Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Tag: White Wine

Spain, Belated

Remember when people shared vacation photos from a projector? They would invite their friends over, find a blank space on the wall to show the pictures, and provided live (long-winded) commentary.  I'm going to skip the commentary, but here are photos from November's trip to Bilbao, San Sebastian, Rioja, Priorate, and Barcelona.  Pass the popcorn.



Walla Walla Washington Wines, Day 2 - Afternoon Revelry

Revived after a delicious lunch, I continued my tour with a stop at Mark Ryan.  Don't be fooled by the quaint vintage scooter in the front of the shop  - this place is gunning to be badass.

 

Mark Ryan's vintage scooter.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

Mark Ryan's vintage scooter.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

Case in point: the Numbskull BDX, Walla Walla, 2012.  Like the skulls on the label, the wine was bone-dry (come on, you can't say you didn't see that coming), with some grippy tannins.  It was lighter in body than expected, especially given the blend, but I think this will develop more nuances as it ages. 

Mark Ryan Numbskull.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Mark Ryan Numbskull.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Lost Soul wasn't available for tasting but was substituted with the Wild Eyed, Red Mountain, 2012. The 100% Syrah had a plethora of ripe berries up front but was balanced with the spice one comes to expect from a Syrah.

Mark Ryan Wild Eyed. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Mark Ryan Wild Eyed. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Long Haul, Red Mountain, 2012, was appropriately named, as it definitely needed some aging in order to reach its fullest potential. Delicious notes of leather, tobacco and spice were already coming through on this Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot blend but these only hinted at the potential heights this wine could reach.

Mark Ryan Long Haul.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Mark Ryan Long Haul.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Last in the lineup was the Dead Horse, Red Mountain, 2012.  Comprised predominately of Cabernet Sauvignon, there was a surprising restraint to the fruit with leather and smoke rounding out the glass.

Mark Ryan Dead Horse.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne.

Mark Ryan Dead Horse.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne.

Like G. Cuneo, another winery that takes its cues from Old World regions is Rotie Cellars, which, if not apparent from the name, models itself on Rhone blends. Here, I found some shining wines that exemplify the quality wines Washington State is capable of producing. 

For whites, I was drawn to the Southern White, 2013, a Viogner/Roussanne/Marsanne blend that pranced in my mouth with honeysuckle, peach, lime and zippy acidity. 

 

Rotie Cellars Southern White, 2013.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne.

Rotie Cellars Southern White, 2013.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne.

Their Southern Blend, 2012, was also a standout for me.  A traditional GSM blend (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre, if you want to spell it out), the raspberry and currant fruit blended easily with the savory gaminess in this wine. It had the slight edge over their Northern Blend, 2012, a Syrah-dominant red that hinted at black fruit along with minerality, cocoa, spice and again, a certain meaty quality.  There was a freshness to the Southern Blend that made it more accessible.

Rotie Cellars Southern Blend, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Rotie Cellars Southern Blend, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Swordfight, 2012, was another gem in the lineup. 50% Mourvedre/50% Syrah, my nose immediately picked up sweet baking spices, cumin and black cherry.  Sipping through, there were noticeable tannins and a bright cherry on the long finish.  I could see this really shining with some food. 

Rotie Cellars Swordfight, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Rotie Cellars Swordfight, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

My favorite of the group though, was an unusual one:  the Dre, 2012.  Made from 100% Mourvedre, which isn't often seen, there was a spicy n' sweet tension of white pepper and cumin, along with a Luden's cough drop cherry note to it.  Sounds weird but the complexity kept revealing itself with each sip. It needed aging time, no question, but overall I found it weirdly compelling. As a side note, I so love the rebel bad-boy element on display in some of these Washington State wine names and labels. 

Rotie Cellars "Dre" 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Rotie Cellars "Dre" 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Moving on, I arrived at Maison Bleue, another winery that is making a name for itself with Rhone blends.

The Maison Bleue lineup.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

The Maison Bleue lineup.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

My favorite was the Liberte, Syrah, 2011. Blackberry, overripe raspberry, spice, licorice and smoked meats made this a standout Syrah. 

Maison Bleue Syrah, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Maison Bleue Syrah, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The final winery of the trip was Spring Valley.  While I enjoyed their extensive lineup, what stood out the most for me were the bottle labels.  Featuring vintage photos of family members, they were a a unique tribute to the history of the winery. 

 

My favorite label - isn't she sassy? Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

My favorite label - isn't she sassy? Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

In general, Walla Walla is producing some great wines, marrying their unique terroir with traditional blends, offbeat single varietals, and a cornicopia of Old World Grapes.  I'm eager to see how this region develops as I see it becoming a major force in the wine industry.

 

Keep tasting, friends... 

Wines of Alsace - Pinot Gris

There's a wine region in France that I don't frequently write about but find myself constantly drawn to its offerings. Alsace, in the northeastern area of France, primarily produces mineral-driven, high acid wines that are intensely aromatic.  The majority of production is dedicated to white wines, with some sparkling wines known as Cremant d'Alsace.  Fuller in body than some other whites, they stand up well to food but are also a toothsome alternative to the light summer sippers I've been drinking frequently. 

The 51 Grand Cru appelations in the region were recently granted AOC status to ensure the quality of the wines remains consistent. In these sites, only four varieties are allowed to be produced: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat d'Alsace. Also required? The wines must be bottled in the green fluted-shaped vessels.  Quick history: the trade route along the Rhine, where Alsace and Germany did most of their commerce, was not a rough ride, so the fluted shape was ideal for packing and shipping the wines.  It was also a cheaper style of bottle to produce so economically it was the best option. Over time, efficiency became tradition, which then became a marketing tool.   

Recently I was sent a couple of Alsatian wines to try and the other night opened up the Pinot Gris.  The Dopff et Irion Cuvee Rene Dopff Pinot Gris, 2012, immediately announced ripe apricot, lemon and honeysuckle on nose.  Sipping through, the slight amount of residual sugar brought to mind candied peach and zesty lemon peel.  I was reminded of the sugar-coated gummy candies that were thrown at a kid during his or her bar/bat mitzvah once the Torah portion was completed. (My dimished recollection of Hebrew School thinks we did this to celebrate his or her accomplishment and to send wishes of a sweet life.  Of course, services were long and we all were a bit hungry by this point. Sorry, Rabbi). With a medium plus body and a good amount of acid, this wine was a delicious, lusty sipper for a warm summer's evening.

 

Dopff & Irion Cuvee, Pinot Gris, Alsace, 2012. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Dopff & Irion Cuvee, Pinot Gris, Alsace, 2012. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Keep tasting, friends....

 

 

Going Back, Back to Cali, Cali

And I'm not talking Napa.  Tonight at The Dutch was a wine from Santa Barbara, southern counterpoint to the famed Northern wine country.  Wanna get fun n' funky? It was a Gruner Veltliner, most often found in Austria.  The Habit, Gruner Veltliner, Santa Ynez Valley, 2012, had some of the classic Gruner qualities - lime, lemon peel, slate, rocky - but there was a slight roundness of green apple and pear that spoke to the New World's love of fruit. High acid but not attacking on the finish, this was a great wine for both sipping and light fish dishes (lobster salad with mustard oil and Old Bay as the app and tilefish with a Thai herb broth for the main course, in case you were wondering. Oh yeah, and blueberry pie).  According to the sommelier, the vineyard is a side project for the winemaker who's main career is a voiceover artist.  I think he should give up his day job, this stuff was friggin' good. 

 

Crappy picture, good wine.  Habit Gruner Veltliner.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Crappy picture, good wine.  Habit Gruner Veltliner.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine