Cellar Gem: 2007 Doubleback – Cabernet Sauvignon

This weekend we’ll be reviewing wines from Taste Washington, the annual show where winemakers from all over the state pour their vintages for enthusiasts, media and the trade.  To get in the spirit, we decided to crack open a bottle of Washington wine that we haven’t had for a while, and settled on the 2007 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is the debut vintage of Doubleback from Drew & Maura Bledsoe, with Chris Figgins as the winemaker.  It has been a couple of years since we have had the 2007 Doubleback, so I wanted to see where it was as far as the evolutionary track.  Drew “drew” a lot of flack in the beginning for being an athlete making wine, and I’ve been impressed all along with his passion and insistence on quality.  I’m pleased to report that the 2007 lives up to his high expectations so far.

2007 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon.
2007 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon.

2007 Doubleback – Cabernet Sauvignon – Still very dark red/black in color.  On the nose, dark sweet blackberries and a little bit of tobacco with just the slightest hint of green pepper at the beginning, which blew off.  In the mouth, very dark, ripe fruits (blackberries, bing cherries and black currants), combine with some black tar (in a good way), and a little tobacco.  This wine has really excellent acidity and only 14.4% alcohol listed on the bottle, which is not particularly high these days nor is it noticeable at all.  There are some extremely fine, ripe tannins that kick in on the beautifully long very dark fruit and tar/tobacco finish.  I love the deep, dark-black fruit and tar combination that finishes with a little tobacco.  Very few wines from the US have this combination, usually you find it more in Bordeaux.  This is an absolutely beautiful wine that has a long future ahead of it.  If you have several bottles of this in the cellar, it is worth opening one now, but it will only get more complex with time.  I think this wine will continue to improve for another 5-10 years and then it will stay on the maturity plateau for another ten years after that.  There is no rush to drink the 2007 Doubleback, but it is very tasty right now.  (96 pts.)

I look forward to seeing where the 2007 Doubleback goes from here.  I’m also looking forward to making new wine discoveries this weekend – and sharing them with our readers!

Cellar Gems are reviews of wines aged in our cellar.

Italian-Style Wines in Oregon Wine Country?

We took a short trip to Oregon last fall to visit my wife’s family, and decided to stop by a couple of wineries while we were there.  When we asked around, we were told to stop by a small winery called Remy Wines in McMinnville Oregon.  It’s a cute little place that’s run by Remy Drabkin, who decided in third grade that she wanted to be a winemaker because she saw how much her parents enjoyed wine and the wine lifestyle.  The winery tasting room was carved out of a part of their warehouse facility, but they’ve done a nice job of making it a kitschy-cool little hangout they call the baR (or the R Bar).  Remy Wines also serves great antipasto to go with their Italian-styled wines – bread, olive oil, cheeses, cured meats – even our kids were happy.

Christina and her sister-in-law Kerry Prather at Remy Winery on a beautiful - and windy - fall day.
Christina and her sister-in-law, Kerry Prather, at Remy Wines on a beautiful – and windy – fall day.
The kids were occupied for a little bit.
Maybe these third graders will also be interested in wine one day…?
And then the food arrived and the kids really got into it.
The kids were definitely interested in the food!

Yes – you heard me right, we were drinking Italian-styled wines in Pinot Country.  I would never have expected to find a winery in Oregon that concentrated on Italian varietal wines, but it was a refreshing change.  I really like the Italian varietals with their higher acidity – they’re great food wines.  Here are some of the wines that we tasted while at Remy:

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2012 Three Wives White, Pinot Gris – Nice semi-sweet white fruit wine for the summer afternoons, nice clean medium finish.

2010 Three Wives Red, Barbera and Sangiovese – Nice sweet red/black fruit that is a little earthy and with juicy acidity that keeps everything lively in the mouth.  This is an excellent food wine that has a very nice medium-long earthy red fruit finish.

2011 Ciel du Cheval Sangiovese – Nice red cherry fruit and red licorice in the mouth with decent acidity and a medium slightly dry finish.  This is a nice wine, but it doesn’t quite have the complexity that the Three Wives Red has at this point, but it is also a year younger as well.

2010 Rosebud, Barbera – Deeper, darker ripe black bing cherries with a little blackberry, red currant and dusty earth thrown into the mix.  This wine has very good juicy acidity that intermingles with the rich dark fruit keeping everything alive in the mouth.  Very nice long sweet dark fruit filled finish.  This is a really well made wine that will give the Italians a run for their money.

