Smasne Cellars Farm Boy “Bunk House Red” (2011)

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20140307_223224Smasne Cellars Farm Boy “Bunk House Red”

Red Blend:  Tempranillo (36%), Mourvèdre (20%), Malbec (16%), Zinfandel (11%), Syrah (10%) and Grenache (7%)

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: Washington State: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $18

What they say about it:

This entry-level brand by Robert Smasne — Wine Press Northwest’s Washington Winery of Year in 2013 — continues to deliver bang for the buck. His wide-ranging blend of Tempranillo (36%), Mourvèdre (20%), Malbec (16%), Zinfandel (11%), Syrah (10%) and Grenache offers a nose of plum, Marionberry and blueberry with hints of cinnamon bark and dark cherry. There’s an amazing level of integration to the easy-drinking notes of black currant, red cherry and dark chocolate. An undertone of graphite leads into the rewarding acidity and tannin.”

What I say about it:

I recently attended a tasting at The Barrel Thief in Seattle WA for Smasne Cellars with some friends. I’d been introduced to the Farm Boy before and revisting it, I wasn’t disappointed. Smasne Cellars are really turning out some great examples of reds and red blends and are making their name as an exceptional WA State producer. Their wines are hard to find but worth searching out, special ordering or visiting their Woodenville WA tasting room. 

So out of the bottle and into the glass…. The color of the wine is Ruby red with purple and garnett tones. Clean and bright with very long legs. The nose is full of berries and cherries: strawberries, dark bing cherries with some floral and herbacious notes: lavender and marigold in paticular for me. There was also a slight muskiness with earthy notes and touch of oak. A nice amount of spice, most notably cinamon and cardamon.

The taste was likewise full of berries, tart pie cherries, starwberries with blackberry. The Farm Boy is very jammy with a very slight pickle juice note and minerals (wet stone, flint). The finish is long with a smooth medium body that slow and lingers. Great mouthfeel.

Overall easily recommended and exceptionally well balanced.  The Farm Boy “Bunk House Red” will easily compliment grilled meats, savory dishes, dry cured meats, cheeses like Asiago, Manchego, Blue and sharp aged Cheddar.

More info on Smasne Cellars.

Would Bukowski drink it?  I spent many a night (and day sleeping it off) in the Bunk House so sign me up. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

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Airfield Estates “Bombshell Red” (2011)

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20140131_193528Airfield Estates “Bombshell Red”

Red Blend:  57% Syrah, 16% Malbec, 10% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Sangiovese, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc 

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: Washington State

AVERAGE RETAIL: $16-$18

What they say about it:

“A beloved favorite of many, this approachable signature red blend has dark overlapping aromas of plum, blackberry, and a hint of cocoa, leaving lingering flavors of dark fruit and toasted oak on the palate. With firm tannins and a round, full-bodied mouthfeel, this blend pairs well with a wide range of foods.”

What I say about it:

Having enjoyed another wine from Airfield Estates, I ventured to try another, this time a red blend. Once again they didn’t disappoint and I am quickly becoming a fan of their wines. This blend was quite good. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass….The wine’s color is rich ruby-red with deep purple tones. It has very long legs in the glass.

The nose of the wine is big, bold and spicy. Notes of cassis, plums, cherries, smoke, oak, leather, cocoa, sassafras, pepper, cinnamon and clove. It’s a very big wine with a lot to take in.

Tasting notes include smoke and leather upfront followed by big fruit – plum, tart pie cherries, and berries. The body of the wine to me was more medium to full-bodied, with long soft tannins and a long lingering finish; a little chalky with a nicely balanced acidity.

Overall easily recommended and quite enjoyable. I had this wine on its own but it will easily compliment grilled meats, savory dishes, dry cured meats, cheeses like Asiago, Manchego, Blue and sharp aged Cheddar.

Would Bukowski drink it?  The babe on the bottle sold me. 

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS

Lone Birch Red Blend Yakima Valley (2012)

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Lone BirchLone Birch Red Blend Yakima Valley

Red Blend: 27% Tempranillo, 24% Sangiovese, 17% Grenache, 11% Syrah, 7% Cinsault, 5% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Barbera, 1% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Counoise

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington State: Yakima Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $12

What they say about it:

“Sourced from grapes grown on our estate vineyard, this red blend imparts a bouquet of dark cherry and spice leading to a smooth finish with soft lingering tannins.  Approachable and food-friendly, this wine pairs well with a wide range of dishes.”

What I say about it:

Having recently scored with a new wine from Washington state’s Yakima Valley, I decided to try a blend from the region and chose the Lone Birch Red Blend to taste. Buying blends can be a bit of a gamble when the blend or at least some of the varietals are not listed on the bottle. The Lone Birch is a mystery in this regard and I had no idea what I had drank until writing this review. Consisting of 2 vatietals that I am not the bigtgest fan (Tempranillo and Grenache), the Lone Birch didn’t impress me very much. 

