Kirkland Signature 2015 Columbia Valley red wine

It’s sunny. It’s May. It’s the Pacific Northwest. That can only mean one thing… human body parts showing up in all the wrong places. The region that brought us serial killers Ted Bundy and Gary Ridgway would smile as they read that (1) a deteriorated human leg with its boot still on was discovered in a debris pile in Gastineau Channel, Juneau, AK. Authorities there announced that bodies (and body parts) reach their shores every so often, the last being a bloated fatass in a dark corner of the Red Dog Saloon that was later found to be Paul Guttless drunk on boxed Alaskan wine. (2) Down 30 miles south of Portland, Orygun, a 36 year-old doorknob walked into a grocery store holding his mother’s severed head. He admitted to the po-po that he bought a wine based on a Choad Enthusiast recommendation and was so distraught at how awful the wine was that he had to commit matricide to appease his wine crime. And (3) this just up the road in the beer capital of the Northwest, Portland’s finest is asking the public “See Man?” after posting a picture of a Portlandian accused of throwing a cup of semen onto unsuspecting women in grocery stores. This reminded me of a story that Sean Sillyvain boasted to me at one of Barbara Winegal’s backyard hoochfests where he claimed to have nutted more women than all other wine bloggers combined. Real classy method, Sean. Just like your bullshit wine reviews.

What is all the hubbub with “fake news” these days? Fake news has been embroidered into wine reviews since the day reviewers accepted free wine in exchange for “the cup is half full” serenade of glowing words.

It’s like going to a Tezla dealer and finding out all other brands of cars are a steaming load of diaper stains, yet when you drive off the lot with a Model S, you’ll be roasting marshmallows off your passenger seat.

Time and again, this is common knowledge that Whine Enthusiastic reviewers coddle with the Walla Walla Valley wine group, get free wines that cost consumers north of $50 for a $20 bottle of wine, and free meals at downtown Wally World’s finest macaroni establishments.

Admittedly, their wine scores are consistent. Consistently 2 to 3 points above what other reviewers who don’t have the grease on their hands.

Of course, the slime at Whine Enthu have to blend their loaded reviews with wines from less desperate wineries that are less-willing to pay-to-play.

This is where the company behind Kirkland Signature wines should be lauded even more than just selling  wines that punch above their quality. KS wines may have started its existence as a Trader Joe’s knockoff; however, today KS wines contract with a wine region’s more reputable wineries.

And, in KS’s home state, they have done just that– developing an enduring collaboration with a winemaker in the prestigious Long Shadows Vintners collection to sculpt an exciting wine consistent with the area’s vintage year while holding down the price.

This is the third vintage this blog has reviewed and we are happy to report that, while the price has dropped a couple bucks, the quality has remained steady. This is important to note because, as any economical fool knows, wine prices trend with inflation, especially in communities with a growing appetite for locally-sourced wines.

Of note, the bottle label for this has improved to a black-dominated design. No sad picture of a grapevine. All black and silver that an Oakland Raiders fan would approve of. Also included is “Washington State” for those simps who think the Columbia Valley is somewhere in South America.

Protip: this blend from a very warm vintage is worth buying a six-pack and letting it cellar quietly for a year to allow for full integration of its components. Do that and you will be rewarded with a seamless gem that will make your cheap date’s strapless dress drop without any effort. More euphoria than a handful of Oxycotton.

Tasted at 63-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. Dark magenta in the Riedel with a soft bouquet of fluffy red fruits and blossoms. A slight sting on the palate, likely due to its early release. Long and smooth on length with flavors of raspberry, red plum, blueberry, cola nut, black pepper, licorice, dried bark, tanned leather, and menthol.

Alcohol: 14.9%. Hundreds of cases. Varietals: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, and sangiovese. Aged 15 months in French oak prior to blending. Winemaker: Gilles Nicault. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 90. Value: $25. Paid: $17. The 2017 standard for a ’90’-rated wine. Music pairing: “Euphoric” by The Stolen. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Powers Winery 2013 Coyote Vineyard cabernet sauvignon

Wine bloggers in Washington still just don’t get it.

First, some background. To “qualify” as a Washington wine blogger, one must be either unemployed or unemployable. You know the plethora of examples if you are a regular to this blog.

Next,  you need to either be so uninteresting that you’d make Oprah or Ellen fall asleep on ya, or you just have no real friends that, in your desperation and after a failed Tinder date with a redneck, you resort to blogging about wine because that’s just what losers do.

Once you’re “in,” you partake in the bacchanal of all things fake friends do… gush over another blogger’s retarded tweets or Facebook post; meetup at a wine event and totally go into fanboy or fangirl mode; and, ultimately, score a date with another smelly gonad and end up fornicating on the Ikea after greasing up on lube.

Oh, and did I mention? No… it has nothing to do with discussing the wines because “if it ain’t free, it ain’t for mee.”

