Thursday, February 9, 2023

Steady State & Walls Curiositas

Josh Phelps Grounded Steady State & Walls Curiositas Big Reds with grilled tomahawk ribeye beefsteak dinner

Dearest friends Eric and Cathy stayed with us passing through the area and we prepared a gala dinner with grilled tomahawk ribeye beefsteaks with mushroom sauce, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, wedge salads and desserts. 

For a wine accompaniment pairing, we pulled from the cellar two hearty big red wines from the same 2015 vintage, one from Napa Valley, and one from Washington State Columbia Valley, for a mini-horizontal tasting; Walls Curiositas, and Grounded Wine Company Steady State Red Blend.

Ground Wine Company Steady State Napa Valley Red Wine 2015

Winemaker Chris Phelps and his son Josh work from their Napa Valley work space adjacent to a coffee store in the town of St. Helena.  They meld contrasting styles and approaches to synergistically punctuate their emerging, growing presence in the California and West Coast wine scene.

Chris Phelps is a well known winemaker, terroir-driven producer of super premium Cabernet Sauvignon wines from specific and illustrious plot of grapes across Napa Valley. Son Josh Phelps, a native of Napa Valley, is a millennial winemaker with a launched his own new brand called Grounded Wine Co. in 2015. Josh has developed the ability to produce high QPR - (quality price ratio) affordable every day drinking wines ($15 to $20) from grapes sourced from distinctive growers and locations across California and the northwest states. Both father and son each own their own companies; both work to enhance their mutual capabilities.

As a relatively new name among the category's leading wines Winemaker Josh Phelps and his Grounded Wine Co. produce a diversified portfolio of whimsically named wines from across the western states, "Grounded in heritage, grounded in soil, grounded in simplicity". Josh Phelps' Grounded wines are a testament to Josh’s connections with growers throughout his home state and the broader west coast. Phelps new releases from growing regions in Washington State, Oregon, Napa and Paso Robles. 

While he strives to produce wines priced to be accessible to younger wine drinkers, don’t discount low priced wines from a young winemaker. If he continues to release wines as good as Phelps’ early releases, this is a winemaker and label you’ll want to follow. 

The Grounded collection consists of:

  • "Grounded" California Cabernet Sauvignon and a California Sauvignon Blanc, "Grounded in heritage, grounded in soil, grounded in simplicity." Grounded wines by Josh Phelps are a testament to Josh’s connections with growers throughout his home state and the broader west coast.
  • "Land Form", a Pinot Noir from Oregon Willamette Valley, Landform is a reaffirmation of Josh's commitment to creating wines that evoke a sense of place.
  • "Collusion" Washington State Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, his Washington-based project, focused on prohibition and the rich history of West Cost vintners; a tribute to those who kept the wine industry alive by any means.
  • "Space Age" California Central Coast Rosé
  • "Public Radio" a Grenache based Red Blend, a tribute to the call sign on the front label was that of Josh’s late grandfather who was an avid amateur radio enthusiast.
  • and this, his 'premium' label,"Steady State".

Grounded Wine Company Steady State Red Wine 2015  

This is the initial inaugural release of this Bordeaux blend, from Grounded Wine Co. an extraordinary Red Blend that might be considered his flagship label. Josh explains the name of this wine this way: "If a system is in a steady state, then the recently observed behavior of the system will continue into the future. The concept for this Cabernet Sauvignon pays homage to growing up in the Napa Valley and learning from its traditions." Phelps fermented this Cabernet in steel, and left the juice on the skin for three weeks before aging it in French oak barrels, 40 percent of which were new. The result is a lively Cabernet with red and dark fruit flavors underscored by a bramble note.

This is sourced from several of Napa Valley’s well known growers and vineyard sites. 

I found this at a local merchant with its simple label but expensive ultra-premium packaging with extra heavy glass, deep bung, and quality capsule, and grabbed every bottle available. I wish I could go back and get more. Watch for it and get some if you can. This shows much higher than its pricepoint and provides significant QPR - quality price ratio. 

This is a blend Bordeaux varietals, 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot. It is sourced from vineyards in Rutherford, Oakville, Saint Helena, and Yountville.

This was rated 93 points by Wine Spectrum, and 91 points by Wine Enthusiast.

Deep ruby garnet colored, medium-full bodied, full, round, forward bright expressive but nicely balanced and integrated aromatic black and red fruits highlighted by notes of cola, dark mocha chocolate, tobacco and hints of graphite and expresso with bright acidity and lush gripping but approachable tannins on a long finish. 

RM 93 points.

Walls Curiositas Red Mountain Cabernet

Walls Winery Curiositas Columbia Valley Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

With Mike Martin, Owner Walls Vineyards
For this special dinner,, we open this special label to pair with the grilled tomahawk dinner Linda prepared for the occasion. 

We discovered and acquired this wine during our visit to the producer during our recent Walla Walla Wine Experience. It was our favorite of the portfolio of wines tasted with Mike Martin, owner/producer Walls Vineyards and Winery.

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Red Mountain AVA in central Washington but it tastes more like an old World Bordeaux than a fruit forward fruit bomb from Napa - with its refined, polished and elegant style.

As I wrote in an earlier blogpost almost four years ago to the day, this was my favorite of the flight that we tasted at the winery. Of course I tend to favor Bordeaux varietals  but I found this especially appealing.

The fruit for this is sourced from the Obelisco Vineyard on the higher slopes of the Red Mountain AVA. The vines get increased exposure to the sun and are planted in higher density to further stress the grapes. The result is a wine of great complexity but one that is elegant and lush, yet subtle with tones the winemaker describes as possessing 'freshness that evokes a Margaux-styled fragrant' Cabernet'.

While  I grabbed a case of this to serve with grilled steak, it is so approachable, this is suited for  elegant but casual sipping. It was great leading up to dinner and with the salad course, yet it stood up well and was an ideal accompaniment to the beef tenderloin. 

From my Walls Winery producer visit report:

The Walls Curiositas Red Mountain Cabernet 2015

2015 Curiositas is an elegant, complex and lush, yet subtle, wine. Its tone of freshness evokes a Margaux-styled fragrant Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sourced from the Obelisco Vineyard, high in the Red Mountain AVA where the vines get full exposure to all the elements.

“It is beautifully situated, with more vines doing less work, and planted with higher density,” says winemaker Ali. “It lends itself to complexity so how could we not take advantage of that?”

Bright garnet ruby colored, it was medium bodied and did not have a firm gripping backbone structure expected watching the glycerine legs cling to the glass, the polished elegant tannins were so smooth and silky that it made for enticing casual sipping - bright red and black fruits accented by notes of creme de cassis, spice, tobacco leaf and subtle vanilla and oak. Jeb Dunnuck of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate talks about its 'well-integrated tannins, solid grip, coupled with a swath of fresh acidity that delivers muscular structure' but then talks about it being 'light footed through the long finish'.

RM 92 points.

Jeb Dunnuck, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave this  “Editor’s Choice" and rated it "Extraordinary (95-100 pts.) "

331 Cases were produced.