2010 Lagrein – Dark, slightly dry earthy fruit, with good acidity.  Medium length dry dark fruit finish.  This Italian grape varietal is apparently from the NE area of Italy.  I don’t think I have had this one before or at least I didn’t know it.  It is an interesting grape, but I do prefer the Barbera and Sangiovese based wines.

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Even though Remy Wines is an Oregon winery, most of the grapes come from Washington State on Red Mountain.  Remy is making some really good (and affordable) wines and they are a definite place to seek out while you are in the Oregon wine country.  I will definitely be going back next time I am down in the neighborhood.  Remy Wines is a very refreshing change to the dominant Pinot that is produced in Oregon.  Bravo Remy!  Keep up the good work.

O Solaia Mio

One of the things I always like to do when I can, is save special bottles that are given to me and open them with the givers.  I had been saving a bottle of the 1998 Solaia to drink with our dear friends Heidi and Angel Diaz, who gave me the bottle for my birthday several years ago.  Recently, we got to re-gift it to them. (It’s the best kind of re-gifting!)  Of course, the Solaia wasn’t the only wine we tasted that night.

Bob Watt and Heidi Diaz with the re-gifted Solaia.
Bob Watt and Heidi Diaz with the re-gifted Solaia.

The main course for dinner that evening was Italian inspired and something of my own creation.  It has been named by some friends of ours “Bacon on Bacon”.  It is essentially a prosciutto wrapped pork tenderloin and is fairly simple to make (see recipe below!).

With Italy being the main theme, we started the evening off with white burgundy, then a dry rose, followed by the Solaia, a Flaccinello and a Crongnolo.

Great friends, great wines.
Great friends, great wines.

2011 Olivier Leflaive – Bourgogne Les Setilles, France – Very bright lemon mineral nose.  Strong lemony stony fruit that is very clean with bright acids.  This just makes your taste buds sing in the mouth on the nice medium length finish.  I really liked the 2010 version of this wine, but I think the 2011 beats it.  This wine is young, vibrant and could age if you can keep from drinking it.  (90 pts.)

2013 Julia’s Dazzle – Pinot Grigio Rose, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington – Bright copper color, with sweet/tart fruit nose.  In the mouth, the wine is slightly off-dry as the sweet melon and strawberry fruit comes through with decent acidity.  The wine finishes with a sweet strawberry note on the clean, but slightly short finish.  I liked last years 2012 vintage slightly better, because it had higher acidity and a longer finish, so it didn’t come across as quite as sweet as the 2013 does.  I also noticed that on the 2012 bottle, it stated on the back label that the wine was made by the Long Shadows Winery in Walla Walla Washington.  On the 2013 bottle, the name of Long Shadows isn’t on the bottle, but on the back label in really tiny print it says the wine is produced by Dolan & Weiss Cellars.  I am not sure what happened or what the difference is.  Maybe the wine was being made in partnership or it was sold or something.  Anyway, it was my first rose of the year and will be a good wine for the summer.  (88pts.)

1998 Marchesi Antinori – Solaia, Italy – Beautiful nose of dark black fruit and baking spices.  In the mouth deep dark red and black fruit, baking spices, burnished wood and a hint of tobacco.  There are still some tannins, but they are fine-grained and unobtrusive.  The beautiful sweet dark fruit and spice carries through to a nice long, slightly tannic finish.  This wine is still young and only at the beginning of the maturity plateau.   There isn’t any rush to drink these.  Well stored bottles will continue to improve for another decade.  This is a wonderful wine.  (95 pts.)

2001 Fontodi – Flaccianello Della Pieve, Italy – Dark red and black fruit with a little spice and a freshness on the nose.  In the mouth, sweet dark red and black fruit, spices and a damp earthy aspect (but in a good way).  Very good acidity makes this wine lively in the mouth.  Nice sweet dark fruit and spice on the long still slightly tannic finish.  This wine still has some slight tannins to shed, but it is drinking really well right now and has a good decade or more of life ahead of it.  Flaccianello is a benchmark wine for what Sangiovese can achieve.  This is a beautiful wine.  (94 pts.)

