This is part of a report on the South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Additional sections of the report will be posted to the blog. Download a complete .pdf copy of the report here.
:Nota Bene Cellars is the work of Tim Narby and Carol Bryant. :Nota Bene’s wines show a consistent style – lighter in body and color and straddling somewhere between the Old World and the New.
What I am always struck by each time I try :Nota Bene wines is how each wine seems to teeter between being good and excellent (Note: This is not a bad thing, but rather something I find interesting). Usually when rating wine, I try as best I can to avoid giving too many “slash” ratings. Rather, I score down. Here, I have intentionally left the slash ratings in to illustrate my point, indicating the direction the wines were leaning by the first score shown (Again, I am doing this to illustrate a point and do not use this of notation normally).
:Nota Bene Cellars Abbinare Columbia Valley 2006 $28
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) A bit of campfire along with some brett but not an overwhelming amount. A dip in the mid-palate on what is otherwise a very impressive effort. A very pleasant, easy drinking wine. 61% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec.
:Nota Bene Cellars Miscela Columbia Valley 2006 $29
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) A fair amount of smokiness along with some light candied notes. Alcohol pokes through at times. Again, smooth and easy drinking. 42% Cabernet Franc, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon (28% Champoux, 4% Conner Lee), 17% Malbec, 9% Merlot. 15.1% alcohol.
:Nota Bene Cellars Conner Lee Columbia Valley 2006 $32
Rating: */+ (Excellent/Good) Berry, anise, and floral aromas dominate along with a touch of funkiness from the Cabernet Franc. Smooth and even on the palate with silky tannins. About half way through barrel influences intrude. 65% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc. 14.5% alcohol.
:Nota Bene Cellars Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2006 $35
Rating: * (Excellent) A fascinating nose with a touch of smoke, an intriguing bramble berry aroma, and black licorice. Alcohol shows through on the nose at times. Taste is well balanced and easy drinking. Remains one of the better priced Ciels out there although the Ciel characteristics seem to get a bit lost at times. 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec. 15.1% alcohol.
:Nota Bene Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2006 $30
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Strong, fresh blueberries and blackberries along with a tinge of oak spices. Tart and tangy on the palate with threads of chocolate. 88% Syrah, 12% Grenache. 14.8% alcohol.
:Nota Bene Cellars Syrah Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2006 $35
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) A touch of brett, berry, black licorice, and mineral. Seems a bit disjointed at times. Finish comes up short. 97% Syrah, 3% Grenache (Stone Tree Vineyard). 50 cases produced.
We're great fans of Nota bene. I first met Tim and Carol at a dinner at the North West Wine Academy (South Seattle Community College) back in '04. Love their wines and have worked bottling line for them a three of the last 4 years. We really enjoy his blends.
Ky, thanks for the comment!