Brian Carter: A Master of Blending



By Kori ~ March 21st, 2012.

Brian Carter has over thirty years of winemaking experience in California and Washington. He arrived in Washington State in 1980 to be winemaker for Paul Thomas Winery and has since founded Apex Winery and served as consulting winemaker for a number of other wineries. He officially opened his own namesake winery, Brian Carter Cellars, in Woodinville in 2006. Brian Carter focuses on European-style blends. He admittedly buys more fruit than he needs to craft his primary Brian Carter wines in order to give him the most flexibility during blending. The leftovers go into his value-priced Abracadabra blend.

Recently, we had the opportunity to taste a number of Brian Carter wines in a blind samples tasting. While we thought all 10 wines were good and would recommend all of them, we especially enjoyed the 2006 Solesce Red Wine. Solesce is Brian Carter’s signature Bordeaux-style blend. As far as QPR goes, though, it is hard to beat the 2009 Abracadabra Red Wine and the 2009 Opulento Dessert Wine.

If you are in the Woodinville area, you should definitely visit Brian Carter’s little yellow tasting room near Purple Café in the Hollywood Schoolhouse District. And even if you aren’t able to visit, be sure to try some of their wines.

2006 Brian Carter Cellars Solesce Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec. Deep, dark red. Nice nose with creosote, earth, and spice aromas. Red and black fruits, earth, and a hint of mint come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $50; Available elsewhere, $42

2009 Brian Carter Cellars Abracadabra Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 19% Sangiovese, 17% Merlot, 13% Syrah, 11% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 9% Tempranillo, 7% Malbec, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cinsault, and 2% Counoise. Deep, purplish red. Aromatic with bright red fruit, spice, and creosote on both the nose and palate. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $15; Available elsewhere, $15

2009 Brian Carter Cellars Opulento Dessert Wine (Yakima Valley, Washington): 60% Touriga Nacional, 37% Souzao, and 3% Tinto Cao. Dark purple. Aromatic with cherry, raspberry, chocolate, and a touch of honey on the nose and palate. Medium sweet and medium to full-bodied with medium tannins and a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $19 [375 ml]; Available elsewhere, $17 to $19

2007 Brian Carter Cellars Tuttorosso Red Wine (Yakima Valley, Washington): 71% Sangiovese, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Syrah. Deep red in color. Aromatic with candied apple aromas. Red and black fruits, spice, and a touch of coffee come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $24; Available elsewhere, $25 to $30

2008 Brian Carter Cellars Byzance Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 50% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 19% Mourvedre, 6% Counoise, and 3% Cinsault. Dark, purplish red. Nice nose with earth, red fruit, and compost aromas. Cherry, raspberry, and spice rack flavors on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $30; Available elsewhere, $24 to $30

2007 Brian Carter Cellars Le Coursier Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 54% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot. Deep, dark red. Aromatic with earth and black fruit on the nose. Blackberry, black cherry, smoked meat, and earth come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $30; Available elsewhere, $25 to $29

2010 Brian Carter Cellars Oriana White Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 46% Viognier, 37% Roussanne, and 17% Riesling. Pale, greenish straw yellow. Nice nose with fresh aromas of apricot, pear, honeysuckle, and the ocean. Orange blossoms and citrus notes come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $20; Available elsewhere, $18 to $20

2007 Brian Carter Cellars Trentenaire Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 56% Petit Verdot, 19% Merlot, 14% Malbec, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark red. Aromas of oak and candied red and black fruit. Fruit-forward with candied red fruits and spice on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $39; Available elsewhere, $33

2009 Singolo Sangiovese (Columbia Valley, Washington): Medium-deep red. Aromatic with strawberry, black cherry, and a touch of leather on the nose. More black cherry and leather come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: NA
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $NA

2008 Brian Carter Cellars Corrida Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 66% Tempranillo, 17% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 6% Garnacha. Deep ruby red. Moderately aromatic with red fruit, leather, and a hint of game on both the nose and palate. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 2 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $30; Available elsewhere, $25 to $30


Filed under: American Wine, Dessert Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. keith | May 8th, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Singolo Sangiovese is available at certain Fred Meyer and QFC store i have seen it going for around 15 dollars

    Keith

  2. Kori | May 10th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Keith,
    Thanks for the info! Cheers!

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