Quilceda Creek 2009

IMG_0708I’m unworthy, I’m unworthy…

Feeling every bit like the minion that I am who’s been given the perfect bottle of wine by Despicable Me’s super villain Gru, I come humbly to review this week’s wine.

Quilceda Creek, a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley of Washington State, must hold the world’s record for wine scoring, most-consistently, superior. Its 10-year average is 98, was in the Top 100 of Wine Spectator Magazine last year, and it’s number 10 on that list again this year. Winemaker Paul Golitzin, who took over from his Dad Alex in 1988, has found the formula for making Cabernet’s of just amazing, supple taste and depth, with 98% Cabernet and a 2% dash of Merlot, culminating in a 22-month nap in 100% French oak. Who knew perfection could be so simple?

And the wine is just that: perfection. Pouring the Quilceda Creek was like watching liquid purple silk come out of the bottle. The nose was faint at first, I should have decanted, but as the air opened the wine it also opened the bouquet. I got licorice, spice and yes indeed, everything nice. The taste was, in one word, refined. And it only got better with every sip. Dark fruit, plums, and the aforementioned licorice and spice splash across the palate. You could taste and appreciate the tannins, but the wine was so well balanced that it was simply a blast to drink.

The thing that made the Quilceda Creek such a joy was its subtleness. It wasn’t one thing that made the wine outstanding, it was everything working together that left the wine done to perfection. Like a Rolls Royce or an Armani suit, this wine didn’t overpower, but rather exudes luxury and quality. This is a wine that you could buy and drink, or put it in your wine collection to drink in twenty years, and it would taste even better.

Now, I’m not sure if it is because my tastes are not as refined and educated as they should be, or maybe it’s because I am just a minion, but you don’t have to spend $100’s of dollars to enjoy outstanding wine. I have reviewed wines in this blog that I feel were every bit as good as this wine at a fraction of the cost, however not a consistent as this wine. So you don’t need to spend big bucks to enjoy great wine but you have to be willing to spend something more than the cost of your average factory wine.

Minion to Gru “Can I drink this”?

Gru to the Minion “ All Right, when we put our cups together, let’s make the “clink” sound with our mouths. Ready”?

Minions “Clink”



Tenuta Sant’Antonio SCAIA Corvina 2012


The love of wine was instilled in the four Castagnedi brothers while working in the Father’s vineyard San Zeno di Colognoca.  All four left home and had careers outside the family business.  In 1989 they came together, went home,  purchased an additional 30 hectares to add to the family’s original 20 hectares, and formed Tenta Sant’Antonio.
The four brothers–Armadno, Paolo, Tiziano and Massimo–who run Tenuta Sant’Antonio have built up an enviable reputation for the wines that they produce under traditional Venetian classifications over the last 20 years.  They still show an unusual level of interest in innovation, quality improvement and indeed wines produced outside of those traditional Venetian classifications too.  An example is the wine we are reviewing today, “Scaia” Corvina, which is produced from the newest vineyards Monti Garbi.  Monti Garbi, in the local dialects, means “sour” or “hard,” which describes the land where the vines are planted.  Scaia is “slate” and if you looked at the land where the vines are planted it looks like a pile of rocks.
Intended to be as fruity and as purely flavored as possible, this 2012 Scaia Corvina was produced by using the very unusual technique of inducing malolcatic fermentation before alcoholic fermentation to achieve this aim.  Fermentation and maturation was also in stainless steel tanks only – no oak was applied to this wine.
The result is a ruby red color of moderate intensity, with some flashes of purple towards the rim of this wine.  The alcoholic legs induced by the 13% alcoholic content is highly visible as this wine is swirled, even though the alcoholic content itself is relatively low. The wine has wonderfully pure aromas of dark cherry and plum, which rise from the glass as this wine is swirled, with hints of violets also wafting around.  I have to admit, the nose is wonderful.
Medium bodied and intensely fruity on the palate, this wine is fantastically well-balanced and persistent, with the pure fruit notes from the nose. The wine makers use very limited tannic extraction, and as a result get great intensity of cherry and plum flavors.  The tasting notes even suggest that you could chill this wine slightly on a warm day, that is how versatile the Scaia is.
Truly original and impressively accomplished, this 2012 Scaia Corvina should be drunk before the end of 2017.
Currently a $12 bottle of wine, I am certain that the Scaia will be selling for $50 a bottle once these vines mature.  I got my bottle at Center Street Wine and Sprits in Wallingford, CT.  Tell them Griffy sent you!

Tarima Hill old vine Monastrell 2010


“Follow your Bliss” is a term I learned in a comparative religion class and was coined by Joseph John Campbell.  An author and teacher who taught comparative mythology, Campbell is the inspiration behind Dan Brown’s character Robert Langdon.  He was also a huge influence on George Lucas and the Star Wars series being based on Campbell’s book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.”  Even the Lion King and American Graffiti all have Campbell influences.  
“Follow your Bliss” comes from Campbell’s belief that if you follow what makes you happy, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.  Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.  Later in his life people took the term to adopt a hedonist life style which Campbell didn’t agree with, and amended his quote to, “Follow your Blisters,” because life is work.
I have adopted the “Follow Your Bliss” mantra in my wine drinking adventures, and yes, Bliss and Blisters are both part of my travels.  More times than not here lately my bliss and blisters have taken me to Spain.  The quality and value of wines being produced in Spain right now cannot be overstated.  Case in point, Tarima Hill Old Vine Monastrell 2010.
Monastrell is a verietal we’ve talked about before in France.  Called Mourvedre, it is grown from the Catalonia part of Spain, north and around the Mediterranean Sea to Provence France.  The grape was brought to the area around 500 B.C.E. by the Phoenicians, and is the “M” in the GSM blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre of the Rhone Valley.
This was the best wine by far enjoyed Christmas Eve.  This wine is from Bodega Volver, a joint project between Rafael Canizares and Jorge Ordonez, who produce high quality wines in the La Mancha, Alicante, and Jumilla appellations.  The low-yielding, old vine Monastrell vines of Tarima Hill are located at high elevations in the Alicante region, between the mountain ranges of Sierra de Salinas, Sierra de L’Altet and Sierra de la Sima.

Bodegas Volver “Tarima Hill” Monastrell is garnet red in color, with a lively bouquet of ripe cherry, blackberry, raisin and pipe tobacco, accented by a light floral note.  The intense, full-bodied palate shows concentrated layers of red berry, dark chocolate, and is complimented by both finely-tuned tannins and balanced acidity.  This is a $20 wine that tastes like a $50 wine and the notes say you can drink it for the next 10 years.

I found my bottles at Charles Fine Wines in Glastonbury, CT.  I suggest you follow Griffy’s advice and follow your own personal bliss/blisters, get yourself a bottle, and enjoy.  May the Monastrell be with you!