This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Special Father's and Special Wines


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and U 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Father’s Day podcast, Special Father’s and Special Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/17/wine-guy-mike-for-june-17/

Recent Podcast with John Balletto of Balletto Vineyards & Winery http://bit.ly/WineGuyMike2

Recent Podcast with Justin Wylie and Va Piano Vineyards; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/04/22/wine-guy-mike-for-april-22/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Today is Father’s Day and I thought it would be a great opportunity to pay homage to some of the men who are or were father’s, whom I have really respected and loved, and have made such an impression that they have impacted my life.  

President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day in 1966.  It was six years later, in 1972, when President Nixon made the day a permanent national holiday by signing it into law.

I thought it would be fun to share a little of my life with you, of course let us not forget this show is all about wine.  I put a great deal of thought into these men who have been important to me and thought about what wines that I have enjoyed recently that reminded me of these special men on Father’s Day.

First I’ll talk about my dad, his name is Frederick.  My dad grew up in a very poor family in Upstate New York, which is also where I grew up.  My Dad’s life growing up was not easy, he is a survivor who has had to scrap for everything in life, but my dad was a dreamer.  My dad went after his dreams and fought as hard as he could to live and achieve all that he could dream.  For my Dad I raise my glass and toast him with a great Syrah from Walla Walla in Washington State from Reynvann Vineyards.  For this toast I chose their Syrah “The Contender”, they make three great Syrah’s but this one that I think is one of the finest varietal examples seemed appropriate for my Dad.

My Father-in-law, Paul Wright who was one of the toughest men I have known, and not due to his physical strength.  He was tough enough to be a great man. Paul a recipient of the Purple Heart from the Korean War was hospitalized for nearly one year having been shot in the war, but he survived.  Paul was a Nuclear Engineer, the father of five children, foster father to over 2,000 children who needed emergency short term(Ha Ha) care.  These kids were raised alongside his own children wearing the same clothing, taking the same music lessons, and playing the same sports.  My Father-in-law just lost a long and hard fought battle to Pancreatic Cancer, he seemed to even beat that though, he lived nearly two years after diagnosis.  I raise a glass of Pinot Noir from Balletto Vineyards and Winery in the Russian River Valley.  This is a great Pinot Noir that expresses true and real terroir at the hands of winemaker Anthony Beckman, that is what my father-in-law was true, real, and an example of something to model oneself after.

My Grandfather on my mother’s side, Alfred Gates, was a survivor of World War II.  He spent his time in the war on destroyer escorts, the support team for the big battleships.  His boat survived the war and all the unbelievable storms at sea.  This man taught me self respect, how to treat others, how to be a leader of a family.  Al was loved by everyone who ever met him, and he enjoyed everyone he met.  He is a person I miss a lot and think about from time to time even though he has been gone for over thirty years.  I’m grateful for this man who always had a twinkle in his eye, for him I toast him with no other than a great sparkling wine, Gruet Brut Rose.

Last but not least by any means, my Grandfather Tornatore from Sicily.  My Grandfather came to this country with nothing through Ellis Island in New York.  He eventually settled in a tiny place in Upstate New York named Mexico, New York.  This man was a bull of a man, as wide as he was short, he was a pheasant who worked in a steel foundry and raised everything on his land to feed his family.  I am forever grateful to this man for instilling my love and passion of wine, my grandfather also loved wine.  As powerful a man as he was, his hand for the vine was gentle.  He was a master of grafting fruit trees and grapevines, I followed him and learned a love of the land, a love of the vine, and he instilled his amazing passion for the wine to me.  For this I’m eternally grateful, to him I raise a glass of Boroli Quattro Fratelli

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

These wonderful Father’s Day wine selections are available today at Liquid Planet, in the heart of Downtown Missoula, Missoula’s ultimate wine shopping experience and the very best of beverage.

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Biodynamic Grape Farming


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; Biodynamic grape farming; http://www.trail1033.com/Podcasts/Podcast-Wine-Guy-Mike-for-April-29-441372

Last week’s podcast with Justin Wylie and Va Piano Vineyards; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/04/22/wine-guy-mike-for-april-22/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Green farming is a part of the “Green” movement we hear about every day.  The word “Green” is the politically correct buzzword that is attached it seems to every advertising and marketing campaign initiative in the world today.

When green farming is utilized in the viticulture and winemaking process there are real consumer benefits.  It is important as wine consumers to understand a little bit about all of this.

There are three levels of green farming; Certified Sustainable, Certified Organic, and Certified Biodynamic.  My focus of this article is Biodynamic Farming but first let’s understand all three green farming methods.

Certified Sustainable – This farming method employs farming techniques that are environmentally sound.  Biodiversity, soil revitalization and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) are all techniques that are a part of this farming method.  This viticulture program results in the cultivation of grapes with better varietal character of flavors and aromas.  For the consumer this means more distinct wine products.

Certified Organic – This method of farming combines the Certified Sustainable practices with the organic grape growing techniques. Organic Farming permits no use of synthetic chemicals and uses natural methods of farming such as crop rotation, tillage and natural composting to maintain and promote healthy soil.  Natural techniques to control weeds, insects and other pest management are implemented.  Grape growers who utilize these farming methods can see the results in their vineyards and are inspired to continue their natural progression of green farming.

Certified Biodynamic – This method of farming developed as a result of instincts shared by philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924.  Biodynamic farming is the culmination of sustainable and organic farming methods and the incorporation of these harmonious philosophy developed by Steiner that he referred to as “Anthrophosophy” which in this case views a vineyard as a single organism.  Biodynamic farming incorporates biodiversity, independent nutrient system, homeopathic preparations, and a true spiritual connection with the land.  This farming method utilizes sheep to control weeds, cattle for manure and compost, chickens for pest control, and the instinct and intuitive trust of the viticulturist working with the land and vineyards in a harmonious way.

Biodynamic farming has the capability to combine with terroir, or sense of place, to produce individual grapes of distinct varietal character with robust flavor and aroma.  This is true value for the consumer, wines that are naturally healthy with enhanced flavors and aromas.

Biodynamic farming is an overall concept that is simple in theory, more difficult to implement.  Let’s use an analogy of the human race and Biodynamic farming to better understand this concept.  Every person is a unique individual who grows and develops and comes to a better understanding of who they are throughout the process.  Through this process of evolution, growth, and understanding we become better at accepting who we are as a person.  There is an understanding that allows an individual to work with their unique characteristics.  A person in concept becomes whole and healthy spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

Each wine region, area, vineyard, and vineyard block is unique unto itself in all respects.  Biodynamic farming respects and understands this and approaches it as such.

There are some very interesting aspects of Biodynamic farming such as planting on the new moon and bottling wine on the waning moon and generally recognizing seasonal changes and effects.  Horns from cattle are collected and stuffed with manure and buried.  They are dug up in spring and the manure has been transformed into a rich hummus that is combined with water as a rich tincture treatment for the soil.  This promotes healthy soil and root systems.  Over summer months cow’s horns are packed with quartz and silica crystals and then buried.  They are then dug up in the fall and combined with water making a tincture that is used on the grape leaves aiding in photosynthesis and naturally enhancing the flavor of the grapes.

Plants are also used in the Biodynamic farming process; Fermented Yarrow is used to help breakdown compost, fermented Chamomile aides the composting process and also nourishes the soil and stabilizes the nitrogen within the soil, Stinging Nettle, Oak Bark, Dandelion, and Valerion aid composting and enrich the nutrients in soil, Horsetail Plant is made into tea and sprayed on vines to prevent fungal disease. 

