Two Wines, One Winery.

 Last week it was two wines from Chile, this week it is two from Washington state… sort of the American equivalent of Chile I guess. Both have dry desert areas, glacier-clad volcanoes that occasionally erupt. Both sport fjords filled with whales, and rugged islands connected by ferry boat, and both produce excellent value wines. They differ in shape, with Chile being long and thin, and Washington being sort of squat. Separated by latitude, but connected in a great attitude towards wine.

I saw these two wines from the Challenger Ridge winery and decided to buy them. After all, they are from the romantically named town of Concrete, Washington. How can you turn that down? Seriously though they turned out to be a complete yin and yang experience. Both cost $17.99, but each was as different from the other as black is to white, male to female, night and day, disco and rock n’ roll, or Bush is to Obama.

The differences I suspect came down to terroir and varietal. On the one hand there was a 2005 Pinot Noir. This is grown in the Puget Sound region of Washington, which I imagine is not the best place on earth to grow grapes. It rains there a lot, and temperatures stay cool all the time (unlike Oregon to the south which can get quite hot in summer.) Of the two, this one was the weaker, by far. It had no backbone, and really not much to offer. The guy in Sideways must be right, Pinot is a hard grape to make wine out from, and if this Pinot is any indication perhaps the efforts up there in Concrete should be directed elsewhere. This wine is not worth eighteen bucks. It isn’t horrible (we did after all DRINK it, unlike some poorly reviewed wines around here!) but it just wasn’t that good either. Mrs. Barbarian, who normally likes most Pinots, had not much nice to say about this one.

On the flip side however is this wonderful 2003 Cabernet/Malbec blend from the Columbia Valley, Washington’s great wine production powerhouse region from over on the dry side of the state. This wine is big, bold, and very flavorful. Everything you expect in a great red wine. Unlike the Pinot, I’d call this a bargain at $17.99. I’ve tasted California reds at 3X this price that were not as good. Good stuff! Give it a try.

  1. 3 Responses to “Two Wines, One Winery.”

  2. By admin on Nov 15, 2008

    Wow… I just noticed that my photo is actually IN FOCUS!

  3. By jeff hogg on Nov 17, 2008

    I’ve never been to south america but I live in Walla Walla so I can say without a doubt that both countries are also “chilly!” It’s about 35 degrees outside right now.

    I’ve never seen Challenger Ridge wines around here but if I do, I’ll make sure to head for the malbec.

    If you can find it, try the Walla Walla Vintners Malbec, it’s delicious.

  4. By admin on Nov 18, 2008

    Thanks Jeff, I’ll be on the lookout for it!

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