Smasne Cellars 2007 Phinny Hill Vineyard carmenère

Another sign the USA is in decline: last year’s average high school seniors scored the equivalent of 56% on a standardized geography test. Think you could do better? Okay, here are four wineman questions for you to answer, and don’t try google-ing them either. Question #1: name the country (if there is one) between French Guiana and Guyana. Question #2: which of these are considered northeastern African countries: (a) Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti; or (b) Ethiopia, Sudan and Nigeria? Question #3: The Daioyu Islands are the disputed territory of which THREE countries? And question #4: name the four major southern Kuril Islands and the country that administers them. Answers at the end of this post.

Frankly, I am rather perturbed at the dwindling number of inferior quality (and quantity) of wine blog posts originating from this State. I recently read some dweeb from the sticks who ceased typing in late April because he didn’t like the analytics. I read a sample of his crap and, well, “Skippy’s” blogs were the equivalent of getting a colonoscopy. Glad you got the message and stopped blogging. Then there’s Benny of vintologee. Despite his many personal appearances in the Tri-Cities area since moving from crispy Texas, his blog remained a bore-fest and thankfully, his getting a real job finally put a merciful end to any hopes he would resuscitate his road-to-nowhere blog. Best of all…Paul Gregutt took a long pause in his dismal, you-call-that-journalism-? wine blog (for nursing homes?) to the cheers of a grateful populace. Note to Sean: I guess there is an undignified, finite end to propping up a fake personality and hyping lies on wines as a lowly-paid PR spin doctor for favored wineries. Buncha wankers.

Now that I have eliminated the asexual wine bloggers, it’s time to celebrate with this being the Guys Issue!

Woodinville’s winemakers are dominated by men, and rightly so! Guys have been trashed by big media’s commercials but we all know who drives the forklifts and carries those brand-spankin’ new Taransaud barrels from one end of the warehouse to the other. Who controls the tongs when it comes time to pull the meat off the grills? Who’s the big dog when a case of wine needs to be carried to a customer’s car’s trunk? Yeah sister, it’s the
guys. Women, you gotta admit, us guys may have primitive logic, which is easy to defeat with your estrogen-fortified memory glands, but ya can’t live without those manly primal urges that keep ya satisfied! It’s all about lettin’ the big dog eat, and eat we do! But, I digress.

So, here’s a list of the big boys in my town and whose pack I’d run with.

Consider this, “Guys I would…”:

cruise in a hog pack with down Hwy. 203: Brennon Leighton, Dr. Alan Busacca, Morgan Lee, Steve Snyder

call in the middle of the night to ask his wife to remove my name from the newspaper’s ‘Blotter’ section—Jerry Reiner

represent me if I pulled a Casey Anthony—Tim Blue, Attila Kovacs-Szabo, Mike Reynvaan, Jerry Reiner

star in “The (Wine) Hangover” movie with: Shannon Jones, Kevin Correll, Sean Boyd

want on my weekend football team—Mark McNeilly, Jarrod Boyle, Brett Isenhower, (coach) Mike Sharadin, (qb) Chris Sparkman

not be surprised to bump into at a funeral home—Doug Petersen, Michael LeMieux, Bradley Sherman

want to be interviewed by on his talk show (if he had one)—Rod Balsley

go win a bowling tournament with, just by looking cool in a bowling shirt—Mike Januik, Chris Gorman, Jim Page, Shane Howard, Bob Harris, Tim Stevens, Jeff Jirka

go fishing in the San Juans with— Bob Betz, Jay Pedersen, Leroy Radford, Derek Des Voigne

go watch a baseball game with—Bob Bertheau

go to an AC/DC concert with—Chris Gorman, Ross Mickel, Tim Stevens, Mark McNeilly, Jerry Reiner

go to a Wynton Marsalis concert in Dublin with—Darren Des Voignes

go to the horse track with—Kevin Correll

whose “harem” I would date—Darby English

successfully escape Alcatraz (in its heyday) with—Kerry Norton

boast about my Sophia Loren conquests with—Lou Facelli, Chris Gorman

boast about my Penelope Cruz conquests with—Javier Alfonso

drop everything when invited to their cookout—Chris Upchurch, John Bigelow, Mark McNeilly.

want to create my next supercomputer—Brian Countryman, Mark Newton, Ron Lachini

rely on for my health—Paul McBride, Tim Blue (to get to Erica Blue’s medical knowledge)

get shit-faced drunk then take their keys so I can raid their warehouse—Chris Upchurch, Mark McNeilly, Ross Mickel, Tim Blue, Attila Kovacs-Szabo, Mike Januik, Kevin Correll, Chris Sparkman, Jerry Reiner

Yeah! *knuckles*. To the wine…

So, Robert O. Smasne had to deal with some changes this year. He opened a tasting room in Kennewick. He started yet another label, ROS Wine Company to add to his ink-splattered portfolio. He added Challenger Ridge to his list of consulting wineries. He lost a well-known social media princess who managed his Woodinville tasting room. And, he’s had to learn how to manage social media so he can connect with a younger generation of (broke) wine drinkers.

