Tag Archives: Merlot

Palencia Wines Vino la Monarcha 2013 Merlot

Monarch Impulse

Palencia Wines “Vino la Monarcha” 2013 Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington

Fellow wine lovers, the state of Michoacán in Western Mexico is well known as the home of the largest population of Monarch Butterflies in the world. These butterflies migrate between Mexico, the US, and Canada every year, and are in danger of dieing out- having seen approximately 80% decline in their popular in recent years. Victor Palencia’s family comes from Michoacán, and his Palencia Wines “Vino la Monarcha” labels are an homage to the Monarch butterfly, and its import rolls in farming as a pollinator.

Palencia Wines “Vino la Monarcha” 2013 Merlot $19.99

Last year Victor Palencia of Palencia Wine and Vino la Monarcha was listed in Wine Enthusiast’s list of “40 Under 40 Tastemakers” at just 31 years old. Legend has it that Victor Palencia starting working in the vineyards of Washington at the age of 13, alongside his father.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a huge fan of a well-made Merlot, especially from Washington State, only trouble is that I struggle to find ones I like. I think this is only the second or third single varietal Merlot I’ve featured on Impulse, so that’s exciting for me. Victor Palencia’s Vino la Monarcha 2013 Merlot is sourced from Frenchman Hills Vineyard in the Columbia Valley and aged for 14 months in French oak barrels. It’s shows bold flavors of dark cherries and plums, with big notes of oak, vanilla, and toast. There are hints of baking spices, herb, and the wine is medium-full in body, with very smooth texture.

Victor made just 250 cases of the Vino La Monarcha Merlot

Vicotor Palencia Wines Vino la Monarcho 2013 Merlot

Vicotor Palencia Wines Vino la Monarcho 2013 Merlot

Click here to order the Vino la Monarcha Merlot

Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State Wine

Vineyard(s): Frenchman Hills Vineyard

Grape(s): Merlot

Aging: 14 Months in French Oak Barrels

Drinkability: Now through 2019

Body: Medium-Full

Alcohol: 14.9% by volume

Production: 250 cases



Betz 2012 Bordeaux Releases

Muscular Impulse

Betz Family Winery 2012 “Clos de Betz” and “Pere de Famille”

Fellow wine lovers, I’ve said many times that Washington’s 2012 vintage is one of the best on record, yielding some of my favorite wines of all time. Turns out that Bob Betz, of Betz Family Winery, agrees with me full heartedly, and then some. In fact, Bob says that 2012 is among the top 3 to 5 vintages of that last 40 years. A pretty bold, and accurate, statement! During the growing season, everything came together just right, for a near perfect vintage- one full of power, richness, strength, and character.

Finally, I’m happy to be offering you the highly vaunted Bordeaux style wines of Betz Family Winery, from the near perfect vintage of 2012. They are in extremely high demand, so we were able to eke out just a tiny amount for a rather limited feature on Impulse.

Betz Family Winery 2012 “Clos de Betz” Bordeaux Red $59.99

A classic Betz wine, made even more authoritative by the riches of the 2012 vintage, this red fis lush and smooth, while firm and full bodied. A blend based on 67% Merlot, with 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot, it shows all the velvety qualities and delicious plummy fruits of a lovely Washington Merlot, backed by hints of spice and strength brought on by the Cabernet and Petit Verdot. If you’ve ever felt that Merlot, or Merlot based blends are not powerful enough for your tastes, this one does not fall into that category.

The wine displays lots of deep black raspberry and dark cherry, with notes of fruit leather, and hints of cocoa. It has notions of spicy herbs, and plum liqueur, alongside fresh flower petals. It’s definitely worthy of decanting if you’re so inclined, and after about an hour it opens up to a meaty, smoky quality, while softening up nicely.

Jeb Dunnuck gives the Clos de Betz a score of 93-95 points, writing for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Only 862 cases were made, and we have just 12 bottles to offer today, first come first serve.

Betz Family Winery 2012 Clos de Betz

Betz Family Winery 2012 Clos de Betz

Click here to order the Betz Clos de Betz

Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State
Grape: 67% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Petit Verdot
Aging: 100% French Oak Barrels 65% New and 35% One Time Fill, for 16 Months
Drinkability: Now through 2023, worth decanting
Body: Full
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Bold Wines, Washington Merlot
Press: Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 93-95pts
Food Pairings: Prime Rib Roast
Production: 862 cases
Availability: 12 bottles

Betz Family Winery 2012 “Pere de Famille” Cabernet Sauvignon $74.99

As the name suggests, the Betz Family Winery “Pere de Famille” is the lead of the line up. This flagship Cabernet Sauvignon is stunning, year after year, and the 2012 is the cream of the crop. Just yesterday, I took part is a blind tasting of Washington Cabernets and Cabernet blends over $65, and everyone agreed that the Betz Pere de Famille was their favorite.

