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A GREAT wine from the Great Northwest

Interested in one of the best American-made Southern Rhone-style red blends for under $30?

Now that the elections are over, let's talk about something that's truly important: a bottle of the 2007 Brian Carter Cellars Byzance red blend from the Columbia Valley (51% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, 2% Counoise, 2% Cinsaut).

This wine has a GORGEOUS bouquet, exhibiting floral elements, dark fruit, earth, spices, and just a hint of a suggestion of a rumor of oak.  I don’t know what it is about red wines that have fantastic floral characteristics, but when I pop a cork and the first thing that hits my nasal sensory receptors is a bouquet of flowers, I just can’t wait to taste that Bad Boy!  

Upfront disclosure: I’ve had quite a few wines from Washington, but I’ve NEVER had a Southern Rhone-style blend from The Great Northwest.  I’ve had dozens/hundreds/thousands? of Rhone-style blends from California (not to mention France), but for being my first Rhone-style experience from Washington, I was blown away by how good this red blend is.

 This red is FANTASTICALLY well-balanced, showing 25% wonderful fruit, 25% fantastic structure, 25% perfect spice and depth-of-flavor, and 25% faultless terrior/earth, not to mention 100% deliciousness!  This red is almost full-bodied (leaning ever so slightly left to medium-bodied) and exhibits fantastic red/dark fruit flavors like plums, black cherries and berries, along with wonderfully savory herbs like sage and rosemary.  After the fruit and spice elements, there’s a PERFECT essence of terrior; I had never even heard of Brian Carter Cellars, but I’m assuming, based on the quality of this wine, the full-retail price, and the quality-to-price ratio, that this is one of Washington’s best bargains.  Like any self-respecting French or Spanish or Italian red wine, there’s an earthiness that reveals where this wine came from and how well-made the wine was assembled both in the vineyard and in the cellar.

 We all know that Washington can produce fantastic Cabs, Syrahs, Bordeaux-style blends, Rieslings, and Chardonnays, but who knew that the Columbia Valley could produce Southern Rhone-style blends that could actually compete with (and in many cases, surpass) Chateauneuf-du-Pap from France?!?!  This is a tasty, creamy, earthy, spicy, (slightly) oaky, fruity, GORGEOUSLY well-made red blend that impressed me beyond belief.  Bottom line: this is one of the best American-made Southern Rhone-style blends I’ve ever had.

We paired this wine with a marinated lamb loin (balsamic vinegar, orange juice, Dijon mustard, and a variety of fresh/dried herbs), along with a mushroom medley and fresh Brussels sprouts.  This wine paired PERFECTLY with the lamb loin and would also pair well with just about any other red beef dish (grilled steaks, prime rib, lamb shanks/chops, pot roast, etc.).  

This wine receives 92 points on a 100 point scale.

Complete tasting notes can be found at http://vino-pinionated.blogspot.com/

 

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