Argyle 2014 Knudsen Vineyard Brut

As much as I love whiskey, it’s usually wine Wednesdays at my house. It’s been awhile since I’ve had some champagne, so I figured why not? I decided on a Brut from Argyle Winery. Here in Oregon, Argyle Winery is known for their champagnes. They were founded in 1987 by Rollin Soles as he wanted to capture the unique terroir of the Willamette Valley in a sparkling wine. Argyle sources their grapes from the Dundee Hills AVA and Eola-Amity Hills AVA. This Brut is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes and aged in 100% neutral oak barrels.

The nose has a prominent apple aroma, and some mild acidity. My first few sips were tart, with some mild sweetness and not overly dry. Every addition sip had a well balanced tartness, low acid, and very mild tannins. There is apple and pear notes on the palate, along with prominent fruit aromas throughout. The carbonation is very well balanced, not overwhelming like some champagnes.

Overall, this Burt is a very drinkable champagne for everyone from beginners learning their palate to connoisseurs of fine wine. It averages $50 a bottle, and Argyle produced 1450 cases in 2014. I know you’re able to find Argyle wines relatively easy up and down the West Coast, and I’ve seen them in stores such as Safeway/Albertsons, Whole Foods, and Costco. I’d recommend pairing this with apples, pears, and raspberries along with creamy cheeses like Brie. It would also pair well with fish and shellfish, especially lobster.

Cana's Feast 2014 Grenache

Taking a break from bourbon and cigar pairings, I decided to try a red wine pairing instead. Red wines are often under estimated as a good pairing for cigars, and offer a more complex pairing when paired correctly. Living in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, I’m spoiled with numerous renowned wineries producing many varieties of wine.

I decided to try a 2014 Grenache from Cana’s Feast out of Carlton, Oregon. They source their Grenache grapes from the Columbia Valley AVA, which is known for producing more fruit forward wines like California, yet keeps some of the balance and structure of European wine. Cana’s only bottled 54 cases in 2014, making this wine a little harder to come by. I paired the Grenache with a Chapo from Traficante Cigar Company. If you haven’t heard of them yet, they’re definitely worth checking out.

After opening the bottle and letting it breathe for 30 minutes or so, the first few sips have a mild fruitiness to them. The draw is good on the first third of the cigar with hints of spice, and the wine compliments the predominant tobacco flavor while the cigar brings out the fruitiness.

During the transition from the first third to the second third, I noticed a slight cocoa flavor from the cigar. The spice is more prominent throughout the second third, and the fruitiness of the wine really shines. The wine’s talc like tannins are starting to be brought out by the cigar.

At the very end of the second third, the wine helps brings out a mild musky tobacco flavor with a pleasant leathery/earthy aroma. The last third of the cigar elevates the wine’s earthiness, while having a very smooth finish.

Overall, the wine has just enough tannins to create a pleasant balance where it doesn’t overpower the taste of the cigar. For $28 a bottle, it’s a good bottle for beginners exploring their palate, or for someone with a more sophisticated palate to enjoy on its own or with a nice cigar.

2008 Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

7 Hills Vineyard Reserve

Walla Walla AVA

There’s nothing like a nice glass of wine after a long work week. I decided to crack a bottle I’ve had aging for a few years, and was I surprised. A little background on the region before I review this awesome wine.

Tamarack Cellars is based out of Walla Walla, Washington. The majority of the Walla Walla AVA is in Southeastern Washington with the remaining third in Eastern Oregon. The AVA is predominantly known for its sweet onions, but also produces some incredible wines. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most commonly grown grape, followed by Merlot and Syrah. It is one of the warmest wine growing regions in Washington and Oregon, helping to create bigger and bolder reds. The wine itself is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 5% Carmenère.

After letting the wine breathe, the nose was peppery with some acid. On the initial swirl, the wine left strong legs on the glass, and had a dark, deep color.

My first few sips of the wine were dry, had a slight fruitiness that cabs are known for, with hints of cola, and the tannins were incredibly smooth.

The after taste had some pucker from the tannins, and a silky yet mild fruitiness that lingered.

Every additional sip had hints of minerals, and the tannins became even smoother. The legs stayed as strong as they were on my initial swirl of the glass. It turned out to be a very smooth and easily drinkable wine with a mild fruitiness that would pair well with a nice grilled steak or full bodied cigar.

Since the wine is 10 years old, I’m guessing it’s pretty hard to find a bottle unless the winery held on to a few cases for their library. It cost $50 a bottle back in 2008, so if you can find a bottle now, it wouldn’t shock me to see it going for upwards of $80.

Southern Draw Cedrus "The Hogan"

I received the press release about this one just before IPCPR and was very interested in this project. Not to go back and recap the entire thing but this project was a very special one for Robert and Sharon Holt

CEDRUS – THE HOGAN, the origin of the name:

1. Faith: The Latin name is Cedrus libani or Lebanese Cedar trees were highly sought after for ancient woodworking. The woods high quality, pleasant scent and firmness made it a popular building material for Holy temples, palaces and sailing vessels. Cedars popularity endures today as it is the most utilized wood in the premium cigar industry and the image of the CEDRUS tree serves as the biblical inspiration for our brand art.

