14 Hands 2012 Kentucky Derby red blend

Seattle has transformed its core into a pathetic cornucopia of San Fran-wannabes. Apparently, cars have been outlawed in downtown, in favor of the two-wheeled pest that routinely runs stop signs. And now, these granola-crunchin’ varmints have just chased out two innocent elephants residing at the local zoo because they thought it was inhumane to house these magnificent creatures. At the same time, right-wingers were saddened to witness the shipping of the 4-ton creatures as they were crated onto a train destined to a city that routinely steals Seattle’s jewels (read: SuperSonics).

This is a microcosm of what’s wrong with Seattle ever since Amazon.com moved into south Lake Union. Home prices have shot into the stratosphere. Police are under more scrutiny. Traffic becomes paralyzed when a fish truck flips over on Hwy. 99. Prices for a shot of decent whiskey have more than doubled. And, you can drive west on Mercer St. However, we could still count on a zoo that had real elephants.

I mean, how can a city zoo call itself such without elephants on display? A zoo without elephants. I have never lived in or near a major city that didn’t have elephants in its zoo. This is the equivalent of my gf getting a double mastectomy because it’s the best way to eliminate breast cancer. Like using Windows but with Firefox. A “fast” computer with an AMD chip. There’s just something completely wrong with the entire concept. You feel it. You know it.

Seattle has become north San Francisco. They have trash police that make sure you are throwing castaways in the appropriate bins. They make their cops wear cameras because the “bad guys” are really the victims of the crimes they commit. Bicyclists have the ultimate right-of-way because they are entitled to it. After all, they aren’t polluting the environment like those 16-wheelers that transport those new rides to the bicycle shops. Jaywalking is a no-no despite some antiquated traffic light systems that make cars wait two minutes at an intersection with no cross-traffic. And, of course, it’s okay for two guys to make out in public but breastfeeding at city landmarks is considered offensive. This is all that is wrong with Seattle in 2015.

Thankfully, we have a safe haven that is wine. This is where monkeyasses like Shona and her all-too-creepy-intimate love of horses can roam freely. Where buttsniffers like Sean can dupe some crinkled, old fogies into hiring the moron to write for some D-listed wine rag. Where wine swingers like Dave and Arnie trade partners to keep slogging wine onto the clueless masses. Where it is no longer offensive to find Walla Walla wineries schlepping wine in Woodinville. Where even the tasting room staffers change allegiances like a seasonal menu.

Thankfully, there’s a consistent thread of an event that keeps our lives in check and that is the run for the roses. The event that made the mint julep famous. Those crazy-ass hats. The wild infield drunk hooligan parties. Yep, we’re talking about the most exciting two minutes in sports outside of game 7 of the NBA finals. The 141st running of the three year-old thoroughbreds will be on May 2, just a few hours ahead of the most important boxing event in the history of your life (Pac vs. Mayweather).

Current odds have American Pharoah from the south as the favorite but Dortmund of the west is the spoiler. This will be a photo finish–bet on that. 2 kilometers and these racers will be separated by less than a second when all is said and done.

It figures that a winery named for the measurement of a horse would become a prominent sponsor of the iconic equine sport, but this is the third year of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s parent company involvement with the Derby and it’s first wine that explicitly spells it out.

Let’s get some things straight here. We all buy wines at retail based at least partly on the wine’s label quality. I mean, let’s face it: nobody, and I mean NOBODY, of any decency will go out and buy a black-and-white label depicting a child-like scribe of a house between the block print words of “House” and “Wine” to present to honored guests at a home-cooked dinner. If you do that, then you must be a typical broke-ass smellier working for a big name restaurant or you are just a complete fuck up of a life. If you have ever bought a wine based on “Hey, that label looks cool” ethics, then you, pal, will buy this wine.

The label in itself is top-shelf worthy. Gold lettering with a red background and a ground-level shot of a couple prominent thoroughbreds racing by the grandstands. The label is beautiful enough to almost give me an eye boner. The fact that the wine is made under the auspices of Keith Kenison should clue you in that you should buy this wine.

This is a wine that is suited for the Derby clientele of crusty perverts and snooty, raisined bitches. There’s the trademark bold fruit that is Washington followed by a smooth mid-palate and a finish that resembles the woody, spicy tail that encumbers the cheaper wines.