Conventional agricultural thinking views itself as a commodity while Biodynamic farming is focused on developing individuality.  The concept of Biodynamic farming is a perfect fit for the grape farming sector of agriculture.  The Biodynamic farming method has taken hold in the wine world as it is truly one area of agriculture that desires premium quality.  Throughout history there are special places in the world that produce wine of distinct character just as there are unique individuals who can discern these characteristics while blind tasting wines.  Few agricultural sectors in the world can match the ability of a unique vineyard for complete harmony of land, people, animals, plants, and environment.  This is Biodynamic farming and as farmers embrace ecology, sustainability, and energy this concept of farming will become prevalent.

You can listen to the show live on the Trail 103.3FM or U 104.5FM.  These shows are podcast for your convenience and available on my blog at; www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Justin Wylie of Va Piano Vineyards


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast with Justin Wylie and Va Piano Vineyards; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/04/22/wine-guy-mike-for-april-22/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Walla Walla in Washington State is located in one of the world’s premier grape growing and wine producing areas of the world; this is also home to Justin Wylie owner and winemaker of Va Piano Vineyards.

Walla Walla is one of 11 different AVA’s within the great Columbia Valley AVA which was established in 1984.  This area was first settled by Italian immigrants in the 1850’s but in 1984 became an officially recognized AVA.

The farming community of Walla Walla has been transformed from an agriculture area that produced some of the best onions and wheat in the world to a special place that will be recognized as one of the significant wine producing areas of the world. 

There are now over 125 wineries in the Walla Walla area.  One of those wineries is Va Piano Vineyards.  This week on the WineGuyMike show owner and winemaker Justin Wylie took timeout to join me for a conversation and a tasting of the Va Piano wines.

Justin Wylie graduated from Gonzaga University but it was during his senior year in 1995 that he had a life changing experience.  The fourth generation Walla Wallan and spent the year in Florence, Italy studying humanities under the tutelage of Italian native, Bruno Segatta.

The plan for Wylie was to return to Walla Walla and join the family’s stone monument business, but something happened along the way.  As many have he fell in love with the culture and lifestyle of Italy, he was inspired to do something different.  Italians understand that great wines are made in the vineyard and the winemaker is the caretaker of the grapes once they have been harvested.  This became Wylie’s passion.

Father Bruno Segatta not only was a teacher he became a mentor for Wylie and inspired him to believe in himself and his dreams.  Chi va piano va sano y va lontano is a bit of wisdom that Segatta shared with Wylie: He who goes slowly goes safely and goes far.  This was imprinted within the heart of Wylie.

La Famiglia is the soul of Italy and was also very important to Wylie who is married with three children.  Wylie’s wife Liz is business partner and critical to the operations at Va Piano.  La Famiglia is everything at the vineyard, when you visit you are a part of the Va Piano family.  The wonderful theme of community transcends all of the Walla Walla wine collaborative with an attitude of; “One for all, and all for one”.

When you visit the Va Piano Vineyards property you have a sense of Old World charm as Liz and Justin have worked very hard to create an atmosphere of Italy.  Together they have built an Italian style home and winery with heart and soul, this is a winery you don’t want to miss when you visit Walla Walla.

Wylie spent five years in his garage making test lots, and a cult following formed around the Vino del Garage wines.  In order to hone his skills as a viticulturist and winemaker he traveled back and forth to UC Davis taking countless classes in the renowned department of viticulture and enology.

 His philosophy as a winemaker is rooted in the word balance: balance in the vineyard, balance in the wines, and balance in our lives. His goal is to showcase the wines with a sense of place and respect for the fruit, and always remember to be a grower first and winemaker second. 

Father Bruno still has a significant place in the Wylie families lives.  Segatta who is not only a humanitarian and scholar is also a gifted artist who is quite well known.  Va Piano’s tasting room is filled with his original oil paintings depicting iconic Florence architecture and Tuscan landscapes.  Justin and Liz created Bruno’s Blend, a multi-vintage red blend and white blend in his honor. A different original Bruno painting is used to create the label each vintage, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to a charity of Bruno’s choice.

With over 125 wineries in Walla Walla and a little less than 2000 acres devoted to vineyards, the predominant varietals grown are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Syrah.  Sangiovese also grows very well in Walla Walla which is one reason why the Italians chose to settle this area.  There are a multitude of other red and white varietals being grown and developed in the area too.

The soil in this region is the result of layers of alluvial soil from the Lake Missoula floods and volcanic eruptions.  The Missoula Floods were a series of perhaps 35-40 geologic cataclysms that swept across Eastern Washington and down the Columbia Gorge at the end of the last ice age around 12,000 and 15,000 years ago.  These massive floods were a result of ruptures in the glacial ice dam that created Montana’s Glacial Lake Missoula.  The flood level reached 1200 feet at its greatest depth which resulted in layers of soil and deposits from volcanic eruptions.  This left behind a layer of bedrock that facilitates an incredible terrior that imparts itself into the grapes grown in this unique hamlet of the wine world.

Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano; He who goes slowly, goes safely and goes far. This old Italian saying sums up Va Piano Vineyards approach to winemaking, and to life.  Wylie’s winemaking philosophy; grow the best grapes we can and don’t screw it up in the cellar. Va Piano wines display intense flavors, fine tannin structure and intense aromas.

Va Piano’s 20-acre estate property, located in the Southeast corner of the Walla Walla Valley, has been producing grapes since 1999.  Seventy percent of our grape production is used by our winery and the balance is sold to premium Walla Walla Valley wineries such as L’Ecole #41, Saviah Cellars and Dunham Cellars.

In December of 2005, Va Piano celebrated their grand opening by releasing their first vintages, a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2003 Syrah which have been given outstanding reviews.

Wylie also sources grapes from a number of other vineyards in the region so that every Va Piano wine has the flavor profile he strives for in each of his wines.  Justin and I tasted three of his Va Piano Vineyards wines; the 2009 Brunos Blend, The 2008 Syrah, and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.

As Old World tradition would have it all three of the Va Piano wines will be an exceptional complement to a correctly paired meal.  Bruno’s Blend is very forgiving and will pair with a wide array on meals as this was the lightest bodied of the three wines I tasted with Wylie.  The Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah were both varietally correct and very enjoyable to taste.  All three wines have very good balance of fruit and acidity, very nice structure.  Wylie has really struck a nice balance between the Old World and New World with these wines, I look forward to watching him grow as a winemaker.  He has talent and potential as a winemaker, two things that I love.

The Tasting Flight

2009 Brunos Blend

Nose – fruit, earth, smoke

Palate – easy, silky tannin, fruit to acid is great

Finish – nice finish to complement food and not get in the way of it

2008 Syrah

Nose – red fruits, raspberry and boysenberry, clean minerality

Palate – nice fruit and acidity, gaminess, and spice

Finish – lingering spice and fruit, delicious

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Nose – black cherry, underlying berry, chocolate, spice

Palate – just right tannin, restrained fruit, very slight sweet vanilla

Finish – long, smooth, luscious

The Va Piano Vineyards wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

You can listen to the show live on the Trail 103.3FM or U 104.5FM.  These shows are podcast for your convenience and available on my blog at; www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

A New Wine Season on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/10/09/wine-guy-mike-for-october-9th/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Welcome to the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this Sunday morning.  Fall is in the air, colors of trees are changing and beautiful.  Soccer and football fields are filled with kids, coaches, and parents.  The air is becoming brisk, the sun is lower in the sky yet still warm enough in the afternoon that you have to shed your jacket.

It occurs to me that with each new season the types of food we eat, the way we prepare food, our style of food, how we drink wine, and the type and style of wine that we drink bring about a palate of change.

Cooking has moved indoors, cooking on the stove top and using our ovens again rather than cooking everything imaginable on the grill.  Warm summer days, congregating on the deck with family and friends, grilling, enjoying a cold beer or a nice glass of chilled wine are quickly winding down.

We begin thinking about food dishes that are transitional, it’s not time for winter comfort foods just yet, but it is time for a great pot of chili or soup.  Just as our desire for food changes so does our palate for wines. 

