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

Monday, September 10, 2007

Buy On Wine, Sell On Cheese

The French have a saying, "Buy on wine, sell on cheese." What does this mean? It means, if you want get a clear, undistorted, taste of the wine, clear your palate with bread. If you want the enhance the taste of the wine serve it with cheese, meat, or olives. It is ironic that wine judges are routinely served olives and meat to clear thier palates. Perhaps that is why they give medals to 60% of the entries. This past weekend we went to the fall release of Andrew Will wines on Vashon Island. It was a beautiful day, and the winery is in a lovely setting, an opening in the woods of the island. A flower and vegetable patch in the middle is surrounded by a residence and various outbuildings for winemaking, barrel storage and bottle storage. Lovely people showing the way, pouring the wine, serving hors d'oeuvres made from winery grown or island grown veggies, home made pizza and music. What more could a person ask?

We tasted four of Chris Carmada's 2005 vineyard designated blends. All four seemed too acidic to us. The Two Blondes is from Chris's own new vineyard. To us, it was the least appealing, somewhat thin and tart, perhaps because the vines are still too young. The Sheridan was somewhat better. The Ciel du Cheval had more substance with good black fruit flavors, the Champoux was even fuller bodied and the most balanced with delicious fruit, again followed by a tangy, slightly tannic finish. Interestingly, the pricing follows this order, too.

If you remember, we included three 2004 Andrew Will wines in our Wine Blogging Wednesday tasting of Washington State Cabs orchestrated by Catie, the Walla Walla Wonder Woman . The 2004 Sheridan , also,made a poor showing, but the 2004 Ciel and the 2004 Champoux were impressively balanced vines with velvet texture and complex black fruit flavors. It is possible that a year of ageing will help the 2005s to develop, but it seems doubtful to me.

On the other hand, the food really enhanced the Champoux and Ciel du Cheval. With a little cheese or a couple of olives, all of a sudden they tasted like the big complex wines from previous years. Even the pizza helped. So will the real Andrew Will please stand up? Which is the true flavor, or is there more than one true flavor?Wine certainly is a living thing that evolves, but we felt that the balance of these wines was off. The tannins were fine and soft for young wines which is a good thing, but the acid seemed too high to us. At $45 to $50 a throw these are definitely in the big splurge or special occasion category for most of us, unless you are a Microsoft multimillionaire. Personally I would rather have a little more certainty, if I were going to shell out fifty buck a bottle.

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