Sadly, this wine has a recommended food pairing with crispy citrus shrimp and other foods not accustomed to bold dark fruits with a spicy tang. Skip the west coast uninformed recs and go with the Bluegrass classics– creamed bleu cheese, figged port chutney, hot browns, country ham, bourbon-marinated pork bits, fried green tomato blt, and pecan pie. And, it’s not complete without a garish hair cover.

For the rest of us commoners who cannot purch a ticket to the southern inbred event of the year, we have a hung-like-a-horse Pacific version of some equivalence. Leave it to the Japanese to figure this one out… carry-okay, that is the singalong to a favorite tune, has been lowered to a new standard with the $10,000 challenge of trying to sing a talented imitation of the original song… whilst getting a handjob! I kid you not. Find out which wine blogger won here– Japanese game show handjob karaoke.

Graded well with black bean tacos for you Tex-Mex denizens.

Alcohol: 14.5%. Columbia Valley AVA. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah. Limited release.

Tasted at 56-66 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: dark magenta. Nose: red fruits, blackberry, green oak. Mouthfeel: medium-bodied. Tail trail: 7 seconds. Flavors: raspberry, plum, blackberry, redwood, dark chocolate, backend white pepper, pillowy but obscure tannins. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 89. Value: $18. Paid: $11. Music pairing: “Runaway Horses” by Belinda Carlisle. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2012 Gold red wine

If the last three months are any indication, then 2015 will be remembered as the nadir of wine blogging in Washington.

This blog notified all the other halfwits and dickweeds that we were on a winter break due to a huge project that would ultimately add a hefty six figures to our retirement options and what do the Seans and Shonas do? Nothing. They kept to their usual half-truths and woop-woops when they could have come clean and actually admitted that (1) one of them had not even a remote candidacy to become some brain surgeon despite majoring in psychology and even quitting at that; (2) glorifying a chat to some obese, bald fat fucks in torn overalls about not using cow shit to fertilize grapevines in Minnehaha; and (3) admitted that she only loves horses because they are hung lower than her ex-bf from the Mazatlan kitchen. But, then again, we’re talking about bloggers who spew about peripheral wine issues rather than the hardcore wine issues that readers want to know more about.

But, worse yet was the utter discombobulation of existing wine blogs that are disguised as emails. These sources must have lost their inspiration from this blog to keep blazing a clear, concise path on the current state of Washington wine. There’s this one clod who pushes wine that “stains your soul.” Really? And for only $11? Someone call the wine patrol and arrest this wine prostitute! The most pathetic issue in this is the wine was a cheapo California syrah. Makes you wonder if the varmint sold used cars prior to his current gig. Next up is another wine pusher that hyped up a French merlot, claiming his staff loved it. Of course, none of the staff dared put their name behind it. But, it sounded good! And, we all know merlot is a dead sell here thanks to that idiot movie. However, the most heinous violator in our absence was a gentleman of high esteem in the community. A man who serves his constituents well and versed dignified letters of pertinent commendation to individuals of current events. Unfortunately, between this individual’s intense obsession with all things mad in March, rabbits, and some orphan from Canadia, his negligence in regulating issues via an insubordinate server with a bloodline linked to HAL 9000 led to a blistering flood of identical emails that made all followers wonder if he had a few too many speaking engagements in the high-life district of Denver.

Nothing to fear for we have returned, for your viewing, this wine blog’s derrière. And yes, lots of codes and hidden goodies for you wine geeks to stay up-to-date on who’s plonking who in Woodyville.

My local schlepper turned me on to this hidden gem that is a “limited release.” This is the first in the line of “Gold” series that somewhat falls between the H3 single-AVA lineage and the value Grand Estates lineup. A so-called “couple of barrels” were set aside by Mexican John for this small-lot blend. Now, when one hears “a couple barrels,” one thinks maybe a 55-liter football or a standard 60-gallon cask but we are dealing with the state’s largest winery so their definition of a barrel probably resembles something closer in volume to a Heidelberg tun (almost 58,000 gallons) so be careful in your presumptions.

