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Underground Wine Project

“With my idle hands there’s nothing I can’t do
But be the Devil’s plaything baby and know that I’ve been used”
-Idle Hands by the Gutter twins


To say Mark McNeilly and Trey Busch like to keep busy is literally an understatement. Both have made a name for themselves in the wine business, not just as winemakers but as leaders in the industry. Both Mark Ryan Winery and Sleight of Hand Winery garner scores in the 90’s across the board in the press. Both, these guys are not just successful winemakers but champions of the Washington wine industry. They are also great friends, lovers of good food and great music.


“Let your hands do what they will do
Stand inside, make your maker’s move”

Launched in 2009 with a wine called Idle Hands, the wine quickly became a cult hit. ‘Idle Hands’ was named after a song by Gutter Twins – Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees and Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs.

Both of the Underground wine project wines are sourced from Red Mountain. Idle Hands is a 90% Syrah 10% Cabernet Blend sourced from Red Heaven Vineyard. Devil’s Playground is the inverse, 90% Cabernet and 10% Syrah sourced from Quintessence Vineyard. Both these wines are great expressions of Red Mountain fruit.

“My eyes have seen, they have been shown
This is an occupation to stand alone”

In the highly competitive world of wine it is rare to see this sort of collaboration and camaraderie. These guys make great wine and are the sort of guys that make working in the business fun.

DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 (WA)  $37.99 

This is a delicious, lively and very luxurious Red Mountain Cab for the price. Lots of vanilla laced blackberries, cassis and mocha flavors, with bright, refreshing acidity and juicy tannins. The wine is full bodied and definitely drinks with some sizzle. A nice buy in small batch, top shelf Cab.

IDLE HANDS CAB SYRAH 2014 (WA) $32.99

Super rich and full bodied Syrah based blend From Mark Ryan and Trey Busch using Red Mountain’s top vineyards. Dark, sexy and full of mocha, blackberry, plum and roasted coffee bean notes. Delicious with a big steak.

Scarpetta Wine Pig Roast Event, Saturday, June 3rd!

Many of you have been asking about the La Caja China roaster, stacked with an assortment of Friulian delights, on our entry way carpet. We’ve brought in a pig roasting box emblazoned with Scarpetta Wines  and we can’t wait to share the excitement with you!

Scarpetta Wines was started by Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Patterson. Bobby is a Master Sommelier and James Beard Award Winner. Lachlan is an award winning chef. Together, they own Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Co. which was nominated this year for Outstanding Restaurant in America. Accolades aside, these guys know what they are doing and they’re doing it right. They bring the countryside of Friuli to every glass and plate they present.

With an obsession with Friuli, Bobby and Lachlan have been blazing their way through the states. And, we have some of their Scarpetta Wines in our store to celebrate!

Join as we serve Porchetta Panini along with Scarpetta Wines at our Scarpetta Pig Roast event on Saturday, June 3rd, 2-PM. We hope to see you there!

Grazie!

Taking Care of Each Other

Ashley Trout has been making waves throughout the Pacific Northwest after launching Vital Wines and March Cellars in 2016. Vital Wines is a community-driven, non-profit winery founded on providing better healthcare for vineyard and winery workers in the Walla Walla Valley. All profits are donated to the SOS Health Services of Walla Walla. A pioneer effort of its kind.

We were able to grab a couple cases of the rarely available Vital The Gifted for you.

Vital The Gifted $24.99

52% Cabernet Sauvignon 29% Malbec 10% Cinsault 10%Tinta Cao

Blackberry and plum, fig and woody thyme stems lead to cracked pepper and baking spices, dried papaya and rare white chocolate notes. An absolutely stunning Washington blend!

Join Ashley Trout as she pours Vital Winery + March Cellars wines on Friday from 4-7PM, at our tasting table, while supplies last

 

Weekend Wine Paring ~ Cedar Plank Salmon with Tarragon Mustard Glaze + Chehalem Wines

Spring seems reluctant. I see the fits and starts, the bud break and blossoms, the first Rosés’ and the first of the seasons’ harvests. This is the time of year that I get the most antsy with anticipation. I just can’t wait to get outside and grill! Growing up in California we would grill year round.  Here, I have to seize the day, and catch the sun when she briefly smiles on me.

Grilled Salmon is just about one of the best dishes to prepare when entertaining guests, especially out of towners. The best part is how little time you actually have to spend in front of the grill. Less cooking equals more partying. Again, plan ahead and have your ingredients ready to grill when your guest arrive.