Since the beginning of time Old World Winemakers have made wines that are seasonal and specific.  In the Old World wines are made specifically to complement indigenous foods.  Old World winemakers will also make wines that are seasonally appropriate, even if they may not be known for their summer wines.  Even in Tuscany when its 90 degrees outside you need something chilled to drink.

As our desire for different styles of food is changing with the season so are our wine palates.  It is interesting how wine choices mirror the foods we are seasonally preparing.  There is a shift from lighter fare to dishes that have a bit more substance.  Wines that we now consider will also change as a result.  While it may not be time for comfort food yet it is time for comfortable soups, chili, and light stews.  So now it’s time for wines that have more body and texture.

Life is about a journey and evolution and so goes the world of wine.  How boring would it be if nothing ever changed?  Grape farming has become very specific,  not that it hasn’t been in the past.  Science and terrior have become a powerful driving force.  Grape farmers around the world now look to science and have a much deeper understanding of terroir.  This conformation of the farmers’ sixth sense and intuition produces beautiful grapes for the winemaker.  Grape farmers from around the world are not just growing fruit in general area that they know fruit grows well, it is much more specific than that.  Farmers know and understand their land and winemakers that turn the grapes into wine will be the very first to tell you the land and terrior that produce great wine.  Great winemakers comment that it’s ninety percent of the equation.

Grapes are now being planted and harvested from specific blocks of land within vineyards for winemakers to make special wines with.  Typically these are higher end wines that can be expensive.  It is important to understand where a bottle of wine comes from and why.  Farmers consider geography, soil, weather, and the grape varietal when planting vines.  The farming trend now considers this in a  grape type; is the varietal a valley grape, a hillside grape, or a hilltop grape?  This all makes a difference in the vinification or winemaking process of great wines.

Farmers and winemakers consider what grapes grow best where?  Are they a cool weather varietal that grows best in a zone 1 weather region that is the coolest growing area.  Or does a particular varietal grow best in a warm to hot zone like a region 4 or 5.  There certainly are cross over areas where grapes can thrive, but the grape farming trend now much more exact.  Grapes that are a cool weather varietal or type provide the very best fruit when grown in zone specific areas. 

Different grape varietals require what is known in the world of wine as hang time.  This means how long a grape needs to be on a vine from flowering, to actual fruit on the vine, maturation, and veraison or onset of ripening right up until the perfect moment of harvest. 

What does this mean for the wine drinker?  Why is that important in this season of change and transition? Grapes grown in various climatic zones produce wines that are very different.  Let’s take Pinot Noir as an example; a Pinot Noir that is grown in a cool weather climate like Oregon, or Burgundy will have medium body, no heavy tannin, it will show a little less depth in color, this is a wine of elegance and finesse.

A Pinot Noir made from grapes in a warmer weather zone will produce a wine that is higher in alcohol, more tannin, and more color extraction from the grape.  Wine knowledge empowers you as a consumer.   It is important to know what a wine should be so that when you approach a shelf you can make the right choice that it is of value for you.

Here are a few examples of great wines to complement your dishes in the season of change.  I hope you will enjoy these selections.

E Guigal Cotes du Rhone Red

This is a beautiful wine that is inexpensive. This blend from the well known Guigal family is 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvèdre.  The grapes are grown in  pebbles and alluvia soil matter, sediment, limestone, granite.  This provides great drainage for the grape vines.

The grapes for this wine spend a great deal of time with the skins are fermented in a cool temperature controlled environment.  Aged 1 ½ years in oak but this wine presents with only a minimal oak influence. Visually this wine is dark red with great depth, and a beautiful shimmer. On the nose this wine has an aroma of red berries, fresh fruit, and just a hint of spice.  The palate is ample, not to full, really a great example of an affordable Cotes du Rhone.  This wine is balanced and very well made.  Nice tannin and spice that is enticing with a long rich finish.  This wine is very aromatic in a very pleasing way.

The Guigal Cotes du Rhone Red will pair nicely with cold cuts, cheese, wild game birds, pheasant and quail in particular.

Balletto 2009 Russian River Pinot Noir

This dark, garnet colored Pinot Noir exhibits floral aromas of rose petals, spicy ginger, dusty earth, and a hint of vanilla. This stellar example of a cool weather varietal fruit from the Russian River Valley delivers aromas of raspberry and cassis which are the heart of this wine.  On the palate this wine is medium textured with fine tannin, beautiful balance between fruit and acidity with an alluring spice that may be more interesting than any other wine.  This finish is long and complex; you just need another sip because you don’t want this wine to end.  This wine may age up to five years and will only improve with age, but who can wait this wine is delicious.

The Balletto 2009 Russian River Pinot Noir will pair well with beef stock based soups, a great pot of chili, beef stews, beef bourguignon, beef stroganoff, or a nice Cornish game hen with wild rice.

2007 Reininger Syrah from Walla Walla Valley

This 100% Syrah is aged in old French Oak barrels that impart very minimal oak nuances into this delicious wine.  Ripe blueberries, lavender, and subtle orange zest is your first impression of aroma with this gem from Walla Walla.  Take a second turn with your nose in the glass, smoke and earth now adorn your sense of smell.

Take a sip, on the palate this wine has nice berry and pomegranate with a subtle smokiness that is full and lush.  Not so big that you can eat this wine though, it is very well made with a refined balance and structure.  The acidity in this wine is well suited to pair with a juicy steak or a nice cut of wild game adorned with a fruit based reduction sauce.  This wine drinks great now or can be aged 2-3 years.

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

“Wine Fusion” with Reynvaan Family Vineyards from Walla Walla on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/08/28/wine-guy-mike-for-august-28-2011/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I’m pleased to introduce you to Reynvaan Family Vineyards and Mike Reynvaan. 

The Reynvaan Family

The Reynvaan Family

You’ll notice in the title of this piece I refer to “Wine Fusion”, and for a good reason that I will be sharing with you.  This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© my special guest was Mike Reynvaan founder of Reynvaan Family Vineyards.  This winery and vineyards are a small family agricultural business whose mission is to produce quality fine wines and boy have they done that and then some.  In wrapping my head around just what the Reynvaan family has achieved in their quest to produce great wines I just kept thinking about what they have, how they got there, and what does that mean for all of us wine lovers.  And so the story begins with a very engaging conversation with Mike Reynvaan; Podcast http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/08/28/wine-guy-mike-for-august-28-2011/

The Reynvaan philosophy and path to making world class wine is really through great terrior and viticulture.  The greater Columbia Valley has eleven AVA’s that all produce great wines but the one we are focusing on today is the Walla Walla Valley AVA.  This area is one of the most unique terrior’s in today’s New World of wine. 

The Walla Walla Valley AVA was established in 1984 and grape growing began in the 1850s by Italian immigrants. There are over 100 wineries in this region that have planted vines on over 1,600 acres.  The predominant varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Syrah.  Sangiovese also grows very well in Walla Walla which is one reason why the Italians chose this area.  Other varietals  are also becoming more common in the region; Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, and Viognier.

The soil in this region is the result of layers of alluvial soil from the Lake Missoula floods and volcanic eruptions.  The Missoula Floods were a series of perhaps 35-40 geologic cataclysms that swept across Eastern Washington and down the Columbia Gorge at the end of the last ice age around 12,000 and 15,000 years ago.  These massive floods were a result of ruptures in the glacial ice dam that created Montana’s Glacial Lake Missoula.  The flood level reached 1200 feet at its greatest depth which resulted in layers of soil and deposits from volcanic eruptions.  This left behind a layer of bedrock that facilitates an incredible growing ground for the Reynvaan Family Vineyards grapes.

The Reynvaan Family Vineyards are located near the base of the Blue Mountains which adds one more dynamic layer to the terrior table, Basalt bedrock and boulders. There is a layer of soil known as “Freewater cobbly loam” that sits atop a stratum of 10,000 feet depth of bedrock.  This is one of the largest deposits on earth outside the floor of the world’s oceans.

