This month, we’ve picked wines from two of our favorite wineries: Baer, known for working with the Bordeaux grapes, and Maison Bleue, master of the Rhone grapes. Both are from the cooler 2011 vintage, and both would reward some time in the cellar. We are also experimenting with a new format for club write-ups this month to help us keep on top of them. We welcome your feedback.
2011 Maison Bleue, Le Midi, Boushey Vineyard Grenache, $45
Winery info: Founded in 2007, and recently moved from Prosser to Walla Walla.
Winemaker: Jon (Martinez) Meuret, originally a dentist in Kansas City, who studied enology at UC Davis and Washington State.
Grapes: 100% Grenache, 50% whole clusters to slow down and even up the fermentation process.
Vineyard source: Boushey Vineyard, Yakima Valley AVA. Originally planted in 1980 on relatively shallow silt loam overlying fractured basalt. Altitiude ranges from 800 to 1400 feet. Known for rich, plush wines.
Flavor profile: Rich flavors of dark fruit, dense with savory herbs and notes of earth and forest floor.
Production/Availability: 320 cases. Pretty limited, like almost all Maison Bleue wines.
Drinkability: Delicious now, but will be at its peak in five to seven years
Food Pairing: Steak and savory vegetables, particularly root vegetables.
2011 Baer Winery, Ursa, $39.75
Winery info: Founded by Lance Baer in 2000 in Woodinville.
Winemaker: Erika Orr, a very experienced consulting winemaker who took over after Lance’s death in May, 2007.
Grapes: 43% each Merlot and Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in French oak for 20 months.
Vineyard source: Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills, Columbia Valley AVA. Originially planted in 2000 on a south-facing slope consisting of mostly fractured rocks (for reds) and fine sandy loam (for whites). Known for smooth, elegant wines.
Flavor profile: A classic “right bank” blend, loaded with red fruit flavors, with aromas of vanilla, black tea, and herbs. Medium-bodied but quite plush.
Production/Availability: 1,011 cases. Currently in good supply.
Drinkability: Approachable now with decanting, but will develop even more over the next two or three years.
Food Pairing: Grilled meats, hearty fare.