The Search

After a dinner of Posole, the soup of Hispanic origin, and tortillas with a little extra “color” from warming them up over an open flame, I say, “Let’s find those notes to the Rulo Chardonnay tasting we did over the Holidays.” I add, “Do you know where you put them?”

V looks at me, rolls her eyes, and responds, “I don’t know where you put those notes, but I will join you in the search.”

Search we did. I wanted those notes bad for a couple of reasons. First, with a busy weekend before us we most likely would not have an opportunity to share a new wine adventure and post. Secondly, because the 2010 Chardonnay wine received recognition of being number 6 of the top 100 rated wines of 2012 according to the December issue of Wine Enthusiast. Thirdly, it was within our wine budget and we wanted the fun of trying it out for ourselves. We traveled to Mid-Columbia Wine and Spirits in Richland to make the purchase. While there at the store I came up with a brilliant idea. I’m quite sure it was my idea – I don’t care what anyone else says. The idea was purchasing a Rulo 2011 Chardonnay as well and comparing the two.

While exploring the other wines in the store, and making the purchase, we reminisced about stopping in at Rulo, and meeting Kurt and Vicki quite a while ago during one of our Walla Walla trips. We talked about how we really liked their Syrah, their story about the concept for the wine label – three grain silos, and leaving the winery thinking, “What a nice couple.”

2010 & 2011 Rulo Chardonnay

2010 & 2011 Rulo Chardonnay

After turning the house upside down and not finding the notes, I resigned myself to figure out what to do next. I remember that the color was a medium tawny yellow, the taste was pleasant, buttery, rich, not overly oaked. It was very nice Chardonnay, especially for under $20.00. I also remember we chose to pair it with cedar planked Copper River Salmon steaks from our freezer, small lobster tails, and roasted Brussel Sprouts and a rice pilaf.

Copper River Salmon and Lobster Yin&Yang

Copper River Salmon and Lobster Yin&Yang

We enjoyed the meal tremendously. Lastly, I remember we did not like the 2011 as well as the 2010 and making a mental wager that the 2011 will not even make the list for the coming year. That 2010 wine was something special indeed. If you can find it now, well congratulations on that – I think it is sold out.

While I am fretting and grumbling about having a better filing system, V says, “Why don’t we just pull something out of our cellar and you can write about that?” Our cellar is made up of cardboard cases from various wineries turned on their sides and stacked in a closet, by the way. When one of the cases wears out, they are cardboard after all; I just swap out for a new one. We seem to run across new cardboard cases with regularity somehow or other. The system is not what anyone would say is real sophisticated, but it works for us.

I am not enthusiastic about the prospect of just pulling something out of the cellar because I like a little more structure. I like pairing wine with food. I like “a plan,” Now I am thrust into uncharted territory and am not liking it. I grimace.

V presses, “Oh come on now, it’ll be fun. Spontaneity is good for you. Let me pick a bottle of something.”

With the “Really do need a better filing system.” thought resonating, coupled with the remnants of the last two postings about plans; about being flexible and being open to options rolling about what brain cells I have left, I respond back, “Well, Andy Perdue tweeted today about an article written by Eric Degerman running through some 140 Cabernet Sauvignons, January 24th. I believe the article also had 23 or 24 of the favorites. Let me check that out again and maybe we can come up with something.” After a check of the tweet and comparing to the inventory in our cellar, I come up with, nothing. I got absolutely nothing. Although, I do have an idea to be used later, that is later and this is now. Pressure is mounting. I am distracted. The Boston Bruins are playing the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on the NBCSports channel. This is a storied rivalry if there ever was one. They have played each other over 630 times and I anxiously want to go root for my Bruins via DVR.

With resignation I look over at V. She has a bottle in her hand, a 2006 Barnard-Griffin Reserve Columbia Valley Merlot. I hear “Uh-Oh.” I don’t remember saying it but that phrase must have come from my lips because she is just standing there grinning.

A plan starts to formulate. I am nothing if not predictable. I propose, “Let’s pour some of the bottle into glasses and about 1/3rd of the bottle into our decanter. Let’s taste out of the glasses right now and let the decanter do the work it was intended to do and after a bit of time passes taste what is in it. What do you say?” I’m thinking all the while, “I can get the game started during that time too.”

V responds, “I say we have to use the good Riedels then. The ones we got at the class hosted by Barnard Griffin last year.”

The cork is pulled and sniffed. No evidence of “corkage” so it is full steam ahead. Equal amount of wine is then poured into the glasses and the cork put back into the bottle (upside down because that is the only way it fits as I’ve discovered). Next about 1/3rd of the bottle is poured into the decanter. The decanter came with an inverted cap with two holes in the bottom which inoculates additional oxygen into the wine as it streams into the decanter. As we witness the wine streaming though the cap and along the sides of the decanter, V&I both exclaim, “See how purple it is!” It is fun that we say the same thing at the same time.

The routine begins…nose into the glass and a deep inhale to fully grasp what the Columbia Valley dirt provided the grapes that went into the wine, a careful examination of the color, swirl, nose in again to soak in nuances that additional oxygen provides. Now “The Clink” This time though these glasses seemingly ring like bells. At that point I think, “We should use these more often.” We have other Reidel glasses that we use for everyday and functions too. When we clink those glasses they ring, but not like the ones which seem to hold a half-gallon of wine that we currently are holding. There is certainly something to that philosophy we learned during the class. That philosophy being the right glasses makes all the difference in the world.

I’m into the spirit of the experiment now. I point out, “We can use this then as a counterpoint to the Double-Blind Merlot tasting we conducted back in October. Those wines were half the price, if you remember.” We document our first impressions. The thought resurfaces, “I would love to find those notes on the Rulo.” Back to the Merlot I go…
Color – Dark, no brown edge
Great nose – “Raisiny” according to V – I picked up alcohol then fruit
Great concentration of fruit – “Filled the mouth with flavor – juicy” according to V
Not tannic
A long finish, smooth, very velvety – according to V. I found just a bit of “heat at the very end.

Into the living room; to the big screen, surround sound, and the start of the game. We are lingering now over the remnants of the first pour. This is one of those wines I call “Standing around talking wine.” The wine does not need anything at this point to enhance its flavor or presence. It is one, albeit on the upper end of price point for us that we would serve to guests just to share a glass of wine with. First period is over and on to the next stage of the tasting. I pour part of the contents of the decanter into the glasses and we start the routine again.

Now the wine seems fuller, rounder, and finishes even smoother. If that is possible. Back into the living room and fast forward through what is left of intermission. We savor each mouthful of the decanted wine as we watch the second period of back and forth, vigorous, and gritty hockey.

With the end of the second period and the end of the second pour of wine in our glasses we convene back to the kitchen for the final aspect of our tasting. The last part of the decanted wine is poured into one glass and an equal amount of wine from the until-now corked bottle into the other. I have left just enough in the bottle to help with dinner tomorrow evening, forward thinker that I am.

V&I compare our thoughts and confirm our opinion, that at least for this wine, decanting certainly had a positive effect. I recall thinking too that this little experiment had three periods just like a hockey game. That reminds me there is one period left to watch in the living room. The experiment over, we combine the contents of the two glasses then split it and continue to savor the wine’s fullness and watch the Bruins tie the game and send it into overtime. Thrilling, just like the wine.

What an enjoyable way to spend an evening. Leaning more about “wine physics” watching my beloved Bruins in a spirited game of hockey, and best of all – being able to do that with the love of my life.


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