“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™

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Lambrusco yesterday and today 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/2011/08/21/wine-guy-mike-for-82111/

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.

Follow me to Lambrusco land

Follow me to Lambrusco land

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Simple, fun, fizzy, refreshing, inexpensive do I even need to say another thing?  Well not really but please indulge me because I just have to.  Today I bring you Lambrusco, say that three times, it just sounds cool.  Italy’s coolest red juice and I’m not talking about one of televisions most famous of tag lines “Riunite on Ice, That’s Nice” Yes that’s right your Grandma’s Lambrusco, Riunite, is still claiming to be the biggest selling Italian wine in history here in the United States. 

Speaking of your Grandmother I’m not kidding Riunite Lambrusco was launched in the late 1960’s and what now seem like cheesy commercials ran on TV in the 70’s.  Cheesy or not that famous tag line is one of the most memorable ever, at least for those of us old enough to remember.  But the truth is this brand enjoyed one of the most well executed marketing campaigns ever.  That was yesterday and today, well it’s today and Lambrusco has come of age and I’m here to share it with you. 

There is not anything to complicated or technical that we need to know in our approach to buying, chilling, and drinking Lambrusco.  In fact Lambrusco is rather simple and ultimately the secret to a great one is one that produces a great head of foam when you pour it, yes just like a great beer.  Selections will unfortunately be limited on your local shelves unless you live in an area that has a great wine shop.  If you live in the east you will have a better shot at a good selection wherever you have a concentration of die-hard Italians like me that secretly love Lambrusco.

More and more you will find a few Lambrusco lovers who are so incredibly passionate about this gem from the Emilia-Romagna region in the heart of Italy that you just have to give it a try.  This is what is what I’m suggesting for you to do.  This sparkling wine is beautiful in your champagne flute or your white wine glass, remember the rules on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© oh that’s right this is no rules wine fun, sharing, and learning with and from one another.  I recommend a flute as it is the type of glass that will allow your Lambrusco experience to be the best that it can be.

So here’s the 411 on Lambrusco as I know it; The Emilia-Romagna region is located between two of my favorite areas in Italy. 

Parma which is home to some of my favorite raw cow’s milk cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano, yet another wonder of the world I can not live without.  On the other side of Emilia is probably one of the most iconic areas of Italy, Modena. 

 Forgive me for being such a guy here but we are talking about the birth place of Ferrari.  Yes I dream of such things only because it doesn’t cost anything.  No I haven’t driven one, but I have touched one and I think that counts for something.  Perhaps it counts for good taste which I hope I share with you when it comes to wine and food. 

Italian winemakers produce a large range of Lambrusco wines when it comes to Lambrusco.  If you shop at a nice specialty shop and they take their wine program seriously it is somewhat safe to assume they have chosen a good selection of wines for you to purchase.  The best Lambrusco’s are going to be dry and made in a frizzante style.  There are three colors of fizzy Lambruscos: white (bianco), rose (rosato) and the classic red (rosso) that range from sweet to bone dry.  If you are familiar with another Italian favorite, Prosecco, Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.  Ask you wine steward of the store you shop in for the driest Lambrusco in a frizzante style that they offer for sale.

Lambrusco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Lambrusco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Unlike Champagne, Lambrusco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

What I love about Old World European wine is that they are a function of necessity.  The wines in each area are made to work with, match, or pair with the foods that are grown and raised there.  Lambrusco is no different and in the Emilia-Romagna region their food tends to be rich, salty and that is why Lambrusco works so well with these foods.  Lambrusco wine is lively and bright with fruit, balanced out with naturally high acidity which embraces the beautiful food dishes from this area.  Lambrusco like all Old World style wines are not overdone when it comes to percentage of alcohol.  This is great so you don’t go into a food and wine coma after indulging in the splendid luxuries of life.

The really terrific thing to note about Lambrusco is that you will be hard pressed to ever find one more expensive than $20.00 and most are just over $10.00.  Wow that works in this economy for my pocket-book.