Whatever the background, this is still within the realm of the Grand Estates affordability and, as we all know from reading previous forecasts about the 2012 vintage here, the greatest rewards from the 2012-4 vintages will be wraught right here in the value village of $5-$12 wines. And, you would hard-pressed to find the breadth of cheap-ass quality Washington wines anywhere other than the Evil Empire that is Columbia Crest. You may have better-looking labels, L’Schoolhouse and Barney Griff, but the money’s in the stuffin’ and CC still does it better than anyone in Washington. And, this is where Washington wines are kickin’ ass lately. F- Chile. F- California. F- South Afuckra. And F- TJ’s. At nine lousy bucks, we be A-list stylin’!

Quite dandy with grilled lemongrass chicken breast, over-easy eggs, and marinated beef.

Tasted at 61-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. Magenta-garnet in the Riedel with a black pepper storm up the shnozz along with dark cherries. Surprisingly medium-full bodied on the palate with sustained flavors of raspberry, red plum, black pepper, black licorice, bitter herbs, and muddy boots. This is a wine for those desiring instant gratification along with thinking they are some wine expert either because (1) they drank more wine before the age of 21 than after, and/or (2) they have “lots of money,” therefore, they know wine.

Alcohol: 13.5%. Columbia Valley AVA. 52% cabernet franc, 38% syrah, 8% cabernet sauvignon, 2% merlot. First harvest date: 9-21-12. Fermented 7 days on skins. Aged 18 months in 10% new French oak. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 1/5. Rated: 87. Retail: $12. Club: $9.60. Paid: $9. Music pairing: “Style” by Taylor Swift. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Horse Heaven Hills chardonnay

F— Butler. F— Virginia. F— Villanova. Bracket busted way too early this year.

Sure has been a long, warm winter around these parts. Just made it through a long, drawn-out project that’s just getting some publicity and will soon hit your cozy, shmozy homes sometime later this year. Unlike other blogs that drag the same dead horse subjects because there’s nothing else to discuss… we chose to ease up on the rhetoric and let those half-wits blog about useless crap and let you decide how much you miss this perfect wine blog. Yeah, even those vomit-laced emails sent out by those revolving “wine consultants” aka smellier-wannabes pushing cheap wine on the clueless masses got a free pass. What were the results? S.O.S. Same. Old. Shit.

So, as we embark on another year of patrolling the local wine blog scene, let’s start with the fundamentals of Washington wine.

First off, our common ground between us writers and you readers is this… Washington wine is where it’s at. The wines coming from Washington State have been the best punch for the money since at least 2005 (some will argue 2003, but they’re old fogies who also hit on the teen waitresses). Ask the once-upon-a-time A-listers like Daniel Marino, Damon Huard, Kyle Maclachlan, Drew Bledsoe, and any debt-free doctor and they will concur with this.

Next, understand the 13 districts that want to be known as unique entities of wine fingerprints. No, we do not count the recent approval of The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA for the simple reason that it is a stupid name for an American Viticultural Area. Someone with the IQ of their shoe size decided on this mal-creative name and it figures that this is yet another cluster of arid land in neighboring Orygun.

There are many reasons to designate an AVA. Most are for ego reasons. Some dino-brained, high school dropout farmer hired an English major whose daddy works for the Feds and maneuvered their way through the system (read: old boys network) to get this fluffy title. However, look deeper and a few of these designations actually do have some real meaning for the masses of curious, moneyed wine drinkers. Take Red Mountain for example. This is rare and pristine acreage primed for red grapes. So, when you see a red wine bottle listed with “Red Mountain,” you can most assuredly be comforted that the wine will be a conversation stopper, regardless of price. It also helps that the proprietors of the vineyards within the AVA are as close-knit as family so they minimize the possibility of some “made in China”-type of questionable wine. Think about it… aside from some jackass’s weak effort at a sangiovese some years back, who else has made a shitty wine with the bold label proselytizing the Red Mountain name? Yeah, can’t think of any.

Then there’s the AVA with the “I know I make great syrahs so I will charge extra so that you pay for the free bottles I send to any jerkoff wine blogger.” Yeah, that’s Walla Walla. And, despite Walla Walla, the city, being wholly within Washington, the prime grape-growing sections are actually across the border in that other state. So, when you’re shelling out bookoo bucks for that anus-smelling syrah, just know that you are supporting yet another overpriced Orygun wine AND you still think you are drinking stellar Washington wine. And that’s why those yippees who tout Walla Walla wines are about as credible as Enron stock.

