Washington Wine Club – February 2009

2005 Robert Karl Inspiration Reserve Red Wine
Robert Karl Cellars first came to our attention about five years ago when an earlier vintage of their Claret won the Central Washington State Fair wine competition. Bear cast the deciding vote in the finals and was happy to see the best in show award go to a previously unknown small Spokane winery. Since then, Robert Karl’s owner-winemaker Dr. Joe Gunselman has gone on to craft better and better reserve wines. This is the third vintage of their Inspiration Reserve: 100 cases of carefully selected grapes from some very fine Horse Heaven Hills vineyards, including their own Gunselman Bench. The exact blend is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 5% each Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. Wonderful fruit flavors, particularly plum and black cherry, balance perfectly with the warm spiciness imparted by the French oak barrels. This is a very polished wine, with plenty of complexity, which will reward cellaring for at least three years, up to the 15 years the Gunselmans recommend. Drink it when you need inspiration! It is $48, and a little bit more is still available.

2006 Stevens Yakima Valley Merlot
Now that he has conquered the worlds of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc, our good friend Tim Stevens from Woodinville adds Merlot to his repertoire. He made 138 cases of this lush, floral, pretty Merlot, sourced two-thirds from Sheridan Vineyard and the other one-third from the relatively unknown Meek Vineyard, located in the eastern part of the Yakima Valley, just four miles from Red Mountain. For only $31.50, this is one of the tastiest Washington Merlots we’ve ever had – a flat out stunner! Tim recommends drinking it over the next year or two, maybe with chicken in mole sauce. We have a tiny bit more available, which won’t last long at that price.

And, yes, the wine “Tiki” on the label is an actual piece of art, constructed by Tim in about seven hours from two wine barrels, about 380 screws and a bottle of Merlot for the artist.