A Woodinville pet shelter recently offered free parvovirus vaccinations, regularly $25, after an outbreak in King County led to the deaths of puppies. I drove by the shelter to take my canine but the line was out the door. No, there were no pets in line, but I did see Shona, Margot, Clive, Jamie the Fink, and Greg P. Utt waiting anxiously. A 45 year-old Aussie teacher was recently awarded the top prize in a digital imaging competition with images he captured from this past year’s wine bloggers convention. After walking in to what looked like a borefest “breakout session,” he noted his undercover pictures of the event “look very plain… They look like slimeballs. You wouldn’t take notice unless you knew what you were looking for.” A South Carolina wife called the cops after she was bonked on the head from a teacup thrown by her husband after she complained about the smell of his fart that was “bad enough to cause her to almost puke.” Lady, we know that feeling after reading some wine blogger’s completely biased ‘Top 100 (Walla Walla) Wines’ that got published last month. What a joke! Google released the 2012 Top Wine Blogger description searches and here are some selected choices (and the top result displayed): #8– heartburn (Andy Perdoodoo), #7– miscarriage (Barbara Winebitch), #6– urinary tract infection (Shona666), #5– diarrhea (Sean Gregullivan), #4– diaper rash (Clive Pursesnatcher), #3– sexually transmitted disease (Jimmy Fink), and the number one wine blogger description that led to a wine blogger result–> HEMORRHOID (Paul Richard Sulligutt… so when he’s called a ‘dick’, that’s actually his real name!) Now you know.
Another year is wrapping up and here are the 2012 highlights of the Washington wine industry. In May, Ascentia sells Covey Run and Columbia wineries to Gallo. Wine pundits wondered aloud who’s reputation gained from the sale. On June 1, the State officially got out of the booze business as demanded by passage of I-1183. Despite the increased competition, prices overall actually rose slightly due to a mandated 20% spirits tax. Washington voters who were influenced by some jackass’s wine report know all about winning the battle but losing the war… Later that month, two mega-booze retailers, BevMo! and Total Wine, opened shop in Tacoma and Bellevue. Initial reactions: BevMo! prices are too high while Total Wine offers a massive selection at mostly rock-bottom prices. Those fears of I-1183 driving out the “small players” remain a myth as proven by Darby Winery still selling wine. In a tectonic shift, Brennon Leighton, Efeste’s affable biker-dude celebrated winemaker defected to Walla Walla to join forces with Charles Smith. Rumored to be coming soon to deplete your wallet… Washington’s first $100 chardonnay. And, probably from a decrepit vineyard somewhere in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA. Yep, Walla Walla wineries make some great Yakima Valley wines, folks. Just as harvest began, Corliss Estates announced its purchase of the former Blackwood Canyon Vintners massive vineyard property on Red Mountain. Kudos to Michael and Lauri for keeping the valuable land within the family as there were spiraling rumors that a California mass producer was interested in taking the property and moving it back to the San Joaquin Valley to improve the quality of wines made there. Stupid Cali geeks… nothing will help San Joaquin wines get out from the shadow of Charles Shaw. On a minor note, the “evil empire” that is Chateau Ste. Michelle purchased O Wines. BFD… I know. And, after a superb harvest for vintage year 2012, the Feds awarded the addition of Washington’s 13th American Viticultural Area on November 19 to the “Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley” AVA. Most famous vineyard in that AVA? Evergreen Vineyard. Most famous winery in that AVA? Uhh… take your pick: Ryan Patrick Vineyards, Cave B, White Heron, Jones of Washington, or Beaumont Cellars. The one varietal that will make it famous: riesling. And we end the year with the BEST NEWS of all– Paul Gregutt announced he is getting out of wine blogging and will be selling futures of Chateau d’Yquem 2012 Sauternes to his fellow citizens of planet Uranus. He will/will not return to his motto of “I don’t blog, tweet, or honk if I love zinfandel” in typical two-faced fashion. What wasn’t confirmed was the gossip that he had sold his belongings, ran out on his second wife, and boarded his spaceship with fellow companions Bob Parker and Janis Robinsen to avoid the Mayan apocalypse on Dec. 21. Fcukin’ New Age hippies… good riddance!