For you newbies to Washington wine, here’s the real lowdown. For white wines, the hierarchy begins with Ancient Lakes AVA. Any white wine labeled “Ancient Lakes AVA” is a safe bet to being the best white wine in Washington. That goes for riesling and chardonnay. And, to be specific, go for Evergreen Vineyard. There are no bad white wines that are labeled that way, and, if anything, you are getting a better return on your investment. Runner-up is the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. This AVA has the ideal combination of schooled winemakers and fabulous terroir for white wine grapes.

For reds, it goes deeper. Red Mountain for non-syrah, non-zinfandel grapes. Wahluke Slope for non-cabernet, non-merlot grapes. Walla Walla for syrah. And Horse Heaven Hills for a nice side-trip for all the reds.

Wanna get specific? Fine, let’s call it what it is since no other wine blogger or even half-decent wine scribe will lay his balls down for this. The best vineyards for cabernet sauvignon are: Red Willow Vineyard, Champoux Vineyard, and most of the older plots on Red Mountain. The best syrahs are made from older vines in Boushey Vineyard and a few acres in the Walla Walla Oregon area. The best cool climate grapes (chardonnay, gruner veltliner, pinot gris, etc.) are grown in the Columbia Gorge AVA and if you are in at Syncline Wine Cellars, then you know your shit.

Everything else is a crapshoot.

First off, watch the vintages. Avoid 2010 and 2011 like the plague unless the wines are from Red Mountain AVA because that’s the only AVA that survived the Ice Age. Pieces like Wine Expectorator require blackmail to get a rating. Buttwipes like Choad Enthusiast overrate the wines consistently so subtract like at least 3 points from the listed rating. Anything Paul Guttless rates should be deducted an automatic 5 points. Talk about the king of graft in the wine world.

Secondly, know your appropriate price range. White wines that will please the general population from wine tards to wine master-baters should cost no more than a Jackson. We’re talking a WAwineman-rated 90. For red wines, it’s a little more complex. Cabernets up the median to $25 and red wines fall in the range of $20-25. Syrahs are in the $25-30 range. Some like the fruit, in which case you should stay low and drink early versus the stinky secondary fumes with more antioxidant wood artifacts that moneyed drinkers will part a U.S. Grant for.

Cult wineries? Ask yourself why. Who are you trying to impress? Status costs money and that money is better spent on a high-priced screamer with a Hoover for a mouth than dropping down for some slick-named, old-time winery’s juice. I mean, like seriously, we just returned from a shindig that served up $140 cabernets and as great as it was, it ain’t the end all as far as dinnertime enjoyment.

Lastly, know this… Washington wines are fruit-forward like everything else not made in France. These wines are made to be drunk early. Why cellar a well-made $25 Washington cabernet when it was made to provide immediate pleasure? Many of the wines priced under $70 are made to drink well NOW. Sure, they can cellar for decades but why? You lose that primary fruit character for softer secondary flavors. Ask yourself if it’s worth it. Perhaps, buy yourself two bottles then. One for now and one to share with your high-schooler brat. Or, stash ’em both. Or, slog ’em both with the change of seasons. Never say never.

F*ck riesling. I brought this bottle over for some beef curry and I will say this… if you’re gonna have beef and chardonnay, this is the perfect pairing. The curry matches the heavy vibe of the beef yet brings an ameliorating presence that allows for a harmonious match that even Indians adore.

Tasted at 55-61 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: bright light lemon. Nose: yellow flowers, peach, orange blossom. Mouthfeel: light-heavy yet dense. Tail trail: 7 seconds. Flavors: orange zest, Marcona almonds, cantaloupe, red apple.

Alcohol: 13.5%. Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Fermentation 14-20 days with Burgoblanc, N96, Prise de Mousse, Chanson, and Premier Cuvee yeasts. TA 0.51. pH 3.39. Many thousands of cases. Power: 3/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 90. Value: $18. Retail: $15. Paid: $9.89. Music pairing: “Never Say Never” by Romeo Void. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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Woodinville Wine Honors (6th vintage, 2014)

Still the longest running honors gala in the heart of Woodinville, whatever that means!

