Washington Wine Club – June 2011

2007 Stevens Winery, XY Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
This is Tim Stevens’ fifth release of his powerful XY Reserve Cabernet, and we’ve featured every one of them in this club. Tim selects a small grouping of his favorite barrels and blends them into this wine, which he makes in very small amounts — this year, 304 cases. It disappears quickly, but he always makes sure we get enough to put in our Washington Club. The fruit for this year’s XY Cab comes primarily from Catherine’s Block in Dineen Vineyard, with a barrel each from Meek and Sheridan vineyards, all in the Yakima Valley. Catherine’s Block is at the crest of the hill where the soil is very shallow, which produces very low yields with tiny berries. The result is a dense, intense, and multi-layered wine. The Meek and Sheridan grapes add dark fruit and earthy finesse. It is always a powerful and masculine (hence “XY”) wine, with 85% of the grapes aged in new French oak barrels for 20 months. It’s $43, and ready to drink now if decanted, or it could be left to develop for five or more years. Whenever you choose to enjoy it, it would be a natural partner for a big, juicy steak or a roast.

2009 Maison Bleue, Gravière
One of the joys of selecting wines for this club is finding new producers to add to our roster of veterans. In this case, it was easy: the Gravière was one of those wines that we ordered for the club immediately, without even thinking what other wines were available. Winemaker Jon Martinez started out as a dentist in Kansas City, but soon found himself studying enology at Virginia Tech, UC Davis, and Washington State. He’s made an immediate impression on wine writers with his very first vintage, with his 2008 Grenache and 2009 Marsanne garnering high scores and critical acclaim. He has a particular affinity with the Rhône varietals of Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain, originally planted in 1917 and so the oldest vineyard in Washington. After working with individual varietals, this is Jon’s inaugural Rhône blend. Paul Gregutt summed up the wine best by describing it as ”pure berries, cassis, rock, earth, licorice, and a hint of baking spices.” Drinking beautifully now, it would pair well with beef, lamb, wild game, rich-flavored stews, and mild, firm, savory cheeses. It is $39.75 and in pretty good supply, although Jon made only 195 cases.