Saturday, April 23, 2011

Does This Bottle Remind You of The Space Needle?

Part of what I like most about our short trips to the States is the opportunity to browse around in the wine shops to see all the different wines that are sold here, wines that we likely wouldn't run across at home. I'd never expect to see a BC wine being sold South of the border - it just doesn't seem to be done - but we do see some Washington State wines (as well as Oregon and California) at home. The choices available are just so sadly lacking - and, for whatever reason - the prices seem to skyrocket as soon as the wines cross the border.

We're always told that it's just because the BC government taxes alcohol so highly, but I see plenty of the same foreign labels down here as at home and some of the prices aren't all that different. There's got to be something more to it.

In any event, there's precious little in the way of Washington wines back home and these infrequent jaunts allow us a brief opportunity to discover and try some Washington labels that we likely would never see otherwise.

Not knowing much about Washington wineries, however, means that I don't know what to reach for or order at all. So, we pretty much put ourselves at the mercy of the wine shop assistants or restaurant sommeliers. That's how we came about our first wine for this trip. Since we were in Seattle, we couldn't help but succumb to the siren call of having coffee and a bit of lunch. We headed up to Capitol Hill and then stopped in at the wine section at QFC. It's kind of crazy to us BC folk to imagine a wine shop as nice, if not nicer, than most of the private bottle shops in Vancouver in the middle of a local supermarket. Boo and I had a great little wander around and discussion with one of the attendants there though.

He pointed us in the direction of this bottle, saying that they'd just happened on a case of it and that, being a 2003 and already aged, it would be a great start to the weekend. In fact, I think his exact words were that, "it should be drinking like great sex."

780. 2003 Reininger Merlot (Walla Walla Valley - Washington State)

Reininger is one of those labels that I can't remember having ever seen or hearing about previously. Having been established in 2006, Chuck Reininger was a senior mountain climbing guide for a Washington company until married a local Walla Walla girl and caught the wine bug. They now strive to produce premium wines under both the Reininger label - which features only Walla Walla Valley fruit - and the Helix label, which sources grapes from throughout the wider Columbia Valley.

We had a choice of heading down for some of Seattle's apparently famous "Friday Night Happy Hour" or opening the bottle in our hotel room and having a bit of a rest and a glass of wine before heading out to find some dinner. We chose the latter and found the bottle going down rather easily.

Harkening back to the shop clerk's comment, I suppose if you like your "sex" all juicy and full of structure and ripe, dark fruit, this wine will be right up your alley. This vintage was made with a touch (4%) of Cab Franc and, indeed, it was a nicely balanced wine.

We probably were pretty lucky to come across the bottle because there were under 1200 cases produced of the 2003 vintage. The fact that there was still the better part of a case hanging around - particularly in a fairly busy location - was a great find. Coming in around $30, it's not an entry level price, but then it didn't drink like an entry level wine and I'd hate to see how much it would go for back home.

Not a bad start to our little Seattle jaunt.

No comments:

Post a Comment