We received a selection of wines from the Idaho Wine Commission and have been slowly writing up the tasting notes. We saved the best for last.
There was, apparently, a mix-up and we got two bottles of the Huston Vineyards 2014 Malbec. Oh, darn. Not. This was really a lovely, rich wine, perfect for a nice meaty meal.
Michael noted the deep ruby, almost black color, and got black fruit (like blackberries) and earth on the nose. It’s a spicy wine, in that there are hints of different spices and some peppercorn, alongside the blueberry flavor. Better yet, the oak is there, but subtle and gentle. It’s a very smooth wine with decent acidity and a decent finish.
We drank one bottle with a steak dinner and the other with our favorite cheese, dried sausage, and olives combo. It paired beautifully with both and was just as nice by itself.
Like most surveys of a region, you’re not going to like everything. It’s how it goes. But overall, we have to say there are some nice wines coming out of Idaho. So, if you see one on a shelf near you, give it a try. It will almost certainly be drinkable. It might even be a gem.
We were given a case of wines from the Idaho Wine Commission as part of their efforts to let people know that there is not only wine in Idaho, but some very tasty wine, at that.
Like many in her profession, Meredith Smith, winemaker at both Sawtooth Estate Winery and Ste Chapelle, actually did something else for a living before deciding she’d rather make wine.
“When I was about 36 years old, I was doing real estate development in Texas,” she said. “I had signed up through a Washington state viticulture program.”
She finished the program two years later, but it was another two years before she quit her job and started out at Sawtooth with a harvest job. Idaho attracted her because she had lived there and had been drinking wines from the region for some time. By the time her harvest job ended, she was the assistant winemaker, taking over as winemaker at Sawtooth in 2012, then adding winemaking at Ste Chappelle to her duties in 2016.
The two wines we got from the wine commission were Smith’s 2013 Trout Trilogy Carmenere from Sawtooth and the 2012 Petit Verdot from Ste Chapelle, two varieties that Smith says you wouldn’t think would do well in her relatively cool climate area, about 3,000 feet above sea level.
“Carmenere surprises me that it does well here,” she said, adding that carmenere and petit verdot are both late ripening varieties. “When I’m harvesting carmenere, it’s October 31, but for some reason it just seems to perform.”
Michael noted the carmenere’s dark color and got a fair amount of spice on the nose. The first taste was a little tart and mid-palate, there was a hint of bitterness. He also tasted some cherry flavor.
The thing is, it’s best as a food wine, but with either milder foods, such as roasted potatoes or vegetables, or something really strong like lamb.
As for the petit verdot, Michael noted the characteristic dark, inky color. The nose was filled with berries, and the taste had some oak, but the tannins were pretty low, making this more of a cocktail wine. It was pleasant, but didn’t really stand out.