2014 was another of change for the better. The first honor for Washington wine was a Chester Kidder 2009 red wine being served at a state dinner for France’s president at the White House. A big, fat California winery (Canvasback by Duckhorn) setup roost on Red Mountain in what should be the first of many Cali ex-pats arriving on our musty shores. Speaking of California influences, Force Majeure hired a winemaker from Bryant Family Vineyards that put more prime Red Mountain acreage in the hands of non-natives and former residents. And more graduates of the wine program at South Seattle C.C. took up space in the warehouse district. Now, why Betz Family Winery buying an estate vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley made such news with other wine floggers is the real puzzle there. Who gives a flying fcuk?? And, we seal up the year with vintage news that 2014 will be the best since the unanimously heralded 2007 vintage, and may even surpass that and 2005 to own the latest “best vintage ever in Washington” moniker. And the beat goes on…

The best news within city limits is that most of the wineries have finally depleted their stock of 2010 and 2011 so we can look forward to better wines at your favorite tasting venues in an industrial setting. The 2012 reds are showing well now. Not great, but good enough. No one worked harder to get tourists and wedding parties into the warehouse district to buy up all the flat stuff so that the locals who snuck in on Seahawk Sundays could enjoy the new releases in peace. We high-fived some fans at a tasting room with a flat-screen tv and we all know that a delicious red goes well with a Seahawk victory! Is there a better combination of witnessing Jim Harbaugh go down in flames (twice!) and drinking the blood (red blends) of those fallen 49ers? We think not!

To the awards…

Best tasting room experience: Bunnell Family Cellar/Upland Estates. Finally, someone got the message that a really dandy lineup of wines deserves a well-manicured plate of charcuterie. The lethal Bunnell syrahs and Upland Estate whites are a fine match with the selected cheeses and cured meats and the staff is congenial and upbeat. Everyone else just fell a step behind…

Rookie of the Year: Ambassador Vineyards. Always the most competitive category, it seems. The tasting room is as big as the wines, whose grapes hail from Red Mountain’s former La Coye Vineyard. That means the wines will be bold and the staff attentive and knowledgeable (and pretty, too). The gals may not all be from Benton City but they have that small-town friendliness that makes walking in a fun and comfortable experience. Of note, the other finalists are neighbors– W.T. Vintners and Savage Grace Cellars. Watch out for these two as they develop their lineup of alternative headline wines that eschew the fighting Bordeaux lineage. Their ode to Rhones, Burgundies, and obscurata fully rounds out the varieties available in the warehouse district and makes for wonderful exploration of Washington’s ideal climate for grape growing.

Winery of the Year: Pondera Winery. Ever since their entrance a couple years back, this winery/art gallery has upped their game with each vintage and now sports a lineup of wines every bit as colorful as the artwork hanging on the walls. Strong and sturdy are the reds with the malbec as its biceps, get their wines now as they are underpriced. Really underpriced.

Red Wine of the Year: Pondera Winery 2010 Stillwater Creek malbec. Fine, fine… yes, it’s from the 2010 vintage (cool year) but the vineyard is sited in a warm zone so the grapes performed well and this is the result. Read the earlier review…

White Wine of the Year: Guardian Cellars 2013 Angel sauvignon blanc. Like seriously, this is one heckuva wine, year after year after year. Is it a felony that we, the wanted, hired a confidential source and another informant to draw a chalk line to other wineries’ sauv blancs but our rookie’s palate was tainted by the gun metal wine in those mini-kegs (a misdemeanor in our P&Ps), some 50 (five-O) or so, sprouting around the warehouse district so she had an alibi and besides, she’s an angel, too.

Washington Wine of the Year: Cooper Wine Company 2012 Estate carmenere. Those big, bold, complex, nuanced, and elegant wines that you remembered from yesteryear… yeah, they’re all back and in this one package of rapturous delight. Don’t let the carmenere listing scare you as this is representative of what’s going on in the Red Mountain AVA. THIS is what carmenere should taste like at its best. It ain’t a cheap bottle but holds its value well and you will be proud to serve it at your own state dinner with a spicy prime rib or grilled porterhouse.

Merry F’N Christmas, winos! I gotta get on the next plane out of here…

Next week, we will feature Sean Sillyvain’s Top 100 wines of 2015.

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Cooper Wine Company 2012 Estate carmenere

I can’t dine in peace no more.