What does this all have to do with wine?  Once you begin to study wine you realize that the best wines in the world are grown in and on what appear to be the worst of vineyard conditions.  In reality these tough conditions force the grapes to work hard to survive and that is exactly what happens.  The growing grounds around this Blue Mountain area in Walla Walla allow the vines roots to dig in deep seeking nutrients in soil that has great drainage.  This along with the generous sunshine and heat warm the rocky soil which aids in the grapes development.

It is important to understand the geology from this Walla Walla Valley AVA because this is the beginning of a great bottle of wine that expresses concentrated fruit with distinct minerality.  Mike Reynvaan understood this clearly when he purchased land to establish the Reynvaan Family Vineyards.  Viticulture also plays a significant part in producing a great wine.  The Reynvaan’s vineyards are planted in a very dense manner, if fact some of the most crowded conditions in all of Walla Walla.  This along with reducing fruit from the grape clusters forces the grape clusters to grow smaller berries that have tremendous fruit concentration.  This in the hands of a skilled winemaker all translate to great wine.  Welcome to Reynvann Family Vineyards wines, some of the best you will ever taste if you can get your hands on some.  Yes these wines are so good that they sell out every vintage.

It was so hard for me to get my hands on these highly coveted wines this week it reminded me of high school and the pretty girl you always admired from afar and never had a chance to date.  Lucky for WineGuyMike™ his sponsor Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana who supply the Reynvaan Wines made it happen for the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©.   

When I started this story I mentioned “Wine Fusion.”  This entire Reynvaan story immediately reminded me of the late great Miles Davis, the Godfather of Jazz Fusion.  Different elements coming together that result in amazing music or in this case Reynvaan Wines.  You may wonder about this analogy but stay with me for just a minute.  France and Walla Walla share similar latitudes, Walla Walla may be the new Châteuneuf-du-Pape of the United States, a terrior created by floods and volcanic eruptions, Old World and New World viticulture and winemaking.  Okay you probably get my point of “Wine Fusion,” how about that in your glass with a little Miles Davis. 

Mike Reynvann combined forces with one of the great cult winemakers from France who also settled in Walla Walla, enter Christophe Baron.  Christophe owns Cayuse Vineyards and also produces world class wines.  He has been consulting with Reynvaan Family Vineyards since 2004 when Mike purchased his vineyard land.  Now enter Mike’s son Matt Reynvaan who honed his winemaking skills in France to and now he and Christophe work as a team in producing wines for the Reynvaan label.  Matt was bestowed a very special honor this week by Wine & Spirits magazine.  He was named one of the 30 Under 30 top wine talents in the world, and I’m here to tell you that after drinking his wines, yes he is.  Congratulations Matt!

The Reynvaan Wines are made in a very French Northern Rhone wine like style.  There is a great deal of terrific Old World technique and style involved in crafting these fine artisanal wines.  The Old World countries just have a leg up on the New World because of time and experience in working with wines, especially when it comes to blending varietals.  European wines also tend to be lower in alcohol content and are a product of being made to complement the indigenous foods from the area in which the wines are produced.  In this case Matt Reynvaan has produced a horizontal flight of three Syrah wines that are some of the best in the world from the 2008 vintage.

These three wines are all blended and co-fermented with small amounts of white wine varietals; Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne.  This winemaking technique helps a wine to be a bit more restrained and less aggressive in your glass.  Syrah wines can be bold and spicy but when blended in this Northern Rhone style the wines become refined, elegant, supple, with silken like tannins which is exactly what Matt has accomplished with all three of these beauties from Walla Walla.

All three of these wines have scored 93-95 points in Wine Spectator reviews out of a possible 100 points.  Let’s get to these three wines; The Unnamed Syrah, In The Rocks, and the The Contender all from the 2008 vintage.  I share these wines in the order in which I tasted as Mike Reynvaan led me through the flight of Matt’s masterpieces.  You might wonder how three Syrah wines can all have such distinct personalities but they do. 

A common theme that each of these wines express are beautiful fruit, great on the nose, elegant structure, superb balance, silky tannin, perfect acidity, a finish that leaves you longing for more, and a mouthfeel that leaves a beautiful mid-palate impression.  These are red wines that are extremely approachable even in the summer.  The French style in which the wines are made lend themselves to a style that is a bit lighter in body, not too heavy and meaty like some of their counterparts that are a straight up Syrah varietal produced wine.  Not that that is a bad thing but perhaps a bit much in the middle of summer.  The other important thing to note is the style and balance of these three Syrah’s in which they are made make them perfect food companions.  I would recommend pairing these wines with Veal, Pork, and Lamb chops.  A great prime Sirloin steak, Leg of Lamb, or any Wild Game Meat will also do nicely with Matt Reynvaan’s wines.

The Unnamed Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $40

Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) The Unnamed Syrah is loaded with aromas of peach, tangerine, wild blackberry, smoke and hints of lavender and a trace of caramel.  This elegant wine is created to be enjoyed in its youth but will evolve over the next 7-8 years.  90% Syrah co-fermented with 10% Viognier.  13.8% alcohol.  Approximately 450 cases produced.  WS 95pts.

In The Rocks Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $45

Rating: ** (Exceptional) The In The Rocks is packed with dark fruit aromatics, smoked meats, crushed gravel, and white pepper.  It is very animalistic with hints of sweet creme brulee and will benefit from 5 years of cellaring if you are able to resist the temptation to drink it.  2% Syrah co-fermented with 6.5% Viognier and 1.5% Marsanne. 13.2% alcohol.  Approximately 450 cases produced.  WS 93 pts. 

The Contender Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $55

Rating: ** (Exceptional) The Contender has amazing aromatics that are bursting with Marshmallow, white flower, crushed rocks, wild mushrooms, Asian spices and crushed raspberry.  The minerality of this wine is so powerful with the balance of aromatics that will make it hard to take your nose away from the glass. The finish goes on and on.  94% Syrah co-fermented with 4% Marsanne and 2% Viognier.  Approximately 450 cases produced.  WS 95 pts.

Seattle Metropolitan Magazine just released their list of 100 Best Washington Wines, the 2008 The Contender was #2, 2008 The Unnamed Syrah #6, Cayuse, Cailloux #1, Quilceda Creek #3.

Stay tuned because this is just the beginning of what is happening in the New World of wine.  With great young winemakers like Matt Reynvann Oregon and Washington wines have only just gotten started, the potential is scary and I can’t wait to share those wine stories with you.  For now I wish that your glass may be full of wine from the Reynvaan Family Vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington.

A special thank you to the Mike, Gale, Matt, Amanda, and Angela Reynvaan for all that you do to produce some of the best wine there is, cheers to all of you.

This flight of wine all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval® as for Matt I dub him the “New World Grape Slayer.”

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

WineGuyMike™

Sherri Swingle and the Auction of Washington Wines Benefit Event on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

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Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© meet Sherri Swingle, Executive Director for Auction of Washington Wines.  This wonderful event is one of the most anticipated wine events of the year in Washington State.  The Auction of Washington Wines takes place August 18th through the 20th.

Sherri Swingle, Executive Director

Sherri Swingle, Executive Director

The auction is yet another example of good people doing great things with wine and I’m grateful that Sherri Swingle could join me as WineGuyMike™ featured guest this week.  As I know you can imagine she is extremely busy with all the last minute details in next ten days when the event begins.  Let me give you a little background on the event, its beneficiaries, and the Washington State Wine Country also.  The Auction of Washington Wines truly celebrates the Wines of Washington State to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington Wine Education Foundation.

