Kaella Winery 2010 Ciel du Cheval sangiovese

Readers of wine blogs think wine bloggers only review high-caliber wines, often waxing poetic about said wine, the winery that mother’d it, and/or the winemaking staff. They paint wine bloggers as having the luxe life of tippy-toeing like a dainty ballerina through a Skagit Valley field of tulips and daffies, and sipping God’s afternoon cocktail while gnawing on incredibly rare (and expensive) Iberico ham and admiring their Greek goddess of a partner (or in Karen G’s case… a centaur– half male, all ass). Weyyyyyllll, you got that one wrong, boffo boy! Read on.

Winemaker’s dilemma question… whatever the reason, being poor fermentation, defective equipment, inept winemaking, or experimentation gone awry, you have a batch of odd-tasting wine that comprises some 25% of your annual output. What do you do with it? Do you send it to the bulk market and hope some sucker bids on it? Do you use it as a blend or non-vintage wine? Do you spill the entire lot down to Brightwater? Or, do you sell it under your primary or secondary label? What. To. Do?

Ripasso (Italian origin), a recently developed winemaking style, is an unusual method of winemaking in these parts. This is actually the first wine I have tasted that underwent “re-passing” where, if done under the proper conditions with the accomodating grape, should enhance a great wine with additional character and personality. Keyword: SHOULD.

Ripasso winemaking involves a second primary fermentation where, after initial maceration, the pomace (skin, seeds, stems, pulp, and sometimes- bugs, amphibians, and reptiles) from the initial press is added back to the must to make for an extended maceration. Chemically, what’s going on is the addition of tannins, glycerin, and phenolic molecules that wine drinkers interpret as adding “complexity” to the wine. That means more puckery drying, heavier density, deeper color, and higher alcohol levels. Some Italian producers of amarone wines tend to favor this style for their “second wines.”

Kaella Winery sprouted in the D-sector of the Woodinville warehouse district in the spring of 2010. Owner/winemaker Dave Butner advanced his winemaking prowess from his beginnings in the Boeing Employees winemaking club. He furthered his education at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle Community College. After sharing space with other pico-wineries, Dave chose to move out his winery to a lower-rent locale in the south warehouse district. Kaella Winery currently shares tasting room space with Convergence Zone Cellars and a few others. Current wines (red only) include a Ciel du Cheval syrah, a Conner Lee blend, and a rose of sangiovese (saignée method).

Tasted at 57-61 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: garnet-edged magenta. Nose: sudsy, rubbing alcohol, dirty cherry. Mouthfeel: tangy, soft medium-bodied. Tail trail: 4 seconds. Flavors: sour cherry punch, midpalate Bhopal-style alcohol plume, green cranberry, chainsaw’d oak, heavy dose of drying tannins. Even rougher 24 hours later.

Alcohol: 14.3%. Ripasso-style. Red Mountain AVA. Harvested October 19, 2010. Bottled July 5, 2012. pH 3.39. TA 0.71%. 75 cases. Rated: 59. Value: $0.89. Paid: $25. Music pairing: “Take A Walk” by Passion Pit. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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16 Responses to Kaella Winery 2010 Ciel du Cheval sangiovese

  1. Winemaker of Mass Destruction says:

    Freak’n trainwreck eh? You didn’t even pair with food. I think this is a first!

    Our WA grapes produce soo much complexity as it is, why mashit up more? In Amarone production, I think they use raisened grapes or dried skins only in the maceraction. Extry skins, and seeds seems like a gameplan for too much tannin and bitterness.

    As for any other off attributes, waay to hot fermentation, stressed yeast, and possibly underripe grapes. Eh, maybe just an off bottle.

    Finally, another good song would be “Hit The Road Jack”



  2. wawineman says:

    I was so stunned, I forgot to mention I did pair it with leftovers or as I politely describe my gf’s effort…Italian casserole.

    Yah, uh wine grapes are like olives… just do one cold press, please. I prefer my wine like I used to prefer my gals– ‘extra virgin.’

    I thought the same song by Ray Charles! But, no one likes the REAL classics around here… Nerds these days.

  3. csabernethy says:

    Finally – a bomb! Been waiting for that. Some “bloggers” won’t write about bad tasting experiences. I think it is very important! If anything, it would make me curious enough to try another of their wines to see if it was just a bad bottle or bad winemaking.

    On the positive side, their score of 59 beat this weeks’s Seahawks output by one point!

  4. wawineman says:

    I know, right?! Why is it so damn hard to just rate a wine for what it really is? Hey, I have nothing against the winemaker or the winery. I see the advertising like any consumer. “Ciel du Cheval.” “Red Mountain.” “Sangiovese.” Those words always made my nipples hard, just not all together. How could anyone go wrong, I thought??? Well, they forgot to mention “ripasso,” one word that will live in infamy with this blogger.

