Friday, October 24, 2014

Wine for the Weekend: Stottle Winery 2011 Syrah Horse Heaven Hills @StottleWinery


Take time to enjoy family and friends with Stottle Wines.

The dreary, cool weather and that on and off drizzle has me bundled up today. Jacket and sweater are no longer optional. I'm cold, hungry and craving comfort. Good food, good friends and a good bottle of wine are on my list for tonight. My wine selection for this weekend is the Stottle 2011 Syrah Horse Heaven Hills. Because I'm fond of Syrah and the Horse Heaven Hills. Make some fond memories over the weekend and hug your loved ones.

Tasting Notes Stottle Winery 2011 Syrah Horse Heaven Hills

Color: Dark purple.
Nose: Perfumed, smoky, violets, dark cacao, dark fruit, bacon fat, clove.
Palate: Energetic, gripped my ears, pepper, leather, blackberry.
15 minutes: Relaxing, acid more present than tannin, dark fruit and dark chocolate, nose is more complex. Lively chocolate, plum finish kept it interesting.
30 minutes: chocolate, clove, mint nose. Tasty flavors, blueberry compote, tar, dark chocolate, balancing out with fine tannin, black cherry, plum, leather, nutmeg on finish.
40 minutes: Fruit focused, lovely down middle palate, luscious dark fruit, tar, black pepper, cola, dark chocolate.
At an hour: Lip smacking good. Front palate delivering dark fruit delights.
At 3 hours: Bakers spice, gingerbread, cherry, blackcurrant, nice tacky finish.

Day two: Almost inky purple color. Aromas of tobacco leaf, dark roast coffee, blackberry compote, violets, black pepper, bakers chocolate. Silky smooth, super fine tannin, brightness mid-palate into the finish, acid tingle on the tongue, mild grip on the gums, blueberry, licorice, hint of tar and spice. Medium-long finish. Lively and tasty.

Thoughts: An intriguing sensory experience. Quite enjoyable with dinner of grilled steak and sauteed Fava beans. Discover the complexity of Washington Syrah in this bottle of Stottle wine. Recommended.

Blend: 100% Syrah, Elerding 6 Prong Vineyards
Closure Natural cork
Production: 131 cases
SRP: $32
Sample provided by winery

Stottle Winery & Tasting Room
2641 Willamette Dr NE,  Suite C
Lacey, WA 98516

Spring/Summer Hours:  Wed – Sun : 12pm – 6pm
Fall/Winter Hours:  Wed - Sun : 12pm - 5pm
Open most Monday Holidays - Closed Easter Sunday

Stottle Winery was founded by Amy and Josh Stottlemyer. Winemaker Josh Stottlemyer is the force behind the wines of Stottle Winery. After selling his web development and internet marketing firm he took his passion for wine to the Northwest Wine Academy in Seattle. Where he completed their 2 year winemaking program. Josh also holds a bachelors of science from the University of Minnesota where he studied chemical engineering and geology. Stottle Winery and main tasting room is located in Lacey, Washington just off I-5 and north of the state capital, Olympia.

Related posts:


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wine of the Week: Skylite Cellars 2009 Syrah @skylitecellars


You had me at first sip...

Sometimes I forget to take advantage of living in wine country. Life and responsibility take center stage. Then I remember how close I live to the wealth of Washington wine country. Minutes and not many miles from home, I have access to some of the best wines made in the world. It's all right here in Southeastern Washington. Accessing the delightful wonders of Walla Walla wine country is a mere one hour drive.

I recently visited with Ashley Bruton at her family owned Skylite Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington. Ashley was a wonderful host and shared many delicious Skylite Cellars red wines. It was a comfortable, fun, engaging visit. The wine which captivated me this time was her 2009 Syrah.

View of the tasting room from the loft.

Skylite Cellars is on the outskirts of Walla Walla on the old highway. The new highway bypasses their winery along with several others. You will have to make the effort to find this winery. It's worth your time to put this part of Walla Walla wine country on your itinerary. Thank me later.

