Tag Archive | "white wine"

Review: 2011 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc

South Africa is world renown for its quality Chenin Blanc and this little gem from Mulderbosch proves to bolster that reputation. For well under $15, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one – let’s get into it.


  • Residual Sugar 4.3 g/l
  • Total Extract 22.4 g/l
  • pH 3.38
  • Alcohol 13.92 %
  • Total Acid 5.6 g/l
  • Free SO2 35 mg/l
  • Total SO2 122 mg/l
  • Price: $12

On the nose: Mineral-driven fruit here, which is great. Green apple, bosch pear, orange peel, haystack and a touch of honeysuckle.

On the palate: A quite refreshing Chenin Blanc that retains all the dryness I adore about this grape, yet brings in some solid fruit. Blood orange, lime zest, grapefruit, pear, green apple and some steller minerality. A very well structured mid palate because of its mild use of oak helps make this a very tasteful venture.


W.E.P. Rating: 100%

Posted in Chenin Blanc, Featured, Reviews, South Africa WinesComments (0)

Review: 2011 Kennedy Shaw Riesling

By Duane Pemberton
Winery website: www.thewoodhousewineestates.com

For winemaker, Jean Claude Beck, making old-world style wine is in his DNA. Born in the Alsace region of France, Jean’s obvious influence of the area he grew up in comes to life in this Riesling.

Easily, one of the best, if not the best Riesling’s I’ve had from Washington State in a long time. It has all the complexity one looks for in this varietal, is very “fresh” on the palate and lingers with a finish that hangs out for weeks.

Review: 2011 Kennedy Shaw Riesling

Technical Data:

  • Variety: 100% Riesling
  • Alcohol: 13.9%
  • AVA: Yakima Valley
  • Vineyard: Dubrul Vineyard – Old Block
  • Price: $25

On the nose: Pear, green apples, petrol, river rock, white peach and ginger blossom.

On the palate: One of the “cleanest” new-world Rieslings I’ve had. It’s bone dry and exhibits so much of the qualities which are reminisce of wines from Alsace. It has that very appealing mixture of petrol, stone fruit, minerality and green apple core which make it a true delight. There’s also a hint of ginger on the finish. If you want a best-of-class Riesling from the New World, look no further.

W.E.P. Rating: 125%

Posted in Featured, Reviews, Riesling, Washington WinesComments (0)

Review: 2012 Kilikanoon Riesling

By Duane Pemberton
Winery website: http://www.kilikanoon.com.au/

Even though Australia is primarily known for its outstanding Shiraz, it’s also home to some very good white wines as well – like this 2012 Riesling from Kilikanoon. It’s dry, finishes very well and for sure plays along very well with various kinds of food.

Technical Data: 

  • Residual Sugar: 1.8g/L – dry
  • Alcohol: 12.5%
  • Price: $20 (AUS)

On the nose: Green apple, mango, blood orange, grapefruit, pear and white peaches.

On the palate: Beautiful acidity going on here with notes of stone fruit, green apple and citrus which linger on in a superbly clean finish. A world-class Riesling but is a bit pricey for one from Australia – I think in the USA market it may have a tough time competing with the likes of Rieslings from Washington such as Poet’s Leap or Eroica. 

W.E.P. Rating: 95%


Posted in Australia Wines, Reviews, RieslingComments (0)

On the Michigan Peninsula Wine Trail with a Buick

By Duane Pemberton

Michigan is known for a lot of things: cars, Lake Michigan, Detroit, “Motor City”, and more recently, its wine. Of all places, Michigan has a bustling wine scene that is strongest in its white wine quality with some red varietals gaining momentum such as Cab Franc and Pinot Noir – for my palate, the mainstream Bourdeaux varietals are still a ways off – if ever.

I took a 2012 Buick Regal GS for a trip up the Old Mission Peninsula to check out some of the local wine scene around Traverse City.

My first stop was at Black Star Farms winery which has locations on both the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula – this is a winery which produces whites, reds and even some bubbly.  The grapes they produce wines from are: Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sirius, Merlot, Cab Franc and Pinot Noir. In addition, they also produce wines from fruit – Cherry, pear as well as an apple cider.

Next stop was Chateau Chantal – a family-owned winery which sits at the highest point on the Old Mission Peninsula – I had the opportunity to meet with their director of marketing and family daughter, Marie-Chantal Dalese, who gave me a complete tour of the winery and bed & breakfast Inn.

They produce a variety of white and red wines – both sweet and dry as well as a very good tart-cherry port wine. My favorite wine, however, that I had there was a Pinot Noir which frankly was hands-down the best red wine I’ve had from Michigan and shows a good promise of what this region is capable of.

Most of the lower area of Michigan has to deal with extreme cold winter temperatures but these Peninsula areas have water all around which help maintain slightly warmer temps in the winter.

As you can hear in the video above, this winery has a small, family-owned vibe and enthusiasm and at the same time maintains quite a bit of volume and quality.

A couple other wineries worth checking out if you make it up to the Old Mission are Chateau Grand Traverse and Peninsula Cellars – I didn’t have time to do much at either place but the locals have told me they produce good wines.

There were a few things I walked away from after my short time in Michigan:

  • There are a LOT of wine-lovers in this state.
  • The dry whites are very good and still have a long ways to becoming great on the world-stage.
  • Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon don’t do so well here, however, Cabernet Franc is not bad.
  • The reason so many people here prefer sweet wines is due in part to the crappy little tasting glasses the wineries serve – a dry wine in those things tastes horrible; it’s like a slightly larger shot-glass.

