Apex (II) Cellars 2004 Late Harvest Semillon

*Drew made a post about this wine on August 31st that I didn't realize until after I made this post. His thoughts and my thoughts are similar, yet different, check them out.

The Thanksgiving Holiday is behind us here at The Oregon Wine Blog, and as most of us work in Educational settings, the end of the Fall Term is also here. As my institution prepares to head into the home stretch after a short interlude, I decided I needed to open a new bottle of wine to end my 4 day "break." Tonight, I broke open a bottle from one of my shipments from Willamette Valley wine club.

This evening it is an Apex Cellars II 2004 Late Harvest Semillon. Apex Cellars is in the Yakima Valley of South-Central Washington State. It is both a vineyard and type of wine (Semillon) that are foreign to me, so I had to do some research on it. You will notice the "II" after "Apex", and the website reads, "Our goal with Apex II is to offer you an exceptional value—wines that are almost as impressive as Apex, but cost considerably less. Apex II wines are perfect for everyday enjoyment." This statement could lead someone to believe that the glass of wine I am about to enjoy may not be as good as a Late Harvest Semillon from Apex (or any wines from the "II" label for that matter). Let's not kid ourselves - the "Apex II" label is for those grapes not good enough to make the "Apex" label.

The Semillon is a grape that has a golden-skin and is used most frequently in making dry, sweet wines. Worldwide, it has been grown mostly in France, Australia/New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa. The tasting notes for this particular wine are, again as per the website, "Succulently sweet with opulent flavors of honey, apricots, and pears, this charming wine displays an unusually seductive floral scent, especially of honeysuckle. The luscious sweetness is balanced by refreshing acidity."

I have to admit that I was very excited about this wine, initially. It had been literally staring are me for about 10 days on my counter. So this evening I caved and opened the golden-copper seal and it's black plastic cork - I was like a kid...at Christmas...ugh (those of you who know me, know what that means). I was delighted by the this wonderful nose - very sweet citrus and a light alcohol combination hit you initially, not in a bad way.

There is a fairly decent coat on the glass when swirled, yet still less than I would have thought for a Late Harvest (with 9.5 % alcohol by volume). Then it came time for the taste...and I have to admit that I was less then impressed. It doesn't have an overly sweet taste that you would expect from a Late Harvest, but there was something about this wine that I didn't find very appealing. For my palate, I can actually taste the alcohol, which I find to be pretty rare. For me, the taste is this combination of lightly citric beverage that has a lingering alcohol "flavor"/aftertaste. I continue sipping and am wondering if I am missing something, but I can honestly say I don't think I am.

This is definitely a drier wine, but there is this odd something that lingers in the mouth that reminds you that you have/are consuming alcohol in a way that I have rarely experienced with other wines. So overall, I would just have to say this wine isn't a good one, but I would be interested in hearing what others' thoughts are.


Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree with your anaylsis. I have had this very wine on numerous occasions, and while it is not the most complex you will experience, it is definitely sweeter than most late harvest wines I have tasted. I detected no harsh alcohol burn that you described, but rather feel that this is a well balanced dessert wine. I detected traces of green apple and honey for days. The nose is delightfully floral with additional honeyed notes. Again, not overly complex, but definitely delicious. I highly recommend. This is dessert in a glass, and would pair exceptionally well with any mildly sweet dessert.

It should also be noted that Apex does not currently (at least as far as the last time I checked) have a Semillon in their Apex I (premier) line and thus your comment regarding quality in incorrect in this case. Apex II is intended as an affordable option, and in the case of the 2004 Late Harvest Semillon, one can assume nothing less.

Isaac Sandlin