Guardian Cellars 2010 Chalk Line red wine

I was about to order a bouquet of cheap FTD black roses online when I heard Paul Gregutt passed away, but I did the research and discovered it was actually a 61 year-old captive HIPPOPOTAMUS in Indiana. However, that didn’t stop the local wine commission from solicitng wines from unsuspecting local wineries to celebrate the demise of Washington’s fattest wine moocher. Speaking of senior wine moochers, a UW researcher analyzed the DNA of a “senior wine writer” and discovered he was carrying “foreign DNA” not found in typical wine blogger Neanderthal DNA. The researcher concluded the knuckledraggin’ wine sipper probably had ancestors who mated with Antarctic pygmies or some extinct monkeys from Central Valley, which explains his preference for buying plonk wines. Speaking of mating, a herpes-spreading website, eHarmony, recently concluded that wine bloggers who use cheap pickup lines with tasting room employees tend to score more free wine than dignified wine bloggers who pay for wines. The website pointed out that a trisexual lemon-bagger from Waitsburg frequently used outdated, 1960s one-liners like “How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice. Hi, my name is Paul.” And that outdated “three day rule” was further debunked when it took wine bloggers an average of only 30 minutes to hookup with tasting room employees for ‘Ryan Lochte-night stands’. Local health authorities noted an increased demand for gonorrhea vaccines in Waitsburg and Wallingford. Sean even commented on his lame blog about no longer feeling the sting from those penicillin shots. Speaking of sexually-confused predators, Anny “I’m tired of Sean’s nano-dong” Hong recently folded her Twitter account after seeing the light and cutting off relations with her ex-gayfriend. She mentioned she was tired of seeing Sean’s pupils dilate whenever he sipped stolen wine while rocking ripped jeans bought from Value Village with his new micro-penis partner, Jameson. She suspected all those parties at Jamie’s with donated wines was actually a front for auditioning for Paul’s lemon parties near Walla Walla. Fellow wine drinkers had to assume that’s what a failing 43 year-old wine blogger had to do to impress the judges at some wine blogger convention in order to score a nomination. Whoop- dee-doo…

For you baseball fanatics… what the heck is going on with baseball this year? We could be seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington (Montreal Expos) Nationals in the playoffs this year? Oakland is leading the wild-card parade? And most head-scratching is our Seattle Mariners has one of the best winning records since the All-Star break? I have to recheck that Mayan calendar…

Chronic readers of this blog know how much I frequent Guardian Cellars around this time of year. It’s gotten to the point where everybody talks about getting in once they recoup from the early June graduation parties and that leads to a summer shutdown at the tasting room due to a lack of available wines. This summer is no different. Jerry and Jennifer quickly sold out of their production of Gun Metal and nearly sold out of Angel so there was no reason to stay open when they could enjoy the one-month Seattle summer season. To be truthful, Jerry is getting to the point where he will soon ‘retire’ from his real job of almost 20 years to devote all of his working hours to his winery. That’s usually what happens when a winemaker hits the 3500 cases/year production of mostly ultra-premium wines that sell-out within a few months of release.

Is it his marketing prowess? Uh… look at his website. Point! His website is “under construction.” It’s all about his winemaking and his (and Jennifer’s) personality. This is a likeable couple who are not naturally “outgoing” socialites.

So, then what makes them so successful? From the other side of the counter, I can point to a few notable traits that have been duplicated elsewhere. (1) They make consistently superb wines. EVERY wine in their lineup rocks. Aside from their reference-quality sauvignon blanc (“Angel” … don’t fret, a review of his latest will be printing soon), Jerry learned early on to how to make nasty good red wines from Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery (and Matthews Cellars) and how to sacrifice his time in making those wines. It starts with great vineyard sources and Jerry got in early on what is considered today to be outstanding vineyards. (2) Jerry and Jennifer are a team. If they were Chinese, they would be called Yin and Yang. If they were black and white, they’d be called Laurel and Hardy. If they were newsy, they’d be called a cop and a reporter. Oh wait, they are. (3) They utilize a powerful association. In the wine industry, you are who you associate with. Jerry hooked up with Mark early on at the turn of the century and put all his chips in Mark’s ability to create legendary red wines that would attract a devoted following. And, he was spot on. The ’70s rock and roll and ‘Easy Rider’ persona clicked with many local wine drinkers. Combine that with food truck cuisine for release parties and the master recipe for a successful winery was stamped in gold buillion. And, (4) they control costs. Make friends with your neighbors and spread out the expenses while sharing infrastructure. But, let me reiterate, know who you are, know where you want to go, control your dreams of grandeur, and price your wines properly. And, that’s the secret to success in the Washington wine industry today.

To celebrate Seattle’s back-to-back 90 degree days, I kicked up the grill and smoked some ribeye steaks (three types: Kauai salt and freshly-ground black pepper, Chengdu red pepper and Akita smoked salt, and a Tandoori masala), asparagus, Walla Walla sweet onions, church-grown zucchini, and BallPark Grillmaster hot dogs to pair with this outstanding wine. Spot on.

Tasted at 61-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. Adolescent and playful magenta in the Riedel with aromas of smoky black and purple fruits lead to a soft but full presence on the palate and a 10+ seconds residence displaying evolving flavors of Bing cherry, black cherry, cedar, thyme, sage, smoky plum, black pepper, cut tobacco, raspberry, cumin, and vineyard dust.

Alcohol: 14.5%. 1000 cases. Aged 17 months in 45% new French oak. Columbia Valley AVA. Vineyards: Connor Lee, Ciel du Cheval, Stone Tree, Obelisco, Stillwater Creek, and Klipsun. 29% cabernet sauvignon (Klipsun, Stone Tree, Connor Lee, Stillwater Creek), 29% merlot (Ciel du Cheval, Stillwater Creek), 19% syrah (Stone Tree, Stillwater Creek), 12% canbernet franc (Stone Tree, Stillwater Creek), 10% malbec (Stone Tree), and 1% petit verdot (Kiona).

Power: 3/5. Balance: 3/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 92. Value: $35. Paid: $25. Music pairing: “Best Days Of Our Lives” by Right The Stars. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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