Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Canoe Ridge Estate merlot

Lost my bearings as we passed the Dixon Entrance and back into Canadian territory as I tried to stay up late with my party. Just couldn’t keep up with baby Jeremy who was burning up the dance floor with some of my sweet honeys. Yeah, cruising’s only for old fogies. Funny, I didn’t see Greg P. Utt spittin’ his dentures out trying to show me up like he did with that lame, hollow recommendation of my 59-rated sangiovese that he didn’t even bother to taste. No wonder he got canned from the local fishwrap after I complained.

Woke up on Day 7 somewhere back in the Hecate Strait and headed for the Lido buffet for some bacon and egg remedies. I swear, the views of the open water and the distant mainland cannot compare to anything you saw during your breakfast. Our table was constantly looked after by several well-dressed waiters who saw to our every minuscule need. Ever had two eggs-over-easy with a splash of Sriracha, soy sauce, salt and pepper? Wicked eye opener. Tastiest. Laxative. Ever.

Decided to play 11am bingo for a shot at $15,000. The fine print was that you had to have a “blackout” card by the 46th number pull. Good luck with that. I’d rather throw dimes to a 4-inch polished dish three feet away. $25 for 3 cards or $35 for six cards (the sucker special). The afternoon session siren’d a $25,000 game and a cruise lottery, of which my adjacent-seated neighbor won so she’s now planning where to go next year for FREE. Her husband was, for whatever reason, less than enthused, so I jokingly offered to take his place and said I’d take care of her every need. He wasn’t too happy about that comment and left in a huff, tugging his wife.

Spent the afternoon on the pool deck admiring the scenery as the clouds disappeared while we traversed the Inside Passage with Vancouver Island on the sunset side and many evergreen-lined, uninhabited mini-islands dotted throughout. Had a few whale sightings along the way, which became rather blasé after so many earlier sightings. What was notable were the scattered lighthouses situated on these remote islands. If you are a lighthouse fan, then this is your kind of cruise. This ain’t the east coast but then again, they don’t have the breathtaking landscape that we do out here.

If that’s not your cup of tea, then attend the many events on-board, starting with morning stretch/abs/yoga/indoor cycling/walking in comfort classes; spa seminars examining Chinese herbal medicine and “how to eat more to weigh less;” computer classes; the umpteenth art auction; cooking class on Northwest flavors; team trivia; card players meeting; golf chipping; Alaskan storytelling; Indonesian tea ceremony; a Friends of Bill W. meetup; photo manipulation techniques; service clubbers meeting; and even a LGBT meetup. There’s something for everyone– just be daring enough to explore.

Lunchtime was special, although not nearly like that of the “midnight dessert buffet” lore. There was a fairly extravagant display of some high-calorie concoctions that passengers dug into. A chocolate castle, colorfully-topped cakes, an apricot tartlet castle, numerous fruit-topped mousses, multi-layered parfaits, and buckets of ice cream.

Meanwhile, for those boozers who have a sobriety problem, we offered a mixology class for the hardcore sloggers and my favorite of all the wine classes– the “unlimited tasting” of ten wines from around the world. For a mere $28.75, participants had sixty minutes to best exemplify wine gluttony in the formal dining room by visiting five tables strategically situated so everyone gets some exercise to burn off the calories. There was the Italy table that featured some truly horrid wines, the Chilean table featuring truly “green” wines, the Aussie table with their truly overpriced wines, the French tableau that the cruise sommelier secretly loaded with some damn fine wines, and my USA table featuring Hedges CMS White (2011) and Columbia Crest Grand Estates cabernet sauvignon (2010).

Just one guess and… oh!, you got that right… the largest crowd centered around MY table, biotch! There was no question the CMS White was the white drug of choice and the testosterone-depleted men kept requesting a double-pour of the cabernet. Yet again… comments centered around the “legs” of the wines. I wanted to pinch some of their moobs and slap some sense into these pensioners; however, as a glorified Class 12er, I put on that wine blogger face and smiled in agree-ance. After all, this was a no-holds-barred sloshfest, similar to a wine blogger conference. Fuck the wine lesson. It’s all about quantity for these sorry bastards.