I was happily defrocking a prime rib at my favorite steakhouse with Chucky Smith (yeah, thee Chuckster of his eponymous winery) the other night when some good-looking black dude came by our table to interrupt our conversation. I thought to myself, “He’s such a star to get this kind of notoriety” but instead of acknowledging the wild-haired one, this gentleman wanted to thank me for all the laughs provided on this Washington wine blog, shook hands, then went back to his private dining room. The maitre’d later told me that was Russell Wilson. Even the Chazz jabbed in with a “I can’t take you anywhere, asshole.”

Anywho, we came up on the topic of wine blogging and what a pestilence it is. You see, Chuckles is the grand master of marketing in these parts so he just doesn’t get why these no-neck nobodies think wineries should embrace such amateurish, half-witted scribes whose main goal is ultimately to scam free wines out of wineries in exchange for coerced flattery.

So, I played the derp’s advocate and mentioned these delusions that wine bloggers are motivated by.

First up, wine bloggers think social media is the end-all for marketing. Go on Twitter, agree with everything everybody is saying, blanket-follow every halfwitted, so-called “wine expert” (especially the ones that appear intellectual while holding a plastic wine glass) then start tallying up all the followers. Then, when you get to some 4,000 or so hoodrats, go throw an illusionary wine tasting so that six of them have to go buy a bottle and participate in the hype-up lovefest. Yep, that’s called “increased sales.”

Next, write a string of superficial wine reviews but do NOT disclose you blackmailed the winery into supplying the free wines for review. That would be bad for business, even though you would be violating a Federal Trade Commission ruling that all wine bloggers advocating a specific wine MUST reveal whether she/he received the product for free. Regurgitate everything the tasting manager or cellar master told you, including verbatim on the tasting notes, so as to make yourself look like you know something about reviewing wines. The key is to copy, copy, and more copy. And use key words that these desperate wineries need, like “exceptional” and “excellent” so they market their products while doling credit (and hence, more exposure) to your worthless pico-blog. And, don’t forget to throw in “one of Washington’s best” whatever– wineries, winemakers, vineyards, wines, blends, name your varietal, etc. Use it for at least your first fifty reviews. Why be original? Nobody wants to know what you really think of the wines because then that would be exposing what an idiot you iz.

Follow that up with spin doctoring all your inconsistencies. Call yourself an “independent wine blogger” even though all your reviews were on free wines provided by the Wine Consortium that dictates who gets the free press. Additionally, send emails out to the various regional wine alliances and find out who really wants to pay to play your game. You’ll find out quickly that in crevices such as Walla Walla and Lake Chelan, there are anxious groups willing to buy in to your shenanigans so they can unload either copious amounts of unsold assjuice and/or find a new vein of suckers to buy that grossly overpriced horse’s sphincter of a wine.

Then, if you are adept at thinking you know how to spot a quality wine, develop some rating system to slot your picks. Here’s where it is especially valuable to revolt against the system of 100 points by poo-pooing it in favor of those instant marketable descriptors such as “exceptional” and “excellent.” Better yet, design a complex “star” rating, say like a 5-star scale, then proceed to rank ALL your donated wines from three stars (“good”) and up. And, if you have some old white guy in your tasting group, then really go out to the perimeter and conjure up something where your rating is tied in to the cost of the wine (even though you never paid for it, you can IMAGINE you did!) and slap on some sabermetric-sounding term like “QPR.” Ooo, so edgy and hip!

Here’s where a wine blogger implies credibility. Go sip as many wines as you can. Keyword: sip. After all, wine bloggers are not professionals. They cannot handle drinking even a magnum in one sitting (unless it’s open bar at some gooberhead’s wedding), so why limit your review to just one wine when you can AK-47 a winery’s entire lineup for under two ounces? Bonus points if you’re at a tasting room and decide to glurg the wine like a mouthrinse then barf it back into a spit bucket, phlegm and all. You’re a true wine blogger if you create a saliva rope from your cleft lip to the spit bucket.

An effective secret of wine bloggers is to suck up to the status quo. Re-tweet everything a wine blogger with a higher “follow” count until you get there yourself. And, if you’re a female, slap a profile pic showing some cleavage and heavy make-up to cover your psycho personality, then go ahead and sleep with a few of your followers. Word spreads quickly that you’re easy, just like the chlamydia you’re harboring.

