Saturday, April 23, 2011

From Sawbucks to Spring Barrel Tasting In Store This Tax Weekend

The other day I received an interesting package just in time for tax day. In the box was a bottle of wine and a little marketing piece on the sawbuck.

Sawbucks are an invention of the 1700s, where you laid a log or length of timber on when you were sawing it. Two pieces of wood lashed together with leather to form an X. It became over the decades what we now call the modern sawhorse.

When the $10 bill was first crafted in the U.S., the bill was called a “sawbuck” because the Roman numeral for 10 is “X”. So when you needed $10 for something, you asked for a “sawbuck”.

When John and Lane Giguiere started in the wine business back in 1983 they had huge dreams and lots of enthusiasm. By the time their brands R.H. Phillips and Toasted Head became a success they were down to their last sawbucks and hoping for a miracle.

Well, the miracle did happen and now those are two of the biggest brands in the California wine world. Their brand Matchbook is quickly catching speed in the market, and their everyday label Sawbuck is now out for full distribution.

I received a bottle of the 2008 Sawbuck Malbec. Someone must have been tipped off that I’m a huge sucker for a glass of that red goddess.

The label on the bottle is fun and attractive, looking like an old gold-standard $10 bill. I pulled the composite cork and was pleased to find a bright red color pouring into my glass. Many Malbecs are inky black, so I knew things would be a little different.

As I looked down the winemaker’s notes I noted that the wine is 76% Malbec, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Syrah. The Malbec and Syrah grapes are from the famed Dunnigan Hills, whereas the Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Lodi and Chalk Hill.

The nose on the wine jumps out of the glass with red apples, raspberry, and dark cherry. There is ample fruit on the front of the palate, with flavors of cocoa, black cherry, and soft tannins on the back. A pretty tasty wine for the suggested retail of $10 when it hits local stores soon.

For those of you who followed my suggestion and did the Gorge Passport Weekend a few weeks ago I know that you will appreciate this weekend in the Columbia Valley. This is the region’s Spring Barrel Tasting weekend!

I have been receiving dozens of emails this week inviting me to scads of events throughout the region for one of the area’s most celebrated wine events of the year. April 15th through the 17th wineries located all the way from the Tri Cities to Yakima will be participating in the event, with entertainment, food, and plenty of new wines to showcase.

If you have the desire to get out of the house and away from the yard work this weekend I suggest checking this event out at or by checking out the website of your favorite winery in the area. As always there are passports available online, or you can pick them up at any participating winery. Remember to bring your own glass!!


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