Walla Walla Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend: The Inside Scoop


The Walla Walla Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend is one of the Valley's biggest events. Held on the first weekend of December, this event has a festive atmosphere as barrel rooms are decorated with lights and greenery, and many wineries offer tastes from their barrels. This is also the time when new vintages are released. This years' Weekend, from December 4th to 6th, was awesome as there were many exceptional wines. There will be fuller reports in the January and February issues of the Review. But, here's an Insider Preview:


Reininger Cellars has released a fine 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills vineyards ($38 - 18.5/20 points) and a ripe, robust 2006 Ash Hollow Vineyard Syrah ($41 - 19/20 points).


Woodward Canyon released its 2007 Artist's Series #16 Cabernet Sauvignon - thick, chewy and well-extracted ($49 - 19/20 points).


Northstar has a nice, rich beautifully balanced 2006 Walla Walla Valley Merlot ($50- 18.5+/20 points).


Reynvaan Family Vineyards' 2007 "In the Rocks" Syrah is a knockout ($50 - 19/20 points). The winery is sold out, but this is worth seeking out, Next week, I'll report on its 2008's.


Tranche Cellars, one of the Corliss projects, showed a superb 2007 Roussanne (67%) - Viognier (33%) blend ($30 - 18.5/20 points). Again, some fantastic 2008's from the barrel.


Artifex, the state of the art custom crush facility was the site for an Open House for five of its wineries: Lullaby, Tulpen Cellars. Rasa Vineyards, Cadaretta and Reasons. A full report will be in the February issue of the Review (the January one doesn't have room for everything). But don't miss the sensational 2007 Rasa QED ($50 - 19/20 points) and the Reasons 2007 Malbec - big, deep and dark ($35 - 19/20 points) and 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($35 - 18.5+ points). Cadaretta also released a big, brawny 2007 Syrah ($35 - 18.5+/20 points).


Next week's blog (December 14th) will report on the 2008's tasted from the barrel. Stay tuned!


Holiday Suggestions


As I mentioned in the December issue of the Review (to go on line Dec. 10) there was not room for this section, so it is being published here. So here are my suggestions.


Give a Gift Subscription to the Review of Washington Wines


What better way to give to a fellow wine lover than a subscription to this publication? Unfortunately gift subscriptions cannot be entered through the Review's signup system, but they can be done manually from mail orders. For instructions on how to do this, scroll down to the November 22 blog below.


Give a Winery Club Membership


Most wineries have Wine Clubs where members get six or more bottles shipped or picked up twice a year. Most clubs offer a 20% member discount on purchases as well. To learn more about how this works, see the April issue of the Review. You can order a membership for a friend and have the shipments charged to your credit card.


Give Washington Wines


This is almost a no brainer. This is especially appropriate for out of state friends and family. Wineries and retailers will ship where it is legal to do so. In states that do not allow shipments from out of state, there may be retailers there that will deliver.