Happy Idaho Wine Month!

First a bit of history: You may have read that the first grapes planted in the Northwest were in Idaho, where, in 1864 Royal Muscadine vines came to Lewiston. Unfortunately that date has us actually playing second fiddle to Washington. Grape vines first came there in 1825 when the Hudson Bay Company planted them at their Ft. Vancouver. It’s unknown whether they ever produced wine, but we do know that hybrid varieties reached Puget Sound in 1854 and that Italian immigrants in Walla Walla were growing wine grapes, including Cinsault, by 1860. So our claim to being first is close, but no cigar.

What is true is that by 1872 the Clearwater Valley was on the cusp of becoming one of the Northwest’s best-known wine regions. A Frenchman, Louis Desol started things off, but it was a German, Jacob Schefer, who achieved the most notable success. His wines received gold medals from competitions in Omaha, Buffalo, St. Louis and Portland. Today the majority of Idaho Vineyards are further south in the Snake River AVA, most notably, Sunny Slope and the Arena Valley, but things are starting to heat up in the panhandle. Thanks in large part to Clearwater Canyon Cellars’ efforts, the Lewis-Clark Valley achieved AVA status this spring.

Like many wine regions of the late 18th and early 19th century, things came to a screeching halt with prohibition. Though it was repealed in 1933 after just over a decade, the damage was done, and it was slow in turning around. It wasn’t until 1970 that wine grapes were again planted commercially. Ste. Chapelle kicked things off; Pintler and Facelli followed close behind.  But after an encouraging start, things slowed down significantly. By 2002, there were only 11 Idaho wineries (contrast that with the explosion of new wineries in Washington). Still, the last decade has shown promise and the number of wineries has more than quadrupled. AVA status certainly has helped, attracting young talent from other states.

Still, production is very limited. With only 1200 acres of vines planted (contrast that with Washington’s 50,000) most wineries remain small, with distribution confined mainly to Idaho. Despite the quality, it makes national recognition difficult to come by, but there are glimmers of hope. The recently created Eagle Foothills AVA currently

includes only 70 acres of vineyards but there are plans to plant 450 more. And we’re starting to become at least a blip on the wine radar screen. The influential Wine Spectator has rated several of Greg Koenig’s wines 90 points or more. You may not have to wear shades, but the future does look much brighter for the 21st century.

To celebrate Idaho Wine Month, we’re offering a special sale

Save 15% off on every bottle of Idaho wine thru the month of June!

 

Chateauneuf du Pape

(Where the Pope drank his wine)

2012 Mont Olivet CDP Cuvee du Papet $72

Much more concentrated than the traditional cuvée, the 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape La Cuvee du Papet is a blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre.  Its deep purple color is followed by fabulous notes of black raspberry, currants, crushed rock and peppery herbs. This flows to a medium to full-bodied, structured and classically put together Châteauneuf that has fresh acidity and no shortage of tannin. Give this beauty 3-5 years in the cellar, and enjoy bottles through 2032. 94 points WA

2012 Pegau Cuvee de Reserve  CDP $89

One of my favorite wines, the 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvee Réservée is a classic. Beautiful on the nose, with notions of ground pepper, wild herbs, minerality and smoked plum and dark fruit, it’s medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated and has plenty of tannin that comes through on the finish. Similar in style to a lighter-weight 2010, drink this beauty anytime over the coming 12-15 years. 94 points WA

2012 Guillaume Gonnet CDP Poete $52

The grandson of Etienne Gonnet from domaine Font de Michelle makes the beautiful CDP from the old parcel of the Etienne vineyard. The vines average 110 years in age. Made from 60% Grenache and40% Mourvedre and syrah. Very elegant with a a balance of power and finesse.

2012 Mont Olivet CDP $40

The 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape is a mid-weight, medium-bodied effort that has complex olive, tobacco leaf, cured meats and sweet currant fruit. A blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 6% Mourvedre and the rest a mix of permitted varieties……..it is borderline outstanding and I suspect it will have over a decade of longevity. 89 points WA

2012 Milliere CDP V. V. $45

The 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is beautiful, with textbook, slightly old-school notes of saddle leather, garrigue, incense and sweet kirsch and blackberry fruit. Made from a blend of 60% Grenache and 10% each of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Counoise, it has a solid, medium-bodied, classically styled palate feel with lots to like. 90 points WA

