Archive for ‘USA: Washington’

March 21, 2018

L’Ecole No 41 Semillon, 2012

From the cellar: We found the very last bottle.  We hung on as long as we could.  But then the temptation became too great. Glug.


Our first post about a L’Ecole Semillion was here, and after that we bought it in multiples, stashing them away; but as we got through several lying down we posted on this vintage two years ago here.  Not much has changed; this wine just got better.  So much better.


Where to begin?  All over the map with wild tangents of bass an treble: White pepper, woodsy, minerally, piquant, a balanced acidity, vanilla, plum, fresh bread, a scrumptious finish longer than the Oscars.


What was really exquisite about the “lay down” was how muted everything became but the wine lost none of its expression.  Very hard to articulate.


Price: No recollection.  Used to be able to get it for $16 in Blaine, WA.


Market Liquidity: A simple treasure.

August 29, 2016

L’Ecole No 41 Semillon, 2012

L'Ecole No 41 Semillon, 2012

From the cellar: Four years ago we waxed poetic about this wine.  Somewhere along the wine, er, way, a few bottles ended up in the cellar.  I pulled one out on the weekend.  Oh what magic.


When a Semillon has some time, or, rather, when a good Semillon has some time, it’s like pupa to monarch, they really grandstand.  This has the hallmarks of something I opened too soon.  Doh!  But what a beauty, no regrets.  A sharp menthol dry pine on the nose, star fruit and pecans and honey on the palate, from tart to smooth in one evolving swoop, generous to a fault, with a lingering tropical punch on the finish.  Delectable and then some.


Price: No record.  Used to sell in Blaine for $16 USD and in Toronto for $25, which is a steal in my books.


Market Liquidity: Walla Walla Walla Walla Walla Walla.  Walla.

August 17, 2016

Result of a Crush, 2011

Result of a Crush, 2011

Forceful, forward, maybe a bit predictable.  But pure in intent.  The fruit and oak seem at loggerheads while a funky spiciness, Chinese five spice ambiance, hits the tongue on the finish.  A nice piquant bite to close.  Enormous drinkability.  In the spirit of holding Walla Walla to a very high standard, I would say great but not stellar.  If, however, this was a BC red, it would be sold out with a waiting list.


Price: $17 USD in Seattle.


Market Liquidity: Smooth, not suave.

November 8, 2015

Carmina Burana Riesling, 2014

Carmina Burana Riesling, 2014

A barrel fermented Riesling that echoes some of the finer Oz examples; we were reminded of Western Australia’s Alkoomi. Despite the reviews, we didn’t find it too acid although it has a piquant resonance; pear aromas, a tart quince like undercurrent on the palate, a short, lemony finish. Straightforward honest delectable white wine. Leftover Chinese anyone? It is much more new world than the Eroica, another WA stalwart, and has none of the cloying sweetness associated with some (unnamed) German Rieslings.


Price: Sinfully cheap at $9.99 USD, but commonly around $25.


Market Liquidity: Lush as in luscious. Nice way to break two weeks on the wagon.

November 8, 2015

Rockwell-Brown Bordeaux Blend “Red Mountain,” 2010

BananaBanana. That’s what came to us, on the first super fruity sip, that delicious if nearly synthetic banana ripeness. And then, on the palate, it unfolds with layers of deep fruit, nectar of the gods. Stellar.



The vineyard apparently went bankrupt, they auctioned off their assets, and we scored two precious bottles of this gorgeous blend for fire sale prices. It was like paying for a Leaf and taking possession of a Tesla.


The wine tends to formality, think black tie or morning suit; it would be sinful to have this with anything less than a fine cut of what the World Health Organization claims will all give us cancer (we sipped it on its own, to huge satisfaction, then with braised lamb shanks, where it teetered between gorgeous and arrogantly good).

Rockwell-Brown Bordeaux Blend Red Mountain 2010

If you were lucky enough to score some of this boisterous Bordeaux blend, congrats.  Honestly: A bottle like this is why you make an effort when buying wine.


Washington’s “Okanogan” so outstrips the “high end” BC “Okanagan,” so much of the time, it’s simply an embarrassment. Like they say, it’s not the varietal, but the terroir.


Price: Wait for it… $16.99 USD.