    Great wines may start in the vineyard but damn the winemaker that sacrifices it to make a “rose of sangiovese.” And, it’s not like I’ve never tasted a f*cking Washington sangiovese. Think about this… sangiovese, tempranillo, albarino, and carmenere– who else has reviewed more of these wines from Washington producers than moi?

    Yeah, I got upset after this. So, my next review will be a 2010 sangiovese from a reliable producer, just to stabilize what I already know about Washington sangioveses. Was I wrong or being too harsh? Find out with the next review.

    Ab, have you done stand-up comedy before cuz you killed me with that last jig! Yeah, it beat that Seahawks aberration, but man, this wine was more like it punished its way to eliminating 41 points from a perfect score. I think it takes more “effort” to score a ’59’ than to tag an ’88’ on a wine, imho. Btw, that’s not a compliment to the ’59’ wine…

    It’s wines like this that really make me consider charging readers for this blog, sigh. Ugh. Then again, I know some of the non-commenters enjoy the torturous potholes in my wine journey. Hey, bottom line is, this is a real, truly independent wine blog. Why I have to continue proving this is the winemaker’s fault, not mine. What I experience is likely what the typical wine buyer experiences so it actually is good, honest feedback for the wineries.

    And, that brings me to the topic of those hoidy-toidy wine snobs who think they know wine. Hey, if these wine writers really knew their shit after all these years, why aren’t they “Master Sommeliers” or “Master of Wine” designees? Why not? Because, bottom line, they are no different than any other newbie wino. Chan, Sullivan, Gregutt, and even Sealey… not a single one of them could duplicate their tasting experiences in a truly blind tasting. No one can. Their narcissitic problem is that they THINK they know wines and deceive the public into thinking that. They are f*cking with other people’s money and that’s their crime against humanity. My greatest wish is that I testify against these buttf*ckers at The Hague, as they sit chained next to Assad, Morsi, and Kony.

    Washington wines do not require the hyperbole these shitbags blow up consumer’s rectums. Why some Washington wineries continue to “+1” these lying freeloaders is puzzling. Again, no wonder Washington wines do not get the respect on the world’s stage. Thank those skidmarks for undermining the real growth of Washington wines.

    Btw, what’s pouring for the holidays? I’m thinking something deep from the catacombs for my crew. Stay tuned!

  5. csabernethy says:

    Haven’t decided what to pour for the holidays, although I started an interesting discussion around Carmenere by showing a photo of Cooper’s new vintage next to a bottle of Smasne’s ’07 and suggested a side-by-side tasting would be fun. Even got some comments from Chile! I also just scored a case of Cooper’s Barrel Maker on his 12-12-12 sale he just announced. Heading out there soon. I’m sure I’ll be pouring and gifting some of that through the holidays.

    Enough. Now I will go back and read the next Sangio blog.

  6. wawineman says:

    The Chilean carmenere available around here is bad. If I could, I’d try a blinder amongst Coop’s, Beresan, and Smasne, all 08s or 09s. The 07s were terrific and any one winery’s 07 might be the winner. It was that good. So was 05s. Sure do miss Colvin…

    I saw that remarkable 12.12.12 sale that Coop put on. Another reason why the Tri-Cities has it better than us sogheads.

  7. Dave Butner says:

    Ouch! I am so sorry to hear of this. Your notes are not consistent with others on this wine so I am afraid you had an off bottle.

    I would love to replace the bottle with another, or with one of our other current offerings if you prefer, at no charge.

    Please stop by our Woodinville tasting room, we are open every Saturday and you may taste the wines before you decide.

    Bhopal fumes?? LOL…that did give me a chuckle.

    Dave Butner
    Kaella Winery

  8. wawineman says:

    Mr. Butner,
    Yes sir, it really sounds like one bad bottle in the bunch.

    I visited your tasting room recently as well as attended your inaugural opening weekend so I know the quality of your wines across your portfolio. This one clearly did not fit with the consistency of the Kaella label… but we review based on the one bottle as any ‘joe consumer’ would also purchase from your winery.

    If there is any consolation, we tend to return and purchase more as this blog unconditionally supports Woodinville wineries in their quest for success as a mainstream label.

    We are terribly humbled that you found the grace to find humor in our review! People come to this blog to laugh so thank you for visiting and having that chuckle of sorts…

  9. Trey Busch says:

    Hey WaWineMan…no offense meant here, but if you suspected it was a bad bottle as you alluded to in your comments, why even write about it? If it were corked, would you still write about it and assign it a score? You just told Dave in your comments that you visited his winery and “know of the quality of your wines across the portfolio”….And if people come to your blog to get a laugh, well, nothing remotely funny about slandering a winery with a review like that. And I have one helluva sense of humor. That is all.