Cedar River Cellars, owned by beavers Heather Leanne (32) and Micah David Nasarow (40), had its humble beginnings back in 2003 when Heather won a winemaking-kit at an auction (smells like Starbucks). The thought was they would make wine for their wedding, planned for the summer of 2004. Nevermind that Micah was already an accomplished beer brewer… real women in doilies drink wine! The year following their wedding, they stepped deeper when they purchased 100lbs. of cabernet grapes from their local wine shop then followed the next year with syrah grapes. Their first commercial vintage was in 2009 and totaled a whopping 190 cases, divided equally by a ‘Bella Bella’ syrah and this wine; thus fully earning the designation as a “nano winery.”
Ya gotta like their mantra– “Our goal is to make a Northwest style wine… We do not make Bordeaux blends or Rhone style wine, for we are NOT LOCATED in those regions, nor do we get fruit from those regions.” There are some winemaker snobs out there, pushing their $80 cabernets or $140 syrahs that like to compare their Washington wines as that rivaling a “spot-on Medoc” or “reminiscent of Cote Rotie” blah blah blah to appease those faux-wine aficionados who have NEVER even been to France nor been there long enough to actually enjoy a case’s-worth of wines there. 99% of wine buyers here have NO CLUE what a good French wine tastes like. And why would a winemaker bother to compare his/her wines with that of the French? It’s like saying my Fiat runs like a Mercedes. My Hyundai zooms like a Lexus. No. No it doesn’t. Besides, if I wanted to know what a French wine tastes like, I would buy a French wine. Duh. Note to Washington winemakers– make your wines taste like they are from Washington! Is it any wonder why Washington has no identity on the world market? “Have I heard of Washington wines? Oh, umm yeah, they’re the ones that wannabe like the French for some odd reason… We only carry French and California wines here as they have identity.”
Up until recently this year, one could only find Cedar River Cellars’ wines at a few select wine shops or by appt. at the “winery” (read: their home). However, their second vintage produced over 220 cases and with the 2011 vintage still settling, the Nasarows have since added a warehouse near Lake Kathleen in Renton and partnered with three other wineries (Alia Wines, Open Road Wine Company, and Grace Cellars) to form a tasting room, The Mercantile Wine and Goods, at The Country Village in Bothell (just up the road from the soon-to-be-closing Wine Styles store in Canyon Park). Grace Cellars has since bowed out due to personal reasons. The Mercantile storefront faces the main road, Bothell-Everett Highway, so don’t bother trying to roam the eclectic grounds as you’re liable to step in duck and rooster turd and that wouldn’t be a cool thing to drag into The Mercantile. Pay them a visit and tell ’em the wineman sent ya. On second thought, better not as Heather will charge double your tasting fee and tell you to sample the wines in back of the store… Oh Heather, remember when my team danced half-naked on the card table at Starbucks HQ? You liked me then…
To the wine…
Tasted at 57-68 degrees on the IR temp gun. Color: garnet-edged deep magenta. Nose: raspberries, black fruits. Mouthfeel: soft, medium-bodied. Tail trail: 5 seconds. Flavors: cherry, blackberry, tobacco, vanilla. Paired with Woodinville’s best Italian dishes from Pasta Nova. Rose to the occasion.
Alcohol: 12.5% (13.4% on website). Rattlesnake Hills AVA. 80% cabernet sauvignon from Portteus Vineyard, 20% merlot from Burgess Vineyard. Aged 14 months in once- and twice-filled oak. pH 3.75. TA 0.65%. 95 cases. Released March, 2011. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. Value: $15. Paid: $22. Music pairing: “Remember When” by Chris Wallace. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.