Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Thursday, February 23, 2006


I will be away and incommunicado until March 7th when I should have lots of great tasting notes for you!

New Winery - Brian Carter Cellars

Brian Carter, winemaker at Apex Cellars for many years, has started his own winery. Among his many accomplishemnts, Brian is the only winemaker to receive the Grand Prize three times from the Seattle Wine Society. If his "Solesce" blends of past years are any indication, his new wines should be outstanding. Brian will be releasing five blends in March. A second label , which should be more affordable, will follow later this year. The five wines will be: 1) 2000 Solesce - a right bank, Merlot-dominated Bordeaux-style blend, 2) 2002 L"Etalon - a left bank Cabernet-dominated Boreaux blend, 3) 2002 Byzane - a Rhone style blend of Grenache and Syrah, 4) 2002 Tuttorossa - a Super-Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5) 2004 Oriana - a white blend. Production ultimately will be 7000 cases.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dolcetto - Another Reliable Wine

Here's another reliable and inexpensive wine to pick from a restaurant wine list. I've never had a bad Dolcetto. This grape is relatively unknown outside of the Piedmont region of Italy famous for Barolo and Barbera. Dolcetto D'Alba and Dolcetto Dogliani are made in the area just north of Barolo. The wines are almost always delicious, medium bodied and complex enough. They go great with all Italian food, especially pasta, and meat dishes from the Piedmont and Tuscany. The nice thing about Dolcetto is that it is so consistently good that you don't really have to remember much except -"Dolcetto".

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Loire Valley Reds- Chinon and Bourgueil

These reds from the Loire Valley are usually great picks from a restaurant wine list as they are pretty consistently of high quality and are usually inexpensive. We recently tasted a Chinon in a San Francisco restaurant that was deliciously fruity and complex for only $26. Chinon and Bourgueil are made from Cabernet Franc in a range of styles from fresh and fruity, like the one we just tasted, to monsters that need to age for years. Kermit Lynch usually bring in a variety of these wines.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Northwest Wineries To Look For

Those of you who are regular Seattle Wine Blog readers, already know that Fall Line released a wonderful 2003 Cab-Merlot blend and that Saint Laurent won medals at the Seattle Wine Society this past summer for their Syrah and Sole Riche Blend. Dusted Valley Viognier and Stained Tooth Syrah, as well as Zerba Wild Thing and Syrah garnered awards from the Wine Press Northwest. Amaurice has not yet released any wine, but be on the look out for this one. In Oregon, Melrose Syrah and Freja Reserve Pinot Noir also picked up awards from The Wine Press Northwest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

No Small Victory For Consumers And Small Wineries

The Washington State Senate unanimously passed legislation supporting self distribution by wineries, all wineries, in and out of state. This is great news because it will help hundreds of small Washington State wineries survive by acting as their own distributor. It's great news for us consumers, because we will be able to order direct from any American winery that complies with Washington State regulations, in or out of state. Wine from other countries will still be distributed by distributors. Assuming a similar measure passes the house, this is the best possible outcome for consumers.

Monday, February 13, 2006

More Valentine's Merlot

There are so many Red Wines that go well with Chocolate. I recently saw some Reininger and Terra Blanca Merlot on sale. Check them out. The Reininger is more elegant and refined. The Terra Blanca is a bigger wine. They're both very good.

Hey Florida, Here We Come

Hey, Floridians, look for Washington State Wines in your state. The Washington Wine Commission has a new campaign starting in Florida and you should be able to get Washington State wines. Lucky you! If any of you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask the Seattle Wine Blog. Just fill out the comment section below

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Wine Of The Week -2003 Macon Chardonnay - Talmard