Seattle Children's Hospital

Seattle Children's Hospital

It’s one of the most anticipated events of the year and this fun-filled event showcases Washington State’s growing wine industry with four days of sipping, tasting and partying with nearly 3,500 individual and business participants.  It all benefits Uncompensated Care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington Wine Education Foundation.  

Washington Wine Education Foundation

Washington Wine Education Foundation

Auction of Washington Wines

The Auction of Washington Wines is an annual event held in Washington State that benefits uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington Wine Education Foundation.  Originally created by a partnership between the Washington Wine Commission and the Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest, the Auction of Washington Wines is now structured as an independent entity.  Northwest Wine Benefit Foundation, the official name of the organization,  is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1988.

Since 1988, Chateau Ste. Michelle has hosted the auction, which has grown dramatically in attendance and dollars raised in each of its 23 years.  In 1988, slightly more than 100 people gathered at the Chateau for the first Auction of Washington Wines, raising more than $20,000.  Today, the event is comprised of five events over four days with a total attendance of approximately 3,000 people and a fundraising total of more than $24 million.

Washington States wine industry is the fastest growing agricultural segment in the state with the number of wineries seeing a 400% increase over the last decade.  Washington sees an extra two million dollars directly related to wine tourism in the state.

Washington State is blessed with great terrior for grape varietals that an experienced viticulturist recognizes as perfect for the grape type.  The states latitude is very similar to that of a couple of other great wine growing regions you may recognize, Burgundy and Bordeaux in France.  These famous regions in France sit at approximately 46ºN latitude as do the 11 AVA’s (American Viticultural Areas) of Washington State.

Grapes were first grown in Washington State in the early 1800’s by immigrants from Italy, France, and Germany.  Italian and German grape varietals were planted and vineyard acreage saw rapid expansion in the early part of the 20th century.  Over time and given understanding of all the particular grape growing areas within the state wines are being produced  that now Washington State must be recognized as one of the premier wine growing regions of the world.

Most of Washington’s grapes are grown on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, about 99% in fact.  Ten of the states eleven AVA’s are located on the east side of the mountains in the Columbia Valley.  The Columbia Gorge AVA runs west and south from the west edge of the Columbia Valley AVA following the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon.  The Columbia Gorge AVA can perhaps produce more grape varietals that any other region in the world due varying micro-climates along the Columbia River.  The other well known sub-regions of the Columbia Valley AVA include, Walla Walla Valley AVA, Red Mountain AVA, Yakima Valley AVA, Rattlesnake Hills, Horse Heaven Hills, Snipes Mountain, and one of my favorite wine growing areas the Wahluke Slope.

There are a couple of up and coming areas in Washington State too; Lake Chelan AVA which is located in the north-central part of the state that also borders the Columbia River, near Wenatchee which produces amazing fruit.  It is one of my favorite areas to travel through.  As you graze your way through the area from fruit stand to fruit stand the area’s natural beauty features steep slopes with all types of fruit trees and the majestic Columbia River.  Both of these areas have applied for distinct AVA status so they can be recognized separately from the Columbia Valley AVA.

Now let’s get to the important part of this story, the individual happenings within this wonderful benefit event known as the Auction of Washington Wines.  I’ll set these up in the order in which they all happen for you. 

Events

Revelry on Red Moutain-Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 6:00pm

The Red Mountain AVA was established in 2001 on the eastern edge of the Yakima Valley.  There are 1,199 acres of grapes planted in this region on steep slopes that face Southwest toward the Yakima River.  There are 20 or so wineries in this area and their focus are on the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Petit Verdot varietals. 

Revelry on Red Moutain was held at the Col Solare Winery and 300 guests were WOW’d with area winemakers on the terrace of Col Solare for panoramic views of Red Mountain.  Revelry on Red Mountain was a tremendous success, raising over $24,500 for uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington Wine Education Foundation, which supports industry programs such as viticulture and enology at Washington State University.

The beautiful evening at Col Solare set the stage for attendees to experience some new wines while making new friends and mingling with our 20 fabulous Red Mountain wineries.

The Who’s Who from Revelry on Red Moutain …Andrew Will (made by our 2011 Honorary Vintner, Chris Camarda), J. Bookwalter Winery (a winery started by our 2011 Honorary Grower, Jerry Bookwalter), Col Solare, Cooper Wine Company, Corvus, DeLille, Fidelitas, Gamache, Goedhart, Grand Reve, Hedges (pioneers on Red Mountain), Hightower Cellars, Kiona, Mark Ryan, Obelisco, Portrait, Quilceda Creek, Seven Hills, Tapteil and Terra Blanca.

Picnic & Barrel Auction-Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 4:00pm

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Woodinville

The Picnic & Barrel Auction will feature a myriad of activities on the grounds of the beautiful Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.  Participants will rub elbows with Washington winemakers as they mingle among the crowd to pour tastings of their newest and oldest releases. Guests will enjoy bidding on some of Washington’s most coveted limited-release wines during the exciting Barrel Auction while enjoying gourmet picnic fare presented by the talented team of chefs from Tulalip Resort Casino.

The Barrel Auction

Twenty-five of our state’s finest vintners will be offering samples of their still-aging wine from a future barrel for you to taste and to buy.  When you find a wine you like and are ready to bid, simply write your bid number and name on one of our wooden placards and give it to our volunteers.  It will then be placed on the bid board for that winery.  Each winery will offer five cases and at the end of the auction, the top five bidders will win one case each.

WOW! John L. Scott Foundation will be challenging bidders to bid high during the Barrel Auction.  For every barrel that gets bid to its fair market value, John L. Scott Foundation will donate $1,000!

Winemaker Dinners Friday, August 19, 2011 at 6:30pm

These intimate dinners held at private estates, wineries and area restaurants are a favorite part of this weekend.  Enjoy the company of Washington winemakers whose wines are paired exquisitely with a gourmet meal created by a guest chef.

Andrew Will and Boudreaux Cellars with Chef Lauri Carter, Lecosho

Hosted at the home of Jen and Len Jordan

Magnolia Point of View

Chris Camarda, our 2011 Honorary Vintner of Andrew Will Winery, along with fellow vintner Rob Newsom of Boudreaux Cellars invite you for an unforgettable evening under the stars among old friends.  The setting is the gorgeous home of Jen and Len Jordan overlooking the Puget Sound on the western edge of Magnolia.  Enjoy the sunset while Chef Lauri Carter and owners Jill Buchanan and Matt Janke of Lecosho orchestrate dishes to complement the wines of their old friend, Camarda.  It is an evening to celebrate fine wines and notable winemakers.

Throwdown in Gig Harbor

Hosted at Canterwood Golf & Country Club in Gig Harbor

You’re invited to experience the best show in the South Sound!  The Canterwood Golf & Country Club and Brix 25 in Gig Harbor, come together for an evening you won’t forget!   This dinner brings together two of the South Sounds finest Executive Chefs, Dino Cruz from Canterwood GCC and Thad Lyman from award winning, Brix 25 for a Throwdown.  To add to the excitement, we’ve challenged four of Washington’s winemakers – Randall Hopkins of Corvus Cellars, Heather Neff of Nefarious Cellars, Ned Morris of Reasons Wine and Gordy Venneri of Walla Walla Vintners – to an extravagant five course food and wine Throwdown. At the end of the dinner, you’ll vote on your favorite.  The south sound won’t be the same after this history-making evening of battling Chef’s and winemakers!

Covey Run Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 8:00am

Redhook Ale Brewery, Woodinville

Be WOW’d at your ability to run, walk or crawl through a 5K or 10K course in the beautiful Woodinville wine country. Great fun for the whole family.

Presented by The Run for Children’s Guild, the 5th Annual Covey Run will take place with more than 1,400 runners and walkers. 

To participate as a sponsor, or for more information contact Aileen Kelly at aileen.kelly@seattlechildrens.org or call 206-987-4816.

