Cave B 2008 Saignee

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on December 29, 2009:

Slow news around the world so let’s take a look in our backyard, eh? Chief “pothole” of Seattle will finally be resigning after enduring criticism for paralyzing the city of Seattle during last December’s winter snowstorm. Seattleites, have you forgotten the picture of that bus that crashed through the gates and hung precariously over I-5, just across REI? That will be her legacy, more so than the $4 million cost overrun of the S.L.U.T. and the defeat of her boss in the mayoral election. Joining her should be the Huskies offensive line, the entire Cougars football team, Carlos Silva the now ex-Mariner and his $48 million, all of the Seattle sportswriters (boh-ring!), and the neighborhood of Skyway, the armpit of Seattle. I’d pay to have them all shipped off to a lonely stretch of Hwy. 410 near Naches and let Mother Nature take its course. Gimme a hell yeah!!

Ah, 2009. At last we are at the end of a decade. If we’re average, we get to experience about eight of those in our lifetimes. More forgettable than memorable, we still remember those indelible images that mark the end of a decade. In 1979, it was Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” vinyl that kept us boogieing in our Angels Flights thinking we were the loco Danny Terrio. In 1989, we…uh, what happened then? Nothing. We were stuck with Escape Club’s “Wild Wild West” and Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing”. Enuff said. In 1999, we were overkilled with Prince’s college tune. Now you know why we’d like to forget years that end with “9”.
So, let’s try to remember the good times that was 2009 in a year that was all about wine here.

We witnessed the end of the “cold war” where Walla Walla wineries finally gave in and started putting up shop in Woodinville. They say they are here to expand their customer base. We say they’re here because of the economy and to cut costs on shipping since most of their club list sits in the Puget Sound area. Whatever the reasons, we’re glad they’re here as it provides more opportunities to taste wines from the entire State that cannot be had anywhere else.

We saw the emergence of a new district called the Hollywood Schoolhouse. Brian Carter Cellars is the pioneer but the trio of Mark Ryan/Ross Andrew/J Bookwalter really started the drive to put H.S. on the map. (Could a “H. S. Musical” be in the near future?) Their legacy will be known as the “roundabouts” that were installed to replace the lone traffic light in the district. Keep circling the roundabout and you’ll get a “bird” flown your way, too.

Another area is picking up…we’ll call it the “Bramble Bump” zone (the BBZ?) as anchored by Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery, but now populated with JM Cellars, Januik/Novelty Hill, Silver Lake/Glen Fiona/Hoodsport, Facelli and Woodhouse Family Cellars and with recent cheechakos Celaeno, Elsom Cellars, Maison Bleue, Isenhower Cellars, and Tefft Cellars.

As for wines, I personally do not understand the trends but there’s surely a lot more malbec and cabernet franc flowing in the tasting rooms lately. And, everyone into syrah seems to have a Boushey Vineyard somewhere in their collections, not that that’s bad…but it does appear to dilute its “luxury” brand status.

The competition for joining wine clubs will be never more fierce than in 2010. Thank the recovering economy and the subsequent exodus from the uber-permium wineries for the new memberships. I never imagined I would get a Quilceda Creek invite so soon. I also never imagined DeLille Cellars would open a separate tasting room after witnessing their 2005 inventory completely clear out in a trip to the cheese line. Then, to witness Leonetti Cellar wines on sale at Costco…like I tweeted earlier, there has never been a time like now to stock up on “dream” wines at basement prices. Now is the time to spend on Washington’s top-tier cellar dweller wines. Forget that all your fair-weather buddies are buying $9-12 bargains. Reign in your movie-theater budget, your foodie budget, and your loaded-with-unplanned-trips gas budget, and get that bottle you always wanted. Now. No excuses. Do it.

But, I digress. Tonight’s wine comes from Cave B Winery. More folks know about the “Inn” with the views of the mighty Columbia River, the full-service spa, and Tendrils restaurant. Yeah, they actually have a working winery. Sure, they sold off the Gorge Amphitheater long ago, but what remains is a luxury destination that also features a house winery. I had the pleasure of meeting head winemaker and owner’s son-in-law, Freddy Arrendondo, at a Costco display table a few weeks back. We had a short discussion about the featured wines and I ended up buying a signed bottle of this roh-zeh wine. What was impressive (and worrying about “spreading too thin”) was their lineup of 19 wines. This from a winery bonded in 2001 and still not too well known. The other wines featured were too high in alcohol so I happily settled on this one. Who says no one buys roh-zehs in winter?? I paired this wine with a warm winter soup loaded with forearm macaroni…or elbow or whatever it’s called, along with chopped ham and veggies. Can you say “mmmmm, delish!”?

Color: strawberry juice red. Nose: strawberry, Bing cherry. Mouthfeel: juicy with a little weight. Tail trail: 2 seconds. Flavors: strawberry, acerola cherry, memories of sitting in an inner-tube in the summer.

Columbia Valley AVA. Alcohol: 12.9%. Fruit: cabernet sauvignon. 276 cases. Released March, 2009. Sold out on the website but still available at Costco Woodinville. Rated: 86. Value: $12. Paid: $15. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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