We bring a lot of ourselves to our tasting events: our experience, our preferences, our biases, how much each bottle of wine costs—all these factors can shape our perception. This is the reality of tasting wine.
When our Wine Council meets we begin with great ceremony with me tapping on a crystal glass declaring, “This Council meeting is called to order.” An expectant hush follows as the participants quiet down and get prepared to do their reviews and social media posts. “Tonight we are reviewing Idaho Wines.” Silence and some eye rolling followed.
Oh how those gestures would turn out to be so so wrong. California and Northwest wines, move over, Idaho wines have arrived.
Since we’ve have had so many great wines from all over the world at as many price points , our expectations are sky high. If you’re a wine coming to our Wine Council, then you best be prepared to knock our socks off and exceed our expectations… just sayin’. If you’re a wine coming from a developing wine region, you’re likely to need to be twice as good and half as sassy.
To our collective surprise, the news was all good and more for the six Idaho wines we tasted. A sock or two got knocked off, a whole of perceptions were changed, and many a member wanted to know where to buy the wines. That’s a true compliment. Not only did we like most of the wines, we were willing to buy them.
Enjoy reading my comments on the wine and the assigned pairings. Be prepared for some attitude adjustment and perhaps the next time you see an Idaho wine on a restaurant menu or in your local wine store you’ll put your Big Girl (or Boy) Pants on and purchase one for your table.
Mouvance Winery 2009 Pinot Gris: $20, 70 cases – Todd & Susan Montgomery’s pairing of Brie with Mexican pear marmalade on Rosemary and olive oil toast was a perfect match as was their shrimp and pea pasta salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The wine presented aromas of honey, pear and apricot. The residual sugar in the beginning makes the fruit flavors pop. Definitely one of the best examples of Pinot Gris I’ve had in a very long while. This well crated wine has enough acid in it to deliver a long and appreciated finish. It came in first place as a group favorite.
Split Rail winery 2012 Terminal Post, $20 – Karsten Boone’s Roasted Butternut Squash soup with Citrus-Mint-Chili Pesto was a huge hit with this wine. His dish would have done just as well with the first wine. A lovely blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Muscat Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling the wine’s floral notes were both creamy and crisp on the nose and palate. Think flavors of lemon and pear.It did what all good blends do – the different varietals all held hands to make a perfect circle of good taste. Good for any occasion or, as the winery suggests, “… at your local rodeo.”
Colter’s Creek Winery 2010 Reserve Chardonnay: $15- Linda’s pairing of Clear Springs Foods of Idaho Smoked Trout www.clearsprings.com was a winner. The wine itself was disappointing, but did better with the trout to tone it down. I will say if you are a person who loves a big oaky tasting cab; this might be the one for you. It did not impress our group.
Vale Wine Co 2010 Merlot :$20 – The group rallied around this wine. It won for the most varietal specific wine and the number two favorite wine of the night. With its medium bodied deep cherry and plum flavors and hints of spice it went well with anything chocolate on the table and set a benchmark for what Merlot’s can be. Arno Chocolate Bark (an exquisite line of Idaho Chocolate) went perfectly with this wine. The Arno Carmel Ceunch with Sea Salt was the big winner of the night with the group, along with the Peppermint flavor. Find the chocolate at www.arnosbark.com and Nordstom.
Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2011 Malbec: $25 – Carmen Micheli’s Chocolate Fudge and Andies Mint flavored Cupcakes made my tongue very happy. They were a great match for the wine aromas of mocha , dried cherries, dusty earth and cocoa . This wine was produced from grapes grown in the Verhey Vineyard, located in the Rattlesnake Hills of Washington just downstream of the Union Gap along the Yakima River.
Pend O”Oreille Winery 2009 Bistro Rouge: $14 – Coletta’s (via husband Karsten Boone) Beer Braised Brussel Sprouts with kick-butt sausage was an inspirational pairing. None of us saw that pairing coming.., but it worked to perfection. You can get that recipe and Karsten Boone’s Roasted Butternut Squash soup with Citrus-Mint-Chili Pesto recipe at his new Website www.winebitten.com . The wine was a complex blend of 42%Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 17% Syrah, 3% Cabernet Franc. It tasted Cab dominant to me. I enjoyed it quite a bit. In another tasting, amongst weaker competition, I am sure this wine would have scored quite high.
Idaho — you done good. We’ll be seeing you around –a lot–if this Wine Council has anything to do with it. Congrats!