2012 Hyatt Red Wine Rattlesnake Hills

Zillah, WA
14.3% alc.
$6 at Skyway (and Renton), WA (purchased 4/17/14)

20140417_185226_resized (2)Hyatt Vineyards has been around since the early 80′s making it one of the older Washington wineries, especially with the recent explosion of new wineries. The Rattlesnake Hills AVA sits on the northern end of the Yakima Valley and has recently been seeing a bit of a renaissance in recognition and quality of the vineyards. The label says this wine is a blend of four Bordeaux varietals with small amounts of tempranillo and petit sirah and is estate grown.

Dark red in color with a nose of vanilla spice, nutmeg, and red fruits. Red cherry, plum and blueberry on the palate with a good dollop of oak influenced caramel, smoke, and spice. Rich in feel with soft tannins and good acidity. Not a complex wine, but a good party pleaser and easy drinker. Hyatt wines typically retail in the $12-$15 range and discounted from $8-$10. So at $6 it isn’t super buy, but it is worth the money if you like the style. A thumbs up for me for its simple pleasure along with its stelvin closure.

2012 Mosaic Zinfandel

Russian River Valley, CA; 14.5% ABV
$10 at the Oakland, CA, store on 11 April

Mosaic_2012_Zin_RRVI had avoided this because a 2012 seemed a little young still, but I thought that, with the positive things people said about the Mosaic Cabernet, I really did want to try it, and I might as well buy it during the sale.  However, I wound up not liking it very much.

I poured off half into a half bottle (375ml) and stoppered it with very little air.  The rest in the bottle I left alone for an hour.  When I poured some to try after about an hour, I was immediately hit with a nose dominated by cooked green bell pepper along with some of the more usual Zinfandel flavors of blackberry and black raspberry.  On the palate, the bell pepper was far in the background, but the smooth and supple fruit itself — more of the blackberry, soft dark plum, black raspberry — also had a rather stewed quality, although balanced with a reasonable amount of acid.  I think this wine would be fine for $5 or maybe $6, but IMO even the sale price of $8 was too much.

For info on the second half, please see comments below.

Montebaldo 2012 Chardonnay

Delle Venezie IGT, Italy; 12% ABV; screw cap
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 13 Apr

Montebaldo_2012_ChardI had been eying this for a while, wondering what to expect from a greenish-tinged Chardonnay from northeast Italy.  During the sale, I finally got a bottle.

On its first night open, the wine showed only a little of Chardonnay’s usual yellow apple, instead dominated by acid of green apple and lemon.  I found it a bit too acid for drinking on its own, and it didn’t go much better with the squid I made for dinner.  So far, I think it would be okay if you wanted a lean and acid wine, perhaps to go with raw oysters, but otherwise there are better choices for less.  I’d say that if you want a Chardonnay, try the Whiplash, and if you want a tasty green acid-dominated wine, try the Barrymore Pinot Grigio.  Both are still around for $4 each.

However, the wine was more pleasant the next day, becoming more recognizably Chardonnay: more yellow apple, the green apple seems riper, a little nuttiness (from oak?), still probably better with the appropriate food, such as white fish.  It’s still not something I’m all that excited about, but if you like the Italian style of crisp whites, it’s decently elegant and tasty.

Eco Terreno 2010 Three Vine Red

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, CA
56% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, 12% Petite Verdot; 13.8% ABV
$10 at the Oakland, CA, store on 11 Apr

EcoTerreno_2010_ThreeVineRedThis wine looked quite promising, made from three Bordeaux grapes including a good portion of Petite Verdot, in a region where they can make good wines, in an excellent year.  However, it turns out it’s made in a style I don’t like very much.

On opening, the wine immediately shows ripely sweet red fruit with strong vanilla / oak, overall with a rather candied character.  It darkens over a couple hours of air in a decanter to show flavors of red cherry, darker cherry / redder blackberry, and raspberry, still with the same sweet candy nature and reasonably balancing acid.  Although I don’t like this kind of wine, I think many people do.  Given that, this wine is pretty tasty and solidly made, so I’ll nonetheless go with Thumbs Up.

2012 Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon

Columbia Valley, WA
13.8% alc.
$10 at Renton, WA (before the sale price)

20140411_072601_resized (2)Both the Merlot and Syrah version from this label have been previously reviewed. I liked both of those wines so I sprang for the extra bucks to try this one with some expectations coming along with it.

Dark garnet in color. Pretty closed nose with cherry, light spice, and an off smell I couldn’t place. Cherry and plum on the palate with cocoa and slight spice. Nice balance of fine tannins and acidity in the finish. The off note in the nose however kept creeping up and I don’t know if I was too focused on it, but it kept me from really enjoying this wine (although the bottle did get finished). I give it a drinkable, but my money is on the Merlot and Syrah at a better price point and there are better Cabernets out there.