So, let’s look at a recent newsfeed…

Good ol’ Margot SavOn. She claims to write for free juice, specifically free wine she poaches from asshat wineries that buy into her entitlement. When she’s not shaking her pompoms for Efeste, of which she claims to be a club member, she’s hyping up not a wine but… sushi??! Um yeah, I follow wine bloggers just to see what kind of sushi they like. F. U., Margot, you dumbass. Still. And get a facejob while you’re at it.

Next in the batter’s box is Shona. Oh, how this blog has made thousands just in requoting the utter nonsense from this saggy-boobed wine moocher that led to Columbia Winery’s demise. “Grilled tritip… from hotstovesociety…with wapotatoes…” Nothing about wine but plenty about she steals food from clueless vendors using her 2nd grade spelling talent.

As a final prick… there’s Sean. This once unemployed, undesirable, ‘I majored in psychology at a miniscule liberal arts junket in upstate New York so I can boast that I would have been a neurosurgeon but that required too much intelligence so I took a hike out here on Tiger Mountain and now I call myself a mountaineer’ is the epitome of faking-it-til-you-make-it. The only characteristic about his liberalness refers to his sexual preference, which explains the open sores around his mouth. This cad has no qualms showing the tattooed “Choad Enthusiast” on his clitoris on Twitter. This is the D-listed beverage publication with the shitty photos and awkward wine reviews from individuals who sucked their way to the top. Really, the dud rents a rickety room on Wallingford Ave. Ask yourself why you would even listen to advice from someone who can’t afford a real house, drive a real car, and go to a real job. And, the guy doesn’t judge wines at competitions because he simply cannot tell the difference between a cabernet and a merlot. He’s a fool and if you know someone who likes him, they’re a fool, too.

What’s in a label? All too often, the mid-priced wines on those store shelves are solely judged not on the contents, but how cute, hip, or sophisticated the label appears. A consumer’s decision on buying a wine takes 12 seconds after scanning the rows of screaming juice. Factors that aid in the decision include the obvious: (1) eye-level placement; (2) regional/varietal designation by the store; (3) flashing yellow cards signifying a “sale”; and (4) the label. Never mind the reputation of the winery. Or the specification from high quality origins. Or even the vintage year. The final call between two bottles of cheap wine to purchase falls down to the label, folks. Once you understand that, then you know that the money went into marketing more than the quality of the winemaking.

Thankfully, this bottle from Powers Winery backs up its silkscreened label with quality single-vineyard juice from an underappreciated region of Washington.

First of all, there aren’t too many bottles in the marketplace of sub-$20 wines that utilize the sexy silkscreened look that such classic wineries as Fidelitas, (the former) Olsen Estates, and Quilceda Creek use to promote their wines, so when it’s there, standing alongside those cheap red tricycles, ugly housewives, and childish house wines labels, it’s an easy attention-getter.

Then, there are the savvy wine buyers like those found here. We know the history (Powers has been around a loooong time and is one of the big boys). We know the vintage year (2013 was the second in the current string of outstanding vintages). We know the wine (cabernet sauvignon is king in Washington). We know the region (Wahluke Slope is hot, year in and year out). And, it is single vineyard (Coyote) which means you will taste the land the grapes were grown in. This is wine for discerning wine drinkers.

For those still paying off their student loans, this is a Saturday night special. For the rest of us, who hit it big in the market, this is what we call a Tuesday nighter.

The pros: good fruit up front, nice label, nothing defective, nice label,  great with chocolate cookies, and nice label.

The cons: this would have been a fantastic wine… in 1990. Lacks complexity. Lacks length.

Tasted at 59-66 degrees on the IR temp gun. Standard magenta in the Riedel with sensual notes of blackberries, red summer fruits, and roasted willow bark. A bit thorny on the palate with some grit going down but expressing black and red fruits including black cherry, doublemint, and level 3 toast. Good through 2019.

Alcohol: 14.0%. Aged 32 months in 70% new French oak. pH 3.80. Acid 0.64. 648 cases. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. Value: $19. Paid: $17. Music pairing: “Big Boys” by Chuck Berry. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

 

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Davenport Cellars 2015 Snowflake white wine

It’s Washington Wine Month as declared by the half-wits and inbreds over at the flimsy marketing consortium known as the Commission so you know what that means? Grimy supermarkets selling their old stock at “sale” prices they should have been selling them at five years ago. “Fixed” wineries dropping their tasting room prices so that locals don’t have to pay tourist prices. And, local wine bloggers shamelessly grabbing exposure moments to increase their website views.

Cases in point.

Sean Sillyvain was on his way back from blackmailing Lake Chelan wineries into giving up their shitty rieslings when he decided to take a skinny dip in the Columbia River. The next day, the state Ecology Department posted on their blog that they were called to Wenatchee to contain a noticeable “oil sheen” that smelled of diesel and shit.

