Tis' the season my friends. The season where the winemakers are slaving away getting fruit off the vine and into the barrels...and the time in which some great wine falls off of my wine rack, into a glass, and into my belly. Lucky me, and my friends!
I haven't done many wine events recently, but certainly have been doing plenty of "tasting" and since I feel it is an obligation of The Oregon Wine Blog to preview wines to make sure they're top notch for you, our readers, below you'll find four bottles that stick out as gems.
Here at TOWB, we're not huge on assigning ratings to wine as it is such a subjective art. To us, wine is more about the experience and each drinker will find different attributes and qualities in a vintage, and ultimately, if a consumer likes a wine, they like a wine; and that's that. So, you won't find ratings on these wines assigned by us (although I may include other's ratings), but rest assured their inclusion in this post serves as the Josh Gana stamp of approval - the bottles that I'd gladly buy and drink on any given day.
2006 Gilbert Cellars Allobroges
I picked up this bottle last October when Clive and myself were in the Yakima (the night I bamboozled Clive to write for the blog) and I've been waiting to crack it open. A blend of 60% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, and 22% Grenache, a random evening with friend-of-the-blog Chris was that perfect moment. With strong fruit aromatics, this medium-bodied rhone blend is smooth enough to drink by itself but also would pair quite nicely with your red dinner of choice. This wine is full of black fruit and has been described as luscious, and I'd agree...adding a "baby" to the end of the l-word. Grab some of the 07 next time you're in the Yakima Valley.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Quilceda Creek about a month ago offering the purchase of this red wine, so it took me all of 5 minutes to take them up on the offer and my order was in. Immediately, I started sending taunting text messages to Rick about the exclusive wine on the way, knowing full well that I'd probably drink it with him anyway. Being relatively impatient, we popped the bottle open last weekend after just having received it. While the wine was a bit young yet, we enjoyed every drop and it has a ton of promise. With a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec from Red Mountain's finest vineyards, this has a silky smooth mouthfeel with spice and black fruit on the palate. With a 93 rating from Wine Enthusiast, limited production, and an approachable price point, this one didn't last long. Sorry friends, sold out.
2008 Gordon Brothers Six Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Last weekend, Rick came to visit. I knew I was in for a treat when he walked through the door, set his bag down, and held out this bottle with a twinkle in his eye saying, "I brought a present!" A present it certainly was, a bottle from his recent Wine by Cougars shipment. Clone six cab was an experiment by winemaker Jeff Gordon, and methinks he hit the jackpot with the few acres he has growing next to the Snake River. With 100% estate grown cab and 430 case production, it carries a striking purple hue and strong notes of plum and cherry. A Columbia Valley cab at it's finest, you'll find some nice tannins and a 91-point rating from Wine Enthusiast. It was a perfect end to the evening for Rick and I following the Quilceda Red. The winemaker suggest a pairing with molten lava cake, and while I'll never turn down molten lava cake, it would be even better with this wine.
2006 Pend d'Oreille Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
This is one of those bottles that was a spur-of-the-moment, mid-week "I need a glass of wine" decisions for me. It had been sitting on the rack for a while calling my name, as you know from previous coverage that we love just about anything that Pend d'Oreille puts out. An Idaho winery, who would have thunk it? Don't let the ambiguous "Washington" denotation on this wine fool you, this is a straight up Columbia Valley wine with a lot of the fruit from the Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope. Silly labeling laws won't allow Columbia Valley to be listed on an Idaho made wine. Allow this one to open up a bit before you enjoy, and then you'll find cherry and dark berry on the nose. I found this wine to have a very pleasant, full mouthfeel with plum and current on the palate. It's a nice, well balanced wine with a production of 521 cases and a very solid price point of $17.00. That's right, a great Washington Cab for $17.
Now I can just hear your internal dialogue churning as you think, "but Josh, you live in Oregon, what's the deal yo with all this Washington wine?" Well, don't you fret because I have a whole row on my rack dedicated to Oregon pinot and there will be some of that coming soon. Apparently I've been a bold mood lately!