July 17, 2008

July Wines We Love!

July Wines We Love!!!
The focus is on wines from the Pacific Northwest - Oregon and Washington!

The wineries:

A to Z Wineworks (Oregon) - "Aristocratic wines at democratic prices." That's A to Z's motto and they deliver on it. The founders and principals come from a "Who's Who" of Oregon wineries - Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Archery Summit, Chehalem and more. For you NBA fans, Gregg Popavich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is a partner. A to Z is what the French call a "negociant." They purchase grapes from growers. The wine world has good negociants and bad.....the good ones are building a brand and care about grape quality. A to Z is one of the best negociants in the business! A to Z has done well enough that in the last year it bought Rex Hill Vineyards, one of Oregon's oldest and most prestigious wineries. Food & Wine Magazine named A to Z's inaugural Pinot Noir the "best American Pinot Noir under $20."

Foris Vineyards Winery (Oregon) - Foris is a small, family-owned winery in the Illinois River in the extreme southwestern corner of Oregon (we're almost in northern California and the Pacific Ocean). The Illinois River cuts through the Siskiyou Mountains, which surround Foris and its vineyards. They practice sustainable agriculture (the best fertilizer is your feet in the vineyard). The winemaker is Bryan Wilson (no, not the Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys)......he worked for Mike Benziger as the winemaker at Benziger's for 9 years. Benziger is probably the leading biodynamic, organic winemaker in the US. He was also the assistant winemaker for Warren Winiarski at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.

K Vintners (Washington) - the inimitable, irrepressible, egotistical, manic and extremely talented Charles Smith. We can't do a Northwest tasting without showing some of Charles' wines......fortunately, a slew of K Vintners wines just came back into Maine - the new vintages! I first encountered Charles (I don't think you just "meet" Charles; it's an encounter) in April 2005. Here's an account of that night! We love K Vintners! Jancis Robinson, Wine Enthusiast and Wine and Spirits have ranked K Vintners as one of America's "Top 10" Syrah makers. Jay Miller, who writes for Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, says of K Vintners and Charles Smith, "In a region where blending is the rule of thumb, he is the ultimate terroirist. Each wine reflects the vineyard from which it was produced but there is also a house style which lets you know immediately who made the wine. While it's way too soon to put K Vintners on the same level as a Domaine Leroy or Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, the experience you get tasting in the cellar is much the same as in those legendary wineries...."

Murphy's Law (aka; Local Wine Company) - this winery is located in Oregon. That said, they source grapes from Oregon and Washington. The winemaker is the legendary David O'Reilly, who wins huge praise for his wines at Owen Roe, one of Oregon's legendary wineries, named after a 17th century Irish patriot. The Local Wine Company makes 12-15 different wines, under several different labels. All of these are tiny production wines. Murphy's Law (yes, that Murphy's Law - if anything can go wrong, it will) has 3 wines. We are tasting 2 of them.

The Wines

Whites

Murphy's Law White Wine 2006 (Washington) $13.99 - Brand-new to Maine! Delicious wine from an odd blend! This wine shows a lot of minerality along with a really soft, round, lush texture. Nicely aromatic with a lot of floral notes. This has nice fruit – I just can’t peg it – the minerals keep dancing around and impacting how I’m tasting this – this is a nice thing! It’s vibrant and fresh! Blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling from Washington’s Columbia Valley. The Sauv. Blanc is from Outlook Vineyard in Yakima. The Riesling is from Rattlesnake Hills in Yakima and Red Willow Vineyard in West Yakima. Stainless steel fermentation, except for 5-10% in neutral oak barrels. Hand-harvested grapes. 300 cases made. Food pairing – richer fish such as halibut, salmon, tuna. Great with scallops. Duck or other poultry.

Foris Pinot Gris 2006 (Oregon) Reg. $14.99 Sale $13.99 - New vintage of one of our favorite white wines! A fabulous Alsatian-style Pinot Gris from this small winery. Citrus aromas with a touch of green banana. Medium-to-full-bodied with a rich texture. Crisp acidity with fresh fruit flavors, grapefruit & tangerines. The flavors hint at sweetness (that’s the fruit talking), but the wine is definitely dry. Zippy acidity. Long, pleasing, spicy finish. Stainless steel fermentation. 4,993 cases. Aged sur lie for 2 months. Food pairing - seafood, shellfish, poultry…drinks well on its own.