Locally, Paul Gutless was schlepping his leftover book collection at eastside wine retailers when a few days later, King County Disease Patrol had a couple cases of hantavirus on their hands. We do have to vouch for the Gutless Wonder who has since retreated to Facebook tweets on wines he is paid to review glowingly that hantavirus is transmitted by the inhalation of deer mouse droppings. Paul may look like a beady-eyed scrawny rat but he is really a carcass-feeding vulture who preys on wineries that can’t sell their overpriced plonk.

Finally, there’s MarGot who bloats of writing for wine but really just drinks leftovers from other peep’s glasses at the Efeste tasting room.. Welp, she and her side cock (that’s a male mistress to you naïve readers) dined at a south Lake Union whole natural food store before dishing a talk full of lies at Amazonia HQ. Later that week, King County officials announced that a measles outbreak in that area had potentially infected all the lazy asses that work there. It was rumored that Sean ran to the Bartells there to get his penicillin shot… just because he likes getting penicillin shots, especially by young male druggists who make less than he does. (Hint: he likes to be on top, according to his ex-boyfriend)

Isn’t that a great way to celebrate Washington Wine Month in the home state? Measles. Hantavirus. Contaminated river. Can’t wait to meet the commissioners at the wine orgy known as Tasteless Washington.

For my group, I recently popped open a 2008 vintage red wine from this winery and immediately upon opening, there was this goopy sludge residue clinging to the finish inside the neck of the bottle. This gluggy, purple snot-like substance may startle Ivanka-wannabes at first, but rest assured, the contents of this wine slug are really nothing more than dead yeast cells, multi-chained polyphenols, leftover stems and other detritus from the vineyard, and/or crunchy tartaric acid crystals. And, wine blogger scabs. This usually results in a fine sediment that, while innocuous, leaves the appearance of the wine-in-glass less than desirable and really, it doesn’t taste all that great. Neophytes, fact tip: older, crusty wines tend to “throw sediment.” That means upon pouring the wine into your honey’s glass, it may look cloudy, chunky, or even leave an audible sound of a “chink” as the solid particulate bumps against the 24-percent lead oxide.

Does this menace-to-your-future-boning-session jeopardize a potentially wasted Viagra pill? No. Rest assured, the wine itself may turn cloudy or may taste a bit gritty, but your late-night aerobic activity will take place as scheduled.

And, why do such wines have this sediment in their wines? Well, Nermal, some winemakers choose to not fine or filter their wines. Others store their wines at a colder temperature which can precipitate this thing called potassium bitartrate crystals, aka “wine diamonds.” The thinking behind this is the residue adds to the complex flavor profile. Personally, we don’t care if a wine has mossy Pop Rocks in it. As long as it tastes good and there’s more, it’s fine with us.

Continuing on with our recommended wine stops in the Woodinville warehouse district, Davenport Cellars is, without a doubt now, a must-visit. The new confines invite most modestly-sized parties to their expansive tasting room/lodge and even offers tasty morsels of nummy appetizers from the catering kitchen.

But all that is secondary to the wines and the Jirkas now have a most formidable lineup of compelling wines that rival the best in the area. We couldn’t say this a few years ago, but Jeff and Sheila have been persistent in their mastery of Washington winemaking and you can now taste the varied and delectable products of their advanced training.

The winery/tasting room is a regular host to fascinating musical acts and periodically hosts an elaborate dinner paired with the home field wines. Bring a few friends over and sit by the fireside or play some board games with your gal pals.

A quick word about Snowflake… this wine gets better every year. The great string of vintages in Washington, starting in 2012, continues and shines with this latest expression from the Bacchus and Dionysus Vineyards. This gem has your number.

Great with seafood, Chinese food, charcuterie, and a skinny white woman.

Tasted at 50-61 degrees on the IR temp gun. Metallic banana gold in the Riedel with hypnotic notes of guava, pink grapefruit, and Granny Smith apple. Firm acid bite and medium bodied. 11 seconds on the palate. Steely with peach, lychee, lemon rind, nectarine and Gasworks Park grass.

Alcohol: 14.6%. Columbia Valley AVA. 99 cases. Sex meter: you’ll get it. Power: 3/5. Balance: 3/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 92. Value: $28. Music pairing: “Got Your Number” by Serena Ryder. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guardian Cellars 2014 Newsprint chardonnay

What does it mean when one dies of “natural causes”? That the final decision from a British coroner after chopping and squeezing George Michael’s remains from Christmas Day. The diseases he succumbed to were cardiomyopathy and fatty liver, but no, those gory details had to wrapped up under “natural causes.” It’s the same excuse when wineries fold after extreme shameless hyping from pathetic wine bloggers like Shona and that wanker from It’s Wine O-Clock Somewhere stupidity. On a sadder note, Joni Sledge was found stiff in her Phoenix home on Friday. You readers of acquired wisdom will remember her surname from the late ’70’s watching the legendary Pittsburgh Pirates win their 5th World Series title as the team rode the Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” to the summit. And here’s a clue to my gf (and yours)– a Justin Bieber impersonator from Down Under was recently busted for over 900 offenses involving child porn. Is this not surprising? Only time until the original gets lasso’d for 50 shades of pervitude. And lastly in the world of music, Adele finally admitted the fat pig is married. The syrupy, depressing, and almost suicidal voice of dental offices everywhere has a significant other. She must have a huge bank account.

