The earnestly kind folks over at DeLille invited Salty Seattle to come out and experience the oenological delights featured in their winter release yesterday. We eagerly accepted the invitation, thrilled to be a part of what promised to be a superlative tasting. The release featured five wines in total, one white and four reds. We started with a crisp and healthy pour of the Chaleur Estate 2008 Blanc. It is 62% sauvignon blanc and 38% Semillon. BIG DISCLAIMER: I typically loathe white wines. I don’t know what it is- I love reds, champagne is my very best friend, and a crisp rosé on a spring or summer day does me right nice. I’ve yet to wrap my palate around a bottle of white, but not for lack of trying. That being said, the Chaleur Estate Blanc was a refreshing lightly fruited nutty glass of rich smooth flavor. I was very impressed with its ability to keep me drinking despite my prejudice.
Next up- Harrison Hill 2007. This classic Bordeaux-style blend is predominantly cabernet sauvignon and all I have to say is LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS! After a couple meaty pours of this big, dark old-vine wine I coined it “Dirty Harry” and all hell broke loose from there. People were clamoring to purchase Dirty Harry- lined up 10 deep to take case after case off the DeLille boys’ hands. Bewitching, silky and in need of a cellar age or a good long steep in the decanter, this wine is the stuff of legend.
It is probably not fair that the next pour was the Chaleur Estate 2007 Bordeaux blend. It is virtually identical in grape composition to the Harrison Hill, though it hails from AVA-of-the-moment Red Mountain as opposed to good ole boy Sunnyside where Dirty Harry is from. By all counts the Chaleur Estate is a well-balanced, great structured red. It will stand up to the cellar for quite some time, and will go down in the history of DeLille as a fine, fine wine. I was just so intrigued to note the vast taste difference in a wine blended by the same hand composed of the same grapes, the only difference being the terroir on which the grapes were grown. The Chaleur Estate is perhaps more approachable and versatile, but Dirty Harry wins my heart for being the big bad boy who slings me on back of his motorcycle and romances me off into the sunset.
The next tasting station showcased the Doyenne line, both the 2006 Syrah and the 2007 AIX. The syrah was a very classic example of the grape, rich and meaty, yet vaguely floral at the same time. The AIX is delicate and jammy, composed of 61% Syrah, 35% Cab Sauv ant 4% Mourvedre. I am a big fan of this blend because I love how the Cab really shines through on the finish. It’s almost like you get the best part of both grapes doing what each of them do best, starting with the unctious fruit-forward Syrah and finishing up with the balanced smoothness of Cab. I see this wine as a great stepping-stone wine, perfect for someone who wants to graduate beyond approachable into something mildly but overly complicated.
After finishing up the tasting, I begged another half glass off the ever-charming part owner of DeLille, Jay Soloff, and proceeded to get schooled in the ways of the world by Greg Lill, son of the late great Charles Lill- granddaddy of DeLille Cellars. According to Greg, whenever Charles would travel to a country where the food and drink might have a questionable effect on the digestive system, he had quite an exciting remedy. He and his wife Lori would hunt down a bottle of the strongest local hooch upon arrival in each exotic locale. They would then proceeed to take a shot every morning before brushing their teeth, and a follow-up shot right before bed. This way any questionable bacteria would surely hit the high road, and the Lill’s were left to enjoy their vacation with a lightened conscience and a clear gut. Little stories like these really make a person understand what a truly nuanced character Charles Lill surely was. It’s no wonder he founded the greatest winery in Washington on the advice of his son and son’s friends Chris Upchurch (now winemaker) and Jay Soloff.
Greg also taught me another clever trick that I will take to my grave- that of marking one’s territory (or should we say terroir?). I noticed his glass had some sort of clever metallic wine charm hugging its stem, and upon closer inspection realized it’s the simplest and best way possible to lay claim to a glass. He merely removes the foil from the bottle he’s opening, worries it into an even line, and winds it around the stem of the glass. His foil happened to be black, but he made one for me that was silver by merely inverting the foil. I see this idea going viral in the wine world- it’s so genius in its simplicity yet the possibilities are endless for creating various little foil shapes. I may try to fashion a mini Koala bear just like those ones common 20 or so years ago that would tightly hug whatever you placed them around.
The DeLille tasting left me with a great taste in my mouth and a strong urge for another glass, which they would only have been too happy to satisfy, but alas, I had a dinner to attend and I didn’t want to pull a drunken harlot move at the restaurant so Jonas and I picked up our case of zealously ordered bottles, made a pre-request for a magnum of D2 (coming out this fall) and went on our merry way.