Since returning from Florida a week ago, I have tasted some interesting wines, Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley and 2014 Syrahs from Ardor Cellars. Here are my reports.


The Whitehouse Crawford Chenin Blanc Tasting

On Wednesday, February 10, the Whitehouse Crawford Restaurant in Walla Walla held a tasting of Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley. I have always believed that Chenin Blanc is one of the world's most undervalued grape varieites. This tasting shows what can be done with that varietal.

2013 Marc Brédif "Classic" Vouvray ($25) - This showed a brilliant gold cor and enticing aromas of pear, peach, clover, wildflowers and white smoke. The nearly dry flavors were ripe and well-wrought, with undertones of chalk and minerals. 18.5/20 points.

2011 Catherine & Pierre Breton "La Dilettante" Vouvray Sec ($30) - This is a fine example of dry Vouvray. It showed a medium gold color and intriguing aromas of pear, peach, almond, lilac and white smoke. The flavors were crisp and direct, laser-like, with notes of peach stone and flint stone, followed by a racy, dry finish. 18.5+/20 points.

2004 Chateau d'Epiré Savennières ($35) - This shows how well dry Chenin Blanc can age well. Medium amber colored, this wine emited exotic, smoky aromas of toasted nuts, semi-dried fruits and spiced incense. The flavors picked up notes of peach stone, grape skin and chalk, follwed by recurring dried fruits, orange peel and spice on the long, dry finish. 19/20 points.

2013 François Chidaine "Les Choisilles" Montlouis ($35) - Montlouis is situated across the Loire River to the south. This version offered a brilliant gold color and enticing aromas of pear, apricot and nuts, with scents of honeysuckle and clover. The flavors were exquisitely wrought, well ripened, yet taut and laser-like. The back picked up notes of orange peel and limestone on the racy, dry finish. 19/20 points.

2014 Pascal Janvier "PJ" Jasinères ($28) - Jasinières is the coolest and northernmost appellation of the Loire Valley. This showed a greenist-tinted gold clor and aromas of granny apple, peach, melon, white lilac and honeysuckle. The crisp flavors showed fine Chenin Blanc purity, accented by distinct minerality and vibrant fruits that last on the finish. 18.5/20 points.

2014 Domaine Huet "Le Mont" Vouvray, Demi-Sec ($45) - Domaine Huet is one of the best producers of sweeter Vouvray. This one showed a brilliant gold color and seductive aromas of ripe fruits - pear, peach, melon - with scents wisteria, lilac, and white spiced incense. The flavors were ripe and unctuous, yet laser-like, with pear and peach liqueurs on the lingering faintly honeyed and spiced finish. 19.5/20 points.

2005 Domaine Huet "Le Mont" Premiere Trie Vouvray Moelleux (not available) - Molleux means "mellow," in this case medium sweet. It showed a brilliant amber color and an alluring nose of pear, peach, mango and dried orange peel with scents of lavender, clover and honeysuckle. The ultra ripe flavors were mouth encompassing, yet focused, the essence of Chenin Blanc. The finish lasted and lasted, with recurring spiced orange peel, clover and honey, with superb fruit acids beinging the wine into focus. 20/20 points.


Upcoming 2014's from Ardor Cellars

Last Saturday, Brandon Kubrock opened up his 2014 reds for me. They had been in the bottle about a month, so were a bit closed, But they were highly promising, even better than the fine 2013's. Here are by notes.

2014 Ardor Cellars Mourvèdre, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard ($40) - Deep brick red colored, this possessed a rich, spicy blackberry, plum and spice nose with fleshy, chewy-textured medium-full bodied flavors. A full review will be in the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines. 19/20 points.

2014 Ardor Cellars Syrah, Yakima Valley, Den Hoed Vineyard ($50) - Deep ruby colored, this emited rich spicy aromas of raspberry, plum and pomegranate with a thick, chewy palate and back. 18.5+/20 points.

2014 Ardor Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley, Lawrence Vineyard ($50) - Deep purplish ruby colored, this wine possessed an intense, pure Syrah nose and rich flavors are blackberry, blueberry and cassis, with thick, pure flavors from beginning to end.19/20 points.

2014 Ardor Cellars Syrah, Red Mountain, Red Heaven Vuneyard ($50) - This shiowed a purplish crimson color and rich, seductive aromas of wild fruits, violets and spiced incense. The thick, massive flavors spread out on the palate, with Red Mountain scorched earth and mineral. Registeriing at 16.2% alcohol, the finish was warm, but not hot. 19+/20 points.

2014 Ardor Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Stoney Vine Vineyard ($50) - Deep ruby colored, this showed a rich, earthy nose of crushed berries, tobacco and incense, with thick, chewy flavors and unmistakable "Rocks" character, with notes of charcoal, roasted nuts and leather, followed by ripe tannins. 19+/20 points.

2014 Ardor Cellars "Quaternarium" Syrah, Columbia Valley (price TBA) - This is one fourth each of the above Syrahs. It displayed a deep ruby-crimson color and enticing ripe, sweet aromas of raspberry, blueberry and cassis, with scents of violets and incense. The flavors were full and generous, pulling the four vineyards together beautifully. 19+/20 points.

The 2014 Syrah are to be released in the fall. Full reviews in the Review of Washington Wines will be published at that time.