Out fo the bottle and into the glass….The color is ruby red, but not very deep> The e is some translucency. The nose had berries, most notably strawberry as well as spice, mainly pepper, pickling spice and cinamon. Fresh cut green bell peppers, oak and slight sour (pickle juice) tone as well.

On the tongue I tasted likewise, berries and fruit with some spice. Strawberry, black berries, cherrry with oak and black pepper. It’s a medium bodied red with very soft tannins.

For pairing, like most reds, the Lone Birch Red Blend will compliment red and grilled meats and savory dishes. This red blend is also light enough to have with pork or turkey as well.

Overall it wasn’t bad, but just didn’t do it for me. Its drinkable but not memorable or a wine I think I will revisit.

Would Bukowski drink it?  Well if its open I’ll have a glass. 

Overall Rating: 2 BUKS

2-BUKS

Domaine du Petit Bondieu Bourgueil (2010)

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BourgueilDomaine du Petit Bondieu Bourgueil

Cabernet Franc

YEAR: 2010

REGION: FRANCE: Rhone-Alpes

AVERAGE RETAIL: $12

What they say about it:

“Deeply-coloured. Distinctive nose with floral and fruity aromatics. On the palate, tightly-wound, refined stuffing framed by fat yielding a pleasant, supple attack. More structured mid-palate brimming with freshness. A Bourgueil showing wonderful expression that will keep.”

What I say about it:

I try as often as I can to pick up a bottle that is outside of my comfort zone. I am rarely more uncomfortable than with French wine. My two years of French in high school are long-lost (apologies to Mrs. Constanza and Ms. Hennesey). So I decided to not only go French but to go with a French varietal I have never had. The Bourgueil is basically Cab Franc. When I learned this I was much less intimidated. Thank you Google. Now on with the wine. Out of the bottle and into the glass….

Color was bright, scarlet garnet red clear to the rim.

The nose of the wine, aka how it smells, was full of berries, slight floral notes, violets with a little pepper, slight smoke and woody notes.

The taste was slightly bitter at first, but sweet with a pucker. Plums, tart pie cherries, with slight tobacco and oak. Finish was shorter than I would have liked with soft tannins, medium bodied.

Having few points of reference for Cab Franc and none for this French varietal, I liked this but wasn’t blown away. I’d try it again. I had this with and while I was preparing a meal. In this case it was a grilled beef tenderloin and grilled vegetables. It held up well but wasn’t the best match for me.

Would Bukowski drink it?  Hey fancy pants, just drink the shit will you

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS

Some additional notes on the wine:

Bourgueil is the appellation for red wines from Bourgueil (and six surrounding communes) in the central Loire Valley wine region of France. Although technically a part of the Touraine district (which is defined by the political boundaries of the city of Tours), Bourgueil is markedly different from its neighbors and is often grouped together as a separate unit with Chinon, just the other side of the Loire river.

Cabernet Franc is a black-skinned French grape variety grown in most wine producing nations. The variety is most famously known as the third grape of Bordeaux and can be found in many of the world’s top Bordeaux blend wines. Cabernet Franc most commonly appears in blended red wines, where it adds herbaceous accents of tobacco and dark spice.

As a varietal wine, Cabernet Franc is light to medium-bodied and often shows vegetal characteristics, in particular green bell peppers. This has led many wine drinkers to incorrectly identify Cabernet Franc as unripe Cabernet Sauvignon, or even Carmenere. This has been highlighted in Friuli, Italy, where plantings that were thought to be Cabernet Franc were later classified as Carmenere.

Bogle Vineyards Red Blend “Phantom” (2010)

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Bogle PhantomBogle Vineyards Red Blend “Phantom”

Red Blend: Zinfandel 51% – Petite Sirah 47% – Mourvèdre 2%

YEAR: 2010

REGION: US: California

AVERAGE RETAIL: $18

What they say about it:

“This ruby red spectre entices with rich blackberry and briary boysenberry. Provocative dark fruits envelop the nose and palate, leaving the essence of flavors brought forth by the grapes during winemaking. Black cherry and anise abound, leading to a sturdy finish of black pepper, pipe tobacco and spicy oak. Aged for over two years in 1 and 2 year old American oak focus and intensify the Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Mourvèdre, creating yet another passionate and commanding red wine, impossible to ignore. Welcome the winery ghost into your home again with this latest vintage, and enjoy with full-flavored and hearty meals…before it vanishes again.”

What I say about it:

I love big wines. The Phantom from Bogle is a big bold spicy red that I really enjoy. A complex red blend that is ideal for a dark cold winter night. So out of the bottle and into the glass….

Visually the Phantom is a stunner. Deep ruby red and garnet true to the rim. Rich, bright and clear. Long legs and jammy.

The nose is equally pleasing with a lot of big berry notes – Plums, ripe black berries, and cherries (dark fuits). Also notable spice; cardamom, clove and pepper. Also subtle notes of tar, leather, wood and linseed oil.

