Can’t a wine blogger get a few months of rest? Readers in Louisiana, Minnesota, Texas, and now Nice, France need to stop the violence in demanding new blog posts from yours truly. Even the Don has refused to name the winner of his Veepstakes until I write a new post so be it.
Some interesting developments have arisen in Washington wine with this current heat streak (definitive vintages since 2012).
First is the over-bloated scores attached to wines that have no real business in the boner-seeking “best wine values of the month” category. Most guilty in this “+2, +3” overhype is that from Wine Overly Enthused. Is there a more blatant D-listed rag that shamelessly adds points to a wine’s score just for massaging the shriveled scroats of their wine judges? Then, there are a few desperate wineries that will even ride a score from some Wine & Fud or International Wine Conscroatium or other completely obscure piece of high-grade toilet paper just to sell their shitty wines. “Oh look, Tommy Zinfandel’s Guide To Wine scored ours a ’95’! Wait a minute… we don’t do a zinfandel. I guess we should.”
Second is the mushroom-like sprouting of all these low-end “premium” wineries that are tapping into the lucrative $15-25 market. Why is this a hot spot for selling wines? Easy. Have you noticed all the Amazon-linked newbies moving into our area, inflating home prices to record levels? Did you ever think an “average” house in Seattle metro will set you back over $600,000? These greedy Californicators are cash rich and young. Unfortunately, they are also beer drinkers who are only beginning to understand the virtues of wine. Their only previous exposure to wines depends on their status: if they worked at Google or Facebook– they got a taste of Napa Valley; if they worked at a supporting app company, then they flooded their palates with Paso Robles or Sonoma; and if they worked in software dev, then they drank Lodi. One can easily figure that when any of these silicon slaves coughed up $600,000 for a ex-Boeing janitor’s abode, they didn’t have much left for booze. Hence, the growth of the tolerable new middle-class of wines that is the $15-25 buffer.
This “new” winery, based in Paterson (home to only one real winery– Columbia Crest), is headed by none other than Paterson’s ‘La Eme’ wine boss in Juan Munoz Oca. Always look at the back label of any questionable Washington wine and if the location is Paterson, WA, then you can bet the juice passed through El Guapo’s purple-stained hands.
To the winery’s credit, they contracted some fine art for the label. It ain’t Upchurch Vineyard quality but is eye-catching enough to swipe a bottle off the rack.
So, what to think of this? A somewhat artsy wine label selling a 2014 cabernet from two unknown vineyard sources crafted by a winemaker who heads Washington’s most prolific corporate winery.
Here’s the lowdown. It’s got Columbia Crest style, which means the wine imitates more expensive wines on the surface, but look deeper and there isn’t much stuffing to elevate this wine among Washington’s finest made.
This is a better than the H3 and Grand Estates versions under Columbia Crest but falls short of that winery’s “reserve” lineage. This wine lacks complexity, terroir, and presence. However, if you’re a 20-something hosting an open house with fellow tech-nerds and don’t want “your father’s wine,” then this wine is for you. It doesn’t taste cheap or expensive. It’s dry but not tannic. It’s dark, but not extracted. And, you’ll get a decent buzz if you use it for wine-pong. Status grade: plus.
Tasted at 62-67 degrees on the IR temp gun. Clean, dark magenta in the Riedel with aromas of red currant, black currant, 5th floor parking stall, leather, cherry, pomegranate, cherry, and chocolate backed up with flavors of blackberry skins, blue raspberry, and chalk. Slightly rough on the palate. Pair it with cold cuts and exotic cheeses.
Alcohol: 14.5%. Vineyards: 65% Beverly, 35% Eagle & Plow. Columbia Valley AVA. Soaked up to 9 months. 10% fermented in concrete. 45% of final blend aged 14 months in non-virgin French oak. pH 3.80. TA 0.54%. Retail: $22. Value: $17. Power: 2/5. Balance: 2/5. Depth: 2/5. Finesse: 2/5. Rated: 88. WS 92. Music pairing: “Young & Relentless” by Against The Current. This is WAwineman… uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.