Thursday, June 2, 2016

Washington Cabernet Sauvignon v. Alexander Valley

The Tour of California originally took place early in the season to avoid conflicts with bigger races in order to draw top cycling talent to the States.  As the race grew in popularity the promoters took the plunge and went head-to-head with the Giro d' Italia.  Much like a lucha libre matchup, these two heavy weight bike races contend for top talent every year in the month of May.

This past week saw the pros giving it their all in the state of California, battling for victory from San Diego to Santa Rosa.  The penultimate stage of the race took place on Saturday with Santa Rosa hosting the race start and finish.  The riders encountered 8,600 feet of climbing over 6 classified climbs as they road west to the California coast and then back inland to complete several finishing circuits through the streets of Santa Rosa.

Sometimes crazy things happen in bicycle races (just like they do in a Lucha Libre wrestling match).  This past Saturday provided a great example of the unexpected.  Even with the substantial number of climbs, a sprinter hung on to take the stage victory!  Kudos to the Norwegian, Alexander Kristov, for hanging on through the hills to hold his position and then set himself up for the sprint glory.

This week's Lucha Vino matchup honor's Alexander's tenacity with a matchup of Washington Cabernet vs. the Alexander Valley.

Eight Bells 2011 David's Block Cabernet Sauvignon v. Simi 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Tale of the Tape

Eight Bells 2011 David's Block Cabernet Sauvignon

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot all from David's Block on the Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley.

Provided as a sample by the winery.  Available at retail for $35 per bottle.

Simi 2012 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec all from the Simi estate vineyards located in the Alexander Valley AVA.

Purchased for $23.99 at the Vashon Island Thriftway.

Round 1.  First opening

Ocho Campanas takes the ring with an air of confidence.  This Washington State Luchador is ready to back the swagger with some serious muscle.  The nose is featuring dark currant, black cherries, dusty forest floor and herbal mint.  The palate is showing dark cherry and savory umami herbal white pepper with a slightly peppery finish.

The Simi Sonoma Luchador is battling back with a nose of dark cherry, stony minerality, forest floor and mushroom.  The palate brings out notes of dry cherries and leather with a dry white pepper finish that is slightly grippy with slight notes of graphite tannin.

Eight Bells definitely rang the Simi Luchador's bell in round 1.  The first points go to Eight Bells, aka Ocho Companas.

Round 2.  One hour after opening

Ocho is on fire as the Washington State luchador unleashes a wicked attack that is driven by a nose of dark cherry, dusty herbal mint, menthol and violets.  The palate follows up with dark cherry, white pepper, light cocoa powder and menthol.  The finish is dry with tight menthol tinged tannins.

Simi is reeling from the onslaught of power and flair unleashed by the Eight Bells Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Sonoma challenger is building strength but still wobbling around the ring with a nose of dark cherry, forest floor and a hint of toffee.  The palate is also showing dark cherry notes with some forest floor, mushroom and a dry tannin spice driven finish.

The Simi challenger is showing character by stepping up to the Ocho Campanas challenge.  Character is great, but the judges still awarded the round to the Washington Luchador which gives Eight Bells a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

Round 3.  One day after opening

Go big or go home!

That is the challenge for the Simi Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley.  And the Simi is doing its best to muster a challenge.  The nose is continuing to flash notes of black cherry along with rose petals, dusty leather and a hint of herbal mint candle wax.  The palate is showing dried cherries and subtle hints of herbal spices on a dry finish.

El Ocho continues the domination with power and finesse.  The nose is continuing to evolve with notes of currant, dark cherry, mineral wet stones, coffee bean and dusty herbal white pepper spices.  The palate is following suit with dark cherries, dried flower petals and white pepper spices followed by a finish that is dry and slightly spicy.

Eight Bells brought the pain and the dominance to take round three and the match with a resounding 3-0 victory!

Wrap up and overall observations.

Both of these wines were tasting good straight out of the gate and continued to show solid evolution in the first hour.  After that the Simi started to falter.  I would recommend finishing this bottle the same day you open it  The Simi Cabernet Sauvignon shows solid character and is a nice bottle of California wine for the price.

The Eight Bells David's Block Cabernet shows excellent Washington Cabernet and Red Willow Vineyard character.  The guys at Eight Bells are making some fabulous, and affordable, wines in the heart of Seattle.  Look for these wines at your favorite wine shop.  Better yet, make a visit to the Eight Bells winery if you are in the Seattle area. 

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