All of us pourers tasted each other’s wines before starting the event, so I can say with supreme confidence that… the French Chateauneuf du Pape red was EASILY the most complex wine and the overall winner in my book. It was a 2009 Ogier ‘Les Closiers’ and loaded with earthy grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvedre. A $13 wine vs. an $8 wine… gee, who do you think has the better chance of winning???

The deal with these silly consumer wine tastings is that the blends tend to get more attention than the single varietal/vineyard aces. Why? Because these imbibers don’t know jack about wine. They look at appearance more than quality. If you have never been to Red Mountain, then you will have not a single clue as to what to expect in taste so you will never understand the WHY that makes Red Mountain AVA so highly esteemed. However, if you truly attempt to decipher the hidden intrinsic values within a wine and consume “premium” wines on a regular basis (and paying for it) while examining its complexities, then you will have risen above the idiots thriving at the wine-wannabe level like all those hipsters following Edward Busch the Third (aka Trey or Tray… who cares???). You wanna know why 95% of the wine bloggers either (1) do not blog on a weekly basis, or (2) do not last more than a year? Because their soul is stripped to the bone trying to cater to these faux-wine experts. Bow down and elongate Sean’s two-inch pee-pee or kowtow to the old goat that is Paul Gwine who has been paid to holla a certain stinky AVA’s wines and you will have slit your own throat. Note to adolescent wine bloggers– idolize no one and stay true to your path. Pay for your wines that you review (at least 90% of them). Speak your mind. Do not repeat another wine blogger’s reviews. And, don’t pull an Andy on Twitter and only retweet other jackass’s wine posts. You got something to say… grow some balls and say it in your own words. Finally, if you can’t stand the heat for sticking out, then wine blogging is not for you so stop stealing from wineries.

Dinner was nothing glamorous. I settled on Mediterranean Mezze Plate (creamy hummus, marinated olives, smoky-flavored baba ghanoush, rice-stuffed grape leaves, and olive oil-marinated feta cheese) and a meaty Argentinian ‘Guiso’ soup. I was phreakin’ stuffed from all the appetizers and an earlier rousing rendition of pork tenderloin at a private function to thank the passenger-hosts like yours truly.

Entrees I passed on were: ‘Orecchiette with Italian sausage and escarole’, asparagus and Fontina cheese risotto with sautéed cod, ‘Pechuga de Pollo’, sautéed shrimp Provencal, Bourbon glazed beef tenderloin with grilled portabella mushrooms, Lebanese lamb shank, Wattleseed roasted duck with apricots (what is the fascination with apricots on this cruise??), and tofu and vegetable korma.

So… by now you have been dying to find out what are the wines offered on board this cruise. Here’s the partial list as you just need to take an Alaska cruise to discover all that you are missing (and I am not).

Wines by the glass: CSM riesling ($8), Sokol Blosser Evolution ($12.25), Columbia Crest Grand Estates merlot ($12.25 or $32.75 per 3-glass carafe), Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label Brut ($17.50), Blackstone sauvignon blanc ($10.50), Kenwood Sonoma sauvignon blanc ($10.50), Robert Mondavi Private Selection merlot ($10.50), Meridian pinot noir ($10.50), Rosemount Estate shiraz ($11), and Peter Lehmann shiraz ($14.75).

Bottle prices: CSM riesling ($32), Zonin pinot grigio ($22), Nobilo sauvignon blanc ($35), Hedges CMS White ($54), Hedges 3 Vineyards Meritage ($74), Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc ($79), Northstar merlot ($92), Caymus 2009 Special Selection ($219), Antinori 2002 Solaia ($329), Chateau D’Yquem 2000 ($480), Chateau Figeac 2006 St. Emilion ($499), Vega Sicilia Unico 1991 ($799), and Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2001 ($1350).

