Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Yakima Valley

x-fact ~ basket presses were used before modern wine making techniques were invented. the design is said to not have changed in 1000 years.

masset winery basket pressed syrah
paid 14.99
reg. 19.99

yes, you saw those numbers right! i know, just typing them makes me sweaty.

this past summer we took a road trip to yakima. it was hotter than an empty cast iron skillet forgotten on the stove, and just what we wanted. we hadn't even planned the trip, just knew we needed to get out of town. the older boybarian was at summer camp and we missed him terribly. the house didn't seem quite right. the weather just a bit off. so, we decided to head out of dodge and change our scenery.

so we dialed up one of those last minute cheapy hotel reservation sites they always talk about on that world wide internets, packed our suits, and headed out of town.

and it was not bad, but everything you expect a cheapy hotel reservation from the world wide internets to be.

we stayed poolside when sun permitted without burning us to a crisp, napped in an icy air conditioned room in the afternoon, and ate incredibly delicious authentic mexican food in the evening.

good lord did yakima remind me of my hometown 20 and 25 years ago. and who knew how comforting that would be? a place i didn't even know i was chafing against and happy to leave behind until i did. a place that i now mourn isn't the same place i was so hot to leave?

and while we enjoyed the heat and the air conditioning and the pool and the food and the farmer's market to die for, we also were more than happy to go on a wine tasting tour.

we ended up going to three different wineries.

the first one was for lack of a better word, meh. it seemed promising enough from the description in all the literature. old time mercantile/winery. special house made "famous" deserts. wine lovingly hand crafted.

(though, i always get wary of the word "famous." i always see it in "quotation marks." i am usually "disappointed." and, um, cue the meh, on the "famous" desserts in this case. but, i'm getting ahead of myself.)

i don't know if it was that it was practically in the parking lot of a gas station, or it was the port-a-potties we saw when we parked, or the ugly "handmade" crafts from china, or the people who worked there, but it wasn't so good.

as we waited for the free walking advertisement for nascar family of admitted "primarily soda drinkers!" and silently admitted fanny pack lovers to finish their tasting i looked about the place and just had hope against hope that despite the surroundings the wine would be excellent.

le petit boybarian was beginning to get a bit antsy but right before he fully blew it was our turn to taste.

"well, hello folks! what can i pour for you?"

"well, i think we'd both like to try your reds"

"oh, okay. i cannot stand red wine myself! i do love the whites though!"

way to sell the wine, lady.

so she pours the first one and i understand why she feels the way she does about reds if this is the only red she might have had. bleh.

she must have noticed my lack of enthusiasm because as i tried a second sip she chose that moment to say

"yeah. in fact that last group in here? the gal said this wine tasted like an old foot!"

cackle cackle. hack smoker's cough hack.

mmm. pour me another.

the next wine was okay.

the third held more promise. it was a red table wine and had had some mention at some fair at some point.

we tasted it and it was...okay.

by now the woman was tired of us. apparently we weren't as "charming" as the nascar family ahead of us and it was obvious that it had been too long between cigarette breaks.

and because i am a sucker and can't handle confrontation and was way more than eager to end the whole ordeal i bought a bottle.

i know. i know.

but you go wine tasting when it's just the two of you in the place! (not.enough.buffer!) and an unfunny, un-charming flo from alice pouring!! when the wine is crappy and the place is hot and smells like cheap candles and stale hard candy and it's long past time to go!!

the dark side of wine tasting. no one ever tells you.

alright. moving right along.

honestly i won't even bore you with the other winery and get to the good stuff.

right up the road apiece was a beautiful, oh it was beautiful, winery.

small and tasteful.

when you walked in the tasting room it was cool, and quiet, and beautifully simple in that beautifully simple french country kinda way.

and it smelled good. good lord if i could replicate the smell in my own home i would die a happy woman.

we had a delightful tasting with a chef turned wine maker (hooray! nice work if you can get it, huh?) who was neither overly friendly or overly not.

which was nice.

he likes wine and makes it.

we like wine and drink it.

a fine relationship indeed that needs. nothing. else.

we tasted a white and a few reds. and this was the one that stood out.

delicious right at first. smooth. a real nice heft to it too.

i know. i know. heft. but this is another of those wines that really lets you know it's there. and it's delicious.

it's a big taste. not the big you get (though happily) in a generous carafe at your favorite italian restaurant but big as in broad. there was so much in this flavor. so much so that after tasting this i did not immediately look at the price. good sign.