2012 Mordoree CDP Reine Bois $89

One of the blockbusters in the vintage, the inky-colored 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape La Reine des Bois – 80% Grenache, completely destemmed and aged 12 months in 80% stainless steel and 20% old barrels – offers fantastic richness and depth in its blackberry liqueur, graphite, wood smoke and crushed-rock-like aromas and flavors. An elegant, stylish and polished example of this cuvée, it comes closest in my mind to a lighter-weight 2010. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated and with fine tannin, it will drink well for 10-15 years. 95 points WA

2012 Chateau Sixtine CDP $54

Made from 40% Grenache, 35% Mourvedre and 25% Syrah, the 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape is a pretty, elegant example of this cuvée. Always a selection of the best parcels and aged in a combination of concrete and barrels (20% being new), it offers plenty of black cherry, blackberry, licorice and garrigue-like qualities to go with a medium to full-bodied, focused and nicely concentrated feel on the palate. 92 points WA

2012 St. Cosme CDP $56

The 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape showed nicely from barrel last year, and didn't disappoint this go around. Offering a classic feel in its Provencal herbs, black raspberry, licorice and peppery bouquet, it's medium to full-bodied, shows the vintage's voluptuous texture and has outstanding length. Ithas plenty of appeal, andwill evolve gracefully for another decade. 91 points WA

2013 Bosquet des Papes CDP $46

Boiron’s 2013 Châteauneuf du Pape is a classically styled blend of 70% Grenache, 17% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and the rest other permitted varieties. Raised mostly in foudres, it offers ample Provençal garrigue, pepper, tobacco leaf and assorted darker fruits to go with a medium-bodied, nicely concentrated and balanced feel on the palate. It has plenty of tannin, so give it a year or two in the cellar. 90 points WA

2013 Moulin Tacussel CDP $45

The 2013 Châteauneuf du Pape is a solid wine from this estate that gives up lots of garrigue, white pepper, underbrush, and sweet cherry and currant-styled fruit. It’s medium to full-bodied, easy drinking and loaded with character. Made from 60% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Cinsault and other varieties, it spent 12 months in 40% barrels (50% being new) and 60% in concrete tank. It will have 10-12 years of longevity. 87 points WA

2013 Clos Du Papes CDP $125

The 2013 Châteauneuf du Pape comes from miniscule yields of 13 hectoliter per hectare (25-39 hectoliters per hectare is normal for the appellation), and hits 14.8% natural alcohol. It has a darker, slightly more concentrated, austere feel than the 2014, and has ample kirsch, blackberry, peppery and crushed rock-like aromas and flavors. [It is] outstanding and has considerable charm and elegance. It will also have 10-15 years oflongevity. 92 points WA

2013 Fortia Tradition CDP $36

A solid traditional cuvée, the 2013 Châteauneuf du Pape (70% Grenache, 18% Syrah and 12% Mourvèdre) offers lots of peppery herbs, ripe black cherries, hints of currants and garrigue to go with a medium-bodied, nicely textured and balanced style on the palate. (87-89) points WA

2013 Pierre Usseglio CDP $48

The 2013 Châteauneuf du Pape is outstanding and about as charming and drinkable as they get in the vintage. From miniscule yields of 22 hectoliters/hectare and deep ruby and mostly opaque in color, it gives up beautiful notes of black raspberries, toasted spice and Provençal garrigue. Medium-bodied, nicely concentrated and with sweet tannin (which are almost non-existent in the vintage), it’s a perfect Châteauneuf du Pape to enjoy anytime over the coming 5-7 years. 90 points WA

2013 Beaucastel CDP $84

The 2013 Châteauneuf du Pape is a beauty and has a rare level of concentration and depth in the vintage. Blueberry, crushed flowers, pepper, and violet aromas and flavors flow nicely to a medium to full-bodied, structured and tannic Beaucastel that has impressive purity and plenty of length. It’s not massive, but still needs 4-5 years of cellaring and will keep for a decade after that. 93 points WA

Drink the Dragon!

One of the most popular Dry Rose's of the past several years is the magnificent Domaine du Dragon Grand Cuvee from the town of Draguignan in the Cotes de Provence. This super pale blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache and a little bit of Rolle (Vermentino) has the delicate aromas of rose petals and red cherry with a lively and refreshing flavor that is easy to drink but also compelling for its length and crisp finish. The grapes are pressed and the skins tossed for minimal contact and maximum flavor and freshness. Just try to stop drinking this once the bottle is open! A bottle of pure refreshment, serve well chilled.

$15.99 bottle, or ask about our special case price: $159.95.