It’s Spring Release weekend in the city of Woodinville and environs and it’s time to celebrate. You see, it’s been busy after the election of the world’s finest el presidente in Mr. Trump. Our grand leader of the free world took up my offer to be a guest sommelier for the White House and it’s been a great run. Hint: yes, it’s worth going through the arduous screening process as my ancestors were from Norway, not Syria.

For those “global warming” varmints who are slabbing copious amounts of sunscreen in our balmy snow-rain climate that defines our regional “severe” winter weather, let’s ask this… was 1985 any better? F*ckin’ liberals…

New year, new generation of wine drinking noobs. Just walk into any tasting room and you can smell the wreak of recent wine discoverers. My assessment is twofold: (1) it’s wonderful to have a new money source; and (2) these asshat morons didn’t do their homework.

So, new year, new attitude.

You yippies out there have been asking where to go in the warehouse neighborhood like I have some “best of” list. There is no true “best of” list because favored wines are a mostly subjective preference. You can be a “I had a great boxed wine and wanted to try the local stuff” or a “I read Asimov and I only want the highly acclaimed juice” bullcrap pack. All that matters is you moved your expanding rump into the warehouse district because, after all, Woodinville is the wine capital of Washington. Anyone can make it here, even if you serve insipid, flat, obscure juice while working as a respected wine smellier in downtown Amazonia.

Here’s a protipper’s guide to what wines to maneuver skillfully toward as you traverse the labyrinthine wine blocks of Woodinville.

We start with a longtime player in Guardian Cellars. This winemaking team of an overzealous suburb cop and twinkle-eyed media scribe planted its roots over a decade ago, starting out quietly next to its mentor winery in Mark Ryan Winery. Needless to say, this affable couple grew a following to where the winery is now producing north of 10,000 cases/year of glorious Washington wine.

As a side note, some flunky dingleberries have touted March as “Washington Wine Month” in order for the lay public (read: clueless dumbfucks) to buy wine instead of their regular high gravity bee-err. Real wine drinkers know this– EVERY month is Washington wine month.

As part of this growth where Jerry is the head winemaker, it was only natural that an inquisitive partner in Jennifer would want to try her hand at making her style of wine. Voila! Born is Newsprint Wines.

Now, unlike other joints like DeLille Cellars where the spouses shoot off and do their own thing, Newsprint actually continues the legacy of the father winery and, just as Guardian took over Gun Metal from Mark Ryan Winery, Newsprint Wines assumed the legacy of GC’s chardonnay.

Why is this of any relevance? Well, my little urchin, this chardonnay is not any chardonnay. This is 100% chardonnay from Washington’s iconic chardonnay vineyard, Conner Lee.

In order to understand this, you have to talk to a seasoned Washington chardonnay drinker. Chardonnay from other vineyards in this state just do not compare. Chardonnay just doesn’t grow all that great in Washington. It grows. Just not defining. That’s all. Maybe it’s the updrift from nearby Hanford that gives this wine some nuclear separation (and that may explain why it glows so bright in the Riedel). Frankly, I don’t care how many isotopes are in my glass, as long as it tastes great.

Let’s just hope that the new owners of this celebrated chardonnay vineyard will continue the dynasty of being the best chardonnay vineyard in Washington. Protip: do not disturb the ecosystem of the great wineries tapping into this vineyard.

And, this is where you begin your tour of the Woodinville wine district.

Start at Guardian Cellars then slide on over to either (or both) Sparkman Cellars or Barrage Cellars. You cannot go wrong here. Even a knucklehead whiskey drinker can appreciate how good the wine is in this section of the warehouses. You could spend all afternoon amongst these three wineries and you will have our respect. There is no better trifecta in this winopolitan winescape.

Paired with a luscious, refined, and soothing slab of Northwest chicken fried rice. Magic on a budget. Also great with charcuterie.

Tasted at 55-59 degrees on the IR temp gun. Lovely light gold in the Riedel with over performing essences of Meyer lemon, mad peach, electric orange peel, and screaming yellow blossoms.

