#Vinopanion's new wardkadel.com is live!

#Vinopanion: Domaine Chandon #wine

Well…the long wait is over!  If not for my fellow #Vinopanions, at least for my own incessant #wine cravings and the need to blast out my ramblings de vinos. WardKadel.com is finally live, as we are in the process of shutting down the long-running WineLog.net. With this relaunch, you will find more content combining my two passions of #triathlon & wine, as well as a newfound love of cooking and of course, the chronicles of our life in #Napa.

Indeed just last night, with the Lady (featured left in the vineyards of Domaine Chandon) in NYC for a fashion convention, I knocked out two very enjoyable recipes from Blue Apron, which has been a life-changer for me to finally learn and love to cook.

@BlueApron & #Beaujolais!

Cooking and first dinner (heh) was accompanied by the deliciously juicy 2015 Domaine des Quatre Vents Fleurie (review Vivino), from Beaujolais extraordinaire Georges Duboeuf. And since the journey of wine can never end (thank goodness, right??), I listened to my two favorite wine podcasts:


And so it with those two tasty #recipe‘s and these two brilliant wine podcasts, I will bid you adieu until my next Ward Kadel – #Vinopanion – @drXeNo post.

Vineyards of Domaine Chandon
Loving that #NapaLife!


#MFITV: 2011 Harvest Thoughts & the Quiet Winery

The 2011 Harvest is done.  It has actually been done for the Northern California wine industry for a few weeks, but I needed those weeks to digest all that I have experienced (and re-acclimate to my previous life), before I was ready to write this final post for Man Falls in the Vines#MFITV. Harvest is such a compressed, intense experience. It has proven to be hard for me to sum up in a somewhat, year-end post.  Despite such difficulties, I was able to complete my harvest insider feature article for the January edition of Mutineer Magazine, as well as their brand new Mutineer Magazine Beverage Trade Edition, also debuting in January.  All of this experience, hard work, and camaraderie demand applause and to be forever thanked for, however.  And after the jump, you will see all of the new (and one old) vinopanions that I made during those six weeks in Stags Leap, Napa at Chimney Rock Winery (Twitter, Facebook, WineLog).

Harvest at the Rock was a tremendous learning experience.  I feel as though I only knew a tiny bit about wine before embarking on my MFITV adventure.  Indeed, I only knew (some) of the consumer side of the story, 50% of the vinoquation (though I’ve got the imbibing part covered).  Once I began working in the winery and occasionally in the vineyards, I realized that I didn’t know hardly anything about the intricacies and craft needed to make a fine wine.  Each day was, at times, overwhelming with the large and small winemaking concepts that I was learning.  I eagerly accepted all of these new physical, mechanical, and intellectual learnings, with a giddiness that might have seemed a bit over the top I’d imagine, for my fellow talented cellarmates. I greatly enjoyed the physical labor aspects of the job, something that I rarely experience while researching cancer therapeutics in my day job.  I dropped 9 pounds and took a healthy 46 point chunk out of my cholesterol level, and gained quite a bit of upper body strength and muscle. Yet the best part of this entire wine adventure, as it always is for wine and myself, were the people and the relationships that I made and strengthened.

All of my fellow winery workers are crazy talented, beautiful, and deeply cultured and passionate wine workers.  I can’t thank them enough for willful sharing with me their knowledge, stories, passion, and most of patience, while I worked alongside them during the challenging and rewarding 2011 grape harvest.  Listed below are their photos and below that I have put together a short slideshow of some of my favorite photos that were taken during crush.  At the end of the video is a clip of the quiet winery, almost slumbering at the end of harvest.  The quiet that evening was almost shocking in its silence.  Thank you, Chimney Rock Winery.

Eddie Lona, Cellarmaster. The winery and cellar team are helmed by Eddie, who keeps us all in check and function with the appropriate attention to detail, all still with a sense of independence.
Doris Garrido, Cellarworker. A delightfully intuitive Latina with incredible strength built into someone so superficially small in stature.
Leo Almanza, Cellarworker. The papa bear with a penchant for asking any and all if everything was okay during a quiet moment.
Cindy Cosco, Cellarworker. An ex-law enforcement officer and already an accomplished winemaker for her own Passaggio Wines, working harvest to get a better grasp of red winemaking techniques
Rafa Alfaro, Cellarworker. The youngest of our group and a beacon of enthusiastic smiles and laughs
Jorge Leon, Cellarworker. The man from whom I learned the most in the winery, his advice delivered in a lighthearted, conversational way
Doug Fletcher, Vice President of Winemaking at Terlato Wine Group and former winemaker for the Rock, contributes his decades of wine experience, which have translated into some of the most innovative vineyard practices in the Valley.
Jeff van de Pol, Assistant Winemaker. A gruffer, mountain-man persona, yet willing to give his everything to anyone that shares his passion for the vine and its wine.
Elizabeth Vianna, Head Winemaker and General Manager. Elizabeth exudes the kindness and warmth of a den mother, filled with positivity and a measured excitement for all things wine and crush.



Follow all of my adventures during that crazy sabbradical, by keeping up to date here at Vinopanion and by following the #MFITV hashtag on Twitter. You can find even more content by checking out my Facebook.  The project also has it’s own photo albums on said Facebook, as well as on my Flickr.  Lastly, all of the videos are being posted at my YouTube channel.  Don’t be shy, I’ll add you to any profiles. ;-)

As a reminder, week 1 was detailed in my intro post, weeks 2 and 3 covered in my second post, and weeks 5 and 6 were detailed in my previous #MFITV post.  Lastly, my feature article about #Harvest2011 debuts in Mutineer Magazine and in the new Mutineer Magazine Beverage Trade Edition in their January/Febuary issues. Check them out and let me know if you have any harvest questions.  Cheers and a happy New Year to all!

The Broke Wino Looks at Value Bordeaux

A new vinopanion of mine, Sam Klingberg, has been making waves in the vino writing webernets over the last year or so with his wine blog, The Broke Wino.  Sam contacted me recently to gather my thoughts on affordable Bordeaux wine.  As one of Le Wine Buff for Enjoy Bordeaux for the CIVB, I have been involved in a lot of great Bordeaux-centric wine activities over the last 1+ years, including a truly spectacular trip to Bordeaux this past summer.

The dichotomy between the high prices of First and Second Growth châteaux and the remaining thousands of much more affordable, yet still high quality wine producers and châteaux is a hot topic.  With the declaration of “vintages of the century” at least 3 times this decade alone combined with the increasing Asian markets, the prices of the high end Bordeaux have skyrocketed. Happily however, quality has also taken a great leap forward, all across the board.

I sent the thoughts in quotations below over to Sam and he combined some parts with some great recommendations from my fellow Buff, Megan Wiig for his own article on this topic.  Take a gander at my thoughts below and let me know your own thoughts in the comments.  Then jet over to The Broke Wino for Sam’s outstanding article, “Value Bordeaux is Not an Oxymoron.” Cheers!

Ward Kadel@drXeNoLe Wine Buff:

I think that one of the things for which Bordeaux has taken a lot of heat in the last few 10 years has been it’s seemingly regular pronouncements of the exceptional quality of each vintage since the truly great 2000s. The wolf has been shouting much to much this past decade and the wine writing field, wine social mediasphere and the general populace have all grown jaded with each new declaration. Looking at both sides, I think the Bordelaise have been very busy at tooting their own horn, yet I can’t deny that there has been a significantly large number of very good to great vintages in Bordeaux over the last decade than we’ve ever seen in modern winemaking history. Taste the wines for yourself…there are very few, broadly speaking, bad vintages in the “aughts.” But the arguments over whether these claims are hyperbole really don’t matter…it’s the wines that do, yo!

2000, 2005 and 2009 are deemed some of the best vintages in the last 110 years for Bordeaux. Whether the high end wines are good, great or epic doesn’t matter for the average consumer, but value or Quality to Price ratio does (QPR). When you’re strolling your favorite wine store or even down the vino section of your local supermarket, remember that these vintages don’t just mean that the $50-$500 wines are the shizzy…that quality extends all the way down to the $6 wines as well. This means that wine that would easily qualify for the first label of any given chateau is now relegated to their much cheaper second label; quality that can be had at a very affordable price.

Yet, regardless of vintage there are thousands of producers in the various AOC or sub-appellations of Bordeaux. The big classified Growths of Bordeaux get the press, but usually the true quality can be found in the smaller, unclassified producers that would be lovingly called family-run boutique wineries if they were here in the US.  Zingy and citrusy $8-$15 whites from Entre-Deux-Mers, minerally, balanced and complex reds from the Graves and juicier, fresh-tobacco driven red blends from the newer Pessac-Léognan AOC are all wines that throw down awesome QPR for any vintage, below $35 and usually less than $20. But honestly, this is just me talking, right? Go out and try some for yourself and see if you agree. Cheers!

Château Haut Guillebot, Bordeaux

As Le Wine Buff for EnjoyBordeaux.com, I am paid a nominal fee for most of my participation.  I also receive free wine samples and my participation on this trip is courtesy of the CIVB.

Le Wine Buff in France, Bordeaux Day 2

Along the Quai - Bordeaux, France.The first day waking up in Bordeaux was a slight bit disorienting for this ‘Buff.  First off, I wasn’t tired despite all of my travel overnight the day before and immediately launching into almost a full day and night of awesome Bordelaise activities.  Indeed, I felt so fit that I decided to go for my first run of the trip, along the riverfront that we walked the day before.  Fearless Mutineer, Alan Kropf (Twitter) took up the challenge to join me in my jogging quest.

[The documentary short of the footage taken during our trip, “Meet Le Wine Buffs“, has now launched!  You can find it, as well as all of our 100 Days of Today’s Bordeaux on the Bordeaux Wine Vimeo channel.]

Mutiners in Entre-Deux-Mers - Bordeaux, France

Our pre-foie gras fitness activities accomplished, Alan and headed back to the Normandie for a shower and some breakie.  As we approached the hotel, I realized that I needed to get my espresso on and I peeled off to the commuter café that was across the tracks.  Here was I was determined to order on my own, with no interpreters. Whether I really was successful in communicating my coffee request or they were just really kind baristas, I got my double espresso with no communication issues to report.

Château Sainte-Marie
Château Sainte-Marie

Following a shower and a very fast breakfast, we all piled into our shuttle for the first excursion of the trip, heading into Entre-Deux-Mers and the alluring St.-Émilion, which was one of my favorite spots on the whole trip.  It was quite a feeling to look out across the rain-swept land that was outside our foggy windows…it was one of the tens of times on this trip that I found myself almost shell-socked by the beauty of Bordeaux and the fortuitousness that allowed me to appreciate it in person.  With more than a little tingling of anticipation, we pulled into the driveway of the very first Chateau of the trip, Château Sainte-Marie, named for the Virgin Mary.

Stéphane Dupuch - Ch. Sainte-Marie

Our host that day was none other than the 5th generation vigneron, Stéphane Dupuch, himself.  He is a burly man, but with a youthful, happy face and is as quick to tell a joke as he is to give an opinion on French wine.  The winery proper was originally built in the 14th century and owned by monks.  The vineyards are situated on chalky-clay soils, perfect for their production of 50:50 red and white wines.  Stéphane believes that their land and climate is best suited for Merlot-based blends, but definitely not for Cabernet Franc, which is commonly paired with Merlot in such blends.  He compares the three white varietals in their Entre-Deux-Mers whites to the best parts of a woman: “Sauvignon [Blanc] is body, Sémillon is the dress and Muscadelle is the makeup.”  His whites were crisp and filled with citrus and minerality.  His Clairet was also a big hit, featuring racy acidity, a light to medium body and quite the juicy cherry and raspberry berry flavors, with virtually no tannins.  Clairet (not the traditional “claret”) can be compared to a fuller and bigger Rosé, or “Rosé on steroids”, as Rob aptly describes them.

Château Bonnet
Château Bonnet - Entre-Deux-Mers

After a visit with a boarder’s deer and the estate parrot and pooch, we headed off for to a Chateau for which I hold great excitement.  Château Bonnet, while the largest single estate in Bordeaux, has always been a favorite house of mine for wines that feature exceptional affordable value for their quality.  It is just above the small commune of Grézillac and features some 300 hectares of vineyards.  We were greeted by one of the luminaries of Bordeaux, André Lurton. Among many incredible accomplishments during his fascinating life, Lurton helped form the Entre-Deux-Mers and Pessac-Léognan AOCs, is the 40-year mayor of Grézillac and acted as director of the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) for two separate terms. Lurton looks and is surprisingly young for someone that has lived in the same room in which he was born for some 86 years!

André Lurton - Château BonnetFollowing a brief tour around the winery by Lurton, we were treated to an estate tasting within the very cool enclosed winter garden of the Château.  The wines were very vibrant, featuring medium bodies and great, food-centric acidity in the entire line, covering white, rosé, clairet and red. Lunch was held in the main dining hall of the Château, featuring a fascinating collection of artwork collected over the decades and plenty of well constructed, balanced wines from Bonnet.  Besides the delish fare, the real treat of the lunch was a secretive Lurton bringing out a decanted 1982 Bonnet Bordeaux AOC that featured dried fruit and herbs of black cherry, portabella mushrooms, tobacco and anise and completely altered my understanding of this entry-level AOC: these wines can age.

Château des Laurets
Château des Laurets - Saint-Émilion

Our last chateau of the day had an air of Great Expectations to it, with the chateau proper completely empty inside, yet looking somewhat well-kept on the outside.  The winery however, was all modern, with beautiful stonework.  Château des Laurets is very unusual in that it’s very large 150 hectare estate (90 under vine) actually spans two different appellations and is still the largest within the prestigious Saint-Émilion, Puisseguin-Saint-Émilion and Montagne-Saint-Émilion.  The estate is very old (built 1860), but has recently been purchased by the by Benjamin & Ariane Rothschild in 2003 with the intent to gradually restore the estate back to an elite status. 2004 Ch. des Laurets "Les Laurets"We were greeted by winemaker Fabrice Bandiera and given a tour of the newly constructed and restored winery.  He was interesting in that he was one of the most progressive winemakers that we were to meet on our trip, even endorsing the use of such new technologies as staves and wood chips, if needed, in moderation.  The wines here were pretty impressive, particularly the flagship 2004 Les Laurets, that featured a luscious nose and palate of menthol, graphite, wet earth, and very dark chocolate with deep black fruit.  It had phenomenal balance and it’s bit unusual for France, made up of 100& Merlot.

Monolithic church in Saint-Émilion
Monolithic church in Saint-Émilion

Our final stop of this brilliant first full day in Bordeaux was in what I now consider to be the most beautiful hamlet that I’ve ever had the fortune to visit.  Saint-Émilion proper was almost devastatingly beautiful, with it’s ancient cobblestone streets, all stone buildings and the weather that alternated between sunlight, short heavy showers and floating clouds and rainbows…yes, and that was only in the first 2 hours there!  We only had a short time to tour the town, unfortunately, plus enjoy our Crémant de Bordeaux apéritif.  Indeed, during a delightful dinner at L’Envers du Décor with Stéphane Derenoncourt collaborator Frédéric Massie, I heard so much about its monolithic church, carved from a single block of limestone cliff-face that I excused myself and sprinted down the hill to check it out mid-meal.

Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, FranceHappily exhausted by the end of our long meal, we piled back into the shuttle for a very late trip back to our Normandie homestead and some welcome relaxation.  Our first full day was complete with full stomachs and full minds of many memories.

The whole crew at Château Bonnet.All of the wines from this trip will/are tagged with “LWB2010BDX” and my photos and HD videos can be found by day (Day 1, Day 2 for instance) and are also all tagged with “LWB2010BDX” on my Flickr.  My post can be found here for Day 1Enjoy Bordeaux also has a bunch of fantastic photos at their own Flickr and a great Day 2 recap.  Additionally, fellow ‘Buff Rob Moshein has his own slammin’ recap of both Day 1 and Day 2.  All of our tweets used the hashtag #LeWineBuff. Lastly, you can find the documentary short of the footage taken during our trip, Meet Le Wine Buffs, has now launched!  You can find it, as well as all of our 100 Days of Today’s Bordeaux on the Bordeaux Wine Vimeo channel.

I will continue to upload the wines as I write these recaps and then compile all of the links in one final post for this series about Le Wine Buff in Bordeaux. Santé!

WBC10 Lands in W2

2010 North American Wine Bloggers ConferenceWhile struggling to recover from Le Wine Buff in Bordeaux last week, I’m already here in Walla Walla, WA for the third annual 2010 North American Wine Bloggers’ Conference, whew!  I’m going to be trying to blog a completely different this year, different from WBC08 and WBC09…I’m going to be continuously adding to this post throughout the entire, nutsovino weekend! …we’ll see how it all turns out. 😉  Let’s get diving into the fun, as I’m happily surrounded by my many, MANY talented vinopanions.  Follow along yourself by tracking the #WBC10 hashtag on Twitter and keep track of our busy busy agenda here at the Marcus Whitman.  Cheers!

Updated Links:

Wines from the conference in my WineLog: “WBC10

Conference photos & videos on my Flickr.

The Twitter feed for the conference: #WBC10

My video diary from the conference’s YouTube channel, courtesy of the very cool video talent at Jordan Winery & Vineyard, led by Lisa Mattson.

Behind the Scenes footage from The Wine Movie: A beautiful 2+ minute short in HD showing part of our midnight tasting at Reininger Winery (see below for my take!).

Blog posts from Enjoy Bordeaux, including our Le Wine Buff “unconference” Today’s Bordeaux tasting that we held.  The EB folks also have some great photos from the event on their Flickr and Facebook.

06/25/10 2:00pm

First off, we have had the opening comments from the tireless organizers, Allan Wright from Zephyr Adventures and Joel Vincent from Open Wine Consortium (THANK YOU, again fellas!).  We also heard a bit about the many, very generous sponsors for this year’s event (and THANK YOU!!).

06/25/10 2:25pm

Steve Heimoff, editor/writer for Wine Enthusiast and an accomplished wine blogger himself, is now up on stage as the first Keynote speaker of the conference.  An interesting early comment in his speech was that when he first became a wine writer, it seemed the only people that drank wine in the US were either supersnobs or skid row bums.

06/25/10 3:02pm

And now, possibly the most dramatic wine blogger presentation of all time has begun…Alan Kropf, Editor of Mutineer Magazine is presenting the 2010 Wine Blog Awards, with Ben Morrison on Skype, woot!  And the winner for the best wine blog is Joe Roberts of 1WineDude!

06/25/10 3:40pm

Breakouts sessions!

06/25/10 4:51pm


08 L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Semillon

-3rd winery in Walla Walla, 89% Sem, 11% Sauv Blanc, Marty Clubb longtime winemaker. Harvested in mid-late September.  Barrel ferment, but with mainly neutral oak.

c: Canary and golden yellow

N: Meyer lemon, good citrus blossom, and a crisp minerality that has a steeliness to the bright fruit

P: Great citrus here of Meyer lemon again and orange peel, with a little apricot mixed in.  Underneath that crisp fruit is a fuller creamy mouthfeel that counterbalances the nice crispness.  Minerality comes out in the juicy finish.

08 Parducci Mendocino County Sustainable White

-Made at request of Whole Foods for their market. 41 Chenin, 30 Sauv Blanc, 12 Viognier Muscadelle $10.99 at Whole Foods

C: Very light yellow

N: Nice florals and fuller white pitted fruit here

P: Big florals and hops here as well, along with apricot and tangerine, slight offdry and finishing crisper than thought.  Quaffer with some spicy summer food.

09 Pithy Little Wine Co. Paso Robles Sangiovese Rosé

-Philosphy is good wine, good design and great service.  Only 5 peeps in the whole winery.  Third gen family farmers, lots besides grapes.

C: Lighter strawberry colored

N: Bright Bing cherry and juicy strawberry here, with some wonderful other red fruit, and some kiwi?

P: Whoa, huge watermelon here, very surprising! Great crispness here and more of a sweeter cherry, thought the wine appears mostly dry.  Great Crisp finish of apricot and cherry.

07 Ortman Family Vineyards Edna Valley Chardonnay

C: Deeper golden color

N: Creamy lemon custard with some pear underneath and slight toast

P: Tons of juicy pear here, cut with an edge of lemon and then cream coats the bottom of the palate. Good balance here, but creamier than my choice.  Definite wine for Moms.

NV Pepperwood Grove California Chardonnay (Big Green Box 3L)

C: Canary yellow

N: Big toasty, buttery aromas, some lemon underneath

P: Huge butter bomb here, with medium cream and some lemon custard after, almost no acid for balance.  Totally not my style, but a solid value for “Napa Chard”.

09 Desert Wind Columbia Valley Sacagawea Vineyard Bare Naked Viognier

C: Lighter golden with canary highlights

N: Heavier florals but then a lot of great citrus mix and pitted fruits and some baking spice.

P: Big florals here and juicy pitted fruits, pear, and some lemon spice finish. Good.

09 Poet’s Leap Columbia Valley Riesling

-$20 and brand new release. 1.3 g RS.

