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Staff Favorites - Bryan Brick
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2011 Seven Hills Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 1-22-2014
Has there been a more consistent Cabernet Sauvignon at the $20 price point than the Seven Hills Columbia Valley bottling? Pretty much every year for the last decade this bottling has been top notch, rivaling bottles that are twice its cost. In 2011 a cold growing season, maybe the coldest on record in Eastern Washington, many wineries decided to not produce their top wines. This is exactly what Seven Hills did, funneling all of their best fruit into the lower tier bottlings. This Columbia Valley Cabernet comes from fruit throughout the massive appellation focusing on fruit from Wahluke Slope, Yakima Valley, Red Mountain and Walla Walla Valley, mostly from great declassified lots. This blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Carmenere, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec, and it over-delivers greatly for $20. It's showing just how fantastic Cabernet can still be in this price point. Exciting and vital on the nose, this has alluring aromatics of crushed violet, old leather, Bing cherry, bay leaf and black olive. On entry the wine is lithe and accepting, it sort of waves you in with its cocoa powder, black raspberry, Oolong tea and crème brulee flavors. Softly tannic this is a wine that you can drink instantly but will also continue to develop over the next 3-7 years. I would be hard pressed to find a better Cab for $20 from Washington or anywhere else for that matter.
2009 Saarloos & Sons "His" Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 4-3-2013
Sometimes you just know. You just sort of have a feeling that everything is going to work out just fine. Some call it ESP, some say it is their gut feeling and some are just so braggadocios that they will tell you they knew all along. Well, whatever you want to call it I think all of us that visited Saarloos and Sons on our recent trip to the Central Coast back in late February knew pretty quickly that we were going to do some really cool stuff together. I originally heard a hot tip about this winery from Bob Lindquist at Qupé a while back and if Bob says someone is doing a good job than that is good enough for me. What I didn’t know was just how much this family is committed to making great wines, being true stewards to their vineyards all the while having ridiculous amounts fun and trying to pass their wines onto people in a truly different way. I mean cupcakes with wine pairings at the tasting bar??? Seriously rad. Gift Certificates made out of barrel staves. Totally bitchin’ right? Letting their 6 year old daughter decide when to begin harvest on their Sauvignon Blanc? Genius! Writing a sustainable 250 year business plan? That is just plain cray-cray. But even without all the coolness surrounding this family project I would have loved these wines every bit as much. The reason: purity. These wines are the essence of well farmed fruit made gently into even better wines. Sometimes when you taste wines with the people behind them it gives you a better context in which to understand the wines. Here we instantly saw the personality of the people in the wine: honest, dedicated, farmers, looking to do something classic but always with a modern spin. Basically what I’m trying to say is these awesome guys and gals make wines that perfectly personify that awesomness.
2007 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 3-24-2011
Call it "classic," call it "old school," call it whatever you want but this is still one of the best mid-priced Cabernets coming out of Napa. Full of intense black fruited richness, woody tannin and leafy/foresty spice this is sure to please those that are looking for something leaning more towards the traditional side of Cabernet.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales "Bam Biere" Farmhouse Ale, Michigan 750ml
Review Date: 5-25-2010
The Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales "Bam Biere" is one of the best work horse beers out there. Made in the style of a Saison this is one of the best interpretations coming out of the US right now. With its yeasty, fruity nose of peach, apricot, fresh bread dough, tangerine and a pinch of clove this is about as traditional as Saison gets. Lightweight on the palate but full of flavor the beer displays flavors of brewer’s yeast, fried plantains, wet earth, savory grassy tones and a bit of drying hoppiness in the finish. The sweet/bitter interplay here is perfect, keeping the beer from ever getting out of balance or cloying white the understated fruitiness builds complexity as it goes. Big time Boosh!
West County Cider "Redfield" Cider, Massachusetts 750ml
Review Date: 5-25-2010
A perfect summer beverage is the West County Cider "Redfield" Cider. This is far from your typical cider made from the apple varietal of Redfield which is red fleshed giving the cider its brilliant orange, ruby color. Aromas of raspberry, rose water, mango and warm clay are wonderfully alluring and really add a separate dimension that most will not expect from cider. The cheery, bright flavors of cherry, cinnamon and pear build on each other developing acidity and cut as they go until you reach the grainy bittersweet apple quality towards the center of the mid palate. Mildly tannic and totally serious this has the ability to change any negative opinions you may have had about cider in the past. Total Boosh!
2007 Chasseur Sonoma County Chardonnay
Review Date: 3-26-2010
One of the best "entry level" Chardonnays on the market is Bill Hunter's Sonoma County bottling. Checking in at less than $30, this is superb, rich yet balanced wine. Packed full of fig paste, cantaloupe, summer squash and butterscotch aromas, this is chock full of goodness on the nose. This complexity is mirrored on the palate, showing plenty of acid-based structure all while displaying richly textured layers of honey, tangerine, cashew, sweet cream and buttered toast. Over the next year this bottle will continue to improve, meshing the oak more fully into the wine; itshould be a great bottle to visit over the next 4-6 years.
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