First, the Obvious
2016 ‘Heritage’ by BROWNE FAMILY VINEYARDS – Columbia Valley, Washington State
The Brownes meant this particular bottling to land in restaurants, but now and then retailers also blessed with an “on sale” license are able to play along. Here is a 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, and 1% Petite Sirah from a wine region we frequently reference. Your “California” club sees many a Washington State selection for two reasons. First, the flavors are familiar to your palate. Second, the value can be better from this area. Let’s slip in a THIRD reason: YOU have been supportive of this Northwest idea with your repeat purchases of our submissions from there. You appear to be just fine by this!
So you know what’s in it, grape-wise. What’s also important is the treatment. No fewer than 24 months were committed to an American Oak barrel nap. If Washington State does ‘em darker, certainly the use of this more extravagantly-flavored oak type takes it up yet another notch. Indeed, here are some fairly “in-your-face” scents and flavors: Rich cherries are exaggerated with a whiskey sauce effect in the nose. The palate is rich and full; sappy with syrupy fruit and chewy with sweet tannins. “Heritage” asks, “When is enough TOO MUCH?”! I know people who would treat this rambunctious Cabernet as a stand-alone cocktail wine. I would rather do it with BBQ!
Step Back in Size, Step Forward in Complexity
2015 BANSHEE ‘Mordecai’ - California
Many of you have met the players behind this wine. “Banshee” is the domestic project from the same dudes who do Valkyrie Selections, which imports very good wines from France and Spain. We do a nearly-annual Valkyrie Selections event on our mezzanine emphasizing their Spanish selections, but we’re always blessed to also have “Banshee” on the shelves downstairs.
We’ve sold a ton of Banshee Pinot Noir over the years but this is our first ever use of the ‘Mordecai’ red wine. Meant to indulge with a bit more color and fruit richness than the Pinot, Mordecai is a kitchen sink blend with a recipe that’s bound to change with each passing vintage. The 2015 edition features Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Syrah, Zinfandel, Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Merlot. While you’re meant to appreciate the art of the blend happening here, i.e., appreciating Mordecai as a “whole,” it’s fun to attempt to identify by sniffing and sipping the individual voices in this crowded choir. Maybe you should tackle it as a “3 Family” inquiry: Bordeaux Grapes, Rhone Grapes, and the Quasi-Italian Zinfandel all hope to be heard. We hope you’re listening!