K Vintners Viognier 2007 (Washington) $22.99 - New vintage and this is a BLOCKBUSTER! This is a big, bold and beautiful wine! The only thing bigger than this winemaker’s ego are the flavors and aromas in his wines! Beautiful aromas of minerals, peaches, pears, flowers and apples. Rich and velvety in the mouth. Excellent acidity and minerality in the flavors. Huge, long finish of pears and minerals. Fermented with native yeasts. Aged on lees. Aged in neutral oak barrels (this is not at all oaky - neutral barrels have been used so many times they are no longer "oaky"). Food pairing - This will absolutely be smokin’ with roasted chicken or pork tenderloin with root vegetables. Great with salmon. Awesome shellfish wine! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points
Rosé:

A to Z Wineworks Sangiovese Rosé (Oregon) $14.99 - We loved the 2006 vintage and we love the 2007 even more! New vintage! Who would have thunk – a rosé from Tuscany’s greatest grape grown in Oregon! Wonderful aromas of ripe strawberries, raspberries, peaches and herbs. Beautiful reddish-pink color. Lush and round texture with a crisp, clean finish. finish. Flavors of strawberries, watermelon, herbs and spice. Long, bright finish. 100% Sangiovese – the Chianti grape! Food pairing - Great on its own. Try it with lobster, grilled chicken & pork, chicken salad, smoked salmon, grilled shrimp, sushi, gazpacho and more!

Reds:

Murphy's Law Red Wine 2005 (Washington) $13.99 - Brand-new to Maine! Delicious “old style” Claret from Washington State! Aromas of black and red currants, mint and dark berries! Flavors of wild berries. This also packs that Washington State zippy acidity. Nice length on the finish. Blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon (Rosa Mystica Block, Yakima Valley’s Elderding Vineyard, Alderdale), 12% Merlot (Elderding Vineyard, Alderdale), 3% Petit Verdot (Elderding Vineyard, Alderdale) and 10% Syrah (Slide Mountain Vineyard, Yakima Valley. Hand-harvested. 2,900 cases made. Food pairing – drinks well with our without food. Steak, pizza, lamb, stews, chili….you make the call!

A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) $19.99 - Wonderful Pinot! Clear and vibrant with a beautiful dark color. Aromas of mixed berries, earth, smoke, violets, Asian spices and minerals. Flavors that mirror the aromas with a lush texture and good acidity. Long finish that shows this wine’s beautifully balance between richness and power, the wine possesses amazing depth and purity. Food pairing - Great on its own. Try it with lobster, grilled chicken & pork, chicken salad, smoked salmon, grilled shrimp, sushi, gazpacho and more! Wine & Spirits, 90 points; Wine Spectator, 88 points

Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Noir 2005 (CA) $19.99 - We called the 2004, “THE BEST Pinot Noir under $20 we’ve ever tasted!” The 2005 was a different blend (single vineyard; much earthier). The 2006 is back to the same blend as the 2004. This still earns a “WOO-HOO, 4 STAR!” Aromas of perfectly ripe strawberries & raspberries and dark chocolate. Subtle red & dark berry flavors, along with note of dark chocolate. “Woodiness” that resembles a rosemary bush. Spicy notes on the mid-palate. Crisp acidity. Silky, soft & smooth in the mouth. Long, lingering finish. Blend of grapes from 7 different vineyards in the Rogue River Valley - Maple Ranch, Gerber, Three Creeks, Stonefield, Deer Creek, Villa Novia and Windridge. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. Aged in new and old oak barrels. 100% Pinot Noir. Food pairing – Drinks well on its own! Pair with grilled or roasted meats and veggies! Excellent with salmon!!

K Vintners Milbrandt Syrah 2006 (WA) $34.99 - This is a WOW wine! This is an elegant Syrah & a POWERHOUSE! Big, huge flavors & aromas, yet smooth & soft. Aromas and flavors of smoke, dark berries, black olives, roasted meats, white pepper, stony minerals, flowers and rich dark earth. Well-integrated tannins. Decant this – just pour it into a pitcher or large measuring cup and pour it back into the bottle…if you don’t…you’ll wish, while you’re drinking that last glass, that you had! Food pairing - Big meals - steak, portabella mushrooms, lamb, etc. This wine will make you sing! WOW!

Dessert:

Foris Rogue Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Port 2006 (Oregon) $12.99 - We really love this dessert wine! Aromas of sweet currants and raisins. Flavors of currants, raisins, brown sugar, black cherries….nice acidity on the long, lingering finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the famed Del Rio Vineyard in eastern part of the Rogue Valley AVA. Barrel aged in neutral oak barrels for 19 months. This is a “ruby” port that will age well. Food pairing – chocolate desserts, drinks well on its own