Many bottles  will list the Lambrusco grape variety from which it has been produced.  I’m not going to bore you with the 13-17 different Lambrusco grape varietals because there are only a handful you need to know.  Here is the short list; The most commonly found clones are the Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Monstericco, Salamino and Sorbara.  The rabid Lambrusco lovers, they love the Sobara version but any of these are ones that you want.  If you want to dig in a little deeper here is a link from my friends in Italy and their site devoted to Lambrusco; http://www.lambruscoday.org/facts-or-fiction.html 

What  to expect from a good Lambrusco; fresh, fruity, dry, tannic, nice acid, beautiful fruity nose, frothy, nutty, grapy, jammy, fun, and refreshing.  All this and it’s inexpensive too, really what more could you want?  This is a great wine to try that I whole heartedly recommend with all of my love and passion.  “Mikey likes it”, remember Mikey on TV?  I do if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this in my life I’d be a wealthy man driving the Ferrari and drinking my dry frizzante Lambrusco on my way to get my fresh sliced hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano to have with my Lambrusco.  

Drei Dona Reggiano Lambrusco

Drei Dona Reggiano Lambrusco

This Lambrusco was fantastic with my dinner, and again it was so nice that the alcohol level was restrained. I still felt alert after eating which was so refreshing. Speaking of refreshing this sparkling gem from Italy was so nice to taste. The Rosenere immediately shows beautifully in the glass, a rich and lovely deep purple color with perfect frothy head. Remember this is what a good Lambrusco should have and even as this wine sits in between sips and you give it a swirl the nice frothy head returns immediately.
 
 The nose on this beauty is equally as pleasing with notes of grape, raspberry, strawberry, and a little cherry. On the palate this wine is so tasty with nicely balanced fruit, acid, and tannin. The Rosenere Lambrusco is like an extra-dry Prosecco which means it is semi-dry and is slightly sweet. The sweetness is appropriate and not annoying in any way.  It just feels right in your mouth, and it is.  The finish leaves you with a delightful lingering memory of refreshing fruit.
 
 This is a very nice Lambrusco that I can recommend for you and the nice part is that it retails for $11.00 at my favorite Italian deli/speciality shop in Missoula, Tagliare Delicatessen.
 
"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

Burgers and Beaujolais 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/2011/08/14/wine-guy-mike-for-814/

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 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 a flight of three Beaujolais wines that are exceptional.  These wines really define what the show is all about, value, budget, and wines that are just downright great to drink. 

I love to share wine with friends and recently I sat down with my neighbors Ken and Cathy, and my journalism intern Andy for a virtual Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais wine tasting hosted by my friends from W.J. Deutsch & Sons and WineTwits.com., and Chef Bob Waggoner of UCook with Chef Bob on PBS television.  Chef Bob was nice enough to share his burgers with us today.  Please check out Chef Bob’s website at www.Ucookwithchefbob.com

You might ask what is a virtual wine tasting.  Let me see if I can if I can succinctly share with you what a virtual wine tasting is, so here we go.  In this case my friend Steve Gilberg from New York who is founder of WineTwits.com Steve has built a sharing platform that allows him to broadcast streaming video via the internet.  Then through the use of Twitter Steve creates an event by using a Hashtag as it is know which is the # with no space afterword and then the use of the keyword.  For the Burger and Beaujolais event Steve chose the Hashtag; #GDandBurgers.  Now what you have is live streaming comments via Twitter and live streaming video via WineTwits.com and voile you now have a virtual wine tasting event seen around the world in real time.  W.J. Deutsch & Sons provided the wines for this particular event, they have a outstanding portfolio of wines that they distribute so that you and I as a consumer have the opportunity to purchase outstanding wine at fair prices, or in this case the wines I’m sharing with you today are wines that offer extreme value.  You just won’t believe the prices of these wines and how great they are, my neighbors Ken and Cathy were just blown away by these wines.  Ken and Cathy are very knowledgeable wine consumers who drink primarily west coast produced wines.  They were very surprised with the wines we had at our #GDandBurgers virtual wine tasting.

