You know that famous saying about opposites attracting? What the saying leaves out is that the attraction can occasionally lead to sudden repulsion when certain aspects of the opposing personality manifest. Take, for instance, a case in which a husband, who is prone to ADD fits of absentmindedness, remembers on the way to a certain food and wine event that said event is taking place outdoors, and that he had neglected to share this piece of information with his change-averse spouse. Not that I have any personal experience with a situation like this one, but for some reason this all puts me in mind of the Vintage Spokane event that was held at Northern Quest Casino and Resort last Sunday.
Suppose, for a moment, that the hypothetical situation mentioned above actually took place. One can easily see why the wife would have a beef with the exclusion of this very useful information. I mean, the garment choices alone predicated on the indoor/outdoor venues mark this as a key piece of intel. Needless to say, the fact that it is the beginning of August would only add to the frustration, as the heat that one would have to endure outdoors would certainly necessitate some wardrobe accommodations. If, of course, we were to believe that such an omission of information could be possible.
In any event, I have emerged from the doghouse to file my post on the 2013 Vintage Spokane. Aside from dressing appropriately for the venue, there are some other important things to take into consideration when you attend an event like Vintage Spokane. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you can’t possibly try every wine at the event, at least not if you intend to still be upright when the festivities come to a close. That means that you have to go in with a plan, guided by all of the available information at your disposal.
This year I chose to focus my attention on tasting some less common varieties. That isn’t to say that I completely avoided the Cabernets and Syrahs of the world, but I made a special effort to track down some less common varieties to taste. Thankfully, the organizers of the event posted their event guide online beforehand, which helped me scope out a few wines that I wanted to target.
In all honestly, I feel like these kinds of events are not ideal for detailed tastings. Between the heat and the crowds, I mostly use events like Vintage Spokane to make note of things that I would like to do more detailed tasting on down the road. While I did find a couple of very nice wines that were made from more conventional varieties, in keeping with my theme of esoteric varieties, here are five wines made from less common varieties that intrigued me at Vintage Spokane:
Trio Vintners 2010 Mourvèdre
I won’t lie; I am pretty much automatically drawn to single variety Mourvèdre. The combination of fruit, gamey notes, and spice pushes all the right buttons for me. With what seemed to be a good example of both a single variety Mourvèdre and a Grenache, I spent a little bit of time at the Trio Vintners booth this weekend.
Tertulia Cellars 2009 Carménère
Single variety Carménère seems to fall into the category of a “love it or hate it” proposition. The peppery character of the grape is a turn-on for some palates, and a turn-off for others. Sourced from the Phinney Hill Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, the Tertulia Cellars Carménère certainly has the spice that I associate with the variety, but felt somewhat more balanced than some examples that I’ve had.
Spofford Station Vineyards 2006 Carménère
I know, I’m going for a double-dip with the Carménère, but I had to mention this one. Another well-balanced example of the variety, this one also had the benefit of some extra time in bottle. This is definitely a wine that I will be attempting to revisit, as it stood out as one of my favorites of the event.
Coyote Canyon Winery 2012 Albariño
There isn’t a whole lot of Albariño being grown in Washington, but Coyote Canyon is leading the charge for this traditional Spanish variety in the state. While Washington is certainly more fruit forward than much of what you will find in the Rias Baixas region, it still made the perfect pairing with the raw oysters.
Cavu Cellars 2011 Barbera Rosé
I’m going to be honest with you; I need to spend a little more time with this one before forming an opinion on it. It was a wine that instantly intrigued me, but that I couldn’t really form a snap judgment on. Barbera is an interesting variety, and definitely not one that you find often in rosé form. This one seems like a good candidate for a retaste with and without food.
What I Learned
First and foremost, I learned that details matter. This seems to be a lesson that I have been in the process of learning my whole life, but this is the 2013 Vintage Spokane edition of the lesson. Secondly, it takes a lot of uncommon punctuation to write a post on uncommon wine grapes. If you need me, I will be back in my doghouse.