Category Archives: Washington

Apex 2010 Merlot

Columbia Valley, WA; 14.7% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 16 Apr.  No longer there.

This wine at first seemed a little too old, but, showing of full and ripe plum and blackcurrant, like it might air into something good.  However, as it aired, it just became thinner and more acid, not awful, but just less than it probably had been.  After being decanted a couple hours, the fruit came fully forward, becoming soft and fuzzy, and less acid.  Maybe if I had been more patient, the wine would have been pretty good, but it still makes me worry about the second half.

The second half, stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air, was actually quite similar.  It started with very promising full, ripe fruit, but with a sharp acid that never went away.  After a couple hours of being open, the wine again became more soft and fuzzy, but this time it never lost its acid and added some sharp bitterness.  I guess this wine is reasonably drinkable, but it still strikes me as a little too old.


Leone 2009 Nebbiolo

Columbia Valley, WA; 13.5%
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 Sept

leone_2009_nebbioloI’ve now consumed two bottles of this wine, and although I liked them both, they were a little different.

I thought the first bottle was considerably like a good CA Pinot Noir.  Although it lacked the strawberry / raspberry aspect of Pinot, it didn’t need much air to show a lot of the same darker red cherry, orange, and probably a little more of the usual earthy / woody aspect.  It went quite well with salmon. A day or two later, the saved, single-glass, screw-cap, bottle still needed a bit of air to come around, but was then much the same.  I quite liked it.

My second bottle was distinctly not Pinot Noir, showing darker tangy cherry, tending more toward plum, more cherry pit bitterness, and less orange.  Overall, I preferred the first bottle, especially since the saved screwcap bottle of this was rather dull and boring.

Did anyone out there try this?  What’d you think?

2013 Impuls 71

71% Syrah, 29% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.5% ABV
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 May

2013_Impuls71This wine looked like a nice blend, the back label said “produced and bottled by Impuls Cellars” (meaning they were responsible for the whole effort, not just blending and bottling), and one other thing.  The price label from the GO gave the year as 2011, but the front bottle label (pictured) says 2013, a better year.  So, I thought maybe it’s something better than it’s priced as.  However, the wine didn’t excite me all that much, at least on the first night.

With two hours of air in a decanter, the wine showed elegant and complex medium-bodied fruit of red and purple cherry, black raspberry / boysenberry / blueberry, with rather strong acid, and a finish including prune, tar, and oak.  There is some richness of texture in the body.  IMO, it’s a pretty good wine, but at least for now, the acid is too strong for my taste (better with food).  Perhaps it will age into a more graceful wine.

The saved, single-glass screwcap bottle is better.  The fruit is more forward and integrated, pleasantly rich and elegantly complex.  The acid is still a little strong, but it’s more of a zing at the end of a longer taste instead of a sharpness that drowns out everything preceding.  So, this seems to be a pretty good wine that would be better aged a few years or put in a covered decanter for a day before serving.

Cavatappi 2010 Sangiovese “Molly’s Cuvee”

Red Willow and Boushey Vineyards, Yakima Valley, WA; 11.3% ABV
$9 at the Richmond, CA, store on 21 Feb

Cavatappi_2010_SangioveseWhen reports of this wine started coming in, Lim13 wrote, “Wholesaler/winemaker/used-to-be restaurateur Peter Dow ( a most unique individual) started this label years ago, but I have no idea if he’s involved any longer. It appears the label is now part of the Browne Family portfolio (one Browne is CEO of Precept Brands). I’ve never been a fan of Peter’s wines…just personal taste. Almost always austere and high in acidity (Out there, Seedboy?).”  I tried and very much liked the Cavatappi 2007 Nebbiolo that showed up a while ago, so I hoped I could get around to this Sangiovese.  However, on the first night, at least, this wine fits with Lim13’s general description of Cavatappi wines.

Even with over 2.5 hours of air, the wine still shows only fairly simple, tart and slightly ripe red cherry fruit, with a nice earthy wood finish similar to that of the 2007 Nebbiolo.  While it’s reasonably elegant, so far I don’t see much to this wine.  Perhaps with more age, it will become an engagingly complex wine, but right now it’s not showing much.

The next day, with a bit of air, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was a little darker, more rich, and complex, but that’s not saying much.  It still struck me as only tolerable.  Apparently, whatever methods worked so well for the Nebbiolo didn’t do so well with Sangiovese.

Frontier 2010 Reserve Merlot “Canoe Ridge Vineyard”

Horse Heaven Hills, WA; 14.8% ABV
$8 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 10 Nov

Frontier_2010_MerlotResHHHThis is another wine I got during the sale that’s just sat around at my house since then.  It was mentioned briefly at the time here.  Like others, I had high hopes for this Merlot from Horse Heaven Hills with the Canoe Ridge name on it.  The best info I could find about its origin was at this link.

