WSET Celebratory Wine Review: 2007 Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard Syrah

6 02 2012

When people ask me what kind of wine I like, I'm going to pull out this pic.

Ever since I found out that I passed my WSET Advanced course last week, I’ve been wanting to break open something truly special to celebrate.  However, sickness intervened, so rather than crack a $100+ bottle and write stuff like “smells like nothing” and “my throat hurts” in a review, I decided to wait until the congestion clouds had cleared.  This weekend I pronounced myself fit to taste and rummaged through my cellar to find a suitable victory bottle, and as soon as I came to this one, I stopped thinking about any other.  However, it’s a bottle built for the long haul, so I was faced with the quandary that every wine lover about to pull the cork on an expensive bottle has had to face:  should I open the wine now so I can try it, or will I be undercutting its long-term potential by having it too early?  After getting some savvy advice from the amazingly-informed wine community on Twitter (thanks, @peterzachar and @nwtomlee!), I turned to Cayuse’s website for the final verdict.  On their FAQ page, there was a question that said:  “How soon can I open my wines?”  Cayuse’s answer?  “A Latin saying insists, ‘There are four reasons for drinking wine: the arrival of a friend; one’s present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.'”  I opened the wine.

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Wine Review: 2008 Mercer Dead Canyon Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

21 11 2011

Decidedly ghetto label, questionable colour scheme, killer wine.

Time to enshrine another bottle in the pantheon of Killer Value Wines and expand the already-sizeable place in my heart for Washington State, because cheap Cabernet normally doesn’t taste like this.  The Dead Canyon Ranch from Mercer Estates winery vastly outperforms its price point ($20ish CDN) and screams “house wine” to any self-respecting Cab fan.  This was sadly my last of several bottles purchased from Highlander Wine & Spirits, who (I believe) have an exclusive on Mercer’s lineup of wines in the city; I have previously written about Mercer’s Merlot on this site, but in my opinion at least, the Dead Canyon Ranch is an even better wine at half the price.

This wine gets its eye-catching name from the place from which its grapes are sourced, the Dead Canyon Ranch vineyard in the awesomely-named Horse Heaven Hills AVA (American Viticultural Area), located alongside the Columbia River on central Washington’s southern border.  Washington State is divided vertically in two by the Cascade Mountain Range, and the climate of the area varies substantially depending on which side you fall.  If you’re in the western half of the state bordering the Pacific Ocean, it’s grey, wet and rainy enough for fictional tween-adored vampires to call it home, whereas if you’re on the eastern half the state, in the rain shadow of the Mountains, it’s a hot and arid (and presumably vampire-free) desert zone.  The wines that have been growing Washington’s vinous legend over the past few years (including SEVEN of them in the top 50 of Wine Spectator’s just-released top 100 wines of 2011) come from the eastern half, which is where Horse Heaven Hills and Mercer Estates can be found.  While the desert heat and sun make it possible for red wine grapes to reach full ripeness even this far north, the notably cool nights help to retain acids and preserve fresh flavours, which is the kind of built-in balance you look for in a top wine region.

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Wine Review: 2007 Amavi Cellars Syrah

17 06 2011

Yes, I drank the whole bottle before remembering to take a picture. Shoot me.

This is a Pop & Pour first:  a review of a wine that has been previously featured on this site, just in a different vintage.  I have very fond memories of the 2005 Amavi Syrah from Walla Walla Valley in Washington State, which bears the eternal distinction of being PnP’s first 90+ point wine (92 points) and which delivered layer after layer of complex, savoury, intriguing goodness when I had it back in March.  Skip forward two harvests and you get to tonight’s wine, Amavi’s 2007 rendition of the same Syrah from the same region, which I’ve been eagerly awaiting to compare to its predecessor ever since I bought the bottle.  The ’07 had big shoes to fill (I still vividly remember the ’05 three months later), but it definitely delivered, albeit in a very different way than I expected. Read the rest of this entry »

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