I went to visit my family for Thanksgiving--the first time that I've done that since 2005. It was cold and snowy, which is pretty unusual for Seattle. I had a lot of fun and got to see my extended family, which doesn't happen all that often since I live in LA and they all live in Western Washington. It was really fun for the most part. The lamest part is that my grandfather fell and broke his hip, which honestly, was a cluster-fuck and a half. Anyways, aside from that lameness, I did manage to drink too much wine.
The first night that I was home, I drank almost a full bottle of Beringer Cabernet. Basically your typical fruit forward oak juice. There was some other wine in there too; maybe I drank a bit too much. Amusingly, I didn't drink anything but water on Thanksgiving...haha.
The next night, stationed in Bellingham more prematurely than expected due to the unfortunate hip fracture, I picked up a bottle of the L'Ecole Number 41 Semillon, basically modeled on a white Bordeaux (89% Semillon, 11% Sauvignon Blanc), which featured intense pear, peach honey and mineral notes. A little hot and off-kilter I thought, but fairly good for 11$. B
We also opened a bottle of the Planing Mill Red, which is a blend mainly featuring Cabernet. I picked that up at Trader Joes for 16$ as well (wanted to keep it local with Washington wines...). It was good, although not lighting off fireworks for the price. Vanilla, cinnamon, cherry, raspberry, eucalytpus, a little leather and some caramel notes. Very fruit forward with obvious barrel notes, a tiny bit of tannin, and a long sour cherry finish. B-
I drove back down to North Bend to hang out with some of my friends and have dinner with them. My friend John's wife roasted an awesome chicken with some other stuff, and we had some wine. First up was the Domaine de Nizas Coteux du Languedoc 2006 that I picked up at Costco for 16$. Syrah, Mouvedre and Grenache blend. This is an extremely elegant wine. Great balance, with berries and herbs. Definitely a fan. A- I also brought a bottle of Eroica, which is always good. Limey and chalky, with lots of acidity--a bargain at 15$ in Washington.
There were some more bottles consumed, but the most interesting was the Layer Cake Shiraz 2009. A total fruit bomb, with pepper, mint, chocolate, and a whole lot of baked fruit. Around 10$ I think or so. C+
Monday, I went and checked out Sitka and Spruce, which is a cool restaurant that I've wanted to try for a while. Poached chicken with some sumac, cabbage, and yogurt was cooked perfectly and was an interesting dish. Olive oil gelato was middling. Olives were good, bread was good. I hear that they change up the menu frequently. It's not too expensive and they have a good wine list filled with lots of interesting wines--Lopez de Herediz, Occhipinti, lots of stuff from the Loire. Anyways, it's a cool place, the food is good, and people are super nice. Worth a look. Also went to the new Tom Douglas sandwich place--Seatown--next to Etta's on Sunday; awesome because you can get a sandwich to go for cheap. The porchetta with picked sweet red onion relish was as good as Italy, and I don't say that lightly.
Sitting at the airport with some time to kill yesterday, I went to Vino Volo. I think Vino Volo is cool, but lets do some math for a second: I got the Sommeliers tasting, which was 19$, and featured 04 Lascombes and 06 Leonetti Merlot. Total, the tasting is about 3 ounces. Yep, they are stingy as fuck with the pours. I also got a glass of Raptor Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir--16$ (I figured WTF?), for what I imagine was about 3oz or so. So they are stingy as fuck there. Tough though, because it really is the only place in the airport that's got interesting stuff to drink. I just wish they weren't such dicks with the pours. Oh well. Anyways, the 04 Lascombes was far and away my favorite of the three. Rich, with a huge cherry nose and hints of spice. The Leonetti was on a different spectrum, with lots of barrely notes, herbs and berries. Funny, Leonetti got on the WS Top 100--retails for 90$ a pop. I only got a small pour (because Vino Volo are stingy as fuck!!), but I have to admit, I was not floored by the wine. Yes it was good, but 90$ good? Not for me. It can definitely improve with time in bottle though, and I'm sure that it will get increasingly complex. I would love to have a full glass in about 5 years. The Raptor Ridge was okay, but sure as shit not worth 16$ for such a tiny pour. A full bottle would be worth 16$. New world style, with an umami rich nose, spices, vanilla, and lots of cherries. The finish is finely detailed with vanilla and cherry nuances. B+