14 Hands and a Standing Ovation



Oops, I may have poured a little too much. Don’t judge. It’s a good wine and I knew I’d finish it, so I was just a little generous on the pour. No one’s looking. I can do that from time to time.

I first tried 14 Hands wines at the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, Ore., and remembered wishing I had more time to really investigate it. I made a mental note to come back to it while I moved on to the myriad other wines being poured that day.

As it turns out, this Washington State wine is readily available at grocery stores in the Pacific Northwest (sigh… what I wouldn’t give for a Fred Meyer near me!) and is now readily available in my home state of Nevada too. I brought a pinot noir home with me and picked up a chardonnay once I got home.

The 2010 Chardonnay is tonight’s pick, pairing perfectly with my husband’s barbecued chicken and fresh spinach salad with a berry vinaigrette.

The aroma is slightly grassy and apple-y, but with a fantastic floral note. The bouquet is not deceiving – the first sip on the tongue echoes the nose, bringing forward fresh apple, pear and spring flowers.

The feel is soft and supple, perhaps a bit sweet with the floral tones. But it’s not heavy in its sweetness, like a crisp apple lined with veins of natural sugar – both sweet and fresh and perfect in balance. This light mix of floral sweetness and fruit tartness produces a chardonnay safe to serve with just about any meal.

I love the idea of “patio wines” – those wines you can sip all afternoon on the patio while the sun warms your face and the cold wine cools your head. This is one of those wines, and that’s a good thing in my book. It’s something I’d be proud to serve to guests, but would be happier keeping to myself and sipping on a hot summer day.

The winery’s name, by the way, is an ode to the wild horses that used to roam freely over Washington’s Columbia River valley. Horses were measured by hands – 14 hands were the height of these particular mustangs, and the image they evoke of freedom and spirit is reflected in the winery’s approach to winemaking.

To this Nevadan who loves to see our wild horses trotting through the sagebrush, the winery couldn’t have chosen a more perfect moniker. My two hands applaud 14 Hands, and then they pour another glass.


Photos from Wine Bloggers Conference 2012

Pictures say a thousand words, etc…  So enjoy!

Live tasting of roses and whites

New wine/winery every 10 minutes! Holy cow! No time for great editing, so here’s the rough draft! (and notice that it gets progressively messier as the tasting goes on… that’s totally due to the time constraints, NOT to the amount of wine I’ve consumed!)

Johan 2009 Chardonnay Reserve

Oooh, first round of speed-dating-tasting is a Willamette Valley chard! Ah, love the lemon and vanilla aroma! The winery is biodynamic- and organic-certified, and this particular chard is on oak 18 months. But it doesn’t have a terribly strong oak flavor, definitely more steel than oak. The flavors are lemony and fresh. It is unfiltered to retain all the flavors in the wine. 

“I feel an Oregon chardonnay is something special… it still has has some weight and mouthfeel and elegance to it,” Don Rinke, winemaker and vineyard manager at Johan. Rinke says that there’s such a difference between in vintages in Oregon, making each year a surprise; 2009 was a hot year, making a great chardonnay right out the door. 

2011 Benton Lane Pinot Gris (@benton_lane)

Typically a pinot noir producer (95 percent of their wine is pinot noir), so this is a fun diversion from their usual production. Pinot gris is “a great summer wine, perkiness, awesome barbecue wine,” says Lorne Mews, VP of the winery.

Benton Lane is right on the county line between Lane and Benton counties in Willamette Valley. It was all-pinot noir until 2003, and pinot gris is now the largest production of white wine at the winery.

The aroma is very fresh and light, as is the taste. It’s acidic but not overly so, with just a ouch of floral.

Maryhill winery, 2009 washington winery of the year. @Maryhillwinery

2011 rose of sangiovese

This wine has not been revealed until today and not released to public until later this fall!!! Was at the West Coast Wine Competition in Santa Rose in July and won Best of Show in Rose category. Rich Marshall with the winery says it’s the balance of the wine that won the prize, about 1 percent residual sugar. 

Very fruit-forward and floral, but ends dry. Very pink. 

The winery’s flagship is a zinfandel and grow more than half the zin in the state. 

 Dr. Loosen 2011 Rieseling Dry – German wine

“Doing more and more dry rieselings these days, largely thanks to the warm climate.” 

Quite fruity, aromatic, but quite dry. 2011 was a fantastic vinatage in Germany, particularly for rieseling. 105 days of hangtime, and usually get 110-120 days. 

Entry-level dry wine, available throughout the U.S. for about $15. 

Recuerdo Wines Torrontes 2011, Argentina @recuerdowines

Retails for $15

Pairs well with wide variety of food. I understand why the winery jokes (um, ok, not a joke, they’re serious!) that we should all switch out our sauvignon blancs for torrontes. Opening a resort and spa next year!

Herdade Do Esporao 2011 Duas Castas Semillon Viasinho (Portugal)

Every year, the Duas Castas, “two grapes,” features two different white grapes, depending on what produces best that year. This year,i it’s semillon and viasinho. The red version is four grapes, Quatro Castas. Retails for $14.99.


WInemaker is Australian, so that’s why he does semillon. 

Viasinho comes from northern Portugal, which you don’t see much because it’s mostly used for white port. 

2011 Pepi Sauvignon Blanc, Napa

Took out cabernet in the 1960s and put in sauvignon blanc. 

Very grassy and green pepper. That’s due to the cool climate. 100 percent s.b., steel fermented, from Clarksburg and Lake Counties. Retails for $8.99 on the shelf. 

Decibel sauvignon blanc, Marlborough, NZ. Daniel @decibeldan

Sweeter than expected. Distributed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, South Carolina, California. 

Va de Vi “It’s about the wine!” Gloria Ferrer, Sonoma/Carneros @vinegrl, @gloriaferrer

Aged 18 months on the yeast, bubbly wine, first sparkling wine house in the Carneros region. 89 percent pinot noirr, 8 pecent chard, 3 percent muscat. “We wanted to bring more attention to it. This is different than anything we’ve produced because of the muscat. It’s still kind of an unknown.” – CIndy Friedman

2010 Cornerstone Chardonnay, Shehala mountain, Oregon @craigcamp

Fantastic popcorn effect! 100 percent barrel fermented, 25 percent new oak. “I want to make the best wine I can right right now.” On why he uses more than one vineyard for his wines, not a single vineyard. $30 retail.