Nota Bene Cellars: Current Releases from the 2009 Vintage



By Kori ~ October 8th, 2012.

Nota Bene Cellars is a small, family-owned winery located in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Owner/winemaker Tim Narby and his wife Carol Bryant founded Nota Bene in 2001. Tim got his start in winemaking over 15 years earlier in the Boeing Employee’s Wine and Beermaking Club. When their youngest child was out of preschool, they decided to start their own winery. The winery name incorporates the first letter of Tim and Carol’s surnames. The Latin phrase “nota bene” is directly translated as “note well” but is commonly used in legal documents to mean, “pay attention” or “take notice.” Tim still works for Boeing virtually as an IT Software Project Manager. Carol was a state prosecuting attorney for 23 years.

While Nota Bene is an urban Seattle winery, they source their grapes from some of the top vineyards in Eastern Washington. Tim believes in sustainable farming and loves to blend wine and the grapes from many vineyards. Nota Bene produces about 1,100 cases per year.

Recently, we had the opportunity to taste all twelve of their current releases from the 2009 vintage in a blind samples tasting. All of the wines were good, but we especially enjoyed the Cabernet Franc, the Miscela Bordeaux Style Blend, and the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah. We found the Nota Bene wines to be very fairly priced, too, with eight of the twelve priced less than the average of their peers of similar quality, i.e. 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5) or more.

If you have not had any Nota Bene wines, I encourage you to give them a try if you see them on the shelf at a wine shop or on the wine list at a restaurant. Other than pouring during the South Seattle Artisan Wineries open houses, Nota Bene is open by appointment only.

2009 Nota Bene Cabernet Franc (Columbia Valley, Washington): 81% Cabernet Franc, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec. Medium-deep ruby red in color. Aromatic with red and black fruit, green bell pepper, earth, and leather on both the nose and palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity, soft tannins, and a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $20

2009 Nota Bene Miscela Bordeaux Style Blend (Columbia Valley, Washington): 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Malbec. Deep, dark purple. Nice nose with mint and black fruit aromas. More mint and black fruit as well as tobacco comes through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced with a long, smooth finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $25

2009 Nota Bene Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah (Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): 100% Syrah. Dark, dense purple. Nice nose with spice, smoked meat, and black fruit aromas. More black fruit, spice, and smoked meat come through on the palate. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and high, dry tannins. Well-balanced with a very long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $35

2009 Nota Bene Cabernet Sauvignon (Conner Lee Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington): 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark purplish red in color. Aromatic with earth and barnyard aromas. Fruit-forward with black cherry and earth on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium 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 $35

2009 Nota Bene Merlot (Conner Lee Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington): 100% Merlot. Deep, dark ruby red. Nice nose with black cherry, black plum, and spice aromas. Black cherry and mint 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: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $35

2009 Nota Bene Una Notte Rhone Style Blend (Columbia Valley, Washington): 51% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 9% Mourvedre. Deep, dark ruby red. Nice nose with black fruit, spice, and smoked meat aromas. More black fruit comes through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high 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

2009 Nota Bene Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Bordeaux Style Blend (Ciel du Cheval Vineyard, Red Mountain, Washington): 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, and 14% Merlot. Deep, dark purplish red. Aromatic with rose petals and black fruit on the nose. Black fruit, spice, and floral notes come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high 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 $35

2009 Nota Bene Abbinare Bordeaux Style Blend (Columbia Valley, Washington): 61% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Malbec. Deep, dark purplish red in color. Aromatic with black fruit and spice rack on both the nose and palate. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, soft tannins, and a medium finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $25

2009 Nota Bene Syrah (Columbia Valley, Washington): 87% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, and 3% Merlot. Dark, dense purple. Nose is a bit tight at first and then red and black fruit and spice come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, soft tannins, and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $25

2009 Nota Bene Malbec (Verhey Vineyard, Yakima Valley, Washington): 100% Malbec. Dark, dense purple. Aromatic with black fruit, molasses, and a touch of tire rubber on the nose. More black fruit and molasses come through on the palate. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a medium finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $25

2009 Nota Bene Mourvedre (Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington): 100% Mourvedre. Deep, dark purple. Nice nose with black fruit and licorice aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $30

2009 Nota Bene Conner Lee Vineyard Bordeaux Style Blend (Columbia Valley, Washington): 67% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot. Deep, dark red in color. Nose is a bit tight at first then aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry, plum, and spice come through. Medium-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a medium to long finish.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $35


Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Mourvedre, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Bob | October 27th, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Is it weird that I find the rubber tire notes oddly alluring in that Malbec you tasted? Haha.

    Anyway, looks like a couple winners in that bunch.

  2. Kori | November 4th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Bob,
    Not at all. That’s why tasting notes can be helpful. What one person likes, another may not, and vice versa. Cheers!

Leave a Comment