When you have built up enough false confidence, go out and attend wine events like Tasteless Washington. Your goal should be to seek out and get on the Wine Consortium’s preferred list so you can A-list it at all events and score oodles of free wine that were donated for “marketing purposes.” This is where you need to be secure in your bisexuality because you will be sucking a lot of crusty sex organs to climb that final rung to the top.

And, once you are there (and you have your full cache of antivirals), you can unveil your sham by defending the 100-point system, have your picture taken with about twenty different donated bottles of wine, take pictures of decades-old wine that no one else has (or wants because it was made when the winery was shitty), and, why! even bother reviewing wines anymore? Just let others blog and link the site. Also, it helps to roll with the local waiters disguised as “wine experts” aka smelliers. Find out what wines they are paid to push and join them. Remember– pay to play.

Finally, keep your pay-to-play viable by only blogging about your inner circle of wineries that lavish your bullshit. When you do find a new, potential player, flex your social media credentials so they get on board. If the winery asks for hard numbers on how much wine your influence has sold, flip ’em bullshit and explain the theoretical and yet-unrealized-and-never-to-be possibilities on how creating vibe on social media platforms leads to new club memberships and instant sell-outs. If the winery continues to insist on hard numbers, then act like a total flake and remind them how well-connected you are to Washington’s Founding Winery and if they want to be a big-boy, they need to run with the big boys and you are the key insider to help them.

Mediocrity at its best.

Notice, not one mention was stated about formal training in an accredited setting because there isn’t any.

Wine is, and always has been, a subjective experience completely unique to the individual. Wine is a component, a commodity like any other agricultural product. In the hands of Mother Nature every year, nothing is predictable about wine. Correct that. There is one element that is predictable about wine. Wine is the indelible taste-sensory marker that defines the moment, the event, the atmosphere when you indulged in it. Whether it’s from a two-dollar scathy red made by a neighbor or a two-thousand dollar monster, the wine’s taste profile, when tasted again, transports the individual, via fiber optic cable, back to that time reminiscent to that first experience. And, let’s hope the memory was a pleasant one as most are when wine is served.

To the winery…

Cooper Wine Company has been on a roll as of late. Of course, those of you new to the terroir here or just bored from reading the same crap from all the other wine bloggers may have never heard of this Red Mountain winery. Why not? Well, first of all Neil “the Godfather” Cooper, owner and bull mastiff of his eponymous winery, never had a budget for advertising his wines. No full page spread in Wine Spunktator. No wine ratings anywhere outside of this blog and the lone wolves at those wine-note storage sites. He’s seen the wine writers in this state drive right on by his tasting room. They’re all “fixed.” The Godfather don’t pay-to-play. Ever.

How does the Godfather do it? Read the first-ever review of his wines (you go find it as I ain’t linking nothing here) to get the 4-1-1 or go to the winery website. Basically, (1) it starts with solid knowledge of the landscape. Own the land. Make sure that land is in a high-visibility area like on the corner of Sunset Road where you MUST pass by to access the other great wineries on Red Mountain. (2) Have a fun, attractive personality that people gravitate to. Name anyone more authentic than the Godfather–nope, can’t do it. (3) Have beautiful offspring and a dog so attractive and magnetic that you don’t matter. (4) Maintain a fun Facebook presence that’s just enough to keep followers engaged and your winery in their conscience on a daily basis. (5) Host fun events at the winery that the majority can attend with interest. (6) Connect with out-of-state groups to extend sales of your growing winery. (7) Be at the level of your membership. You attract what you show, and that should be good enough. Putting up a smoky façade may get you one sale but it won’t regenerate sales. Be honest. Be forthcoming. Be fun. Love people just because. (6) Have some smarts about what you are accomplishing. (7) It’s a business so run the business end like it requires. (8) Have a wide enough curb to house all the wine bloggers, internet experts, and other fast-talkers you will be kicking to. (9) Keep your wine clubbers involved and interested. (10) Have sensible plans for future expansion.