If you are used to California chardonnay, you may not recognize this as chardonnay. It is pale straw in color, with a fabulous nose of grasses and straw. It is light bodied, grassy, with hints of citrus flavors. This wine is actually more like an an Entre-Deux-Mers or white Bordeaux than the usually more minerally Macon Villages. The flavor profile is closer to Northwest Semillon and the body more like a Pinot Gris. It is definitely a food wine - seafood, fish, chicken, veggies. Best of all, it is only $9 a bottle. I bought mine at La Cantina.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Merlot For Valentine's Day

Okay, here's one. What wine goes with Chocolate? Port is the obvious answer. Merlot is somewhat less obvious. Champagne works, too (Mumm's Napa Brut and Chandon are on sale at local supermarkets). But a luscious Merlot is the perfect romantic companion to chocolate. Some Merlots are more chocolate friendly than others. Try Columbia Crest Reserve Merlot! It's a splurge at $30, but she's worth it , isn't she?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

2003 Luddite Syrah

Steve Canter has a website, so he can't be that much of a Luddite, but he does try to source biodynamically grown fruit. His Syrah is big and spicy with fruit, fruit, fruit, but not jammy or in your face. And it does taste like the real thing with lots of character, not some mass produced factory wine, so, in that sense, he certainly has succeeded in producing an artisanal wine.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Happy Birthday To You!

If you were born in the 1970s, you might still be able to drink a bottle of California wine from the year of your birth. We recently opened a bottle of 1975 Villa Mount Eden Cabernet Sauvignon. While it was not a particularly memorable wine, it was remarkable how intact it was after 30 some odd years. Same for a bottle of 1975 Cuvaison Cabernet Sauvignon made by Phillip Togni from old vines at the Gamble Vineyard. This one was awesome. A bottle of 1975 Raymond Cabernet didn't fair so well. You have to be careful with old bottles, but many California wines from the nineteen seventies were built to last.

Monday, February 06, 2006

2002 Groth Family Mourvedre

Mourvedre is the kind of Rhone grape that American winemakers love. The Groth Mourvedre smells of bramble, tobacco, tar and a hint of eucalyptus. It is big, but not round or jammy. In fact, it's kind of cylindrical. There is wonderful cherry fruit and a fair amount of tannin in the aftertaste. Not sure if it is available in the Seattle market, as I tasted it at a restaurant on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County near San Francisco. It is priced at about $20 in the Bay Area.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2001 Chateau Bernadotte

American wine collectors and investors tend to only buy Bordeaux from the greatest vintages and greatest chateaux. This makes good investment sense since these wines appreciate the most and most of us don't get to taste them before they arrive. Thus collectors and investors try to maximize the quality of their purchases by reading advanced tasting notes from wine gurus such as Robert Parker and betting on the most reputable vintages and chateaux.

But what if you just want to drink Bordeaux and not pay an arm and a leg for it. Wine shops and supermarket shelves in France are alway stocked with wines from "lesser" chateaux, vintages, and regions. Yes, there is some awful stuff on the shelf, but also some great bargains. These wines rarely show up in the U.S. They are part of the "lake" of Bordeaux wines you keep reading about, but never see. Bordeaux is now almost completely split into two groups. Famous chateaux at phenomenal prices and almost unsaleable wine from unknown properties.

Recently I've been seeing some Bordeaux on the shelves at reasonable prices. Some of these wines have been brought in by good importers such as Kermit Lynch or Robert Kacher. Robert Parker also keeps his eyes open and his ear to the ground looking for good values in Bordeaux. Unfortunately, once he writes about them the price usually skyrockets.

The 2001 vintage produced many wonderful wines that are very drinkable. Chateau Bernadotte was a Robert Parker find and seems to fall in the low end of phenomenal price range (about $20). Just as Quilceda Creek seemed like an American version of Bordeaux, Chateau Bernadotte seems a little like a French version of a California "Meritage" blend. The endearing quality of 2001 Chateau Bernadotte is its berry fruit flavors. In the background there is acid and tannin, but the fruit dominates, at least at this stage. This wine is so fruit forward for a Bordeaux that you could probably drink it on it's own without food, but I would have it at least with some cheese.
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