I am honored and very appreciative that Shawn Luke has agreed to do some guest posts on WineSpeak USA. Shawn’s vast knowledge of Northwest wines, tasting notes, and enthusiasm for the greatest beverage in the world definitely need to be shared. – Nick
By Shawn Luke
In addition to the magnificent scenery and meeting so many great people, one of the best aspects of wine touring is getting the opportunity to try wines that you cannot access in your local market. On my trip to Walla Walla last September, I made it a point to visit àMaurice Cellars and Walla Walla Vintners, stops I had missed on my first visit a year earlier. These wineries are located next door to each other just off Mill Creek Road in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. (Yes, the views are tremendous.) While both had very impressive lineups, each winery had one wine that inspired me enough to add them to the precious 12 bottles that would return with me on the plane. That $35 second checked bag fee isn’t so bad when compared to shipping costs. Everything making it home safely (TSA inspection included), I let the bottles rest for over 6 months before getting around to the inevitable confirmation tasting. I must say, it does feel great when you realize that your taster was “on” that day.
àMaurice Cellars 2009 Columbia Valley Red Blend “Cummings” – Anna Schafer crafted a real beauty with 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc from multiple vineyards in the Columbia Valley including Bacchus, Dionysus, Gamache, Weinbau and Tokar. Very dark color. Mostly black. Some deep purple and a hint of brown-garnet at the margin. Dark fruits (cherry and cassis) with depth on the nose. Some subtle mocha & brown earth notes. On the palate it’s medium bodied with a saline/clear quality. The pure dark fruits present with ripeness but not overbearing at all. There’s a kiss of brown earth and baking spices in the mouth. Remains consistent on the palate with a slight floating quality and persistent dark fruits. Finish really delivers the goods with ripe dark cherry, cassis, deep plum in a strong initial pulse. Feels bigger with the fruit surge but then eases with the moderate tannins providing grip. Ripe dark fruits and earth & mocha notes carry out for 30+ seconds. Nice stuff. 92. This wine is available for $35 at the winery, which represents an excellent value for the quality.
Walla Walla Vintners 2009 Sagemoor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Owners Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri have one to really be proud of here. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Sauvignon is all from Sagemoor Vineyard’s Bacchus Blocks 3, 9 and 9C, which include some of the oldest plantings in Washington. The Merlot and Cabernet Franc are from not-quite-as-old vines also within the Sagemoor property. Deep dark color. Almost entirely black. Deep purple margin with some garnet influence. Nose of clean, ripe deep black cherry, cassis, non-briary blackberry, fresh slightly dried dark sage-esque herb. A little fine ground black pepper spice and just a light touch of green herb in the background. Kiss of sweet toast and mocha-chocolate as it opens. Medium bodied with a nice clear, clean, saline feel. Floats just a little. Fruits are a mix of blue and deep red. Tannins are well controlled. Nice ripe fruit-driven finish with a semi-powerful splash of black & blue fruits presenting in a smooth transition. The finish is carried by the moderate tannic grip as it eases out over almost 45 seconds with evenly ripe fruits remaining primary. Touch of dried dark herbs returns. Displays real complexity, length and staying power. 94. An absolute steal at $40. Unfortunately, this vintage has now sold out at the winery but the 2010 is available.