Each Friday we highlight a wine from the Northwest that we think is a real "find." By find we might mean that it's a steal, as all of these wines we'll feature weekly are at or under $20. We might also mean "Hey, you really need to go find this" and it might be a wine that we feel not enough people know about. In any case, with the weekend pending we're hoping to help you "find" a wine to kickoff the weekend right. We'll tell you a little bit about the wine and try to help you track it down here in the Northwest.
There are certain novels you have to read in order to gain admission to the cool kid's club and the earlier you read them, the cooler you can be. "Have you read Desolation Angels?" "Uh, of course, in highschool." That cool kid credibility comes at a price, and depending upon which books you're reading that price could be a modicum of your sanity. With some of the novels, Kerouac's Big Sur for example, it doesn't really matter when you read it, the book makes you insane.
Like any up and coming brooding intellectual I spent many weekends as an undergraduate in dusty used book stores checking them off the list, Camus, Hesse, Sartre, Mann, Dostoevsky. The Existential movement in European literature didn't necessarily have equivalents here in the states but some of the Beat generation and those that would come after certainly sought to invoke some of this desperation and struggle to make meaning, or at the very least flounder in the meaninglessness of it all. I jumped into Kerouac and Bukowski very easily. I found a kinship with them, while I couldn't relate to the rampant alcoholism and drug use, there was a beauty in the way they used words to make the mundane seem so powerful. There were some American writers however that I cannot and do not get. The two that stick out the most are Ken Kesey and Hunter S. Thompson.
Ken Kesey is most famous, very likely, because of Jack Nicholson but also because of a book he didn't write. Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. From my understanding, because I never read that book either, Kesey took a lot of LSD, drove around in a bus and hung out with the Grateful Dead and Allen Ginsberg. Some people are famous because they're talented, like Bukowski and some people are famous because they had famous friends, and from what I can tell Ken Kesey is one of the latter. He may just be the Kim Kardashian of that generation.
Speaking of acid however, there's nothing more essential to a great, crisp white wine than that beautiful acidity. Not the kind of acidity that Ken Kesey would go in for but rather that screaming crisp bite of green apple that is the beauty of malic acid in wine. The retention of malic acid in wine is what a winemaker, or a wine conouseur is referring to when talking about a wine's acidity. Malic acid is one of the primary components of wine grapes, and as the grapes ripen and more sugars develop that acidity decreases. This tends to happen more in warmer climates than in cooler ones. Wine from the Willamette Valley has more acidity than wine from Red Mountain. For white wines that don't possess some of the tannic structure that the grape skins impart in red wines the malic acidity can be and often is the star of the show.
The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc from Woodinville Wine Cellars is an excellent "acid test" when it comes vibrant acidity coupled with loads of citrus fruit. Word is the 2011 is to be released real soon. Aromatics waver from tropical fruits to stony minerality and a sense of overall brightness. The citrus fruit continues on the palate and the wine delivers brilliant beauty with loads of acidity. Only 400 cases of this wine were produced and it's 100% Sauvignon Blanc, combining fruit from Red Mountain's Artz Vineyard and the cooler Stillwater Creek. For $18 it's a Friday Find for a nice warm Summer day, assuming we see one of those.