Corvidae “Rook” (2012)

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2012 RookCorvidae “Rook”

Red Blend:  52% Merlot / 43% Cabernet Sauvignon / 5% Syrah

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington State: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $15

What they say about it:

“The Rook’ 2012 was made to showcase the world-class Merlot grown in the cooler, higher elevation sites located in the Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley. The wine was aged in mostly neutral French oak to enhance the rich flavors from an exceedingly stellar vintage.”

What I say about it:

Being October and the season of all things Halloween, I was drawn to the striking image of a crow by artist David Ladmore on the label of the 2012 Rook from Corvidae Winery. Ladmore’s artist statement states “My work is a response to the beauty and simplicity of the things I find around me. In figure and landscape, careful study reveals the undercurrents and rhythms of existence.”. This sounds like an appropriate outlook for wine-making and wine tasting as well.

So without further waxing poetic, out of the bottle and into the glass….

The color of the 2012 Rook is a bright plum purple. Clear to the edge and full of vibrant hues. Medium to long legs due to the 14.1% alcohol content. The nose of the wine is smoky with oak in the forefront with touches of tobacco, spice, cherries, wet earth and stone with cocoa on top. Very pleasant and warming. Perfect for this time of the year when the nights get a little crisper. The taste is peppery but again with the French oak and cherry in the forefront followed by other red fruits (raspberry) as well as leather, smoke, slight clove and currants. The finish is medium to long as well as slightly dry with lingering soft well developed tannins.

Being a devote Merlot hater (blame Sideways), I was surprised after tasting to discover the blend was 52% Merlot. I had guessed higher Syrah but lower Cab percentages. Perhaps the notes from the winery on the cooler, higher elevation create a more appealing Merlot to my palate, since I usually find them to be bland and too predictable. The Cab and Syrah that balance out the remaining blend also make the Rook a very drinkable and enjoyable red blend. Easily recommended and a good deal for under $20.

For pairings, the 2012 Rook would go nicely with slightly drier cheeses (Manchego, Grana Padana) as well as robut soft cheeses (Blue, Gorganzola, Cambozola) and of course any salted cured meats (salami, prosciutto, etc.); but what doesn’t?

Notes on the Winery:

Corvidae is Owen Roe’s value-driven second label. Much of the fruit for Corvidae is sourced from Owen Roe’s 280-acre Outlook Vineyard. David O’Reilly is meticulous in the winery and in the vineyard for both Owen Roe and Corvidae.

More info on Corvidae Winery.

Would Bukowski drink it?   I would certainly end up forever crying the blues into a coffee cup in a park for old men playing chess or silly games of some sort. So Rook to Knight blah-blah-blah – give me another glass. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

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Stevens Winery “Yes” Red Blend – 2010

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20140307_185545Stevens Winery “Yes” Red Blend – 2010

Red Blend:  N/A

YEAR: 2010

REGION: US: Washington State: Yakima Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $20

What they say about it:

Pleasing aromatics of herbal notes, black tea, and red fruit. Tart and filled with cherry flavors and chewy tannins. Capped off by a lingering finish. A lot of bang for the buck.” 

What I say about it:

Keri Rankin gets all the credit for recommending this wine to me at a recent wine tasting. Stevens Winery is small winery in Washington State and their wines are hard to find. I scored a bottle of the 2010 Yes Blend by chance when the owner dropped off a few bottles for a tasting at Wine World & Spirits in Seattle. The Yes Blend is a find and a wine I plan on enjoying again. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass…. The color of the wine is ruby red clear to the rim with medium to long legs. The nose of the wine has big berries and cherries with lots of spice: clove, cinnamon and a slight smoking note with a touch of oak.

The taste is full of berries and tart bing cherries with a slight anise note, earthy with cassis and slate and minerals. I also notes a medium oakiness. The 2010 Yes Blend is full-bodied and dry with a long finish that lingers.

Overall really enjoyable and recommended.

Would Bukowski drink it?  A wine called Yes? But of course. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

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

Peachy Canyon “Incredible Red” Zinfandel (2011)

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20140203_191937Peachy Canyon “Incredible Red”

Zinfandel

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: California: Paso Robles

AVERAGE RETAIL: $20 

What they say about it:

“With a rich candied cherry nose this vibrantly-hued red wine bursts with bright strawberry and cherry fruit flavors. Pleasing acidity and structure are balanced by softer fruits and leather nuances on the mid-palate, leaving you with spicy oak, fennel and mocha in a long, lingering finish.”