I mean, seriously, the stemware used in all four of the tasting rooms I checked out, all use this same piece of crap glass – it’s no wonder sweet wines are the largest-selling in the area.

If you get to the great state of Michigan and decide to check out many of the good wines it can offer, you’ll run into some of the nicest people, good wines, good food and stellar views from many of them – just make sure to bring your own glass.

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A pair of 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ducks

Sauvignon Blanc is a classic Napa white grape that has got a lot of play over the several decades but has – in many ways – fallen out of the limelight because all too many started tasting the same and folks seemed to have gravitated towards the “buttery chardonnay” from that region.

Duckhorn Winery has been producing wines from this grape for a long time now and I had the chance to sample both its flagship “Duckhorn” label as well as its more moderately-priced Decoy brand.

Decoy Sauvignon Blanc: W.E.P Rating: 90%

Technical Data:

  • 79% Sauvignon Blanc, 21% Semillon
  • Harvest Information
  • Harvest Dates: August 25 — September 9, 2009
  • Average Sugar at Harvest: 22.2° Brix
  • 20 Vineyards Harvested
  • 100% Stainless Steel Fermentation
  • Alcohol: 13.0%
  • 0.65 g/100 ml titratable acidity
  • 21 days fermentation at 55°F
  • pH: 3.25
  • Bottled: January 2010
  • Released: February 2010
  • Price: $18

Nose: I get some nice citrus notes right off the bat along with a touch of kiwi, grapefruit and hay.

Taste: Really nice acids – much better ones to me than the Duckhorn Sauv Blanc. The citrus and grassiness along with the grapefruit and kiwi action make this a very shelfish-ready go-to wine. I appreciate the finish on this wine for the most part but the finish can be a touch hot. With that said, i’d still hit this wine up with some fresh oysters.

Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc: W.E.P Rating: 75%

Technical Data:

  • 75% Sauvignon Blanc,
  • 25% Sémillon
  • Harvest Dates: August 21 — September 9, 2009
  • Average Sugar at Harvest: 22.6° Brix
  • 7 Napa Valley appellations
  • Cooperage: 100% French Oak Château-style barrels (60 Gallons) 15% Barrel-fermented in new oak 5 months sur lie
  • Alcohol: 13.0%
  • 0.61 g/100 ml titratable acidity
  • 21 days fermentation at 50° F
  • pH: 3.35
  • Bottled: February 2010
  • Released: April 2010
  • Price: $27

Nose: Honeysuckle, vanilla, kiwi skin and some pineapple mixed with green apples and grapefruit.

Taste: This is a very “generic-tasting” Sauvignon blanc in that it has the typical grapefruit action going with a slight hint of grassiness but to me offers nothing compelling for its price that can’t be found elsewhere. I know the finish will lose some folks who are used to oaked-whites as the kick of Semillon starts coming through with the pineapple/vanilla combo that is actually quite tart. It’s a well-made wine in its own right, however, it’s a bit pricey compared to what else is out at similar quality at lower prices.

Posted in California Wines, Reviews, Sauvignon BlancComments (0)

2009 Saint Laurent Riesling

Hailing from the greater Wenatchee Washington area, Saint Laurent winery makes a big deal of owning its own fruit which in this day and age can be a good thing. While it’s clearly not a guarantee of great wine it can help and it certainly hasn’t hurt the flavor of the 2009 Riesling.

Its winemaker, Craig, has a good pedigree and has worked with some of the better winemakers in Washington State, including the infamous Charlie Hoppes.

Technical Data:

  • Estate Vineyards Riesling, from Malaga Vineyards
  • R. S. 2.4%
  • Alcohol 11.7
  • Bottled March2010
  • Cases 400
  • Price: $12

Nose: Stone fruit – peaches, apples and a hint of pear that I pick up right off the bat. I’m also getting some nice minerality and a bit of ivory soap.

Taste: Apricots, green apples and bosch pears flood the initial attack with a nice group of back-up singers in the form of peach-skins, blue-stone and something tastes like Tide laundry detergent smells. Good crisp finish that brings out some good acidity and structure – would be an easy pairing with seafood ceviche, scallops or even some lightly-spiced thai-foods and sushi.

A solid effort for $12 and frankly one that should be a no-brainer, go-to everyday Riesling.

W.E.P. Rating: 110%

On the web: www.saintlaurent.net

Posted in Reviews, Riesling, Washington WinesComments (1)

2008 Plantagenet Riesling

Plantegenet Wines is located in the “Great Southern” region of Australia – where an English migrant named Tony Smith bought some land and planted grapes. He started off with Cab Sauv and Shiraz – later planting Riesling. While I know many folks don’t think about Australia for great Riesling, I can tell you that after my time with this bottle- I’m a believer.

Technical Details

  • Alcohol: 11.7%v/v
  • Total Acidity: 7.3 g/L
  • pH: 3.05
  • Residual sugar: 1.1 g/L
  • Brix at harvest: between 19-21.4
  • Price: $22

Nose: Green apples, tons of minerals – I’m getting some river-rock action, copper, and steel. I also get a nice touch of grapefruit as well.