Tasting Notes Skylite Cellars 2009 Syrah

Color: Dark garnet.
Nose: Blackberry, some funk, spice, violets, licorice.
Palate: Yum, blueberry, spice, creamy, tarragon, lavender.
  • At 10 minutes, round, fragrant, earthy, leather, coffee, fine tannin, balanced, impressive finish.
  • At 20 minutes, smoky, fruity, medium body, creamy fluid, blueberry-licorice finish.
  • At 35 minutes, fuller in the mouth, chocolate-ginger bread, blueberry, licorice, grippy on the tongue.
  • At 50 minutes, showoff. Pure pleasure.
  • At one hour, violets, lavender, blueberry juice, burnt coffee, burnt crème, acai berry, fluid, sensual, cola, green tea, focused finish, juicy, lingered. Lovely. Lovely.
Thoughts: This wine should be on every table, at your home and at your favorite restaurant. It delivered immediately at opening and continued to deliver even more the longer it was open. Yes, I'm biased towards Syrah, Washington Syrah and Walla Walla wine. I'm also more aware of the beautiful fruit produced in the Walla Walla sub-appellation of the River Rock Vineyard. This is a beautiful vintage that will improved in bottle, if you can keep yourself from drinking it now. Strongly Recommended + Wine of the Week.


Blend: 60% Minnick Vineyard, Yakima, 40% River Rock Vineyard, Walla Walla
Closure: Natural cork
SRP: $30
Purchased at the winery

Skylite Cellars
25 Campbell Road
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Phone: 509.529.8000

Skylite Cellars Winery in Walla Walla, Washington.

Music Pairing - Langhorne Slim, "For a little while." from the album: Be Set Free

*Note: River Rock Vineyard is farmed and owned by Dana Dipple. It is one of the warmest spots in the Walla Walla Valley. The soil is made up of big river stone cobble that was once the bed of the Walla Walla River. There is a great deal of excitement surrounding this sub-appellation of the Walla Walla AVA. For more information see:

Skylite Cellars is located in Walla Walla, Washington. They also have tasting rooms in Spokane and Kirkland, Washington. I encourage to seek out their wines and to visit their tasting rooms.

Related post: Big Red Hiney by Skylite Cellars


Wine Muse Podcast Featuring Saint Clair Family Estate 2012 Sauvignon Blanc - New Zealand @saintclairwine

This month Minstrel and Muse Wine Muse podcast visits New Zealand!

Linda and I enjoyed a tremendous New Zealand wine tasting and two fun winemaker conversations. We began the October podcast with a long-distance call to Marlborough, New Zealand to speak with Hamish Clark, Senior Winemaker for Saint Clair Family Estate. Hamish shared with us why Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is so special and many details on growing grapes and making wine on the South Island.

*Show LinkListen to the show.


Our second winemaker conversation was with Katie Nelson, Winemaker for 'O' Wines in Washington State. Each purchase of 'O' wines helps fund scholarship to send young women to college through the 'O' Wines Opportunity for Success Scholarship program. Katie also spent 6 weeks working harvest in New Zealand this April. Of course we asked her about the experience of living, working and making wine in New Zealand. A fun and inspiring discussion.

A featured 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from Saint Clair Family Estate.

Saint Clair Family Estate has the distinction of being the first New Zealand wine company to win major international trophies for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the same year. Renown for producing superior Sauvignon Blanc, it is New Zealand’s most widely planted varietal. By the early 1990s, Sauvignon Blanc was firmly established as New Zealand’s flagship wine, with local and international demand increasing every year.


  • 228,000 TONNES - TOTAL PRODUCTION (2013)

Saint Clair Family Estate is owned by Neal and Judy Ibbotson, viticulture pioneers in Marlborough since 1978. Originally, they supplied grapes to regional wineries; but, a desire to extend the quality achieved in the vineyard all the way through to the finished wine, led to the establishment of Saint Clair Family Estate in 1994.

Saint Clair has developed six vineyards in different sites in Marlborough, including the Rapaura, Awatere, Waihopai and Omaka Valleys. Only superior fruit from the best locations for each individual variety is selected for the Saint Clair label.


Tasting Notes Saint Clair Family Estate 2012 Sauvignon Blanc:

Color: Shiny straw.
Nose: At opening aromas leaped out of the glass, big blast of passion fruit, grapefruit, barnyard floor, grassy, salinity, mineral.
Palate: Fresh, creamy, saline, kiwi, grapefruit skin, with passion fruit into the finish. Wow! This wine had it going on.

