Monday, September 2, 2013

A Study in Oenophelia

Greetings and Salutations! It has certainly been awhile since I excitedly started a blog 2 years ago then promptly abandoned it. Recent developments have prompted me to give it another whirl. One year ago April I passed the Level 2 Certified Sommelier course with the Court of Master Sommeliers. This past July I passed the Certified Specialist in Wine with the Society of Wine Educators. Each step deeper I take into the rabbit hole only serves to further fascinate me. So it is with much fanfare I announce my intention to attempt the Level 3 Advanced Sommelier course. This course has a pass rate of about 10%, is comprised of three sections: Theory, Tasting, and Service. In an effort to prepare for this exam I am starting back up the blog. I will be detailing all of the wines I taste. This will serve a twofold purpose ... it will serve as a written record I can go back to and...You, my precious reader, get to tag along and have me as your personal "Som."

We shall begin in Spain, where my knowledge is most pressed. I will try to detail the books I am reading the wines I am tasting, and the websites I am visiting. Please feel free to respond with any questions, comments, or criticisms you might have. Without further ado....

We begin in Ribera Del Duero. An arid region in central Spain.

The wine is called Tinto Pesquera, 2009.

Varietal: Tinto Fino (an indigenous clone of Tempranillo) 100%

Nose: A powerful combination of black fruits and rich earthy aromas. Blackberry, currant, bramble and a licorice core. The earth is all fresh turned potting soil and saddle leather.  Spicy. It sees a fair amount of American new oak so all the usual suspects are here. Baking spices (cinnamon, vanilla, clove) and cedary cigar box.

Palette: Stunning. Rich and dense. A grippy tannic mouthfeel with loads of licorice and blackberry. A country mile finish. Acidity is quite high and would defiantly recommend food. I had mine with Manchengo cheese, fig paste and fresh baked bread.

Signing off for now I will be back soon with a Priorat, Rias Biaxes Albarino, and a Gran Reserva Rioja. Until Then, Salut.

Joshua M. Potter
Certified Sommelier, CSW

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Blender

Hello again, fellow hedonists. It has been a busy couple weeks since my last post, but I have something special to share. I have been trying many wines in my new position as Sommelier for the UnWINEd boutique wine shop and the two I review tonight are some unique highlights. Without further adieu ...

Steinbeck "The Crash" 2007
62% Cabernet Sauvignon / 18% Zinfandel
14% Petite Sirah / 6% Viognier

An unorthodox blend for certain, I like to think of this as a traditional California Cab in designer jeans and sport coat. Its dressed up for a night out. The Viognier adds a touch of perfume that works like a brightly colored pocket square. The nose is all soft cedar box and cassis with nice cherry undercurrents. The palette is ... sophisticated. Silky tannins prop up the aforementioned cherry flavors. Mid-palette is concentrated berries and the finish is lengthy. A stunning 4.5.

Midnight Cellars 2007 Capriccio Italien
40% Sangiovese, 40% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
A Super-Tuscan Blend from California. Big on the nose; Strong aromas of tobacco, leather and dried blueberry. This wine is not for the faint of heart. I like to think of it as an aging bachelors apartment. Dark and woody. On the tongue this wine opens up to vibrant tart cherry and smooth vanilla on the finish. Very solid selection: 4.0

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Star Ranch

Its been awhile since I have posted but I have had some pretty big changes in my professional life that should lead more frequent posting...More on that later. Lets talk about two phenomenal wines from Central California.

Star Ranch Viogner
Paso Robles, 2010

Nose: Pineapple, Citrus, and call me crazy but schoolyard gravel! I swear it smells just like the fresh gravel they used at the playground of my elementary school.

Palette: Bright. Sassy. Crispy acids with a tart almost crab apple finish.

From here on out I will be rating all the wines a post with a simple rating system...1 being rot gut terrible never drink again and 5 meaning I will be officially retiring from the wine business as there is nothing else to taste. This Viogner finished with a solid 3.5

Star Ranch Supernova (80% Syrah 20% Granache)
Paso Robles 2008

Nose: Rich and Dark. Balanced and elusive. The aromas evolve as the wine warms to room temperature. From being heady and alcoholic at the first waft to its current bouquet of ripe blueberries and bitter cocoa. This wine will grow and mature before your eyes (or nose) if you take your time with it.

Palette: By no means a disappointment it however does not quite live up to the promises of the nose. Decent tannins give structure to light playful cherry with a long rustic finish.

This Rhone blend is right up my ally so no surprise I give it a 4.0 rating.

