The Art of Decanting and a wine that scores a touchdown every time with WineGuyMike™


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

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.

Sponsors                                                                                                                     

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

This week’s question was submitted by Deb Motl.

Q. Deb Motl asks; I have been wondering about the process of decanting verses just letting a bottle breathe.  Do you only need to decant older bottles of wine or is it beneficial for all red wines in general.  Also, would the new aerators achieve the same results as decanting?

A. Deb thank you for such an interesting question.  Here are my when’s, why’s, and suggestions, let’s hope these make some sense.  I’m also going to take the liberty to talk about some old school traditional decanting that I think you will find interesting too.

So let’s start with when I would use an aerator.

1. When spontaneous guests showed up.

2. When I’m drinking an average bottle of wine that is perhaps something I drink daily, these can always benefit from an aerator.

3. At a restaurant, doesn’t every wine geek travel with their wine aerator?  I know I do, LOL.

4. Aerators are typically fine to use with New World younger wines that are not aged Sur lie.  Lees are the sediment left behind in a bottle that is unfiltered as a result of being aged Sur lie.

When WineGuyMike wouldn’t use an aerator:

1. When I was serving or drinking a good quality wine.

2. When I ordered a good bottle of wine at a restaurant that decanted their wines.

Deb my reasoning is this; I believe that an average quality bottle of wine will benefit from being “whipped” and “oxygenated” by an aerator as it will bring out the best that bottle has to offer.  If unexpected guests show up you may feel the need to be immediately hospitable and open a bottle of wine to share with your guests.  In this case I would use an aerator. 

Many restaurants do not offer to decant your wine for you.  If they are wine focused they will have decanters and will offer to do this for you, after all they should do all they can to satisfy your dining experience.  The reality is that many establishments don’t decant and I would not hesitate to ask your server to use your wine aerator.  Be sure to offer to show them how to use the devise, many servers may be unfamiliar with them and they will appreciate your kindness in demonstrating how to use it.  With this approach they will be fully engaged in your dining experience with you.

Step away from the good to great bottle of wine with your aerator, why you might ask.  I don’t want my fruit bruised.  I mean this sincerely if you have a great bottle of wine you have probably made some special plans around this wine event even if it just you and your partner enjoying a great bottle of wine on a special occasion.  By all means use a decanter and aerate your wine with a decanter.  You will notice that when a wine is poured correctly by letting it pour into and gently grazing the side of the decanter bottle neck so the wine spreads itself onto the walls of the sphere within the body of the decanter.  While pouring the wine into the decanter you will not pour the sediment from the bottle into the decanter.  If you are using an aerator you may potentially blend the sediment into the wine thus potentially altering the juice from a high end bottle of wine.

If you have the opportunity to dine in an upscale restaurant that has a Master Sommelier on staff they have an almost ritualistic approach to decanting a wine properly.  First they will carry the wine from their wine cellar in a specially made basket.  The basket carries the wine at the same angle it was stored at in the wine cellar.  You will notice that the sommelier is very gentle as he brings the wine and places it on the table still lying prone in the basket.

The sommelier will gently wipe the dust from the top of the bottle to remove dust from the wine cellar.  They will now remove the foil cap from the bottle and place it in his or her jacket pocket and then once again gently wipe the exposed cork still in the bottle.  Now the cork removal will begin, but once again very gently and only about 80% of the way and then the sommelier will use his or her hand to gently express the cork.  They do this so the air hits the bottle slowly and does not cause the wine to spray out of the bottle.  Once the cork is removed with the bottle still in the basket in a prone position the sommelier will present the cork to the person who order this wonderful bottle of wine to go with their meals from this fine dining establishment.  

