Thursday, November 13, 2014

Washington Merlot Maniacs

The pro cyclist's road race season has ended and now cyclocross is where the action is.  The change in season signals a change in the Lucha Vino Challenges.  The spotlight will start shining on wines from non-cycling regions as well as some interesting intrastate challenges.  This week's matchup had its origins rooted in October, AKA Merlot Month.

Merlot dominant blends from Washington battle it out in the inaugural Merlot Maniacs challenge.  It's Walla Walla vs. a Red Mountain / Horse Heaven Hills / Yakima Valley Tag Team in a no holds barred Washington State Merlot fueled feud!

Kontos Cellars 2008 Alatus v. Nota Bene Cellars 2008 Miscela

Tale of the Tape

2008 Nota Bene Miscela

47% Merlot (Ciel du Cheval)
38% Cabernet Sauvignon (Mostly Champoux Vineyard)
10% Cabernet Franc (Dineen Vineyard)
5% Malbec (Verhey Vineyard)

Aged for 22 months in French Oak Barrels (33% new)

Purchased at the winery for  $18.00.

2008 Kontos Alatus

60% Merlot
25% Cabernet Sauvignon
10% Malbec
5% Syrah

Purchased at the Poverty Bay Wine Festival for $29.70.

Round 1.  First opening

Kontos saunters into the ring full of confidence.  It is going to take way more than a three way Washington AVA tag team to take down this Walla Walla whopper.  The nose is showing light smoke, earthy funky dark cherries and dusty savory notes of cocoa.  The palate is flexing its muscles with lively notes of cherries, cinnamon mole' spices and dry tart Asian cedar spice followed by a cocoa powder and tannin spice fueled finish.

Nota Bene barges in with a bold attacking style.  The nose features funky savory notes of forest floor and mushrooms followed by lighter bing cherry character.  The palate brings a one-two punch of dry perfumed and floral cherries followed by tart Asian cedar spices and a tart floral finish.

Round one goes to Kontos.  Note Bene is wound up tight and a bit nervous at the start of the match.  Let's see if this Luchador can relax and bring some pain in round 2!

Round 2. One hour after opening

Kontos is free flowing and full of swagger.  The nose is getting bolder with dark cherries, currants and dusty savory smokey spices.  The palate follows suit with dark cherry, cinnamon mole' spices and a dry cocoa powder finish.

Note Bene is brawling, ducking and dodging with a funky nose of dark cherries, candle wax and underbrush.  The palate follows suit with cherries and dry Asian spices that carry over to the finish.

The Nota Bene luchador is mounting a comeback, but it isn't enough to overpower the dynamic Kontos grapler from Walla Walla.  Round two goes to Kontos for a commanding 2-0 lead.

Round 3.  One day after opening

Kontos seems to be losing some steam in the final round of the match.  The nose continues to show dusty dark cherries, but that is about all this luchador has left.  The palate is still dark, rich and kicking with notes of black cherry, cinnamon mole' spices and a touch of cocoa powder followed by a light cocoa inspired finish.

This is the big chance for Nota Bene to go for the knock out.  This tri-AVA luchador is building strength and showing some serious stamina.  The nose features funky dark cherries, candle wax and light earthy cocoa notes.  The palate doubles down with dark cherries, tannin fueled spices and some cocoa followed by a dry Asian cedar spice finish.

Nota Bene busts a move and takes the final round with a flourish rooted in depth of character and extreme stamina!

Wrap up and overall observations.

The Kontos from Walla Walla was firing on all cylinders from the opening bell.  This Merlot dominant blend is ready for drinking right now.

The Nota Bene Miscela took longer to get warmed up and was at its best two days after the main event.  This blend of Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills and Yakima Valley fruit has abundant structure that bodes well for many more years of life.  I would give this a serious decant before drinking if you open your bottle now.  Otherwise, let this Merlot maniac rest in your cellar a couple of more years before unleashing it for ultimate enjoyment! 

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