Wine Tasting Feb 26 ’11
Riley at Willows Inn has asked us all to go online and give their new chef Blaine Wetzel our votes in Food and Wine Magazine’s new “The People’s Best New Chef”contest. Here’s the link!
Remember: our regular hours are Saturdays 1-5pm, but call ANYTIME for Wine Emergencies!
Well, I am of course biased, but I really liked last week’s wines. It is possibly emblematic of something (or perhaps not) that the two most popular wines were both from the same California winery, Peirano Estates, which has an interesting history . Last week we poured their zinfandel and their petit sirah, the former bright strawberry and cherry, the latter deep with dark berries and plums. These wines really over-deliver for the price.
In addition, we poured an old favorite French wine, the Domaine Piquemal from the Rousillon. The wines from this area are not pretentious, but they do have individual character, and this one has particularly pleasing heft, flavors, and mouthfeel. And finally, the Giovanna Madonia white dessert wine from raisined grapes was completely unique (I am so often tempted to say ‘quite unique,’ but I am told that is unacceptable grammar, a double superlative or something…well, maybe ‘completely unique’ is just as bad, and all you really need to know is that there aren’t any other wines quite like it!) and I grew quite fond of its chord of citrus, whiskey barrel, and apple, to the point that I fantasize about pouring it over ice cream or rum cake or sipping it with ginger or lemon peel.
This week we are offering something else Unique, in that we will be pouring a wine rarely seen in wine shops, and even more rarely poured, because it is only sold by mailing list. That is the Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red Wine (2005). This wine is blended from declassified lots of cabernet sauvignon that don’t quite make the cut for QC’s flagship cab, which has earned either 99 or 100 points from Robert Parker (think PERFECT) for six year in a row. This may be their “second wine,” but most wineries can only dream about having a top wine this good.
Come check it out!
This week’s wines:
Martinez & Martinez Cabernet Blanca 09 Washington $12
This Rosé of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is light and crisp with flavors of fresh vine ripe raspberry and strawberry flavors. Drink it…Spring will come!
ALTOS Bonarda Colonia Las Liebres 08 Argentina $8
Shows nice dark, juicy plum, licorice and spice notes with a fleshy, open-knit finish.
Palamà Arcangelo 2008 Salice Salentino ’08 Italy $12
The vineyards of Salice Salentino, in the heel of the Italian boot, date back to the 6th century BC and consisted dominantly of the Negroamaro variety (“black bitter”), known for its rustic dark fruit. This one is sultry dark ruby, with a sweet, ripe nose oozing blackberries and super-ripe plums, baking spices, and sweetly-smoky embers. Round and soft in the mouth, with very good concentration, and balance.
Quilceda Creek Red Wine ’05 Washington WA 93pts $45.
The 2005 Red Wine is the winery’s second label for declassified lots. It consists of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Merlot. Purple-colored, it reveals an expressive bouquet of cedar, pencil lead, spice box, black currant, and blackberry. This is followed by a full-bodied, plush wine with ample ripe tannins and layers of sweet fruit. The wine has serious weight and excellent length. It should be at its best from 2011 through 2020. The wine is true to the house style and is a superb value.
Wine Tasting February 19 ’11
Hearty congratulations to our friends at Willows Inn and new chef Blaine Wetzel for their continuing international fame. So if you are flying in for a few days from Tokyo or Capetown or Peoria, remember we have a great selection of wines from Washington and around the world!
Remember: our regular hours are Saturdays 1-5pm, but call ANYTIME for Wine Emergencies!
Of course our chocolate Valentine Medallions were a big hit last week! It is hard to believe there is that much flavor, and that little bits of dried fruit and nuts could actually make high quality chocolate taste even better– but we now have an Island of Believers. Well done to Pat and Janice for another chocolate triumph; they just keep getting better and better!
Another great selection of wines last weekend, with a nice chardonnay from Maryhill, an interesting winery down on the Columbia Gorge, two bargain reds from Massimo that way over-deliver for the $$, and topping it off with an absolutely delicious syrah (Annie Camarda ’04) from Andrew Will which has matured into a deep, dark, and delightful treasure. I think we may have one or two bottles left, but they could easily get, um, “lost,” if you know what I mean.
