Selections for August 2016

Washington Strikes Again

2014 SKYFALL VINEYARD RED BLEND – Columbia Valley, Washington State

We recently brought you a Cabernet Sauvignon from here; dark and sturdy with powerful, flamboyant fruit.  Now it’s time for a kinder, gentler Northwest expression!

“Skyfall” alludes to the car-sized rocks commonly viewed among the vines throughout this region.  They appear to have fallen from the sky but were in fact dragged here from two states east near the end of the last ice age.  The so-called Missoula Floods occurred when an ice dam containing a lake half the size of Montana burst, sending water rushing west at 90 miles per hour and carving out the Columbia River.  The rocks came, too. 

The list of this wine’s ingredients indicates most of the reds Washington State does right.  This red blend involves 48% Merlot (this place’s best grape, by my read), 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Sangiovese.

Dark berries and wood smoke appeals to your nose.  A soft and velvety palate feel carries flavors of juicy cherries and black fruits.  Skyfall finishes briskly, with food-craving acidity.  While it could easily be enjoyed on its own, it will truly shine with proteins.

If this tasty red seems a little more modest than some of our provisions, well, so is the price!

The new Mario?

2013 SEMPRE VIVE CABERNET SAUVIGNON – Napa Valley

Brands come and go around here.  A new vintage of an old friend can sometimes fail to repeat in quality, and we must reluctantly tell it goodbye.  Other times a label is tested out on our smaller wine shop market, proves itself, and explodes in production size.  Costco and Safeway become its new peddlers and we, the once-again burned, angrily banish it. 

One wine we admired year after year was Mario Perelli-Minetti Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of the few smaller-production Napa Valley Cabs which could somehow remain near the $20 mark, it looked, smelled, and tasted more expensive.  With multiple successful vintages, our customer was all over the stuff and TWS was glad to have a steady brand.   Finally though, the price per ton for Napa-sourced grapes exponentially rose and MPM was forced to outsource.  Based on the new, less-impressive flavors another familiar TWS face necessarily vanished from our set.

Since then, our $20-ish Cab category hasn’t been lacking in players, but no one wine seemed to “say it all” the same as MPM – until this Sempre Vive happened for us.  Here is the dark fruit for which 2013 has become known . . . the classic flavors of blackcurrant, cedar, black olive, and dark chocolate for which Napa Cab is famous . . . and a crowd-appealing ripeness and sauciness sealing the deal.

It is remarkable to us, knowing the formidable costs of the Napa Valley wine biz, that a single estate (Calistoga) Cabernet Sauvignon can happen at this price.  The winery’s website puts this at an over-$40 tasting room rate.  We’re glad we can do better!  Cab lovers, get back in here!