Tamarack Cellars 2008 sangiovese

Here’s another Dubindil-Adams Bench-like story where a wine dude (Ron Coleman) meets aspiring super-doctor (always the female heroine—in this case it’s Dr. Jamie Coleman) and they walk into a rainbow and open a winery (while the heroine still works a full-time job). Are women around here that easily duped?? (Coop, you may be next.)

Tamarack Cellars, located at a former Walla Walla airport fire station, was founded in 1998 by former wine wholesaler, Ron Coleman, after moving back from Milwaukee, WI where his wife completed her residency in ophthalmology. Ron spent his time wisely while amongst the tamaracks (a deciduous conifer) working as a hotel sommelier and wine store manager to hone his palate. The Colemans arrived on the Walla Walla scene in 1993 to fulfill Jamie’s dream of working in a small-town with an address of Penny Lane. Ron learned his craft working stints for Waterbrook Winery and Canoe Ridge Winery before going solo. They have three active daughters; two of them are competitive problem solvers at their high school.

Keeping with the small-town theme, Ron hired Danny Gordon to handle the daily winemaking duties. Danny grew up on a row crop farm in Cornelius, OR off Hwy. 8, west of Portland. I should know that as I have passed through the area on my way to Forest Grove a few times. In a typical small-town job search, Danny showed up unannounced at the winery. Poor Ron thought Danny was a suitor for his oldest daughter and pulled out a Glock 37 and Danny nearly wet his pants until he stated he wanted to work at the winery. Ron then put away his wine-blogger-eliminator and asked Danny four simple questions (with psychological implications). Ron found out Danny: (1) knew the value of hard work with his farmhand experience; (2) has a college degree (he’s a Beaver) in soils and crops; (3) knew little about wine other than drinking it (teachable); and (4) raced forklifts at the local barn derby. Okay, well not raced, but he had many years driving one. Ron put the kid to work that day.

Sandy Kleck is the tasting room manager and works the business end of the winery as well as assisting in blending trials.

Martin ‘El Chapo’ Ibarra is the cellar rat and vineyard practitioner hailing from a place of hot water in Michoacán, Mexico. Growers fear ‘El Chapo’s’ presence in the vineyard as he’s known to sprinkle some charanda on the grapes to prevent mold growth. Viva la Raza!

Tamarack Cellars produces nearly 15,000 cases/year of mostly red wines. The lone white is a chardonnay. While Ron’s first wine was a merlot, the winery is far better known for its ‘Firehouse Red’ 9-varietal blend. Far lesser known is the single-vineyard reserve lineup of reds, with dedicated bottlings using grapes from Ciel du Cheval, Sagemoor, and DuBrul vineyards. I’ve tasted a glass of the CdC and it had a touch of elegance, which is not usually a word to describe an oaked, fresh red coming from that vineyard.

Food pairing was my own recipe for red sauce from scratch (hint: use lots of roma tomatoes and a sturdy potato masher), fresh spaghetti noodles, and Aidell’s meatballs. Key pieces were fresh basil and Cooper Wine Company’s aromatic extra virgin olive oil. Spaghetti (Italian) and sangiovese (Italian), Washington-ized… capire?! And you wonder why Italians have such big families? Tizio pazzo…

Tasted at 53-64 degrees on the IR temp gun. Clean dark cherry in color with varietal aromas of strawberry, cherry, raspberry and red licorice dancing a saltarello, if slightly dilute, on the palate leading to a moderate stay and possessing flavors of spicy cherry, plum, and scarlet flowers.

Alcohol: 14.19%. Columbia Valley AVA. Pure. Vineyards: 90% Candy Mountain, 10% Blue Mountain. (“Well, whudda ya know, there actually is a Candy Mountain.”) 33% new oak (half French, the remainder American and Hungarian). Coopers: Boutes, Vicard, Demptos, and Canton. Gently crushed, gravity dropped, cold soaked for 48 hours. Fermented dry in barrel.  pH 3.38. TA 0.67. 202 cases. Bottled March 18, 2010. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. Value: $23. Paid: $27. Anime pairing: “We’re Going To Candy Mountain” by The Land of Sweets And Joy. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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11 Responses to Tamarack Cellars 2008 sangiovese

  1. Neil Cooper says:

    Where can I find mine? -coop

  2. wawineman says:

    Oh Godfather!
    so humble, bro…

  3. Scott Abernethy (@Wino4ever) says:

    I tasted at Tamarack about 6-7 years ago, and my favorite wine was Firehouse Red. It was really a small operation back then – they were waxing bottles in the tasting room while we tasted. Since then, the only wine of theirs that I have come across in retail stores and Costco is the Tamarack Red. At Costco, I think it goes for about $15-16. We had a Sangiovese blind tasting a couple weeks ago and Tamarack was not represented. The winners were ’08 Russell Creek, Mansion Creek (close second). 08 Leonetti was a distant third. Still looking for a good Washington Sangiovese at $15.

