendar just starts over again at the beginning.  Or...

A lot of people have jumped on the end of the world band wagon so I figured I might as well hop on for the ride and see where it takes me.

Three of my favorite Seattle Urban Wineries are hosting an End of the World party on December 21st.  As a lead up to their event, I will feature each of their wines in a series of matches I am calling The Battle in Seattle.

Match number 1 features a Washington Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend taking on an Australian blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.  These bruisers go toe to toe in a match that could shake the Earth to its core.

2008 Laurelhurst Cellars Azorica v. 2002 Taltarni Cephas

Tale of the Tape

2008 Laurelhurst Cellars Azorica

50% Syrah from two vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA: Ranch at the end of the Road and Songbird

50% Cabernet Sauvignon from Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley AVA

Aged in 80% new French Oak Barrels

Purchased at the winery for $25.00

2002 Taltarni Cephas
(Link is to the 2005 vintage details)

70% Shiraz and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from estate vineyards in the Pyrenees region of Australia

Aged in 100% French Oak Barrels

Purchased at Bin 41 for $25.00

Round 1. First opening

Taltarni is on the attack like an Aussie rules football player on the loose.  This Shiraz/Cab blend is cutting through the ring like a buzz saw.  The nose is showing floral overtones on top of smoked meat, bacon fat and earthy dark berries.  The palate is equally bold with dark berries, black cherries, cola and all spice with a toffee and menthol finish.

Laurelhurst isn't backing down.  This luchador came up the ranks as a back street brawler and it shows with a nose of licorice, dark currants cherry and creamy earthy all spice notes. The palate is bold with black cherry and all spices with a cedar & menthol spice tinged finish.

These combatants are living up to the end of the world billing.  With more force and a variety of powerful moves the Taltarni takes round 1.

Round 2. One hour later

It looks like Taltarni might have let it all hang out in the first round.  This luchador has really mellowed out between rounds.  The nose is dark, dusty and spicy but has lost some of the original zing.  The palate has also mellowed with dark berries and a hint of smoked meats loitering in the wings with a menthol tart spiced finish.

Laurelhurst is stepping up and bringing the pain with a nose showing licorice, violets and spices. The palate has loads of dark fruit and menthol spices with menthol and clove spices on the finish.

In a surprising turn of events, Taltarni has lost its mojo paving the way for Laurelhurst to easily take round 2.

Round 3. One day later

The match may be all even at one round each, but the Taltarni seems to be on a downward spiral.  The nose is primarily dark currants and plums with a bit of smokey sandalwood.  The palate is dark and brooding (perhaps sulking) with dark fruit, menthol and old dry leather that leads to a finish of light cracked pepper and sweet tartness.

Laurelhurst delivers a devastating elbow drop laying out the Taltarni with a show of unmatchable force.  The nose is dark and rich with black fruit, dusty cracked pepper and all spice with some hints of bacon. The palate is equally dark with currant and tart menthol and clove spices that carry over to the finish along with some notes of spicy cedar and cherry bark.

The final round was no contest with Laurelhurst putting the hurt on the Australian challenger.

Wrap up and overall observations

I was pretty stoked to get a 10 year old Aussie for 25 bucks courtesy of a solid recommendation from my friends Jon and T at Bin 41.  If this match had only been one round the Taltarni would have been the hands down winner.  Unfortunately, this was a three round bout and that spelled doom for the Australian.

The Taltarni Cephas was definitely a pop and pour wonder.  It mellowed out in a hurry, losing the complexity it showed on first opening in a short period of time.

The Laurelhurst Azorica showed Red Mountain's typical pizazz starting from a powerful base and kept on building power and complexity over the duration of the match.

This was really no contest after the first round - based on a lack of stamina I would give the Taltarni an 86 while the Laurelhurst earned a smashing 90 building strength and power consistently from one round to the next.

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