Paired this white wine with Brisling Sardines on bed of spinach tossed with sardine oil from the can of sardines, black pepper, chopped garlic and onion on toasted whole wheat bread. Tasty companion, a little slippery and messy, but delicious.

After 3 hours: More savory on the nose with grapefruit, grass and fresh chive, passion fruit and barnyard floor faded to background elements. Palate savory with herbal characteristics, spice, grass with lime and grapefruit peel on the finish, bright top palate. A certain ocean breeze character to this wine, enjoyable. Think brussel sprouts, asparagus, artichoke and mixed green salad accompanied by herb roasted chicken. 30 minutes later I was thinking this wine was at a "drink me now" stage.

Day two: Aromatic with passion fruit and grapefruit. Grapefruit and brightness stood out, nice crisp finish of tart, zippy, white grapefruit. Big like. Drink alone or pair with fish tacos. Strongly recommended.

Country: New Zealand
ABV: 13%
Closure: Screw cap
Price: $20
Sample provided by Winesellers Ltd.

Saint Clair Family Estate Cellar Door & Café
Corner of Rapaura & Selmes Roads
Blenheim, Marlborough, NZ
Phone: 03 570 5280

Resources Mentioned in this Months Podcast:

1. Book - "New Zealand" by lonely planet: I own a copy of the 2010 edition. Newly revised, the current edition was just published October 2014. Very detailed guide to New Zealand, includes map, history, culture tips and travel advice.

2. The Lord of the Rings Filming Location. The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was filmed entirely in New Zealand. Experience the stunning locations and lands that starred as Middle-earth. Learn about these filming locations (from north to south): Matamata, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, Mackenzie Country, Southern Lakes and Fiordland. Make your travel plans now.

3. Official New Zealand Wine Site -

4. Working in New Zealand - If you are looking at interning with a New Zealand winery, you will need to submit a C.V. (Curriculum Vitae) resume for us in the U.S. and you'll need a temporary work VISA. New Zealand Visas to Work Chosing the Right Visa Information.

We hope you enjoyed our Wine Muse podcast show on New Zealand featuring the Sauvignon Blanc by Saint Clair Family Estate. New Zealand is a magnificent country to visit, which is producing spectacular wines. Thank you to our sponsor Winesellers Ltd. for this lovely Sauvignon Blanc.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Millbrook Winery - A Special Hudson Valley, New York Wine Tasting @millbrookwinery


Wrapping up our month long focus on the Hudson Valley wine region of New York, we enjoyed tasting two wines from Millbrook Winery, a Tocai Friulano and a Cabernet Franc.

Millbrook Winery is located in the Hudson River Valley just 1.5 hours from both New York City and Albany, New York. They have been called "the Hudson Valley's flagship winery" by The New York Times and "a great place to visit" by The Wall Street Journal. Visit any time of year for a tour and for wine tasting.

Millbrook Winery has cultivated thirty vineyard acres. Current varietals include Chardonnay (13 acres) Pinot Noir (5 acres), Cabernet Franc (7 acres), Tocai Friulano (5 acres) and Riesling (5 acres). Winemaker John Graziano has been crafting wines for Millbrook since 1984. He studied plant pathology and entomology at Cornell University. Currently, John is producing approximately 10,000 – 14,000 cases of  wine annually from estate fruit, as well as fruit from across New York and their California vineyards. He has been the only winemaker at Millbrook since its establishment.

A big thank you to Protocol Wine Studio and Debbie Gioquindo,CSW for arranging and guiding us through a wonderful introduction to Hudson Valley wines. Tasting notes and Hudson Valley wine region information follow.

Tasting Notes 2013 Tocai Fruilano:

Color: Straw, shiny clear, green highlights.
Nose: Tropical floral, mineral, white pepper, with air pear and savory.
Palate: Wow, really good. Fruity crisp with lemon, tropical fruit and lively acid on the palate. Noticed some slight effervescence with a lemony finish. Think of a city cafe with good friends and fresh seafood.
Day two: Fresh, herbal, honey, pear on nose. Expressive, lemon-honey, creamy, tropical finish. No effervescence. Would be lovely with chicken and Mediterranean food.

