rough justice

Friday, October 02, 2009

Rough Justice is a very popular, non-vintage red blend from Spokane’s Barrister winery. The owners – Greg Lipsker and Michael White – have morphed into the wine business from careers in law. Their first wines, from the 2001 vintage, were introduced at Taste Washington in 2003. A three-story brick warehouse in Spokane’s Davenport Arts District has been fashioned into an attractive winery, tasting room, and barrel storage facility, and tonight, along with the beguiling smells of fermentation, there will be a First Friday artist reception and live acoustic music.

The featured artist is the much-loved Father Bruno, the former Dean of the Gonzaga-in-Florence program, presenting new work entitled “Scenes from Tuscany.” As always, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to build housing for homeless children in Africa.

But back to the Rough Justice. This is the fourth year it’s been made, and the blend is different every year. “The first year it was just a kitchen sink; now we blend specifically for it,” Greg explains. The new release – 35% merlot, 28% syrah, 26% cabernet sauvignon, and 11% cab franc – is mostly 2007 fruit. Rough Justice, at $20 the least expensive of Barrister’s red wines, is the second to be blended each year after the cab franc. Note that there is a little roman numeral code in the lower left corner of the back label indicating which version it is. This is IV.

It’s delicious as always, packed with a lot of pretty cherry and berry fruit, big tannins, a rich mouthfeel. It’s a fine expression of the house style – a tasty, big-boned, chunky red blend, with plenty of cherry fruit flavor, a substantial tannic bite, and a chewy, drying finish that lingers as if demanding a grilled steak.

Across the board, Barrister’s winemaking style is no holds barred, big and expressive, with plenty of barrel flavors. The signature wine that best captures that combination of power, weight, massive fruit and sweet, toasty oak, is the cabernet franc, which has won best of show at three different wine judgings for three years running. The latest release is the 2007 Barrister Cabernet Franc ($27). It’s smoky, fully ripe, and not at all vegetal, with the varietal’s characteristic streak of pepper and coffee behind black cherry and cassis.

Also new this season are a Klipsun vineyard sauvignon blanc, a Bacchus vineyard syrah, a Red Mountain cabernet sauvignon and a very limited Pepper Bridge vineyard cabernet sauvignon. All big, tannic, smoky, oaky, forward and instantly delicious.

NOTES: I will be up in the Canadian Okanagan next week, judging at the Okanagan Wine Festival, and hope to continue to blog daily with updates (dependent upon my hotel having wi-fi and me having a brain cell left after 150 -200 wines a day).

The Charles Smith Royal City Syrah, to which I awarded 100 points (pre-release), is now out and being shipped to those who pre-ordered. I would really like your feedback on the wine, which I have not tasted in about five months. Did I nail it, or blow it?

Bob Neel of McCrea Cellars writes to ask who besides McCrea (in Washington) has released a varietal marsanne. Often these are limited, tasting room/mailing list only wines that I might not see. If you know of any, please post up a note here.

Seattle foodies note: a Mobile Chowdown gathering of Seattle food trucks is scheduled for Saturday October 10th at 1616 Bertona (Interbay area). The trucks (Marination Mobile, Skillet, Maximus Minimus, Gert's BBQ, El Camion, Kaosamai Thai, Parfait Ice Cream) will be there from 11 to 3. No admission fee; just a chance to chow down and compare notes. Bring a lawn chair and an appetite.

Last but not least – Dr. Vino’s blog today is a detailed run-through of a sit down, blind tasting of 2005 Bordeaux – all very high scorers – with Robert Parker hisself. Those who follow these things will know that Parker and Tyler Colman (Dr. Vino) are not the best of friends. This is a great read.


Andy Plymale said...

Paul, having recently opened a bottle (not sure about the vintage), I can say that you nailed it with "a tasty, big-boned, chunky red blend, with plenty of cherry fruit flavor, a substantial tannic bite, and a chewy, drying finish". I actually enjoyed the wine more 48 h later (stored under argon during the interim).

Sean Sullivan said...

The only other Marsanne I can think of is from Mount Baker Vineyards who I believe made an 07 Marsanne as part of their Proprietors series. Don't see it on the website though so my memory may be failing me or perhaps it is sold out.

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