Taste: Right off the bat, you could swear this wine was made in Alsace – the dry, mineral-driven aspects of this wine can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. It has a super-clean, palate-cleansing acidity that I’m willing to commit adultery with. The finish layers on tons of minerals, granny smith apples, grapefruit, kiwi and some hints of rhubarb. This is a kick-ass wine and one that really needs to be saught out by dry riesling lovers everywhere.

W.E.P. Rating: 120%

On the web: www.plantagenetwines.com

Posted in Australia Wines, Reviews, RieslingComments (0)

Novelty Hill’s WineFoot Debut

Winery Website: www.noveltyhillwines.com

For the past few years now, lots of washingtonians have been super excited about what’s been going on at Woodinville-based Novelty Hill Winery – it’s winemaker, Mike Januik is one of the state’s superstars and rightly so. His wines have a stellar track-record of kicking ass and taking names – he is held in high regard by both industry professionals and by the many fans of his work.

It was for good reason that the family-owned Novelty Hill Winery hired this guy to make its wine – and they’ve provided him a world-class vineyard in Eastern Washington called Stillwater Creek.

2006 Chardonnay – Stillwater Creek:

Technical Data:

  • Case Production: 1,375
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • pH: 3.35
  • Total Acidity: 0.50 grams/100 ml
  • Barrel fermented in new and one-year-old French oak
  • Malolactic fermentation
  • Sur lie aging for nine months
  • Price: $22

Nose: Creamy pineapple chunks covered in vanilla – a touch of honeysuckle, minerality, and toastiness.

Taste: Toasted marshmallows with hints of kiwi, pineapple, green apple peel and vanilla bean. Extremely luscious mouth-feel in a wine that does a great job of balancing the fruit and acidity. The finish lasts for days on end – easily one of the better-structured chardonnay’s I’ve had in a long time.

W.E.P. Rating: 110%

2006 Viognier – Stillwater Creek:

Technical Data:

  • Barrel fermented in 100% French oak
  • Sur lie aged for nine months
  • Blend: 100% Viognier
  • Case Production 192 cases
  • Alcohol 13.5%
  • pH 3.51
  • Total acidity 0.59 grams/100 ml
  • Price: $22

Nose: Here we go – the nose on this wine is serious business – we’re talking HUGE amounts of pineapple, granny-smith apples, fresh carnations, a hint of flintiness and sour patch candy.

Taste: Take a fresh pineapple, top it with some kiwi, pear peel, some watermelon rine and shove it into your mouth – the explosive fruit of this wine cannot be underscored well enough in text. I get some hints of petrol, sandstone as well.

One of the best balances of fruit to acidity I’ve had in a white wine this side of Europe. I would hit this wine like the fist of an angry god – bring it on. For all you red wine snobs out there, you NEED to try this wine – this is the quintessential gateway white. This viognier is perhaps the best I’ve had at anytime, from any producer anywhere. It’s so well balanced that I’m a bit verklempt.

W.E.P. Rating: 120%

2005 Syrah – Sillwater Creek:

Technical Data:

  • Aged in a combination of new and one-year-old French oak barrels for 18 months
  • Gravity racked every 3 – 4 months
  • Blend: 98% Syrah and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Case Production: 1,909 cases
  • Alcohol: 14.1%
  • pH: 3.72
  • Total acidity: 0.53 g/100 ml
  • Price: $22

Nose: Gooseberries mixed with wild, freshly-cut game – some white and black pepper corns mixed with a nice blueberry jam and pie crust overtone round things out.

Taste: Bring on the stinky-socks covered in venison and peppercorns – then shove some fresh blueberries in your mouth and that’s what you have going on in this wine. Subtle hints of cocoa round out this quality syrah.

It has an insane amount of fruit that leaps onto your palate but it’s kept in check with a good sense of toasted leather notes. Excellent balance of fruit, oak and alcohol – this is a complete no-brainer wine for the money and one I’d highly recommend.

W.E.P. Score: 100%

Posted in Chardonnay, Reviews, Syrah, Viognier, Washington WinesComments (0)

Fidelitas gets jiggy with Optu

There’s little doubting that many in the Wine industry regard Charlie Hoppes as one of the State of Washington’s more premiere winemakers. His passion and know-how are about as good as you can find anywhere.

When he first kicked out his original “Optu”, it wasn’t called Optu it has the name of Meritage – and while the name has changed, it still consists of a blended wine which is made to be greater than the sum of its parts.

For the first time, Fidelitas has laucnhed an Optu white wine which I find really interesting as it sets to raise the bar for Charlie and Fidelitas in its efforts to help elevate the seriousness of white wine. All too many times, in many wine circles, white wine can sort of get a bad rap – red wine snobs; jeesh.

2007 Optu White Wine:
Technical Data:

– Vineyards: 54% Gamache Vineyards, 35% Stillwater Creek Vineyards, 11% Rosebud Vineyards
– Varietal Composition: 54% Sauvignon Blanc, 46% Semillon,
– Aging: 9 months: 40% new French oak
– Alcohol: 14.5%
– Release Date: Fall 2008
– Price: $32

Nose: Pineapple, kiwi, lemon, vanilla with hints of pea-gravel and limestone.

Taste: Flavors of vanilla-toasted pineapple rings right off the grill floods the front palate which is closely followed up with nice notes of grass, hay, lemon drops and lingers with hints of kiwi. I also get really green – raw – asparagus tips on the end as well. Excellent acid/fruit balance.

