Sunday, March 28, 2010

What A Shameless Hussy!

For several months now, I've been on this relentless quest to learn everything I can about the wine industry in the state of Washington. I am planning on paying Washington a little visit in June via the North American Wine Bloggers Conference. There is so much to know--so many unknown little family wineries, so much history, so many beautiful places to visit. Instead of being overwhelmed, I plan on being prepared so I can embrace all of this.

Did the title of this post capture your attention? Well, it certainly did mine, thanks to a really nice winemaker I met on Facebook, Don Phelps. Don is the owner of Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards, in Manson, near Lake Chelan. Need a geography lesson? Located in north central Washington, the Lake Chelan American Viticultural Area is the newest AVA and is an exciting place for recreation and for wineries. Play on words aside, this winery is one of the most popular and highly rated wineries to visit in Washington state! All the fan photos and reviews I have seen on their Facebook page and other sites prove this! Everyone is having fun and that's how it should be! Recently, I took part in a live Twitter event called #WAMerlot and Don was nice enough to send me a bottle of the 2007 Shameless Hussy Merlot to sample during the event. If these funny titles are intriguing you, please keep reading...

The label on the bottle was very interesting. The "Shameless Hussy" refers to the women of the night who moved into the area in the 1930s and offered their "services" to the miners who worked in the nearby copper mines. The old hotel they were based in is pictured on the label and the women are standing in the windows. In order to get to the hotel, which was anchored on the lake at Point Lovely, the miners would take the "Rowboat Taxi Service"--the only means of transportation. The cork in the bottle pays tribute to the rowboat. Where is all of this leading, you ask? The winery is appropriately named "Hard Row to Hoe". You can figure it out... Get it?

OK, now on to the wine...Hard Row to Hoe is a working winery, meaning all the wine is made on the premises although they source their grapes from several sources. The grapes for the 2007 Shameless Hussy Merlot were sourced from Wahluke Slope's Riverbend Vineyard, one of the warmest grape growing regions in the state, allowing for low acidity and rich flavors to come through. This is a small case production wine (175 cases) as are all of their wines. One sip and you will understand why this winery has such a following. A gold medal winner at the Tri-Cities Wine Competition recently, the Shameless Hussy has everything I love in a Merlot and more... It is round and voluptuous, with slightly firm tannins and a ton of flavor--big juicy dark cherries, blackberries, dark chocolate, a little bit of smoke and toasted oak. The dark and mysterious colors and flavors stem from the inclusion of 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. It has the quintessential smooth finish and becomes even more rich and flavorful as it opens up and develops. To sell this wine at the low, low bargain price of $20.00 is a mind blower! It drinks like it has a higher price ticket therefore leading to the old saying that wine does not have to be expensive to be great!

Hard Row to Hoe has a great website where this wine and others can be purchased directly, I am looking forward to meeting Don Phelps in person for the first time the evening before the conference when I attend a private event he is hosting. I warned him I may be late for the event but after sampling the wine, I will be running to this event with my track shoes on! Wish me luck!!

I'd like to thank Don for allowing me to officially "Tweet" about the Shameless Hussy Merlot! I had a wonderful time doing it. Til June...

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