Speaking of expansion, let’s look back at a pre-quel at the Cooper Wine Company site. The location’s original winery was known as Seth Ryan Winery and was nothing more than a lazy excuse to make wine. The wines made there were… exasperating. This was before the acclaimed designation of AVA status on April 10, 2001. Seth Ryan Winery started in 1992 and the first estate plantings on its 10-acres were cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, and chardonnay in 1997. A second planting in 2004-5 added malbec, petit verdot, carmenere, tempranillo, syrah, gewürztraminer and viognier. The passing of a key family member and general apathy led to the sale of all holdings (except the finished wines). And, that leads us to the current investment group headed by the Godfather. With the exception of a token wrasslin’ experience, noted on an earlier review of a Charles wine, the Godfather has nurtured a solid multi-state and multi-national following with a bustling two-tiered wine club that has added products to its pipeline beyond wine. And, the acreage is multiplying… to some 75 acres of prime Red Mountain dust. That means more Cooper wines, bitches! Bitches love Cooper wines…

Coop’s recently been dabbling in his area’s oldest carmenere vines right there in his vineyard. As you longtime readers of this blog know, no other blogger knows Washington carmenere like this one. Any and every Washington carmenere that has made it to the wet side has been exposed to the masses right here, way before it was chic to advocate carmenere. There are wrinkled herpderps that, to this day, refuse to acknowledge carmenere as the sixth noble grape of Bordeaux. Not here. Carmenere, when done right, is as magical a wine as any left-bank cabernet or right-bank merlot. The key is finding a worthy source and Red Mountain is as safe a site for Bordeaux varietals to thrive in as there is.

The next step was to find a compadre to maximize the potential of his estate carmenere. He found one in Steffan Jorgenson of Elqui Wines (Chile). This world-championship contending duo is now known in WWE terroir-tory as “The Kings of Carmenere!” Watch out, Rock-n-Sock…

To the wine…

First off, to fully enjoy this majestic, masterful partnership between nature and man, pair this with a slab of spiced USDA Prime beef. This wine has been independently referred to as the best ever wine to come out of Washington so treat this with the utmost respect. You will be rewarded with “So that’s what all the hoopla was about! F- yeah!” This carmenere releases all its nuances about an hour after opening and in the area of 60 degrees F. Horror-movie quality black in the Riedel, reach for scents of blackberry pie, cedar, raspberry, black and green peppercorns, plush deep red cherry and off-road dust that lead to a lengthy profile of cherry tart, mushroom, rustic wildness, red berries, blueberries, liquorous black fruits, crushed black pepper, black licorice, cumin, redwood, roasted almonds, star anise, Stanfield soulberry, and faint bell peppers that is the hallmark of carmenere.

Alcohol: 14.1%. Estate-grown Red Mountain AVA. Perhaps also the best-ever front label for a wine. About 100 cases. Power: 4/5. Balance: 4/5. Depth: 5/5. Finesse: 4/5. Rated: 97. Value: $90. Paid: $80. Music pairing: “If You Don’t Give A Doggone About It” by The Godfather of Soul. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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Montes Wines 2010 Purple Angel carmenere (Chile)

Only a jakknob wouldn’t love a good carmenere…

Tasted at 60-68 degrees on the IR temp gun. Bullseye black garnet and carmine with aromas of black pepper, bell pepper, and blackberries smoking over the Riedel like dry ice. Full, thick, and attractively complex with blackberries, herbal peppers, black licorice, black pepper, raspberries, black plum, soft tannins, and dark, spicy chocolate on a lengthy finish. Wonderful match with enchiliadas topped with New Mexico red chile sauce.

Alcohol: 14.5%. D.O. Colchagua Valley (Chile). 8% petit verdot. Aged 18 months in new French oak. One of Chile’s finest carmeneres. Power: 3/5. Balance: 3/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 92. Value: $40. Paid: $41. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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Bodega Norton 2010 Privada red wine (Argentina)

Tasted at 60-65 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: another stainer of garnet-magenta. Nose: smoky plum, black plum, black currant, black cherry. Mouthfeel: full-bodied. Tail trail: 9 seconds. Flavors: wild blackberries, white pepper, sweet oak, dark chocolate. Bold, smooth, and manly. A fit with steak and pasta.

Alcohol: 14.8%. Mendoza, Argentina. “Privada” means private reserve for only family and closest friends. 40% malbec, 30% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 89. Value: $20. Paid: $17. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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