- Written by Rand Sealey
Over the past few weeks, we have tasted several impressive wines from Europe and Washington. Some were recently acquired French and Italian wines. Others were Washington wines being tasted for the January issue of the Review of Washington Wines. Here are our reviews and scores.
2017 Domaine du Clos du Fief Juliénas "Tradition" ($21.99 - wine.com) - We have liked Michel and Sylvain Tete's 2017 Saint-Amour (see Review blog of 25 August) so we tried this one, too. It displays a brick red color and rich aromas of raspberries, cherries, currants, crushed roses, mulberry, lilac and whiffs of wood smoke. The medium bodied flavors are pleasing and generous yet focused, with notes of licorice, cocoa, black tea and schist minerals. The back picks up pressed berries, toasted nuts and creme de cassis, followed by a ripe, satisfying finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Château Fortia Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc ($44.99 - Esquin) - Most CdP wines are red, so this is something of a rarity. This one shows a brilliant gold color and seductive aromas of Bosc pear, white peach, star fruit, papaya, grapefruit, pear blossoms, honeysuckle, jasmine and white incense. The flavors are bold, simultaneously crisp and tropical, with vivid white fruits that are accented by mas minerals. The back picks up poire and peach liqueurs on the way to a persistently minerally finish. 19/20 points.
2016 Domaine du Grand Montmirail Gigondas, "Les Deux Juliette" - ($24.99 - wine.com) - Composed of 80% Grenache and 10% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre, this offers a deep ruby color and rich aromas of raspberry, plum and currant and scents of crushed roses, pipe tobacco, garrigue, orange peel and spiced incense. The flavors are generous and mouth filling, yet focused, with notes of licorice, cocoa, French roast and Dentelles de Montmirail minerals. On the back, the wine turns chewy textured, with sensations of macerated berries, roasted nuts, framboise and creme de cassis, recurring orange peel and charcoal, followed by a peppery ripe tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2016 Xavier Vignon Châteauneuf du Pape, "Cuvée Anoyme" ($39 - Last Bottle) - Last Bottle is a internet retailer of end of vintage closeouts. This one, from a stellar vintage shows a deep ruby color and intoxicating aromas of wild blackberries, blueberries, plums, crushed roses, sweet tobacco, orange peel and spiced incense. The flavors are velvety yet bold and forceful, marked by licorice, cocoa, French roast and cobblestone minerals. The penetration continues on the back with pressed fruits, creme de cassis, recurring orange peel and charcoal prefacing the long finish. 19/20 points.
2016 Château de Vaudieu Châteauneuf du Pape ($49.99 - wine.com) - Composed of 70% Grenache and 15% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre from 40 to 70 year-old vines, this is a stellar CdP. It exhibits a deep purplish ruby color and an intense nose of blackberries, blueberries, black currants, crushed black roses, tobacco, lavender and oriental incense. The flavors are lavish, yet deep cored, intermixed with licorice, dark chocolate, and minerals. On the back, the wine powers on into a lush, yet firm and lasting finish. 19+/20 points.
2015 Villadoria Nebbiolo Langhe, "Bricco Magno" ($16.98 - Super 1) - The Langhe is the area southeast of Alba and includes the Barolo and Barbaresco districts. Ruby-garnet colored, it emits typical Nebbiolo aromas of semi dried fruits - raspberries, cherries, orange peel - and scents of dried roses, mulberry, tobacco and whiffs of tar and wood smoke. The medium bodied flavors are direct, with notes of licorice, cocoa, pekoe tea and earth. The back picks up recurring dried cherries and orange peel, followed by a sweet-dry finish. 18/20 points.
2014 Rivetti Massimo Barbaresco, "Froi" ($29 - Last Bottle) - This was a super deal from Last Bottle (regular retail - $55). This wine steers a mid course between the modern and traditional styles of Nebbiolo. It displays a ruby-garnet color and smoky aromas of raspberry, cherry, red currant, dried roses, tobacco leaf, a hint of road tar (a trait of Nebbiolo), dried orange peel and oriental incense. The flavors are expansive yet deep and focuses, with lavish sweet-dry fruits that are imbued with licorice, cocoa, black tea and earth. The back picks up roasted berries, grilled hazelnuts and graphite, followed by a lingering dryish tannin finish. 19/20 points.
2016 Mazzei Chianti Classico Riserva, "Ser Lapo" ($31.99) - This is a great buy in a Riserva. Deep ruby-garnet colored, it possesses rich aromas of strawberry, cherry, currant, dried roses, tobacco, orange peel and wood smoke. The flavors are deep and complex, with notes of licorice, chocolate, Italian roast and Castellina hillside minerals. The penetration continues on the back with sensations of roasted berries and almonds, kirsch, recurring orange peel and graphite, followed by a lingering sweet-dry tannin finish. 19/20 points.
