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, May 14, 2009

Conserve Water, Drink Wine

We were back to the old stompin' ground in Santa Barbara County, Los Olivos. We wanted to leave some time for the Foxen Santa Maria area, so we skipped Santa Ynez, Lompac/Buellton, and Solvang. We couldn't resist Los Olivos, but we really wanted to get to Foxen Road. No toilets, no water, just wine - that's Los Olivos. We skipped some old friends such as Consilience and Andrew Murray(rude reception). We always have fond memories of Andrew Murray Esperence, but wonder what it is like these days.

We started at Arthur Earl where the 2006 Viognier tasted like a peach tree with a little bark thrown in. Altogether a fruity, friendly wine, but, like most of its Olivos cousins, too fruity for my taste. I need some minerality and stoniness. The Rhone blend of Grenache, Counoise, Cinsaut and Syrah had a great nose with nice hints of vanilla in the flavor, but ultimately the lean mean taste of Counoise came through. The 2006 Tempranillo was a winner with a nose of cherry and Havana cigar.

Next a stop at Stolpman to pick up a wine club allocation for a friend. How agreeable the little red house just off the main street of Los Olivos . What a relief from the claustrophobic feel of the tasting room in Solvang surrounded by Scandinavian bric-a-brac stores - a Danish mortuary for great wine. The 2006 L'Avion has a deep golden color, almost russet, reminiscent of a big white Burgundy in style, structure and color, although, of course, the flavor profile is different since this is no Chardonnay, but a Rousanne with a touch of Viognier. The 2006 Grenache is beautiful, light and elegant - a good example of this style. We tasted two Syrahs, but the most interesting wine was the 2006 "La Croce" a cross between Syrah and Sangiovese. This seems to be a new trend in Los Olivos, the first of three such crosses.

Across the street at Carina Cellars we tasted wines created by winemaker Joe Tensley who also has his own line of wines. The 2007 Viognier had a subtle nose, followed by a round fruity peachy wine. Another fruity Viognier from Los Olivos. It's a style! We tasted several Syrahs - our favorites were the 2006 Terra Alta and the co-fermented 2006 "7 Percent" Syrah, that is, 7% Viognier, 93% Syrah.

At Coquelicot (kok - li -ko) Kerry very ably served up the offerings. The 2006 Estate Chardonnay was very light and perfumed - a good patio wine. The 2006 Estate Chardonnay was more classic, but still very fruity - flowers in a glass. The 2006 Estate Syrah tasted of roasted coffee. The very good 2006 Black Oak Vineyard Syrah was round balanced and flavorful. The 2006 "Mon Amour" Estate Bordeaux Blend was very lovable, round, fruity and perfumed - a come hither wine. The 2006 Estate Cabernet Franc was an odd C. F. with spice that might lead one to think of Syrah. The winemaker's notes say it tastes of roasted pasilla pepper, still an unusual , if not unpleasant, taste profile for a Cab Franc.

Qupe recently opened a new tasting room at the entrance to Los Olivos from the north. Stealthily manned by Ethan, one of owner Bob Lindquist's able winemaker sons, Ethan, quietly poured wines from Qupe, his father's wines, from Verdad, his step-mother's wines, and "Ethan" his own wines. He quietly recommended his brother Luke's wines at Tres Hermanas. The 2006 Verdad Rose was, good, but truly, the 2007 Verdad Albarino was even better. Fruitier than a Spanish Albarino, but still recognizable. The Qupe Roussanne was round and fruity, the Qupe Los Olivos Cuvee, a Syrah/Mourvedre blend, was light to medium-bodied, round, with good fruit. I have spent years searching for this wine in San Francisco ever since my son-in- law had a bottle and loved it. Ethan's 2006 Sangiovese was round, medium-bodied, and spicy - no lean mean Chianti, this one. Ethan's Cuvee Los Alamos Syrah was excellent, too. His father's Qupe 2006 Syrah from the Stolpman vineyard was really good, too, with a nose of black fruit and toast. In truth, this is a family of very talented winemakers. Es verdad! Truth telling even extends to the tasting notes offered. Just the facts, ma'am! Vineyards, grapes and ageing. That's it. No hype about "lead pencil and cassis." Just the data. They're not going to tell you what you "should" taste or try to influence you. You decide how it tastes to you and whether you like it or not. This is truly rare.