This Cabernet has always had a few other Bordeaux grapes blended into it, but the 2012 has the highest percentage of Cabernet ever, making it one of the biggest, most muscular yet. Bob Betz calls it a “historic” vintage, saying that the Cabernet is just so extraordinary this year, that it needs less blending to round it out; it’s almost perfect on its own. The nose pops with lots of spicy black pepper notes, hints of savory herbs, and freshly ground coffee. The palate is full bodied and tightly structured with firm tannins and balanced acidity. The Cabernet shows flavors of cassis, blackberries, and leather. Again, I certainly recommend decanting this wine, and watching as it gives way to greater earthy qualities of graphite and dusty gravel, after about an hour of breathing. There are further notes of anise, thyme, and lavender resonating in the background of this intense Cab. It is a powerful wine, steadied by a distinctive element of finesse.

Jeb Dunnuck gives the Betz Pere de Famille a score of 94-96 points, and calls it a “knockout”, writing for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Just 954 cases were made, and we have only 6 bottles to offer today, first come first serve.

Betz 2012 Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon

Betz 2012 Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon

Click here to order the Betz Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon

Region: Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State
Grape: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot
Aging: 100% French oak barrels 65% new 35% one fill, for 16 months
Drinkability: Now through 2023, Decanting Recommended
Body: Full
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Drink This if you Like:
Press: 2012 Pere de Famille, Cabernet Sauvignon 94-96pts
Food Pairings: Wagyu Steak
Production: 954 cases
Availability: 6 Bottles



Maculan: Rustic Impulse

Maculan 2011 “Brentino” Italian Red

Fellow wine lovers, recently I had a nice little dinner at La Rustica in West Seattle. I had the Pasta Bolognese with Italian Sausage, and paired with it a bottle of Maculan 2011 “Brentino” red wine from Italy. It was a beautiful wine, and a perfect pairing.

Maculan is a three generations old estate in the enchanting village of Breganze, within the Veneto region of Italy. Breganze is close to better known villages such as Valpolicella and Amarone, sharing a similarly volcanic and tuffaceous set of soils in the foothills of the Alps, where Maculan’s estate vineyards are located.

Maculan 2011 “Brentino” Italian Red $17.99 (Regularly $21)

Maculan is well adept at mixing great Italian wine traditions with hints of modernity. This “Brentino” red blend is comprised of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet sauvignon- not exactly traditional Italian grapes, but when you put your nose to the glass and your palate to the wine, it most certainly smells and tastes of Italy.

It features seductive aromas of black cherry cordial intertwined with hints of cedar and fennel. The palate is medium bodied and very smooth, with the acidity to encourage food friendliness. There are flavors of wild blackberries, and a seductive ether of scorched earth, inspired by the volcanic soils in which the grapes are grown.It’s aged for 1 year in a small amount of new French oak is used, sixteen percent, giving it a light sense of cocoa powder and nutmeg. A nice everyday drinker, and a great value.

Maculan 2011 "Brentino" Itlian Red Wine

Maculan 2011 “Brentino” Italian Red Wine

Click here to order the Maculan Brentino Red Wine

Region: Breganze DOC, Veneto, Italy
Vineyard: Maculan Estate Vineyards
Grape: 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet sauvignon
Aging: 1 year in 50% stainless steel, 16% New French Oak, and 34% Used Oak
Drinkability: Now through 2017
Body: Medium
Drink This if you Like: Valpolicella, Chinon
Food Pairings: Pasta Bolognese with Sausage

Cin Cin


Balboa 2012 Walla Walla Red Wine

Eidolon Impulse: Balboa 2012 Walla Walla Red Wine

Fellow Wine Lovers, we’ve featured a few wines from the hotly up-and-coming region within Walla Walla known as “The Rocks of Milton-Freewater.” This region is formed on an ancient riverbed which is covered with large basalt cobblestones, and the source for the famed wines of Cayuse and Reynvaan. Wines coming from the rocks are distinctly terroir driven, with lots of earthy characteristic, perhaps too earthy for those who are not so eager to have a wine which tastes like rocks and dirt- though many do love this quality.