Once the guest has examined the cork visually to make sure the cork has not gone bad from being stored improperly and that the bouquet being expressed from the cork meets their approval the sommelier will now light the candle that has also has been placed at the table.  You will notice that the candle is of equal height of the decanter that is being used.  The sommelier will now very gently lift the bottle of wine from the basket and begin to gently and somewhat slowly pour the bottle of wine into the decanter.  While the wine is being poured the sommelier will have the candle placed under the bottles neck about an inch and a half away but yet close enough to the bottle so that they may see the wine passing from the bottle to the decanter.  This is done so if and when there is sediment in the bottle they will not allow that to pass into the decanter.  The bottle will then be place back onto the table with the sediment still remaining in the bottle and all the incredible wine in the decanter aerating and waiting to be poured into the glasses of those anxious and now completely tantalized palettes.

Deb that is the rest of the decanted story, cheers to you and your great question.

This week’s wine recommendation from WineGuyMike™ comes fromthe Wahluke Slope AVA which was established in 2006.   The Wahluke Slopes boundaries are the Columbia River on the west and south, and the Saddle Mountains to the north, with the Hanford Reach National Monument to the east.  This AVA is entirely within the Columbia Valley appellation and home to more than 20 wineries.  There are 5,652 planted grape acres in this area which represents about 15% of the wine grape acres in Washington State.  The Wahluke Slope has one of the driest, warmest climates in the state and produces Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc as the main varietals from this area.

 Inspired by last week’s blog post I decided to go shopping for a wine from the Columbia Valley and came home with a Bordeaux blend from the Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington State; 2008 Desert Wind Ruah.  What a great find, this is a nicely balanced red wine blend driven by Merlot with an almost equal amount of Cabernet Sauvignon for a little backbone with a touch of Cabernet Franc squeezed in the middle to blend.

Desert Wind Ruah 2008 from the Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington State

Desert Wind Ruah 2008 from the Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington State

This is a medium bodied wine that is a bit tannic with an ever so slight hint of vanilla, concentrated fruit that opens up all the way to the finish line.  On the kick off this wine hits you right up front with red currant, and then shifts to black cherry.  The tannin picks up right on the fifty yard line and then it’s a strawberry and raspberry hand off that runs all the way to the goal line, but it doesn’t stop there it runs through the tunnel and all the way into the locker room.

 This wine has nice viscosity, a clean, clear, dark red cherry jello coloring that is as pretty to look at as it is to drink.  It is very nice to drink now but I would recommend lying this down for two years and it will really finish in the bottle what the winemaker began.  If you can’t resist like me I would recommend decanting this gem from the Wahluke Slope, this wine does have a sense of place, terrior to you.  Thanks to Desert Wind Winery for producing really nice affordable wines.

The Desert Wind Winery is an amazing destination wine property the you will not want to miss visiting.  Please visit their website www.desertwindwinery.com to see what I’m talking about.

 Desert Wind Winery

2258 Wine Country Road
Prosser, WA 99350-6732
(509) 786-7277

WineGuyMike’s™ food pairing with the 2008 Desert Wind Ruah

Peppered Roast Beef

 Ingredients:

5 pounds beef round roast, all visible fat removed
2 tablespoons acceptable vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 large stalk celery, sliced
1/2 cup dry red table wine

Directions:

 Preheat oven to 350º F.
Rub meat with oil and pepper, and place in an open roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer so tip reaches center of thickest part. Arrange onion, carrot and celery slices around meat. Pour wine over meat and vegetables.
Place in oven and cook uncovered 1 1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer registers desired degree of doneness.
If more liquid is needed, baste with additional wine during the roasting period. Do not use drippings from the roast for basting.
Skim fat from pan juices or remove juices with bulb baster and discard fat. Remove meat from pan and slice thin. Spoon pan juices over meat and serve immediately.

