JM Cellars 2008 chardonnay

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on September 10, 2009:

Neiman-Marcus has been described by one VP as “very organic.” A Marni raccoon-fur vest at $2160? I knew “organic” meant paying a little more, but just who the heck buys this stuff? What is going on in Turkey these days? Nine women were tricked into a “reality show” that turned out to be a nudity show and a woman must wait for her sentencing for chopping off some dude’s man-piece, until the re-attached unit appears to function. And in wine news, some bloke paid almost $7000 for a bottle of 1957 Penfolds Grange St. Henri shiraz. That wine was meant to be drunk like a “Two Vines” or a “Melange”. Crazy wine folks with too much money!

JM Cellars sits on prime “Bramble Bump” hillside adjacent to that unknown winery called Chateau Ste. Michelle. Owners John and Peggy Bigelow began their pursuit of winemaking in their Seattle home as “garagistes” back in 1998, with only 100 cases of wine “for their own enjoyment.” And I thought I drank a lot of wine! John, then a software executive, took courses at UC-Davis and spent one crush period with winemakers Mike Januik, Charlie Hoppes and Holly Turner before starting their winery. Their first vintage was a 1999 “Tre Fanciulli”. John temporarily returned to the software world until 2006 when JM Cellars could stand on its own and the rest is history.

JM Cellars was a tough nut to crack by this weekend wino since the tasting room was only open on the first Saturday of each month, as I recall. Plus, although it sits next to CSM, the land is basically a sculpted forest on a private residence. Hard to find, but once there, just start thinking Arboretum with very limited parking and that’s the picture of JM Cellars. I once took a flop at the bottom of a trail leading to a dammed pond after a tasting and barrel room tour and when I looked up, all I could see was trees laughing at my foolishness. Definitely a unique place to sample delicious wines.

Tonight’s partners in food were Wheat Thins regular and Parmesan/basil, along with the usual Beecher’s Smoked Flagship and kettle corn. Key word to describe this wine is elegant. Only 15% new French oak was used and aged for 8 months. Really, nothing but soft fruit stands out in this well-balanced wine. Chardonnay haters, you ABC folks, this is the one bottle that will convert you back.

Color: straw, Nose: wildflowers, orange blossoms, Yakima peaches. Mouthfeel: moderate, warming presence. Flavors: peach, pear, dash of apricot, slice of green apple, melon. Missing: creamy, buttery, oaky. Tail trail: 5 seconds.

Columbia Valley AVA. The grapes were sourced from Conner Lee Vineyard (60%), home to my other favorite chards from Buty, Abeja, and Mark Ryan; and Lewis Vineyard (40%), home to another favorite chard by Dunham Cellars.  282 cases. Alcohol: 14.1%. Rated: 95. Value: $34.20. Paid: $27. Is it just me, or am I slugging through some damn excellent wines lately? This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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