The Wine Gala Saturday, August 20, 2011 at 4:30pm

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Woodinville

Be WOW’d at the industry’s original and most celebrated wine party of the summer under the stars on the lawn at Chateau Ste. Michelle.

The 24th annual Wine Gala will be held on the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle.  Guests will enjoy a six course meal prepared by some of the area’s best chefs. Each table will be hosted by a Washington state winemaker, who will pair and pour wines from their collection.  Entertainment will include our celebrity auctioneer, Dave Reynolds, as he auctions 30 one-of-a-kind opportunities to experience Washington wine as no others have before.

We are proud to partner with Blue Nile as our first ever Diamond Sponsor. Blue Nile will be featured at the Wine Gala where guests will have the opportunity to take home beautiful jewelry gifts and one lucky lady will walk away at the end of the evening loaded with diamonds!  Wow!

Rich Gray will entertain the crowd with his original compositions during the live auction, and later Ruby Nevada will showcase their hits in the oak aging room.

Seating at the Wine Gala is limited.  Tickets are $500 per person.  Corporate and Friendship tables are available.  Please contact us for more information.

Formerly a black-tie event, this year will be cocktail attire, no jacket required.

The Beneficiaries of the Auction of Washington Wines

Seattle Children’s Hospital

Benefiting Uncompensated Care at Seattle Children’s Hospital

Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho).

Uncompensated care ensures that all children in our region receive the best medical care available, regardless of insurance coverage.  With the current recession, more families are losing medical insurance and premiums are rising. These unexpected expenses can be quite devistating.  When a hospital bill exceeds a family’s ability to pay, Seattle Children’s financial assistance program provides relief.  Thanks to you the Seattle Children’s Hospital can bring healing to children and peace of mind to families during difficult times.

In 2010, Seattle Children’s provided a record $102 million to service nearly 100,000 patients in uncompensated care alone.

It’s a misconception that they treat children from the metropolitan Seattle area only—they are a regional hospital serving Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.  

Recognized as one of the best in the world and consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s is recognized internationally for advancing discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention and bioethics.

Seattle Children’s comprises Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation.  Children’s also serves as the primary clinical, research and teaching site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

For more information visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org.

Washington Wine Education Foundation

Washington State’s wine industry has become an important part of the state economy, contributing more than $3 billion annually and providing nearly 15,000 direct and indirect jobs and wages of $579 million.  With more than 650 wineries and more than 31,000 acres in wine grape production, Washington is the second largest wine producer in the nation.

The Washington Wine Education Foundation aims to strengthen the quality and reputation of the Washington wine industry by providing support toward a world class enology and viticulture research, education and training program specific to Washington state.

A portion of funds raised during the Auction of Washington Wines goes toward the WSU Viticulture and Enology Program to support the growth of the industry by providing cutting-edge research and by training the next generation of vintners and grape growers

I will be featuring wineries and wines from the participating wine producers contributing to this important event.  Each day between now and the 18th of August I will share a wine story with you and for today’s blog post I share with you Reynvaan Family Vineyards.

Reynvaan Family Vineyards

Reynvaan Family Vineyards

Reynvaan Family Vineyards is a small family owned winery started by Mike and Gale Reynvaan in May 2004 in Walla Walla, Washington.  They initially purchased a 37 acre parcel of land on Cottonwood Road at the base of the Blue Mountains.  Reynvaan Family Vineyards is dedicated to creating fine wines exclusively from the terroir of Walla Walla Valley. 

They have two vineyards planted that represent each end of the terroir spectrum.  Their first vineyard has 16 acres under vine that they call “In the Rocks,” to demonstrate where and how they were planted.  It was first planted in 2005 with the goal to create wines that would clearly express that vineyard’s unique terroir and minerality.  They began planting small 5 acre blocks each year to better understand the terrior and choose the best vines for particular locations.  Their first vintage, 2007, comes from that first 5 acres of vines, creating three wines: a Rhone white varietal blend, “Queens Road White”, a Syrah co-fermented with Viognier called “In the Rocks”; and a second Syrah co-fermented with Marsanne called “The Contender.”  The vineyard now includes two red varietals: Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon; plus three white varietals: Viognier, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc.

Their second vineyard, “Foothills in the Sun,” was planted in 2007.   This hillside vineyard is one of the most densely planted and highest elevation sites in the State of Washington.  With vineyard density, the vines seek out water and nutrients, become stronger and produce clusters of small berries with intense concentration.  A southwest facing hillside vineyard at this elevation has several advantages: maximum exposure to the sun; substantial temperature variation between day and night; and beneficial wind patterns.  The vineyard currently is planted in two red varietals: Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon; and one white: Viognier.  Working with the highest quality Walla Walla grapes grown meticulously in our own vineyards allows the family to control virtually every aspect of farming and wine production and ultimately to respect the natural expression of the soils of the vineyards.

The winemaking philosophy is quite simple at Reynvaan Family Vineyards, harvest perfectly ripe clusters that reflect their distinct terroir, guide the wines through a natural upbringing and bottle them only when we feel the true characteristics of the wine have been revealed.

MV SUBPLOT No 25

MV SUBPLOT No 25

MV SUBPLOT No 25 from BookWalter Winery

The Story; Lush red and vibrant white wines from the Columbia Valley.

Located in the Heart of the Columbia Valley, Bookwalter Winery has been producing small lots of high quality wine since 1983.

The Subplot number represents how many non-vintage table wines Bookwalter have produced since 1983.

Each lot of wine selected for Subplot is carefully chosen each year after they have made their final blends for their top tier wines.  They attempt to create a flavorful, full-bodied yet approachable wine by layering vintages, vineyards and varietals in their Subplot wines.  Press wine from their oldest vineyards are aged longer in the cellar to help soften the tannins and create more mature flavors and wine from their younger vines and more recent vintages are added to the blend to bring the lush, young fruit characteristics forward in the wine.  The result is a wine that offers, fruit, structure, approachability and exceptional value.  Although these wines are meant to be consumed in their youth, the wines have showed graceful aging potential.

Gramercy Cellars

Just as it takes great ingredients to make an exceptional meal, a great wine begins with the best grapes.  Gramercy Founder and Master Sommelier Greg Harrington spent his career overseeing some of the most prestigious wine programs in the country.  His goal was always the same – to find balanced wines with limited new oak influence that taste of a specific place.  This ambition continues at Gramercy Cellars.

 They believe that great wines share common traits – great vineyards, minimalist winemaking, time and patience.  Gramercy’s philosophy is simple – to develop or partner with the best vineyards, harvest ripe – not over-ripe – grapes, intervene minimally in the winemaking process, and use as little new oak as possible.  They believe that too many wines have excessive alcohol and new oak, are overly fruity and taste as if they could be from anywhere.   They created Gramercy Cellars to make different wines that display balance, both fruit and earthiness, restraint and elegance.  Their wines may require time to develop and open, but reward patience.  This is their passion.  At Gramercy Cellars, they seek to produce wines that complement food, provide great pleasure and stand out as uniquely in Washington.

 Prior to founding Gramercy Cellars, Master Sommelier Greg Harrington spent his career managing wine programs for top chefs such as Joyce Goldstein, Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck.  Since becoming the youngest American to pass the Master Sommelier Exam at the age of 26, Greg has been passionate about someday making his own wine.  His Washington odyssey began in the spring of 2004, at a backyard picnic in Brooklyn, hosted by the Walla Walla Wine Alliance. There, Greg and his wife, Pam, tasted wines that surprised them.  They were very different from what they had come to expect from American wines.   These were wines that displayed earthy characteristics and balance.   A marathon tasting trip in Walla Walla later that spring (and Pam’s discovery of the term “palate fatigue”) convinced them that Walla Walla was in their future.  First, this meant “when they retire.”  That quickly became “5 years from now.”  Meanwhile, Greg worked harvest in 2004 in Walla Walla and was more convinced than ever that Walla Walla was the place in the United States to make the wines he loves.   Soon thereafter, Pam gave him the green light to leave his restaurant industry job to seize the opportunity to finally follow his dreams full time, resulting in Gramercy’s first harvest in 2005.