Thoughts: Enjoyed at home with sauteed shrimp, and broiled salmon. Day two it was a good pairing with baked herb'd chicken. This wine wants food. Recommended.

Blend: 100% Tocai Fruilano
No oak, No malolactic
Closure: Natural cork
ABV: 13%
SRP: $20
Production: 1060 cases
Winemaker, John Graziano
Sample provided by the winery

Note:  The Italian wine grape known as Friulano from Friuli-Venezia Giulia was known as "Tocai Friulano" until March 31, 2007 when the European Court of Justice of Luxembourg set the prohibition of using the name "Tocai" in the name of the wine (as stipulated in a 1993 agreement between the European Union and Hungary). Since 2007 Tocai Friulano is merely known as "Friulano" in Friuli and is labeled as such. It is also known as Sauvignon Vert. "The grape is believed to have originated in the Veneto region and from there traveled to other Italian regions especially to the Friuli region were it was cultivated since 1600." Source: Sauvignon vert - Wikipedia

Tasting Notes 2012 Proprietors Special Reserve Cabernet Franc: 

Color: Garnet.
Nose: Enticing, focused, candied, spicy, leather, black currant, tomato (leaf), after 50 mins petrol jelly in background. 
Palate: Smooth, creamy, dry, cherry, spice. Nose and palate more dominant, medium finish after 30 minutes. After 3.5 hours it began to show deeper flavors and aromas.
Day two: Tomato on the nose, white pepper, dry sage, olive juice and blackberry in the background. It drank dry, with cherry and blackberry in the background, tannin most noticeable on the teeth (like). Tacky dry on the tongue, with black currant into the finish. Showed well on day two with an even longer finish. Eminently drinkable.

Thoughts: Day one it paired well with broiled salmon. I would suggest pairing with red meat too, but not heavily seasoned dishes. It showed greater depth and complexity on day two. There's life in this vintage. Strongly recommended.

Blend: 95% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot
Malolactic Fermentation: 100%
Closure: Natural cork
ABV: 13%
Winemaker, John Graziano
Production: 336 cases
SRP: $30
Sample provided by the winery

Millbrook Winery
26 Wing Road, Millbrook, NY 12545
Phone: (845) 677-8383; (800) 662-WINE

Owner: John S. Dyson
General Manager: David H. Bova
Winemaker: John Graziano
Hours of Operation: Open 7 days a week, from 12:00-5:00p.m.                                      
Summer Hours: Memorial Day through Labor Day 11:00-6:00p.m.
Vineyard Grille & Café Hours: May 28 through October 12:00-5:00 p.m. Weekends Only
Vineyard Express Shuttle Service: June 1 - October 27/ Weekends Only
CLOSED: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day

Hudson Valley Wine Resources:
Last month on #winestudio we discussed and tasted the Hudson Valley wine region of New York. We began our tasting of Hudson Valley wines with the Whitecliff 2013 White Rose, a white wine composed of 75% Traminette and 25% Gewurztraminer, All Estate Grown fruit. The following week we tasted a 100% sparkling Chardonnay from Americas oldest winery, the Brotherhood Winery NV Brut Sparkling Chardonnay. Ending our tasting visit with the two lovely wines from Millbrook Winery helped reinforce the impression of quality and terroir from the Hudson Valley wine region. An educational and tasty experience.

New York Wine Regions.

The Hudson Valley Region

Beginning just one hour north of New York City, the Hudson Valley is the oldest wine region in the United States. French Huguenots planted the first vines in New Paltz (Ulster county) in 1677. The first winery was established in 1837 because of the need for sacramental wine. The Hudson Valley has a shorter growing season of 180 to 195 days compared to the Finger Lakes wine region with 190 to 205 days. Wineries in this region tend to be family owned, farm wineries. Today there are 25 wineries in the Hudson Valley.