Quite frankly, I don’t know how he balances all of his varied wine duties while raising two children in farm country. The knock on this guy, if any (and Robert’s a good man), is that he lacks a specific focus in the way that Quilceda Creek is known for cabernets, L’Ecole No 41 is known for upper-quality, mass produced wines, and Chateau Ste. Michelle is best known for its rieslings. Just like in baseball, some players were meant to be Derek Jeters
and some were meant to be Adam Kennedys. But, you just have to imagine that if the guy could concentrate his focus in only one narrowly-defined area, just how good this guy could be. We may never know.

Phinny Hill Vineyard sits just above the former Mercer Ranch Vineyard (now better known as Champoux Vineyard) in the Horse Heaven Hills viticultural area and was planted in 2001 by Richard and Cheryl Beightol. If you don’t already know them by their espresso machine, then you may know some of the wineries that squeeze wine from their grapes in Buty Winery, Flying Trout Wines, Gramercy Cellars, Reininger Winery, Robert Karl Cellars, and two Oregon upstarts in Ferraro Cellar and Nuthatch Cellars. Bourdeaux grapes are the specialty grown here, along with a Rhone syrah. Why is this area so coveted
by high-flying winemakers? Think about this…literally, you could take a titanium driver and golf a ball over to Buty’s Champoux Vineyard cabernet block or use a lob wedge to cross the street and land on Quilceda Creek’s Palengat Vineyard. That’s the company they keep. This vineyard (and the surrounding areas) is one to keep on your radar for future stellar red wines.

Food pairing tonight was a wet-grilled USDA Prime ribeye, portabella, Brussels sprouts, Italian salame, Beechers Smoked Flagship cheese, and a dessert of strawberry shortcake. Surprised at how well this 4 year-old wine integrated with all courses. Think I am glad I did not drink this on release last year.

Tasted at 56-71 degrees on the IR temp gun. Menacing crimson-to-deep garnet in the Riedel with aromas of black cherry crème, the wine was dense but airy on the palate and followed with strong flavors of unsweetened blackberry, black cherry, smoke, a liquorous lick of black fruits, black pepper, white pepper, and mature tannins on a moderate finish. A fascinating alternative to a cabernet or syrah with grilled beef.

Alcohol: 13.9%. 103 cases. Simple front label designed by Sara Nelson Design. Phinny Hill Vineyard (Horse Heaven Hills AVA). Bottle # 837 of 1236. Rated: 90 (89-90). Value: $25. Paid: $30. Music pairing: “All The Young Dudes” by Mott the Hoope (Ian Hunter). This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

Answers: (1) Suriname. I only know that from a gal I dated long ago. (2) a. (3) The Republic of China (Taiwan), the Peoples Republic of China, and Japan. (4) Etorofu, Habomai, Kunashiri, and Shikotan. Russia.

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6 Responses to Smasne Cellars 2007 Phinny Hill Vineyard carmenère

  1. Captain Premier 5000 says:

    1) Surname? 2) a 3)japan? Philippines? China? 4) i have no clue, but i just saw those answers and have no urge to delete my answers. didn’t use anything to guess.

    Signed,
    Capt. Premiere 5000

  2. wawineman says:

    Pretty good there, Captain. You paid attention in class.
    The only high school course I applied myself was female human anatomy. Not the canine, feline, or equine stuff that other wine bloggers aced.

  3. Captain Premier 5000 says:

    I can’t retweet your “Filed” tweets. Is that because I’m still banned from joining the fun in your twitter world? I’m catching myself reading your blog more offer than I check my Facebook now a days. Help a brotha out.

    Signed,
    Captain Premier 5000

  4. wawineman says:

    Alright Captain, let me pull some strings.
    Wow! You and I must be seeing the same psychologist.
    Guess I have to be more responsible/accountable if you read my posts more than checking your Facebook. I’m humbled for that “honor”. Can’t “mail it in” anymore…

  5. Scott Abernethy says:

    I decided I had better check in on this post since we have both been memorized with Robert’s Carmenere. Yes, he seems to be spread very thin with all of his wine labels and consultations, but he still seems to find time to sit down and chat occasionally and has been a great wine connection this past year.

    Since Robert considers wine-making an art and himself as an artist, I would hate to see him pigeonhole himself too much by specializing in a specific style or varietal. Each of his labels is a different “canvas”. And like most artistic styles, you like some more than others. So far, I’ve loved the blends that he makes under the 1/2 Ass label and the single vineyard wines he releases under the Smasne label.

    My biggest problem? Deciding which wine to drink and whether to buy a bottle or a glass while sitting on his patio listening to live music on a Friday or Saturday night. But that’s a good problem to have. If you ever need any tough questions answered, I’m sure Robert will cooperate….

  6. wawineman says:

    I see your point of view, Ab.

    Smasne’s reds are mostly good. Nothing wrong with the whites; they’re ok. And, I am speaking purely from a consumer’s viewpoint. Honestly, his strength is Bourdeaux grapes. Others have entered the game much later than Rob, yet they produce, in my opinion, more enjoyable reds (and costlier). Reds I have bought again and again, as opposed to a bottle here and there of Smasne’s.

    So regardless of whatever Rob’s business plan directs, I will buy his wines. Overall, they are decent values and his clubs get to try a lot of varietals. It’s win-win.

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