Wednesday, May 31, 2006

New Releases at the College Cellars

During Spring Release weekend we visited my "alma mater", the College Cellars at the Center for Enology and Viticulture, to catch up with instructors, Stan Clarke and Mike Moyer. This was also an excellent time to see what types of wine the students were producing. First of all, I could not believe the assortment. Second of all, the prices for these quality wines are excellent buys. Guiding and working along with the students is the knowledge and talents of their two instructors, with many years in the cellar between them.

When I was taking the enology portion of the program, Stan Clarke (Stan-with-the-patience-of-Job) guided us while we learned the roles of cellar rat (the only way to learn winemaking, even if I never want to rack again - zzzzzz). While visiting with Stan, he mentioned that Mike Moyer and his class of students were responsible for making many of the exciting array of wines we tasted. Mike and his students have a great touch! They were terrific, even the Semillon which is about the only varietal in the world that is not a favorite of mine. The 2004 Semillon tasted just like what a hearty and rich Semillon should be with a rich lemony custard taste. We also tasted their 2004 Rose of Syrah (a great picnic wine) and a very unique 2005 "Lemberger Carbonique" - an experiment of carbonic maceration that came out fruity as can be like a fresh new wine.

Two outstanding wines (besides their Chardonnay that I wrote about in Wine Blog Wednesday #21), were the 2003 Klipsun Merlot and the 2004 Governor's Blend. Mike reminded me that the Governors Blend I worked on. I believe I was part of the blending committee. I remember spending a few evenings checking temps and brix during fermention and doing some punch downs. I am thinking that was for the 2003 Klipsun Merlot and the 2003 Pepper Bridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

The students were very fortunate to be able to produce a Cabernet Sauvignon from the famous Pepper Bridge Vineyard fruit. A bold wine with cherries, chocolate and big tannins makes this wine food friendly. Aged for 24 months in 100% new oak. A terrific price at $22.

The 2003 Klipsun Vineyard Merlot is from the revered Washington State Klipsun Vineyard of the Red Mountain Appellation. This deep and crimsoned color Merlot is bold with blackberry and chocolate flavors. I thought the finish was just remarkable with a roundness of buttery caramel in the long finish. Fairly high in alcohol at 15.9% and the price at $22.

The 2004 Governor's Blend is a very elegant wine of 27% Syrah, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot and 9% Petite Sirah. Lots of toast and tobacco hits the nose with aromas of brambleberries. However, as bold as the nose is, the wine itself is light and structured well with the right amount of acidity. I think these qualities make for a great food wine. An excellent price for a sophisticated wine - $13.

Proceeds from the sale of wine supports the wine education program. College Cellars is the first teaching/commercial winery at a two-year college in the US.

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