Wednesdays at Avalon are nuts. Winemakers and wine reps swarm around our tasting bar and it’s hard to get anything done before four o’clock in the afternoon. At the end of most Wednesdays, you think about all the wines you’ve tasted and so often, they’re discordant, like a junior high choir singing music from “Phantom of the Opera.”
Yesterday, three wines cut through the noise, each with its own voice. No surprise they’re from three of our favorite Washington wineries: Maison Bleue, Guardian, and Owen Roe. They’re unique, compelling, and flat-out delicious.
Le Midi Grenache 2010
$34.15 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* ($37.95 retail)
Maison Bleue’s wines have won over everybody, from wine writers and critics, to our customers, to me. Their pure, electrifying Le Midi Grenache opens with super-expressive black raspberry and cracked white pepper, picking up wild huckleberry and grilled steak toward the finish. Give this a bit of time to open and it really sings. Maison Bleue is a true standout among its peers. I highly recommend this.
100% Grenache, 200 cases made.
at right, Jon Martinez, Maison Bleue winemaker
Chalk Line Red 2010
$24.25 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* ($26.95 retail)
Chalkline is one of Washington’s best everyday red blends. Blended to be the perfect drinker, it gushes with velvety black and red fruits accented by mellow oak and dark chocolate notes. Want your friends to think you splurged on a fancy bottle? Crack a Chalkline for them and keep the price a secret.
29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 19% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot.
at right, Jerry Reiner, winemaker at Guardian Cellars
Red Willow Vineyard 1973 Block
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
$64.75 in any 12 bottle order or Build a Case* ($71.95 retail)
My favorite of the Owen Roe wines since David and I started working together. For collectors of the best of Washington State’s Cabs, this is a must have. Compared to his other wines, this is a different take on David O’Reilly’s inimitable Owen Roe style – an intriguing combination of flavors and unforgettable perfume.
From 37 year-old vines in the now-famous Red Willow Vineyard comes this sophisticated Cabernet. It’s much more red than black, showing bright and bursting black cherry and plum, building complexity and intrigue with cedar, tobacco, and milk chocolate on the supple finish. With a little more air time, the structure shows itself, hinting at what’s to come with proper cellar time. I recommend cellaring for 3-5 years, if you can keep your hands off it!
Velvety and mouth-coating is only the beginning (and actually, it begins with the nose!). Sweet cedar and pipe tobacco show in the aromas and reappear on the finish. Cassis and dark cherry, caramel oak, a hint of eucalyptus builds weight from the front to back of your palate. A melange of spices fans out on the finish and melds with fruit so lush it conceals the almost-hidden structure.
This is fascinating Cabernet – complex and intricate at the time of release, and it should live long – and prosper – in your cellar. Highly recommended and on its way to stardom.
below, David O’Reilly, winemaker at Owen Roe Winery
About the author – Jean Yates