This is an exceptional white wine that really needs to be tried by those who “think” they dont’ like Semillon or even Sauvignon Blanc – the balance of fruit and toastiness from its oak aging is very well done.

W.E.P. Score: 90%


2005 Optu Red Wine:
Technical Data:
– Varietal Composition: 55% – Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% – Merlot, 6% – Cabernet Franc, 3% – Malbec
Vineyards: Weinbau Vineyard (40%), Conner-Lee Vineyard (20%), Kiona (18%), Stillwater Creek Vineyard (9%), Champoux Vineyard (9%), Boushey Vineyard (4%).
– Oak Aging:  21 months – 50% new French and American Oak
– Alcohol: 14.9%
– Release Date: Fall 2008
= Price: $40

Nose: Bell pepper, leather glove, blackberry, black cherry poprocks, euchaliptus, dry mud, clay and road-tar.

Taste: Floods of black fruit – I’m talkin, blackberry, black plum, black cherry and black raspberry – if it’s black, it’s in here. An insane amount of fruit with a smooth transition across the mid-palate into a finish that lingers for months.

This wine is has an excellent layering effect of black-fruit flavors – HUGE, BOLD black flavors in fact, I’m sure there will be folks who try this wine who won’t “get it”. Also, you’ll want to decant this wine for several hours to enjoy it at its fullest. It could easily lay down for 10 years or more but who wants to wait that long to drink good wine?

W.E.P. Score: 95%

Posted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Reviews, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Washington WinesComments (0)

2007 Pacific Rim Wallula Vineyard Riesling

Winery Link: www.rieslingrules.com
Winery Contact email: info@rieslingrules.com
MSRP: $20.00

There is perhaps no other winery I know of in the United States which are bigger zealots of Riesling – we’re talking about Pacific Rim here folks. Started-up a few years ago by the famous wine-mogul of Bonny Doon  Vineyard in Santa Cruz California, Pacific Rim snagged a winemaker dude from France named Nicolas Quille and have been producing quality wines ever since.

This single-vineyard designate Riesling is meant to showcase what the local region of that vineyard is capable of and presents a challenge to Nicolas and his team of finding the best way to preserve that in a bottle of wine.

Technical Data:

Alcohol is 13%
Acid is 0.74%
pH is 3.09
Residual Sugar is 1.0%.
Fermented in 100% stainless steel

Nose: Lemon drops for days, combined with cement dust, river-rock and wet modeling clay. Passion fruit and crisp green apple help round things out.

Taste: Floods of orange zest, fresh-squeezed lemon, kiwi fruit and gravel. Great tropical fruit finish that cuts thru the palate like tiny razor blades.

Overall Summary:
This is a really good bottle of dry riesling which should be highly sought-out by you and enjoyed. There’s a great deal of things to like about this wine- it’s well-balanced, has excellent acidity and a very pure essence of the fruit.

This would be an excellent wine for most any well-seasoned seafood dish, herb-chicken or even certain picnic foods. For $20, this wine brings a good amount of quality and when you consider the actual store-price could be a bit cheaper, it’s a good value.

W.E.P. Rating: %100

Foods I’d hit with this wine:
Lobster bake
Corn chowder
Certain asian foods that aren’t too spicy

Posted in Reviews, Riesling, Washington WinesComments (0)

2007 Ventana Gewurztraminer

Winery Website: www.ventanavineyards.com
Winery Phone #: 831-372-7415
MSRP: $16.00

Ventana Vineyards, located in the greater Monterey California area, has won so many awards for its vineyard that it literally is the most award-winning vineyard in the USA and this wine completely backs that up.

All to many people kick Gewurztraminer to the curb during the year and tend to only pick up a bottle during Thanksgiving – screw that. If you’re into the Thai-style cuisine or any sort of spicier foods then you really should be picking up more Gewurztraminer and enjoying it more often.

Technical Data:
Appellation: Arroyo Seco AVA – Monterey, California USA
Varietal: Gewürztraminer
Vineyard: 100% Estate Ventana Vineyard
Total Acidity .64 g/ 100ml
pH 3.30
Alcohol 13.5%

Nose: Holy Lord and all that’s pure, holy and sacred – there’s a TON of obnoxiously-good fruit going on here with mildew-laden footlocker with floods of pears, green apple, cinnamon and some lightly toasted pistachios – I’m also picking up hickory wood mixed with pear, lemon zest orange peel and apricot. Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg round out the back-end of the nose.

Taste: Excellent mouth feel with superb acidity and a great lingering finish..nice lemon-lime action on the back-end and some peach-skin. A huge, long finish that’ll still be there a week later – helping you feel the love.

Overall Summary:
Ventana has really made this wine extremely food friendly – it’s easily the best Gewurztraminer I’ve had, period – in fact, I’m not sure I can think of any that I’ve had recently which come close.

This wine absolutely rips it up and takes your senses for a joy-ride – there aren’t too many Gewurztraminer’s you can find that beg you to do nothing but sniff them for an hour before you even taste it.

So stop being a hater and enjoy a bottle of Gewurztraminer today – if you find the 07′ Ventana you and your palate will thank me.

