staff picks

Kent’s Pick: Sawtooth Winery Sparkling Brut $11.99

June is Idaho Wine Month, and I’ve picked the Sawtooth’s Sparkling Brut for drinking on the patio, sipping by the pool, or pretty much any time you want some tasty bubbly that doesn’t come with a big price tag. This is well made, solid effort from Sawtooth winemaker Meredith Smith. The nose shows a touch of citrus and yeasty brioche. On the palate, the wine is crisp showing it’s bright acidity. The citrus and brioche notes carry over to the palate, but are also complemented by crisp green apple also. Sparkling wines are a great pairing for almost any food, but try this one with Thai food or with a cheese and fruit plate, or if you don’t have any food, just gulp it down!!

Reggie’s Pick: Koenig Snake River Valley Viognier $17.99

Viognier, THE grape of Condrieu in the Northern Rhone Valley, is often characterized by the delicate aromatics of peaches and white flowers. The wine is full bodied, oily in texture, with peach and melon flavors dominating the palate.

This example from Koenig is very true to type for Viognier. In addition to the pretty floral bouquet, flavors of pear and baked apple mingle with a generous portion of minerality.

This wine is a no brainer for seafood (scallops) but is also big enough to hold up to pork and chicken dishes.

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!

Marcy’s Pick: 2018 Clearwater Canyon Albariño $23

We are celebrating Idaho wines all month and there are great wines being made up in Northern Idaho in the Lewiston area. Coco and Karl Umiker, winemakers and owners of Clearwater Canyon Winery, do a great job making quality wines that are balanced and tasty. They recently started making an Albariño, a Spanish grape varietal I’ve always enjoyed. The grape grows well in certain areas in Washington which is where they source their grapes from. This wine is very aromatic with floral and citrus on the nose and flavors of lemon meringue, melon and lychee followed by mouthwatering acidity and a touch of minerality making this a citrusy and refreshing warm weather wine. It would pair nicely with seafood, halibut or a summer salad or it would pair nicely with a porch and sunshine. Enjoy!

Barry’s Pick: 2018 Split Rail Winery Daft Pink Remix Pétillant Naturel $22

If you’ve never had a Pét-Nat before, now is the time. Our good friend, Jed Glavin, at Split Rail Winery has ventured into the unknown and returned with a delicious, lightly sparkling dry rosé that is super refreshing and loads of fun. Pétillant Naturel has recently become popular, though its roots go back to the 16th century in Limoux, in the South of France, where it was made by monks. The delicate bubbles that are the signature characteristic of Pét-Nats are created by bottling a wine prior to it completing its first fermentation, allowing carbon dioxide to be produced by natural sugars found in the grapes. The result of this ancient style of wine making is a sparkling wine with much less aggressive bubbles than its Méthod Champenoise counterpart. I am supremely grateful to Jed for taking a chance on this wine. It certainly paid off, and now we can enjoy the fruits of his labor. Cheers!

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.

Bruce’s Pick: 2018 AIX Rosé $16.99

I know.....Everybody’s doing it! Rosé wines are now coming from every corner of the wine making world, and seemingly from every red grape varietal imaginable. For some it is to feed a fad or just take advantage of a quick buck with a cash crop. Some of them may eventually get it right.

But for me, the go-to for my seasonal rosé drinking will always be Provence, the bulls-eye or epicenter for delicious rosé. No fad here--they have been perfecting the art of making delectable rosé for generations, for as long as impressionist painters have been drinking in that famous Mediterranean sun.

This AIX wine comes from one of the largest and oldest (130 years) estates in the Appellation. Set on a high plateau of 420 meters, the location is ideal for warm days and cool nights, with mistral winds to dry the vines on dewy mornings. Composed of grenache, syrah and cinsault, the light lustrous pink color presages the delicate floral, spicy flavors to come. It is dry and delicate, but persistent on the palate. It is a rosé that emphatically speaks of tradition and culture....of a culture that knows what they are doing. For these reasons Provence rosés will always be my quintessential rosé.

Barry’s Pick: 2017 Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol Rosé $32

Most rosés are meant to be drank within a year of their release. Here is one that actually benefits from some age. This is what people are referring to when they say ‘serious rosé.’ Heralding from the famous French region of Bandol, known for it’s Mourvedre based wines, this is one of the most respescted producers in the region.

Though not officially certified, they do practice Organic agriculture. The Mourvedre grape needs a long hang time to fully ripen and develop phenolic ripeness and the influence of the Mediterranean to the south and the fact that the estate is the highest elevation in the appellation keeps the temperature cool enough for the grapes to mature properly. The 30 to 50 year old vines are located on steep terrain and are therefore hand harvested.

The color of this rosé is peach with a fading rim. The nose is dominated by savory elements such as licorice, damp stones, white pepper and spice. Fruit flavors of musk melon and rhubarb also make an appearance. The wine is full bodied and tangy with a mouthfeel that is dense yet somehow elegant in the same breath. My overall impression of this wine is that it is a very fine rosé that will pair well with almost any cuisine one could imagine, or bring pleasure without food accompaniments. Enjoy!