Wine Review: 2011 Browne Family Vineyards ‘Tribute’

Some nights are ‘good wine nights.’ There’s no particular rhyme or reason to when they happen, it could be to celebrate, or to commiserate, or it could be a day like Sunday when we just decide that we are going to drink some of our ‘good’ wine. That’s when the pressure really kicks in, what are we going to have? How ‘good’ should the wine be? Why do we have SO much wine? But the decision yesterday was a pretty easy one. We went with the 2011 Browne Family Vineyards ‘Tribute.’

We also decided, during the sunny part of the day, that we were going to drink the wine out on the roof for the last time this summer. Claiming that ‘summer’ is still around in DC at the moment is a bit of a stretch, but we had committed. So at 8pm last night, when the temperature reached 52 degrees Rachel and I were outside in coats, hats, mittens and Uggs drinking wine. The major concern being, not whether we were going to catch a cold, but if the wine was going to suffer! Luckily the wine was great and so it made up for the frigid temperatures.

The Browne Family vineyard is located in Washington State, Walla Walla to be precise. It’s a family run affair, with Andrew Browne serving as the ‘taste maker’ not the ‘wine maker.’ They are known primarily for their Cabernet Sauvignon, a Bordeaux red blend (which we tried) and Chardonnay. The ‘Tribute’ is a blend of 47% Merlot, 23% Malbec, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and 7% Syrah.

To me the wine reminds me of a library, in the very best sense. It smells like old leather, cigar smoke, and for some reason, pencils, but that could just be me! Since it’s red wine and not some step into the past, you can also find black fruits, plum, raspberry coffee beans and vanilla.

It was a surprisingly big wine when we tasted it, incredibly complex with lots of plum, black cherry, rhubarb and oak. Baking spices and liquorice were also on the tongue. The wine has an impressive finish, in terms of both taste and length, the vanilla lingers on the tongue and the tannins are incredibly well rounded and balanced, without being overpowering.

All in all I thought that it was a great wine, really nice to drink with or without food. According to Rachel it is a wine that could pair well with lighter meats like pork or chicken, you don’t want to overwhelm it with anything too heavy.

Rating: I’ll Take Half a Case. Place of Purchase: DCanter, DC. Retail price: approximately $40. You’ll like this wine if you like: Red Burgundy, Bordeaux blends from Pessac-Léognan, Oregon Pinot Noir, or Nero D'Avola from Sicily (fragrant with medium body).