Let me share some background about Burgundy, France which is where the Beaujolais wines are grown and produced.  Beaujolais is a province within Burgundy but produces wine distinct enough that it is considered its own area within Burgundy.  It is controlled by French wine law known as AOC.  When you purchase a bottle of these wonderful wines you will see this designation on the bottles label.  This French  wine law, Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, gives the governing body the control to dictate these various issues; how many grapes can be grown in a designated area or a particular vineyard, how the grapes are harvested, how they are handled once they are harvested, most definitely the type of grapes grown in an area or region, how the wines are made, and how the wines are aged.  Now AOC laws throughout French wine country vary widely from one another based on what the French understand based on centuries of experience, and they do it well.

This week I’m writing about Beaujolais and its AOC wines.  Beaujolais is produced from 100% Gamay grapes grown in Burgundy region of France.  The Gamay Noir grape is a cousin to the Pinot Noir grape.  These are the only two red grape varietals allowed to be grown in Burgundy under the French AOC wine laws.  Although Burgundy may be better known for its Pinot Noir the Beaujolais wines make up about two thirds of the wine produced in Burgundy.  The wine style is light, fruity, very mellow tannin, and perfect acidity which is what makes it perfect as a food wine.  Beaujolais is produced in a style that it is meant to be consumed right away, unless we talk about the Cru versions of Beaujolais.  Beaujolais is a perfect summer wine because it should be served lightly chilled which makes it a  great to drink and serve in the spring and summer time.  There are three quality levels to understand when we learn about these wines; Beaujolais, Beaujolais – Villages which is a blend of wine from a 35 of the better wine producing villages in Beaujolais, and then there is the Cru Beaujolais.   The Cru Beaujolais wines are named for the villages that produce the finest wine of all the villages in Beaujolais.   There are ten Crus or villages, in Beaujolais and make no mistake these wines are very special. 

The price of these wines vary with the quality designations that we now understand, remember these are all extremely affordable wines with exceptional value.  The wines I’m sharing with you today are all $20.00.   In fact the Beaujolais-Villages is priced under $10.00, one of the two Beaujolais Cru wines are under $15.00, with the last one coming under $20.00.  You just can’t beat these wines.

Speaking of wine let’s get to the wines I’m sharing with you today, and please let me know what you think of todays wines after you have tasted them.   I’ll be pairing each one of these wines with the burger recipes Chef Bob was so kind to share with you and I.

The producer of these incredible wines, Georges Duboeuf,  has stated that the 2009 vintage from Beaujolais was the vintage of a lifetime and after tasting these wines with my Cru (crew), Ken, Cathy, and Andy I’m inclined to agree with the wine producer. 

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009

Today I taste the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009.  The Beaujolais-Villages takes its name from a number of wine-producing villages located in the area of Beaujolais which have long been identified for the superior quality of their wine.  In this instance “superior” refers to greater complexity in bouquet, higher concentration and deeper flavor.  Its distinctive character sets a kind of middle ground for Beaujolais with its unique, casual charm and the prestigious top ten Cru Beaujolais wines to the north.

Visually the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009 appears rich, self assured and well made.  The wine is a deep ruby color with nice streaks of purple running through its veins.  It appears to be nicely viscous and upon a few good swirls in the glass it proves to be nicely structured.  Just as Rod Stewart suggested, Hot Legs, well in this case great legs in my glass that is.  You can really tell a great deal about the structure of a wine by paying attention to some of these details.  I know this wine is very well made wine by observing it.

I want to get my nose in this glass, and I recommend using a Pinot Noir glass for this wine so that this wine has every opportunity to express its Sunday best for you and I.  As every great French wine does this wine expresses a real sense of place or as we say in the wine kingdom terrior.  On the nose this wine delivers, raspberry jam, cherry, really nice earth and dust with just a hint of very nice mild smoke the follow up the rear.  These are all really beautiful fruit filled aromas.  As for the bouquet that this wine has developed in the bottle, I’m talking about the dust, earth, and smoke these are ever so mild and refined, they a true compliment to this wine as well as a real treat for me.  This wine expresses great terrior, it knows where it came from and knows where it belongs, in a glass in your hand of course. 

The Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009 is just so well made.  This wine has wonderful tannin, is lush and full of its beautiful berry self.  It is a wonderfully balanced wine that will be so food friendly due to its fruit and acid companionship.  It doesn’t stop there though this wine for me delivers a great little nuance of toast and butter too.  It’s like a great mildly toasted piece of bread with homemade raspberry and cherry jam; yes it’s a really great wine to complement the burger recipe that Chef Bob has provided.