"The Hudson River Region AVA is the oldest continually-productive wine region in the United States.  Though most people refer to this wine region as the Hudson River Valley or the Hudson Valley, on July 6, 1982 the BATF—in its wisdom—granted the AVA but chose to call it by another name in order to avoid confusion with a winery that already bore the name, Hudson River Valley Winery (no longer in production)." Source: Wine, Seriously "Viniculture in the Hudson River Region-background"

Growing wine regions need your help. I encourage you to visit local wineries and to buy from small producers. All 50 states produce wine. When you are traveling, seek out the local producers and give them a taste. You could be surprised and impressed by the quality you discover. Add the Hudson Valley wine region to your must visit list and taste some delicious New York wines.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lucille by Stottle Winery 2012 Late Harvest Viognier @StottleWinery


A Season for Sweet Lucille. 

This time of year the sun sets earlier and earlier. Temperatures are gradually dropping and that bit of early fall is slowly shifting my mindset to thoughts of comfort foods and beverages. Enter Lucille by Stottle Winery. Lucille is a late harvest Viognier.

A well crafted dessert wine, Lucille is sweet but balanced with appropriate acidity, so the sweetness does not dominate this wine. If you are already thinking of holiday plans and meals, Lucille would be wonderful served after dinner and by the fireplace or fire pit. It was a delight enjoying this wine at sunset after home cooked meals. Thank you Amy and Josh.

Tasting notes:

Color: Pale silver-gold.
Nose: Honey, stone fruit, fresh minerality.
Palate: Medium-sweet, resin, honey, apricot, nectarine, fluid mid-palate, gentle tart. Palate cleansing.

Thoughts: Not heavy, refreshing. Balanced sugar and acidity. As it warmed it seemed sweeter with fig. I think it would be a good palate cleanser for a multi-course dinner; best after heavy, fatty food. I would pair Lucille with Crème brûléee and an espresso. Strongly Recommended.

Blend: 100% Viognier
AVA: Yakima Valley
ABV: 13.1%
RS: 5%
SRP: $20
Sample provided by winery

Stottle Winery (Lacey)
2641 Willamette Dr NE
Suite C
Lacey, WA 98516
Tasting Hours: Monday & Tuesday : By appointment only.
Wednesday – Sunday : 12pm – 6pm
Ph: 360-515-0356
Fax: 360-515-0364

Hoodsport Tasting Room 
24180 Highway 101
Suite B
Hoodsport, WA 98548
Fall Hours: Friday - Sunday : 11am - 5pm
Ph: 360-877-2247

Stottle Winery was founded by Amy and Josh Stottlemyer. Winemaker Josh Stottlemyer is the force behind the wines of Stottle Winery. After selling his web development and internet marketing firm he took his passion for wine to the Northwest Wine Academy in Seattle. Where he completed their 2 year winemaking program. Josh also holds a bachelors of science from the University of Minnesota where he studied chemical engineering and geology. Stottle Winery and main tasting room is located in Lacey, Washington just off I-5 and north of the state capital, Olympia.

Related posts:


Friday, September 12, 2014

Wine of the Week: Valdo Rose' Brut Vino Spumante Marca Oro - Italy @pasternakwine


The Delight of Valdo Time!

Who doesn't like bubbles in their wine? There are many styles of sparkling wine made around the world. Myself, I like them all, but there are wines with bubbles which deliver more than casual amusement and refreshment. This pretty Rose' from Valdo surprised me with its depth of character and delivered satisfaction. It is deserving of a Wine of the Week.

Prosecco is an Italian sparkling dry wine made primarily from Glera grapes. Principally grown in the Prosecco region of Italy, which includes Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, north of Venice in the Vento region. Under European law, only sparkling wines made with grapes grown in this region can have the name Prosecco.

This bottle is labeled "Vino Spumante." Spumante is typically a sweet bubbly wine, this is not that wine.

The Scuola Spumanti Valdo (Valdo School of Sparkling Wines) is a result of Valdo’s knowledge of the territory and ongoing oenological and technological research. In this case, "Vino Spumante" referrers to "Sparkling Wine." This style of wine is characterized by a refined perlage (bubbles) that enhances the bouquet and its delicate fragrance.

