VINTJS 2012 Columbia Valley carmenere

Another July coming up, another lameass wine liars convention passing through. The editors here at this blog got sucked into another planning meeting to “unify” the local scribes, but, as usual, the chatter melted down to the usual ineptitude so on display at these blogger’s caves. We also net-met with wine blokes across the pond due to this being a World Cup year. Let’s take a look…

Uwe von Pusser: “Not a chance USA will beat Germany at the World Cup.”
WAwineman: “That’s what the Germans said in World Wars I and II. How’d that work out for ya?”

Zits: “Hey, no offense but why are you bad at soccer?”
Prince Andrew: “You mean ‘football’.”
Zits: “It’s soccer when America wins more games than you.”

Antoine: “We will destroy those Africans! If it was a real war, the French just purchased some new tanks that have 14 gears!”
Alex: “Yeah, 13 go in reverse and 1 goes forward in case the enemy attacks from behind.”
WAwineman: “Good one! That reminds me… what’s the 100 meter sprint called in France?”
Antoine: “100m? I don’t know.”
WAwineman: “French self-defense.”

Onto typical wine blogger topics…

Sean: “Okay guys, I need help. What are some one-liners you use to get a first date?”
Sean: “I used this one on Jameson… My dick just died. Can I bury it in you?”
Josh: “I used this on my wife… You smell like trash. Can I take you out?”
David: “Margo got hooked on this one… If your right leg was Christmas and your left leg was Easter, would you let me come over for dinner in between the holidays?”
Antoine: “This one worked on Sarah… Do you want to play war? I’ll lay on the ground and you can blow the f*ck outta me!”
Bill Pollock: “I hung out at Pike Market once and tried this on a tourist… Oh you’re Australian? Would you like an Australian kiss? It’s like a French kiss, but only down under.”
Babs: “Hey Sean, remember this one from the backyard barbecue that you used on me? Are you a termite? Cause you’re about to have a mouth full of wood… Too bad it turned out to be a toothpick.”
Bean: “I practiced this on myself, with success… I wanna tongue punch you in the fart box.”
Jameson: “I surprised Sean with this winner… I would hide every chair in the world, just so you would have to sit on my face.”
Shona: “I fell victim to this 40 years ago… My name’s Skittles. Wanna taste my rainbow?”
Cheryl: “My short-lived husband got me with this… I’m no weatherman but you can be expecting more than a few inches tonight.”
Benny: “My wife was with her gang in front of the library when I slipped this on them… I know you ladies haven’t been studying. You must want the D.”
Rand: “As you know, I’m very old-fashioned so I hit on my daughter’s friend with this… My teddy bear just died. Would you sleep with me tonight?”
Paul Gwine: “I got my war horse the old-fashioned way also… Did you just sit on a pile of sugar, cause you’ve got a pretty sweet ass.”
Tom: “I’m an intellectual so I used this on my ex-wife… I’m like a Rubik’s Cube. The more you play with me, the harder I get.”
Clive: “I tried to hit on Cyndy once but she was one step ahead of me… I said ‘I was gonna tell you a joke about my dick, but it’s too long.’ She owned me with her reply, ‘Oh really? I was gunna tell you a joke about my vagina, but you’ll never get it.'”
Sean: “I got Anny to notice me with this… I’m not Asian but I’ll still eat your cat.”

Carmenere is the grape your grandfathers forgot to tell you about. Carmenere is also the wine that no rational-minded Carmens of the world will tell you is their favorite wine. It’s obscure. It’s gritty. It’s got the essence of unwashed armpit on a cool 95-degree day in Kerala. It’s also been a favorite of this blog for a few years… well before it got “sexy” by some late-comer’s article in the local fishwrap. And, still yet, no matter how much publicity carmenere wines get, the wines will continue to swim in the deepest part of the lake because no one understands or appreciates what carmenere grapes bring to the table. Oh sure, there are pockets of fanboys and fangirls that will eat up a good carmenere. Think Cooper Wine Company and Beresan Winery. These two wineries probably produce Washington’s best carmeneres, though not necessarily from grapes made in Washington. And, let’s not forget the pioneer winery (now extinct), Colvin Winery, that got us all hooked on carmenere grown in Washington. Nowhere else will you find a plethora of information on Washington carmenere than this blog. Even other wine writers use this blog as a reference, though they are too gutless to admit it. Besides, any and every dickwart writing about wine before 1994 (re: Paul Greg) thought Chilean merlot was just that… merlot. Wrong answer, fuckface.

Let’s face it, carmenere in its truest form is garden green. Bell pepper is the signature sensation. Yeah, not your most highly anticipated sensory perception when drinking wine. Regardless, true lovers of really good wine will take carmenere’s unusual profile and appreciate its unique persona and show respect by smartly pairing it with carmenerophile foods. Think peppered beef. Smoked pork tenderloin. Jerk chicken. Foods with some grit already encasing them. Pairing this with joke foods such as herb-crusted or stewed lamb reveals what a dipstick loser the writer is. Nobody serves lamb here on the wetside for dinner.

Found this bottle LAST WEEK on a trip to that bonhomie of supermarkets… Trader Joe’s. True, nothing’s ever on sale there, but the prices are so agreeable, there’s no need to have a sale. And the quality for the price delivers. My favorites that you cannot go wrong on are only two: the frozen paneer tikka masala and the breakfast mango-passion fruit granola cereal. I find any bitches that go as cray-cray as I do over these two meals and I will personally deliver an 8-hour orgasm. It’s that good, ladies.