W.E.P. Rating: 130%

Food I’d hit with this wine:
Spicy Thai
Turkey and gravy
Spicy sausage in a home-made mac&cheese
Roasted chicken in jerk rub

Posted in California Wines, Gewurztraminer, ReviewsComments (0)

2007 Whitman Cellars Viognier

Winery Link: www.whitmancellars.com
Winery Phone: 509-529-1142
Related Articles: Steve Lessard Interview

I really think that over the next 3-5 years we’ll see Viognier step up on a very national and global scale of being one of the big “go-to” grapes as a very food-friendly white wine choice. It has the complexity we love, the fruit we cherish and has tons of potential for even further greatness. Once more drinkers catch the “Viognier bug” we’ll see it really pick up. My wife and I have been diggin’ on Viognier for several years now – it really is the perfect migration wine for those who are burnt-out on Chardonnay.

Whitman Cellars in Walla Walla Washington has received a large number of accolades since it launched in 1998 by founders John Edwards and Larry * Sally Thomason. They hired winemaker, Steve Lessard in 2002 and haven’t looked back since.

Steve’s ability to churn out quality wines at the prices Whitman sells them for has proved to be a good model for the company overall as his efforts provide – what most folks think – is a good balance of quality and price. His background at top California producers like Stag’s Leap paved the way for his passion to take the best fruit he can get his hands on in Washington and make wines from that fruit that’ll strike a chord with people.

Technical Data:
*  Blend: 100% Viognier
*  Vineyard Source: Cougar Hills, Willard
*  Total Acidity: 0.68 grams/100ml
*  pH: 3.52
*  Alcohol: 13.8%
*  Aged for 2 months on New French Oak
*  Production: 497 Cases
*  Price: $19.00

Nose: Lemongrass with hints of marshmallows, lavender, Post Grape Nuts cereal, some beach sand and spice and Kiwi peel.

Taste: Grapefruit pulp, white concord grape skin, starfruit, kiwi and a hint of toasty lime. Incredibly clean finish which lingers quite nicely with spice and tropical fruits. Excellent balance of acidity, fruit and oak.

Overall Summary:
There will be some folks who don’t like this wine – the kind of folks who are now what I call “stainless purists” and that’s fine. Personally, I prefer low oak and this wine pleases me because it doesn’t have too much oak – just enough to give it that ever-so-slight texture and toastiness. It has a good mouthfeel, good flavors and would be a natural pairing for spicey foods and shellfish.

At $19 it’s priced at a point of many Washington Viogniers we see coming out right now and I fully understand that for most people,that’s a bit on the high side for their white wine purchases. However, I think it does a very good job of delivering “the goods” for its price and would easily recommend it to folks.

W.E.P. Score: 100%

Posted in Reviews, Viognier, Washington WinesComments (0)

2007 Pontin Del Roza Chenin Blanc

Winery Phone: 509-786-4449
Winery Website: www.pontindelroza.com

Pontin Del Roza is a small family winery located just outside of the town of Prosser Washington which has been producing crafted wines since 1984 and has an annual production of about 4000 cases.

The Pontin family has a history of more than 200 years of winemaking which includes the countries of Italy and France so its a no-brainer why its owner Scott Pontin, would continue that tradition.

Technical Data:
*  Alcohol: 13.2%
*  Residual Sugar: 1.7
*  Vineyard Source: Estate
*  Aged in 100% Stainless
*  MSRP: $10.50

Nose: Big-time green apple, bosc pears and hints of kiwi. I also get the scent of a Tonka toy truck which has been left outside in the rain for too long – sort of a slight rust smell.

Taste: Grannysmith apples soaked in pear juice with a hint of spice – touched slightly with Fabreeze. Nice long finish that lingers very refreshingly on the palate.

Overall Summary:
I really like this wine and for its price of $10, it’s a complete no-brainer if you want a fruity white wine that finishes very clean and has some excellent flavor components going on. The lack of oak really pays off big-time in this wine as all that insane fruit-flavors I crave can really shine through without being beat down like a red-headed stepchild from the oak.

There have been few white wines at this price which bring on the pleasure as this wine has done – you should really seek it out if you can. It may be a touch sweet for some folks, but I love the overall balance of sweetness and acidity it brings to the table. In fact, you could pour this stuff for me on a tire and I’d still hit it.

W.E.P. Score: 120%

Posted in Reviews, Washington WinesComments (0)

Golden Kaan 05′ Chard & 07′ Sauv Blanc

Winery Link

Golden Kaan is the joint effort of KWV of South Africa and Racke of Germany – it’s now a global brand which pays homage to South Africa and has been getting some good press lately one some of its wines. Established in 1918, KWV has been a huge player in South African wine and has been a huge force in helping get that region “on the map” and palate of wine drinkers everywhere.

Click on image to enlarge

South Africa – as a region – has really ramped it up quite a bit over the past few years and I’ve found that many folks – like myself – can easily gravitate towards a lot of the white wines coming out of it.

There’s a good sense of overall minerality in this region which reminds me of some of the whites out of places like New Zealand – and I’m diggin’ that.

Click on image to enlarge

2007 Sauvignon Blanc: Price: $10 W.E.P. Score: 100%

Technical Notes:

  • Alcohol vol: 12.36 % vol
  • pH: 3.45
  • Total acidity: 5.61 g/ l
  • Sugar: 5.16 g/ l
  • Climate: Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters, of approximately 600–800 mm rain per annum.
  • Soil: Table Mountain sandstone and Malmesbury shale.

