tamarack cellars firehouse red 2008

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COST: $18-20

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WHAT: You might call this a kitchen sink blend because Tamarack Cellars blends eight grapes to get their Firehouse Red. But it is such a delightful wine the only thing you want to call it is great. It's a lush, complex, silky wine that goes well with all kinds of foods. It's loaded with tasty fruit and mellow tannins. It opens with spicy aromas of black fruits. The flavors are round and smooth, with predominant notes of black cherry and black raspberry. The soft finish lingers and makes you want another sip. The wine is ready to drink right now, but I suspect it will last another two or three years, if you can refrain from drinking it until then.

The wine is 37 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 30 percent Syrah, 16 percent Merlot, 7 percent Cabernet Franc, 3 percent Malbec, 3 percent Sangiovese, 3 percent Petit Verdot and 1 percent Carmenère. It was No. 49 on Wine Spectator's 100 Best Wines of 2010.

WINERY: Tamarack Cellars was founded in 1998 by Ron and Jamie Coleman as the 14th winery in the Walla Walla Valley. There are now more than 100. The winery is dedicated to the production of small lot, hand-crafted wines from select vineyards of the Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain, Rattlesnake Hills, Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley and Yakima Valley appellations. Tamarack Cellars is located in a restored World War II fire station and barracks on a former Army Air Corps training base that is now the Walla Walla Airport Complex.

Production started with 300 cases of Merlot in 1998 and now is more than 11,000 cases. They also produce Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese.

GOES WITH: I had this with my favorite burger, a thick, juicy, messy cheeseburger from Five Guys. It was a match made in heaven. The richness of the wine stood up to the heavy beef flavors and also provided a nice accompaniment to the crispy Idaho fries.

This is the perfect pizza and pasta wine, and likely also would go well with grilled meat, roast chicken and yellow cheese. I had some left after the burger and enjoyed sipping it all by itself.

Wine events

THURSDAY

Wine and tapas tasting, 5 p.m., Veritas at La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $19.99.

FRIDAY

Tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road.

Martini, MacMurray & More tasting seminar, 7 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; featuring premium California wines; $15 with pre-paid reservation, $20 at the door.

SATURDAY

Tasting, 1-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road.

APRIL 1

Tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta, $4; rebate on purchase of featured wine; three whites, three reds.

APRIL 6

Tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta, $4; rebate on purchase of featured wine; three whites, three reds.

APRIL 9

Bottle signing with golfer Gary Player, 3-5 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans. Player will have his Muirfield and Masters labels to celebrate his winning the British Open and the Masters Tournament. The new Masters label celebrates the 50th anniversary of Player's first Masters championship.

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