it had a warmth and grace that i appreciated as a wine lover, but recognized too as something that i don't have the opportunity to experience very often.

at my price point i enjoy a LOT of great wines, but the higher you go in price and the smaller you go in cases produced (145 cases in all of this particular vintage) you can get some very spectacular wines.

this was truly a spectacular wine.

so we bought half a case.

here's a tip while tasting at wineries or buying at the supermarket. buying in bulk will get you the best deals.

half a case (6 bottles) or more and you realize a discount. generally 10%. usually at the supermarket and other retail stores, you can mix and match. though, i've found that at wineries they like you to buy 6 or more of the same wine, but that's not always the case. just remember wherever you go to check it out and you can usually come out ahead.

hey, wine sellers are wine drinkers too. whether at the store or the winery, don't be afraid to ask for the deals.

in this case, we bought a "passport." for this particular wine region, for 5 bucks you buy a bundle of papers (presented in a "fashionable" wear around the neck holder. oh, i could tell you some stories about the few wine tours i've been on. and all of them requiring some sort of wearing of something. and all. of. them. really. hideous.) that includes a map, among other information, about the wineries with some kind of deal offered at each. and, not only do you get all of that, when you go to each winery on the map you get a stamp. get all the boxes stamped for having visited and you get some other, bigger offering.

we bought a passport at the first winery which shall not be named because we knew we were going to go to to others, AND because we did it saved us right then and there on the bottle we were buying!

and so, right then, a so so wine becomes a bit less "so" as the price drops.

but what this really meant was that when we found the wine we really loved, at Masset Winery, it went from 19.99 a bottle to 14.99 a bottle.

so remember, good wine can be pricey. check out winery deals before you go. whether you go individually or as a tour, there's generally a savings offered somewhere.

and if you're buying at the supermarket, there's almost always a savings. if you can, you'll get a good deal stocking up and keeping a bit of a wine cache.

unless you live at my house.

stocking up?

wine cache?

i do not know from these words!

because if you're an actual grownup, you'll not have a cache so much as you'll have a cellar. bigger than a cache, a cellar is a collection of wines. which basically means you can actually buy wine, and then, wait for it...keep it around faster than you'll drink it.

whaa? i know.

anyhow, i opened one of our bottles bought this summer tonight. just because it's a tuesday, and just because sometimes what you taste at a winery can be "different" when you get it home. i don't mean better or worse, just different.

so i busted out the good glasses. in this case, the specifically syrah glasses the forever designated driver has the unexplained deep seated driving need to purchase and put in the buffet. along with the stemless whites also purchased by him, and the wedding gift reds we were lucky to receive.

me? i love a jelly jar. well, i should say did. i still do drink out of my beloved jelly jars, but not as much. because as i have progressed in my love of wine, and um, the amount of money i spend on my love of wine, i only think it fair to treat the wine right.

so i got out the stemmed syrah/shiraz glasses, not to be confused with the stemless ones, and realized they still had the little sticky tags on them that announce that they had never been used and have an impressive german pedigree.

hmm. do they know the dishwasher? because they're from the same place? do they have people in common? because from what i gather both the glasses and the dishwasher think terribly highly of themselves.

so i got the glasses out and carefully washed them up and carefully hand dried them with a very soft cloth and thought where in the sam hell are my jelly jars!

good lord did i mention how i do love a jelly jar? none of this fancy ass fiddly glass washing nonsense. one big puff of air to blow out the dust and BAM! you're drinking! and if you need more than a blow, pull out your shirt tail and BAM!

but i shall concede that perhaps it's because i'm old enough to wish i was already used to the finer things in life that i do enjoy my wine in a proper glass.

plus, he keeps bringing them home. i suppose it could be worse.

he could bring home fish for me to clean. a game animal to store. a wife and child he failed to mention. arby's for dinner.

i poured and we sipped and that was that.

just as good as when we had it from the source.

smooth and wonderful and delicious with the BIG flavor and delightful aroma that finishes splendidly on the tongue, without overpowering anything. your palate, your food, your mood.

i'd like to have enough knowledge to say this has something to with the basket pressed processing or . . .

but i just like it. it's delicious and i'm glad for the five remaining bottles i still have.

shh. don't let me know i have that cache. good lord that's nearly like the beginning of a gasp! cellar.


what will the jelly jars think?




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