What’s your Reason?

There are so many reasons why I enjoy wine. It’s truly incredible sharing good wine with family and friends while having some great conversations, laughs, and reminiscing. Recently I celebrated my 40th birthday and that’s exactly what happened although some of my friends reminded me of the days I drank Zima and Mad Dog, a memory I’d like to forget. Alas, we were all young once.

I decided to share a couple of bottles that I sat on for a bit with the good folks that celebrated my mid-life. I opened Reasons from Horse Heaven Hills, Washington.

Reasons “The One” Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: Aromas of blackberry preserves, black cherry, and cassis. An excellent mouth feel with flavors of black fruits, leather, and tobacco but with time to breathe it kept evolving. The wine maker handled their fruit superbly as it was reserved and very soft.

Reasons “The Prequel” Cabernet Sauvignon 2007: Aromas of pencil lead, spices, oak, and ripe dark fruits. Flavors of ink, carbon, and smoky dark fruits. It is unbelievably plush, ripe, and has this complexity to it that was ever evolving and made it difficult to really identify all of the notes in this wine. I decanted this for well over an hour and reaped the benefits.  

Although I preferred “The Prequel” both wines were nearly flawless as they balanced both styles of old and new world wine. These $25 wines drank closer to $50 in my opinion and are great now but will only get better with more age. With another birthday that has past and a few more bottles missing from my cellar I can’t help to be thankful for many reasons.

Sláinte! TCW

Meet Mercer Wine Estates

Readers, I’d like to introduce you to Mercer Wine Estates. Mercer Wine Estates, meet the readers. I think you’d all get along. I mean Mercer produces GREAT wine and the readers love drinking GREAT wine. In fact, this may be a perfect match, especially with your variety of price points and wines to accommodate many wine drinkers out there.  With the introductions aside I’d like to tell the readers more about you, Mercer, if that’s OK. Just hang out in my glass for a while until I need you again…

Mercer Wine Estates is now on their fifth generation of farmers showcasing Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Washington. By the way Horse Heaven Hills is 25% of the state’s wine grapes – not too shabby. Founded in 2005, Mercer has been “quietly growing” and produces wines from across three tiers ranging from $10 to $42 – from Riesling to Cabernet Sauvignon. OK Mercer, I need you now…

Pinot Gris, 2013 from their Mercer Estates line is up first. Aromatics of juicy honeydew melon, ripe peach, and a hint of orange blossom escaped from my glass. The flavors continue through the palate adding creaminess, bright fruit, nice acidity, and just a touch of minerality all added to the delicious balance in this wine. Retail price is around $13 – yum!

Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 from their Mercer Canyons line is next. I’m detecting aromas of warm blueberry pie à la mode. This has flavors of cherries and spice, mouth gripping tannins, and a lasting finish. Wait, what? This retails for $14? Uh, I’m in!

Ode to Brothers, 2011 from their Reserve line is the last - a GSM blend (40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, & 20% Mourvèdre). With this being a blend of classic Rhône varietals I let this one breathe in the bottle for over an hour and it still evolved in my glass. Notes of raspberries, smoke, cured meats, pepper, and minerality. Excellent body, structure, and a super long finish! You can cellar this bottle for years and I’d expect it to improve that much more (although it’s pretty amazing now). Expect to pay about $42 for this bottle but expect it to be worth every penny!

Now that we are all introduced I suspect a long lasting friendship. Based on just three of their wines tasted I’m already a friend and fan.

Sláinte! TCW

Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup Rosé, 2013

Pic Saint Loup is a mountain in the Languedoc region of Southern France. Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup makes wine that represents this region characteristically but also using entirely biodynamic methods when cultivating their vines. Simply put and as their website states, they are the Forerunners of this technique since they started, the brothers simply turn over the ground and use no pesticides.”  

I uncorked their classic Rosé, 2013. The vines are grown in soil of red chalky-clay, scree from the slope bottom, and gravette. Their 2013 Rosé is a blend of 30% each; Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and 10% Cinsault. My glass of wine bloomed with discreet aromas of stone fruit and minerality and after some time in the glass, creaminess showed through. After several sips (for research purposes only) this had delicious flavors of exotic fruit, spice, and finished with a very subtle sour cherry. Again, with time in the glass, allowing it naturally aerate, the wine got even better – becoming softer. In fact, let it roll around your tongue for a bit, it’s pretty fantastic. Serve at about 53-55 degrees for maximum gratification. I picked up my bottle at Wine with Me (Itasca), upon a recommendation from the owner, Mark. It’s wine like this one that makes me question why I don’t drink more Rosé.
Sláinte! TCW

A Couple of Chards

This time last year I wrote about 2 Chardonnay’s battling it out. Tasting those wines side by side proved to be an interesting experience. Recently, I had another chance to taste 2 more Chardonnays side by side, this time it was a blind tasting so only their “fruits” of their labor could influence me.

“Brand X” Chardonnay (Napa Valley) 2011: You’re immediately hit on the nose with smoky oak, and butter. If you concentrated enough you could almost get vanilla, and a hint of rich cream. Medium to full body, with concentration, this extends itself with flavors of citrusy honey, vanilla, and minerality. Sounds good eh? Nope. It was not balanced well – It was hard to get past the smoky oak and butter in the aroma and flavor. The finish was long but I wanted it to go away – Basically a buttered-popcorn campfire in your mouth. I guess you could skip the butter and pour this over your lobster…   
Robert Mondavi Chardonnay (Napa Valley) 2011: Unbelievably vibrant aromas of sweet citrusy juice, honey crisp apple, and honeydew melon. A Lighter body wine with elegant flavors of pear, crisp minerals, and lemon-lime. The finish is long that made you yearning for another sip. It was delicious! You can easily drink this with or without food (paired with tilapia, grilled shrimp, or roasted chicken).

I don’t normally give any wines bad press, I only write about what I like. In all seriousness I sincerely respect wine makers and what they do and that’s why I decided to leave the vineyard name out of the first Chardonnay and name it “Brand X”. Here is the catch; “Brand X” is a $40 bottle while Robert Mondavi’s is $19 proving the fact that cost does not guarantee you what you’d like. Listen to your taste buds, they know!
Sláinte! TCW 

Warre’s Optima 10

Fortified wine is a desert style wine with a lot of residual sugar. This is typically served as an after dinner drink but can be versatile. Some can be too dismissive with fortified wine stating they are too sweet but paired with the right items, they will be fantastic, i.e. (but not limited to) dark chocolate, select nuts and cheeses, sausages, or my favorite, a cigar. The key here is to balance the sweetness.    
Port Wine is a style of fortified wine, traditionally from Portugal. Although there are different styles of Port; Ruby, Tawny, and Vintage, I’ll be writing about one of my favorite Tawny Ports. Tawny Port is a blend of barrel-aged Port wine and released as 10, 20, 30, and 40 year old wines.

Warre’s Optima 10 is a perfect example of a delicious ten year old Tawny Port. Bottled in 2012, this revealed aromas of plum, orange rinds, cinnamon, and hints of lavender. Optima 10 offered flavors of dried fruit, honey, and some toasted nuts. Delicious, complex, flavorful, smooth, balanced, and a long lasting finish. This is not your typical Tawny Port. From glass appeal, aromas, flavors, all the way through the finish it is absolutely beautiful – A perfectly tuned orchestra in your mouth! Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. This is widely available at restaurants and retail wine shops and is moderately priced. I strongly encourage you to taste this if you haven’t already.

Sláinte! TCW