Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tasting Notes: 2006 Merlot

In honor of the nationwide Twitter Event on Mar. 25th, 5-7 pm discussing Washington State Merlots, we thought we'd entice you with a description of ours...

Notes from the Winemaker...

“Tumultuous” is a great word except in Scrabble where, not only is it worth nothing given all those silly vowels, but also the likelihood of someone plunking down “tumult” to allow the opportunity for you to add “-uous” is miniscule. No, in Scrabble you need words like “lynx”, “quash” and “zygote”. However, “tumultuous” is a great word when used to describe the kind of things going on in certain areas of my life; but more on that in later correspondence.

For now, let us speak of Merlot.

In my opinion, Merlot is the most feminine of wines. Such a statement cries out for explanation and expansion; a task which – understanding as I do the recklessness of such an endeavor – I wholeheartedly take up. For instance, I only have to say that Merlot is often under-appreciated and frequently misunderstood, and I have already described the situation of most women I know. I can go further and say that in many instances, Merlot is approached in a very superficial and prejudicial way as a wine that has very little in the way of seriousness and gravitas; especially if it has any prettiness to it whatsoever. Tell me that doesn’t ring a bell for the women in my audience…Merlot has a softness to it and a generosity to add to its round and appealing structure; none of which should be thought to detract in any way from its strength, depth and power. It is possible to enjoy and appreciate them in a straightforward, perfunctory way, but a little time and patient attention is rewarded by an opening up of the thrilling complexity contained within; it simply isn’t going to give itself all at once. And if all those descriptions are not feminine virtues, then I don’t know what are.

In the same way that no woman really wants to be placed on a pedestal and simply admired – they are wise enough to know that pedestal balancing is too precarious, a message many men could learn from – this 2006 Merlot is to be simply enjoyed and appreciated for all of its qualities; some of which I will describe right now.

First, I should point out that of all of the Merlots I have made – not just at Lone Canary but other places who shall remain nameless – this is the first to be blended as 100% varietal. The fruit was grown at the Willard Family Vineyard in Prosser, Groth Vineyards in Alder Ridge and Ciel du Cheval Vineyard.

In the nose, it presents notes of black cherry, blackberry and dried plum with some enticing notes of black tea, licorice and earth. On the palate, there is much to offer in its lovely lush texture, gentle silky tannins and flavors of blackberry, pie cherry, dark chocolate and spice. A wine not only delicious but both inviting and mysterious at the same time, which as you know is more than can be said of the winemaker.

171 cases made

Mike Scott
Lone Canary Winery

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

South African Whines

When I wrote the tasting notes for the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, I said this:

"There are only two dates in history that the average Englishman can remember. The first is 45AD, when Julius Caesar first stepped on the beach at Brighton and uttered the profound “Veni, vidi, vici.” Because of the perpetual gale winds that blow around English seaside towns the local inhabitants were always blue with cold and very, very grumpy. Also, they weren’t familiar with Latin and, consequently, were convinced Caesar was insulting them by calling them Weeny, Weedy and Weaky. So, following the lead of their ferocious and furious queen, Boadicea, they attacked the Roman troops with everything they had: chariots, spears, cudgels and scud missiles – although it must be said that history is a little unclear on the scud missiles.

The Romans were surprised and horrified by the vicious onslaught of the Britons, particularly by the lack of a coordinated wardrobe and very bad hair-dos. The skill with which the Britons handled their war chariots was marvelous to behold; the Romans were forced back into the sea. Indeed, the Romans may well have been defeated had tea-time not come up just as the Roman soldiers were fearfully groping there way back onto their boats; but it was 4 o’clock and the kettle was boiling, and if the Britons didn’t break then, it was almost certain that the corners would curl on the cucumber sandwiches laid out on the picnic tables.

The Roman commanders, not used to such social niceties but very envious of the strawberries and scones they had spotted on the doilies beside the teapots, ordered, first the cavalry to attack, then the foot soldiers. The Britons, appalled by the lack of good manners, left the beach and wouldn’t play any more for the rest of the day.

They did, however, allow the Romans to stay in the country long enough for them to install a state of the art highway system, and fix the plumbing at Bath.

