Corliss Estates 2004 cabernet sauvignon

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on December 6, 2009:

Dedicated to ChrisinSunnyside, who is the latest crazy-man to read my blogs–a 57-year old middle TN man “drunk-dialed” 911 47 times over the last year, only to have the police respond to his house and have him say he was “just drunk.” Any coincidence that Jack Daniels just happens to be there? A 25-year old FL man was arrested for rubbing his hamburger, literally, in his wife’s face after they got into a fight and the wife poured soda over the hamburger. I’m guessing he had a James Cagney moment.” Sir, you’re no James Cagney”, as Lloyd Bentsen kinda said. A 48-year old IN man (why are these all men??) was arrested by police at 1am after he was caught riding a motorized bike (but no lights) with a Christmas tree on it. The lot was closed and the tree still had it’s $40 tag hanging…and he was drinking at a bar. Let’s use the NRA mentality here…alcohol isn’t the cause of stupidity! Whatevers. A 33-year old furry photographer has won over 500 fans on Facebook; the photos taken when the shutter is released and raisins are dispensed. No!, that’s not me, it’s an orangutan in Vienna, Austria! Oooo, the nerve!

Corliss Estates…oh, the hype this winery attained, via Paul Gregutt. Michael Corliss and Lauri Darneille spearhead this original and, apparently, have access to, not just a money tree, but a money forest. Their first vintage was in 2001, but they literally threw away the first two vintages as it didn’t meet their standards! What?? Then, they go and start up a “white wine” Tranche Cellars, and…get this, buy out Sandhill Winery on Red Mountain, only to rename it RMV Cellars, with a Spring, 2010 initial release. Well, somebody hit the financial jackpot! I’m happy for them but I can imagine the “gristle” amongst other winemakers who aren’t so fortunate and had to scratch their way to success. Life’s easy when money’s not a major concern, and I’m not being sarcastic here, if you’ve read my recent reviews. One lesson here: don’t fault people who have money and you may not have as much as they do; for you may have other virtues they don’t have. Envy and jealousy are sins, if I recall somewhat. Just be thankful they are here making Washington wines and not elsewhere.

Their first vintage was so successful (read: sold out in a blink; I got mine, thank you!) that they had to release the 04 syrah in Spring to appease the masses. I cannot think of a Spring-released syrah from anywhere around here. A pleasant gesture, for sure. However, for every “success” story, it’s easy to find what I call “the grousers.” Look at and you’ll see the cheap, shameful comments: “awful…sickly sweet, grainy oak profile” (rated 85), “comes off as an under $20 cali cab” (rated 87),  “hot, overly oaked, disjointed…”, “much too young”, “an alcoholic, syrupy mess…”, etc. Oh wait, excuse me, they were talkin’ about that other “cult” cabernet…Quilceda Creek’s 2004 cabernet (seriously, even though it’s rated 99 by Wine Advocate). There’s only one impish comment about this wine, “…but the finish was clipped…had a nice funk to it…” A clipped finish, what the heck is that? A nice funk…no wine should smell like “funk.” That’s left for the clothes hamper at a fitness gym. Wine dorks.

My only quandary is with the website. They must have uber-computer knowledge because the website’s as bare as a “hello world” (Celaeno–hi Brian!) or Robert Ramsay’s. That’s the only ‘weakness’ that has anything to do with this wine or winery. Their mailings are so ‘first-class feel’ and the wines are shipped in wooden presentation cases. It’s like I’m receiving a new hard-drive from UPS, the box is that huge! And each wine bottle is wrapped in tissue. That’s what I mean by first class. Shoot, I didn’t even know the bottles were hand-numbered like Owen Roe’s AND the deep “punt” with the red wax imprint normally found as part of the “foil”, with the winery logo (6 “o”‘s stacked) over the year “2004”. A gorgeous bottle for its simplicity and hidden intricacies.

Color: black-purple with deep purple edges. Nose: light, but focused with perfumed purple flowers, quick-roasted coffee beans, milk chocolate, slight touch of black cherries…very slight, a splash of caramel. Mouthfeel: loaded but medium weighted. Tail trail: 15 seconds +. Flavors: blackberries, black licorice, black cherry soda, very focused, noticeable lack of tannin sting, so very mellow on the  black flavors yet a soft, unreleasing grip, firm medium black fruits refuse to die, hate to say this because I tried some as a kid but–black calligraphy ink, more aromatics (cloves) in the mid-palate, black licorice farewell.

Columbia Valley AVA. Alcohol: 14.9% (no way…couldn’t tell). This from Sean at Washington Wine Report: 225 cases and 82% cab sau, 9% cab franc, 7% petit verdot, 1% malbec, 1% merlot. Bottle 996 of 2496. Rated: 97. Value: $90. Paid: $75. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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