Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cellar Report: Latitude 46 N 2002 "Vindication"

This posting considers a:

Latitude 46 N "Vindication" Red Wine ($29)

The wine under review here is what might be called a "Washington State blend" as opposed to a Bordeaux blend in that it combines a bit of syrah (a grape associated with the Rhone region of France) with the two main Bordeaux grapes: merlot (70%) and cabernet sauvignon (26%).  While it would very hard to find such a blend on the open market in France, combinations along these lines are not all that uncommon in the State of Washington.

Merlot, which tends to produce round, soft but sometimes rather bland red wine, is in this case given a bit of tannic backbone and structure with the addition of a substantial amount of cabernet and, hopefully, a bit of slightly spicy complexity by throwing some syrah into the mix. If this wine had been made in Bordeaux, cabernet franc or petit verdot would probably have been added in small quantities instead of the syrah.

Latitude 46 N is a label of Vinamis Ventures, one of a large number of small wineries located in or around Walla Walla, a town in southeasten Washington that has become a major destination for wine tourists. Before boutique wineries sprouted up one after another, Walla Walla was mainly known for sweet onions and Whitman College. "A place so nice, they named it twice," my father, who was born and raised in Seattle, never failed to mention when the town occasionally came up in family conversation. His sister went to Whitman -- way back when.

I've sampled a number of Washington reds in recent years, but haven't written much about them. That's mainly because while I have generally liked the flavors, I have felt that many of them were a little rough around the edges and thus not showing up to their potential upon release. At the same time, however, because most Washington State wineres haven't been in existance for very long, it's difficult to find any really good information as to how long one should cellar these wines.

In the course of rearranging some bottles in my cellar the other day, I came across this Latitute 46 blend, noticed it was from the 2002 vintage and decided to see how it was developing.

The answer is pretty well, but I would probably have been better off leaving it down there for another few years. I say that because while the wine was nice -- pretty much what you would expect from a merlot-focused red -- it wasn't a standout.  As usual, we consumed only part of the bottle on the first evening, resealed it and re-opened it a couple of evenings later. It was better the second time around -- the bouquet was bigger and on the palate, the wine was a bit more lush and flavorful. Like a lot of Washinton reds, which are almost all made from grapes grown in irrigated vinyards, there was a lot of fruit in this offering -- no danger of significant fading anytime soon.

The finish, by the way, was a bit spicy on both evenings, which means this wine can successfully accompany assertively flavored foods.

Despite about five years in my cellar, this wine was still "tight" when first opened. If I had another bottle and planned on serving it in the near future, I would decant it a couple of hours prior to consumption.

There are a lot of Washington State wines to choose from that are very similar to the Lattitude 46 N "Vindication" (a clever name if you are into puns). As such this one is Worth Considering.

The alcohol content is listed as being 14.3% by volume.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a bottle of this wine. I purchased itvin 2002 on the day my son was born. I am hoping that by the time he turns 21 this wine will have come into its own. I also have a 2002 yellow tail merlot. It will be very interesting to see how a wine made for immediate consumption holds up to 21 years of bottle aging!