Now, we get back to the fun part of my local wine explorations.
After all, for some of you Washington wine aficionados, this is why you read this blog. There are more under-the-radar wineries in the Snohomish-King-Pierce Counties than you think we have, but for whatever reason, these wineries don’t or can’t kiss off their wines to lazy, half-ass wine writers that scribe for those rookie-league rags found throughout tasting rooms in the area (notice those glitzy rags are FREE for a reason). Another reason would be simply that the winery does not have the resources/expenditures to advertise or even maintain a decent website at this time.
That’s where The People’s Wine Blogger steps in. That’s me, btw.
Furion Cellars has been around since 2003, initially starting out in an unobtrusive garage in Everett proper. Micole Schann Miller and his supportive wife, Kathleen Ann Bozich-Miller (both 48) each lead a successful career; one a business installer for a large communications company and the other an insurance underwriter. One is a Gem State Bronco fan and the other is a Viking fan and sometimes Husky supporter. One is alt-rock crazy (Smashing Pumpkins); the other has dabbled quietly in 70’s dance music and once had a crush on Deney Terrio. I guess opposites really do attract.
What fans of Furion Cellars do not know is that Micole has been around wine (and winos) for most of his life. Fans of this blog know this as fact. Recall, Micole’s childhood buddy from Kirkland, Attila Karoly Kovacs-Szabo, now runs Trouvaille Winery in Woodinville. And, his good friend, David Hendrickson, owns Dubindil Winery next door to Furion Cellars. A common thread amongst these gentlemen is their connection to John Bell of Willis Hall Winery in Marysville, which is another secret gem in Snohomish County, but we’ll get to that in a future post.
Those who know Micole describe him as “passionate.” Ask his label artist, Son Duong. “From just meeting Micole a couple of times I can tell he is very passionate about everything that he does and is a fan of… I guess the word here is passion and being 100% passionate about what you like to do. I am that way with my art and Micole is with his wine. Both are creative in their own way.”
Micole learned a valuable lesson when he worked for a major fashion retailer back in New York City and the results can be seen in the persona of the winery– the art. “Labels mean everything. I learned that right away.” However, don’t go thinking Cezanne, da Vinci, Renoir, or Picasso. The artwork of Furion Cellars is about dark, brooding themes like ravens, skulls, and darkness. Just like this blog, this ain’t kiddie stuff. Micole maintains these themes as context for what the winemaking process is all about for him. Perhaps, that “dark side” mentality helps sell more bottles, but his winemaking is so sound that he could slap a Disney princess on a sparkling pink background and he’d still sellout his wines.
Okay, here’s where I do him a small favor, whether he likes it or not. Micole, your website is bordering on “sucks.” The Facebook page is slightly more informative but still inconsistent. So fans of Furion Cellars, here it is. The information you need to access Furion Cellars before this thing explodes. Address: 1311 Bonneville Ave #106, Snohomish (city). Phone: 425-314-8922. The winery is open only by appointment or whenever Micole announces the hours on Facebook. Or, you can slip David Hendrickson a clean Franklin and drill a hole in the wall separating the two wineries. There is no wine club. Yet. Hey, Micole makes less than a thousand cases a year for now.
Micole wants to be known as a Rhone specialist but his lineup is as Rhone-centric as Brett Favre wants to be known as a Packers quarterback. Past/current releases appear to mostly have a fanciful name, ala the Des Voigne brothers. There’s ‘Apology’ and ‘Manifold’, both cabernet sauvignons; two core syrahs in ‘Les Parfums’ and ‘The Dark Arts’; ‘Vinea Cruor’ (blood of the vineyard) sangiovese; blends ‘Vato’ (60 syrah/40 cab sau), ‘Wicces Basium’ (red Rhone blend), ‘Castille’ (95 grenache/5 syrah from Spice Cabinet Vineyard); and names with no revelations in ‘Ex Saxa’, ‘Graffiti’ (named for what he wants to do to his high winery walls), ‘Placebo’, and ‘Sleigh Bells’. All very affordable ($20-30 range so far).
Vineyards he contracts with are: River Rock, Les Collines, Spice Cabinet, Elephant Mountain, and Candy Mountain, although I suspect there’s a little Stone Tree in there somewhere.
Phew. Enough. To the wine.
Food pairing was more like “food inclusion” as I incorporated a stately volume of this wine into my ‘World’s Most Fabulous Chili’ recipe. Pleasantly surprised by the extracted chromatics of this sangiovese as the wine, predictably, incorporated a juicy third dimension to the chili. Tomatoes are the base of a good chili and what goes well with tomato-based dishes? Duh, sangiovese! Incredible pairing, needless to say.
Tasted at 58-64 degrees on the IR temp gun. Clean, crisp deep magenta in the Riedel with a disarming, Sophia Loren-like seductive perfume of black cherry liqueur, treble-emphasis cocoa powder, and dusty spices. Medium-bodied with a moderate residence of bright red berries, cranberry-streaked dark chocolate, hazelnuts, cashews, turpentine, and bark spices. The crystal tulip bowl bubbled over with sun-ripened cherry orchard notes.
Alcohol: 13.7%. Yakima Valley AVA. Elephant Mounatin Vineyards (sangiovese grosso clone?). About 100 cases. Power: 3/5. Balance: 3/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 3/5. Rated: 92. Value: $30. Paid: $25. Music pairing: “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins. Yes, I do have “Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness” double cd. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.