Cheapskate – November ’08
November 10, 2008 by Charles Armstrong
With the small of ozone and wet grass descending on our city, it’s difficult to bring myself to drink those “bright” wines I typically associate with warmer months. When the clouds roll in it’s time to take your wine like your weather, dour and complex. Well, perhaps not dour, but you understand the metaphor. No one wants to sip a chilled Sauvignon Blanc when it’s 46 degrees and dark at 4:00pm.
In an effort to alienate all my readers over the age of thirty-six, this month I’ve mapped each wine to a secondary character from The Simpsons. But don’t worry readers over the age of thirty-six, next month we’ll do the A-Team.
2006 Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay
Big O Wine Company, Woodinville, WA
Buttery as hell on the swallow and quite thick throughout, it’s a prototypical Chardonnay to pair with your fish or chicken. There were some interesting greens and lemon notes on the nose, but otherwise it’s a middle-of-the-road Chardonnay. Good news if you like Chardonnay. According to the label, this wine is from “Woodinvile, WA” [sic]. As long as I’ve been a writer, I’ve empathized with people who fall victim to the typo. Plus, the company’s stated mission is to fund scholarships for underprivileged young girls. Help ‘em out and buy a few bottles, won’t you?
Equivalent Secondary Simpsons Character: Maude Flanders (pre-2000)
Perfectly charming, though more of a foil, the wine rounds out your dinner or drinking without being the
focus. A fish course is not the same without a good Chardonnay, and purists agree that if you replace it with a less flavorful white and/or kill the character off in season eleven, things just won’t be the same.
2004 Columbia Valley Merlot
Avery Lane Winery, Grandview, WA
A relatively inoffensive Merlot with a fruity beginning and somewhat oaky finish. There’s not a lot else to say; it’s a fairly underwhelming Merlot, though it’s by no means bad, just largely forgettable. The oaky finish makes it a good dinner wine, particularly if you like your food well-seasoned. Pair with Americana style comfort cuisine (mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, etc.). Just make sure not to let the flavors get overwhelmed—it’s a bit weak for a Merlot.
Equivalent Secondary Simpsons Character: Dolph
You know Dolph; he’s the kinda hunched over bully with the long brown hair. Not Jimbo, and not Kearny, but even more second-tier. This wine adds ambience to the experience, but is generally inconsequential. Still, he’s got some great moments, like the Hockey episode or when the tannin flavor compliments a peppered meat.
Pine & Post
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Pine & Post Winery, Mattawa, WA
This is one of the lightest, most fruity Cabernet’s I’ve ever had. Honestly, I assumed I had misread the label and was drinking a Pinot. The oaky, woodsy, tanniny flavors I associate with Cabs didn’t come out until the swallow, which made for an interesting tasting progression from the beginning to the end. A word of warning: let this guy breathe a little bit before jumping right in; my first taste brought flavors of sweaty moss, but about ten minutes later, it gave way to the awesome fruit flavors that this wine ought to be proud of. Regardless, the unique, vibrant, and interesting flavors have earned this wine a spot as my go-to Cabernet. Drink it with a steak or some well-seasoned pork.
Equivalent Secondary Simpsons Character: Sideshow Bob
Upfront Villainy aside, this wine’s presence always equates to awesomeness. Crafty and brooding, yet subtle and sophisticated, it’s a somewhat misunderstood wine. Give it a chance and you’ll find him brilliant, just make sure the wine’s not poisoned. (Don’t worry, it’s not.)
2006 Columbia Valley Chardonay
Maryhill Winery, Glendale, WA
It seems to evaporate in the mouth, with a noticeably short finish despite a slight watery texture up front, while strong acid flavors throughout undermine this wine’s self-proclaimed status as a Chardonnay. The flavors are in there, but it’s a little watered down for my tastes—like drinking a glass of wine-flavored Capri Sun. In fact, you may want to think about bringing this as a half-time treat at your next city-league soccer game. Don’t be alarmed if anyone asks why you’re pouring water out of an old wine bottle. Don’t be alarmed either if you enjoy the second half better than the first.
Equivalent Secondary Simpsons Character: Martin
Poor Martin, trying so hard to be significant and yet always failing. The wine has big ambitions but comes up short, mostly because of a lack of social skills and underwhelming flavor across the board. Still, an excellent and refreshing companion on a warm summer day, if only for the fact that he has a pool.
St. Josef ’s
2006 Pinot Noir
St. Josef’s Wine Cellar, Canby, OR
Now, I realize that the focus of this column is and has been exclusively Washington wines, but when I was out of town last week, my house-mate drank the bottle of wine I was supposed to review here, and replaced it the next day with the St. Joe’s. Not to be geographically Xenophobic, I thought I’d give it a crack. Despite its exorbitant state-imposed income tax, terrible drivers, and omnipresent hippies, the St. Josef’s pinot was very well balanced across the board, showing some dark fruit particularly on the nose and swallow. Acids, tannins, and subtle earth tones mingle in and out, though admittedly it did taste a bit young. It’s a Pinot, so I’m sure pop-culture has taught you with what you should eat with it, but I’d recommend an especially flavorful bird meat (duck, goose, well-seasoned turkey, etc.). Just make sure to acknowledge the complete lack of professional baseball and football teams associated with this wine.
Equivalent Secondary Simpsons Character: Carl
An interesting and dark wine, it is one of the least fallible relative to its peers. A regular watcher/wine drinker will have good feelings about this wine, while a more casual fan will likely forget its name.