Gramercy is at one with their terrior, they make unbelievable wine.

2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay

2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay

2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay

Washington State wine country has warm sunny summers and cold frosty winters.  One time-honored practice to protect grape vines from damaging cold is to bury low-growing vine canes.  These buried canes can be unearthed after winter freezes pass, assuring a grape harvest in the following season.

Cool climate vineyards produce wines with plenty of natural acidity and balance.  This Chardonnay has crisp apple and melon fruit flavors, a touch of citrus, and balanced oak-spice and butter notes.

The 2009 Buried Cane Chardonnay is 100% varietal and is blended from two distinctive vineyards.  It’s 95% Arete Vineyard from the Columbia Valley AVA and 5% Champoux Vineyard, from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

The Arete Vineyard, planted in 1985, straddles Radar Hill near Othello, Washington.  It’s a very cool site. This area is noted for producing wines which are delicate and fruity in nature; Chardonnay excels here.  The Champoux Vineyard was planted in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Paul Champoux began managing the vineyard in 1989 and has consistently worked to improve quality in his 170 acre site.  The vineyard has 16 acres of Chardonnay, along with numerous other varieties.

The finished wine is light yellow in color, with a lime-green tinge. The nose shows distinct Chardonnay character, but with plenty of cool-climate focus. Green apple and macadamia nut aromas dominate the nose, with creamy citrus backnotes.  They all combine to make an almost apple-pie aroma.  The wine is bright and zingy on the palate, with green-apple flavors and crisp acidity.  It finishes clean and refreshing, with supple texture.

Arbor Crest owners The Mielke Family: Harry, Marcia, Elisa, John, and Kristina

Arbor Crest owners The Mielke Family: Harry, Marcia, Elisa, John, and Kristina

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars

In 1982, the Mielke family started on a venture that would eventually grow into the Inland Northwest’s premier winery.

Taking advantage of the budding Washington wine industry, they purchased a winery in California and moved the operations to the family’s old cherry-packing facility near the Upriver Dam in central Spokane.  Soon after, their very first wine, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Bacchus Vineyard, was sold from this location in March of 1982 officially starting Arbor Crest Wine Cellars, the 29th winery in Washington State.

Two years later, in 1984, the Mielkes acquired the historic Spokane Valley estate of Royal Riblet to serve as the idyllic new headquarters of the winery.  The company’s management offices moved into Riblet’s inventor’s workshop and for many years the quaint old garage of the estate’s Florentine-style mansion served as Arbor Crest’s unique tasting room.

Located atop a 450 ft. cliff with exquisite views of the city, The Cliff House Estate, as it is now known, has since become a destination for exceptional wines and memorable public events.

In 1999, the family business came full-circle as Kristina Mielke-van Löben Sels, the daughter of the Mielkes, came from her position as associate winemaker at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards in Sonoma County, California, to take over as the head winemaker for Arbor Crest.

Kristina and her husband, Jim van Löben Sels, who has a strong background in agricultural economics and viticulture, are now celebrating over a decade of elegant, award-winning varietals. While continuing to refine and hone their craft, they hope to produce even more exciting wines from the best Washington State fruit sourced from some of the oldest and most respected vines in the state.

Since their arrival, several things have changed at Arbor Crest. The tasting room moved from the garage to a beautiful new facility built on the estate in 2003, and a second tasting room was opened in Downtown Spokane’s River Park Square Mall.  Furthermore, both the level of production and selection of varietals has expanded, and Arbor Crest wines can now be found on store shelves around the world.

Despite continued growth, Arbor Crest’s family values, wonderful wines, and beautiful surroundings have remained unchanged since the winery’s founding nearly 30 years ago.  The entire Arbor Crest family looks forward to many more years of providing quality, award-winning wines.

Hedges Family Estate

Anne-Marie Liégeois was born in Champagne, France, in a small village near the beautiful medieval town of Troyes.  Her upbringing was very much routed in traditional French culture where work and French formalities took priority over idealism.  Within the confines of a “maison bourgeoise” surrounded by organically cultivated gardens and edible game, three generations of family lived and worked side by side for the greater good of name and property.  The Dupont-Liégeois family business prospered, the rewards of which were the enjoyment of traditional French life focused around the dinner table.  Interesting animated discussions, traditional home cooked meals, and wonderful local wines were the norm.  What Anne-Marie was accustomed to, Tom would desire.

Tom was born in Richland, Washington State, a government conceived engineering town for the nuclear sciences.  He is the product of a traditional American home of strong work ethics steered by the Department of Energy’s demands on his apple and dairy-farm-raised father.  A firm hand, the pursuit of sports, and the focus of fast eating were typical life patterns for the young American.  The eastern Washington State surroundings of shrub and sand—his terroir—carved a lifestyle of Americana most would find uninspiring at best. However, rigid European customs did not bind him down, as they did for Anne-Marie.  The American sixties allowed Tom to rebel, to free his mind, to act on impulse with minimal consequence, something Anne-Marie must have desired during her year at a Parisian finishing school for women.

 The history of Hedges Family Estate begins in June of 1976, with the marriage of Tom Hedges and Anne-Marie Liégeois in a 12th century church in Champagne, France.  The convergence of separate cultural upbringings provides a strong backdrop for creating a modern day, but traditionally inspired wine estate.

Ten years after their wedding, an opportunity to become entrepreneurs seemed like a positive move to economic independence, contrasting from the previous decade of working for large multinational agricultural firms.  In 1986, this unique opportunity presented itself; Tom and Anne-Marie created an export company called American Wine Trade, Inc., based out of Kirkland, Washington State; they began selling wine to foreign importers.  As the company grew, it began to source Washington wines for a larger clientele leading to the establishment of a negociant-inspired wine called Hedges Cellars.  This 1987 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot was sold to the Swedish Wine and Spirit Monopoly, Vin & Sprit Centralen, the company’s first major client.

Tom and Anne-Marie quickly learned that the success of this ancient trade would be based on the site of its vineyards.  This concept resonates strongly in Europe, but to less effect in the new world wine regions, where land is less important than brands. Three hours south east of Seattle an opportunity presented itself in a developing wine region called Red Mountain.  Tom and Anne-Marie, as new owners, felt its potential for greatness.  At this location, American Wine Trade transformed itself from negociant and wine trader to the classic model of a wine estate.  Today, this biodynimacally-farmed Red Mountain property continues to be the fundament of the Hedges family.

Authentic wine estates must live on for centuries to achieve acceptance amongst the world great properties.  The second generation has begun to make its mark at Hedges Family Estate.  Tom and Anne-Marie’s children, Christophe and Sarah, are now involved in the business, and each has a special set of skills for understanding the terroir.

Sarah prefers the fermentation arts, skillfully touching and understanding the world of the microbial spectrum.  As the assistant winemaker under master fermentation artist, Pete Hedges (younger sibling of Tom), she carefully observes the forging of a great wine vintage after vintage.  Pete, a man of the cloth of science, is open to nature’s will.  He must work in tandem with the disparate concept of terroir and chemistry.  Indeed, it is a dance of patience and of mind, which works to allow the terroir a path to geographic typicity.

The eldest of the two, Christophe, spends much of his time sharing knowledge of the terroir and the estate during his travels as national director of sales and marketing.  To ground his teachings, he farms his own property using the concept of modern Biodynamic arts, carefully observed under the eyes of John Gomez, Hedges Family Estate vineyard manager.  An artist at heart, the Hedges labels are the product of his love for design.