RECIPE #1- ANGUS BURGER (For 2 people)

From Chef Bob Waggoner, host of PBS’ Ucook with Chef Bob

 INGREDIENTS:

· 2 regular sesame buns

· Angus ground beef – 160z

· Red heirloom tomato – 4 slices

· Vidalia onion – 4 slices

·Smoked bacon – 4 slices – diced finely

· Fresh rosemary -1 tablespoon

· Peeled shallots – 3 diced thinly

· Butter lettuce – half of a small head

· Salt

· Fresh ground white pepper to taste

· Aged white cheddar cheese – 2 oz diced

into small cubes

 DIRECTIONS:

In a small sauté pan cook the bacon until crisp.  Add the shallots and cook for 3 more minutes on low temperature.  Add the chopped rosemary and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove from pan and let sit at room temperature.

Form 4 thin patties of beef approximately 4 oz each.  Then place bacon, shallot and rosemary mix on top of 2 of the patties.  Add diced cheddar, salt and fresh ground pepper.  Cover with other patty.  Pinch the sides together to form one big burger.  Salt and pepper the top of the patty.  Preheat grill and grill burgers.  When the burgers are almost done, lightly grill the bun.  On the bottom bun place the burger, Vidalia onion rings, tomato rounds and lettuce.  If you like you may add mustard, mayo or ketchup.  Top with other bun.

The 2009  Brouilly, is produced in an area that is located in the southernmost of the ten Cru Beaujolais.  On the nose you know that this is the biggest, jammiest wine in this flight of Georges Duboeuf masterpieces.  This wine delivers a message like that from Paul Revere.  It is truly intriguing as it delivers both terrior and character, which is which, now we understand it, we think.  But Ken, Cathy, and I know we like it.  This wine is large and in charge, those of us who enjoy a big fleshy, fruit driven Cabernet or a Port wine will really love this wine.  The 2009 Brouilly has nice dark fruit, plum, and black cherry.  The palate displays silk like tannin, it’s chewy with a little tobacco, yet the texture of this confident wine is like that of  the very finest velvet.  This is a beautiful wine that those of us who enjoy a slightly fuller body to our wines will absolutely love, enjoy, and crave more.

Brouilly is the largest Cru in terms of volume, as well as the most extensive in surface area.  Its vines form a large wreath around the base of the impressive Mount Brouilly, stretching out over the six villages of Odenas, Ouincle, Cercle, Saint-Lager, Charentay and Saint-Etienne-Ia-Varenne.  Its name is thought to hail back to Brulius, a lieutenant in the Imperial Roman Legion.  It is tempting to picture this officer, placed under the command of Caesar, as having the same solid, jovial persona as the most flavorful of the Cru Beaujolais.  The wines of Brouilly, known and esteemed around the globe, are true ambassadors of quality French red wines, regardless of the vineyard area.

RECIPE #2 – GRILLED PORTABELLA (BURGER) (For 2 people)

From Chef Bob Waggoner, host of PBS’ Ucook with Chef Bob

 INGREDIENTS:

· 2 large portabella mushrooms – Stems removed and gills scraped

· Fresh thyme – 2 tsp

· Green onions – 4 each

· Yellow tomato – 4 slices

· Large eggplant – 4 round slices

· 2 Kaiser Rolls

· “Beaujolais Wine” – 4 tbsp

· Olive oil – 4 tbsp

· Salt

· Fresh ground white pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Gently drizzle the olive oil over the sliced tomatoes, eggplant and green onions. Salt and pepper all.  Gently grill and set aside -1 1/ 2 minutes on each side. Salt and pepper portabella mushroom.  With a small paring knife make checkerboard cuts going halfway into the mushroom.  Drizzle 2 tbsp each of “GDwine” onto each mushroom and let it seep in for 2 min.  Add a tiny bit of olive oil on the mushrooms and grill for 2 1/ 2 minutes on each side.  Once pulled from grill sprinkle with fresh thyme.  Gently grill Kaiser Roll.  Stack portabella mushroom, tomato, green onions and eggplant on the Kaiser Roll.

