One of our favorite local wineries had day 1 of their 3 year anniversary party today. Heather and I were lucky enough to get tickets to both days!
If you haven’t heard of Long Cellars, you are in good company. Jason Long is a very small producer. He is local to the Woodinville area, makes small batches, and has an experimental streak in him. His parties are legendary affairs, where you are likely to get an extra pour of Merlot while a burlesque dancer shakes her (or his) tassels at you. Long Cellars classics are his $25-bottle everyday drinkers. The Cab Frank, a Cabernet Franc dominant blend with a Frankenstein label, and the Screaming Baby, a delicious Merlot-fronting Bordeaux that most years has near everything but the kitchen sink thrown into it.
Jason Long has been making wine for upwards of 13 years, but has only had his own winery and label for 3 years now. The party had food, stories about the winery and the wines he had made, and of course, samples from vintages we have not seen in quite a while, or at all.
As a local wine snob, the party was an intriguing chance to sample the Long Cellars wine after it had some time to age. Being a smaller producer, it is significantly more costly to keep wine held back from his customers. Right now, Jason is releasing his 2018s (the 2018 Reserve Red Mountain Malbec is wonderful), so the opportunity to sample wine his early vintages was a unique treat.
To start out a wonderful party, and to show precisely the sort of host and winemaker he is, Jason started us with a Dry Riesling and a mineral-y yet sweet rosé made from Pinot Gris. Bone-dry and a tart finish, it had the full body of a Chardonnay. I thought it would make a wonderful desert, paired with a salted caramel. The rosé was sweet, lightly floral, but had a decided mineral finish that would not quit. I asked about them, noting he did not commonly release a Riesling.
“Yeah, I don’t have any really. It’s just something I’m playing with. I only have about a case. Did you like it?”
Worth the price of admission right there.
Day 1 started with a flight of 3 Merlots, from 2015, 2016, and 2017. These were so exclusive, Jason had sent us an inventory of ‘bottles available for purchase.’ Not cases. Bottles.
The 2015, bold and fruity, with a hint of acid. One bottle available for purchase. The 2016 was complex and full. Eighteen bottles. The 2017, fruit-forward and potent. Thirty-six bottles.
Merlot happens to be my favorite grape, mostly because it is delicious, but also due to that movie that every Merlot winemaker complains about.
Bottles of merlot ends up selling about 25% cheaper than they should be, mostly because stupid folks that do not like delicious things copy that movie. Tell ya what world, the smart money is on Merlot!
Jason had five cabs for us to try. A 2013 that was just for sampling, with literally no bottles left for sale. A 2014 from Fidelitas he had seven bottles of, and three different vintages from the Quintessence Vineyard (2014, three bottles, 2016, five bottles, and 2017 about ten cases.)
The 2013 was delicate and delicious. The 14s were a lovely contrast of the two vineyards, with a note of savory and jasmine on the Fidelitas, and a sweet and floral nose on the Quintessence. The dark 2016 was delicious, but the showstopper was the 2017. It was delicious, fruity, and delicate (and with ten cases, easier to get a hold of.)
The Cabernet Franc flight was next on the list. This was a unique flight, all from Boushey Vineyards, and one from each year from 2013 to 2017. The fascinating element here was the completely different wine you got from every year.
The 2013 was light and dry, and only available to taste. The 2014 (six available), full, friendly, but with a strong green pepper note. The 2015 (five left), almost pine-y with green pepper, and paired AMAZINGLY well with olive oil drizzled on a crusty piece of bread. The 2016 (six left) was broody, dark and complex. The 2017 (fifteen bottles), bold, fruit-forward with a hint of tannin.
To round out the tasting was a final bottle, the inaugural Sleeping Baby from 2014, which finished up the evening wonderfully. Again, it was the last of the vintage. Better keep an extra bottle of what you get.
The End of the Party
To conclude the party, Jason offered everyone the chance to purchase two bottles, if they wanted to (via a raffle, to keep it fair). If anyone wanted more than two bottles then after all the other attendees else had a chance, they could do so. Naturally, I was picked last in the raffle (grumbles). Fortunately, we got our prizes.
Heather picked out the last available bottle of the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from Fidelitas vineyard, and I went ahead and grabbed a bottle of the 2016 Cabernet Franc. After others had a chance, I snagged an extra bottle of my longtime favorite, the 2016 Merlot.
Day two notes tomorrow!