For you off-Islanders, there is a continuing saga of the endless negotiations with Lummi Nation to continue the docking arrangements we have had with them for 100 years or so. Negotiations have dragged on for over a year. A few weeks ago it was announced that the current interim agreement and payments would continue indefinitely until a long-term solution was developed. Today it was announced that the Tribe was going to shut down the ferry in 60 days absent a permanent agreement. We just hope that whenever the dust settles, you will all still want to come and visit!
This week’s wines: (plus maybe a few samples of this and that..!)
Domaine Piquemal ‘05 (France, Roussillon) (video) $13
Nose of blackberry, flint, and leather gives way to sumptuous flavors of fresh, ripe cherries
Peirano Estates Petite Sirah ’09 California $12
Tempts the senses with an array of black raspberry, spice, coffee, cocoa, cola and white pepper. The palate is filled with ripe boysenberry, black raspberry, plum, sweet black cherry, and firm tannins, with a hint of smoke and dark chocolate.
Peirano Estates The Immortal Zin ’08 California $10
Hand selected from 113-year-old vines; deceptively subtle aromas of this wine combine red and black cherry, mineral, earthy rhubarb and slightly spicy red fruit; palate is wrapped in velvety layers of sweet red cherry, strawberry, cocoa and juicy red fruit leading to a lengthy, almost breathless finish.
Giovanna Madonia Albana di Romagna DOCG Passito 04 Italy (dessert) $12
Late-harvested in small batches, laid on wooden crates for additional months of drying (think ‘raisins’!) After a soft press, it is fermented in French barriques from 12 to 15 months.
Following a micro-filtration, it is bottled, and rests for at least 1 year before release.
Wine Tasting February 12 ’11
Hearty congratulations to our friends at Willows Inn and new chef Blaine Wetzel for their recent listing in a New York Times article entitled “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride,” and yes, that means the Whole World! So if you are flying in for a few days from Tokyo or Capetown or Peoria, remember we have a great selection of wines from Washington and around the world!
VALENTINE’S DAY CHOCOLATE PICKUP!
This year Pat and Janice have made “mendiants;” discs of finest chocolate–dark, milk, and white– studded with nuts and fruit. If you pre-ordered they are ready for pickup. There are a few extras available while they last (so come early!). You will be amazed how well the chocolate, fruit, and nuts complement each other…they are AMAZING!
I think there was general agreement that last week’s wines were all winners! We sold out of the Calera chardonnay, which was just delightful (more on order), with great flavor and masterful restraint with the oak, just enough to fatten the texture. Our two Italian wines from Palama, down on the heel of the Italian boot ( the Arcangelo Primitivo and the Negroamaro), were both lush and satisfying, And after all that, the Cougar Crest Cab Franc had everyone mmm-ing and smiling. Got lots of the Palama still in stock, highly recommended, and an amazing buy.
For the future, we are exploring the idea of a Friday night tasting starting in April. It would probably involve some simple food items (cured meats, cheese, bread, fruit??) and a few nice wines. If you have ideas or suggestions about encouraging or discouraging that, let us know. Stay tuned for more!
This week’s wines:
Maryhill Reserve Chardonnay 08 Washington $14
Lovely Topaz color and beguiling aromas of cooked apricot, vanilla, nuts and caramel that continue onto the pleasantly lingering palate.
Massimo Malbec 08 Argentina $10
Big and succulent, with engaging notes of blueberry pie and rich plums that into the spicy, cedary, and floral finish.
Massimo Rioja 08 Spain $10
Tempranillo is a wine with spine; the skins of the grape are thick, the juice is viscous, dark, and delicious. Red fruit tones; raspberry, strawberry, and cherry flavors, with balanced spice, along with a light leathery feel. The wine presently is tight, decanting recommended.
Andrew Will Annie Camarda Syrah 04 Washington
Exceptionally fragrant, with aromas of bacon, blueberry, and violets jumping from the glass. On the palate, ample sweet fruit asserts itself leading to a long, pure finish.