2010 Ste. Chapelle Snake River Valley Late Harvest Riesling, Idaho $3.99

Silverdale, WA    12.5% alc.    375 ml.    (Purchased on 4/9/14)

IMG_1470Brilliant medium golden color.  Just like the 2008, the nose is delightful…sweet, honeyed, peaches, nectarines and apricots.  I could smell it for hours and not have even a sip (o.k., I’m exaggerating slightly).  In the mouth it’s thick, but not syrupy, smooth, quite sweet (but at about 16 percent residual sugar, not quite as sweet as the 2008) and equally as delicious.  The flavors match the fruits of the bouquet…mainly yellw/orange stone fruits.  The acidity balances the sugar.

Another wonderful sweet, delicious dessert Riesling from a producer who consistently knows how to do it well.  Peaches in lemon-touched syrup lingers in the finish.  Grab a bottle or three of this treat and pour it nice and cold over fresh grilled skinned peaches in the summer.  Add a plop of vanilla ice cream too!  Should note also that the alcohol on this one is slightly higher than the 2008 and the price is a buck more (which is still incredibly reasonable for what you’re getting).

Sawkar Family Vineyards Non-Vintage Red Blend

Syrah and Cabernet Franc from Sonoma Mountain, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 9 Apr

Sawkar_NV_RedBlendI picked this up as soon as I saw it since the 2003 Sawkar Reserve Merlot was so good.  This wine is reasonably good, but is very close to going over the hill, if not slightly past.

The wine is pretty tasty at first pour, but seems a little closed, promising more with air.  It steadily darkens over 2.5 hours in a decanter, showing nicely melded flavors of dark red cherry, redder blueberry and blackberry, and maybe some black pepper.  The body is only medium, and the acid has a tinge of vinegar.  I guess if you’re going to have it right away, you can say it’s Drinkable, but I think you can do better for $5 at the GO, with the Zelus Red, for example.

2012 Wines Of Substance WA State Syrah, $5.99

Silverdale, WA    14.8% alc.   (Purchased on 4/9/14)

IMG_1464Another economy-priced product from the well-reputed owners of Grammercy Cellars and Water’s Winery in Walla Walla.  Be sure to check out their trippy web site.  I can get myself dizzy just looking at it!

Brilliant, somewhat lighter cherry/ruby color.  Nose is a little closed and tight, showing mostly cherry and raspberry aromas with a bit of smoke.  In the mouth, it’s  pretty light and soft with minimal tannins…leaning more toward the Grenache side of the Rhone variety spectrum with lots of berryish fruit, but also black coffee, light oak and more tannins in the finish.  Shows no signs of being a nearly 15% alcohol wine; no heat.  While it’s a light version of Syrah, it’s head and shoulders above the 2010 vintage that held no interest for me.  This is a seriously young Syrah, so it could potentially evolve and become slightly more complex in time.  A most respectable everyday red especially at the sale price of under five bucks.

2010 Tarkettle Road Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, CA $8.99

Silverdale, WA    13.5% alc.    (Purchased on 4/9/14)

IMG_1463Mostly clear deep purple/garnet.  When first poured, I wasn’t terribly fond of this Cab; had difficulty finding anythig varietal about it.  But after an hour or two, it really opened up and changed drastically…showing cedar, dark chocolate, black plum and perhaps a bit of eucalyptus in the beautiful nose.  In the mouth, the tannins are very soft and accessible, but do lend structure and the acidity is right on (what can I say?  I’m a product of the 60′s/70′s).  The flavors show more chocolate, cedar and dark fruit.  Oddly, the tannins seem to surface more in the finish, but still in balance.  For me, this is a winner…fruit forward with oak in the background where it should be.  May hold well for 2-3 years, but…why?  Tastes great now.  (My apologies for the poor photo. Light colored print was tough to capture.)

For another view, Expat (one of our “regulars”) was not fond of this Cab.  You can check out his comments here.  I’m thinking that more air time might have improved your experience, Expat.  But again, maybe not.  Another contributor, Gary Valan thought the Cab was “outstanding”.  But he referenced it being from Alexander Valley…a completely different region from Paso Robles (Central Coast).  So now I’m curious…are there actually two different AVA Cabs from Tarkettle Road in our GO’s?


2010 Cicchitti Malbec

Mendoza, Argentina; 13.5% ABV
$8 for 375ml at the Berkeley, CA, store on 9 Apr

2010_Cicchitti_MalbecThis wine and the other half-bottles of Argentinian reds from Cuesta del Viento are apparently only at a few stores, including Berkeley, Oakland, and Redwood City.  I was skeptical about Argentinian wines at this price in the GO, but curiosity got the better of me during the sale.

I think I can see why some people liked this well enough to buy it for the GO, but it’s not really to my taste.  The color is on the lighter side, both in color (more red than purple) and in saturation.  The flavors are purple cherry, redder plum, prune, and funky brown earth.  The texture is gentle and softly textured, and overall it’s a reasonably tasty and engaging wine.  Nonetheless, I find the flavors a little weird, in a sort of artificially flavored candy, or maybe slightly spoiled, sort of way.  Others may like it (I’d like to hear from you if you do, or if you don’t for that matter), and I’d normally give this Drinkable, but at this price, I have to go with Thumbs Down.  For $16 / 750ml, to my taste, one can do much better at the GO.