Alcohol: 14.2%. 450 cases. Conner Lee Vineyard. 100% chardonnay. Aged in 50% new French oak (water bent) for 12 months. Screw cap. Power: 3/5. Balance: 3/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 92. Value: $32. Paid: $18. Music pairing: “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Betz Family Winery 2014 Reserve du Soleil red wine

Let’s all hail Donald Trump as the next President of the United Stats. After all, the Don himself said he was leading in the polls and he personally sent me a confirmation at 4 in the morning that I will be the White House sommelier when he wins the election. Hell with the bitch who won the juiced “Miss Universe” pageant. That whore came from a lawless country that can’t even supply tampons to its indigenous people. She ate like a whale and sex’d like she was on Monday Night Football. We already placed an order on her soon-to-be-released sex tape that the Don confirmed was in existence.

In a related story, Seattle police have asked Sean to stop dressing as a clown when he visits local tasting rooms and asks to taste only their “award-winning” wines. This free-loading pussy of an aged wine slogger has been clamped in recent memory, thanks to that D-listed wine rag, Choad Enthusiast. That douchebag’s contractual obligations forbid anymore pussy-assed queer tweets about what wine he’s sloggin’ that he stole from dumbass wineries, such as the Walla Walla bitch that flipped him some $80 QED for a few infected sweet words. Wineries should know by now that wine bloggers have ZERO influence on the bottom line, but it seems that Walla Walla wineries are too busy attempting to insert cactus enemas in every wine blogger that requests their wine for review.

Where have the others gone since?

Good ol’ fatass Shona is still mooching the free Twitter train. Looks like the fat pig scored a last-minute deal with a third-rate virus-infested cruise line and she then spread her hepatitis A virus to the locals on Maui.

MarGot continues her mooching ways by sweet-talking her way to free wines. The latest sucker, “Diplomat” Wines of Red Mountain and “Bordeaux” Wines of central Washington got cred recently for their wines with a pithy few words.

And, there’s Jameson the fink who not only massages the scroats of local wine bloggers, including MarGot, but also schmoozes up to the NY boys in hopes of scoring a gig with the big-time fishwraps.

As I have stated before, asshats can never be rehab’d. Once they go their pathetic ways, they can never return to the land of the uninfected.

Wineries can only hope to have their tasting room staff edumacated enough not to get fooled by that line, “I’m a wine blogger. Can you give me free wine to review?”

Thankfully, the undigested diarrhea emanating from Wine Creeps has ceased. The bitch who disgraced Husky tennis has finally relented and returned to her place in obscurity.

If it’s one thing people notice, it’s the simple fact that wineries only hoot and holler juicy scores to hype their wines. Be especially wary of those wineries that only hollah the absurdly ridiculous scores from Wine Enth. These scores are artificial and are given a “+2 or 3 points” by the reviewer, based on how much free wine was supplied to their ambiguous tasting review. Paul Gutless once admitted that he cut a deal with the Walla Walla wineries by fluffing up the scores in order to promote Walla Walla wines and justify the bonko prices for their flabby wines. This is not only flat out unethical, but it reveals how overpriced the wines are in certain regions of the state.

To my new readers, be aware of the quality-to-price ratio. It is imperative to actually go to a winery and taste the wines in their natural state without the slime of some rating point labeled from a juiced wine reviewer. Most every wine blog you have read prior to arriving at this blog based their review on some free sample from a winery desperate for recognition. Wine blogs that do not occasionally rip a winery for their shitty wines are part of the shenanigan to shamelessly promote overpriced wines. It is your duty to read past the bullshit of any wine you are interested in by actually visiting the winery, talking to the winemaker/staff, and getting a vibe for who is attracted to the wine. Why would anyone pay for a wine where only broke-ass Black Lies Matter crunk f*cks congregate at?

And, this is where this blog has always shined.

Our group of homies actually go out to the wineries, unannounced, and pay for the wines that interest us. Yes, we have escaped many a tasting room with only paying the tasting fee because, quite simply, why should anyone be obligated to pay for a shitty wine?

The benefit of this wine blog is that we taste wines that were NOT donated to us. We pay for the wine, we say whatever we want about the wine. This is what consumers want to know. This is not some pay-to-play, let’s all be gay, yippee kay yay slave blog to the wine industry. Review the past issues and you will become informed that this blog is the essential watchdog for the Washington wine industry.

There are still a bountiful cluster of wine homers that will never reveal the blots on the industry in order to promote their wines as the best in the world. They are wrong. Washington wines are fantastic, but they are not the consensus BEST in the world. Washington is not an emerging region for wine (see Quilceda Creek wines). Washington is not the perfect climate for wine growing (see pinot noir). Columbia Crest does not make the most “exciting” wines. And, Chuck Smith is not the face of Washington wine.

These are the truths: (1) Washington wines are a better value than any other U.S. region, regardless of varietal; (2) Woodinville is the center of the wine universe in this state; (3) Washington cabernet sauvignon is THE BOSS, period; and (4) Washington wines since the 2012 vintage are the safest bets in the marketplace.

Only the finest producers make the exception to some of these rules. Betz is one of them.

Let’s face it, you won’t see a review of this wine because the winery never let this wine out of its closed wine club. Long-closed wine club. A Russian spy couldn’t infiltrate a Betz release party if the bitch wanted to. Well, that’s unless she hooked up with me. But I can’t stand the wide hips of a Russian whore.

Betz hasn’t completed the transition to its new South African owners and maybe that’s a good thing. Let’s admit this, it takes more than time to make an outstanding wine. It takes a relentless spirit and laser-focused passion over time to create consistently stunning wines. That’s what Bob Betz devoted his adult life to.

This wine is a first for Betz Family Winery. Reserve du Soleil was borne out of a few remarkable barrels of mourvedre. Mourvedre, peeps. This is a grape that has mostly played a supporting role in Rhone blends dominated by grenache or syrah. Mourvedre is not the most complex of grapes. It doesn’t pick up the taste of the land as well as the other grapes. That’s when it is conventionally grown. This mourvedre was pulled from an iconic vineyard in Washington’s most revered AVA, Red Mountain. The resulting blend has been nothing less than a revelation.

Young, pungent, and enduring are the first words to describe this wine. Inky black garnet in the Riedel with lingering flavors of ripe black boysenberry, black currant, black plum, black licorice, paprika, red chili pepper, smoke, dried cherry, and refined leathery tannins radiate on the palate. A reference standard for Washington wine that does not contain cabernet sauvignon.

Alcohol: 14.5%. Less than 100 cases. Columbia Valley AVA. Vineyard suspects include Ciel du Cheval and Olsen. 51% mourvedre, 27% cinsault, 18% grenache, 4% counoise. Power: 3/5. Balance: 4/5. Depth: 4/5. Finesse: 4/5. Rated: 95. Value: $80. Music pairing: “Young And Relentless” by Against The Current. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

 

 

 

 

 

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Intrinsic Wine Co. 2014 cabernet sauvignon

Can’t a wine blogger get a few months of rest? Readers in Louisiana, Minnesota, Texas, and now Nice, France need to stop the violence in demanding new blog posts from yours truly. Even the Don has refused to name the winner of his Veepstakes until I write a new post so be it.

Some interesting developments have arisen in Washington wine with this current heat streak (definitive vintages since 2012).

First is the over-bloated scores attached to wines that have no real business in the boner-seeking “best wine values of the month” category. Most guilty in this “+2, +3” overhype is that from Wine Overly Enthused. Is there a more blatant D-listed rag that shamelessly adds points to a wine’s score just for massaging the shriveled scroats of their wine judges? Then, there are a few desperate wineries that will even ride a score from some Wine & Fud or International Wine Conscroatium or other completely obscure piece of high-grade toilet paper just to sell their shitty wines. “Oh look, Tommy Zinfandel’s Guide To Wine scored ours a ’95’! Wait a minute… we don’t do a zinfandel. I guess we should.”

Second is the mushroom-like sprouting of all these low-end “premium” wineries that are tapping into the lucrative $15-25 market. Why is this a hot spot for selling wines? Easy. Have you noticed all the Amazon-linked newbies moving into our area, inflating home prices to record levels? Did you ever think an “average” house in Seattle metro will set you back over $600,000? These greedy Californicators are cash rich and young. Unfortunately, they are also beer drinkers who are only beginning to understand the virtues of wine. Their only previous exposure to wines depends on their status: if they worked at Google or Facebook– they got a taste of Napa Valley; if they worked at a supporting app company, then they flooded their palates with Paso Robles or Sonoma; and if they worked in software dev, then they drank Lodi. One can easily figure that when any of these silicon slaves coughed up $600,000 for a ex-Boeing janitor’s abode, they didn’t have much left for booze. Hence, the growth of the tolerable new middle-class of wines that is the $15-25 buffer.

This “new” winery, based in Paterson (home to only one real winery– Columbia Crest), is headed by none other than Paterson’s ‘La Eme’ wine boss in Juan Munoz Oca. Always look at the back label of any questionable Washington wine and if the location is Paterson, WA, then you can bet the juice passed through El Guapo’s purple-stained hands.

To the winery’s credit, they contracted some fine art for the label. It ain’t Upchurch Vineyard quality but is eye-catching enough to swipe a bottle off the rack.

So, what to think of this? A somewhat artsy wine label selling  a 2014 cabernet from two unknown vineyard sources crafted by a winemaker who heads Washington’s most prolific corporate winery.

Here’s the lowdown. It’s got Columbia Crest style, which means the wine imitates more expensive wines on the surface, but look deeper and there isn’t much stuffing to elevate this wine among Washington’s finest made.

