Maison Bleue 2009 Au Contraire French Creek Vineyard chardonnay

As a tribute to the recent baseball all-star game and my being elected the manager for the wine equivalent, here’s my Washington All-Stars batting lineup:

#1. This position is called the “leadoff hitter.” This wine should set the tone at a party. It should complement the setting, be it the weather, the appetizers, and/or the company. Batting leadoff sets the standard for what the main course wines should surpass. When a partygoer’s first comments are “Wow! Good wine,” it’s a safe bet the party will be a culinary success. For its room-filling white flowers and tropical fruit bowl aromas, I select Januik Winery Bacchus Vineyard riesling.

#2.  The “two hole” spot must be able to keep the flow going and “move the palate into scoring position.” In wine terms, it must follow the trail set by the leadoff while
presenting a slightly different palette of flavors. Diversity is a good thing here. In addition to the above, add a cool citrus bite along with locally-grown fruits such as apples and peaches that are best exemplified by Guardian Cellars ‘Angel’ sauvignon blanc.

#3. The “three hole” is generally the best all-around wine in keeping the party going while also transitioning to the “meat of the order,” literally. It could be white. It could be red. Partygoers are moving from light cheeses and crackers to salami, other deli meats, stone fruits and heavier cheeses. This is the perfect position to place a rosé such as Doyenne rosé. After all, this is a mid-summer classic, right?

#4. This is called the “cleanup hitter” for good reason. This position is noted for power and brings all the enjoyment of the previous wines “home.” The dinner bell rings and this wine stands proudly next to that three-inch thick Wagyu ribeye with grilled Bell peppers, portabella mushrooms and steaming hot Peruvian yam topped with unrefined sugar and salted butter. There’s no doubting the unanimous choice in Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley cabernet sauvignon.

#5 and #6. While traditionally the batters 3-5 are termed the “heart of the lineup,” both slots here share the same goal: keep scoring! Whatever it takes, be it a hit, an error (asparagus, durian), a walk, or a sacrifice. The five-spot takes on particular significance in “protecting” the cleanup hitter, so look for another exceedingly bold representation of cabernet. Batting fifth, I present Adams Bench Red Willow cabernet sauvignon. The sixth position calls for a heavy syrah. After all, Washington syrahs are still ‘boss’ with the younger generation of wine drinkers and Betz Family Winery ‘La Côte Rousse’ syrah consistently leads a superb in-State group.

#7 and #8. If your guests have not passed out by this time, they are certainly on the fringes of doing so. They’re trying to call-in a relief pitcher or raise the surrender flag. The main course is fading comfortably into content stomachs but there’s still a few more slabs of moo on the dish soaking in a bloody lake of juice with now-solidifying pearls of creamy fat forming islands. Here’s where you put a spear through their heart and finish the performance with no survivors. At #7, I present Cooper Wine Company ‘L’inizio’, a devastating 4-Bourdeaux grape blend, and at #8, Barrage Cellars ‘Alias’ cabernet franc, aged 41 months in barrel.

#9. Unlike baseball’s version where this spot is often termed the “second leadoff hitter,” your guests will not get a second chance. It’s dessert time! Locavores will offer Snoqualmie Gourmet ice creams and sorbets while globalvores fashion up a bowl of Haagen Daz raspberry sorbet topped with shavings of Theo dark chocolates. No bottle carries the ancient history like Upland Estates ‘Ampeli’ muscat of Alexandria ice wine. Now, if I worked at PopCap, I probably would go balls out and choose Eroica Single Berry
Select riesling
. But, that would be cheating. And I’m not a Yankees fan, ya know?

I am now creatively beyond my 130-pitch count limit so I will defer info on this wine to my ace closer, Paul Zitarelli of Full Pull Wines.

Jon Martinez specializes in Rhone varietals, sort of like being a side-winding lefty, so this chardonnay comes as somewhat of a surprise in his lineup of wines. No, not really. “Jon always envisioned himself as a vigneron…and when he was establishing (his winery), an irresistible vineyard came available on the market. French Creek Vineyard was planted more than 30 years ago to Wente-clone chardonnay.” One-two-three strikes you’re out! Game over.

Food pairing was Beechers Flagship Reserve cheese (brings out the sweet fruit), Raclette cheese, honey garlic chicken, and bbq pork spare ribs. Gramma, get out the rye bread and Dijon mustard as it’s Grand Salami time, baby! Or something like that…

Tasted at 49-58 degrees on the IR temp gun. Brilliant light Champagne in the Riedel, nothing but stone fruits waft from the glass leading to a soft and slightly tart layover on the palate before fleeing with peach, grapefruit, pear, and Rainier cherry on a lengthy, persistent finish. Mesmerizing.

Alcohol: 13.5%. Yakima Valley AVA. Harvested September 4 at 22.8 Brix, pH 3.32, and TA 0.67. Whole-cluster pressed and fermented in half three year-old French oak and half stainless. Sat on the lees for seven months. Batonnage for complexity and richness and 20% malo to retain natural acidity. Bottled April, 2010. pH 3.38. TA 0.62. RS 0.05%. Released May 30, 2010. 230 cases. Rated: 93. Value: $27. Paid: $18. Music pairing: “Independence Day” by Martina McBride and Pat Benatar. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

postscript: the 2010 version is available NOW. $20 on the website.

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4 Responses to Maison Bleue 2009 Au Contraire French Creek Vineyard chardonnay

  1. Love it. Can you do one for hockey too?? please?!?

  2. wawineman says:

    Hockey in summer??? I know the weather feels like February…in Dallas, but hockey…hmmm, hard to imagine what wine would play the Enforcer and I don’t think a wine wants to be associated with missing teeth or a broken proboscis.
    Maybe a few more shots of tuica, raki, and grappa and I might change my mind…

  3. Captain Premier 5000 says:

    Have a drink w/ the captain. Time & place.

  4. wawineman says:

    I did! Actually, it was Captain Morgan. But, I digress…

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