Calories: 267 kcal
Protein: 40 gm
Carbohydrates: 1 gm
Total Fat: 10 gm
Saturated Fat: 3 gm
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 gm
Monounsaturated Fat: 4 gm
Cholesterol: 106 mg
Sodium: 82 mg
Potassium: 597 mg
Calcium: 12 mg

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

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Road Trippin’ with WineGuyMike™ to the Columbia Valley in the incredible wine country of Washington State


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

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; see this week’s show on YouTube  each week on Sunday morning.  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

This week’s question was submitted by Urban Bear Don’t Walk

Q. Urban asks; Mike what is a good “quick and dirty” trip to Washington wine country?

A. Well my friend Urban I’m going to have to immediately recommend the Columbia Valley in Washington State.  When I was young I used to dream of living in the wine country, of California that is.  Here I am a “few years” later and you know what I do live near the wine country, in the Northwest United States.  Oregon and Washington are arguably some of the best wine regions in the world.  Quick and dirty Urban for me is the Columbia Valley, just a short trip from Western Montana.  Almost right in our backyard, oh that’s right it is our backyard.  Back when Missoula was Lake Missoula and flooded and took its alluvial soils with it to Washington.  Layers of soil blessed with the alluvial soil material and layers of volcanic ash 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.  There are well over 100 hundred wineries to visit within a 60 mile radius of the immediate Columbia Valley.  Urban if you really want something down and dirty try a short road trip to Spokane, there are 27 tasting rooms in Spokane featuring the wines of the Columbia Valley and other viticultural regions within the greater Columbia Valley.  Once you get there I think this may qualify as a wine trail hike to move from one tasting room to another, all kidding aside a road trip is well worth a small effort for those of us residing in Western Montana.

The Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) is the largest in the state of Washington.  It includes the Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Walla Walla, and Horse Heaven Hill AVAs within its boundaries. 

The Columbia Valley AVA was established in 1984 and it is Washington State’s largest viticultural region covering 11 million acres and which is nearly one third of the state’s land mass.  99% of the grapes that are grown in Washington State come from the Columbia Valley.  There are many meso-climates and micro-climates within this vast valley.  Most of the vineyards in the valley are planted on south facing slopes which provide better sun exposure and allows the air currents to flow through the vineyards during the sometimes harsh winter months.  The varietals that are most prevalent in the Columbia Valley are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling.  The Columbia Valley is home to the American Viticultural Regions of Red Mountain, Yakima and Walla Walla Valleys, Wahluke Slope, Rattlesnake Hills, Horse Heaven Hills, Snipes Mountain, and Lake Chelan.

An AVA is a grape-growing region that is defined unique geographic features.  These regions are designated by The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) at the request of wineries and other petitioners.

America’s counterparts overseas known as European appellations dictate the type of grapes grown, how the wines are made, and in some cases the amount of grapes harvested. AVA’s do not interfere with grape growing, picking, or wine making.

Now we’ll travel through the other viticultural regions of the Columbia Valley that are also AVA’s because of their distinguishable geographic features that were identified by the petitioners and recognized by The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

The Yakima Valley AVA was established in 1983 and was Washington State’s first appellation recognized by the Federal Government.  There are more than 60 wineries in the Yakima Valley.  Vineyards are planted on 16,042 acres, this is more than one third of the states vineyard acres.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Riesling are the most popular varitals in this AVA but Syrah is really on the rise.  The Yakima Valley has soil that contains silt and loam is very favorable for grape vines as it allows for the type of drainage necessary to grow great grapes.  The Yakima Valley is also noted for great fruit production other than grapes as well.

 In the Walla Walla Valley AVA that was established in 1984 grape growing began in the 1850s by Italian immigrants, what does that tell you? 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 grows very well in Walla Walla which is why the Italians chose this area I can promise you.  But here are some of the other varietals that are becoming known in this region; Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, and Viognier.  The soil in this region like others in the Columbia Valley are the result of layers of alluvial soil from the Lake Missoula floods and volcanic eruptions.  This type of bedrock creates incredible growing grounds for grapes.

The Puget Sound AVA which was established in 1995 is very small encompassing only 69 acres of planted grapes, but there are 45 wineries within this region which makes wine tasting easily accessible and fun.  This region due to the maritime influence has mild summers and mild winters.  This appellation whose main varietals are Madeleine Angevine, Siegerebbe and Muller-Thurgau with Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir looking promising is drier and has more sun then other comparable grape growing regions in Europe.  Beneath the top layer of soil is a semi-permeable sub-soil that allows these deep rooted varietals to survive the late summer soil moisture deficit.

