Charles & Charles “Chardonnay” (2012)

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20131212_195534Charles & Charles “Chardonnay”

Chardonnay

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $10

What they say about it:

The aromas start with notes of apple blossoms, lemon peel and subtle mango, and continue into mineral and wet slate notes with background of sweet pear, toasted spices and vanilla. On the palate you’re first hit with crisp apple and orange rind with tremendous focus, and length. The wine walks a beautiful line between rich full flavors and finesse. There’s luscious fruit and a touch of new oak without ever getting heavy or clumsy.

What I say about it:

I spotted this at my corner market for $10 and had to give it a try. Charles Smith Wines have a fantastic reputation and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve tried from them so far. The Charles & Charles refers to Charles Bieler & Charles Smith, two well known makers. If you are looking for a fantastic white or an excellent Chardonnay for $10 – look no further. The Charles & Charles 2012 would easily stand up and beat Chards in the $15-$25 range as well. 

Out of bottle into the glass the wine has a very floral and citrus aroma with a deep straw color. Lemon, apple, a touch of grass and vanilla. Tasting notes included the same with the addition of pineapple and oak, well balanced. Leaned more toward crisp than buttery, but with a nice mouth feel and long finish. Its an elegant wine without the fuss.

The Charles & Charles Chardonnay would go well with fish, poultry and lighter fair. I think it would also accompany Asian dishes nicely as well. I tend to like the crispness of good whites with the sweet and sour of certain Chinese and Thai dishes. For cheese pairing, I think sharp Cheddar, Emmentaler, Brie and Gruyère would all match well. With a great wine this inexpensive, you can splurge on the accompaniments.

Some additional information on the wine: The Charles & Charles project is a collaboration between Charles Smith and Charles Bieler of Three Thieves, Bieler Père et Fils, and Sombra Mezcal. The Charles & Charles portfolio includes a red blend and rosé from Columbia Valley vineyards (also available in kegs). With an abstract play on the American Flag (designed by the historic Nashville poster shop, Hatch Show Print), the labels showcase the intent to provoke thought of the future while honoring the past.

Would Bukowski drink it?  A wine this good for the price of three bottles of Thurnderbird? OK. I’m in. 

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

Northwest Wine Academy “Baywatch Baxter” Rosé Wine (2012)

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20131201_172015Northwest Wine Academy “Baywatch Baxter”

Rosé

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington State: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $16

What they say about it:

“Deliciously, mouthwatering and refreshingly dry: bright, with flavors of cherry, rhubarb and cranberry with a hint of white pepper and a bit of creaminess.‘”

What I say about it:

Last night’s lazy Sunday dinner was Thai take out. For me Thai and most Asian cuisine goes best with Rosé wines. This is also a throwback to my earliest wine indulging meals which usually consisted of Chinese food with only the finest white zinfandel (in the largest volume purchasable). Rosé is more readily available in the summer but more and more I am seeing it year round. Luckily my neighborhood market in the Fremont district of Seattle, has a great selection of wines including half a dozen or more Rosé wines year round. The Northwest Wine Academy “Baywatch Baxter” Rosé peaked my interest and I had it once before so I wanted to revisit it.

Like most Rosé wines, the “Baywatch Baxter” is first and foremost a fresh and fruity wine. It is slightly dry but very bright and has a really nice mouthfeel. In addition to the fruits the maker suggests, cherry, rhubarb and cranberry, I also tasted watermelon, particularly watermelon rind. This is actually a flavor / finish I love (not only in wine but also oysters go figure). I felt it paired really well with the spice of the Thai food and would recommend it with similar meals as well as BBQ and grilled meats and fishes. It would also go well with pizza. Very drinkable and quite enjoyable.

Would Bukowski drink it? This sh*t is like candy Dave. 

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS