Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Winey Tasting Notes: Washington State's StoneCap

Another trip outside California....this time to Washington State, the USA's second largest wine producing state.

I have mentioned before that I got to tour some Seattle wineries a few years ago on a trip with the Winey Hubby. We were limited in time, so we focused on the wineries fairly close to the city. But Washington State's wine industry is centered in the Columbia Valley, about a 3 hour drive southeast of Seattle (give or take the fact that you travelling through mountains...and the weather will play a factor). Stone Cap is actually a second label for Goose Ridge Estates, located in Benton City. All the grapes are grown on the estate - so when you consider that I spent $8.99 for a bottle of their 2010 Merlot (13.8%, 2010, Washington State), the whole estate grown idea is pretty impressive. Lots of winemakers get their grapes from different vineyards (either owned by them at a separate location or owned by other growers). These guys keep it all right in their own backyard (and, I'm guessing, front yard and side yard!).

The last few Washington wines I've tried have been whites, so I decided to go with a red and snagged a bottle of the Merlot of the shelf at World Market. I like Merlot and truly believe that the 2004  movie "Sideways" ("We are not drinking any *%!#ing Merlot!") really did the whole varietal an injustice. It's hard enough to get timid wine drinkers to try red without having the big screen yell it at you, with profanity even. But Merlot is a very drinkable wine - and I lift my glass of it with pride (and on days when the Winey Family is stepping on every last nerve, I do so really, really quickly).

OK, on to the wine. This is a dark red, kind of a rusty red around the edges. It gives off a bouquet of cherry and plum with a hint of vanilla. The taste is wonderful cherry chocolate and plum (yes, I know, reel me in with the chocolate flavor...I will bite, er, sip every time) and a tang of sour cherries and oak. The smooth finish lingered nicely. Yes, a very drinkable, affordable wine. (Hmm...drinkable AND affordable....any bells going off in your minds yet?)

I'd be happy to add more of this in my wine rack and in my tummy. I could see it pairing with lots of different dishes (like osso buco, one of my veal favorites, or swordfish or salmon or Croque Monsieur - which is my family's favorite upscale version of grilled cheese and ham), making it drinkable, affordable and versatile. We have a winner here, folks.

Cheers!

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