  10. Marc says:

    Sounds like you should have tried another bottle and then used this as a great example to your readers about the difference between a good and bad bottle of the same wine. I think your post was way out of line and bordered on being just plain slander of the brand. I realize that you have an “average joe” perspective where you try only what you pick up, but you clearly know better when it comes to this wine and should know a bad bottle when you taste one. After all, how often do you really find a line of wine that has more bad bottles than good ones unless the entire batch was bad to begin with? The average Joe isn’t going to get a bad bottle that often and should know what it actually tastes like so that if they, too, get a bad bottle, then they will be able to determine this by your description of what it was supposed to taste like. Now all you’ve done is confused them and lead them astray from what is normally a great tasting wine. You’ve lost a lot of credibility IMO with this posting.

  11. Mike Bonheim says:

    Methinks this review says a lot more about the critic than the wine – especially in the back and forth with Mr. Butner in the comments.

    You should know that what you write is in the public domain – you were obviously embarrassed to be approached by the winemaker of a wine you summarily trashed, even though you knew it was an off bottle…if you aren’t ready to stand up to what you write in front of any audience, maybe you aren’t so sure about what you are writing. Don’t write to make an impact, write to make a difference Any jackass can write inflammatory shit to make a splash; only a skilled taster and writer can make a difference in what they say.

  12. wawineman says:

    Mr. Busch,
    How’s it going over there? Fair questions… let’s get to them.
    1. No. I did not in any way suspect it was a “bad” bottle. You’re a winemaker yourself so answer this–> do you know the quality of your product that you sell in every bottle? Let me answer that for you… no. Using “corked” as an excuse is just that. An excuse. Yes, it happens. If winemakers want to tremendously lower the possibility of selling “corked” wines, then for Allah’s sake, go to screw caps.
    2. Again, this reviewed wine was not “corked” in my view. Did I mention wet dog or cardboard? And, if you read an earlier post, I did review a corked wine. Winery’s fault, not mine.
    3. That is true. I know of the quality of Mr. Butner’s wines. Do you?
    4. Slander? Now, you’re being a typical asshole but okay… first off, the wine was paid for. Perhaps you like to give yours away for free to guarantee a good review. We don’t play that way here. Wineries have the same option. They don’t like my money, they can ridicule it all they want on their winery blogs. And btw, that’s a helluva narcissitic self-evaluation. Sounds like moi.

    Anyway, Trey, success to you.

    P.S. to all winemakers– just how the hell does a dissatisfied wine consumer know that he/she can bring back a “bad” bottle of wine for exchange or refund? There is NEVER such a procedure to deal with this “5% of the time” issue printed on a wine label. You think about that the next time you sell a paying consumer a “bad” bottle of wine…

    Next question…

  13. castello2 says:

    Yes, I know the quality of Daves wine. Excellent!

  14. wawineman says:

    Mr. Eiler,
    Thanks for the assumption. Did I suspect it was a “bad” bottle at review? No. That’s not the way to review wines here. The featured bottle of wine, regardless if it is a Quilceda Creek, a Leonetti, a Woodward Canyon, a Betz, etc. gets the review solely on its “performance.” No previous baggage or accolades of the winery’s other wines will help it.
    What is it with you guys and the use of “slander?” Slander is based on the telling of an untruth. There is no “untruth” whatsoever in the review. Do I have something against Kaella Winery? Are you kidding me??? Slander has a better place in all these sudden negative comments. Like this blog just showed up! Like, hey!, thanks for FINALLY commenting after the 448th post here. Credibility? You just got here, bud.
    You are correct in that the “average Joe” isn’t going to get a bad bottle that often. BUT, it happens. And, wineries need to know this. The “average Joe” is even less forgiving than this blog. He/she then goes and tells ten friends by word of mouth.
    Confused them? Who? Doesn’t sound like anyone’s confused here. Animated, yes. Confused, no.
    Ask yourself… and how many Washington winery’s sangioveses did you purchase in the past year?

    You actually had some decent comments blended in with some biased negativity based on assumptions.

    Next question…

  15. wawineman says:

    Mr. Bonheim,
    “Methinks”… is that how they start off in Connecticut? We don’t say that here as it is very rude.

    Embarrassed? Embarrassed is any jackass talking crap based on poor interpretations and living in a state that makes shitty wines.

    Next question…

  16. wawineman says:


    Well said.

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