Selections for November 2016

Another delicious trip north

2012 BAER ‘Ursa’ – Columbia Valley, Washington State

This small-production red ranked #28 on last year’s Wine Spectator Top 100 List (94 points) but it’s virtually unknown to the California red lover.  There are so many other more local impressions crowding it out of the reckoning.  However, we’re advocating the wines of Washington State more than ever at TWS, believing they offer very good value and that there’s room in your sphere of wine love for the type.  A recent trip there which included fourteen different winery visits has also revived my own enthusiasm for what the place has to offer.

Since I’ve already related Washington State’s viticultural attributes (high desert, miniscule rainfall, diurnal shift, Missoula Flood-bearing loess, and longer summer days) several times – and as recently as earlier this year – this time I’ll make some travel recommendations instead.  While there’s nothing like seeing the source, Washington State’s wine country is inconveniently located about three or more hours’ drive east of Seattle.  You can fly into the little airports of Walla Walla or Pasco, but many casual wine tourists can’t or won’t make the time.  If you can’t get to it, don’t worry; it gets to you in the form of “Woodinville.”  That is, if you plan on spending leisure time in Seattle just arrange an Uber ride out of that city to this suburb to the northeast; about a half-hour trip.  Woodinville features several clusters of winery tasting room, and you can traverse many of these on foot.  There are no vineyards growing here, ironically, but in all other ways Woodinville is Washington’s more easily accessed “other” wine country.

I’ll leave you to enjoy this delicious blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec with the Wine Spectator description:

“The core glows with ripe blackberry, dark plum, mint and floral flavors, gliding over lightly prickly tannins into the long and compelling finish. Feels almost weightless, but has tremendous depth … Drink now through 2020.”  

A Kinder, Gentler 2013 . . .


The submission of this Cabernet as a Red Collector wine comes with an assertion:  Not all 2013’s are – or need to be – daunting in purpleness and aggressive in fruit and tannin intensity.  Here is an alternative message of mellowness; a pleasantly-plump example of the more sedate “Valley Floor” style.  Soft scents of raspberries, plums, baking spices, dried herbs, and smoke lead to a lush, medium-bodied experience of juiciness.  

This is the result of veteran farmer Tom Gamble’s vineyard work and Languedoc-trained Jim Close’s winemaking prowess.  Most of the fruit hails from Gamble’s main Oakville plot, not far from Groth and Silver Oak.  There is also a Calistoga-derived component.  A 5% Merlot addition and a 20-month nap in French, American, and Hungarian oak barrels are other significant features.

At the heart of Gamble Family Cabernet, though, is an easygoing declaration of the “nice ‘n easy” style requiring less cellaring time than most of the 2013’s we bring you.  For the true wine lover it takes all kinds, and this “drink now” Cab is a very valid, broadly-appealing one of those.