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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Over the Hedges, Red Mountain, 2007 Three Vineyards Claret


Hey San Diego wine fans, I was in one of my favorite local wine stores [the San Diego Wine Company] the other day for a tasting of some wonderful Bordeaux’s when I came across this beauty of a wine. Okay this wine was not in the tasting line-up, but if it would have been allowed in the tasting, similar priced Bordeaux would have been put to shame! I know this is saying quite a bit, but this wine is just superb. This bottle hails from the great state of Washington, where some fabulous wine is being made, specifically from the Red Mountain, AVA in Washington State.

The Red Mountain AVA, Washington's smallest appellation [while small in size, it not small in quality] which is situated between the cities of Benton City and West Richland within the larger Yakima Valley just north of the Oregon border. The south facing (here is one of key reasons for the success of this wine) slope of Red Mountain which is home to more than 37 wineries, including some of Washington's top estates. It's interesting to note that Washington's prime wine regions are located at 46° north, along the same latitude as the legendary French wine districts of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

I was in Washington State on a wine tasting trip a few years ago and came back with a few arm-loads of wine from my trip, back when it was still okay to bring your wine on the airplane as carry-on. Even though, I've not been to this AVA which I've read about this label from Red Mountain on other blogs, so I was sure it would be a winner. After tasting this wonderful wine, I concluded it was also QPR [quality, price, ratio] winner.

How they got their start: "Tom and his wife Anne-Marie marketed their Cabernet/Merlot blend to foreign buyers exclusively for two years before going domestic and opening up North American distribution. Still without their own winery, they took a chance (looks like that bet paid off in spades) buying acreage on an obscure little hill called Red Mountain. The Hedges Family Estate has concentrated their efforts on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the concept of terroir since their first vintage in 1987." They consider the Three vineyards to be their flagship Estate wine.

First Swirl: After two hours of decanting, this wine will take time to unfold [worth the effort]. It's a bit timid and shy, but came about nicely. In the glass a deep ruby core traversing to a light cerise colored rim. From the legs I could see this wine had an adept style worth waiting for, but further aging would be rewarded.

First Sniff: This wines aroma reminded of that old 70's song, "A smoke from a distant fire" Smokey aromas of bacon fat and mocha and dark fruits permeated my senses speaking to my palate about the coming attractions. Even after the wine was gone, the lingering scent of its presence reminded me that I need to get back to the wine shop to purchase a few more.

First Sip: Suave and sophisticated this wine is, to quote Mr. Yoda! Seriously this wine kept unfolding in the decanter, delivering layer upon layer of smoky essence, mocha, and leather which delivered a depth of gutsy blackberry, licorice and fig fruit and leads to long and caressing finish.

The Vineyards: RMV 48% Hedges 22% and Bel Villa 30% south facing slope, the sandy loam soil is high in calcium and alkaline. Red Mountain's vineyards are characterized by good air drainage, light soils and deeply rooted vines.

Composition: 56% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 8% Syrah a blend which changes each and every vintage. This wine is what some would call a, Claret (Dry red Bordeaux or Bordeaux-like wine) style. Nothing dry or dusty about this wine, though.

Treatment and aging: This wine spent 10 months in French, Hungarian and American Oak barrels with 50% new and 50% neutral, heavily toasted.

Alcohol: Weighing in at a mere 13.6 % too me this was impressive considering the amount of fruit displayed at mid palate. Real restraint was shown by the wine maker, what I would call power under control.

Price: Now to the reason I said this wine is another QPR champ, it cost me, wait for it......... $15.95! Yep that's it! Folks this wine should cost 3 times this amount! Please Hedges Family don't raise the price, but if I put this wine in a line-up of some similar Bordeaux styled wines it would easily sell for $75.00.

My Recommendation: First buy as many as you can safely afford to store, second drink one now to see what I am talking about and then cellar the rest! I poured myself a one ounce pour and gave it swirl, sipped it and realized this wine needs some decanting. Third, make sure you decant (can't stress this enough) before imbibing, the layers of flavor take time to unfold. By the way if you find yourself in the Red Mountain area, go see them! They have a beautiful tasting room and a VERY reasonable tasting fee! This AVA is a must see!

Other Voices: So the folks at Wine Enthusiast gave this wine a swirl and this is what they came up with, "A wonderfully fragrant blend, supple and loaded with berries and darker notes of licorice and coffee. This is sophisticated and European in style--meaning lighter alcohol and less sugar--but in return you get substance and grip. Though it’s built for near-term drinking, there’s nothing light or insubstantial here; and the mouth feel is that of a much more expensive wine.") 89 points Wine Enthusiast: (3/1/2009)

Where to Purchase: Okay folks as I mentioned earlier you can grab this wine at the San Diego Wine Company on Miramar Road.

Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 93 points on the Cuvee Corner 100 point tasting scale. I included in my scoring of this wine the Quality Price Ratio, which helped improve the score of this wine.
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