Nose: Mildew covered river rocks mixed with freshly-cut grass and grapefruit peel. I also pick up some cement dust and hints of apricots.

Taste: Excellent acidity/fruit combination that rips across the front and mid palate – It’s a judo-chop to the taste buds – exploding with mango and hints of kiwi and starfruit. Finishes VERY dry with little lemon drops and I’m digging that.

2005 Chardonnay: Price: $10 W.E.P. Score: 100%

Technical Notes:

  • Alcohol vol: 13.53%
  • pH: 3.50
  • Total acidity: 5.50 g/l
  • Sugar: 6.46 g/l
  • Climate: Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cold, wet winters, of approximately 600 – 800 mm or rain per year.
  • Soil: Table Mountain sandstone and Malmesbury shale.
  • Vinification: Full ripe grapes were crushed and the juice fermented in a combination of second fill French oak barrels and on French oak staves in stainless steel tanks. Lees contact of about 2 months were allowed.
  • Winemaker: Sterik deWet

Nose: Creamsickle component mixed in with some meyer apples and a bit of earthy minerals. Some nice floral components on the back-end of the nose help round it out – very pleasant. Ivory soap.

Taste: Very viscous mouth feel and a ton of apple coming thru which is quickly followed with lightly toasted nuts, grilled pineapple and hints of lime.

Overall Summary:
Each one of these wines brings a fun, fresh experience to their respective varieties and are wines I’d highly encourage you to seek out – you can usually find them for around the $8 mark thanks to industry post-off and retailer discounts etc.

Golden Kaan completely nailed the quality and experience these wines bring to the table – its low use of oak is always good as it helps keep the quality of the fruit dancing through on the palate.

For only $10, these are a couple of white’s i’d easily recommend to folks who are looking to get off the “Oak-bus-express” of overly oaked wines and want a good halfway-point to going to completely unoaked wines as their palate improves.

Foods I’d hit with these:
Sea Bass
Creamy Pastas
Clam Chowder
Roasted Chicken

Posted in Chardonnay, Reviews, Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa WinesComments (0)

2006 Oxford Landing Viognier

From the land of Austrailia comes this Viognier which proves to be rather light on the pocketbook at just under the $8 price and with it brings some interesting twists on the American Viogniers we’re more acustomed to.

There is absolutely no question that Austrailia really built its wine reputation with the wonderful Shiraz grape, however, there are other types of wine grapes which also do well in that part of the world. In this review we take a look at one of the more affordable Viognier offers from producer Oxford Landing.

Oxford Landing was established in 1958 near the Murray River in South Austrailia – this river breaths life into the clay-rich soils and helps make for a good growing environment since the annual rainfall is so low in the region.

Technical Data:
Winemaker Teresa Heuzenroeder
Region South Australia
Vintage 2006
Harvested 21 February to 17 March 2006
Alc/Vol 13.5%
Total Acid 6 g/L
pH 3.39
Residual Sugar 2.8 g/L
Cellaring Now – 3 years

Nose: grass with pasture (like an old hay barn) smell backed up with crushed grapeseed, wet clay, passionfruit and magno notes and lavender buds.

Taste: Fresh cantelope and honeydew for days – some creamy butter components which are sharply followed by hints of straw and a flint-like finish which ends on a sour, bitter note for me – not a fan.

Overall Summary:
For $8, this isn’t a horrible effort yet it lacks the overall consistancy and structure across the palate which I like better. There’s no doubt that it does have some qualities which will cater to some folks, however, I’d rather shell out a few more dollars and get something from the likes of Maryhill or other Viognier producers which make better wines for only a bit more money.

If you’re at all curious about white wines from Austrailia, then you could easily use this wine as a cheap experiement and see what’s going on here.

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 80%

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2007 Snoqualmie “Naked” Gewürztraminer

Winery Link

One of the state of Washington’s first premium wineries was Snoqualmie Vineyards. Now based in the small town of Prosser, Snoqualmie is part of the Ste. Michelle Wine Group (formerly known as Stimson Lane) and its winemaker, Joy Anderson is one of our state’s most under-recognized.

Her approach to wine and philosophy of making it helps her produce consistantly top-quality wines which win wide acclaim, however, I don’t really hear her name brought up as much as I think it should be in most wine circles.

A few years ago, Snoqualmie launched a “Naked” series of white wines which are all made from 100% organic fruit and have a very simplistic – let the fruit come out – profile to them.

Gewürztraminer is always a popular pick for Thanksgiving because its food-friendly and for its hint of spice, however, around here, it’s also a popular pick during the warm months of summer.

Technical Data:
Vineyards: 100% Organic Vineyards, Columbia Valley
First harvest: October 12, 2007
Brix: 23.6
Fermentation Data: Length 24 days
Yeast type: Prise de Mousse
Total acidity: 0.67g/100ml
pH: 3.14
Alcohol: 12.5%
Residual sugar: 2.51g/100ml
Blend: 100% Organically Grown Gewürztraminer

Color: Very light – similar color to pear juice

Smell: Heavy pear component, a hint of peach, grapefruit, cinnamon, allspice, lever-brand bar soap.

Taste: Very light fruit on the front palate, a bit nutty – a bit of cashew- on the mid and has the finish of a spicey pear. I’m also picking up a nice bit of minerality in the wine which I really appreciate. The finish for me, lingers around okay, but it’s like the shy kid in school who tries to come out of the shadows, but when recognized goes right back into being shy.