These are both exclusively available at Unwined on 36th and Old Sewerd.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wine of the Month: Veuve Clicquot

Happy New Year from New Castle of the Pope! The blog has been a little quite lately, but we have a plan to end that, so check back often! Celebrate the new decade throughout January with some champagne, our wine of the month.

Vineyard: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
Vintage: none
Region: Champagne, France
Kind: Champagne
Varietal: Pino Noir, Chardonnay
Price: approx $40

Champagne seemed to be the order of the night and this one is sought after. Yellow label, as it is affectionately called by those who know it best, represents the best of Champagne. It more than punches its weight and is appreciable by amateurs and professionals alike. The bouquet is classic Champagne, slight toast and stoniness with a hint of the ripe apples to come.

Ripe green apples and a smooth creamy finish

Friends. New Years Eve. Hotel room. Enough said?


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Coyote Canyon's winning whites

My parents have to good fortune of living in the heart of Washington's wine country. And it shouldn't be surprising that I get my love for wine from them. So we couldn't have been more pleased when they shipped us two bottles of white from Cayote Canyon signed by winemaker, John Gabriel at a recent tasting event. Mike Andrews, owner and winemaker of Cayote Canyon and his team have a pretty amazing Albariño.
Vineyard: Coyote Canyon
Vintage: 2009
Region: Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
Kind: White
Varietal: Albariño 100%
Price: $18

This particular wine has the distinction of being the only Albarino grown and bottled in Washington. The nose is bountifully fruity, with peach, pear and honeydew finishing with a touch of lime and limestone.

Mouth-feel is a dream. Silky soft and honeydew. Finish is strong with citric acids and a touch of slate.

Shellfish. We paired a cold shrimp scampi cocktail and bacon wrapped scallops. Think Manchego cheese.

Vineyard: Coyote Canyon
Vintage: 2008
Region: Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
Kind: White
Varietal: Viognier 100%
Price: $15

Peaches and Bananas. Very old-world style. This wine evokes classic Cote-du-Rhone with its subtle tropical fruit and earthy backdrop.

Vanilla and nectarine swirled around that old world stoniness. Vibrant lemon zest. A touch of mandarin orange surfaced for me as it warmed.

See above! We drank this after the Albarino and added some smoked cheddar.
Cold shrimp scampi cocktail paired with my homemade cocktail sauce.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pair with lobster: K Viognier

Another treat from our Bring Your Own Lobster dinner party: K Viognier. Even the cats know it's a good choice. PS: This photos was NOT staged, thank you very much.


Vineyard: K Viognier
Vintage: 2007
Region: Columbia Valley, Washington
Kind: White
Varietal: Viognier 100%Web site:
Price: 26.99 at Crush Wine Cellar, their website lists it at $20, but also says it is sold out.

Now this is a wine close to my heart. This is one of the reasons I fell in love with Viognier and continue to have an on-again off-again affair with this varietal. Playfully sassy aromas of tropical fruit within a backdrop of sweet vanilla and a flutter of lemongrass.

Light and fun on the tongue the citrus takes the drivers seat on the palette. It finishes with a lovely vanilla note. Not to heavy and not too light Viognier continues to be the "anti-Chardonnay" for me.

Throw your own BYOL party. Or try ...Halibut or cod (fish and chips, really!) King crab or think light pasta with butter or olive oil.

As a designer, Annette loves this label.

BYOL: Bring Your Own Lobster party

Friday night we had a small dinner party, one rule: Bring your own lobster tail. A few friends joined us for butter-poached lobster, spring greens salad, sauteed asparagus, Portobello mushroom risotto, pecan-encrusted lamb, and of course, wine. Which brings us to our Wine of the Week: Wallace.THE STATS:
Vineyard: Wallace
Vintage: 2006
Region: Borossa Valley, Australia
Kind: Red
Varietal: Shiraz 80%, Grenache 20%
Web site:
Price: 17.99 at Crush Wine Cellar

Everything you could want from a $17 bottle. The rich, dark aroma is tobacco and leather underscored by the beautiful jamminess and black cherry cola that is Barossa Shiraz. It is brightened ever so slightly by the addition of Grenache.

Once on the tongue it doesn't disappoint, the addition of Grenache subtly turns down the volume of a typically full bodied Shiraz, to a more toned down medium bodied blend. The cherry cola and tobacco carry all the way to the long glorious finish. The tannins are light so keep this in mind with the pairing decisions.

Any pasta with red sauce, sausage and any smokey cheese (Gouda or cheddar are my favs).

Portobello risotto and pecan-encrusted rack of lamb with port wine sauce.