There are a many great ways to grill. One of the time-honored traditions, in these parts, is Cedar plank salmon. One of the greatest things about a Cedar Plank Salmon is that it works just as well in the oven as it does on the grill, so no matter how fickle mother nature may be you can still have a nice dinner.

Call me a traditionalist, but there are few better wines to serve with Cedar Plank Salmon than a good Oregon Pinot Noir, especially from Chehalem Winery. 

Chehalem Three Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013 $32.99  

This Three Vineyard Pinot Noir has beautiful ripe black cherry and brambly cassis on the nose, with fresh wet earth and a tea leaf component. White pepper, dusty cocoa, tobacco, sweet loam, and raspberry accentuate the nose, providing a fresh, full, complex package. The palate is lithe and playful, with especially round, pliable acid, and an overarching flavor of rich cranberry sauce and rose hips. The finish is lengthy, yet elegant, with beautiful balance – a perfect partner for salmon.

“Light and sleek, open-textured and appealing, with delicate plum and guava flavors, riding on a glassy frame into a vivid finish.” 91 POINTS, Wine Spectator

Or, if you prefer, few places grow Chardonnay as well as they do in the Willamette Valley.

Chehalem “Inox” Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2014 $19.99 

The fruit shines brightly in this all-stainless cuveé. Ripe golden apples are at the core, with hints of peach and papaya. It’s a lovely, forward, ready to drink style that brings extra concentration and detail that is all too rare in unoaked Chardonnays.  91 Points, Wine Enthusiast

xox, Lenny

Taste these wines, plus other BBQ favorites on April 29th  from 2pm to 5pm

Grab a bottle to take home, and create your own:

Cedar Plank Salmon with Tarragon Mustard Glaze

Esquin’s Exclusive Quilceda Tasting with Arnie Millan

Quilceda Creek has been producing celestial wines since its inception in 1978. Quilceda Creek produced its first commercially-released Cabernet Sauvignon in 1979. Owner, and winemaker, Alex Golitzin had the good fortune to have the assistance of legendary winemaker and uncle Andre Tchelistcheff who was a mentor to Alex in Quilceda Creek’s early days. Over the years, Quilceda has earned lavish praise from the world’s wine press, sometimes bordering hyperbole.

Today, Alex and son Paul have made Quilceda Creek one of the world’s greatest estates, racking up an amazingly consistent track record of 98-100 points scores over the past 15 years with no score lower than 96 points (only twice in 15 years) with their flagship Cabernet. Quilceda Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon remains the benchmark for what can be achieved in Washington  – and dare we say, and the United States.

So imagine our excitement when we learned that my colleague Jeff Fournier and I, along with David Leclaire, had been invited to attend Quilceda’s release party for the 2014 Columbia Valley Red (CVR) and the 2014 Columbia Valley Cabernet last month.

When we arrived, there was already a crowd. We quickly found the two tasting tables and made a beeline to the 2014 Columbia Valley Red Blend. Good thing we were early because the tasting room soon was filled to capacity. Amazing appetizers were tray-passed around the room. This was a party for the Seattle area wine trade, so we were able to hobnob with friends we hadn’t seen for months.

2014 is looking to be another outstanding vintage in Washington State and you can taste the concentration in both the Columbia Valley Red (CVR) and especially in their flagship Cabernet.

When we were done tasting, we went to the winery behind the tasting room to pick up our allocation of both wines. Thankfully, Jeff’s car was big enough to hold the cases of wine.

Below are my tasting notes.

Quilceda 2014 Columbia Valley Red $51.99/bottle

The 2014 Columbia Valley Red was beefier than the 2013. The fruit was noticeably darker and fuller bodied and the tannins were smooth and well-integrated. If I had to rate the wine, I’d give it 93 points.

Quilceda 2014 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $171.99/bottle

The big brother, the Columbia Valley Cabernet was outstanding. The wine is rich, intense and loaded with black currant and cassis fruit. The tannins were big and long on the finish accentuated by a contrail of that dark fruit. This wine needs some age to come together but I think it will be amazing in 7 to 10 years. I’d give it 97 – 98 points but I’m being very conservative because the Cab is in its infancy.

~ Arnie

Weekend Wine Pairing Paella Valencia + Cistum Granacha

When someone says Spanish Cuisine the first dish that comes to nearly everyone’s mind is Paella. And yes, you can find Paella in virtually every city, village and taberna. Historically, Spain was divided into small kingdoms; each one with its own language, culture and cuisine. Today, Spain is divided into 17 Autonomous Communities, each one with its own unique cuisine.

