Idaho wines

Stephen’s Pick: 2015 Hat Ranch Winery Tempranillo $29

Have you ever been around someone smoking some good, high-quality cherry-tobacco out of a grandpa-style pipe? Well add a little leather and liquefy it and voila, you will have the essence of Hat Ranch 2015 Tempranillo! I was fortunate enough to visit Hat Ranch winery last summer with a dear girlfriend who is a lot of fun and knows a lot about Idaho wine. We had been on an Idaho Wine Tour the entire day and since Hat Ranch was our last stop, we were a little tired and definitely a bit happy! The folks at Hat Ranch were so unbelievably friendly, they made us feel right at home! We started by trying their award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, a truly unique Idaho wine that is superb in its own right. The Hat Ranch team then allowed us to try their Tempranillo and I will never forget the sensory experience! It was dry, smoky, and there was a leather quality to the tannins in the finish.

My friend (whose name I will not mention in an effort to protect her privacy) exclaimed – “Oh my goodness! I feel like I just kissed someone who smokes a cherry tobacco pipe! Everyone started laughing and to this day, that’s what I remember when I see or drink Hat Ranch Tempranillo; cherry, smoke, and a little bit of leather. It has a little bit more body than typical Spanish Tempranillo or Rioja wines, but it is just as dry and the cherry context shines through the intriguing leather and smoke. Hat Ranch Tempranillo is (in my humble opinion) by far, the most complex of all the Idaho Tempranillos I have tried. It pairs beautifully with anything barbecued, nearly all Mexican and Spanish food, lasagna, and any dish that has corn as its major ingredient like grits and polenta. Definitely drink rosés and whites in the summer, but Hat Ranch Tempranillo will be welcomed at any outdoor barbecue and more than adequately please your red wine preferring guests. A truly exceptional Idaho red!

Bob’s Pick: 2014 Sawtooth Winery Snake River Valley Merlot $16.99

Yeah for June, IT’S IDAHO WINE MONTH! As such, all Idaho wines are 15% off all month long- it’s a great time to enjoy Idaho’s wines. Here’s one to try in case you haven’t. This wine is part of Sawtooth’s limited release, Classic Fly Series (trout fly that is). A fully expressive new world Merlot with notes of ripe dark cherries and minty bramble. Soft and easy tannins with hints of oak aging i.e. baking spices and a rich milk chocolate finish.

Sawtooth Winery was one of the original ‘success story’ wineries in Idaho. By that I mean that they were bought up by a national beverage concern (Precept Brands). With that backing they became part of the largest vineyard holders in the state and brought on a really talented winemaker (Meredith Smith). Growing their own fruit not only gives them complete control of quality, it also helps them keep their prices very reasonable. Enjoy this wine with big meats and BBQs. Great red wine to have by your Weber of Traeger.