2010 Maison Bleue, Liberté, Boushey Vineyard Syrah
By now, club members are probably starting to get the idea that we really like Maison Bleue, since this is their third wine we’ve put into the club. For those of you new to the winery, owner-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 University. 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. While he has a particular affinity with the Rhône grapes of Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain, he also does very well with the rich Syrah grapes from Dick Boushey’s vineyard in the Yakima Valley. This is probably his richest and most full-bodied wine. We can’t improve much on Jon’s own description of the wine: “A gorgeous nose of braised figs, bacon, dark chocolate, white pepper and dried orange peel are all beautifully focused around an abundance of black currant, licorice, pomegranate, minerals, and roasted nuts. The mouth feel is elegant and refined, with tremendous concentration, multiple layers of flavor, and supple rounded tannins. Pair this wine with lamb, wild game, beef, hearty stews and hard savory cheeses.” Unlike his 2010 Gravière, which needs some time in the cellar, this Syrah is much more ready to drink, although waiting a couple of years will allow more complexity to emerge. It is $42 and somewhat limited, as Jon’s wines do tend to sell out before the next vintage is released.
2009 JM Cellars, Margaret’s Vineyard Estate Red
It’s been quite a while since we’ve put one of John Bigelow’s wines in this club, and we are quite pleased to remedy that situation with this fine red blend. John started out in software, not dentistry, and focuses more on the Bordeaux varietals than the Rhônes, but he shares Jon Martinez’ passion for winemaking and thorough training. John first took courses in enology from UC Davis in 1995, and then apprenticed with such top Washington winemakers as Charlie Hoppes, Mike Januik, and Holly Turner. He launched JM Cellars out of his basement in 1999, and started his very popular Woodinville tasting room the next year. As he notes on the label, he established Margaret’s Vineyard (named in honor of his wife Peggy) in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2007 and this is the inaugural release. He used all six of the Bordeaux varietals in this wine; thanks to the Figgins family of Leonetti fame, he was even able to plant Carménère. Since the vines were so young, John wisely decided to leave the wine in barrel for four and a half years, giving the fruit a chance to develop and integrate. It is elegant and complex, reminding us somewhat of a bit more extracted Walla Walla version of the Cadence Bordeaux blends. As with Ben Smith’s wines, we recommend giving this one at least another two or three years. It is $43 and still in reasonably good supply.