C: Lighter yellow

N: Fresh white fruit here, with some floral notes as well.

P: Very vibrant zesty acidity, with some florals, sweeter white fruit and lemon, then some peppery notes towards the finish, which ends with even more white flowers and lime.

09 Big House California White (Octovin 3L box)

C: Light yellow

N: Kind of an off nose, with wood?  White pitted fruit and some florals.

P: Crisp, with more of those florals and a simpleness to the fruit, finishing with spicy lemon and some tannins.

08 Maryhill Columbia Valley Viognier


C: lighter yellow

N: Toast here, with baked lemon, spice

P: Good acidity here with juicy lemon meringue and finishing toasty and slightly sweet.

08 Hogue Columbia Valley Genesis Chardonnay


C: Canary yellow

N: Lime and lemon here, slight florals and then a bit of toast underlay, very mineral

P: Good cream underlay, then that crisp lemon and lime edge comes in and finishes the wine with its steeliness, cut with a good minerality. Great QPR.

08 Buty Columbia Valley White

-69 Sem, 26 SB, 5 Musc

C: Medium canary yellow

N: Creamier citrus, with a muskiness of some toast or florals lurking in the distance

P: Crsip and almost zesty, this has a great citrus to the fruit and then finishes with a more mellower cream and crisp combo.  Good.

09 Dusted Valley Columbia Valley Rosé

C: Darker watermelon

N: Big watermelon and good strawberry

P: Crisp and huge watermelon here too, with a slight sweetness and then some acidity to round off the strawberry and watermelon.

Whew, done!

06/25/10 09:45pm

Walla Walla Walkabout

Walla Walla is a very cool small town, filled with many laid back, yet well designed wine bars, eateries and coffeeshops.  I took a stroll with my many other wine blogger friends around town, where I first ran into Muriel of Otis Kenyon (see more below at the Vineyard Tours!) and had a very favorable wine experience with the vintner from Pepper Bridge.  He was pouring his ’06 Pepper Bridge Vineyard red blend.  With its very good red-fruited nose and contrastingly deep black-fruited and anise-tinged palate, it ended up being one of my favorites of the weekend.  His sister label Amavi Cellars had their ’07 Amavi Les Collines Vineyard Syrah out and about and man, this was yet another outstanding WA Syrah that I was lucky to taste over that weekend.  It had a beauty of a nose featuring violets in the fore with a nose and palate that was mixed with blue and black fruit.  It finished peppery with great length. Right on!

06/26/10 2:26am

Wine Bloggers at Night!

06/26/10 9:06am

Local Vineyard and Winery Tours & Lunch

This is always another favorite portion of each wine bloggers’ conference in year’s past, the vineyard tours and lunches.  Prior years, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Quivira and Michel-Schlumberger.  Now I have the best opportunity to really dig into the local wine scene and truly start to understand the unique climate, wines, land and people of the Walla Walla Valley appellation.  We got on the buses, yet again not knowing where we were headed, but happy to board for new adventure.  This year the infamous Bus 4(.2) reared it’s crazy head again and we promptly got lost heading to the first vineyard.  After some calls and further local navigation, we were on our way, now knowing that we’d have a vineyard tour at Watermill Winery.

Their main estate vineyard was very beautiful and filled with natural cobblestone that had been dug up over the millennia by various periods of water interaction.  It was very reminiscent of some of the vineyards that I had just seen in Bordeaux and indicative of good vineyard land with great drainage, minerality and good night time radiant temperature for the growing grapes.  We were treated to great tour by Richard Funk, Leonard Brown and Nancy Kezele, along with some very good Malbec from the very vineyard in which we were standing.  Both featured good balance, fine coating tannins, great blue and black fruit and some really great violet floral notes.  Their 07 Cab Franc also showed that great balance along with a nice earthiness.

The next stop on the tour was at Forgeron Cellars, also featuring wines and the winemakers and family from  Long Shadows and Otis Kenyon.  Muriel Kenyon started us off with the awesome story about her great-grandfather and namesake for the winery and very cool wine labelForgeron had their NV Walldette white and ’06 Zinfandel, both featuring great acidity and gobs of fruit.  The ’07 Otis Kenyon Matchless Red was a fruity and toasty red blend, made for the more upscale weeknight dinner, but still with some good structure.  My favorite wine of the panel tasting was the ’06 Long Shadows Chester Kidder red blend that showed exceptional balance, silky mouthfeel, outstanding structure and deep fruit complexity…quite a good red!