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 15 or so wineries in this area and their focus are on the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Petit Verdot varietals.  This is a desert climate with growing season daytime temperatures average 90 °F with night time temperatures dropping below 50 °F.

 The Columbia Gorge AVA was established in 2004 includes areas in Washington State and Oregon with more than 20 wineries in the area.  This is a 300 square mile area with 191,000 acres. There are only 500 planted acres on vines.  The region parallels the Columbia River in both Washington and Oregon.  The Columbia Gorge and the southwestern part of the Columbia Valley American Viticultural Areas are in this region.   The Columbia Gorge is dramatic transition from high eastern desert to cool maritime climate as the Columbia River runs through Cascade Mountain Range on its way to the Pacific Ocean.  The Columbia Gorge provides perfect soil, climate, and geography with distinct micro-climates that host almost every varietal imaginable.   As rainfall diminishes at almost an inch per mile in this region sunshine increases at exponentially.  The Western vineyards have a maritime influence perfect for cool weather varietals like Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling.  The high desert Eastern vineyards are home to varietals that thrive with less rain and hot sun Bordeaux, Rhone and Italian varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel and Barbera.  Here is the extensive list of varietals grown in the Columbia Gorge; Albarino, Aglianico, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet  Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Gamay,Gewurtztraminer, Grenache, Gruner Vertliner, Lemberger, Malbec, Marsanne, Merlot, Mourvedre, Muscat, Nebbiolo, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Riesling, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, White Riesling and Zinfandel.  All I can say is wow and let’s hit the road Urban.

The Horse Heaven Hills AVA was established in 2005 is located in Southeast Washington State bordered by the Yakima Valley to the North and the Columbia River on the South.  25% of Washington State’s grape production comes from this region which is planted with 10,130 acres of grapes.  Predominate grape varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, and Riesling.  There are 37 total varietals represented is this region the vines are on steep south facing slopes that have sandy-loam type soil that provides great drainage for the vines.  Because of the proximity to the Columbia River this region receives constant brezes that moderate the temperatures.  The elevations in this region range from 1,880 feet in th North to 300 feet in the southern portion.

When visiting this area these are a few of the outstanding wine properties you should make a point of visiting; Alder Ridge, Andrews-Horse Heaven Vineyard, Canoe Ridge, Champoux Vineyards and Wallula Gap Vineyard.  There are 25 vineyards and 6 large commercial grape growing operations.  It is important to note that this region produced the first three “100 point” wines for the state.

The Wahluke Slope AVA was established in 2006 with its boundaries are the Columbia River on the west and south, the Saddle Mountains to the north, and the Hanford Reach National Monument to the east.  This AVA is entirely within the Columbia Valley appellation and home to more than 20 wineries.  There are 5,652 planted grape acres in this area which represents about 15% of the wine grape acres in Washington State.  The Wahluke Slope has one of the driest, warmest climates in the state, allowing nearly complete control of vine vigor and ripening through irrigation.  Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc are the main varietals being produced in this area.  I personally love what the grapes extract from the soil in this region, a true sense of place.

The Rattlesnake Hills AVA was established in 2006 and is only four miles southeast of Yakima.  There are 1,566 planted grape acres in this area.  The Rattlesnake Hills AVA lies within both the established Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley appellations with an elevation beginning 850 feet and rising up to 3,085 feet.  There are 17 wineries and 29 vineyards which are typically located on ridges and terraces.  This provides good air drainage that protects the vineyards from late spring and early fall frost and winter kill.  The primary varietals you’ll find in this area are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Riesling which are sourced by producers from around the state.

Ben Snipes was a rancher who built a house and settled his cattle operation on a Yakima Valley mountain north of the Yakima River in the 1850’s, which later known as Snipes Mountain.  The Snipes Mountain AVA was established in 2009 and this area also includes Harrison Hill to the east.  Both of these slopes have rocky soils at elevation.  There are 759 of planted grape acres in this area that is home to 30 different grape varietals used by 25 wineries.  Six Wineries are located in the Snipes Mountain AVA.  The topography, elevation, and soil are unique within the Yakima Valley AVA.

