Most recently, Washington State was on the menu, thanks to the lovely Heidi. This bottle was Gilbert Cellars Left Bank from the Wahluke Slope sub-region within the Columbia Valley. You can read about the 5 generations of winemaking here and find out more about what makes the family's terroir driven wines special. .
This ~$20 bottle has lain on the shelf for 11 months awaiting the right occasion, and finally it came the time for Left Bank: a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. In this respect it is traditionally a "Bordeaux Blend" though it's rare to find all 5 of these varieties in one Bordeaux wine nowadays. If you want to refresh yourself on our most recent samplings of Bordeaux wines, and understand the varietals used, the blog on our August tasting event is the place to start.
The irony was that this wine's moment came after a disappointing French wine. America to the rescue.
My first thoughts on this one were, great juicy acidity, powerful fruit & leathery complexity. Thanks Heidi! Initially medium bodied with a leathery flavour forefront, the powerful black fruit, juicy cassis core comes next. All in all, there's a great balance of fruit and aging flavours giving a lot of character and I was happy with the choice. Sadly, I can't recommend you rush out and buy it here as it's not available in the UK, but Washington State wines are starting to enter the UK market, more and more. I reviewed a customer favourite back in August here, and the vendor winecellarclub.co.uk has other wines in the range available. As of yet, there's not much Washington State wine making it to the supermarkets, but it can only be a matter of time before one of the wineries gets all commercial and hits a wider distribution. Do let me know if you find any. Tesco have a Columbia Valley Riesling in stock, and though Washington's production is dwarfed by that of California, signs are that the bigger wineries are starting to export.
As expected, he was unconvinced by the description, name and blend. For him, there's only one Left Bank, and he was well aware that the blend is not that favoured by his beloved Leoville Barton et al.
But all that was swept aside on tasting - he found it complex, and much more appealing than the Rasteau GSM blend we'd had a glass of before. While he is a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, that's hardly a surprise. But in the past, we've really enjoyed Rasteau as a big and hearty wine. Perhaps this one which had also languished on my wine rack for almost a year (a 2009) was now past it's prime. Certainly it was disappointingly lacking in fruit.
Mr Purple Teeth found creamy vanilla from oak and this came to the fore particularly when paired with vintage cheddar.
He loved the rich full feeling and concentrated cassis in the mid palate. True, it's never going to replace a true Left Bank wine in his affections, but it will sit comfortably alongside, and opens up the possibility of holidays in Seattle.
Before that, however, Purple Teeth are planning a visit to Bordeaux proper at the end of May. If you'd like to accompany us on a unique opportunity to taste a range of fine Bordeaux wines, you can book via the Union of Grand Crus. I've mentioned this tasting event in the past, and included some photos from our previous visit in that blog post. The 2015 Weekend of Grand Crus event is to be held 30-31 May and we'll certainly review our visit on our return.
Meanwhile, we'd love to hear your thoughts on Bordeaux wines, and American "Bordeaux like" wines. Feel free to share them in the comments here, or on our Facebook page.