The last stop of the day was our leisurely lunch in a just a beautiful little knoll within the Walla Walla Valley appellation.  Waters Winery has their own glass of heaven in the valley, settled into a many-acre wide area of land, nestled in-between a few rolling hills that get some great sun exposure.  We arrived a little early, but Christa Hilt (Twitter) improvised on the fly by pouring some ’09 Substance Wines Sauv Blanc, filled with great lime, grapefruit and zesty acidity to whet our palates for lunch.

We split into three groups for the tasty lunch that was catered by local food haven Olive: shaders, sunners and partial sunshiners.  I chose to be a partial sunshiner with my vinopanions Joe (Twitter) and Amy Power (Twitter) of Another Wine Blog and (I think) Vinconceivable.  About to head off to Santorini on a superad wine junket, we ate the delicious fare with a lucky lineup of Syrah in the form of a Waters Forgotten Hills single vineyard vertical, ’05 – ’07The striking architecture of the winery, very contemporary yet fitting wonderfully with the natural landscape, was reflected within the Syrah: new world in their juicy and bright fruit that carried plenty of depth, yet harmoniously balanced with the good tannic structure, slate minerality and dark earthiness provided by the natural surroundings.  As Joe Roberts (Twitter, Twitter2) of 1WineDude (in Santorini as well, like a bastard) also exclaimed after the trip, it gave me a very strong impression of Syrah in the W2 Valley appellation.

06/26/10 3:38pm

Today’s Bordeaux Le Wine Buff AntiUnConference tasting!

06/26/10 5:06pm

Live Speed Blogging (Reds)

07 Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards Columbia Valley Merlot

C: Darker garnet

N: Black cherry, sweeter oak with a darker cassis undernetah

P: Full and with bigger toast, black cherry here and good balance of round soft tannins and a juicy black fruited finish.

05 Nicholas Cole Cellars Columbia Valley Camille

-$35, 45 M, 28 CF, 26 CS, 1 PV

C: Inky garnet, slight violet

N: Red, black and blue fruit with cocoa and good garden herbs

P: Firm tannins with some of that cocoa and marzipan from the nose, with good depth of dark fruit and good acidity for food.  Finishes long with dark chocolate and black cherry

04 Spofford Station Walla Walla Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

-Current release!  Age for 6 years before release.

C: Medium garnet

N: Spiced red fruit with even a bit of white pepper and slight earthy toast underlay

P: Medium full, with bright red and black fruit and good pencil lead and earth.

07 Banfi Toscana Belnero


C: Garnet and ruby with ruby edges

N: Dried earth with juicier black cherry and brighter cherry with some wild blackberry

P: Great brightness of red and black fruit, toast is integrating and with firm but round tannins, great with food and good earth towards the end.

07 Monthaven Winery Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon (Octavin 3L box)

C: Med ruby

N: Decent red simpler red fruit, a little bit of toast.

P: Medium full with peppery red fruit and light tannins.

09 Doolhof Wellington Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Dark Delight Pinotage


C: ruby, ruby edges

N: Toast and all black fruit and warm damp earth

P: Huge toast here, gigantic. Savory meaty notes then with black fruit and dark chocolate, medium tannins, not really my style.

07 The Magnificent Wine Co. Columbia Valley House Wine

-$13, 32 CS 31 Sy 30 Me 3 Ma 2 Z 1 CF 1 PV

C: Ruby with ruby edges

N: Toast and very ripe red fruit with some anise as well

P: Tons of spice and pepper with a firm structure, cocoa and black and red fruit, charred earth.

08 Ortman Paso Robles 02 Series Sangiovese

-JUST bottled, about 3 days ago, 1 year old oak

C: Lighter ruby

N: Bright red fruit with a wildness to it, with a slight bit of toast and earth and marzipan

P: Toast here bright red fruit with great acidity and even some blue fruit towards the chocolaty finish.

06 Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Lot No. 1 Cabernet Sauvignon

-$125, 500 cases, prerelease

C: Darker ruby, ruby edges

N: Phenomenal nose here with wonderfully complex fresh savory herbs, great black and red fruit with extremely deep fruit.

