saltwater sommelier

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Wine to last the winter

In Sommelier Corner on September 30, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Every year about this time, when the last of the hot summer days are behind us and the thought of spending another winter in New England is fresh on my mind, I try to devote a small amount of time to decide what wines might be good to have cellared in advance, always wanting to be prepared when a chilling snowfall could at any minute keep you house bound for    “at least overnight”.  Making sure that there are ample bottles of ready to open and drink reds on hand, and even a few chilled whites, always makes it seem that spring is not far away.

California is just now releasing their 2007 Cabernets from Napa and Sonoma with rave reviews. The 2007 vintage is widely considered to be the greatest vintage since the highly acclaimed 2001 vintage. Seems that this vintage is tasting great now and also can be cellared for years to come. The wines are classically structured with lots of ripeness, color and tannin. With this in mind I plan on getting my hands on a mixed case of 2007 Cabernets, at the very least, to go with a few holiday dinners. The Nickel and Nickel single vineyard Cabernets seem to be a great choice. Two of each of the Kelham Vineyard, the Tench Vineyard, and the CC Ranch Vineyard, won’t set you back too far and will go great with a filet and a fire. The 2007 Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon which is also available now would be another perfect choice to lay down 2 or 3 bottles. Wine Spectator has awarded the 2007 Dominus a staggering 96 points so let’s try a few bottles of this blend, why not, you only live once.
Washington wines are all the rage right now, and with their value and quality no winter wine cellar would be complete without some. Putting away a few bottles each of the Long Shadows Saggi Red and the Syrah Sequel will come in handy right around Boxing Day.  Last year’s number one wine the Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005 is not much available anymore but if you can get some of their 2008 your cellar would be well complimented.  A few Oregon Pinot Noir’s and maybe a couple of French Bordeaux will be the added touches in the red department that will make this upcoming winter a bit easier to bare.

Hall Winery

Always leave room for a few Champagnes, rose and whites, they get drank faster than you think.  I like to keep on hand a few bottles of the California Tangent Vineyard, either the Pinot Gris or my favorite their Albarino.  You wouldn’t want to run low on your everyday drinking whites so load up on some J Lohr White Riesling or Murphy Goode Sauvignon Blanc, or even some Merryvale Chardonnay. As for Champagne, buy what you can afford, but make sure it’s the best. Veuve Cliquot, Piper-Heidsieck or Moet & Chandon, all have that ‘open me’ when it’s cold kind of appeal.   Winter in New England can be tough but it’s always easier to make it to spring if you prepare in advance by filling that wine cellar with just a few essentials. When the weather thaws and the days warm up, somewhere around June, you can venture back out and get some more stock for the short summer.

Albe Galotta, SWG Wine Director


“Quel beau lieu” What a beautiful place….

In Sommelier Corner on September 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Julio Grosso at Col Solare

When one talks about going west to wine country it seems that most people head to the ever popular California coast. With its vineyard and restaurant scene becoming the place to be seen, the Napa Valley and Sonoma County have become a wonderful but commercialized area for tours and tastings throughout the year. Still recommended as a must see destination for any true wine lover, California has plenty to offer usually warranting more than one visit. Being the seasoned vineyard visitor that I have become over the past 5 years, with 5 Fall crush visits to the Napa valley, I have been looking to  broaden my adventures a bit north and stretch my sightseeing pleasures to both Oregon and Washington. This year’s trip puts us in the middle of harvest time in the great wine state of Washington.

Immigrants from Italy are credited with planting the first grapes in the Walla Walla region of Washington.  With its first settlers starting vineyard farming as far back as the early 1800’s, Washington has quickly become one of the leading producers of wine in the states today. Washington now boasts a staggering growth of one new vineyard opening every 15 days.

The Cascade Mountain Range splits Washington in half to the west there’s the Woodinville area, just northeast of Seattle and to the east there’s the Tri-Cities, West Richland &Richland Proper, Pasco, and Kennewick. The Woodinville area boasts such fine properties as, Covington Cellars, Chateau St. Michelle Winery, Challenger Ridge, and Columbia Winery.  To the east the Tri -Cities area are known for such wonderful vineyards as Columbia Crest Vineyards, Barnard Griffin, Mary Hill Winery, Woodward Canyon, Alexander Nicole and my personal favorite, Kestrel Vineyards.  Col Solare on Red Mountain and Longshadows are also producing fine Washington state wines from this area.  The very famous J Bookwalter Winery has vineyards on both sides of the Cascades, enjoying the best of both worlds.  Even the beautiful San Juan Island, located a short ferry ride northeast of Seattle , and just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, boasts an award winning vineyard producing some of Washington’s  top wines.   Meandering through the quaint and charming tasting rooms and lush vineyard’s of Washington State  seems to be just as enjoyable as other west coast wine areas with a little laid back touch.  Harvest time and crush time seem a little less hectic here than I have noticed in Napa and Sonoma, but with all the same enthusiasm that any good wine maker enjoys while creating his dream.

Col Solare Vineyard

One of the highlights of our tour of Washington wine country was our stop at the Columbia Crest Winery. With its staggering 3 million case a year production is the largest and one of the most beautiful facilities Washington has to offer. Our group enjoyed a ‘first day of harvest’ catered lunch in the most beautiful courtyard while the shiny silver trucks unloaded the season’s first pick of Guwurztraminer.  This year’s Wine Spectator Magazine  voted Columbia Crest’s 2005 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve the number one wine in the world. Giving such a high esteemed award to a reasonably priced wine from an area not long ago known as a producer of world class wines has certainly brought a lot of attention to all the wineries of Washington.

Joining two such distinct cultures as Washington and Tuscany, Col Solare “Shinning Hill’ a newer but beautiful  Winery soon became our favorite. Sitting handsomely upon a hill, bathing in sunlight this dream of famed Italian winemaker Marchese Piero Antinori , along with Chateau Ste. Michelle has quickly  become a leader in Washington wine making. Spending the afternoon with Cellarmaster Darel Allwine high on Red Mountain in Benton City Washington , miles from Tuscany,one would have to say… “Quel Beau lieu” “What A beautiful Place”……

Albe Galotta