The taste is big and a very full finish. Lots of spice with a peppery, fruity, smokey blend. The berry notes I detected in the nose as well as prunes and cassis. Leather and tobacco, pipe tobacco, like Captain Black’s, sweeter and mellow. Oak but not too oaked. Full long but round tannins. Softer yet pronounced. This is a very full bodied dryer wine with 14.5% alchohol.

I really can’t say anything bad about this wine. It pairs excellent with grilled red meats and rich spicey foods as well as hangs out well all on it’s own. For fruits, think complimentary fruits such as red grapes, dried cherries, blueberries, figs and on the contrast side apricots and pears, particually Bosc (for the skin). For cheeese, I would go Spanish, Manchego, Queso de Mahón and to the Blues, even smoked gouda. Break out the salted cured meats too as this wine will marry well with Soppressata and Finocchiona salami.

Would Bukowski drink it?  Get a room Dave. What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. I’d walk a lot easier with a bottle of the Phantom in my back pocket. 

Overall Rating: 5 BUKS

5-BUKS

Mark Ryan “The Vincent” (2011)

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Mark Ryan The VincentMark Ryan “The Vincent”

Red Blend: 

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: Washington: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $20 

What they say about it:

“The 2011 Vincent Red offers clean, pure aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, cedar-lined spice and vanilla. The palate is bold, with mouth-filling blueberry and blackberry with more warm spice and subtle licorice flavor. The finish is remarkably balanced, focusing firm but round tannins and refined acidity.”

What I say about it:

One of the things that I really love about wine is finding a new winery and tasting their wines. Friends have mentioned Mark Ryan before and I’ve read about the wine maker and his wines from time to time. I finally picked up a few of his 2011 wines and The Vincent was the first I cracked open. I was not disappointed in the least and wish I hadn’t waited this long.

The Nose of “The Vincent” is big and fruity with some herbaceous tones. Black berries, spice, subtle leather notes, clover and a hint of coffee. I did not let the wine breath that long and it was pleasant from bottle to glass. The Vincent has a full long finish with long legs. Full bodied with lush mellow tannins. A deep purple color mixed with complex fruits; plums, prunes, cherry, currants, with background flavors of licorice and orange rind and a slight earthiness.

I enjoyed The Vincent on its own but could easily imagine it paired with blue cheese, olives, fig spread, onion jam, rustic breads, on the lighter side, and it would compliment grilled meats, particularly a nice Rib Eye, BBQ’d, perfectly. I highly recommend this wine and at $20 its a value. Expect more from Mark Ryan in my future reviews.

A little bit more on Mark Ryan: 

Mark Ryan McNeilly founded Mark Ryan Winery in 1999 with the goal of making the best wines in Washington State. Largely self-taught, Mark honed the craft of winemaking through rigorous study and the welcomed advice of some of the area’s most experienced producers.

In the early years the winery was transient. The first vintages of Long Haul and Dead Horse were produced crushed and pressed in garages of friends and family, barrels aged in warehouses in the Seattle Area, and finally settling in Woodinville, WA  in 2003.

Over a decade later, Mark Ryan Winery has grown in size, earned acclaim from wine-lovers and critics alike, and garnered respect from the state’s elite producers. The goal, however, remains the same. Make delicious wines that represent the vineyard from which they come, making every vintage better than the last…

More info: http://www.markryanwinery.com/

Would Bukowski drink it?  

Overall Rating: 5 BUKS

5-BUKS

Atalaya “Laya” (2012)

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Laya 2012Atalaya “Laya”

Red Blend: 

70% Garnacha and 30% Monastrell

YEAR: 2012

REGION: SPAIN

AVERAGE RETAIL: $10 

What they say about it:

“Laya is 70% Garnacha Tintorera — Alicante Bouschet — and 30% Monastrell planted around 1000 metres (3280 feet) above sea level and aged for 4 months in French oak. Garnacha Tintorera is known for its deep color and here it coats the glass and imparts aromas of brooding black fruits, licorice, espresso, and pepper. Dense, savory, and rich.”

What I say about it:

This wine is another market find. I haven’t been branching out much beyond my safety zone of wines from the Northwest and CA lately so I decided to pick up the red blend from Spain recently. The 2012 Laya is a very big and bold wine and if you are a fan of bold “old world” wines, I recommend it. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass. This is a big wine and a letting it breath (or aerating) opened it up more. A very deep garnet to purple color with very long legs in the glass. My first impressions were deep and rich tones – earthy (flint), licorice, coffee / espresso, leather and tobacco. Oddly the fruit, mainly cherry, hit me afterwards on the finish rather than up front. Slight touch of oak and smoke also noted. Medium body but a little heavy on the tannins. For it’s price, it does have characteristics of older and more expensive wines. Proving that price isn’t the only indicator for a good wine. Overall I liked it. My only reservation, a little too bold on some notes for me, particularly the licorice and espresso, for my taste, but easily recommended.

Would Bukowski drink it?  I ever tell you about this Spanish broad I met at the track? Gimme that wine. 

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-BUKS