2. Flora: Western Red Cedar known as “the Hogan”, native to the Pacific United States, growing to 200’ tall and living up to 1,000+ years, this tree demonstrates the firm, reliable and beautiful characteristics of cedar. Our bridge to an ancient symbol and a wood that has proven valuable through the ages.

3. People: We offer tribute to Phil and Shelly Hogan, a relationship that began in 1996, a friendship turned “closer than family”. Their love and support of Southern Draw Cigars began in 2014 when they rallied family and friends to support our mission even in the face of uncertain risk. Their contributions have been as steadfast and enduring as the cedar tree even as they have humbly remained in the shadows of our early successes. Phil, U.S. Navy Retired, is the most honorable and accountable guy we know and someone who we could only aspire to be like and Shelly, has been a tireless supporter of all things we do, a helping hand of 20 years that has quietly contributed much to SDC’s early success. The gracious and generous Hogan’s will now be celebrated with their own incomparable hand crafted cigar. We offer you an opportunity to get to know them during IPCPR 2018, they will be available to share their stories of military service, international travel and a limited amount of their new cigar.

I was gifted the opportunity to try this one out so without delaying this anymore, let’s get to what you came here for.

Cedrus “The Hogan” Belicoso Fino

Blend Profile:

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: AJ Fernandez Cigar Co.

Wrapper: Besuki TBN – Sumatra, Indonesia

Binder: Habano 2000- Esteli, Nicaragua

Viso: Piloto Cubano – Dominican Republic

Criollo 98 – Esteli, Nicaragua

Seco: Habana 92 – Quilali, Nicaragua

Ligero: Corojo 99 – Jalapa, Nicaragua

Size – Belicoso Fino 5.5 x 52 (box pressed)

Number of Cigars – 5,000 total 10 count, numbered boxes, 1,000 total 10 count refill bundles (60,000 cigars 2018)

Price – $11.99 each MSRP, $118.99 10 count box

Appearance: This is a really nice looking cigar with a medium to dark brown wrapper with reddish hue in the sunlight. The wrapper has small veins and really tight seams. The tapered, pyramid shape comes to a nice box press. The Olive green and gold dual bands really make for a nice presentation. The artwork and bands really work well on this cigar.

Pre-Light: The cigar feel firm with no soft spots. Construction is very well done. I pick up notes of barnyard, wet hay, a touch of sweetness and a faint hint of pepper. From the foot I get more of the same and some wood notes. I use a straight cut and the cold draw is good. Open with some resistance but not tight at all. I get mostly earth, hay and a hint of wood notes.

1st Third: After I toast the foot, the first draw reveals a little pepper up front, cedar, straw, and earth. The draw is good, burn is great, and nice smoke output. As I move a little further in, I start to pick up some smoky charred wood notes, tobacco, and cedar. There is a touch of sweetness that might be dried fruit like dark cherries but I can’t pinpoint it exactly. Performance is on cruise control. The blend works well with a very earthy profile with notes of cedar throughout. Strength is medium for me.

2nd Third: As we move into the second third everything pretty much stays consistent. Subtle changes here and there as I move through the halfway point. I pick up some pepper, cedar, earth and a faint hint of a grassy/floral note. Not cut grass but not clove. It doesn’t hang around very long and is gone. The draw is perfect, great smoke production, the burn is a touch wavy. Strength is still holding at medium.

Last 3rd: Not much in the form of change. Consistency is very much in play here. A good earthy, woodsy profile that has not really switched up from the start. Because it has been so consistent, I decided to veer from my norm and try pairing some Witherspoon’s Texas Bourbon Whiskey (I had to go with something else from Texas, anything else seemed wrong) with it to see how it fairs. The combination works very well together is about all I am going to say about it. I am far from a bourbon expert and have not honed my skills on bourbon notes but I can tell you that the bourbon compliments the cigar and vice versa very nicely. As I get down to the nub on this one, performance has not been an issue. Slightly wavy burn but no touch ups needed. Strength towards the end is maybe medium plus.

Final Thoughts: Overall a very enjoyable smoke from start to finish. I would have liked to have had a few more changes in the profile along the way to keep me on my toes a bit but that’s my personal preference. If you like consistency, you will find that here for sure. It is a good blend that is earthy and woodsy. Performance was spot on the entire time. Very well constructed, easy to smoke and enjoy and stayed a solid medium strength until the very end. It’s a great project and I am very glad I had the opportunity to spend some time with it.

So there you have it. My opinion of the Southern Draw release Cedrus “The Hogan”. I hope that you enjoyed it. Please feel free to share it, leave comments, questions, suggestions here as well. Don’t forget to follow us on social media and join the fun in the Cigar Hawk Group on Facebook.

Until next time #LongAshesFullGalsses friends. See ya.