Sunday, September 30, 2018

Making Noble Wolf Malbec!

403 lbs of gorgeous Malbec grapes from Adolfo's "Noble Wolf" vineyard near Dallesport WA (high in the mountains above the Columbia River--about 1000' I think). 23 Brix; pH 3.2. Fantastic boysenberry jam flavor. Well-tended vines (a really pretty site, actually). Lucky to have sourced this fruit.

"Mal bec" in French means "bad mouth," meaning the wine tastes green when young. Right now, the juice is pure and rich, with great body and deep flavor, with no greenness, but that may come soon. The secret to good Malbec appears to be aging the wine for a long time, which lets the wine soften and mature into its final richness. Will do.

THANK YOU to Andrew who helped me crush this fruit in very high heat (for so late in September).



Saturday, September 29, 2018

2015 Hors Categorie Syrah

Lucky to be on the mailing list for this one Each of us gets just two bottles. Another spectacular achievement by Christophe Baron:

100 points, The Wine Advocate The 2015 Syrah from Hors Catégorie is spectacular, bursting from the glass with a stunning bouquet of smoked charcuterie, blackberries, licorice, dried violets and rich forest floor. Structured around beautifully velvety tannins on the palate, the wine is full-bodied, layered and immensely concentrated, yet it manages to remain weightless. While there's plenty of fruit here, it's this Syrah's mouthwateringly savory qualities that define the protracted, penetrating finish and make the wine so exciting. Cropped at a mere 0.8 tons per acre from a steep hillside vineyard that's trained on stakes à la Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie, this was matured in neutral oak, with the exception of one second-fill puncheon that was eliminated after the first racking, demonstrating that when it comes to new oak and Syrah, less is emphatically more..."
-- William Kelley of The Wine Advocate


98 points, International Wine ReportChristophe Baron first discovered this site in 2004, as the Syrah was planted on extremely steep slopes (60% grade at some places) near where the north fork of the Walla Walla River meets with the Walla Walla River. The 2015 Hors Catégorie Syrah is an absolutely stunning effort that shows a wonderful stony character along with smoked meats, raw meat, blood orange zest and red cherry candy on the nose. On the palate the silky mouthfeel and percision is simply incredible. The range of flavors continues to entices the senses with red cherry preserves, blood orange, white truffle oil, black pepper and green olive tapenade. The mouth-watering acidity and wonderful lifted character makes this nearly impossible to resist. This is another untterly captivating effort by Christophe Baron in this vintage.



Friday, September 28, 2018

Alloro 2012 Pinot Noir

Enjoying this great Pinot with Andrew, who just helped crush 403 lbs of Malbec from Noble Wolf Vineyard in Dallesport.

This has wonderful boysenberry fruit nose, is super-smooth, ripe and ready.  What an atypical Oregon Pinot, in that the fruits are rich and forward, and there's no barnyard aroma at all. (The barnyard would be welcome if present; it's just not there, and that's fine, too.)

As it ages in-glass, the end-palate and the finish tend to tar and black fruits. Not my favorite part of the experience. But still a fascinating wine. Andrew says there is often a hint of eucalyptus in Alloro's wines, and we thought this one had a hint of that as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Epona 2017 Cayuga white wine with grilled no-preservative sausages and a cabbage saute:

Highly recommend butcher boys (butcher shop) in vancouver. Killer good, no-preservative sausages. Simmer, then grill. With this saute of cabbage, shallot, havasu hot pepper, garlic, and our apples, and vinegar and sugar. With mustard of course. And my Epona Cayuga wine. Yum!


Slab 3 finished and for sale!

Slab 3 finished and for sale! Sitting bench or low table. 30"L x 16"W x 16"H. Single slab of walnut. All the wackiness you see in the grain is natural, except for spots where I filled cracks and holes with epoxy. From a fallen dead tree. (It's in Woodland WA now, but I can bring to Vancouver WA.) Custom steel legs with felt floorpads, from a blacksmith I like in NY.

This took about 50 hours of work, starting with a rough chainsaw-cut slab. Sanded by hand through six grits, with five rounds of epoxy fill, and interim sanding. Tung oil finish. Stamped "KLE 3" on the underside. The top is mirror-smooth; the edge is live and semi-rough. 

Next up (slab 4) is a twin of this slab--same size, shape, and grain. If you want a pair, I can't guarantee the finish color of slab 4 will be an exact match.


Check it out! The market will tell me if this is good or not; 3 and 4 are my last slabs unless they sell to enthusiastic buyers, in which case I'll go hunt for slab 5. If interested, pls contact me at kenton.erwin@gmail.com . Thank you!





Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Review: Five Star Cellars 2012 Supernova

I have long loved the wines of Five Star. They're in one of the WW2 army air force pre-fab buildings at the Walla Walla airport. This wine has 60% Petit Verdot and 31% Cab Franc, both from Walla Walla Valley. It's a great wine. Dark purple fruits; smooth; rich. Recommended.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Phelps Creek 2013 Pinot Noir - Review

I usually write how much I like a wine, but lately there've been a string of bad wines. The latest disappointment is the Phelps Creek 2013 Pinot Noir. It's awful. My distributor gave me a bottle to taste, for which I was grateful.

Bouquet: There's no red fruit, no fruit of any kind. Just hot alcohol. Later, the nose picks up some adverse chemical smell. Yuck. I suspect, from the bouquet, that this vineyard was either too hot, or was overcropped (for which Pinot Noir suffers horribly--it loses all of its varietal character).

Palate: From bad to worse. No pleasure at all in this drink. There is not a single thing in the flavors to point to and be positive about.

Not sure what the price is on this one but please don't buy it. Pinot Noir is a great grape, but it is difficult to grow and difficult to make good wine from, and even then it can be frustratingly changeable in the bottle. So much so that we tend to eschew Pinot now. Why waste the money, when so many of them are so uninspiring?

It could be that it's difficult to make a good Pinot Noir in the Columbia Gorge. But I suspect this one was from the wrong vineyard and made in the wrong way. Stay away.