Rasa QED 2009
Date Tasted: 5/10/13
Price: Suggested Retail is $50.00
From The Winery: 14.7% alcohol. 71% Syrah (Les Collines, Seven Hills, and Portteus vineyards), 14% Grenache (Minnick Vineyard), 12% Mourvedre (Minnick), 3% Viognier (Les Collines). 25% new French oak and 75% neutral French oak. Columbia Valley AVA. 619 cases produced.
Notes/Impressions: It’s no secret that the Navarane brothers are making some special wines in Walla Walla. I visited Rasa last summer and tasted through their magnificent lineup. Though much can be learned by sipping at a tasting room, nothing replaces the experience of popping a cork and tasting over the course of several hours (or a few days). The 2009 QED is the first full bottle from Rasa that I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. It’s a Syrah-dominated blend that I joyfully sniffed and sipped for hours and hours – seasoned meat, garrigue, floral notes, brine, olive juice, toasted oak, campfire, funky mineral, fig, plum and cranberry all make an appearance. Tannins are seamlessly integrated and the flavors are vast. The weight and mouthfeel of this wine really captivated me. It’s one of those wines that’s held in the mouth just a little bit longer than normal before swallowing. Elegant and complex, this is an exciting blend that’s a good buy at $50.00.
Rating: Highly Recommended (93), 4/5 Value
Cuvaison Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Date Tasted: 4/17/13
Price: Suggested Retail is $45.00 (Purchased for $30.00)
From The Winery: 14.5% alcohol. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc. Mount Veeder AVA.
Notes/Impressions: Cuvaison sources their Cabernet Sauvignon from their Estate vineyard on Mount Veeder, located at an elevation of 1200 feet. Their 2010 Cab presents with a deep purple color, thinning to garnet on the rim. It’s a solid and sturdy wine with an equal ratio fruit to earth aromas and flavors. Red cherry, blackberry, and black currant blend with potting soil and a really nice rocky minerality. In the mouth, the wine approaches full-bodied, with gripping, mouth-coating tannins. It’s approachable now, but has a structure that lends well to aging.
Rating: Highly Recommended (90), 3/5 Value
Joseph Swan Trenton View Pinot Noir 2007
Date Tasted: 4/21/13
Price: Suggested Retail is $35.00
From The Winery: 13.7% alcohol. Trenton View Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA. 193 cases produced.
Notes/Impressions: Joseph Swan Vineyards will always have a special place in this wine lover’s heart. The first visit that my wife and I made to the winery is a very fond memory. The tasting bar was lined with patrons, so they rolled out an empty barrel, flipped it on it’s end, and we had our own makeshift tasting table. We tasted our first Russian River Pinots, Zinfandels, and Syrahs, and they make some damn good ones. It’s also one of the most relaxed, unpretentious atmospheres you’ll find at a winery. The 2007 Trenton View Pinot was purchased on a subsequent trip to Joseph Swan. Their Pinots are known for their strong acid backbone and aging potential. The Trenton View presented with a light garnet color with a slight orange hue. The nose is full of interesting earth and pine aromas, with cherry, peach, cola and sandalwood compliments. It’s a delicate wine that’s noticeably dry, with ripe fruit on the palate finishing with just a touch of heat. This wine is a huge bargain at $35.00, and the 2009 vintage retails at that same price.
Rating: Highly Recommended (91), 4.5/5 Value
Bunchgrass Triolet 2009
Date Tasted: 4/11/13
Price: Suggested Retail is $28.00
From The Winery: 14.3% alcohol. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon (Dwelley Vineyard), 27% Cabernet Franc (Dwelley Vineyard), 6% Petit Verdot (Frazier Bluff Vineyard). Walla Walla Valley AVA. 175 cases produced.
Notes/Impressions: Bunchgrass Winery was founded in 1997 as the 11th bonded winery in Walla Walla, Washington. There website displays a catchy slogan – “Few Cases, Many Fans.” Production may be small at just 600 cases, but Bunchgrass has a strong reputation. The 2009 Triolet is the first Bunchgrass wine that I’ve tasted. There’s a regal quality to this Cab-dominated (Sauvignon and Franc) blend. It presents with a dark, inky purple color. The nose shows off a wide spectrum of aromas, particularly brambly blackberry, bell pepper, bay leaf, chalky mineral, and asphalt. It’s smooth and supple on the palate, with a medium plus body and the slightest of heat on the finish. A seamless and delicious blend that’s priced nicely at $28.00.
Rating: Highly Recommended (90), 4/5 Value
C.G. Di Arie Break Away Zinfandel 2009
Date Tasted: 3/28/13
Price: Suggested Retail is around $18.00
From The Winery: 14.3% alcohol. Sierra Foothills AVA. 3000 cases produced.
Impressions/Notes: On a recent shopping adventure, I was approached by a woman that was obviously pushing this wine (not sure if she worked for the shop, the distributor, maybe even the winery). I usually steer away from purchases in this type of scenario, but there were a couple of buzzwords that caught my attention. “Zinfandel”, “low production”, and “Sierra Foothills.” Despite being utterly annoyed by her unflinching proclamation that America’s best Zinfandels come from the Sierra Foothills (the Russian River and Dry Creek valleys say hello), I purchased a bottle. C.G. Di Arie Vineyard and Winery is owned by Chaim Gur-Arieh, a former inventor and new food product developer. Some of his most notable products include Cap’n Crunch, Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing, and Pudding Cups. C.G. Di Arie’s Break Away Zinfandel owes it’s name to symbolize the wine’s departure from jammy, over-oaked Zinfandels. It presents with a light-medium purple color that is remarkably transparent for a Zin. The aroma profile consists of blackberry, black pepper, tilled earth, and molasses. In the mouth, it’s light-medium bodied with soft tannins and tangy blue fruits.There is a very minimal oak presence on the nose and palate. I’m a big proponent of experimentation (and this is a different breed of Zin) but I couldn’t help but think of this wine as Zinfandel Lite as I was drinking it.
Rating: Recommended (86), 3/5 Value