Tom, Anne-Marie, Christophe, Sarah, and the entire Hedges company believe place of origin is the keystone of authenticity.  Our goal is to treat our wines with reverence and let the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself.

It was a privilege this week to visit with Executive Director, Sherri Swingle, for Auction of Washington Wines.  I whole heartedly endorse this event and would encourage you to participate in this worthwhile opportunity by making your donation.   Use this link to contact Sherri and make your donation; info@auctionofwashingtonwines.org or to find out more about this event, http://www.auctionofwashingtonwines.org/

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

On the Road Again to Walla Walla in the Columbia Valley of Washington State. Destination; the Reininger Winery on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


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Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I’m talking with Justin Vajgert who is National Brand Sales Manager for the Reininger and Helix wine labels.  Today I’m going to share with you the land, the wine, and the man who makes these wines.  First I want to give you a little background on my guest who joins me this week on WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©.  Justin’s background is a similar journey of most guests I have the pleasure of talking with on the show. Justin grew up just outside of Chicago and relocated to the Walla Walla area in 2005 to attend the Institute for Viticulture and Enology.  He worked harvest in 2005 for the Waterbrook Winery and then joined forces with the Reininger Winery in November of 2005.  Justin worked at Reininger all through school doing everything from cellar work, to pouring wine in the tasting room, to painting bathrooms.  During Justin’s tenure his roles have evolved and he moved into a sales role beginning with local sales and then after school moved into his current national sales position.  He’s been doing that ever since.  Distribution for Reininger/Helix  has grown to 17 states.  Justin eventually wants to make wine though, it’s his passion.

It's all business at Reininger Winery, just kiddin'. Fun and great Wine.

It's all business at Reininger Winery, just kiddin'. Fun and great Wine.

 The backbone of the winery side of this business is not the glam we consumers experience when we do a road trip to visit the wine country.  We walk into the beautiful tasting room and are greeted by nice smiling people eager to tell you about the wine that they are pouring today. 

Reininger Winery tasting room

Reininger Winery tasting room

Our wonderful experience though is just a result of very hard and painstaking work, let’s not forget at the heart of growing grapes is the farming business.   Our good fortune to enjoy great wine is quite literally the fruit of a team of hardworking people’s labor.  Today I’m very pleased to be bringing you the story of the Reininger Winery in Walla Walla, Washington.

The Reininger Winery, located in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley, Chuck Reininger who is Head Winemaker, specializes in crafting elegant and finely structured red wines from hand-harvested, ultra premium grapes.  Enough said I want to taste this wine right now.  First let’s take a look at the Walla Walla A.V.A located in the Columbia Valley of Washington State.  The Columbia Valley is just a short trip from Western Montana. 

Glacial Lake Missoula was a prehistoric pro-glacial lake in western Montana that existed periodically at the end of the last ice age.  When things warmed up a bit Lake Missoula flooded and took all of its wonderful alluvial soil matter with it to Washington, and in particular to the Walla Walla A.V.A.  The Walla Walla area soils are composed of layers of soil blessed with the alluvial soil material and layers of volcanic ash, from eruptions throughout history, and rock that have created amazing soil to grow grapes in.  The days are warm to hot and the night air is cool, perfect for growing world class grapes that make fabulous wines.  This is what is known as terrior, terrior, terrior at its finest.

The Walla Walla A.V.A. was established in 1984 but a group on Italian immigrants began farming this land in the 1850’s.  There are presently about 130-140 wineries in this valley, not all are open to the public.  This area has become a hotbed of great wineries, which begets great restaurants, and now many very nice bed and breakfast accommodations.  Wine does amazing things for great grape growing areas, this story reminds me of the movie “Field of Dreams”, “Build it and They Will Come”.  Guess what the wineries have built and the wines lovers, they have come.  If you haven’t tasted any wines from the Walla Walla area you must and you will quickly understand why this area is so special.

Prior to making high-quality wines in the Walla Walla Valley, Chuck Reininger could be found high atop mountains as a senior climbing guide for a Tacoma based company.  Before moving to Walla Walla, Chuck helped long-time friends with crush at Waterbrook winery.  He began experimenting with home winemaking in 1993 and officially caught the “wine bug.”  His weekend hobby quickly turned into a dream to produce super-premium wines of his own: “I became obsessed with starting my own winery,” he admits.  In 1997, Chuck and Tracy Reininger launched their dream – owning a premiere winery in the Walla Walla Valley.

From 1997 through 2004, Reininger Winery was located in a small but functional facility located at the historic Walla Walla Regional Airport.  The “shack-teau,” as Chuck and his wife Tracy fondly nicknamed it, was originally designated as a WWII Army Air Corp runway “crash house” and “base theater” where old time crooners and classic films entertained troops.

In 2003, Reininger Winery purchased seven acres of land, located six miles west of Walla Walla, adjacent to Highway 12, and began renovating two pre-existing potato sheds into a remodeled 15,000 square foot winery, complete with production facility, administrative offices, and a spacious new tasting room.  The result is a modern production facility incorporating rustic design elements that a special place to enjoy events and entertainment.

Chuck Reininger is not only a great winemaker and he is also a very smart business man.  In December 2004, Reininger Winery announced the debut of a new label – “Helix.”  Helix sources fruit from the larger Columbia Valley, allowing for increased production and expanded distribution, while Reininger wines maintain limited production, focusing on fruit from the Walla Walla Valley.  Ultimately, the family believes that “Helix allows them to expand their reach to a new group of wine enthusiasts.”

The wines that I tasted virtually with Justin were the 2006 Reininger Merlot from the Walla Walla Valley, the Helix 2007 Pomotia, and the 2007 Helix Syrah.  The Helix wines have a distinctive new label, featuring an image of a snail.  Helix, the genus name for the Burgundian snail, is the creme de la creme of “escargot.” 

All three of these wines have scored highly with top wine magazines and there team that review them.  Here’s what’s important though these wines are extremely well made and are great to drink.  The Helix wines are very approachable and affordable for every day and weekend wine gatherings for you and your friends.  These wines are simple and wonderful, you don’t have to over think these wines you just drink them and thoroughly enjoy them as I have.  Backyard barbeque with friends, that’s what I’m talking about.  These wines are a beautiful expression of fruit from the Columbia Valley, Chuck has done an outstanding job with this label across the board or in the case the flight.

Helix Pomotia

Helix Pomotia

The Helix 2007 Pomotia is a blend of 38% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 13% Cabernet Franc; Voluptuous dark ripe fruit of cherries and plums bathing in a tub of chocolate with French vanilla coffee beans and a eucalyptus leaf floating on top.  

Helix Syrah

Helix Syrah

The 2007 Helix Syrah is 100% Syrah; this fresh, juicy red is a carnival for your senses with a veritable menagerie of delicious flavors!  On the nose you will experience more berries than a midsummer farmers market, a hint of freshly spun cotton candy, orange peel and lavender. Enjoy perfectly ripe flavors of blackberry and white pepper accompanied by a thick round mouthfeel and a loooong dark chocolate finish.

Reininger Merlot

Reininger Merlot

Now let’s get serious with the 2006 Reininger Merlot from the Walla Walla Valley.  I’m going to be a bit crass here for a moment because I cannot help myself, Chuck this is freaking great juice dude.  Wow this wine is focused; dust, earth, smooth, fruit, smoke, spice, white pepper, structure, perfect balance, beautiful tannin, length, finish, and great acid that make me want to grill up a steak on the barbie right now to enjoy this wine masterpiece with.  Chuck do you think I like the 2006 Reininger Merlot?  When I emptied the bottle I picked it up when no one was looking and tried to get a few extra drops on to my lusting palate. 

All kidding aside this is a wonderful winery with an incredible winemaker, and a great tasting room to visit.  You don’t want to miss this winery and you certainly don’t want to miss out on anything Chuck Reininger puts into a bottle. 

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

These wines in this flight receive The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©