Washington Wine Club – April 2008

2004 McCrea, Cuvée Orleans, Syrah
Doug McCrea is the undisputed pioneer of Rhône varietals in Washington State. McCrea Cellars produces some the best Rhône varietals and blends around and we love having them in the shop, though they never last long. Now at last, we’re featuring one of his wines in our Washington Club. Doug made this Syrah as a tribute to his birthplace, New Orleans, as well as to Côte Rôtie, in the Northern Rhône. Sourced from Dick Boushey’s Grande Côte Vineyard in the Yakima Valley, and the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain, this Syrah has a touch of Viognier, and is lush, with dark fruit and spice and firm tannins. Hold it for a year or so, and then enjoy it with beef, lamb, or hearty vegetarian fare. It is $48.75 and very limited. (We heard through the grapevine that this is one of the favorite wines of a certain local Mariners outfielder whenever he dines at a certain eastside bistro. Since baseball season begins again this month, we thought it a perfect time to include the Cuvée Orleans in our club. And Go Mariners!

2005 Baer, Ursa
After a stint as winemaking assistant at DeLille Cellars, Lance Baer produced his first vintage under his own name in 2000, in a converted garage in Woodinville. His two Bordeaux-style blends, Arctos and Ursa, quickly began receiving much attention and acclaim. Sadly, Lance died suddenly in May, 2007, but his winemaking friends and family have pitched in to help carry on what he had started. You may recall that we featured the 2004 Ursa in the September 2007 Club. Like that wine, the 2005 vintage is made from fruit that Lance already had in barrel so, lucky for us, he continues to live on through his wines

The 2005 Ursa, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, is wonderfully balanced, with good structure and nice fruit, and it’s meant to be enjoyable upon release, although if you are patient enough to give it a year or two more in bottle it should develop even further. It was a big hit when we opened it at our club tasting in March. It was $34.50 and, thanks to the many fans of Lance and his wines, it is completely sold out. The Ursa would pair well with grilled meats and hearty fare, but it is a great wine just to enjoy on its own.