Last chance shopping! What to do? For one, always enter the complementary raffle drawing. It’s free and you can actually win something useful. If you are thinking of cruising again, seek out the Future Cruise consultant to score a discount (usually $100 on a basic room) and secure a choice room. Feeling lucky?– enter the casino scratch games or the cruise lottery. It works. I’ve witnessed it. $10 actually “bought” a 7-day cruise for some lucky passenger. Check out the spa/salon… there was a $99 offer for any three treatments. Imagine choosing a foot and ankle massage, neck and shoulder massage, and a hot stone massage… one hour total for $99. Cheaper than a hot hooker. Just sayin’.

Tonight’s featured entertainment was the finals of the “Dancing With The Stars” spinoff. The winner would be one of the contestants of a final dance-off and would qualify for an actual “Dancing With The Stars” episode with those hotty-totty real dancers from the real show. With the exception of a lone contestant who danced like he o.d.’d on spinal Viagra, the others were actually quite skilled at their practice-limited routines. Of course, it helps to have prior dance experience like the winner did. They danced to one song quite a bit so it was easy for the audience to discern the capabilities of each dancer.

A final routine… packing up and leaving your locked baggage outside your cabin door before going to sleep. Yes, it’s a really good idea or else you will face no uncertain scrutiny and skeptical looks from both the crew and your fellow passengers. What not to pack… your essential toiletries. Leave enough room in your carry-on to store the basics, like a toothbrush and toothpaste, a hairbrush, and… really, do you need anything more? If you insist on bathing in the morning… oh, how I pity you.

One last hurrah so I bolted upstairs to view a comedic rendition of “The Marriage Game” then danced up a storm during the ‘Disco Hour’ followed by a live top-40 set by the onboard band. Sleeping is overrated!

A note of thanks to the cruise line I sailed with. They read my earlier posts and had the guts to admit this is one funky-ass’d wine blog with credible knowledge on Washington wines unlike the winemaker-notes-regurgitated-unoriginal wine blogs that fester the blogosphere.

Politics has no place in the wine blogging community. No nipple twirling or schlong-stroking allowed here. Blog about the wines like you mean it and not like you’re auditioning to be some hype-teller for some desperate winery. So you piss off a winery. Fuck them for making a shitty wine or prolonging a myth about how they’re God’s gift to Washington wine. And there’s no necessity in sucking up to that prolapsed anus in right-sphincter flap Paul or left-sphincter fold Sean. Blog because you are passionate about Washington wines and nothing else. Be pure and truly independent. Research on your own– not what other bloggers tell you to write about. Don’t rape the wine industry like those wine creeps, wine diva ditzes, and illiterate writing for wine o’clock somewhere. And, if you’re going to really blog about a wine, base the review on a full bottle and not some flaky 1-ounce sip at a sketchy tasting room or Taste convention. You do a disservice to your potential readers, and ultimately to the wineries themselves. No winery wants some fly-by-night broke-ass hipster touting their wines. A steaming pile of crap attracts only flies. And, more flies. And, that breeds maggots and helminthes. Do it right and do it honest and you will be in it for the long-term.

Tasted at 56-62 degrees on the IR temp gun (best above 60 degrees). Color: garnet-magenta. Nose: black cherry, raspberry, smoky blackberry. Mouthfeel: thick. Flavors in addition to the aromas: brown spices, dusty bark, plum, charred husks. Would have ‘won’ with the beef dish.

Alcohol: 14.5%. Horse Heaven Hills AVA. pH 3.87. TA 0.46%. 11% cabernet. 6000 cases. Vineyard planted in 1991. Aged 18 months in 19% new French oak and 41% new American oak. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. Value: $11. Paid: $18. Music pairing: “September” by Earth, Wine & Fire. This is WAwineman… uncorked and cruising. Aaaaand, why weren’t you here?

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