We will be having a special Devil’s Night edition of the Virtual Tasting tonight. The wine is the 2008 Owen Roe Sinister Hand. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre and retails for $24. If you haven’t already picked up the wine, see a complete list of Washington retailers as well as select on-line retailers here.

As usual, the tasting will begin at 7pm Pacific Time. Look for updates to this post starting at that time, updating every 15-30 minutes or so. I will also be tweeting @wawinereport and using the hashtag #octvt.

Please join us in trying this wine and posting your thoughts.

7:00pm Update: And we’re off!

First some background on the wine. The 2008 Owen Roe Sinister Hand is 62% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre. This would be considered a classic Southern Rhone blend. The Rhone area has two main regions, the North and the South. The only red grapes allowed in Northern Rhone wines are Syrah (often co-fermented with the white grape viognier). The only red grapes allowed in Southern Rhone wines are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, the varietals that compose this wine.

Syrah has long been a star in Washington since the original plantings at Red Willow. Grenache is up-and-coming with some wineries such as Gramercy (whose first Grenache release just came out this week) and Rotie Cellars bullish about its prospects in Washington. Betz Family Winery has also long made a Grenache blend, the Besoleil.

Mourvedre is used more as a blending grape, although some Washington wineries such as McCrea also make it as a varietal bottling.

The wine is listed as Columbia Valley AVA. The winery’s website states that the primary source is the Elderding Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

On to the wine…

7:20 Update: Popped and poured into a Venturi aerator. I did this to try to open the wine up a bit given its young age.

The bottle had a natural cork that was drizzled with wax. The wax is in lieu of a capsule. You usually see this on somewhat more expensive wines. Here I think they did this to add to the Halloween creep factor. There are several ways you can go about removing these wax tops. In this case, it wasn’t actually a complete seal so I just used a knife to cut it off. Rabbit style wine openers also will just pull right through the wax (they say specifically not to do this btw). However, if you do this, you risk getting some wax into the bottle. I have always read recommendations to warm the wax with your hand for a while and then use a corkscrew, rabbit, etc. If anyone has any magic secrets, please share.

The cork itself was very lightly colored, not surprising given that this is the 2008 vintage.

Had to throw the glass with the wine and the wine itself into the fridge as it was a too warm 70 degrees. The place that I am drinking the wine is like the Bahamas.

Prior to this, the nose very aromatic for a 2008 with a lot of red fruit. Particularly strawberries.

7:40 Update: Okay the glass is out of the fridge (20 minutes dropped it from 70 to 63 degrees). First impression, as before, very aromatic with red fruit, earth, and game. Quite a fun nose for such a young wine. The youth does show up a bit more on the taste where it is a bit more closed and tight, although I must say my palate has been off this week (sinus issues). A pretty good dose of acidity. A bit of a back bite on the palate. Alcohol also seems to hang around on the palate for a long time after drinking. Will check the OH level later. A lot of fruit and a nice rounded feel.

8:00 Update: More background on the wine. This wine was aged for 8 months in 18% new French oak. Alcohol is 14.4 percent. I feel like it drinks a little higher but may just be me. Regarding the label, the winery says:

“On this label the family crest depiction of a severed left hand tells the story of a rowing competition among the ONeills & the OReillys (Owen Roe was an ONeill). Whoever touched land first after rowing across the lake was rewarded with the land he touched. Lagging behind, one of the kinsfolk grabs his sword to cleave his hand and pitches it ashore to touch land first. He won the land and eventu­ally ruled over it as king.”

8:20 Update: This recommendation from Paul G regarding opening bottles with wax on the top (tried to post as a comment): “…my tip for opening wax: Use a waiter’s corkscrew. Pull the cork about 3/4 of the way out. Take a wet towel and wipe away the wax flakes. Then pull out the rest of the cork. I usually put a paper towel under the bottle to catch some of the flakes also. Pain in the A—“. These sound like good wines to take to a restaurant to watch a waiter struggle with.

8:40 Update: Background information on Owen Roe.

Owen Roe is located in in the Willamette Valley in Newburg, Oregon. The winery was opened in 2000 by winemaker David O’Reilly who co-owns the winery with Peter Rosback (Sineann). The winery makes a diverse lineup of wines from both Oregon and Washington. Under current releases, the winery’s website lists twenty-two different wines. O-Reilly also makes wine under the O’Reilly label as well as Corvidae and others.

9:00 Update: Final update. As I originally noted, the wine lists for $24. I bought it at Pete’s Bellevue for $23.49.

Overall, I really enjoy the nose. Lots of red fruit (strawberry), wet stone, and earth with an underlayer of game. The taste is drinking a bit young. I also, strangely, get a lot of alcohol on the taste. I say strangely given that the wine lists at 14.4% which I don’t see as particularly high. Don’t know if anyone else is getting this. I won’t rate this wine as I’ve got a dead spot right in the middle of my palate at the moment (sinus troubles). Bottom line I would say is, give this wine six months or so before drinking. Better yet, buy the 2008 now and stash it away for Halloween 2010. The best of both worlds.

Thanks to everyone who participated. If you didn’t get a chance to try the wine, feel free to do so and add your comments. We’ll do it all again next month.