This black-cherry treat was an upgrade on a recent online order. The 2018 Roma River Rock Vineyard is a red blend, a mix of Syrah (31%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (69%)—two of my favorite grapes and combined to excellent effect here.
Winemaker Charles Smith maintains his vineyards in Walla Walla Valley, Washington, and opened for the first time in 2001. Most of his operation features small lots of single-vineyard Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese. Though he reportedly sold his first wines from the back of a truck, they’ve come a long way over the past two decades. This bottle is named for his mother (Roma-Jean) and those who read Notes know I have long enjoyed bottles that tie in a family connection.
Smith is proud of his “Rhône-centric winery” and, tasing this 2018 Roma, I understand why. It’s full bodied and infuses a little something subtle under the black cherry notes that lead the band here. It’s not quite cedar, but definitely something earthy like perhaps peat moss? Tannins are present but pretty mild…
It’s easy drinking and feels like this wine is punching all the right buttons. Most K Vintners wines are hand picked, fermented with naturally occurring yeasts, and basket-pressed—this one too. I only had one 2018 Roma River Rock Vineyard Red Blend in my order, and I wish I had another. You will too—score one when you can and thank me later.
The 2017 Ryan’s Reserve red blend is a real pleasure. Formerly produced by Tertulia Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington, it’s a supple wine, one of those great drinks proven to be greater than the sum of its parts.
The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (21%), Cabernet Franc (21%), and Malbec (8%) grapes. Tertulia apparently gets its name from the Spanish word for a “social gathering of friends” and that’s a nice inference, even if a hokey label design. (Look it up—you’ll see that plus “bull session.”) Additionally, both the vineyard manager and winemaker were named “Ryan” so they doubled-down on the branding at Tertulia.
Lots of great tastes here, and the fruit must be contributing to the rich flavor realized in the 2017 Ryan’s Reserve. It is not too sweet and is certainly distinct from the fruit bombs often covered in Notes. The wine pours fragrant, an even black cherry or plum, and earthy while avoiding a peat moss type of fragrance. Structure or undertones conveyed from the Merlot, perhaps?
I bought the 2017 Ryan’s Reserve from Underground Cellar, one of my first experiences with the online retailer. Their value proposition has intrigued me and I’m still in the process of evaluating—more on that to follow. In the meantime, enjoy your vino responsibly and make the 2017 Ryan’s Reserve one of your next tastings. Unfortunately, the winery went out of business in 2021 so this is part of a shrinking inventory…step lively, people!
This day started with a quest for martini fixings, but since all the local ABC stores are closed for the holiday, it’s wine time here. Yes I am a fan of all things Dave Phinney, and I thought the WA locations would be more than a great fill-in for the missing well drinks.
WA5, Locations Wine, Napa, California, USA.
Importantly, know this bottle fits all the beats of a Phinney wine. Ripe, layered, and kitchen-sink style in its blend overall. This one is blueberry, it is blackberry, and it is hints of merlot to be sure. I found it to be fruit-forward but not the flavor bomb that some of Dave’s creations can embody. I assert here it was the right bottle for the evening, one where I’m recuperating from weeks of overwork and singular focus on a particular outcome.
The WA Locations 5 accompanied a green salad (complete with mushrooms, yellow onion, radishes, arugula, and cucumbers) and a kick-ass chili that was kicked up with the heat—cumin, chili powder, and all the accoutrements. A nice give and take between the grapes and the food!
Enlisted my brother and I for this wine adventure the moment I saw the promotion from Fleming’s Steakhouse–the August showing of the “100 Wines One Summer” series. We did the Uber thing to and from this tasting so that we could relax and enjoy new wines without having to figure out who had to be the designated driver. That being said, here’s how the evening unfolded for this guy:
JCB by Jean-Francois Boisset
Some whites (this one is a 100% Chardonnay) have more of that oak smell or flowers to them, while others–like this JCB–carry more fruit notes. This sparkling, produced in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or region, was served to us after signing in at the registration desk. Nice apply start to the tasting.
Pinot Grigio, Maso Canali
My last white tasting this night, a blend of 95% Pinot Grigio and 5% Chardonnay, jumped out when described by the hostess. She was tending to an array of whites, and her notes zeroed me in on this Italian wine…I know someone (you know who you are!) who would have really liked this white. The Grigio lead the way in terms of taste, and I am not sure I could have determined the Chardonnay in the mix if I had not been told of its inclusion.
