Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on July 15, 2010:
Myth: the recent wine bloggers convention in Vidalia…oops, Walla Walla, will improve the quality of wine blogging. Fact: I have yet to see any bump-up in quality writing from most of the local winos. Myth: a New Jersey woman claimed to perform a “sex act” on a man she picked up before wrapping her car around a tree. Fact: the woman and her boyfriend stole a laptop and outdrove the police until her car met a tree. Myth: a New Hampshire woman broke into a home and, after being discovered in the kitchen, told the owners she was a police officer who was chasing a burglar in the house. Fact: it was all bullsh*t and the homeowners wrote down her car’s license number and called police, who later arrested the “police officer.” Myth: a New Jersey man posted bail for shoplifting then returned to demand a refund. Fact: the police were looking for him after realizing the money he posted bail with was fake. He was charged with counterfeiting. Don’t believe the hype…got it? Time for a summer throwdown! Considering Seattle’s summer will only last from July 5 to Labor Day, I will not be pitching too many of these, but I digress.
Guardian Cellars has been thoroughly written up by many other bloggers/retailers, and rightfully so. Basically, Jerry Reiner had a fetish for (a) hot women; (b) hot forklifts; or (c) hot dogs, so while putting his chemistry degree from the local university to good use as a narcs officer, he passed by Matthews Estate winery one somber day in the late ‘90s and sprang a boinger for choice (c). Just kidding…it was choice (b). This was the result of some odd childhood memory from his days working his uncle’s wheat farm in the Heartland. He later volunteered at Matthews where he bonded with Mark McNeilly and the two would later collaborate to make the wines that put the Woodinville warehouse district on the map.
Take notes from here as the following will be an example of what “friendship” means. In 2003, Jerry made a couple barrels of cabernet for Mark Ryan’s label when Mark offered to help Jerry start his own winery as a “thanks” for helping Mark get his brand going. The following year, after a summit over good beer and garlic fries, Mark helped seal the deal by throwing in the Conner Lee Vineyard contract for that cabernet used to make the stellar ‘Gun Metal’ red wine as a sort of “Miranda rights” and, thus, Jerry couldn’t say no.
Jerry opened the doors to his own tasting room in late 2007. I know. I was there. At least, I think I was. Whenever Mark Ryan had a release party, I made sure to stop by Guardian Cellars simply because (1) if his wines were as bold as Mark’s but at a lower price, why not?; and (2) the smaller tasting room made for a more intimate tasting experience and with both Jerry, the Lynnwood controlled substances cop, and Jennifer, the Seattle Times reporter, manning the pours (with an occasional guest pourer in Lisa Baer of Baer Winery), there was a personal touch that augmented the quality of their wines and isn’t that part of why certain wines taste a hella better in a tasting room?
So, I became a semi-regular until they moved to their current location a few doors up in a much bigger apartment space to accommodate their 2500+ case production. While their ‘Gun Metal’ big red blend is their signature wine, I was (and still am) captivated by their lone white wine, Angel. I’ve tasted sau blancs from other tasting rooms in the Woodinville area, but never on par to what the Angel delivers.
Thus, I was somewhat perplexed when I received a tweet from a fellow wine enthusiast that the Angel wasn’t up to its high standards. I read up that Jerry chose to soak this wine in new French oak for only seven weeks. Now, I don’t know jack about making wines, but I was under the impression that (1) Jerry sure released the 09 Angel a bit early compared to previous releases; and (2) my impression of the creaminess came from sitting on the lees and not the brief time in new oak before moving onto stainless. But, what do I know? So, I went with his plan. And, I chose to throw what I thought was Washington State’s best sauvignon blanc up against a California stalwart in…Rochioli Winery.
Since this is a throwdown episode and food is involved, it becomes imperative that a wine not only show well on its own and with food, but also seek a presence over its competitor. The Angel started off with a deeper color in the glass and showed equal clarity and brightness that followed with prime aromas of grapefruit and green melon. On its own, the Angel is a wonderful sau blanc that well expresses its ‘hotter’ roots of Red Mountain AVA Klipsun Vineyard and nearby Yakima Valley AVA Spring Creek Vineyard to the west of Benton City. The prime flavors of tart-yellow citrus stand at center stage while sharing space with the tropical flavors of lime and guava, along with a stab of oak. Not nearly as creamy as I remembered but still a mouthful.
Rated: 90. Value: $21. Paid: $20. Music pairing: “Angel Baby” by Rosie and The Originals. Food pairing: soy sauce and fresh-squeezed lemon garlic chicken. Ok pairing. Columbia Valley AVA (it’s really Yakima Valley AVA). 375 cases. Alcohol: 14.1%. Drink this year. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.