Washington Wine Club – November 2011

2008 Quilceda Creek, Columbia Valley Red Wine
If it’s the holiday season, it’s time for the Quilceda Creek Red Wine to make its annual appearance in this club. As the “younger brother” of their iconic Cabernet, this red blend is blessed with the same kind of excellent sources of fruit as the Cab and is a great introduction to the Quilceda Creek style. This year’s edition is dominated by Cabernet (81%), so it will be even more long-lived than the 5-7 year window we’ve recommended in other years. The Cabernet also provides a bit of red-currant that is a nice complement to the plum and blackberry flavors. At the release tasting, it was appropriately paired with shredded short ribs on thin baguette crisps. Thanks to Quilceda Creek’s generosity, we were able to get enough to put in the club, and there’s even an extra case available. It is $51.50, one of the best values for an ageable wine you’ll fine anywhere.

2008 Saviah Cellars, Big Sky Cuvee
This wine is flat-out delicious. Winemaker Rich Funk has not received the critical acclaim of some of his peers in Walla Walla, but he has been making outstanding wines since he started his winery in 2000. After moving to Walla Walla in 1991, he became acquainted with wineries through his job with the county helping them work through the complex issues of water quality. As with many self-taught winemakers, his scientific background, particularly in chemistry and soil science, has been a key skill in making such consistently good wines for so long. The Big Sky Cuvee is his Merlot-based blend, with all of the fruit coming this year from Stillwater Creek Vineyard. It is superbly balanced, with beautiful aromas of black cherry and rich dark fruit plus notes of dark chocolate and cinnamon. It’s aged for 20 months in small French oak barrels, 60% of them new, giving it a lush mouth feel and a long finish. Rich recommends drinking the Big Sky with a Montana style meal: seared elk or bison with a rich berry sauce like huckleberry. It costs $37, is ready to drink, and in good supply.