Valencia, in Eastern Spain, is the undisputed home of paella. It is one of the largest natural ports in the Mediterranean and has been one of the most important rice-producing areas in Spain since rice was introduced by the Moors over 1200 years ago. Paella has ancient roots, but its modern form originated in the mid-19th century near the Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia.  Although many people regard Paella as the national dish of Spain, Valencian’s regard paella as more than just a dish – it is also one of their most identifying symbols.

There are as many different Paella recipes as there are Spanish Mothers and Chefs. Paella de Marisco (seafood), Paella de Verduras (Vegetarian), Paella Mixta (freestyle) and Paella Valencia are the most common dishes. Paella Valencia traditional will be served with short grain rice, green beans, snails, chicken or rabbit, chorizo and of course Saffron and Pimenton de la Vera.  Below is my Paella Recipe, and like I said, every Paella recipe is different. Mine is unusual in that I cook the delicate fish separately from the rice, because I want the fish to be as fresh and light as possible.

Lenny’s Paella Valencia Mixta printable recipe

Pairing with Paella is easy – a lighter white like Albarino or Verdejo or a softer red like Rioja or many of the great Garnacha (Grenache) Spain has to offer. Today, I am pleased to show a new one we just discovered – a beautiful and affordable red made from 120 year old vine Garnacha from Navarra.

2009 Rafael Reverte Cistum Garnacha Navarro $14.99

“The 2009 Cistum was sourced from 120-year-old ungrafted pre-phylloxera vines aged for 6 months in new French oak. Cedar, pencil lead, Asian spices, incense, and black cherry liqueur aromas are some of the elements leading to a voluminous, focused, layered wine with enough structure to evolve for 2-3 years. This remarkable example of old-vine Garnacha will be at its best from 2014 to 2024.”

92 Points – The Wine Advocate

In the twelfth century, the Cistercian monks of the Monastery of Fitero planted their first vines of Grenache and began the preparation of a unique and exceptional wine. Rafael Reverte has recovered Pie Franco vineyard planted in 1899, before the step of Phylloxera, to produce a wine of legend within reach of very few: “Cistum”.

Taste this wine Saturday from 2 pm to 5 pm

Taste Lenny’s Paella Wednesday April 5th 6 pm with Special Guest Victor Palencia of Palencia Winery!

Women in Wine in the Sky Lounge

Curated by Brass in Pocket, in support of the Walla Walla Community College, comes an event celebrating amazing women in Walla Walla wine history. Join us for appetizers and wine tasting on March 22nd, 5 – 8PM, in the Sky Lounge at Esquin Wine and Spirits!

Featuring:

Ashley Trout – VITAL WINES – Vital Wines produces wines that complete a circle. All proceeds go to the SOS clinic,  a free, non-profit health care clinic in the Walla Walla area dedicated to helping people get the healthcare they both need and deserve – no questions asked. These wines give back to those that provide us with beautiful wines throughout the Walla Walla valley.

Amy Alvarez-Wampfler – Abeja – With it’s namesake meaning Bee in Spanish, Abeja ‘ah -BAY – ha’ pays homage to the care of the land and the times when farming implied a respect for the environment . Abeja creates wines with the philosophy that each day we can make a difference in the quality of our care for the land.
Mary Derby – DAMA Wines – Started by Mary Tuuri Derby,  a visionary, artist, and dreamer, DAMA wines began with community and continues with love. Recognized for their bold, trailblazing wines, DAMA has been emerging from a small boutique winery to a power brand.
Selena Kritsonis – Woodward Canyon Winery – Along with a 14-acre Estate Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley, Woodward Canyon sources fruit from a handful of well-established Washington state growers including Champoux Vineyard, one of the older vineyards in the State.

Sabrina Lueck – College Cellars – A non-profit teaching winery located at the Center for Enology and Viticulture on the campus of the Walla Walla Community College. College Cellars wines are crafted by students as a part of their study of the science of wine making.

$40

100% of ticket sales support a scholarship for women in the Walla Walla Community College Enology & Viticulture program, additional donations accepted at the event.

 

Saviah tasting with the winemaker Rich Funk

Richard Funk winemaker of Saviah Cellars has been crafting wines in Walla Walla Valley since 2000.  The winery strives to produce rich, artfully balanced wines that showcase unique soils and climate.  We are proud to say we have carried their wines since their first commercial vintage production.  You could say “we got that funk”!