2018 Cougar Crest Viognier, Walla Walla Valley ($23) - This wine steers a mid course between the crisp and tropical styles of Viognier. It possesses floral aromas and a nicely fruited finish. Purchased for $17.99. A full review to be in the January issue of the Review of Washington Wines. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Tenet Wines "The Pundit" Syrah, Columbia Valley ($25) - This is a terrific buy in Washington Syrah. Deep purplish ruby colored, it possesses rich aromas and loads of black and blue fruits, followed by a smooth ripe tannin finish, Shows varietal purity throughout. Purchased for $17.99. Full review to be in the January issue. 18.5/20 points.
Last weekend, we drove over to Red Mountain and Prosser to get up to date in the Yakima Valley. Here are a couple of impressive whites. Full reviews to be in the January issue.
2018 Frichette Semillon, Red Mountain, Artz Vineyard ($30) - This is an outstanding rendition of an under appreciated white variety. It shows a brilliant lemon-gold color and fresh aromas of pear, melon, grapefruit and white flowers and resonant flavors and a zingy nicely fruited finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2018 Fortuity Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley ($24) - This was tasted at the Walter Clore Center (a report to be in in January). It is a nice Sancerre-like Sauvignon Blanc with fresh, floral aromas, crisp flavors, saline minerality and a resonant finish. 18.5/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Walla Walla Pays Tribute to Mark Anderson
On Saturday, November 23, many friends gathered at the Cordiner Hall Auditorium for a Celebration of Mark Anderson's life. The remembrance was introduced by Whitman College President Kathleen Murray who recounted Mark's many achievements, including his service as Overseer of Whitman. Tributes were delivered by Paul Anderson, brother and friend, Byron Peterson who worked at the Walla Walla Foundry, Dylan Farnum, President of Walla Walla Foundry, Squire Broel, artist and friend, Ted Cox, Walla Walla Piano Group member and friend, and Ian Boyden, artist and friend. His belief was that just about anything could be done he would be determined to get it done. An example was how he took out the back wall at the Foundry Vineyards tasting room and put in an art gallery in the space that was formerly the barrel room. There were countless other things that Mark got done, He will be remembered for that.
What We're Having for Thanksgiving
On Thursday, November 28, Lynn and I will be joining Ted and Joyce Cox, daughter Amy and Ted's sister, Mel and brother in law Tad from Fresno for Thanksgiving. We always have Walla Walla Valley wines for this distinctly American tradition. We have nothing against foreign wines, but firmly believe Thanksgiving should be celebrated with our own wines. Here's what we're having.
Treveri Blanc de Blancs, Columbia Valley - We will have this sparkling 100% Chardonnay wine with the before dinner appetizers. It is a fun wine and the crispness makes it a counterpoint to the upcoming dinner.
2015 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Queen's Road" White Wine, Walla Walla Valley - This aromatic Roussanne, Viognier combination will go nicely with the white meat, better than Chardonnay.
2015 Cayuse Vineyards "God only Knows" Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, Armada Vineyard - A medium bodied red with a lot of flavor is a fine fit with turkey. The GOK will fill the bill.
2014 Rôtie Cellars "Northern Blend" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley - We believe Syrah pairs better with turkey and the aromatic accompaniments better than the more austere, tannic Cabernet Sauvignons. This Syrah, co-fermented with 5% Viognier will go well with the savory dinner fixings.
2010 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Stonessence" Estate Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - From the "Rocks," this will have just the right cobblestone and silt funkiness to go with the dinner.
Treveri Brut Syrah, Columbia Valley - This sparkling red will make a rich, effervescent accompaniment to dessert. The dryness of a Brut counterpoints sweetness.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
- Written by Rand Sealey
The death of Mark Anderson on Wednesday, November 13 at age 65 is a great loss for the Walla Walla Valley community. His contributions have been immeasurable. He was a a native of Walla Walla and graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1973 and from Whitman College in 1977. He married his wife, Patty in 1976. In 1980, the couple started the Walla Walla Foundry which cast sculptures for famed artists such as Manuel Neri, Maya Lin and Jim Dine (whose story-high Pinocchio, cast for Boras, Sweden wowed us). He and Patty also founded the Foundry Vineyards winery in 2003 to bring together wine and art at the tasting room and gallery on Abadie Street, off 13th Avenue.
Mark's many accomplishments include anchoring Art Walla which brought public art to the community, managing the Gesa Power House Theater, participating in the Walla Walla Piano Group, and serving as an Overseer of Whitman College. He was always ready to help and his friendliness and generosity were incomparable.