Lately I’ve had a few bottles which combine grapes from The Rocks with more fruit driven grapes harvested out of other areas in Walla Walla, culminating in a wine with outstanding balance between earthy and fruity characteristics.

Balboa 2012 Walla Walla Red Wine $19.99 (Regularly $26)

Balboa in Walla Walla is a younger winery, founded in 2003 by winemaker Tom Glase. His career started back in 1998 when he began working at L’Ecole No. 41, one of the most respected wineries in Walla Walla, then moved on to Corliss Estate before launching Balboa Winery.

For this bottling of 2012 Red Wine, Tom combines fruit from his Estate Eidolon Vineyard in The Rocks, with Summit View Vineyard. As the name might suggest, Summit View Vineyard is one of the highest planted in Walla Walla, perched just above Seven Hills Vineyard, with panoramic views of the entire value. In contrast to Eidolon Vineyard in The Rocks, Summit View turns out grapes with are driven by purity of fruit, and when combined, you get the best of both worlds.

This is one of the favorite red blends I’ve had all year, and it’s recently gone to close-out pricing, so it’s without a doubt one of the best values in Washington State red wine right now. A blend of 39% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 16% Malbec, 14% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc, aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, it shows delicate balance and captivating depth of flavor. Up front there are beautiful clean fruits of ripe blackberry, black cherry, and juicy purple plums, while hints of licorice, vanilla, and mint play in the background. Digging further down, the earth comes through with suggestions of crushed rocks, sage brush, and dried leaves. Really an outstanding bottle of wine that opens up beautifully over several hours- something I’m personally stocking up on for everyday drinking. Only 430 cases were made.

Click here to order the Balboa Walla Walla Red Wine

Balboa 2012 Red Wine

Balboa 2012 Red Wine

Region: Walla Walla Valley, Washington State
Vineyard: Eidolon Estate Vineyard and Summit View Vineyard
Grapes: 39% Merlot, 25% Syrah, 16% Malbec, 14% Petit Verdot, and 6% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 16 Months in French Oak Barrels
Drinkability: Now through 2019
Body: Medium-Full
Alcohol: 14.4% by volume
Production: 430 cases



Chateau Beauregard Lagupeau 2010 Bordeaux Rouge

Chateau Beauregard Lagupeau Impulse

Fellow wine lovers, since 1850, Chateau Beauregard Lagupeau has been owned by the same family, with Jacques and Marie-Laure Perromat. representing the sixth generation of winemakers today. The Chateau is situated in the Graves sub-region of Bordeaux, named so for its distinctly gravelly soil. Graves is also home to one of the most admired first growth Bordeaux, Chateau Haut-Brion. It’s the wines of Graves which brought about the term Claret, as Eleanor of Aquitaine (France) married King Henry II (England), and export of their local red wine to England began. Wine production in this area predates that of the Medoc area, another well known sub-region of Bordeaux.

Chateau Beauregard Lagupeau 2010 Bordeaux Red $12.99

Comprised of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, the Chateau Beauregard is a classic left-bank Bordeaux Rouge. Hand harvested fruit, from 25 year old vines, is fermented in large stainless steel vats, then aged in 25% renewed French Oak. Renewed oak is a traditional old technique, where old oak barrels and vats are manually scraped out to remove the residue of previous vintages, then re-charred by an open flame to add a hint of toast qualities. Renewed oak has a significantly more nuanced impact on wine, compared to brand new oak, since much of the heavier flavors have been extracted by previous use.

Tasting the Beauregard, I’m pleasantly surprised by how deep and complex it is. It’s easy to forget that good Bordeaux exists at this level, since all we ever hear about is how prices are rocketing to astronomical heights. It’s medium bodied, with lingering tannins which can use an hour in the decanter. Up front, there is a brandishing of leather and docile hints of barn-yard which don’t overpower the wines other characteristics. You get a hint of toasty oak qualities, parallelled by a shade of black pepper and roasted chestnuts. The mid-palate really opens up with dark notes of cassis, framboise, and wild berry vines. It comes home with signature gravelly earth, a touch of rosemary, and a polished finish. Densley structured, and still fairly tight, it should open up nicely over the next year or two.