Overall Summary:
Not a bad effort at all on Joy’s part, this is a wine which will cater to those folks looking to get away from the over-sugared Gewurzt all too many have been plagued by. Its on the drier side which means its far more food-friendly and would easily carry over a nice turkey meal or thai food.

For around $11, this is a wine which is a very solid bottle and can be a great gateway wine between the folks caught up into the sweet crap out there – helping them to step on over to the drier side.

-duane pemberton

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 100%

Posted in Gewurztraminer, Reviews, Washington WinesComments (0)

2006 Columbia Crest Chardonnay – H3 and Grand Estates

Winery Link

Columbia Crest is – by many accounts – a tour de’ force of winemaking when it comes to tier-1 wineries who produce huge volumes and still keep snagging winning scores with wreckless abandon as if there’s no tomorrow.

It’s “yoda-like” winemaker, Ray Einberger, is a genius when it comes to proven know-how of producing award-winning wines at everyday prices most folks can easily afford. His entire line-up from the 2-vine up thru reserve have garnered wide acclaim for him and Columbia Crest as well as opening new doors for the Washington wine industry at large.

We decided to pair up their Grand Estates Chardonnay vs. their newly released H3 line – a wine which uses 100% Horse Heaven hills fruit to see how they stacked up.

2006 Grand Estates Chardonnay:

Technical Notes:

  • Vineyards • Columbia Valley
  • Harvest Date • September 8, 2006
  • Fermentation • 14 days, Premier Cuvée
  • Burgo Blanc, and Chanson yeasts
  • Alcohol • 13.5%
  • Total Acidity • 0.53 g/100ml
  • ph • 3.57
  • $8-$10


  • Whole berry Chardonnay was pressed, and the juice was held at 50 degrees in stainless steel tanks for two days.
  • The settled juice was placed into a combination of new and one- to three-year-old American and French oak barrels.
  • After initial fermentation, the wine was re-inoculated to begin malolactic fermentation.
  • All barrels were hand stirred every week for nine months.
  • Blending occurred after a total of nine months in the barrel.

Nose: Toasty pineapple with a hint of grapefruit, orange zest, bosch pear and lemon.

Taste: Good fruit on the front end which lingers good across the mid palate, however, sharply tapers off a the end. Ripe green apple skins mixed with hints of creamy butter, creme brule

2006 H3 Chardonnay:

Technical Notes:

  • Vineyards: Horse Heaven Hills
  • Total acidity: 0.52 g/100ml
  • pH: 3.58
  • Alcohol: 13.6%
  • $12-$15


  • Whole berry Chardonnay from select vineyards was pressed, the juice was held at 50 degrees in stainless steel tanks for two days.
  • 40% of the grapes were barrel fermented in new American and French oak, and 30% in older oak barrels to create complexity and maintain the fruit integrity.
  • 30% of the juice was fermented in stainless steel to retain the minerality and fruit-forward elegance of the fruit, characteristics unique to the Horse Heaven Hills region.
  • Various yeasts were used at fermentation; the wines were then inoculated for malolactic fermentation.
  • All barrels were hand-stirred weekly for six to nine months.
  • Blending occured pre-bottling.

Nose: Gooseberry laden apples and pears which have been lightly toasted over a camp-fire. Big time toasted creme on the nose here with hints of some tropical action in the form of coconut, passion fruit and vanilla.

Taste: Nice fruit on the front- creamy mouth-feel on the mid palate with a nice cleansing sensation of the tropical fruits and coconut coming through. Solid effort.. good fruit without being over-oaked… I’m feelin’ this wine… would go stellar with any cream-sauce-based pasta or pizza.

Overall summary:
Once again, I did this blind – having my son pour me each wine in two different glasses without telling me which one was which. All in all, both are a solid effort and represent their respective prices very well – however, if pressed, I’d have to go for the H3 over the Grand Estates all day long.

Kudos to the winemaking team at Columbia Crest for doing a fine job of respresenting our state and making truely tasteful wines very affordable.

-Duane Pemberton

W.E.P. Scale Rating for the Grand Estates: 90%

W.E.P. Scale Rating:for the H3: 100%

Posted in Chardonnay, Reviews, Washington WinesComments (0)

2006 Poet’s Leap Riesling

Winery Link

Riesling has been said to be the “most food-friendly” grape available – its diversity is nothing short of incredible and it’s one of the “gateway” grapes to help folks come into the wine-world fold of things.

Over the past few years, however, this kick-ass grape started getting a bad reputation on this side of the Atlantic due to the fact we had so many wineries making “sugar-bombs” out of them. Those over-sweet efforts did nothing to truly showcase how wonderful this grape is and can be.

Thankfully, we’ve had quite a number of winemakers in this state who’ve started making rieslings in more dry fashion which has really whipped up the hype around it because it’s so much more food-ready now.

Technical Notes:

  • Residual Sugar: 1.28g/100ml
  • Alcohol: 12.9%
  • pH: 3.06
  • TA: 0.73 grams/100ml
  • Release date: Summer 2008
  • Production: 1,904 cases
  • Vineyards: 32% Yakima Valley Vineyards, 32% “Old Vine” from Dionysus Vineyard, 19% Sonnet (Horse Heaven Hills) and 17% Weinbau Vineyard (Wahluke Slope)
  • Price: $20

Nose: Orange cream-sicle combined with nice gorgeous floral components and some Fresh-Step cat litter – I also get a hint of chalk dust, peach skin and honeydew. There’s some good amount of flintiness going on which I really dig as well.

