Washington Wine Club – March 2012

2010 Maison Bleue, La Montagnette, Upland Vineyard Grenache
Since the 2009 vintage of this wine sold out in a flash last year, we were pleased when the distributor, knowing how much we had liked their 2009 Gravière, brought the 2010 La Montagnette to us as soon as it was released. And, just like last year, we were incredibly impressed and ordered the wine for the club immediately. Maison Bleue’s owner and winemaker, Jon Martinez, started out as a dentist in Kansas City, but soon found himself studying enology at Virginia Tech, UC Davis, and WSU. He 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 thus the oldest vineyard in Washington. Drinking beautifully now, his Grenache is redolent of black cherries and dark plum, with silky tannins, balanced acidity, and a very elegant, long finish. 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 for now, although Jon made only about 200 cases.

2009 Obelisco Estate, Reserve Merlot, Red Mountain
One of the joys of selecting wines for this club is finding new producers to add to our roster of stars. This Red Mountain winery was founded in 2004 by Napa veteran Doug Long, who planted a 30 acre vineyard in one of the highest areas of Red Mountain. The slopes face south, ensuring that the vines get plenty of sun, and the vineyard is probably the most densely planted in the state of Washington, with the wines planted so closely together that it’s almost impossible to walk in the vineyard. Yields are extremely low, leading to an intense concentration of fruit in the wines. The hand-picked fruit is then aged in new French and American oak barrels by winemakers Pete Hedges and Sarah Goedhart. Obelisco’s smooth, polished wines tame the famous Red Mountain tannins and show distinctive varietal differences. The star of the show in our judgment is this reserve Merlot, which also has 10% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, and 5% Syrah. It shows a nice balance of dark and red fruit, a touch of vanilla, and a rich mouth feel, and would be perfect with red meat, poultry, or pork. It is soft and inviting now, although it could also be cellared for another three to seven years. It’s $46.50 and in good supply.