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

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L’Ecole No 41Chenin Blanc “Columbia Valley” (2012)

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20140110_225045L’Ecole No 41Chenin Blanc “Columbia Valley”

Chenin Blanc

YEAR: 2012

REGION: US: Washington: Columbia Valley

AVERAGE RETAIL: $15

What they say about it:

“This fresh and vibrant Chenin Blanc shows abundant expressive aromatics of jasmine, orange blossom, and mango with flavors of star fruit, apple, and peach on a balanced, crisp mineral finish.”

What I say about it:

Amazingly, I think this may be my first taste from L’Ecole, one of the well known and earliest artisanal wine makers in Washington state. They produce in both the Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley. The later I hope to visit this summer. The 2012 Chenin Blanc from Columbia Valley was a nice introduction on a Friday night. I sampled it chilled to about 54° F which is where I like whites.

Out of the bottle and into the glass…. The color is yellow to yellow straw. Clean to the edge of the glass with a hint of peach and orange to the hue. More mellow than bright yet clear.

The nose had a lot of floral, grassy and ciitrus notes: orange blossom, marigold,with a touch of wet wool, chestnut, wet earth and mushrooms. 

The taste was equally citrus and balanced with a long slightly mineral finish. Green pineapple, fresh white peaches, green apples with a touch of slate. Medium dry alcohol with a nice acidity.

Overall a really nice wine. Reminded of Spring right after a slight shower, the rain on the slate sidewalk of my childhood house. I’d pair it with lighter delicate cheeses, like brie, Dubliner, Humboldt Fog, along with fruits, pear, apples, and figs, to bring out the fuitiness of the wine more. I can also see this going nice with smoked salmon, lox, as well as most poultry, fish, shellfish and pasta in white or cream sauces. Definitely a wine I plan to come back to for return revisists.

Would Bukowski drink it?  I don’t hate people…I just feel better when they’re not around. When they are around good wine like this helps make life bearable.Crack open another Dave!

Overall Rating: 4 BUKS

4-BUKS

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