This is a better than the H3 and Grand Estates versions under Columbia Crest but falls short of that winery’s “reserve” lineage. This wine lacks complexity, terroir, and presence. However, if you’re a 20-something hosting an open house with fellow tech-nerds and don’t want “your father’s wine,” then this wine is for you. It doesn’t taste cheap or expensive. It’s dry but not tannic. It’s dark, but not extracted. And, you’ll get a decent buzz if you use it for wine-pong. Status grade: plus.

Tasted at 62-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. Clean, dark magenta in the Riedel with aromas of red currant, black currant, 5th floor parking stall, leather, cherry, pomegranate, cherry, and chocolate backed up with flavors of blackberry skins, blue raspberry, and chalk. Slightly rough on the palate. Pair it with cold cuts and exotic cheeses.

Alcohol: 14.5%. Vineyards: 65% Beverly, 35% Eagle & Plow. Columbia Valley AVA. Soaked up to 9 months. 10% fermented in concrete. 45% of final blend aged 14 months in non-virgin French oak. pH 3.80. TA 0.54%. Retail: $22. Value: $17.  Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. WS 92. Music pairing: “Young & Relentless” by Against The Current. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fidelitas 2005 Champoux Vineyard cabernet sauvignon

More evidence from Generation D… the dumbest generation.

So apparently, there’s a new device released in the wild recently that combines the anatomy of a bong with the shape of a Champagne flute. Hipsters have gravitated to this new form of imbibing this luxurious beverage because, well… when you can’t afford the good stuff and you look like a sockheaded herpderp with no employable qualities, you do this sort of abomination-to-traditional-etiquette thing. This is the same type of attitude that Sean displayed when he used to “aerate” wines by shaking the bottles in a motion similar to how he used to massage his ex-boyfriend’s uncircumcised pecker. Why would any level-headed wine consumer “shoot” wine other than to get a quick buzz? If that’s the case, then go back to getting your ya-ya’s with those Champagne enemas. That was a great technique to earn a Darwin award back in the day!

A recent poll conducted by a major camera manufacturer showed that 80% of the 1000 respondents rated their own photography skills as “good to excellent.” That includes Sean, who posted some hideous “pal” pictures with winemakers at a recent Tasteless Washington event. Sean wanted to boast that he knew all these winemakers (some of whom are actually decent) so he took his piece-of-shit phone camera with a ‘powerful’ 5Mp capability and forgot to wipe the lens so the colors are faded and everyone looked twenty years older… and depressed that they had to be seen with this fake-ass wine douchey independent blog on free wines has been reduced to posts linking to his ass-kissed network of other fake bloggers along with soundbites of his reviews that are printed in a periodical that no one subscribes to.

The problem with these 80%ers is that they forget to reveal that they compare themselves to their dentured grandmas. They think that using fake filters and vignetting along with wicked angled tilts and shooting in portrait mode makes their pictures look “cool.” No.

First of all, if your picture needs these obvious “special effects” (read: “I’m a dingbat and I had to alter this picture because IT SUCKS!”) then you are not even considered to be an “average” photographer. You are obviously so full of yourself that you can’t hear the rolling eyeballs around you. Here’s a protip: place duct tape over the lens of your “camera” and you will take absolutely the most pure pictures you have ever taken that will have your viewers in stunned amazement and guessing at your creative genius.

Speaking of blind… don’t you just love those “wine professionals” who zip up their bigboy pants in front of you when they mention that they taste wine “blind”? These grayed and wrinkled asshats want you to buy the illusion that they assess the quality of a wine without knowing anything about the wine. I call ‘bullshit.’

Dig a little deeper and ask second-level questions since the foolish sucker consumer tends to believe whatever Mister Bigshot Winerag Writer spews. Is there video proof of how a real tasting and rating session is conducted? (The answer is always “no.”) Is there any information you are told about the wines before tasting? Again, the answer is a vague “no” in that, it’s NEVER a truly “blind” tasting.

Take a physically blind person out for a walk in the city. Ask if they can see the traffic light in their viewing range. Of course not. Tell them there’s a traffic light in the vicinity then ask them which color (red, yellow, or green) is lit up and what is the status of the crosswalk signal. They can only guess, right? It’s because they are BLIND.

These so-called “wine professionals” who are, in reality, failed writers in other subjects not-in-demand are not tasting the wines “blind.” They can see just fine through the crystal to note if the wine is red or yellow or pink/orange. They were told, “This is a tasting of cabernet sauvignon” and justify that information needed to better judge the wines. And, quite often, they discuss with their peers as the tasting is goes on. What’s even more of a riot is that they are wines that were recently tasted on their little tasting room escapade to the wineries, so that they still have a familiar impression of the wines in question. That’s not “blind,” folks.

If a researcher wants to do a credible peer-reviewed study on the benefits of product X and compare it to a known product Y. Subjects would be assigned randomly to one product and not even the researchers themselves know who is getting what because the two products look identical. They are completely clueless.

