As wine connoisseurship evolves, I look toward developing ways to express the aspects of wine I love the most. I recognize that wine is a product of nature and science; my goal is as natural as can be: to help make the connection between joy of taste and the bountiful pleasures of life.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Leaving some clothes on is sometimes better than not ….

This year, a small collective of winemakers, educators and wine growers all get together to host a 4 day symposium that’s designed to give a select group of 20 hand picked sommeliers an up-close and very personal Washington wine perspective. The goal is to illuminate some of the more dorkey aspects of viticulture, geology and and vinification. Barrel grading, lending a hand during crush, master classes, and a multitude of sessions geared to demonstrate the little known virtuosity of a good number of wines and terroirs wines from the wine heartland in Walla Walla.

I really feel honored to attend. Unlike may other wine trips or education based events one might participate in throughout the year, I have the gut feeling that this journey will be well worth the dehydration of another 10hour delta air tour.

So, in preparation for this pilgrimage, ive decided to dig around my own pile of wines, buy up a few others from local merchants and spend the next few weeks tasting though some of the gems of the pacific NW. Along the way, leading up to the event in early sept, ill be sure to keep you posted on anything I run across that’s a must try but ive gotta say that even while ive known this and had this building perspective for some time, its becoming more and more evident to me that Washington wines in general may be my favourite. If I were to pick a domestic growing region that really “did it for me”, it would be ole WA. Seriously, its like this twinkled sex appeal of fleeting flirtation with a beautiful woman in a bathing suit verses the same flirtation with the same woman at a nude beach. California in general,… and again, allow me to reemphasize “en general”,…. is the naked version and Washington is the scantly clothed. It’s like going to a well made suspense thrilled verses a Van Damme shoot em up. Or maybe like going to the circus verses camping at Denali nation park during the salmon run…you get the picture right? Im not saying that I don’t have love affairs with certain Cali offerings but I am saying that when it comes to the challenge, to the mystique, to colorful curiosity to the crescendo and decrescendo, to the apex and then to the finale, time and time again, there is something in the middle, something paranormal and enduring about a 50$ cabernet from Washington when tasted alongside a California carbon copy. Aromatically, Cali tells you what she is up to, Washington is wearing a hat and you can see her lovely smile but cant see her eyes. No makeup,…well, ok …maybe less, but for sure she has a huskier voice that says ive cooked whisky beans round a campfire, been cliff diving in the Mediterranean and she’s going to tell you everything about where she was born. Turn to miss Cali on the chair beside you and she just wants you to notice he red curly locks before going on. She wants you to tell her that she’s one of the rare reds that even though her skin is fair and her freckles numerous, that she was raised on sheets made with high thread count Egyptian cotton and that’s the hook, line and sinker. Sometimes yes, and sometimes not. Ive kept my suit on lately and heres whats been on tap.

Mark Ryan 2004 Dead Horse Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
First tasted these wines at the cellar door in an industrial park in Woodinville, just outside Seattle. A blend with sincerity and rightful austerity, this wine alike so many other WA betties loves the table more than the casual sip.
Bordelaise in texture ( high acid lift) with loads of dark bush fruit, and exotic spices. Got a good wallop of anise and some stoney black minerality that after four hours subsided and Paved the way for a mid palate and finish full of ripe fruit framed nicely by the sturdy tannins and zippy acidity. Cool stuff …hold for another year?

Basel Cellars 2004 Syrah
A friend and Atlanta native Trey Busch makes, ooops, I should say made this stuff. He is now in his second or third vintage of his very own label called “Sleight of Hand” which is sure to please when it finally becomes more widely available. The 2004 Syrah is a tertiary wonder! Chocked full of juicy opulent fruit but all that fruit is sitting in a carriage full of minerals, olives, salty brine and 60 day house cured meats. A real syrah lovers wine, this stuff is truly old world in its flavor profile …nicely balanced…really like this wine…too bad its me last btl.

K Vintners 2005 “ The Boy”
Grenache is the name of the game. It reminds me of a really young Rayas. Spicy and a bit coarsely textured, this stuff was also tell tale WA state with its decidedly forward minerality, dark and lvely but never too easy to get to fruitiness and a slamming acid backbone that keeps the whole monster floating on rails. Id say this thing needs a few more months ,…oh,….say 8-15 …and or a good day open before consuming but it is really some special stuff. Holla!


Trey said...
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Trey said...


That Syrah was from the freeze year of 2004, where most of the buds on the vines in Walla Walla were wiped out above the root zone....we had to source vineyards outside of the AVA, and we chose, Lewis, Minnick, and Portteus in the Yakima Valley, and the Columbia Crest Reserve Block on the south slope of the Columbia River, looking at Oregon. I threw some new French wood at it, and it rested in bbl for about 18 months. One of my favorite wines I made at Basel! Can't wait for you to check out my new venture!


Hardy / Dirty said...

Wow- This sounds like an amazing event.

This is a great reminder that I need to explore more Washington wines. The last one that blew my socks off was an 01 Andrew Will Ciel Du Cheval. That stuff made me crazy.