So, what’s up with the name Vintjs? The back label says it refers to the word “vintages.” Riiiight. First off, (a) this is a single vintage. Ain’t no vintages here. Mebbe it’s more like “Vin” for vino or wine, and “tjs” for the store where it’s sold. Vintjs… Wine Trader Joe’s. You’re welcome.

Of note, in truth and labeling– this wine was produced by a reliable winery in Walla Walla’s own original all-girl winery, Bergevin Lane Vineyards. Once I saw that on the back-label and at less than a Hamilton, it went straight into my basket. Remember, it’s the 2012 vintage. Protip: 2012 is the Washington vintage that produces killer wines across the dollar spectrum. There are no duds from the 2012 vintage. Haven’t found one yet and I have cut a wide swath through Woodinville’s 100+ wineries. The very best values will be found in the cheapskate’s range of $8 to $30. This is the time to buy a boxed or canned wine if it displays a 2012 vintage. Seek out your favorite dollar store and buy out the supply. Rely on me for this.

Tasted at 55-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. Nose: raspberry, black pepper, cherry, bell pepper, crushed blackberry leaves, red licorice. Color: dark magenta. Mouthfeel: plush, full-bodied with good grip. Tail trail: 6 seconds. Flavors: black cherry, black dust, bell pepper, black pepper, raspberry, charred tips, red licorice. Refined roadburn in a Riedel.

Alcohol: 13.9%. Lots of cases. Trader Joe’s best return on investment to date. Columbia Valley AVA. No oak sensed so do not cellar this more than one year. No new oak = no tannins = no antioxidants = no cellaring. Stelvin cap. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 3/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 89. Value: $20. Paid: $8.99. Music pairing: “You Can Rely On Me” by Jason Mraz. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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8 Responses to VINTJS 2012 Columbia Valley carmenere

  1. csabernethy says:

    Yep. Heavily peppered steak and carmenere – an unbeatable combination! I’m thrilled that more and more wineries are starting to experiment with the varietal. Lately, I’ve found that many of the blends I enjoy the most have a bit of carmenere in them. Although the green and black pepper flavors dominate, I find it fascinating how much variation there can be due to either terrior or winemakers’ style. I believe I heard that even Columbia Crest may be releasing one soon. Can you put together a quick list of wineries currently releasing it?

  2. wawineman says:

    Ab,
    You pose a good post suggestion! I’m sure there are about a dozen wineries that offer a good carmenere; probably more than albarino but less than tempranillo.
    As for vineyards, a quick peek says only Col Solare and Heart of the Hill in the Red Mountain AVA grow substantial plots of carmenere… not too promising.
    I think carmenere brings an extra element of complexity to a blend that I look for (and is pleasing) but note that it is not green tomatoey or mint, which is gross.

  3. csabernethy says:

    I did a general “wine” search on Cellartracker with key words “carmenere” and either Washington, Yakima, Columbia, or Walla and came up with a significant list of wineries, but did not look at the vintages for each. This search won’t find all of the carmeneres out there, but it DID catch all the big boys mentioned in your article. Had a bottle of ’10 Smasne last night with a peppered ribeye – marvelous! Didn’t taste the bell pepper near as much as black pepper. If fact, I thought this wine has settled down quite a bit from a couple months ago. Still hanging on to my ’10 and ’11 Cooper – when the time is right, I will pop one!

  4. wawineman says:

    Hey Ab, so curious… when will you know the time is right for that krome killer from Coop? Any new oak on that baby? What does aged carmenere taste like? And do I want to know??

    Happy Independence Day, bro!

    • csabernethy says:

      I don’t have a clue! All I know is the ’09 was under-impressive and the ’09 release was so-so and the 2010 was very good. I opened a bottle on our AK cruise and still have the other one and both of my 2011’s. I’ve tasted both many times but haven’t sat down with a bottle in a year. I think I tasted a barrel sample of the ’12 last November at the Wine Festival, and it was good then. I doubt Carmenere will improve much with age but I would be willing to bet it would cellar for ten years. We need some input from Coop or Stephan to answer these questions.

  5. wawineman says:

    I have a box of other obscure varietals I am cellaring just out of curiosity but carmenere is not one of them. Would hate to see the fruit disappear then leaving just the rugged primary flavors. No one has mentioned what a long-cellared carmenere tastes like and so, there must be a reason for that. But who knows? We have outstanding fruit and skilled winemakers aplenty now so I bet you are accurate in estimating a 10-year shelf life.

  6. Don says:

    Good call on this one, but I am actually picking up what I think is a little oak as there is some bit of a cloying quality to this wine which tells me oak chips may have been involved. I do however,like the quality to price quotient which makes this one of the best sub-$10 wines I have tasted, but still can’t get past the sweetness

    I also bought this same label’s Paso Robles Petite Syrah, for $6.99 which I will try – not expecting any miracles, but who knows – Grocery Outlet is also a good place to find these types of pleasant surprises…

  7. wawineman says:

    Don,
    Good point on that as I find it difficult that Bergevin Lane wouldn’t use at least some active oak in a Bordeaux varietal bottling. Oak chips is a common practice with the bigg wineries and the only way to have a taste of wine and wood in a sub-10 buck chuck. I missed the sweetness also but, despite all these factors, the wine turned out pretty damn nice for the price. A risky effort that paid off, for sure.

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