  4. wawineman says:

    Question–in your #bbwn tasting group for that sangiovese (or any non-primo, “sexy” varietal for that matter), does everyone, and I mean everyone, know what the grape (as wine) is supposed to taste like? I’m talking about accepted, basic varietal characteristics. I’m not trying to hate or anything, I am just curious with your group. As for me, I make sure and confirm that people are at least in the neighborhood–fruit (mostly reds), additions (not heavily oaked, not too earthy/stinky), region (Italy), chemistry (high acid), food complement (red sauce Italian), etc. The last thing I need to see is someone voting based on its “cabernet” qualities. Doh!

    Tamarack has been an afterthought for me also. I’ve had the Firehouse Red. I still see the label everywhere. But, for me, after tasting the Ciel du Cheval Reserve with friends, they got back on my radar.

    I have been looking for Russell Creek ever since I researched your wine society. Can’t find it around here but I will keep looking. Russell Creek, Mansion Creek, etc., the only creek I find around here is Quilceda Creek and I ain’t springing for that. ($85 for a 2008 red wine at one store!)

    • Scott Abernethy (@Wino4ever) says:

      You have asked this question before. The tasting experiences of our bbwn panel is varied. There are several younger wine drinkers that are learning, and some older folks. Many are in the wine industry. That’s why it’s nice to have a winemaker or two on hand to answer those “varietal” questions (we don’t always, but usually have at least a chef or two that pair wine and food). I have a feeling that while many may know what Sangiovese (or whatever varietal) is supposed to taste like, there are some that simply vote their palate.

      Next Monday, we are doing Mourvedre. In preparation, I posted a short note about the varietal on the event page. That should help. We tasted that varietal a couple years ago, and the wine that won was so rich and full, I swore it was a blend. Turned out to be Bunnell, and pure Mourvedre. I entered a Syncline and it finished in the top third.

      I thought ’08 Russell Creek would be sold out, but I looked at their website last week and they still had it on their inventory – $32 a bottle.


  5. wawineman says:

    Have I? My apologies.
    Looking forward to following Monday’s brown bag. Mourvedre is a lovely, hefty meat wine. I’d bring Dusted Valley Vintners if I could.
    Do you “clean” your palate between sips? What do you use?
    I think it’s great your group utilizes the really small producers in the area. What names you do slip out that I’ve never heard of get me curious. It’s good exposure for the wineries if they are named.

    • Scott Abernethy (@Wino4ever) says:

      Regarding palate cleansing – we are not consistent. We try to bring foods that will pair with the wine, but some people munch between wines and some don’t . Totally amateurish. When I was participating, I always tried to bring some kind of meat to pair with reds. One of my favorites was carne asada. Also used a lot of marinated tri-tip roasts. Almost always have cheese and crackers, but it varies. Once again, I am on the sidelines this week, but I think I’m going to sneak a peak at all the entries and try to keep a little better track at people’s reaction to each wine. We will probably have 15-20. Most will be Washington, but we undoubtedly will have some cheaper imports, too.

  6. wawineman says:

    Well, palate cleansing is not such a big deal if they keep using the same glass for all the wines. So many variables…
    How’s the recovery? Notice you hit the lounge after rehab. What’s up with that?!

    • Scott Abernethy (@Wino4ever) says:

      Yes, we use the same glasses. When we taste a particularly bad wine, we will rinse. Otherwise, we just blow through the lineup. There are still lots of variables in blind tastings. It is interesting when folks agree on a wine, whether it is the most expensive or not. Sometimes, a second label for a winery ends up winning – but usually the cream rises to the top.

      Recovery is slow. If I was in a lounge, it was drinking soda. I missed a good Canon de Sol tasting yesterday at the Club. Once I get off my PIC line (17 days), I will probably start tasting again. But one of my antibiotics is hard on the liver and they advise against drinking alcohol due to the added stress on the liver. That might go on for months, depending on my blood test results.

      And don’t be fooled – Libby’s Lazy Dog Lounge is the couch in my living room…

  7. wawineman says:

    Sounds like a typical blind party!

    What the heck? Do you have some al-qaeda varmint in your system? Are you on those drugs that make your poop stink to high hell? Well, it doesn’t sound like fun, but hang in there. I’ll be venturing into the warehouse district and taking a few hits for you. I may even bite off a screw cap in your honor…

    • Scott Abernethy (@Wino4ever) says:

      Is there an email or other venue where we can exchange thoughts off-grid? I don’t like to pollute posts about the wine with other side issues.

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