Mark's legacy will live on through his family. His wife, Patty, is a mover and shaker in the community. Daughter Lisa Anderson is an events manager at Foundry Vineyards. She did a superb job in preparing the gallery for the celebration of my 50 years in the wine industry. Son Jay is the artistic director of Foundry Vineyards and winemaker. The Foundry Vineyards 2016 red wines will be reviewed in the December issue of the Review of Washington Wines. Last spring, the winery released Jay's pet project, the "Pet Nats," pétillant naturel sparkling wines which sold out quickly.
A Celebration of Mark's life will be held on Saturday, November 23 at 4 p.m. at Cordiner Hall at Whitman, followed by a reception at the Reid Center Ballroom. A report on this event will be in next week's Review Blog.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been pulling out wines from our collection to see how they are doing and how well they pair with our meals. We also had wines being tasted for the December issue of the Review of Washington Wines. Here are our notes and scores.
2015 Domaine de la Modrorée Lirac - We took this to a Halloween party and everyone loved it. A rich, flavorful combination of one-third each of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah from near Chateauneuf du Pape, it went beautifully with Brenda Bernards' Mac and cheese. 19/20 points.
2017 Result of a Crush "Christmas Cuvée" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($24.99) - We had this with Manhattan clam and salmon chowder. Ample, brambly and spicy, it went nicely with the tomatoes and herbs in the chowder. A full review of this wine to be in the December issue of the Review of Washington Wines. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Domaine des Bosquets Châteauneuf du Pape - This is our go-to Châteauneuf du Pape. We had it last week with broiled steelhead (our marinade: 1/8 cup soy sauce, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cumin with a bit of olive oil). The wine packs a lot of flavor for the price and the predominance (70%) off Grenache goes well with the salmon. See the Review Blog posting of 14 August below for a full review. 19/20 points.
N/V Treveri Gewurztraminer Demi Sec Sparkling Wine, Columbia Valley ($21) - This Wapato winery makes excellent sparkling wines that are great values. We had this with spicy sesame chicken from Meal Time Market. The bubbles and crisp flavors made a fine counterpoint to the spicy chicken. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Gârd Vintners Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, Lawrence Vineyard ($40) - We had this with Meal Time Market's smoked pulled pork. The herbal and smoky character of the wine paired nicely with the seasonings of the pork. To be reviewed in the Review December issue. 19/20 points.
2017 Result of a Crush "The Unnamed Series" Cabernet Sauvignon / Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley ($24.99) - We had this with the leftover pulled pork in tomato soup. A 80%, 20% combination, it was medium full bodied and offered a lot of flavor for the price. It held up well with the tartness of the soup. To be reviewed in December. 18.5/20 points.
2010 Cháteau Talbot, Saint Julien - On Monday of last week, we had our next door neighbors, Mauro and Connie Golmarvi (owners of Ristorante Assagio in Seattle) over for dinner. I prepared sautéed beef tenderloin with sauce Madère. This called for a special Grand Cru Classé Bordeaux, whose elegance paired with the entrée beautifully. 19+/20 points.
2013 Château d'Aquiera Tavel Rosé - Rose is not just for summer. Mauro gave us some of his special chicken soup. Deep copper colored, this is not a wimpy Rosé. It went nicely with the savory soup. See the 23 September Review Blog posting for a full review. 19/20 points.
2014 Northstar Reserve Merlot, Walla Walla Valley - On Saturday night, we had dinner with our neighbors to the south, Jim and Chris Bohnsack. They served roasted pork loin with this wine. The velvety yet vigorous, true to variety, Merlot went beautifully with the savory pork. 19/20 points.
2016 Domaine du Prieuré Savigny-les-Beaune, 1er Cru, Les Lavières ($39.99 - Esquin) - We had steelhead again (a freshwater salmon) with this wine. Rich and earthy, with simultaneously velvety and chewy black and blue fruit flavors, this wine paired well with the fat content of the cold water fish. The fruit acids of the wine made a bright counterpoint. 18.5+/20 points.
2018 Louis Jadot Macon-Villages Chardonnay ($13.99 - Safeway) - We enjoy Maconnais with chicken and lettuce salad. Unoaked, this wine showed beautiful variety purity, with fresh aromas of white fruits and flowers and vivid flavors. 18/20 points.
2014 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($42.99 - Esquin) - Louis Martini was a legend in the Napa Valley, and his descendants are continuing the great tradition. We had this with meat loaf (yes, meat loaf) while watching the Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night football. The savory ground beef and the classic Cabernet flavors went together nicely. 19/20 points.