Tasting Notes Valdo Rose' Brut Vino Spumante Marca Oro

Color: Dramatic, pale strawberry sunset. Plentiful bubbles in the glass.
Nose: Strawberry crème, delicate yeast, biscotti.
Palate: Dry strawberry, pomegranate, vanilla crème, citrus spritz. Mouth filling, tiny, foamy bubbles. Medium dry, fruity, slate on the finish. Big like. Impressed.

Thoughts: Came on Pretty and tasty, showy with a memorable serious finish. The way I like it. Searched online and found prices for this wine between $10 and $15. A true bargain in my opinion. As pretty as this wine looks, it is also one of the more serious affordable sparklers. Buy it when you see it. Pair with just about anything. Strongly Recommended.

Grape Varieties:  Nerello Mascalese, Glera
ABV: 12%
Price: $10 - $15
Imported by Pasternak Wine Imports
Sample provided by Pasternak Wine Imports

VALDO Spumanti Srl
via Foro Boario 20
31049 Valdobbiadene (TV)

Valdo’s Philosophy: “Prosecco” is the distinguishing factor on the regional level- refined aromas, balance and overall quality are the key features Valdo focuses on. 

Valdo was started in 1926 by the Societa Anonima Vini Superiori & purchased by The Bolla Family in the 1940’s. Over 80 years of continuous innovation with an ongoing quest for quality and devotion to respecting the vineyards & wine-making traditions of the region.

This Rosé is created from the blend of two typical Italian vines, the Sicilian black berry Nerello Mascalese, from Sambuca Sicily in the province of Argiento which is 984 feet above sea level, and Glera, the fruity grapes from the Veneto region in the province of Treviso at 262 feet above sea level.  The vineyard that grows the Nerello Mascalese has clay and limestone soil and the Glera vineyard is alluvial clay. 

Harvest takes place during the end of August and the first half of September.  After the grapes are selected there is a soft pressing of red grapes which are not left in contact with the skins for maceration. The wine goes through the Charmat method for 3 months in steel tanks.

Related post: Celebrate the New Year with Bubbles!

Enjoy your bubbles!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Podcast: WineMuse an Evening of Chardonnay Artistry and Genius

Did Chardonnay ever go out of style?

Regular readers and listeners, know that Linda Reznicek and I host a monthly wine podcast we call "WineMuse World Tour." This year we have been tasting and reviewing wine from different regions around the world. After recording one of our shows, Linda and I began casually discussing the topic of Chardonnay. She asked me, "Why did Chardonnay go out of favor, or did it? What makes a GREAT Chardonnay?" I agreed it was a good topic and one worth pursuing.

Linda arranged interviews with two famous California Chardonnay producers, and procured samples, she also scheduled interviews with two Washington winemakers I recommended.

We have posted our featured #WineMuse podcast show where we explore the up and down trajectory of the world's favorite varietal, Chardonnay, through the words of great Chardonnay winemakers in Napa Valley and Washington state. This was a fun and inspirational show featuring the expertise of truly talented winemakers. I invite you to listen to our podcast as we share an evening of Chardonnay and Chardonnay artistry and genius.

Chateau Montelena 2012 Chardonnay.

Chateau Montelena: They won the the white wine competition at the famous "Judgement of Paris;" their winemaker Matt Crafton will share the philosophy behind their great Chardonnay.
Read the Wild4WashingtonWine review of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.

Bouchaine 2011 Estate Chardonnay.

Bouchaine Vineyards: A 40 year pioneer in the California wine industry, Michael Richmond founded Acacia Wines in the Carneros district of Napa Valley and now makes wine for Bouchaine. He brings the history and his love of wine education, experience, and adventure.
Read the Wild4WashingtonWine review of Bouchaine Napa Valley Chardonnay.

Winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla on bottling day.

Forgeron Cellars: Winemaker and managing partner Marie-Eve Gilla was trained in the Burgundy region of France and understands the long tradition of great Chardonnay craftsmanship.
Read the Wild4WashingtonWine review of Forgeron Cellars 2010 Chardonnay.

Winemaker Kerry Shiels in family vineyard.

Cote Bonneville: Kerry Shiels' Chardonnays are hailed as some of the best, regularly garnering 94's by the major wine magazines.  She brings her lifelong experience and intimacy with the fruit to winemaking.

Join us for an evening of Chardonnay and Chardonnay artistry and genius