Lake Chelan is a very desirable summer destination in Washington State who’s AVA was established in 2009.  This AVA is situated at a high elevation with a moderate lake effect climate that is more temperate than AVA’s located in the southern portion of the Columbia Valley.  Soils in this area are a result of glacial alluvial soil matter that is coarse, sandy sediment with significant quartz and mica minerals.  The result is wine with distinct textures and minerality. 

The Lake Chelan AVA includes southern and eastern portions that surround the lake and shares a northern border with the Columbia Valley AVA.  I have enjoyed a incredible Viognier from this area.  There are 227 of planted grape acres in this area that was originally farmed by Native Americans and Italian immigrants at the beginning of the 20th Century.  15 wineries are located in this AVA producing wines from the Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir varietals.

The Cold Creek sub-region benefits from a southerly facing slope of the Columbia River which enjoys one of the longest growing seasons in the Columbia Valley.  Little rainfall and soil consisting of silt loam produce very intense and concentrated fruit.  Cold Creek is part of a high plateau that runs along the south side of the Columbia River and is particularly noted for its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Columbia Basin/Snake River sub-region is where the Columbia, Yakima and Snake rivers meet.  The area surrounding the Tri-Cities, which includes the broad hills bordering each side of the Snake River, is benefited by a good climate and ample irrigation.  Several large vineyards have achieved reputations for excellent Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and other varietals.

A few wine recommendations from WineGuyMike

2008 Sharecropper’s Cabernet Sauvignon $16.99

 

2008 Sharecropper's Cabernet Sauvignon from Owen Roe

2008 Sharecropper's Cabernet Sauvignon from Owen Roe

 

The fruit for the 2008 Sharecropper Cabernet Sauvignon is all Columbia Valley AVA. With a beautifully long Indian summer the 2008 vintage yielded perfectly ripe fruit with lithe bright acidity.  This wine has a beautiful nose ripe with blueberries, black currants, dark cherries and wild strawberries. A nice long finish lingers with flavors of licorice, olives and cedar.  Muscular, but not a brute, firm tannins and elegant structure will let this wine age beautifully over 4-6 years.

Reininger “Helix” Red Wine 2005  $21.95 

 

Reininger Helix Red Wine 2005

Reininger Helix Red Wine 2005

 

Chuck Reininger on is 2005 Helix Cabernet Sauvignon: “Yoga for the Palate! Permit this wine to reelaxxx for awhile.  While sitting straight up with eyes closed, focus on the Helix (the wine and the shape) by swirling the Cabernet around on your palate.  Without swallowing, gently inhale once or twice to unravel the fruit in this wine.  You’ll discover black raspberry, plum and cassis layered with caramelized oak, a barely perceptible hint of clove and very fine tannins. Swallow. Exhale.  Life is gooood.” With only 784 cases made, and riding on the platinum lined shirt-tails of the 2004 Helix Cab, this wine is bound to vanish quickly.

2008 Firehouse Red $16.00

 

Tamarack Cellars 2008 Firehouse Red

Tamarack Cellars 2008 Firehouse Red

 Rated as one of the top 100 WS wines for 2010 it tastes like really, really good red wine. This wine is rounded, lush, layered and lovely, the ultimate food wine, pairing well with everything from pasta and pizza to grilled meat and roasted chicken.  Bright with fruits of raspberry, currant, mocha, a touch of pepper spice, soft tannins and a lingering finish… year in and year out, it’s like partying with an old friend.

  • 37% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 30% Syrah
  • 16% Merlot
  • 7% Cabernet Franc

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend  $12.00

 

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend

14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend

 

Generous aromas of ripe berries and dark stone fruits open this ruby-hued wine. Fleshy flavors of cherries and plum are met with soft and velvety tannins, finishing with a hint of mocha.  This wine is made predominantly from the varietals Syrah, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Mourvedre.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"