The other date is 1066, when William the Bastard of Normandy arrived on the beach at Hastings with an army behind him and a plan to take over England from the Saxons and improve the dietary practices of this island so embarrassingly close to the French coast. The English were really quite agreeable to this. Since the Romans had left, the state of the roads had become appalling and the plumbing at Bath was almost non-existent. So a new influx of immigrant labor was very welcome.

Some resistance was put up by the jellied-eel vendors along the seafront, rightly worried by the fact that William owned the largest snail farm in France but had never found a practical use for them. Indeed, there were so many snails in France by then that the populace was being forced to eat them so that the country didn’t sink beneath the weight of the damn things. William had noticed that the English would eat virtually anything – tripe, blood pudding . . . scones – so he saw a potential market.

The natural English cunning came into play, however, and the jellied eel vendors prevailed. The English would not take the snails, instead they agreed to take the awful red wine that was being produced around the town of Bordeaux. It was a wine too thick and chunky for the delicate French palate, preferring as they did the dark rosey colored stuff from Burgundy. So, the French were allowed to stay as long as they learned to speak proper English and eat their vegetables boiled to just the right degree of sogginess."

I was wrong of course, the English remember one other date: 1966. That's the year England won the World Cup. And I think it's safe to say future generations of English will come to remember 2010 for the same reason.

This all came to me last Saturday while I was pouring Lone Canary wine at Fles Wine Shop in Issaquah. The owner, Frank Springmann is from Holland, and it seemed to me that he and I should be solid friends for the remainder of this year because our relationship could very well become strained next year. You see, not only is it World Cup year and England is going to nab the trophy even though Holland is ranked higher, but the tournament is being played in South Africa where Frank's country and mine had a little disagreement around the beginning of the last century: The Boer War.

As I typed those last words, it occurred to me that perhaps Americans don't know much about the Boer War beyond, perhaps, a vague recollection of having watched the movie Breaker Morant about 20 years ago. Don't feel bad though, I don't know much about it either except, obviously, that the English were the good guys...Or at least that's what our history books said.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mike's inaugural blog

The last day of June; the first 6 months is done. From these bright, open days of summer, it is the winemaker's habit to practice that thing which most normal people do on January 1: that is, look both forwards and backwards. Although, at 12:01 on January 1, I'm usually swaying backwards and forwards, waxing eloquent about the plight of the thinking-person in a society intent on distraction - but that's a different thing altogether. This mid-point of the year is a time for me to take pride in the wines I have in bottles, and to begin the planning for the new vintage.

Actually, I feel a lot like Doctor Who - but without the cool hair-do and brilliant clothes. What i mean is: I never have a clear sense of time because I'm always working in different years. On any given day, I can give you a run down of 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008; I have no idea what happened to 2006, but that might have been the year of the gin and tonics...

But of course, I am also peering into the future as far as human eye can see; not only to make decisions on the grapes I want to work with, but also what the trendy young things will be drinking 4 years hence. And any insight you trendy young things can give me in that regard could - obviously - work out to be mutually beneficial: you get to drink what you desire and I get to sell it to you! Consumerism at its most delicious.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The BirdWatchers Summer BBQ - 6/17/09

Brought out the day
No curds, but way
For rain to sprinkle -
Yet people did mingle
Sipping ruby red Syrah,
And none did guffaw
At the berry taste sublime
Of this jammy-fresh wine!

Then rub-a-dub-dub
Frozen chicken to rub
Was meager pickin's
'Til the finger lickin',
For an hour of wait
Did ravenous make
The loyal crowd

Then thunderous noise
A threat did voice
As people took cover
Round tables and under
Umbrellas in tow!
Intent did they grow
On waiting outside
For the Sun to arrive!

And as it shone then poured once more
Wafted the sound of Celtic score;
Musicians playing from within
Lured the crowd & calmed the din.
A party had we still
As the music did fill
Our ears
As food & drink our bellies!

Though plans we did make
Were meant to break
Such fate made glad
For great company we had...
And with full feeling left
To the night the rest
As we dined and made merry
At the parking lot of Lone Canary!

**A special thanks to everyone who braved the trials of the day - and stayed!