2018 Julia's Dazzle Pino Gris Rosé, Columbia Valley ($17.99 - Safeway) - We had this with leftover steelhead on a bed of lettuce and veggies. The extraction of the Pinot Gris from extended hang tine made it a fine accompaniment to the cold salmon. 19/20 points. Lynn gave this three stars (highest rating).
2018 Aluvé Estate Chardonnay, Walla Walla Valley, Menozzi Vineyard ($35) - We had this last night with chicken breast with cream and mushroom sauce. The fine balance and texture of the wine went beautifully with the creamy chicken. Reviewed in the October issue of the Review of Washington Wines. 19/20 points.
2017 Delas Crozes-Hermitage, "Les Launes" ($21.99 - wine.com) - For lunch today, we had leftover meat loaf in lentil soup. This young Syrah from the North Rhone Valley went well with the soup. The robust dark fruit flavors complemented the savory legumes and beef of the soup. See the Review Blog posting of 11 September for a full review. Today, it scored 18+/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
November 1-3 was Fall Release Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley. It was a weekend when some wineries were open especially for the occasion. Here's what we did.
On Thursday, October 31, I got a jump on the weekend by visiting L'Ecole No. 41 and Woodward Canyon. At the L'Ecole, I tasted the new 2016 Apogee and Perigee blends and the 2017 GSM Red and at Woodward Canyon, the 2017 Estate Merlot and Old Vines Cabernet and the 2016 Artist's Cabernet, all to be reviewed in the December issue of the Review of Washington Wines.
On Friday morning, November 1, we went to Abeja and in the afternoon to The Walls for the 2017 Reds, The Ramparts and Gaspard Syrah along with the 2017 Lip Stinger White. And then on to Gramercy (2016 reds) and the Foundry Vineyards (2016 reds). All the to be in the December issue.
On Saturday, we went to Reynvaan Family Vineyards for a preview of the 2018 Syrahs. Here are my notes and scores.
2018 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Foothills Reserve" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($270 - 3 pack) - Ruby-garnet colored, it emits smoky aromas of raspberry, cherry, black currant, a hint of fig, crushed roses, lavender, olive tapenade and cracked pepper. The medium fill bodied flavors, as well, are dramatic, with notes of licorice, cocoa, French roast and silty minerals. The penetration continues on the back with framboise and cassis liqueurs, roasted nuts and charcoal, followed by a long smooth tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2018 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "The Contender" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($270 - 3 pack) - This is a bold Syrah (with 6% Roussanne). It displays a deer ruby color and a sultry, smoky nose of blackpberries, blueberries, black currants, lavender and oriental incense. The flavors are dramatic with red and blue fruits that are infused with black licorice, dark cocoa, French roast and crushed rock. The back picks up macerated berries, roasted nuts. kidskin and charcoal, leading the way into a long, textured ripe tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2018 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "In the Rocks" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($285 - 3 pack) - This is a glamorous Syrah (with 10% Viognier). It displays a deep ruby color and lovely aromas of red fruits - Marionberries, cranberries, currants - with scents of rosebuds, white flowers, lavender, violets and wood smoke. The flavors are deliciously mouth encompassing, with notes of licorice, cocoa, roasted coffee beans and distinct "Rocks" minerality. The penetration continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted nuts, smoked meats and pencil lead, followed by a lengthy, savory ripe tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2018 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Stonessence" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($330 - 3 pack) - This lives up to its name, the essence of the stones of the Rocks. It boasts a deep ruby-crimson color and an a lovely, perfumed nose of blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, black currants and a bit of fig, with scents of black roses, tobacco, truffles, violets, white pepper and spiced incense. The flavors are incredibly silky yet vigorous, with black and blue fruits that are infused with licorice, dark cocoa, French roast and saline cobblestone and silt minerals. The back reveals pressed fruits, creme de cassis, dried cranberries, kidskin and charcoal, all followed seamlessly by a seemingly endless ripe balanced tannin finish. 20/20 points.
Also tasted was the Reynvaan Family Vineyards 2017 "Queen's Road" White, a superb blend of 65% Viognier and 35% Marsanne to be reviewed in the December issue of the Review of Washington Wines.
After Reynvaan, we went over to Rasa Vineyards on Powerline Road to taste Billo and Pinto Naravanne's 2016 reds, to be reviewed in December. In the afternoon, we went to Tero Estates' winery near Milton Freewater. The superb 2016 Petit Verdot will be in the December issue. Then on to Grosgrain Vineyards to taste the new 2018 reds, also to be reviewed in December.
On Sunday, we joined Ted and Joyce Cox for a vertical tasting put together by Bill Henry of Tertulia Cellars' Tierra Labrada wines from the Elevation Vineyard above the South Fork of the Walla Walla Valley, including the 2017, 2016 and 2015 reds.. The newly released 2017's will be reviewed in the December issue.