Tulpen Cellars 2006 syrah

A 56 year-old Gurnee, IL woman appeared to have walked out on a tab at a local restaurant when police questioned her after passing out on the lawn down the street. She led the officers to her apartment to retrieve her wallet when instead, she pulled out a “clear, rigid feminine pleasure device” and held it over her head as she walked threateningly toward the officer. She plans on pleading guilty at her hearing so she can receive a stiff sentence. A Uniontown, PA new father will be arraigned for toking up in front of a police officer just before delivery, claiming “I’m having a baby and wanted to get a buzz.” That wasn’t the disturbing part…this was: the person who reported the incident was on a smoke break and recognized the smell of marijuana. Health care worker, smoking, familiar with marijuana… yeah, you’re right, hypocrisy is everywhere. After all, look at all of our “respected” wine bloggers (point). An Oregon high school has canceled its winter formal due to frustrated teachers being unable to stop grinding on the dance floor. The students defended their antics, saying they were only dancing like what they see at wine release parties. And lastly, a critic called the quality of my recent posts “bushcricket.” I was initially pissed until I realized, “Wtf is a bushcricket?” So, I looked it up. Oh! The tuberous insect has humongous nards, up to 14% of its body weight. To translate in wine blogger terms, one scientist interpreted the results as “large nards allow male wine bloggers to capitalize on the readily available supply of willing female wine blog readers.” I guess that explains why women fling their underwear in my direction at wine parties! Ah, the power of suggestion…

I will be pushing through a bunch of wine reviews for you readers to consider for the Thanksgiving table, even though most, if not all, you wonderful readers have already made your decision. To accomplish this, I have to abbreviate the background information on the wine/winery, especially on wines where previous reportage was delightfully covered by a minimally-tariffed subscription to a local wine retailer in Full Pull Wines.

Admittedly, I have nothing against any Washington winery, even from the Walla Walla Valley area. I may gently pan some of the reviewers who think Walla Walla Valley wineries are the be-all, end-all. Good for them. However, we can smell their bias like the reductive hot garbage that comes from some of the syrahs out there.

So the question begs, “Do the Walla Walla Valley wineries really need this type of ‘pay to play’ assistance?” One would think giving away all their free wine to wine bloggers has to come with a gutpunch to the bottom line. And, to an extent it has, as evidenced by the mushrooming presence of Walla Walla winery tasting rooms in Woodinville. That, and the ridonkulous prices some of them charge for a simple bottle of wine. I estimate that the average price of a Walla Walla Valley syrah hovers around the 40-dollar range. After all, someone has to cover for all that free wine given to ineffective wine bloggers.

And, this is where you, the reader, thank me for my posts. I do not contribute to these fecal-prices-for-fecal-wines nonsense. I pay full price, I write as I please. That’s as unbiased as it gets these days. Receiving free wine bottle “samples” is an unstoppable double-edged sword: a good review is “tainted” (no CC, not that ‘taint’!) because the author is seen as obliged to return a positive response OR a poor review is seen as “the ungrateful bastard/bitch.” A classic “no-win” poopy situation.

Why do wineries play this anyway? Some really need the “vibe” exposure. It’s a write-off for the “cost of doing business.” For new wineries, this is actually a very intelligent strategy to get established in the marketplace. Get the name out there. Get the alliances formed. Get the demand birthed. Plus, any color medal won at some competition is great marketing material because, despite giving out 57 gold medals to 60 entrants, the consumers are still cluelessly thinking, “Wow, it won a gold medal,” like it was some Olympic contest where only ONE gold medal was awarded. Very deceptive, but very effective. Don’t get me started on those “double gold” dealybobs.

A common problem for all these recent startup wineries is the trademark rights to winery names, as this winery experienced. I’m going on trusted hearsay on this one, but the original planned name was ‘Tulip Cellars’, until another winery flung a ‘cease-and-desist’ order. And sure enough, a quick search snuffed out a possible suspect in Tulip Winery of Tel Aviv (Israel). Oh, I’m so sure I would get the two mixed up…whatevers. So, a quick change to Tulpen Cellars, which is German for tulip, and all is good again.

What is it about tulips on the front label that make it so pleasing on the eye (and thus valued artwork that must be purchased? Hint: another good marketing strategy)? Tulips are endemic in these parts as the official sign of spring. Forget Holland. We have the Skagit Valley. Tulips also make it easy to remember the bottles…Barnard Griffin’s Tulip Series, Pasek Cellars wines honoring the Tulip Festival, and this simple beauty.

This wine needed 24 hours post-opening to do a review because it was just too…number two stink. Even though I often prefer wines that 99% of the wine buying populace drink, being a fair wine reviewer means having to at least honestly attempt to appreciate what the other 1% find so compelling in wines such as this. I used to think only someone with halitosis could enjoy this style of wine, and that’s how it is with casual wine drinkers. I still harbor that feeling but have grown enough to understand that this is just a wine for those wine consumers. Call it “Old World,” “terroir,” “site specific,” “funk,” or “great winemaking,” I know what I heard it called at this tasting and that’s how I will leave it.

Tasted 24 hours-post opening at 52-58 degrees on the IR temp gun. Nose: horse fur, cola, cherry crème. Color: patriarch purple. Mouthfeel: slight sweetness, featherweight. Tail trail: 4 seconds. Flavors: saline, young plum, black olive, black pepper.

Alcohol: 15.2%. 76% syrah, 4% co-fermented viognier, 10% grenache, 10% mourvèdre. Half the syrah is from Mill Creek Vineyard, the other half from Lewis Vineyard. Produced and bottled by Zerba Group LLC in Milton-Freewater, OR. Rated: 87. Paid: $18. Original retail: $30. Value: $12. Music pairing: “Do You Love Me” by (Beyonce) The Contours. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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