2007 Tenuta Sette Ponti – Crognolo, Italy – Sweet dark blackberries and red pie cherries on the nose.  In the mouth, the black fruit and red pie cherries combine with a slight bit of coffee and very good acidity.  The wine is still young, with tannin to shed, but the sweet dark berry fruit comes through on the medium finish.  Given time, I am sure there will be more secondary nuances that will come through.  This is a nice Italian wine to pop and pour.  (91 pts.)

It’s always fun sharing some good wines with our great longtime friends – especially when the evening ends with a rousing game of ping-pong and a little karaoke (sung by the kids, thank goodness!).  Here’s my savory pork recipe now – it’s not very precise, but you’ll get the picture:

Bacon on Bacon

Finely chop a bunch of sage and rosemary.  Add several heaping tablespoons of country mustard (with the seeds), and mix in the sage and rosemary.  Add a fair amount (several tablespoons) of olive oil to make the mustard and herbs not so dry and pasty.   Then salt and pepper the tenderloin to taste on one side and spread the mustard/herb mixture over the tenderloin.  Spread capers and pine nuts over the tenderloin as well.  Now cover the top of the tenderloin with two pieces of prosciutto and spray it with olive oil.  You will want to spray the bottom of the dish you are working in as well, otherwise the prosciutto will stick to it.  Turn the tenderloin over and repeat the process.

Heat a large oven-proof frying pan and sear the prosciutto and tenderloin on all sides (approx. 2 minutes per side).  Once the searing is done, put the tenderloin in the oven and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.  After 30 minutes, pull the tenderloin out of the oven and remove from the pan to rest for 10 minutes.  The tenderloin will continue to cook from the internal heat.

While the tenderloin is resting, add some cheap Madeira to the pan (Full and Rich if they have it, but Rainwater will do), approximately 1 cup.  Use the Madeira to deglaze the pan you cooked the tenderloin in, so you are scraping all of the little brown bits off of the bottom.  Add one piece of torn up prosciutto to the pan as well.  Reduce down the Madeira so you end up with only 1/4 of the liquid, approximately 10 minutes.  Cut up your tenderloin, put it on the plates and then spoon some of the Madeira sauce over the tenderloin and serve.  I prefer to use Madeira over red wine; because it has a much higher acidity that works well with the oil/salt content of the prosciutto.

Bon appetit!

Cellar Gem: 1998 Dievole – Novecento Chianti Classico Riserva, Italy

The last time we were in Italy was in 2002, a year after we were married.  We drank a lot of wine on that trip, because the 1997 Brunellos had just been released that January, and I brought a few bottles home with me as well.  Christina had found this clever hard-sided, metal case box for me with wheels and a handle – it was a great idea, but at the end of the day, every airline treated it differently, and so every time we landed we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out which carousel the wine box wound up on.  We don’t use the box that much anymore, but we still like to schlep home good finds every now and then.

One of the bottles we brought home from Sienna was called Dievole.  We spent a nice afternoon tasting in their well-designed little wine shop – the wine isn’t anything over-the-top, but we enjoyed it then, and more than a decade later, we enjoyed it again.

1998 Dievole
1998 Dievole

1998 Dievole – Novecento Chianti Classico Riserva – Spicy dark red and black fruit on the nose.  In the mouth, dark red berries, baking spices and some dry leaves, with a lot of wood spice (but without the wood).  Nice long spicy dark fruit finish, with the tannins kicking in on the end.  This wine is drinking well now, still young with some tannin, but I don’t think the fruit will out last the tannin.  If you have this in the cellar, I would think about drinking them within the next 5 years, as it will start to decline after that.  I don’t think it will get any better than where it is right now.  (92 pts.)

Not sure if any wine will make it home with us from our next trip, but there’s always room for the possibility…

Cellar Gems are reviews of bottles that are aged in our cellar.

Wines of Tuscany Come to Seattle – Montepulciano Tasting March 13, 2014

You may not be able to come to Italy with us next summer – but you could taste some Italian wines with us next week…

Serendipitously, next week we’ll be meeting and wine tasting with a delegation from Montepulciano, Italy, where we’ll be visiting.  If you happen to be in Seattle next Thursday, March 13 (3:00-5:00 pm), and have a compelling reason to want to be at the tasting (it’s generally reserved for media and the trade), email Ana Scofield at ascofield@balzac.com, and she’ll see what she can do to make it work for the friends of Exact Wines.

But don’t worry – if you can’t make it, we’ll be sure to share our reviews from the tasting with you too!