P: Full and coating with the fine tannins, outstanding black and red fruit with good anise, toast is integrating nicely, just a very well balanced wine.  Awesome.

07 Isenhower Columbia Valley Bachelor’s Button Cabernet Sauvignon

C: Darker garnet, ruby edges

N: Good spicy black and red fruit with some anise

P: Good red and black fruit here as well with a dustiness to it, cocoa powder and further spice in the finish.  Good.

08 The Crusher Clarksburg Grower’s Selection Petite Sirah


C: Inky violet monster

N: Good floral violets, with black and blue fruit and the fruit has a coolness to it, slight dark chocolate

P: Big and yet still balanced with good blue and black fruit, spice and some new leather coming in on the finish.

08 Desert Wind Wahluke Slope Ruah

-45 Me, 40 CS, CF, $20

C: Medium ruby

N: Red and black fruit medley with good wet earth and herbs

P: Medium full with bigger anise, good bright black fruit, baking

And that’s that! All speed blogging is done from the conference and wow, what another brilliant time.  I love these sessions, while extremely crazy and very short (6 minutes per wine), they force you to focus directly on the wine and winemakers for that time with no distractions.  This year it was split into whites and reds, which was brilliant.  Tremendous fun!

06/26/10 11:56pm

Reininger Winery Renegade Midnight Tasting

If there’s one thing that I learned in Walla Walla, those wineries and winemakers know how to quickly and creatively come up with cool wine events. Thursday night, Justin Vajgert decided to throw a late night tasting party for any wine blogger brave enough to head off into the midnight air to the stylish Reininger Winery.  By Saturday afternoon he had flyers on the ready and was passing them out to winebloggers looking for some late night sneaky wine.  I decided to go…along with about 20 other vino fiends.  We arrived after a ride from the renaissance winemaker Chuck Reininger kindly gave us a ride in his SUV.  There we were treated to some yummy late night snacks and even tastier wines, many of which were still unreleased, all courtesy of what appeared to be their entire staff.  I was most impressed with Chuck’s ’05 and prerelease ’08 Helix Sangiovese, both of which featured very bright, intensely flavored red berry fruit that was nicely supported by their good structure.  After those two hours however, I was definitely ready to begin my wino dreams and happily accepted a ride back to the hotel from Chuck.

06/27/10 10:45am

Last day and a very fun wine and food pairing presentation from chef Jeffrey Saad (loves the “culinary facial” that comes from absorbing the many aromas in a newly delivered plate of food, flipping through his mental flavor rolodex to break down the components).

Very good quick info about complementary and also opposite food and wine pairings.  Then we head out to the open area for a very cool wine and food lunch pairing walkaround, courtesy of Marcus Whitman’s Marc Restaurant chef, Bear Ullman.  Speaking of which, I can’t say enough about how awesome the Marcus Whitman hotel has been during this conference: totally on top of everything, amazing service and very friendly staff, nicely complemented by the great and richly historic facilities.  Thanks Marcus Whitman!

06/27/10 11:40am

Wine & Food Pairings from Chef Bear

09 Cousino Maipo Valley Macul Sauvignon Gris

Paired with with Chicken Skewer with White Balsamic Vanilla BBQ on Chayote Slaw with Micro Cilantro

C: Lightest yellow:

N: Very crisp and clean with zesty lime and steeliness

P: Great steel lime crispness here just pairs beautifully with the basalmic, cilantro and vanilla sweetness.  Good!

09 High Note Uco Valley Malbec

with Cherry Scented Duck Confit Empanadas with Mole and Avocado.

C: Darker violet garnet

N: Black cherry and savory earth

P: Full and smooth with great rich red fruit, toast underlay that matches the savory in the empanadas and earthier notes.

08 Terranoble Colchagua Valley Grand Reserva Carménère

with Oven Dried San Marzano Tomato and Andouille Flat Bread

C: Dark violet and garnet

N: Rich red berry fruit with some Bing and Black cherry, slight herbs

P: Full and with that juicy berry red fruit, with good pepper and full-bodied medium tannins.   The bright fruit pairs with the savory andouille, yep.

06/27/10 12:10pm

And now…closing remarks, thank yous and the announcement of the site for #WBC11, Charlottsville, VA!  Thank you also, to the fine people at Meru Networks, without which we’d have had no way to broadcast the great wines of W2.  Thanks Joel and Thomas!

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