Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wilder Child

This weekend I was delighted to discover a trio of new wines by Wilder out of Walla Walla, Washington. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

The first wine I tasted was the Wilder Washington Red Table Wine, vintage 2010, 13.5%. The composition remains a mystery.  Color in the glass is a deep, clear garnet, and the nose is redolent of cassis, plum, boysenberries, and spice. Upon first sip, the Wilder Red is bright, light, and fruity with an elegant acidity that fades gracefully away to a dark, seductive earthiness. The finish just goes for miles, a swirling maelstrom of shitake, graphite, and nurse log, with the daintiest little tannins.

It’s only $13. Buy a case. The most drinkable wine I’ve come across in a good long while, definitely put it in your face.

Food pairing for above was a local flank steak peppered and grilled with sauteed shitakes and trumpets on a bed of sweet potato mash.

After that excitement, I was chomping at the bit to try the Wilder Merlot. That’s a horse joke. There’s a horse on the label.  Ahem.

Like the red blend, the Merlot is classified as “Washington.” Vintage 2010, 13.5% abv. Like the red blend, it’s very clear in the glass, though more of a deep violet with garnet edges.

The nose is classic Washington Merlot: dusty raspberry, thimbleberry, briar, cocoa, and espresso.

On the palate, it opens even brighter than the blend with flavors of tart red fruit. Subtle tannins deliver a dry, languid finish of cacao and cedar. Elegant. Subdued. Lovely.

Also $13, put it in your face.

The meal pairing for the Merlot was homemade Russet fries on a parmesan and fried leek burger with paprika aioli.

My experience with the two reds was so overwhelmingly positive that I just had to try the Chardonnay. Which is really saying a lot for me, because I’m not usually what one would call a “Chardonnay drinker.” I made sure to pair it with something classic – lobster ravioli – for just that reason. I wanted to give it a fair shot.

Like the first two, it’s classified as “Washington,” vintage 2010, and $13.  It’s only 13% alcohol though. Also like the first two, it’s really quite pretty to look at, shimmering a bright emerald-gold in the glass with fantastic legs.

The nose is layered yet straightforward with crisp apple, pear, apricot, gooseberry, and a hint of yeast.

Truth in advertising – the same flavors are delivered to the palate in order, adding warm brioche. Very subtle, supportive oak and just the right touch of acidity. A perfect food wine, well-balanced with a clean, lemony finish.

Chardonnay isn’t really MY thing … but if it’s yours, I don’t think you’d regret putting this one in your face.