Thursday, July 12, 2007

Drenched in Greatness - aˋMaurice

First of all, it is worth the drive. Of course, what am I talking about? Everything in Walla Walla, is no further than a 15 minute drive from the heart of downtown.

The winery and 13-acre vineyard of aˋMaurice is located in the Upland area of Mill Creek. Besides the appropriate growing conditions, you can almost reach out and touch the panoramic view of the multi-colored foothills of the Blue Mountains. One is surrounded in tranquility.

If there is a distinguished nose coming from a wine, it is exciting to me. It makes me want to learn everything about that wine. And no – not every wine will have a dominant aromatic nose that reaches beyond the glass.

The first release of aˋMaurice Premier Red Blend - 2004 is such a wine. 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Malbec were hand-picked, carefully sorted, then crushed and fermented in small lots and later aged in mostly French oak. The result is an aromatic wine with the Malbec reaching out beyond the glass, in spite of the small percentage. The rich taste reminded me of the holidays. I often tell people that when you are learning to taste wines, rely on your fondest memories in the kitchen and you can often pick out those same smells and flavors that were brought together during that special time. The richness of dark fruit like plums from a cobbler and pumpkin pie with all the right spices, with a touch of vanilla, were there for me. This blend would suit me for every day sipping, but foods from the grill like salmon, sausages and aromatic vegetables with herbs will really be at the advantage.

Visiting with Ned Morris, winemaker for aˋMaurice, we discovered that he has apprenticed under some of the best. Ned also received sommelier training in Australia and has a Masters of Science in Food Chemistry and Fermentation.

They are charter members of Vinea, a voluntary trust of Walla Walla wineries and vineyards that follow strict guidelines for sustainable viticulture. Future plans for aˋMaurice is a larger structure to be built for their winery along with gardens.

We tasted through the aˋMaurice wines and I can honestly say that the owners, the Schafer Family, have everything in place to continue making distinguishable wines. Location, soil, talent and most of all pride for their craft. When you put all of those components together, and as their motto says, aˋMaurice is truly "Drenched in Greatness."

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