Tag Archives: Vineyards

Sparkman Cellars Kindred Chardonnay

Kindred Impulse

Sparkman Cellars 2014 “Kindred” Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington

Fellow wine lovers, I first met Chris Sparkman back in 2006, when I was working at Matthews Cellars and he was the General Manager of The Waterfront Restaurant, now Aqua by El Gaucho. That same year, he debuted Sparkman Cellars, and we did a collaboration winemaker dinner for the Auction of Washington Wines. With his years of experience in the food and beverage business, and having Mark Ryan McNeilly as his consulting winemaker for the first few years, he was well on his way to success.

Sparkman Cellars 2014 “Kindred” Chardonnay $17.99

Now Sparkman Cellars has a value line of wines called “Kindred”, and the 2014 Chardonnay offers a lot of bang for the buck. It’s a nice, fat, buttery, Chardonnay with a healthy amount of oak. The fruit is sourced from Oasis, Olsen, and Stillwater Creek Vineyards, then aged for 18 months in 27% new French oak barrels. It tastes of fresh apricots, yellow apples, and hints of hazelnuts and straw, finishing with a rich and creamy texture.

Sparkman made just 334 cases of their Kindred Chardonnay

Click here to order the Sparkman Kindred Chardonnay

Sparkman Kindred Chardonnay

Sparkman Kindred Chardonnay

Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State Wine

Vineyard(s): 60% Oasis, 33% Olsen, 7% Stillwater Creek

Grape(s): 100% Chardonnay

Aging: 27% New French Oak Barrels for 18 Months

Drinkability: Now through 2018

Body: Medium-Full

Alcohol: 14.5% by volume

Drink This if you Like: Disruption Chardonnay, La Crema

Food Pairing: Scallops, Pasta with Cream Sauce, Chicken

Production: 334 cases

Maison Roy Petite Incline Pinot Noir

Beaux Freres Impulse

Maison Roy 2014 “Petite Incline” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR

Fellow wine lovers, you may have picked up on the fact that I’ve found myself extremely bored with Oregon Pinot Noir for the past several years. There are still some great ones out there, but for the most part, I’m finding much of them to be boring and overpriced. One Willamette Valley Pinot Noir which has kept my interest throughout time is Beaux Freres. While their flagship wine may run for $95 per bottle, I do think it’s worth the dollar. As luck would have it, the families which founded and still own and run Beaux Freres have launched a completely new project, Mason Roy. It’s one of the better Oregon Pinot Noirs I’ve had recently, and it’s very affordable.

Back in 1991 Mike Etzel and Robert Roy came together to found the now famous Beaux Freres. Fast forward to 2012 and their Sons Jared Etzel and Marc Roy have started their owner winery, Maison Roy, after spending years working under their fathers and learning their craft. I’m a born skeptic, and I’ve seen other second generation wineries pop up with less than impressive wines, so I was pleasantly surprised with how much I’m enjoying the Maison Roy.

Maison Roy 2014 Petite Incline Pinot Noir

Maison Roy 2014 Petite Incline Pinot Noir

Maison Roy 2014 “Petite Incline” Pinot Noir $34.99

I’ve consistently found Beaux Freres to be among the biggest, most dense, and most complex Pinot Noir out there, and the Maison Roy follows in those same footsteps. It stands on it’s own, without trying to be a clone of Beaux Freres, but you can definitely see that Jared Etzel and Marc Roy are their fathers’ sons in terms of their wine philosophies. It’s not quite as complex as a $95 bottle of Beaux Freres, but it’s beautiful and among the most complex Oregon Pinot Noir in the $35 range.

It’s not as “Petite” as the name might suggest, though they do offer a higher end bottle simply named “Incline”. The Petite Incline is unfined and unfiltered, which gives a bit of extra texture and slightly cloudy appearance. It’s 100% Pinot Noir grapes, sourced from a handful of great  vineyards around the Willamette Valley. The nose is packed with lush fruits, spicy herbs, and hints of forest floor, while the palate is medium-full bodied, for a Pinot Noir. There are flavors of preserved black cherries, dehydrated strawberries, hints of pepper and tobacco. It’s shows a mineral essences with notes of plums and raspberries. Overall, a very pleasant and lovely Pinot Noir.

We were able to get our hands on just 15 bottles to feature on Impulse, and they’re first come first serve

Vineyards: Gran Moraine, Terry, Merriman, La Collina, Stoller, Kelly
Grape(s): 100% Pinot Noir
Drinkability: Now through 2021
Body: Medium-Full for Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Beaux Freres, Cameron
Food Pairing: Salmon, Pork Tenderloin, Lamb
Availability: 15 bottles



Disruption Red Wine

Disruption Impulse

Disruption Wine Co. 2014 Red Wine

Fellow wine lovers, sometimes good winemakers are obscured, working in the shadow of their bosses. It’s until they have an opportunity to break out on their own that they start to shine. Andrew Latta spent years working for Charles Smith, crafting some of the most well known wines in Washington State, but not a lot of people knew who he was until recently. He introduced his eponymous Latta Wines just a couple of years ago, and immediately got a bit of press for it. In 2015 he was named as a “Washington’s Game Changer” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, then in 2016 he was named one of Washington State’s winemakers to watch by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.  Now he’s launching a second label, with pure pleasure wines and great pricing- Disruption Wine.