Taste: Outrageous silkily mouth feel – creamy and chalky at the same time. There’s an excellent balance of minerals, spice and fruit here. Apricot-laced marshmallows with nectarines. Excellent finish which wraps around your tongue and bosses it around for hours. Great complexity here with tons of depth.

Overall Summary:
There’s no doubt that this is one of the more exceptional rieslings I’ve had and the folks at Poet’s Leap should be glad to know they’ve done very well on this wine. Its winemaker, Armin Diel, had his German heritage really shine through on this wine – he did a brilliant job of combining that good German-quality while bringing out the best in what Washington State has to offer in its riesling. Kudos to him and his team – I’d easily hit this wine again in a heartbeat.

Foods I’d Hit it with:
Curry-based Pasta’s
Thai Food
Blackened Trout
Pan-seared Seabass

-duane pemberton

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 120%

Posted in Reviews, Riesling, Washington WinesComments (3)

Jordan 2006 Chardonnay

Not to be at all confused with the infamous basketball player, Jordan winery was started by Tom Jordan in the Sonoma region of northern California back in 1972. Its owner has always held the ambition of making world-class wines from that region which would easily go toe-to-toe with the best in the world.

It’s that same spirit of drive that he and his winemaker, Rob Davis, share and try their best to have the wine they produce reflect that character. This was my first time with Jordan wines so I was – of course – delighted to check them out.

APPELLATION: 94.1% Russian River Valley / 5.9% Alexander Valley�
BLEND: 100% Chardonnay
PH: 3.38
BOTTLING DATES: June 12 – June 28, 2007
OAK: 100% French for 5 months
TIME AGED Sur Lie: 2 months

Nose: Mineral-covered lemon drops backed up with hints of pear and some melon rine.. Some toasted nuts do lace the background, however, don’t dominate the fruit coming through.

Taste: Layers of starfruit and lemon drop with slight hints of toastiness.. This is a lightly-oaked chardonnay which really lets the full fruit still be the rock-star. Hints of key-lime pie..edlerberry.

It’s a solid effort by Jordan, however, it’s nothing you can’t find in other Chardonnay’s below it’s pricetag. For $30, I’d rather have two bottles of Terra Blanca Chardonnay. If you can find this for around $20, I’d give it a go, however, at its price of $29, it just doesn’t have enough to win me over.

W.E.P. Scale Rating: 70%

Posted in California Wines, Chardonnay, ReviewsComments (0)

Nefarious 07 Viognier & 06 Cab Franc

With its first, estate vineyard planted in 1998, Nefarious Cellars Winery – based in Chelan WA – is run by husband/wife team of Dean and Heather Neff. He makes the reds and she makes the whites – seems like a cool combination. We ran by their booth at the Taste WA event a couple of months ago and I’ve been intrigued by their wines since.

2007 Viognier: W.E.P. Scale Rating: %100

Technical information:
Ph: 3.25
TA: .62g/100mL
Alcohol: 13.0%
Residual Sugar .6 g/100mL
Stainless steel fermentation.
Vineyard: Defiance
This is the first wine to be released from our estate fruit located on the winery property in Lake Chelan.
Production: 198 cases
Official Release Date: April 18, 2008
Winemaker: Heather Neff
Price: $19

Nose: Pears, very floral, some apple components and orange peel going on which I appreciate.

Taste; Good spiciness coupled with bosch pears, apples and hints of green apple skin. Solid fruit across the entire palate with a nice, lingering finish. Excellent balance of acidity and fruit which I know will appeal to a lot of people.

2007 Viogner Summary:
I really liked this wine – a lot – as a huge fan of Viognier, I felt Heather really nailed this one. It screams summertime foods, spicy thai food or it’s just great to drink on its own. At $19 it’s a bit higher than competing bottles from the likes of Maryhill and other makers of fine Washington Viognier, however, does a great job of competing. If you’re new to Viogner and want to taste a great one, then give this a go.

2006 Cabernet Franc: W.E.P. Scale Rating: 90%

Technical information:
PH: 3.68
TA: .60 g/100mL
Alcohol: 14.0%
This wine spent 18 months in all French oak barrels. 33% is new and the remainder once-filled.
Vineyard: Weinbau Vineyard, Wahluke Slope AVA
Production: 70 cases
Official Release Date: June 1, 2007
Winemaker: Dean Neff
Price: $28

Creamed cherries and raspberries on the nose. Some big-league chew bubble gum as well. White pepper.

Taste: huge dark cherry component mixed with chocolate, vanilla and pepper. The finish lingers on quite nicely – this would be a great wine with prime rib or peppered steaks.

2006 Cabernet Franc Summary:
Most of you know I’m a huge fan of quality-to-price-ratio – having said that, there are definitely some things to appreciate about this wine – it has good complexity, finishes well and is very food-friendly. My only dilemma is its price – at $28, there are other wines in that price category which I favor a bit more. If you can find this wine at retail for well under $25, I’d easily recommend it is a good bottle and should be tried by folks. If Nefarious can get the price down a bit, we’d have an easy contender.

Posted in Cabernet Franc, Reviews, Viognier, Washington WinesComments (0)