Chateau Beauregard Lagupeau BordeauxClick here to order the Chateau Beauregard Bordeaux Rouge

Region: Graves AOC, Bordeaux, France
Grapes: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
Aging: 25% renewed French Oak
Drinkability: Now through 2018
Body: Medium
Alcohol: 13% by volume
Drink This if you Like: Haut Brion, Classic Bordeaux Red
Food Pairings: Boeuf Bordelaise



Bordeaux Impulse: Chateau Argadens Bordeaux Red and White

Fellow wine lovers, since 1883 the Sichel family have been merchants of the finest Bordeaux wines, with one generation succeeding the last, and the sixth generation of Sichel who are now at the helm have a unique perspective on the past, present, and future of Bordeaux. They see, first hand, the widening gap between the producers of modern Bordeaux and those still in the past, and this unique situation has given them cause to make the transition from a Bordeaux broker to Bordeaux producer. Over the past 50 years they’ve taken it upon themselves to acquire a number of estates, some thriving – others derelict, working to modernize viticultural and vinification practices in order to meet their fullest potential in wine. They tweak the precision with which the vines are tended by adding higher density plantings and lowering crop yields, with deeper concentration, and they bring modern winemaking equipment into the cellar. 

Within the Sichel family line-up are top wines such a the famed Chateau Palmer (one of my favorite third growths) as well as lesser known estates, such as Chateau Argadens, onto which they impose the same exacting standards. 

Chateau Argadens 2009 Bordeaux Superieur Rouge $14.99 (Normally $18) 

Named for the family which founded the estate in the 12th century, Chateau Argadens is a welcomed value in Bordeaux. You may have caught wind of numerous reports in recent years regarding the sky-rocketed trajectory of Bordeaux pricing to the point un-obtainability; they say now that sales have dropped drastically due to unaffordable nature of the wines. Thankfully, if we dig deep enough, we can still unearth the likes of Chateau Argadens. 

This is a Bordeaux Superieur, which means it’s harvested from a single parcel of land, from older vines, and aged in barrel a minimum of 12 months (14 in this case). A blend of 63% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc with an average vine age of thirty years. The plots are well situated atop one of the highest hills in the region, providing them with superb exposure to the sun and excellent drainage from the rains, to grow ripe and concentrated grapes. The fruit is hand-harvested and fermented in large vats, then aged in 30% new French oak barrels for 14 months, receiving light fining and filtering prior to being bottled. 

2009 is an ideal vintage for finding great values in Bordeaux, being that it was an overall exceptional year, elevating the quality of wine produced at all levels. Already with 5 years of age, the Argadens is starting to show signs of maturing, but still can be held on to for another few years. It starts out tight on the nose, with nuances of plums and sage from the Merlot, then the palate takes to you black pepper and dark fruits from the Cabernet Sauvignon with the Merlot showing hints of chocolate. In the mid-palate, the tannins are firm yet smooth, there is granitic earth, blackberry, and a touch of baking spice from the oak. It all finishes with hints of pomegranate and spicy Cabernet Franc notes. 

Region: Bordeaux, France 
Vineyard: Argadens Estate Vineyards 
Grape: 63% Merlot 32% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Cabernet Franc 
Aging: 30% new French oak barrels for 14 months 
Drinkability: Now – 2019 
Body: Medium-Full 
Food Pairings: Braised beef, pot roast, grilled asparagus 

Chateau Argadens 2010 Bordeaux Blanc $14.99 (Normally $18) 

The Chateau Argadens Blanc is a traditional Bordeaux white of 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon. The two sets of grapes are harvested and fermented individually, with the Semillon juice being pressed immediately, while the Sauv Blanc grapes are crushed and the juices allowed to soak on the skins for a short period of time. This allows for the extraction of some phenolic content from the skins, giving the finished wine a richer mouthfeel. During this delicate process, before fermentation has started, the fresh juice is blanketed in a layer of inert Nitrogen gas to protect it from undesirable microorganisms which would otherwise feed on its sugars. After a few days, the juice is separated from the skins and placed into 30% new French oak barrels to begin fermentation, during which the lees are stirred multiple times each week to make for a wine with greater texture. 

A really underappreciated wine, white Bordeaux is the kind of wine that pairs with most foods and pleases all palates, while presenting exceptional value. The Sauvignon Blanc provides freshness with notes of green apples and lemons with a backbone of crisp acidity, while the Semillon brings richer flavors of bosque pears, a slight almond nuttiness, and hints of honey. The Argadens Blanc is light, minerally, and refreshing, perfect for sunny weather with oysters and other seafood. 

Click here to order the Chateau Argadens White Bordeaux 

Region: Bordeaux, France 
Vineyard: Argadens Estate Vineyards 
Grape: 65% Sauvignon Blanc and 35% Semillon 
Aging: 30% new French oak barrels for 6 months 
Drinkability: Now-2015 
Body: Light-Medium 
Food Pairings: Oysters, cod, halibut