What I say about it:

Peachy Canyon’s wines are among some of my favorites. They are an excellent maker and their Zinfandel wines are really outstanding. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass….The “Incredible Red” is deep ruby-red, true to the rim, with very long legs. Rich, clean and clear with no impurities.

The nose of the wine is big and bold with tons of berries and spice: black berries, clove, cinnamon, leather, smoke, wet earth, plums and fresh cut green peppers.

Tasting notes includes big jammy fruits notably overripe strawberries, a slight toasted oakiness, and leather. Full bodied with a long lingering finish with mellow but still firm tannins. Good acidity and very well balanced.

Overall an excellent wine and recommended.

Would Bukowski drink it?  Incredible is right. I got a wicked buzz.

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

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

Airfield Estates “Runway” Syrah (2011)

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Airfield SyrahAirfield Estates “Runway” Syrah

Syrah

YEAR: 2011

REGION: US: Washington state: Yakima Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $16 

What they say about it:

“This dark, concentrated Syrah possesses flavors of dark berry, clove, and white pepper. With silky smooth tannins and a plush round mouthfeel, this well-balanced wine pairs great with lamb, beef, and aged gouda.”

What I say about it:

Tonight we enter the dark side, the dark side of wine. Airfield Estates’s Runway Syrah is a deep dark wine with lots of spice, berries and flavor. I am a novice when it comes to Syrah. Not a fan for the most part, as I tend to like slightly spicier heavier wines like Zinfandel and find Syrah a red headed stepchild of Zins. This said, based on the abuse I receive from friends when I say “I am not into Syrah”, I’ve forced myself to taste them from time to time. I recently tried a Syrah from Jones of Washington that I really enjoyed (but only had a half bottle from the night before in the fridge which was not suitable for a review) so on my stop to my market for the wine fridge, I picked up a bottle the 2011 Airfield Estates’s “Runway” Syrah to sample. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass….the color of this Syrah is striking, very deep purple, true to the rim of the glass. Dark, boding and clear. The nose is full of spice, most notably pepper and clove with a touch of woodsiness and smoke, and a touch musk. I also detected hints of crushed dark fruits, mostly cherries, as well as a slight crushed violet and geranium notes. 

Syrah is most often associated with pepper and blackberries and the Airfield Estates “Runway” Syrah delivers. Berries and pepper were definitely my first impression upon tasting. Subtler tasting notes included a touch of coffee, licorice, cassis and dark fruits, particularly plums.

The body is medium plus with a nice finish; long soft tannins, with a smooth velvety mouth feel. Really enjoyable and highly drinkable.

For pairing the Airfield Estates “Runway” Syrah would match well with grilled meats, full mature cheese like aged gouda or a smoked mozzarella, cured meats as well as similar fruits the wine resembles, dried cherries, apricots and figs for example.

Overall a nice Syrah that is very drinkable, fresh yet complex enough to enjoy on its own. 

Would Bukowski drink it? DId you mean Dark Side of the Moon? What the hell Dave, its wine, just drink it. 

Overall Rating: 3 BUKS

3-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

Christopher Michael “Pinot Noir” (2012)

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20131211_233245Christopher Michael “Pinot Noir”

Pinot Noir

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Oregon: Willamette Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $8-10

What they say about it:

“Blackberries and cherries burst onto the scene and gently taper off into rich chocolate and toasty flavors with subtle hints of black licorice. The wine has lively tannins and a rich and balanced finish. It is open and ready to drink.”

What I say about it:

Spotted another new under $10 Pinot Noir from Oregon and had to give it a try. Not at all familiar with the maker but producers from the Willamette Valley in Oregon produce some of the best wine in the Pacific Northwest, if not the country, especially Pinot Noir. 

Out of the bottle and into the glass, the Christoper Michael Pinot Noir was subtle yet nice plum color with initial notes of cherries, berries, currants and plums. Initial tasting notes was also berries, with a quick tartness (pucker) with some licorice and slight sour cherry. Soft tannins with a slightly chalky, mineral feel. Finish was balanced but a little short.

At best this was an average, drinkable Pinot Noir. I wasn’t impressed but I didn’t empty it into the sink. For an under $10 Pinot Noir from Willamette, I think it’s fine but it’s not “fine wine”. Yes if spoken aloud I would have used air quotes.

Like most Pinot Noir wines this will pair well with red meats or poultry, particularly Turkey. For cheese pairings I would suggest medium to sharp Cheddar, goat cheese / Chevre and softer cheeses.

Would Bukowski drink it?  What the hell are air quotes? Haven’t we learned I’ll drink anything. 

Overall Rating: 2 BUKS

2-BUKS