Pair of Spokane Boutique Wineries Focus on Red Wines

June 2nd, 2015

During a trip to Spokane in April I had the opportunity to visit a couple of smaller, “boutique” wineries; boutique being defined as those with annual production of around 1,000 cases or less.

nullFirst up is Nodland Cellars, where winemaker Tim Nodland (pictured at left) has taken a checkered career path from 1980’s big-haired rocker (with the photos to prove it) to still-practicing attorney, to jazz musician, to winemaker.

His tasting room is currently a bit off the beaten path in an industrial park in the city of Spokane Valley. But plans are in the works to keep that space as a production facility and move the tasting room to downtown Spokane by the fall of 2015.

Nodland impressed me with his ability to offer extremely reasonably priced wines while sourcing his fruit from some of the state’s finest vineyards including Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, Gamache, and Kiona. His current releases are all drinking nicely and deserve a “must-try” recommendation.

The Bebop Dry Riesling (about $16) is the winery’s only white, and it shines with vibrant green apple and citrus flavors that conclude in a crisp, dry finish.

Two red Bordeaux blends are completely off the charts: the overachieving, underpriced 2012 Bad Attitude (about $15), with white pepper aromatics, red currant and cherry flavors and a twist of pepper and vanilla on the finish; and the 2008 Private Blend (about $28), an explosion of black currant, lardo, and smoky bacon aromas and flavors.

Other notable reds: the 2011 Avant Garde (about $28), a 100% carménère with dark fruits, black pepper accents, and a big mouthfeel that demands a steak entrée; and the 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (about $38) with elegant black plum flavors, finely integrated tannins and hints of toast and black olive on the finish.

nullFurther east of Spokane you’ll find Liberty Lake Wine Cellars, where husband and wife proprietors Doug and Shelly Smith admittedly let their hobby for making red wines get out of control to become a full-fledged winery that opened in 2008.

Located in a residential area south of I-90, their tasting room offers spectacular views of Mount Spokane and Liberty Lake and also provides a kitchen, seating area and outdoor deck that beckons visitors to lingering over a glass of wine.

My favorite current release is the 2008 Legacy (about $20), a gorgeous blend of merlot, cabernet franc and syrah from Red Mountain that displays big, round blackberry fruit and a touch of sweet cedar on the finish.

Also notable is the 2009 Syrah (about $25) with spicy persimmon aromas, dark fruit flavors, good tannic structure, and a dusting of cocoa powder; and a lighter-in-body 2011 Tempranillo (about $25), with strong earthy notes and strawberry and raspberry flavors that conclude in a bright, vibrant finish.

CorkSharing Makes Planning Your Wine Tasting Trip a Breeze

May 31st, 2015

One of the best ways to learn about wines and fully enjoy the winemaking experience from barrel room to tasting room is to plan a trip to the wineries.

Knowing where to start is often easier said than done, especially when you consider there are so many wineries to choose from.

Enter CorkSharing, a reservation platform-style app designed to assist both novice and well-seasoned wine drinkers by allowing them to set up appointments for tours and tastings and pay for any applicable tasting room fees in advance.

CorkSharing is the brainchild of California-based CEO Bryan Petro. Petro says the goal of CorkSharing is simple. “We’re trying to attract people who are serious (about wine tasting)” and help them make it “a seamless experience.”

nullBy downloading the free app on your smart phone, you’ll have access to a service that provides you with location-based wineries for staters, and then filters them based on your preference such as group size, price range, or even the type of wine you enjoy most.

This is a great tool to have not only for people who are traveling together and want to plan their tasting route in advance, but also for those “on the go” who may feel the need to check out tasting availability at a nearby winery at a moment’s notice.

“It’s a great app to have for mobile and desktop users,” notes Petro, and also for those who want to just “dive into the world of wine.”

Based on the feedback he’s received, the process has been great for both users and tasting room personnel alike. “It helps wineries with staffing needs (for groups)” and allows them to better plan for visitors. And that helps contribute to an enjoyable experience for everyone.

The app only takes a few seconds to download on a smart phone and the booking process is concise and easy to follow.

Sign-up and access to the service is also available on line at www.corksharing.com

Bellingham Herald Articles

May 30th, 2015

nullPosts on this web site under the category “Bellingham Herald Articles” were originally printed in the Bellingham Herald…the source for Whatcom County, Washington news.

For the latest updates in local, regional and national news, visit their web site at www.bellinghamherald.com

Looking for Good Spring & Summertime Wines? Here Are Several to Try

May 26th, 2015

Are you having enough white wines and rosés this spring? If not, you should be, because this is the perfect time of the year to enjoy them.

Served well-chilled, these wines are exceptional springtime adult beverages. A little cheese, a sliced baguette, perhaps some fresh fruit and a glass of white wine or rosé is a terrific combination to start off an evening or a nice way to reward yourself for completing that weekend chore list.

