cabernet sauvignon

$20 Above: Cuvaison Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

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

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Cabernet Sauvignon, California 4 Comments

$20 Above: Bunchgrass Triolet 2009

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

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Red Blends, Uncategorized, Washington 2 Comments

$20 Above: aMaurice Cellars 2009 Columbia Valley Red Blend “Cummings” and Walla Walla Vintners 2009 Sagemoor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

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.


Posted on by Shawn Luke in $20 Above, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blends, Washington 1 Comment

$20 Below: Gifford-Hirlinger Stateline Red 2010

Gifford-Hirlinger Stateline Red 2010

Date Tasted: 3/6/13

Price: Suggested Retail is around $16.00

From The Winery: 14.7% alcohol. 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 9% Tempranillo, 2% Petit Verdot. Walla Walla Valley AVA. 774 cases produced.

Impressions/Notes: I gushed about the two Gifford-Hirlinger Stateline Red vintages reviewed last year (2005 and 2009) and named the 2009 bottling the under-$20 red wine of the year. The 2010 had a lot to live up to. It’s a good wine, but in my opinion does not approach the quality level of the previous vintages that I’ve tasted. Dark purple in color, this uber-ripe, fruit-forward wine leads with cherry, plum, and red licorice, with cola, cedar, cloves, and dark chocolate in the background. Slightly sweet on the palate, with below-average acidity, green tea tannins, and a flavorful finish highlighted by plum and sweet spice flavors.

Rating: Recommended (86), 3/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Below, Red Blends, Washington 1 Comment

Trione Vineyards & Winery

The Trione family has been farming and selling grapes in Sonoma County for over forty years. They now own and farm over 650 vineyard acres in the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and Sonoma Coast. In 2005, the family built Trione Vineyards & Winery near Geyserville, California. Winemaker Scot Covington uses three percent of Trione’s Estate grapes to produce their wines. Production is currently around 6,000 cases.

After tasting six of Trione’s current releases, the overarching themes that I continuously noted were consistently good quality and balance. I did not detect a trace of heat in any of these wines.


Trione Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Date Tasted: 3/9/13

Price: $23.00

From The Winery: 14% Alcohol. River Road Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: This lively and zestful wine presents with a very pale straw color. The nose is chock-full of wild grasses and sliced jalapeños, but the flavors lean more towards fresh citrus fruits, specifically lemon and tangerine. Refreshing, balanced, and overall a nice expression of Sauvignon Blanc.

Rating: Recommended (88), 3/5 Value 

Trione Chardonnay 2008

Date Tasted: 3/9/13

Price: $30.00

From The Winery: 14.3% Alcohol. River Road Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: Light gold in color, this Chardonnay features expressive aromas of honey melon, oak, spice, and lemon candy. A shade low on acidity, with a clinging aftertaste of toasted oak.

Rating: Recommended (87), 2.5/5 Value 

Trione Pinot Noir 2008

Date Tasted: 2/7/13

Price: $35.00

From The Winery: 14.2% Alcohol. River Road Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: This garnet colored Pinot Noir is aromatic and has an airy, elegant presence. Fragrant red cherry, mulch, and dark chocolate aromas and flavors really pop, while the light and silky mouthfeel and impeccable balance take this wine to the next level. My favorite wine of the group and priced well at $35.00.

Rating: Highly Recommended (90), 3.5/5 Value 

Trione Syrah 2008

Date Tasted: 2/7/13

Price: $32.00

From The Winery: 14.8% Alcohol. River Road Ranch Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: A very clean, balanced Syrah that provides an excellent expression of herbs and spices–particularly oregano, bay leaf, and mint. Black raspberry and menthol are also readily apparent on the nose and mouth. The fruit is a bit on the tart side (I’m ok with that), and there is a slight bitterness on the palate, followed by very fine tannins.

Rating: Recommended (88), 3/5 Value 

Trione Cabernet Sauvignon Block Twenty One 2007

Date Tasted: 3/9/13

Price: $64.00

From The Winery: 14.5% Alcohol. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2.5% Petit Verdot, 2.5% Malbec. Cloverdale Ranch Vineyard, Alexander Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: Dark in color, this Zinfandel like-Cab presents with one of the loudest noses that I’ve come across. It’s absolutely loaded with raisiny fruit, cassis, and chocolate. There’s some sweetness on the palate, huge fruit, and sweet spices. Given the “huge fruit” and sweetness, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there’s enough acid to balance it out.

Rating: Recommended (88), 2/5 Value 

Trione Red Wine 2007

Date Tasted: 3/9/13

Price: $48.00

From The Winery: 14.5% Alcohol. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (blend breakdown unknown). Alexander Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: The “Red Wine” blend may be more subdued that the Cabernet Sauvignon, but it’s still a big wine. I found the aroma/flavor profile to be a bit more complex, with blackberry, molasses, pencil shavings, red bell pepper, and damp earth. Black fruits, spice, and supple tannins fill the palate.

Rating: Recommended (89), 2.5/5 Value 

Disclaimer–These wines were provided as samples by the winery.

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Red Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Wine Column Leave a comment