Mount Baker Vineyards & Winery 2008 Yakima Valley malbec

Another baseball All-Star Game is in the books, which means it’s time for the “us vs. them” issue. Let’s start with the opposition: the rest of the U.S. A 30 year-old Pennsylvania woman complained to her songwriting boyfriend that he never wrote a song about her so he fixed that by choking her and smacking her in the face before getting arrested. Guess what the next big country hit song will be about? A 6 year-old Illinois girl carded a hole-in-one at The Links golf course in Bloomington. This is not to be confused with the 66 year-old wine blogger in Waitsburg who “did” a hole-in-one at his last lemon party. Ahh California…a 48 year-old Garden Grove woman poisoned her estranged husband with sedatives then tied him up to the bed. Wait for it. When he awoke, the woman grabbed his penis and cut it off with a 10-inch kitchen knife then proceeded to toss the dangling ding-a-ling into the garbage disposal and flipped the switch. No word on whether the all the hospital’s horses and all the hospital’s men were able to reattach the penile pieces together again… (tsk… *crickets*)

And now for the home team! In honor of baseball’s midsummer classic, I give you: a 52 year-old Fremont man with a history of schizophrenia attacked his parents with a baseball bat before the cops could safely remove both parents from the house. Considering his debut performance of going 0-for-2, Mariners scouts were overheard to say to each other that they already sported a lineup full of that and refused to offer a contract. You thought the jurors in the Casey Anthony trial were a farce? A mistrial was declared in a drug case at a Port Orchard courthouse after a juror was heard to mumble something about wanting to punch the defense attorney in the nose. Another drug felon gets to walk free in our land thanks to the work of our local citizens! Over at Yesler Terrace, the original ‘skid road’ where loggers used the force of gravity to transport logs from the top of the hill to the pier and is now one of the original Section 8 housing developments from World War II, a 40-something man was seated in his car, minding his own business around 11pm when he was shot in the leg by a gunman who then fled. I spent my formative years walking through that area and let me tell you, some places NEVER change. Tip to travelers: never, ever, ever wander east of I-5 when in downtown Seattle at night. Finally, from the land of big beehive blue hairs and other trashy tramps trolling the mall… Lynnwood police responding to a 911 call found a man had shaved the right and back of his ex-girlfriend’s noggin and bruised her arms. The man admitted he had been on drugs and was jealous and paranoid about their relationship. Now, do you agree that polo shirts and khakis are just plain boring as all hell? Heck, every Lynnwood woman I dated actually deserved more of a branding on the rump with a hot potato masher…so trailer park mentality.

As a bonus, here’s tonight’s trivia quiz. You guess the league: NBA or NFL? Here are the clues: (1) 36 have been accused of spousal abuse; (2) 7 have been arrested for fraud; (3)
19 have been accused of writing bad checks; (4) 117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses; (5) 3 have done time for assault; (6) 71 cannot get a credit-card due to bad debt; (7) 14 have been arrested on drug-related charges; (8) 8 have been arrested for shoplifting; (9) 21 are currently defendants in lawsuits; and (10)  84 have been arrested for drunk driving. Answer at the end of this post.

Mount Baker Vineyards and Winery (MBVW) began operations in 1978 by Al Stratton, a former man of the military, and was bonded in 1982 as the 88th winery in Washington. The now six-acre estate vineyard originally grew 48 varietals (on a larger plot of land), but is now strategically whittled down to six (Pinot Noir, Müller-Thurgau, Siegerrebe, Chasselas, Pinot Gris, and Madeline Angevine) that can prosper at the very cool 48th parallel. In 1989, Al sold the kit-and-kaboodle to Randy Finley, former owner of the Seven Gables Theater in the University District of Seattle, whose year of travel to France left an indelible wine impression. Randy’s wife, Patricia, adds the artwork that can be found in the tasting room and on the labels. Honestly, two thoughts on the wine label: (1) done on an early version of a Mac, and (2) representative of the area’s “who cares if it looks simple and unexciting” culture. Total annual production currently stands at 12,000 cases.

Looking at their website under the “buy wine” tab, I gotta admit, this is one odd operation, and I mean in a non-conventional way. Why the heck would I buy online a wine called “Oyster blanc”? So many unappealing pictures enter the imagination. What’s in “Rosetta blanc”? Marsanne for a Hamilton? Roussanne for a Hamilton? Prices range from $8 to $24 for their lineup of 19 wines, so it is reasonable or so it seems. Word on the street is that the wines weren’t very good so I decided to search one out at the local supermarket and this malbec is the one that most interested me. That was one incentive. The other was, I have a “longtime” Twitter follower in a Mr. David Traynor, who at the time was the winemaker for MBVW. This mid-30’s mountaineer was kind enough to remind me that there was a Whatcom County when I was going off on all the Skagit County wineries one
morning…all the way to the border. Yikes. Fail! David has since moved his wife and two sons, in late February, over the Cascades to Vin du Lac Winery in Chelan. Think he loves the great outdoors? Or, was he trying to escape my avengers?

I briefly caught up with him, virtually, and found a comrade in that: (1) he’s friendly and direct (although, ahem, I am still patiently waiting for a response from my interview questions…don’t pull a Reynvaan, okay?); (2) he was an I-1100 supporter (means he fears nothing in the marketplace); (3) thinks merlot and viognier should be Washington’s signature grapes; and (4) he prefers to make “affordable wines that speak to the varietal
and terroir while being commercially successful.” David stated he was very happy to make the move and utilize the expanded resources of his new bosses.

Some background: malbec is Argentina’s national grape for wine. They have the altitude, the latitude, the climate, and cheap labor. It’s a perfect match for their national food: beef. They “own” the $15-25 category for making malbecs that easily cost $30 and up for similar, if not lower quality, here in Washington. Pick up a Catena for $18 from Costco and prove me wrong. Why Washington continues to bottle varietal malbec is beyond me. A
futile (and expensive) venture if there ever was one for Washington vintners. Stat: malbec again is the most expensive wine grape to purchase from Washington growers. Malbec is a blending grape. Let it be. And, we are NOT Cahors. Or Mendoza either.

To the wine.

Food pairing was marinated flank steak. Meat and malbec. What else do you need to know?

Tasted at 56-64 degrees on the IR temp gun. A happy, deep magenta in the Riedel with heady aromas of bodacious plum and hay, the wine slung at high velocity on the palate and followed with flavors of plum, bark spices, chalk and purple flowers on a moderate 6-second finish. Best above 60 degrees.

Alcohol: 13.7%. pH 3.82. TA 0.76. RS 0.29%. Sulfites 35.2 mg/L. Yakima Valley AVA. Proprietor’s Limited Release series. Rated: 90. Value: $15. Paid: $18. Music pairing: “Young Forever” by The Ready Set. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

Answer: Neither. It’s our elected 535 members of Congress. If you voted, congratulations.

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