Sunday, January 29, 2012

From the West Coast Correspondent: Red Blends from the 2009 Vintage

I'm pleased to present some new notes from Random Oenophile West Coast Correspondent James Bassett. We talked about this post during the recent Seattle snowstorm, so I applaud his efforts to continue his thoughtful wine drinking under such trying circumstances. Sadly, by the time we thought about him getting pictures of the wine bottles in the snow, it had started raining again. His notes and pictures are below (with some comments by me):

With the new year, a bevy of 2009 blends are hitting the market. How do they compare with the 2008s? Read on to find out!

2009 Six Prong Red
Columbia Valley, WA
68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 4% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot
Spicy blueberry and currant aroma leads into deep rich cherry, strawberry, and plum flavors; plenty of strong but subtle tannins support woody spice and licorice notes that wrap around a long oaky finish.

2008 Goose Ridge “G3” Red Blend
Columbia Valley, WA
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 24% Syrah
Oh my goodness! A cherry and cedar nose with an oaky backbone, luscious dark fruit explodes in the mouth (figuratively!) with black cherry, plum, and boysenberry riding high on a wave of vanilla, tobacco, and spice into a long, long, rich cola-y finish. Why was this only $9?!? And why didn’t I buy more?

2008 Kennedy Shah La Vie En Rouge
Woodhouse Family Cellars
Rattlesnake Hills AVA
45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec, 9% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot
Medium-bodied but surprisingly spicy nonetheless. Front-loaded with dark fruit, mulberry, raisin, and oak, it evolves through caramel, vanilla, and toast into a tannic cola and coffee finish, still dominated by that powerful spice, with a bright hint of alcohol.

2009 Desert Wind Ruah
Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, WA
Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, and Merlot
This medium-bodied Bordeaux blend starts out full of tart red currant and tannins, followed quickly by black cherry, strawberry, and vanilla that pick up those tannins and run with them into a long, very smooth and balanced finish.

R.O. Note: I tasted the 2008 vintage of the Desert Wind Ruah as part of the red speed tasting at the 2010 Wine Bloggers' Conference. My notes were as follows:

Desert Wind
2008 Ruah: 46% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc
Retail: $20
Fruity, coffee nose; big fruit, a little chewy with buttery finish
Guessed hot, right with 14.5% ABV

2009 Winemaker’sRed
Maryhill Winery
Columbia Valley, WA
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Franc (sourced 75% from Milbrandt Vineyards, 25% from Gunkel Family Vineyards)
Bright and oakey, this one starts out with a sweet and smoky cherry nose. The bright ripe cherry remains dominant on the palate, but cassis and licorice creep in around the sides, and the finish even adds pepper and . . . nutmeg? Or have I just had too much pumpkin pie? A rich wine, but medium-bodied and delightfully easy to drink. Maryhill was the 2009 Washington Winery of the Year.

R.O. Note: We visited Maryhill after the 2010 Wine Bloggers' Conference and were impressed. A link to that post is here.

2008 Mélange Noir
Waterbrook Winery, Columbia Valley,WA
33% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah, 11% Malbec, 7% Sangiovese, 11% other varietals
A dark, deep purple, transmitting almost no light at all, this wine looks like it would be perfect for Halloween! And with aromas of heavy black stone fruit, spice, and cedar it smells quite deliciously forbidding, too. Well, don’t be scared -- although fruit-heavy with plum, tart cassis and red currant, and black cherry, along with spice, oak, and a even chocolate and a hint of lemon in the finish, this wine is big and tannic in the mouth yet somehow remains medium-bodied. Not exactly delicate, and rather tight in the finish, but still quite nice. Just prepare yourself. . . .