This year, Cayuse Weekend and Taste Washington were on the same weekend, that of April 1-3. How that came about is this: Back in the October of last year, Cayuse sent a notification to put April 1-2 the calendar for its annual pick-up party; some months later, after the beginning of the year, the Washington Wine Commission announced the dates for Taste Washington for April 2-3. Normally, Taste Washington is held the last weekend of March, but that was Easter weekend, so it was moved back another week.
Since Cayuse Weekend and Taste Washington were must-attend events for me, I went to Cayuse on Friday, April 1 (announced as "No Joke") and Taste Washington on Saturday, flying there from Walla Walla. Here's my report:
Cayuse Weekend, Friday April 1
That morning, I drove towards Milton Freewater and turned off Highway 11 to Sunnyside Road and continued west a few miles to the winery (aka "The Box"). Once inside I started tasting the 2014's and 2013's. Christophe Baron, the owner-winemaker, always likes to kid me about my note taking, asking me "Do you like our wines?" I assured him I certainly did. I found the 2024's particularly compelling, although the 2013's were highly impressive as well. Here are my notes and scores.
2013 "God only Knows" Grenache - Brilliant brick red colored, this showed attractive aromas of raspberry, cranberry, pomegranate, roses, violets and incense. The medium bodied flavors were supple and alluring, with notes of pressed berries and roasted nuts, and sweet-dry tannins. 19+/20 points.
2014 "Widowmaker" Cabernet Sauvigon - This showed an opaque ruby color and a rich, ripe nose of blackberries, cherries, cassis, anise, crushed roses, tobacco and cedar. The flavors were deep and powerful, loaded with dark fruits, espresso and Rocks minerality, The power continued on the back with a long, ripe tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2014 Cailloux Vineyard Syrah - Deep purplish colored, this had an intense nose of wild berries, crushed roses, garrigue, tobacco, violets and incense. The full throttle flavors were deep and full, marked by distinct terroir, continuing on into a long, dark and brooding back and finish. 19.5/20 points.
2014 En Chamberlin Vineyard Syrah - Purplish colored, this possessed an intense, earthy, minerally nose of blackberries, blueberries, cassis, roses, garrigue and violets. The flavors were dense and compact, with notes of licorice, dark roast and chocolate. The intensity continued on the back with roasted berries and nuts, leather and cassis, followed by a long, powerful finish. 19.5/20 points.
2014 "Bionic Frog" Syrah - From the Cocinelle Vineyard, this showed a deep ruby color and a lovely, fragrant nose of wild berries, crushed roses, lavender, sweet tobacco and oriental incense. The medium bodied flavors were supple, yet focused, with notes of cocoa, French roast and minerals. The back picked up pressed berries and roasted nuts, followed by a long, spicy finish. 20/20 points.
2013 Armada Vineyard Syrah - This showed a seductive nose of wild fruits, wild roses, lavender, violets and sweet incense. The flavors mirrored the aromatics with mouth encompassing black and blue fruits that were underlain with licorice, French roast and minerals. The saturation continued on the back with pressed berries, roasted nuts, creme de cassis and orange peel, followed by a long ripe tannin finish. 20/20 points.
2014 "Impulsivo" Tempranillo - Deep ruby colored, this emited intriguing aromas of black cherries, roasted plums, black currants, anise, dark tobacco and black olive. The flavors were bold and direct, with a taut focus, accompanied by notes of licorice, dark chocolate, chicory coffee and minerals. The back picked up notes of pressed berries, Marcona almonds and leather, followe by a lingering dryish tannin finish. The best Washington Tempranillo I'vre tasted so far. 20/20 points.
2012 "Wallah Wallah" Special Syrah #4 - This showed a deep ruby color and seductive aromas of wild dark fruits, roses, lavender and spiced incense. The medium full-bodied flavors were thick and chewy, with noticeable Rocks earthiness. The depth and power continued all the way to the end, picking up roasted berries and nuts and ripe tannins. 19.5/20 points.
After picking up my Cayuse allocation, I went over to the Reynvann Family Vineyards winery at the end of Cottonwood Road. There, the newly released 2014 whites were poured, along with the 2014 reds, to be released in the Fall. I found the whites to be deliciously vibrant and the 2014 reds even more compelling than when they were tasted last November (reviewed in the February issue).
2014 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "In the Foothills" Viognier - From the Estate Vineyard on Cottonwood Road, this showed a brilliant gold color and a lovely, fragrant nose of pear, peach and papaya, with scents of butternut, meadow flowers and jasmine. The white fruit flavors, as well, were alluring, with silky fruits and peche and poire liqueurs and a long finish. 19.5/20 points.
2014 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "In the Rocks" Viognier - This showed a more minerally character than the Foothills along with a distinct varietal character, and well extracted fruits, and a long Condrieu-like finish. 19.5/20 points.
2014 Reynvann Family Vineyards "Queen's Road" White Wine - Composed of 70% Marsanne and 30% Viognier, it showed a brilliant gold color and a minerally nose of pear, peach and papaya, lemongrass, jasmine and dried flowers. The flavors were full bodied and extracted, with a long dry, yet finely fruited finish. 19.5/20 points.
After Reynvaan, I stopped at Otis Kenyon to taste the fine 2013 Carménère and Malbec from the Phinny Hill Vineyard, to be reviewed in the May issue. I also stopped at Kerloo Cellars to taste new releases to be reviewed next month.
Taste Washington, Saturday April 2
After arriving at Sea-Tac, I took a cab to the Century Link Exhibition Center for Taste Washington. My initial focus was to taste the wines of Avennia, Andrew Will, Betz and Cadence, wineries that are not open to the public. This gave me an opportunity to taste their wines at one venue. The reviews will be in the May issue of the Review of Washington Wines which goes on line April 26th.
I also visited some other wineries, looking for new discoveries. Co Dinn (Coman Dinn) had some compelling site specific wines, a Chardonnay and Syrah from the Roskamp Vineyard on Snipes Mountain and a Painted Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, to be reviewed in a future issue. Another winery turning out terroir-driven wines in Ali Mayfield's The Walls, which is building a new winery in downtown Walla Walla. I tasted a striking 2014 "La Lutte" Chardonnay and a "Stanley Groovy" red that lives up to its name. These and others will be reviewed in June or July. A couple of interesting "outliers" were Wilridge's intruigingly aromatic 2013 Zweigelt Red from the Naches Heights AVA and a bold, dark "Artist's Series" Lake Chelan Syrah with a label by Eugene Lybecker, age 3.