Market Liquidity: Yet again, Walla Walla trumps BC. USA, USA, USA.

May 11, 2015

Substance Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013

Unusually good—like winning nine times at Roland Garros unusually good. This is a striking example of how brilliant an inexpensive red can be. This wins over and over and over. Chillingly good, layered and textured spices, both smooth like cinnamon and funky like cardamom, earthy notes against a pleasing but not oppressive oak, aggressively grape-y, potent and uber-potable.

Substance Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Tannic, heavy reds aren’t our everyday choice (not even when the WA scores them in the low 90s, as it did this), but I couldn’t imagine elevating a summer BBQ with anything better. However, a better option is to lie it down for another year or two. If you can resist the temptation.


Price: Wait for it: Less than $14 USD. Which with conversion and taxes is under $30 CDN but, in this category, shames the BC Okanagan.


Market Liquidity: (Yet) Another WOW from WA.

February 20, 2015

Emplacement Walla Walla Syrah, 2012

Americans need to stop saying Syrah.  It’s as affected as toe-mah-toe.  Still, that’s a rant for another day.  This is a full on crazy ass kick in the pants walloping of red. All the leather you’d expect in Grenache and all the spice you’d hope for in Cabernet. This is headstrong but softly romantic. It’s deeply aromatic and with a ludicrous finish. All the hits of those 15-17% Australian reds flooding the market without the headiness. I write it over and over and over, but Walla Walla is the bomb. Let’s give it some love already.

Emplacement Syrah

Price: Less than $20 in WA.


Market Liquidity: Washington puts BC to shame yet again.

February 20, 2015

Array Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, 2010

Unctuous. Although, I know, a much under-used and mis-used word because I don’t mean oily or minerally I mean virtuous.


OK: Good. Very good. None of that grating severity common in unoaked chardonnay. Has all the warmth of a much finer, more refined white. But who am I to say this isn’t refined? It’s just the price that baffles me. Around $20 for a white that, if made in BC, would be over $40.  There is a tinge of burnt sugar on the tongue, not a sharp caramel, but just a flinty sweetness that is hugely alluring.

Array Chardonnay

Mission Hill bottles a Perpetua that I would put in this class but then, again, I wouldn’t. I mean the Array stands heads and tails above it. Absolutely a perfect fish wine, a very good mushroom wine, a decent (non tomato sauce) pasta wine, and a fairly decent aperitif.


Price: Over $40 USD in a restaurant so, presumably, $20-25 retail.


Market Liquidity: Who says unctuous?  Prick.

December 10, 2014

Buty 2012, Columbia Valley White Blend

009Let’s put aside the silly name. And it is silly, even though Nina Buty was a real person. But it’s like an actor called Montgomery Profile or Sissy Sexy. But the wine isn’t any laughing matter: Luscious, heady, aromatic. A mix of Semillon (62%), Sauvignon (21%) and Muscadelle (you do the math). Innovative and hugely appealing. What is especially elegant is the strong, metallic Semillon, so forward, kept perfectly in balance by the shot of Muscadelle sweetness. There are expressive green teas blended with herbs that are as clever as this wine. It’s like a serve and volley, a deft ball out wide followed by a touch at the net. The label reads “can keep a decade”; well, good luck with that. Stood strong against a cheese soufflé.


Price: Gifted. A Google search shows $25 USD direct from the vineyard.


Market Liquidity: One big beauty. You could smell that a mile off…

September 3, 2014

Woodward Canyon Nelms Road Merlot, 2012

Good Merlot. That’s about it. Good Merlot—and you know what Merlot tastes like. Ever since Sideways we’ve either become inured or in love with Merlot. The Nelm’s Rd has all the typical attributes, the soft tannins, vanilla, light oak, ripe cherry. It’s there. It’s what you expect. It’s just not in any way that interesting.


We all liked it. It’s enjoyable, it’s social, it’s not too much dough. But put on your “reviewer” cap and it pales to a lot of other bottles in this price range. So there you have it: Nice.


Price: Under $20 in the US if you can source it.  I’ve never seen it in Canada.


Market Liquidity: Did I ever tell you how the ground shook when we had the Woodward Canyon Cab Sauv? This is like Godfather 3.