Since Longoria was just next door, I couldn't resist the opportunity to revisit an old friend. The 2007 Pinot Grigio was pleasantly balanced, the 2007 Cuvee June Rose was pleasingly dry. The nose of the 2006 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido, put me off, the nose of of the 2006 Clover Creek Syrah was toasty and appealing. The "06 Blues Cuvee was complex and jazzy. The 2006 Clover Creek Tempranillo was round, balanced and delish, but all of this was just a prelude to a mind-blowing wine - the 2006 Fe Ciega Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is from Rick Longoria' only estate vineyard. I had only one thing to say about this wine - "Fantasic!" Like Miles in "Sideways," I have spent years searching for truly great Pinot and have only found a few bottles in Burgundy and a few more in Oregon that satisfy me. This one is spectacular and worth every penny of its $54 price point. Well, it looks like we only left a few hours for the Foxen Santa Maria area but that's better than last time.


  • At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Ash Mehta said…

    Indoor plumbing, 14 wineries, 120 wines. And within walking distance of a 1,000 hotel rooms. Ok, so it is Solvang and I get what you are saying about this town. But it is changing. Tastes of the Valleys Wine Bar.

  • At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Gregory Copploe said…

    Wineries Have Partnered up with Local Artists to Bring you an Evening of Wine Tasting and Art Viewing

    (SEATTLE) June 11, 2009 – Alicia Hansen announced Wednesday that Woodinville will host an evening of art and wine tasting on July 16, 2009 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. “Wine and art go hand in hand, and we are excited to support our local wineries and local artists and host what will be a yearly event in Woodinville”. It’s such a mellifluous mix, art and wine, and we expect a huge turnout”.
    This year we have several wineries participating in this event, and we are proud that they will be giving back to the community by hosting a local artist in their winery. The participating wineries are: Des Voigne Cellars, Alexandria Nicole, Anton Ville, Chatter Creek, Covington Cellars, Cowan Vineyards, Edmonds Winery, Gordon Brothers, Page Cellars, Patterson Cellars, Red Sky Winery and William Church Winery. “William Church Winery is proud to host an artist this year. This exposure is great for both the artist and the winery, so it’s a win win for all”, touted Leslie Balsley owner of William Church Winery.
    Two featured artists, Gretchen Michaels and Gregory Copploe are part of this year’s festivities. Ms. Michaels has partnered up with Red Sky Winery and Mr. Copploe has partnered up with William Church Winery. Gretchen Michaels’ actual paintings are done in "reverse" as she paints on the back side of an acrylic panel. Unlike painting on canvas where the first painted layers get covered with each additional layer of paint, you see her first layers, then less of each additional layer. When the artwork is mounted using her custom built frames, you are looking at the paint through the acrylic panel. Many layers of paint create the final effect. Gregory Copploe’s unique oil style has been compared to Amedeo Modigliani, as he captures the delicate and passionate soul of the woman, her nose elongated, her lips pouting, and her eyes soulful and wanting. His style evolved from painting faces in the clouds, to creating thick oils in spatula, and eventually painting portraits of classical women in a Modiglianic style. Greg and Gretchen both believe that “showing your art in this setting where wine and art are paired together is a winning and sensual combination”.
    Come and taste at twelve of the wineries in the Woodinville Warehouse District for only $20 (cash only). Each winery will feature two wines along with art from a local host artist. Tickets can be purchased at the Woodinville Park North ticket tent (located at 19501 144th Avenue NE just across from Building A at the entrance to the park), Chatter Creek (18658 142nd Ave. NE and Covington Cellars (18580 142nd Ave. NE
    For more info go to


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