Disruption Wine Company 2014 Red Blend $14.99

The Disruption Wine Company red leans towards the hedonistic side of things. It’s big, dense, ripe, and bold. Rather primary in nature, with great purity of fruit, it’s smooth and easy to enjoy. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Malbec sourced from quality vineyards Clifton Bluff, Newhouse, and DenHoed, throughout the Columbia Valley. It’s full of dark berry notes, such as blackberries, chocolate covered blueberries, with hints of violets, cedars, and pepper

Disruption 2014 Red Wine

Disruption 2014 Red Wine

Click here to order the Disruption Red Blend

Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State Wine

Vineyard(s): Clifton Bluff, Newhouse, and DenHoed

Grape(s): 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Malbec

Drinkability: Now through 2018

Body: Full

Alcohol: 13.5% by volume

Drink This if you Like: Secret Squirrel



Force Majeure “Parabellum” Syrah

Major Impulse

Force Majeure 2013 “Parabellum” Syrah, Red Mountain, Washington

Fellow wine lovers, you may have heard of a cult winery in Washington’s Red Mountain region, called Force Majeure Vineyards- formerly known as Grand Reve. They’re known for having the highest elevation vineyard currently producing wine on Red Mountain. They’re also known for turning out big, highly-sought-after, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from their estate vineyard. Force Majeure’s flagship wines can go for as much as $90 upon release. Luckily for us, today we’re able to debut their brand new second label, Parabellum, which comes at a much more approachable price of entry. This inaugural vintage features very small quantities, as only 120 cases have been produced, of which they’re offering us just about a handful.

Being new, the Parabellum wines aren’t yet review by any major wine critics, however Jeb Dunnuck of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has been quoted as saying the following about Force Majeure’s wines in general, “I’ve raved about this producer in the past, and I continue to do so… I urge you to taste through this lineup as the quality of the fruit shows in each wine…I’ve put these wines in numerous blind tastings with the best wines in the world and they always hold their own.”

Force Majeure 2013 “Parabellum” Syrah $44.99

Interesting story about how the folks at Force Majeure came to choose the name for their new wine. Purportedly they found the word “Parabellum” stamped on some shell casings which they discovered at the vineyard site during excavation and planting of the vines. I did a bit of research myself, and learned that Parabellum is the name of a German firearms manufacturer. Hence the crosshair style imagery on the wine’s label.

The wine itself is 100% Syrah sourced from Force Majeure’s estate vineyard, high atop Red Mountain. It’s aged for 18 months in 30% new French oak barrels, is a bright fuchsia color in the glass, and medium-full bodied on the palate. It has an enticing nose, with hints of vanilla, ripe and berries, and notes of smoke. The palate is very gratifying, with velvety texture and delectable flavors of cookie dough, bright raspberry and blueberry, and hints of that signature Syrah meatiness. Overall, a very satisfying wine right out the gate, and I think it will development in complexity with another year or two in the bottle, can keep for several.

Force Majeure "Parabellum" 2013 Syrah

Force Majeure “Parabellum” 2013 Syrah

Click here to order the Force Majeure “Parabellum” Syrah

Region: Red Mountain AVA, Washington State Wine
Vineyard(s): Force Majeure Estate Vineyard
Grape(s):100% Syrah
Aging: 18 Months in 30% New French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2020
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14.6% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Force Majeure, DeLille Cellars, Mark Ryan
Production: 120 case
Availability: 6 cases



College Cellars of Walla Walla Viognier

Collegiate Impulse

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

Fellow wine lovers, there’s a lesser known winery in Walla Walla which has really come into its own in recent years. In the past several months alone, they have had multiple wines winning top honors in various wine competitions around the nation, include with Sunset Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, TexSom/Dallas Morning News, and the Northwest Wine Summit. Not to mention they were written up in the Seattle Times late last year. This winery is making some outstanding wines, and is really unique because a part of the winemaking program at the Walla Walla Community College, and the wines are made by students under the guidance of top wine experts.

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier $16.99

The Viticulture and Enology program at Walla Walla Community College boasts an advisory board which reads like the who’s who of Walla Walla- including winemakers from Woodward Canyon, Cayuse, Leonetti, L’Ecole, and Pepper Bridge- which often means that the students are interning at those high caliber wineries while in school. About three years ago I had the pleasure of meeting two of the instructors in charge of the there, Tim Donahue and Sabrina Lueck, and immediately took note of their tremendous knowledge and high level of passion for wine. Suffice it to say, ever since these two took charge of the program, the wines made by College Cellars of Walla Walla have gotten better and better every year, and this year they’ve broken through towards gaining recognition for their efforts. Don’t be fooled by the fact that these are student made wines. Once, when I was in college, I had my hair cut at a beauty school, by a student. The haircut was so bad, that I had to get it cut again elsewhere to fix it. This isn’t like that, and the wines are without a doubt made at a professional level.

I’m of the opinion that it’s not easy to find a great Viognier, as it can be difficult to turn out one which is balanced. The College Cellars Viognier is just that- balanced, elegant, and true to style. It’s one of few Viogniers I’ve seen sourced exclusively from Walla Walla, where I think the climate suites the grape properly. They’ve aged it in a large scale neutral oak tank, which can give the wine a bit of extra body, but no heavy oak character. The final product is a pretty glass of Viognier, with a lightly perfumed nose, showing hints of stonefruit, and tropical aromatics. The palate is medium bodied, dry and fairly crisp, with flavors of apricot, honeysuckle, and a hint of bright pineapple. Surely a great summer wine, and an excellent value

As far as I know, this wine is exclusive to us, as they’re not currently distributing it in the Seattle area. They’re loading up and sending us a shipment of the Viognier just for Impulse, which means we only get one shot at ordering it, and will need everyone’s orders in by 10am tomorrow (Wednesday) please.

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

College Cellars of Walla Walla 2015 Viognier

Click here to order the College Cellars of Walla Walla Viognier

Region: Walla Walla Valley AVA, Washington State Wine
Vineyard(s): Blue Mountain and Dwelley Vineyards
Grape(s): Viognier
Aging: Aged in a Large Neutral Oak Tank
Drinkability: Now through 2017
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 14.1% by volume
Press: Winery written up in the Seattle Times