Wine tasting February 3 ’11
Congratulations to our friends at Willows Inn and new chef Blaine Wetzel for their recent listing in a New York Times article entitled “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride,” and yes, that means the Whole World! So if you are flying in for a few days from Tokyo or Capetown or Peoria, remember we have a great selection of wines from Washington and around the world!
VALENTINE’S DAY CHOCOLATE ALERT!
Your local Truffle Mavens (Pat and Janice) are making up a new confection for your Valentine this year– new to us, but a French tradition. They’re called “mendiants:” discs of finest chocolate–dark, milk, and white– studded with nuts and fruit. They will be wrapped and ready for your Valentine, four for $5. Order soon and pick them up next Saturday (Feb 13) in the wine shop. Extras will be available while they last (so come early!) To order, call Pat (758.2959) or Janice (758.2559).
Once again I really enjoyed all of last week’s wines. our little Cheverny sauv blanc really did have a note of thyme that carried through from nose to finish, makes me think it might work with a little chicken or light fish stuffed with something herby and buttery.
The Tarima monastrell is not fancy, but I notice it disappeared very quickly, one of those: “Wine? What wine?…and where did all those empty bottles come from…??” kind of wines. Just kind of seamless. The “Rebel” from O’Shea Scarborough was showing even better now that it has a bit of bottle age to soften and spread out the mouthfeel. And my favorite of the day was the Belguardo Bronzone, which on my last tasting seemed a little gnarly, but this time it displayed a smooth yet firm texture that lingered pleasantly on the palate…reminiscent of that extra quilt we throw on this time of year. As Bobby Darin used to sing in Mack the Knife: “Oh, that cement is there, it’s there for the weight, dear”…all in all leaving a very satisfying set of sensations.
We are currently trying to solve two lingering problems. First, what are our hours, really? And second, what happened to our blog settings so that we are never sure anymore whether our posts are being sent out to our subscribers as emails?
For the first question, for the rest of this month our hours are Saturdays, 1-5pm, which means 5pm is last pour and we ain’t opening any more bottles today. For the second question, please pop us a note letting us know if you did receive this as an email; that would be very helpful in our trouble-shooting.
I mention this last because sometime after that last Saturday Rachel, Andreea, and Jennifer (the “Talls”) arrived in a boisterous little whirlwind with Sarah and Dena, whom they labelled as “the Mediums.” Well, I know for a fact that Sarah has appeared in these pages (August) before– posing as a Small!! So you have to ask yourself, sure, whatever group arrives with these two is a high-energy party on its way to some nearby Party Planet, but really– can one person (however endearing) be BOTH a “small” and a “medium?” What exactly ARE the criteria, here, anyway?! All YOU need to know is that their arrival is always a welcome burst of delight!
This week’s wines:
Calera Chardonnay 08 California WA90pts $15
Offers abundant notes of honeysuckle, orange marmalade, white currants, and tropical fruits. Crisp, elegant, mid-weight, and revealing no evidence of its wood aging,
two wines from one of our favorite family wineries in Puglia, on the heel of the Italian Boot:
Palama Negroamaro 08 (Italy) $11
Elegantly expansive, rich and robust. Although it is 100% “rustic” Negroamaro, it is amazingly balanced; silky mouthfeel, aromas of violets, plums, fresh ground pepper and blackberry jam with accents of cinnamon, leather, tobacco and smoke.
Palama Primitivo 09 (Italy) $12
Floral perfume aromatics mix with notes of tobacco, citrus, and wild herbs dried in the sun, and while the fruit is ripe, it remains bright and fresh, lush, intense, bright, and approachable, with notes of dark anise, cedar, and blackberry confit.
Cougar Crest Cab Franc 07 Washington
Allowed to thoroughly ripen on the vine this robust wine shows flavors of red currants, violets, herbs, pepper and spice, and a slightly feminine structure with a rich mouth feel and long, meditative finish with tobacco, caramel, and toast aromas.