Monday, February 14, 2011

Good For the Heart: Bergevin Lane She-Devil Syrah - 2007

This morning I've been pondering what Walla Walla wine would be perfect to blog about this Valentine's Day. I kept tickling through my mental notes about all of the wines I have recently tasted. I wanted to blog about a wine, that not only had an alluring and romantic name, but a wine that was red, feminine, and was so fine it didn't need to be paired with food.

Syrah is a red wine I typically do not reach out to for my daily "heart medicine." It's not that I don't enjoy Syrah, I just usually prefer it paired with food because of its intense smokiness and spicy qualities - - until I tasted Bergevin Lane She-Devil Syrah - 2007. This dark inky wine doesn't need food to tame it. She-Devil has all of the character of Syrah with it's smoke and spice, but like its name, it is smooth and elegant, yet still beguiling. Bergevin Lane She-Devil will demand all of your attention, so food just gets in the way (unless of course, it is a piece of chocolate).

The 2007 vintage was a cooler year than the previous and over all the fewer heat units brought about wines that were more elegant, yet with fresher characteristics. 73% Stone Tree Vineyard at Wahluke Slope and 27% Francisca’s Vineyard in Walla Walla brought to this dark red a concentrated wine with structure and layers. This 100% Syrah brings a velvet mouth feel with dominant juicy ripe berry flavors and finishes with cocoa and espresso. Tannins are present at the end reminding you that She-Devil has a lot of potential to still be tamed.

Bergevin Lane has always been known, and in fact one of the leaders in the valley, for their Syrah. Something tells me that She-Devil is a wine that will be given plenty of attention, will spin out of control and magically disappear out the BLV door.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Sinclair Estate Vineyards: To Be Remembered ...

When you first enter Sinclair Estate Vineyards tasting room, located on Main Street in Walla Walla, you are quite taken aback. You might just take another look through the large display windows as a reminder you left behind traffic outside when you first entered through the doors and that you are not in a manor or chateau overlooking rolling green slopes of old vines. Colored walls of slate blue and Tuscan yellow wrap around you and the decor is one of Old World. Large gold gilded frames envelope colorful paintings, elaborate and ornate carved Victorian and European furnishings, a grand piano and larger-than-life sculptures are all about. A true feast for the eyes and in fact a feast all of the senses especially when it comes to the wine.

Sinclair Estate Vineyards is a family owned boutique winery producing mostly French-influenced varietal wines. They are small lots using, like their tasting room style, old world style techniques. Amy Alvarez-Wampfler is the winemaker for this under 500 case production winery. For now the wines are produced at Dunham Cellars by Amy (her husband is Dunham Cellars winemaker, Dan Wampfler). Amy has six years behind her in the wine industry which three of those years have been in winemaking. She finds that the balance of power and structure gives an emphasis to elegant, yet very food-friendly wines.

Sinclair Estate Vineyards Chardonnay - 2009: Amongst those notes of tropical aromas, a bit of roasted marshmallow snuck up on me. A mid-palate of fresh stone fruit with a lingering finish of creme soda. A very food friendly wine or to be enjoyed as a chilled porch sipper.

Sinclair Estate Vineyards Sangiovese - 2008: Also making a statement as a food friendly wine. With the addition of Cabernet, this red spicy wine presents itself as a "Super Tuscan." The perceived sweetness in the mid-palate and lingering finish of tart cherries and peppery finish, will hold up to tomato sauce and smoked meats.

Sinclair Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon - 2007: A powerful red wine with a feminine touch. The Walla Walla fruit in this deep red wine shows off with its smoky and earthy aromas. Notes of dark cocoa and creme de cassis up front lead to a supple and full-bodied wine. A wine that is food friendly to the extreme: roasted meats to chocolate dessert.

Sinclair Estate Vineyards Merlot - 2008: Chocolate-covered cherries and dark ripe plums reminds you this is a Merlot made in Washington State. At first sip a bit of sweetness that leads to a bit of the ol' cigar box and finishes to a long and smooth finish. Another versatile food friendly wine from a bacon burger topped with Bleu cheese to grilled salmon with a Merlot redux sauce.

From the tasting room to the wine in a glass, like the Sinclair Estate Vineyards motto says, "A boutique wine encounter to be remembered ..."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Otis Kenyon Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon - 2006

It's been no secret that my go-to-wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, especially a Cabernet from the Walla Walla Valley. Like several wineries in the area, Otis Kenyon's label and story is based on family and their history here in the Walla Walla Valley. Unfortunately, Otis Kenyon's story is a bitter-sweet one filled with tragedy but now the new chapter for the Kenyon Family finally has their happy ending.

The happy ending also happens to be their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Walla Walla Valley. But let's start at the beginning.

I believe in sharing good bottles of wine with friends. Nothing is better than to pop a cork and pour a good bottle of wine around the room while everyone ponders the colors, the smells and even the atmosphere of the room - the whole experience. I had experienced the Otis Kenyon wines before, so the greedy devil on my shoulder told me not to share the wine as I should have it all to myself. However, it was the angel on the other shoulder that reminded me that good wines are meant to be shared with friends - - and that is exactly what I did when I accepted a dinner invite from my neighbors. (Who later that evening opened a 2002 Leonetti Cellar Merlot to be paired with Steak Oscar topped with asparagus and a tarragon bearnaise with a side of delicate stacked rounds of potatoes gratin. But that's another story ...)

It seems to me that Otis Kenyon releases their wines at later dates instead of releasing a wine that has only had a few years in the bottle, as they just had released the 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 this early summer (Vineyards used: Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, and Windy Ridge). The wine had time to, of course, potentially improve, rest and meld leaving a dark deep plum color that was rich in aromas. The more we swirled, the nose came alive with notes of blackberry tea, smoke and dark earth. Slow sips brought forth an abundance of dark cocoa, over-ripe plums, brambleberries and just a hint of spice - - like cloves. It was well balanced and we noticed the presence of oak, but it wasn't obtrusive. Later hints of anise and herbs came through at the finish. And like a good story, the wine left us with a happy ending from the first aroma to the last sip.

We took the almost-empty bottle of Otis Kenyon Cabernet Sauvignon to the table and finished it before the dinner wine was opened. I was happy and thankful for such a nice evening of good friends, good food and of course, good wine. I was happy I was able to share a lovely bottle of wine with my friends, but darn it if that greedy little devil on my shoulder later left me wishing I would have had the whole bottle all to myself. Cheers!
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