Pinot Noir, Wine by Joe
Jumped softly into the pool of reds with this raspberry-scented Pinot, produced by Joe Dobbs in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon. I eschewed Mark West and Meiomi offerings in order to try something new in the Joe. Little bit of cherry in this gentle Pinot, which was quite delicious and a welcome shift from the whites.
Pinot Noir, Rodney Strong
I’ve sampled the Strong previously, and both the vineyard and any Russian River Valley Pinot Noir make a compelling argument to repeat a tasting (despite what I literally JUST said about the West and Meiomi). I was not disappointed at all. It’s beautiful cherry, soft, and aromatic in the glass…even the vanilla notes I enjoyed in the Rodney tasting. One of the evening’s highlights to be sure.
Malbec, Pascual Toso
We soon thereafter moved to table 3, some international reds, and my first and only selection from this grouping was this Malbec from the Mendoza region of Argentina. Sadly my notes are sparse on this offering, other than to say “lush fruits.”
2012 Liberated Cabernet Sauvignon
Table four consisted of California reds, and those who read Notes with any frequency can imagine we drifted quickly to this area and stayed here the longest. This Sonoma County Cab was superb; expresso and dark cherry and mocha all wrapped into one dark, delicious beauty. Even had a little smokey hint to it…in many ways this red had all the nuances that I like about California Cabernet.
2014 Round Pond Cabernet Sauvignon
The McDonnell family in Napa Valley (the Rutherford AVA as I read later) is responsible for this peppery and blackberry-tasting Cab. Some of this wine reminded me of good Syrah–perhaps its spice notes and the generous mouthfeel? In another year or two this one is going to be spectacular, and I was sort of picturing myself with a whole glass of this bad boy instead of just the sampler.
Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon
Definitely familiar with this winery, but usually for their whites instead of reds. This one is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Syrah, 5% Merlot, and 4% Other (whatever that means). This one was pretty complex too, and I detected earthy tones, spices, and tobacco in this jammy red. Of all the reds we tasted tonight, this one was closest to the Michael David or Caymus wines of which I’ve written from time to time. Did you know this winery is the oldest in Washington State? I just learned that myself…
This is another Bordeaux-style blend, this one 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 2% Other. It was okay but suffered a disadvantage by following the fruit-forward Michelle and Round Pond gems. This Napa Valley offering had a peppery finish but my vocabulary (or perhaps my inexact notes) doesn’t stretch far enough with the Hall. Really enjoyed the wine, but I’d prefer another glass of many others if pressed.
Who names these thing? Such an unenviable task…and my notes from this one read (no joke) “Smells like feet. Very cherry.” I was only so so on the Paradox, but I’ll offer you the following from Flemings in case ‘feet’ as a tasting note left you in the lurch: “Offering a heady mix of blueberry and cherry aromas its lingering berry and cherry flavors, this velvety lush blend is [Dan Duckhorn’s] gift to all of us.” I’m not buying…
Yardstick Cabernet Sauvignon
Much better change of pace here. This too is a Napa Valley Cab, made of grapes sourced from Atlas Peak (from where I’ve had some enjoyable wine to be sure). It had a fantastic scent in the glass, red and black fruits that I’d say were black cherry and blackberry. You get a sense of the pepper here too, one of those soft layers that sneaks into a good wine, subtly reminding you of a presence of something greater. Nice flavor in the Yardstick–which is a GREAT bit of branding btw.
Greg Norman Cabernet-Merlot
Um, yes, not a California red but I understand its inclusion in this table. It’s got that Bordeaux vibe to it for sure, with raspberry notes and dark fruits mixing together. I was kind of interested in this one (not sure I’ve had a Norman ever before) but it was only okay.
Gundlach-Bundschu Mountain Cuvee
I know. You’re saying three more still? Steve and I said much the same this Saturday night as we sampled our way from Europe to North America, South America, and Australia all in one sitting. From the name I bet you’re thinking this one is international in origin, but it’s actually a Sonoma County blend of 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Zinfandel. If you think that sounds like inelegant science you’re mistaken. This red blend was luscious in dark fruits and had an easy finish. A surprising pleasure and I’d like another glass on a night when my palate was not being so bombarded by so many flavors just so I could share more details with you on the Gundlach-Bundschu.