The third wine I want to share with you today is the 2009 Julienas Chateau des Capitans from one of the ten Cru villages, Cru Julienas.

The 2009 Julienas Chateau des Capitans displays intense beautiful, deep crimson color.  I recommend decanting this wine at least one hour prior to drinking so that this wine expresses itself properly, this is a great wine and was my favorite from this flight of wines.  This wine has a great balance and structure to it and will age very well in the years to come, I would even recommend laying it down for 2-4 years but if you’re like me you want to drink it.  Just be sure to decant it otherwise you may not enjoy this particular wine.  On the nose of this wine you can expect some floral, like that from peonies, dark fruit, spiciness of white pepper, smoke, dust, with a beautiful mild sweetness in the air from vanilla with a tiny bit of mocha. 

This wine displays a sumptuous deep red color. Its intense, complex nose offers an array of fruits, from peach to raspberry and black currant, with a subtle touch of cinnamon.  Ample structure and excellent balance will allow this wine to age in bottle quite gracefully.  A 19th century castle is situated right in the heart of AOC Cru Julienas, in a locality known as Les Capitans.  Centuries-old cedar trees in the stately gardens stand as tall sentinels of a long, illustrious past.  The remarkably old vines form one single, undivided vineyard circling the estate and benefit from optimal soil and microclimate conditions.  South-southeast hillside exposure to the sun allows the grapes to attain perfect ripening before they are harvested.  According to popular tradition, this locality has preserved unmistakable signs of its Roman origin.  Considered as a strategic point, this site was in all likelihood where military staff headquarters were located.  Thus the name Capitan, which refers to the officer rank of Captain, or first in command.  In the 1940’s, the castle and vineyard estate belonged to Victor Peyret, a colorful wine merchant and rambunctious gourmet from nearby Lyon who left to posterity, among other things, the literary prize he endowed.  At the annual mid-November wine festival held in the village of Julienas, the Victor Peyret prize is awarded to a celebrity from the arts who is recognized as a worthy ambassador of Cru Julienas. The prize consists of 104 bottles of choice Julienas, just the right number to enjoy every Saturday and Sunday for an entire year!  Well that depends on how many friends you share with.  Now for the burger recipe from Chef Bob.

RECIPE #3-TURKEY BURGER SLIDERS with SUNDRIED TOMATO&BASIL (For 2people)

From Chef Bob Waggoner, host of PBS’ Ucook with Chef Bob

INGREDIENTS:

· Ground turkey meat with 15% fat -1/2 pound

· Sundried tomato – 2 oz

· Shallots 3 each – sliced thinly

·Medium sized garlic cloves -3 each – sliced thinly

· Fresh basil- 8 large leaves – roughly chopped

· Olive oil – 2 tbsp

· Water – 11/ 2 cups

· Baby arugula – 1/2 cup

· Red onion – 4 slices

·1 ripe avocado

· Mini pita pockets – 4 – split in half

· Salt

· Fresh ground white pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a 10 inch saute pan, heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the sliced shallots and cook for 1minute.  Add the sliced garlic and cook for another minute.   Add the sundried tomato.  Add 1tsp of salt, 3 cranks of fresh ground white pepper and 11/ 2 cups of water and let simmer until all water is evaporated.  Add chopped basil, remove from pan and set aside.  Leave at room temperature.  Form 4 small patties using 1/2 pound of turkey meat.  Salt and pepper both sides.  Gently grill for 11/ 2 – 2 minutes per side, depending on temperature of your grill.  Grill the red onion slices at the same time. Just before the burgers are done, lightly grill the pita pocket that you have split in half. When the burger is cooked, place a small amount of arugula in the bottom of the pita.  Top with a turkey patty and arrange your slider with the grilled red onions and the sundried tomato basil mixture.

Foods that are light fair and not overly seasoned pair well with Beaujolais wines.  Today’s wines receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™ as they deliver on quality, value, and price.  Buy these wines, chill them, and drink them now, you will be satisfied, and please share your tasting notes with me.  I’m interested to know what you think, Salute.

'from my table to yours"

'from my table to yours"

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


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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"