When I first poured and tasted this wine, I was quite impressed with its nicely structured complexity, and was looking forward to its becoming fully aired.  After about an hour, the fruit softened and darkened, tasting of dark red cherry, blackcurrant, and red currant, with nice complexities of earth and spice.  However, it never seemed to fully deliver on its initial promise, and, indeed it rather fell apart soon afterwards, becoming more simple and acid.

The next day, the saved, single-glass screwcap bottle was much the same, having a moment of modest grace before becoming less pleasant.

Cavatappi 2007 “Maddalena” Nebbiolo

Red Willow Vineyards, Yakima Valley, WA; 14% ABV
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 18 Dec

Cavatappi_2007_NebbioloWhen this showed up at the Richmond store, there had been some discussion here (and here) about a Cavatappi 2008 Sangiovese.  In particular, Lim13 wrote, “I’ve never been a fan of Peter Dow’s wines…just personal taste. Almost always austere and high in acidity.”  So, on one hand, I think I sometimes like wines that are less fruity than he does, but on the other… he’s usually right.  🙂  But after a couple days, curiosity got the better of me and I purchased this bottle.  I actually like it a lot.  I found it an interesting and tasty New World version of the Nebbiolo grape.

This wine was pretty good from first pour, but has held up very well for 3+ hours now.  It shows nice cherry fruit (ripe red, dried, and tart), with nice complexities of light earthy leather, roses, and dried orange peel.  For me at least, this is a pretty subtle wine.  Treat it as you would a more delicate Pinot Noir.  Unusually for me, I preferred its temperature on the cooler side, when I could better taste its complexities over its New World fruit that is more sweetly ripe than the Italian Nebbiolos (Barolo and Barbaresco) I’ve tasted.  It’s probably fully mature, and I did not find it too austere or acid.  Tonight, it went well with roasted Cornish game hens (GO, $2 each, IIRC).



NxNW (North by Northwest) 2013 Chardonnay

Horse Heaven Hills, WA;
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 7 Dec

NxNW_2013_Chardonnay_HHHWith its Horse Heaven Hills designation and the details of its origin and production on the label, this wine looked quite promising.  Maybe my expectations were too high, though, because even though it is a pleasant and well-made wine, I found it unexciting.

The wine immediately shows smooth, moderately ripe fruit of yellow apple and pear, with a little creamy vanilla, some acid of “white of the melon rind” and less ripe pineapple, in a taste of nice length.  However, I found the flavors (and maybe acid) a little light, so this could be the wine for you if you prize smoothness and elegance over intensity.  Myself, I found it eminently drinkable but unmemorable.

The next day, the fruit is a little more forward and tasty, but overall much the same.

[Post has been updated later the same day, but not significantly changed.  I apparently clicked “Publish” when I meant to click “Save Draft.”]

Mercer 2010 “Sharp Sisters” red

50% Merlot, 34% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot; 14.1% ABV
Columbia Valley, WA
$8 at the Oakland, CA, store on 26 May

Mercer_2010_SharpSistersRedI thought this looked like an interesting blend, from a pretty good year, from a producer who gave us a few decent-value whites.  I also hoped that, at this price, it should be more substantial than our usual GO fare.  However, it was not to be.

On the first night, the wine tasted of lighter red, tart fruit, but chewing on the taste gave the impression of buried layer of richer, darker fruit that would emerge with more air.  However, even after a couple hours, it never seemed to.

The second night, the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle was richer and a little darker, but still rather acid and not especially tasty.  Overall, although there’s nothing obviously wrong with it, I can’t really recommend this wine, especially at this price.  Once again, I may have gotten an off bottle.  Has anyone had better experiences with it?

Cloud Cap 2011 Malbec

Columbia Valley, WA; 12.3% ABV
$6 at the Oakland, CA, store on 25 March

CloudCap_2011_MalbecAlthough the back label reads “vinted and bottled by Cloud Cap Winery,” I could not find anything about it online except for a few menus serving this wine.

Upon opening, the wine shows somewhat lean, lighter red fruit that doesn’t seem very promising.  However, after about 75 minutes in a decanter, it filled out nicely, showing textured fruit of darker boysenberry, blueberry, and mulberry, with a little lighter violets / roses, and a nice fruit / acid balance.  It’s slightly funky in the finish, but not in a bad way.  Quite pleasant to drink, but don’t try to age it, as it doesn’t have the structure to last.  (It just occurs to me, it could have been good blended with a little Petite Sirah.  Is there PS in the Pacific Northwest?)

The next day, the second half (kept stoppered in a 375ml bottle with very little air) was redder, more acid and simple.  It was still decent to drink, certainly better than the other GO wine I opened, but I definitely preferred it on the first night.

Cascade Range 2012 Riesling

Rattlesnake Hills, WA; 12.1% ABV
$4 at the Oakland, CA, store on 16 March

CascadeRange_2012_RieslingThis off-dry Riesling shows flavors of yellow flowers, yellow apple, some lemon and a little green grape skin.  It’s on the riper side, but not too heavy, reasonably balanced by acid, and modestly complex and delineated.  It was well received at a dinner of Asian hot pot.  Solidly Drinkable.