Although most whites – especially those that are sweeter or high in acidity – taste better with several hours in the fridge, be careful not to overdo it with full-bodied white wines such as chardonnay or viognier, where too much chilling can mask those wine’s flavors.

Here are some recommendations of white wines and rosés worth checking out this spring:

Stemmari Non-Vintage Baci Vivaci (about $14) – This sparkling white from Italy serves as a perfect starter wine with mild cheeses. Made in a lightly carbonated frizzante style, it features a fragrant bouquet of white flowers, gentle stone fruit flavors. and a soft finish.

Clos du Bois 2013 Chardonnay (about $14) – This easy-to-drink, easy-to-find California chardonnay is lighter in body than most, with understated flavors of apple and lemon chiffon and a touch of spiced, buttery oak on the finish. Serve slightly chilled and enjoy.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (about $14) – Fragrant aromas of citrus and blood orange lead off with this pale red-orange rosè from South Africa. On the palate, an edgy burst of ruby grapefruit predominates before melting into a bone-dry finish. It should serve as a nice accompaniment to a variety of shellfish and seafood.

nullPalencia Winery La Monarcha 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé (about $15) – Victor Palencia serves up yet another knockout selection from Washington’s Ancient Lakes Appellation. Its striking pink hue is matched by the wine’s sassy strawberry and watermelon flavors, while a laser-sharp finish with steely minerality completes the package.

Palencia Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc (about $18) – Juicy Fuji apple, white peach, and Seckel pear flavors fill the glass with underlying layers of key lime, melon and green herb accents. Vibrant acidity peaks at the finale for a crisp, clean finishing note.

San Juan Vineyards 2014 Madeleine Angevine (about $18) and 2014 Siegerrebe (about $22) – Winemaker Chris Primus dazzles wine enthusiasts again with this pair of delightful wine whites that should be on your must-try list.

The Madeleine Angevine displays lovely floral aromatics, green pear and melon flavors, a flourish of spice, and bracing acidity that make it perfect for springtime sipping.

And Primus’s Siegerrebe is completely over-the-top with generous casaba melon and apricot flavors framed with hints of nutmeg and allspice. There’s also a good splash of acidity to complement the gentle ambrosia-like sweetness on the finish. Exceptional!

Barbequing? Don’t Forget the Red Wines!

May 19th, 2015

The Memorial Day holiday is coming up this weekend…really. For many, it’s the unofficial start of barbequing season, although, if you’re like me, you’ve probably jumped the gun and been cooking outdoors on the grill for weeks.

No matter what your time frame, having a good selection of red wines on hand to pair with your barbequed and grilled foods is a must.

Red wines make good pairing partners because many of them complement the smoky, charred quality that meats and vegetables pick up after they’ve been on the grill. Malbec, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, syrah, and petite syrah are all good examples of red wines for you to consider and even mid-range varietals such as tempranillo, grenache, cabernet franc and sangiovese can go well with grilled foods.

My only note of caution is to go easy on any accompanying sauces and spices in your cooking. These might drown out the flavors of your wine if used to excess.

nullHere are a few suggestions of red wines I’ve enjoyed as of late that are worth a try:

From Chile’s Colchagua Valley, the Montes Alpha Dry Farmed 2012 Carmenère and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $18 to $24 each) were produced from grapes grown utilizing a farming method with virtually no irrigation.

This decreases water usage by up to 65% and results in smaller grapes with more of a dense, concentrated flavor profile.

The Montes Carmenère is outstanding, with a whiff of white pepper to begin, ultra-dark blueberry and black currant flavors, and a spritz of pepper and dried herbs on an elegant finish. The Montes Cabernet displays more red plum and cherry fruits and a bit more grippy tannins. Both should pair nicely with steak, lamb or pork.

The Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2011 (about $25) is a cabernet sauvignon-based red with merlot, cabernet franc, and sangiovese blended in. Bright fruits of red currant, pie cherry, and field berries lead off, with a slightly spicy finish and firm tannins. Try it with grilled vegetables basted in butter, roast chicken or pork tenderloin.

From Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills Appellation, the Double Canyon 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $25) is a must-try red. Big blackberry and dark cherry flavors fill the glass, with a dusting of baking spice for starters. As the wine progresses, brighter red fruits come through on the finish with a trailing note of licorice root and black pepper. Excellent!

Sourced from Yakima Valley grapes, the Palencia Wine Company 2012 Casa Amarilla GSM (about $36) is a 60/30/10 combination of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre. The grenache really shines through with its vibrant red cherry flavors; then there’s just the right balance of tannic structure and a bit of spicy smokiness on the finish. Perfect with barbeque pork or beef brisket.

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