Double T Trefethen Red Blend
This one too is a combination (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) red, Bordeaux in style. We got talking to some friendly patrons while sampling this round, and I’m afraid I have nothing of consequence to relay about the Trefethen. Wine & Spirits describes its “…plummy, jammy nose, its cherry-berry flavor profile, and its smooth, chocolate-covered finish” but I cannot recall from firsthand experience.
Not sure if I should include this one or not. I am unsure of the winemaker or region for this one, or candidly the label or grape. Is very likely a red blend in the Bordeaux style, simply by its grouping at this particular table. A Google search yields too many “hills” to narrow the field, so this is definitely a clunky last entry. I wrote, “Easy finish. Dark cherry and raspberry with small tannins” but cannot be any more helpful than that. Disappointing and may even edit this one out in the future…sort of weighing the journalistic integrity either way.
I’m a little regretful that I didn’t take better stock of the vintage in the above. Most were assuredly ’13s and ’14s but I am pretty sure there were a few ’12s in the mix too. Sorry about that, fans.
That said, fifteen samples made for a great night and a great experience to share. If you like any of the above be sure to share some yourself and spread the love. -RMG
The 2014 Myth Riesling, vinted and bottled by Washington Wine Works, arrived here earlier this summer as part of an online shipment. As a white, you might rightly expect it to sit in the rack indefinitely while reds were prioritized for dining and in Notes alike. And so it did, until this week when scorching temperatures suggested a well-chilled white might be a reasonable alternative to a cold beer or a bottle of red.
2014 Myth Riesling, Washington Wine Works, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA.
This 2014 Myth, produced in Washington’s Columbia Valley, is fragrant and sugary in the bottle and on the nose. This white smells full compared to a Pinot Grigio–does that make sense? There’s not a bit of dryness to the Riesling. Candidly, it was not as enjoyable as the Bordeaux Blanc, and I found myself limited to just a single glass at a time because of its sweetness. I still remember my first explorations of Rieslings (that’s Twisted River) but those must have been less sweet because I cannot imagine repeat purchases if they had been as sugary. On the last night/glass, I paired up Myth with a delicious pork chop dish that I’m proud to share here.
The food came out pretty well. What you see is seared pork chops and plum salsa with corn, kale, and farro salad. This is the first time (at least to my recollection) I’ve had farro and it was pretty good as seasoned with scallions and balsamic vinegar. With the kale, corn, and farro all mixed together you have a nice bit of crunch with the grains. The plum worked liked that too, a nice cool counterbalance to the seared pork chop–which was drizzled with the balsamic and butter sauce from the pan. Voila.
But this is a wine blog not a food blog, so let’s get back to the bottle. The label conveys, “Our Riesling leads with aromas of honeysuckle and nectarine with flavors of honey and orange blossom, finishing clean with balanced acidity.” I don’t know if that’s true or not–judge for yourself based on the above–but I do know I’m all set with this Riesling. I prefer to hold onto other myths.
Labor Day treat–a dark fruity Washington Cabernet Sauvignon (and was that a hint of chocolate that I tasted?) for the cocktail hour, my favorite company, and a hotly contested round of jarts. Hope you’re all having a great holiday weekend and cheers!
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Winery, Woodinville, Washington, USA.
I’ve dropped the ball almost entirely here for the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, produced by the team at 14 Hands Winery. I’m positive that I had this 2013 vintage on May 8 because I have the date/timestamp both in my iCloud photos and my Vivino app, but I am very lacking in other relevant details about this tasting experience.
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 Hands, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA.
I didn’t note the food accompanying the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, and I didn’t jot down anything significant regarding its smell, its taste, or its color. Based on the photo here it seems as though the 2013 has good depth and a rich, deep color but that’s less helpful if you’re looking to NotesOfNote as a resource for your upcoming wine selection. I can confirm that 14 Hands Winery is located in the Columbia Valley AVA, and its winemaker offers, “14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon is a bright, juicy red featuring aromas of blueberries and currants with subtle hints of dried herbs. Red berry flavors are complemented by a touch of spicy oak and accentuated by refined tannins.”
Those following Notes recognize that I usually affirm or redirect tasting notes from the winemaker, but here I can do neither and apologize to readers for the lacking post. On the plus side, it does mean that I have to have another go at the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from 14 Hands in order to do this wine right. So at least there’s that?