…and now for something (deliciously) different…

Beef, chicken, pork, pasta, *sigh*

“Hmmm” says T, “how about lamb chops?”

Cab, Merlot, Bordeaux blend…”Wait, where’s that bottle of Cabernet Franc?”

Medium rare, two-bite lamb chops are a decadent departure from everyday eating, and something this decidedly divergent deserves a deliciously different wine: Spring Valley Katherine Corkram Cabernet Franc.

KatherineWe discovered this pairing at last May’s Taste Washington event. Already fans of Spring Valley’s Bordeaux blend Frederick, we politely sampled the Cab Franc on offer. The heady violet scent was intriguing, but it was the sweet spice on the palette and long blueberry finish that had me racing back to the Hoist House table for another bite of shaved leg of lamb with huckleberry reduction. Cab Franc and lamb. Who knew?

And what a lovely Cab Franc Katherine Corkram is, showcasing deep layers of fruit and beautiful balance. The tannins are perfect for the silky, baby-fat lamb chops.

Washington state growers plant less than a thousand acres of Cabernet Franc compared to more than 10,000 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon. Spring Valley makes the most of the grape – usually a blending component – as a varietal.

Katherine is a Walla Walla beauty that graces meat dishes, but absolutely sings with lamb. A tasty departure from steak and Cab.

Katherine Corkram Cabernet Franc List $50.00

Dinner guests might enjoy a bit of Spring Valley history. There’s a nice one here:






A sip o’ the good stuff…with a dash of vintage motorcycle

It’s an Indian. A sweet bike worn-in just so. The aged, but beautifully maintained machine gives a quiet nod to adventures past, and yet to come.

The same can be said of the new release of Mark Ryan wines. The Indian is parked at the ready in the winery’s Woodinville, WA tasting room, where the 2008 vintages are being poured. Ten bucks gets you a generous taste of Mark Ryan favorites including Wild Eyed Syrah, and The Dissident, Long Haul, Water Witch and Dead Horse blends.

It’s worth it though, to spring for the $20 tasting, and bliss out to the 2004 Crazy Mary Mourvedre. Just try and sip this magical elixir without closing your eyes and sighing. Not sure it can be done.

The distinctive tasting room reflects the character of the wine and the winemaker – a space for relaxed exploration and taking your time to tease out nuance. Framed concert art and spare, country house furniture invite lingering. The staff is knowledgeable and attentive (the charming redhead with the pixie hair will make you feel like an old friend) but they let the wines sell themselves. No pushing here. Pick up a bottle and read at your leisure.

Chalkboards, reflecting the schoolhouse across the way, display pricing, availability and a few notes. It’s a comfortable experience that’s as immersive as you want it to be.

The Pepperbridge tasting room next door was a disappointing contrast. The generic space is garnished with lights and ribbons tossed on bare branches that are stuck in pots. The young staff seemed more interested in chatting among themselves than with patrons.

The tasting fee includes three Amavi wines and three Pepperbridge offerings. Pass on the Amavi and the three Pepperbridge pours are still ten dollars. We had to ask to see the bottle, and notes on what we were drinking. A staff member passed a laminated sheet across the counter and returned to her co-workers.

The Merlot was luscious and deep. Our eyebrows shot up in a “wow”. Lovely, intense and demanding a good cut of beef, “right now!” The Cabernets – they were pouring a 2007 and 2008 were interesting to contrast but my palate couldn’t, or maybe didn’t want to, shake the powerful Merlot.

It’s a shame that Pepperbridge can’t reproduce the atmosphere of their Walla Walla tasting room in Woodinville. Mulling the Merlot, we returned to Mark Ryan and scooped up a Long Haul. With a last, longing look at the Indian.