Join us for our tasting with the winemaker event with Saviah and Rich Funk on March 15th, 6 -7:30pm, in the Sky Lounge.

$15 tasting fee, which can be used towards your purchase, space is limited RSVP by calling 206.682.7374

 

Washington Exploration Series with Regina Daigneault

Washington Exploration Series with Regina Daigneault featuring wines from:

WT Vintners | Lauren Ashton | Otis Kenyon | Andrew Rich | VITAL 

March 8, 6-7:30PM, in the Sky Lounge

We welcome Regina (Reggie) Daigneault – for a tasting exploration series of the Pacific Northwest, beginning with Washington, in celebration of Washington Wine Month. Reggie has been a wine educator for the past 15 years, bringing together a respected following of wine lovers, foodies, and enthusiasts alike.

We begin our Washington Exploration Series by exploring the viticulture regions within Washington State. We will look at why the vineyards, climate, and soils differ from each other. We will explore the cooler climate wines from Columbia Gorge along the Columbia River, and taste the differences of the Walla Walla, Columbia, and Yakima Valleys. Guests will feel the soils and rocks of these regions, while noticing how geology can define the flavors of the grapes.

 

$15 tasting fee, which can be used towards your purchase

small eats will be provided

Space is limited, RSVP by calling 206.682.7374

 

Join us for the full exploration series:

California Series 4/19 6 – 7:30PM in the Sky Lounge

Oregon Series 5/10 6 – 7:30PM in the Sky Lounge

Weekend Wine Pairing – French Onion Soup and Gorman Old Scratch GSM

The weather always drives my cooking decisions and with the crazy “thunderhailsnowmageddon” we have been experiencing of late I just want to make a hearty soup and curl up with a good book and nice glass of wine. Nothing says hearty winter soup like a classic French Onion Soup. Now before you say oh but that is so time consuming, a weekend afternoon is a perfect opportunity to spend some leisure time in the kitchen. The recipe is simpler than you might think, and the payoff is definitely worth the effort.
A bowl of French Onion Soup, a simple salad and a nice bottle of Red et voilà you have a fantastic weekend supper. If you want to make more of a meal of it add a large plate of charcuterie, pate or rillettes, with cornichons and mustard.

 
Tradition has it that a nice white or red burgundy is a great pairing for this dish. Any medium bodied red with nice fruit and good minerality will pair beautifully – think Beaujolais, Dolcetto or Barbera. Want to class is up? A great Châteauneuf-du-pape will rock everyone’s world. Today, I am pairing with new red from my buddy Chris Gorman, the Old Scratch GSM.


Gorman Winery Old Scratch GSM Columbia Valley 2014 $24.99
A Syrah driven blend (80%Syrah, 10%Grenache, 10% Mourvedre) that spends 24 months in French oak is a dark magenta in the glass with lively aromatics and a spicy palate with plenty of dark fruit- boysenberry, blackberry, currant and licorice notes. Medium bodied with soft tannins and a telltale mineraly finish that leaves you wanting more. 420 cases produced.
Sourced from some of Washington’s finest vineyards; Klipsun, Boushey, Lonesome Springs, Kiona, and made in much the same manner as his Pixie Syrah, that last couple of vintages have received 94 pt scores! (and is almost twice the price!)
Chris founded his eponymous winery in 2002 and has garnered accolades from virtually every wine publication on the planet. He came to winemaking from years working in the wine trade, because of that experience he makes wines that are easy to like, because he knows what people like. Now well into his 15th year and producing some 8000 cases of wine, he is no longer a garagiste having to steal grapes from friends, he is one of Washington State’s leading winemakers. The Old Scratch GSM is proof that he not resting on his laurels.

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée)

6 Tablespoons Butter

6 medium Yellow Onions (2lbs)

1 clove garlic chopped

2 cups water

2 tablespoons Flour

1 cup Sherry Amontillado

6 cups Beef stock, homemade if you can

1 bay leaf

2 Thyme sprigs

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons Cognac

1 teaspoon Vinegar, Cider or sherry

1 teaspoon Worcester Sauce

Toasted baguette, about 8 slices ¼ inch thick

Gruyere Cheese, Grated, about 12 ounces

Chives for garnish

Click here for printable recipe and instructions

~ Lenny

 

 

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