To do a true wine “blind tasting” is actually quite simple.

Purchase a jet-black wine glass, preferably Riedel because shape and quality of glass really do matter. Have someone pour the wine and then hide the bottle so all the tester can see is a black wine glass. And, obviously, make sure the wine is at the appropriate temperature between 55 and 60 degrees, regardless of color. If it is a white wine, it is at perfect serving temperature. If it is a red wine, it will warm up quickly to 60-65 degrees, which is ideal for rating. Of course, no one else in the area can say anything while the assessment is in progress. And, just like a happy ending, spitting or swallowing really doesn’t matter.

Then, there’s the consumer-level wine tasting.

The wine in question should be treated like any other that an average paying consumer would acquire and enjoy it. First, BUY the wine from a commercial establishment. Next, chill the bottle to the proper temperature of approximately 55 degrees. Open it and pour into appropriate crystal wine glass. Allow a few minutes for the wine to enter the proper temperature window and release its unique aromatics, then take a first sip. NEVER judge a wine on the first sip. The palate will not be set for wine and will usually taste more bitter at first–which is likely an evolved defensive mechanism. Don’t mess with evolution.

Keep assessing at different temperatures and engage all the senses. Look at the wine’s color. Swirl it in the glass. Observe how it forms “legs” down the inside of the glass. Take a whiff. Stick your schnozzle and upper lip into the glass and inhale at varying velocities. Swirl again then ingest about half an ounce. Roll the magical liquid all around inside the mouth. Activate all the sensory glands on the tongue. It’s kind of asinine-looking but you could slip a few gobs of air in to flow over the wine on your tongue as it can actually transport more aromatics to the inner nasal cavity, making for the impression of complexity. Then swallow (or spit if a spittoon is nearby) and embrace its lasting image.

Look at the color. Is it pretty? Is it anything other than “red” or “yellow”? Are there chunks or sediment inside the glass? What are the smells? The nose and the tongue should be communicating on a parallel to paint a mental picture. If it smells like hot battery acid, then it should taste like hot battery acid. If there are too many things going on, then divide into these compartments: (1) fruit; (2) flower; (3) earth; (4) spice/savories; and (5) barrel. Only with aged wines should an additional category of “secondary/tertiary characteristics” be included. Any Joe Blow can do this. Once. What separates the Joes on this blog from just about every other wine blog is we have done it consistently hundreds of times. We could confidently even say over a thousand times… to the point that more wine is consumed for review on this blog than the national reviewers. Why? Because like any great sex partner (and wine does lead to great sex and frequently gives that same sexual-high), a swallower is far more intimate with the wine than just spitting. And besides, do any of your fellow dinner invitees spit at your table during a meal?

In the end, does it really even matter? Well, it’s common knowledge that “numbers” (rating numbers) do sell wines. It’s a convincing marketing tool. Go to the wine section of your local market for proof. However, these so-called “wine professionals” have been tested for verification in a public forum and most often, they are perhaps only 1 or 2 points (out of 20) better than the average consumer at judging/rating wines. You’ve seen those YouTube videos where a professional athlete challenges a wine “expert” at a guess-the-wine competition and they are almost identical in their guesses. The difference is the seasoned wine-oholic wields sharper metaphors to describe the sensations; whereas Joe Athlete can only initially describe a wine as “tastes like grape.” And, that’s what keeps us in business…

This Fidelitas wine had everything going for it, including the heavy, sculpted glass bottle. Vintage 2005. 100% cabernet sauvignon. Champoux Vineyard. This was before the tasting room on Sunset Road. This was up-and-coming Charles Hoppes. This was also a $55 brick of a wine that competed with all the other equally impressive Washington cabernets from the few great wineries back in the day. This was the stuff of legend. And, it lived up to the very high expectations.

What better wine to celebrate Mother’s Day? Another high heat weekend that summoned USDA Prime ribeye on the grill. Is there a better cabernet pairing? I don’t think so either. Let’s hope you did something equally impressive for your mom.

Tasted at 58-68 degrees on the IR temp gun. A bodacious and alluring nose of blackberry, raspberry, blood cherry, Portland red roses, and red plum cast in a dark ruby display and leading to bold and dominant flavors of blackberry crème, red licorice, bright red cherries from Zillah, dried sage, graphite, old leather, tumbleweed, Furano lavender, burnt forest, and a svelte streak of old-growth cedar. Extravagantly divine.

Alcohol: 14.9%. Horse Heaven Hills AVA. 50% new French and USA oak. Aged 22 months. 175 cases. Power: 3/5. Balance: 4/5. Depth: 4/5. Finesse: 4/5. Rated: 95. Value: $75. Music pairing: “Ya Ya” by Lee Dorsey. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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