A week ago (July 27th) Lynn and I drove up to Lake Chelan to catch up on the wine scene there. That afternoon, our first visit was Hard Row to Hoe (which takes its name from the boat to Port Lovely's brothel) on the North Shore. There, owner-winemaker Judy Phelps took us through ten new releases including attractive 2015 whites and tasty 2014 reds, along with a delightful Pinot Noir Rosé and terrific Vermouth (see below). After Hard Row, we stopped at Cairdeas (pronounced Cardis) to taste with owner-winemaker Charlie Lybecker some nice Rhone-style wines, a Grenache Blanc, Consult an "Tri," a GSM blend, to be in the September issue. We spent the night at the Mountain View Inn on Wapato Point and dinner at the North Shore Café in Manson.
The next day, we drove to the South Shore of Lake Chelan. We first went to Nefarious Cellars where we went through the full range of whites and reds and a rosé with co-owner/co-winemaker Dean Neff. All were excellent, and the two Estate Syrahs, one from the South Slope Defiance Vineyard and the other from the Rocky Mother Vineyard in the Methow Valley, were knockouts. Look for them in the September issue. We had lunch at Karma Vineyards down Lakeshore Road. There, we had sparkling wines (to be reviewed in November) and a Grenache and Mourvèdre (September). Then we went back over to Fielding Hills to taste with tasting room manager, Don Elsing (former sommelier at Sun Mountain Resort). Sourced from the RiverBend Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope, the wines were impressive (reviews in September and October). Our last stop was at Tunnel Hill whose buildings were built with rock blasted from the Knapps Hill Tunnel in 1933. The 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé (below) and 2014 Pinot Noir and Syrah (September) were very nicely done. We then drove down Highway 97 to Wenatchee for the night.
The next morning, we drove west on Highway 2 to Leavenworth to visit Rob Newsom's Boudreaux Cellars tasting room. There, Keely Newsom, Rob's daughter, poured us a number of wines, includiung a 2012 Syrah, a 2010 Cabernet and a 2010 Reserve Cabernet, all to be in the Highly Recommended section of the September issue. We then left Leavenworth and drove south on Highway 97 over Blewett Pass and down to Ellensburg and on to Walla Walla.
Four Rosés and a Vermouth from Lake Chelan
Among the wines we tasted, there were some delightful rosés that are especially recommended. At Hard Row to Hoe, we also tasted a Vermouth-style wine that is not to be missed if you like an exceptional aperitif wine.
2015 Hard Row to Hoe Pinot Noir Rosé, Lake Chelan ($18) - From the Clos Chevalle Vineyard on the South Shore, this offers a light salmon color and enticing aromas of fraises de bois, Rainier cherry and tangerine with lightly extracted, yet well delineated fresh fruit flavors, that pick up fraise and kirsch liqueurs on the way to a dry finish. This is reminiscent of a Bourgogne Rosé from Marsannay in the north end of the Cotes de Nuits. 18+/20 points.
2015 Tunnel Hill Pinot Noir Rosé, Lake Chelan ($20) - Brilliant light cherry colored, this possesses attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry, red currant, rosebuds and orange peel. The flavors are nicely extracted, with notes of fraise liqueur, recurring orange peel and minerals. A squeeze of cherry juice enlivens the finish. 18+/20 points.
2015 Nefarious Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé, Lake Chelan, Evans Vineyard ($22) - Sourced from across Lakeshore Road, this rosé shows a copper color (from overnight skin contact) and intriguing aromas of strawberry, Rainier cherry, rosebuds, tobacco leaf and a whiff of smoke. The flavors are deftly extracted, with notes of grape skin, kirsch and minerals. On the back, gently pressed strawberries preface a dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Fielding Hills Estate Cabernet Franc Rosé, Wahluke Slope, RiverBend Vineyard ($24) - Brilliant copper colored, this rosé possesses intriguing aromas of raspberry, Rainier cherry, rhubarb, tangerine, rose petals and whiffs of spiced incense. The flavors are fresh and slightly puckery (fermented dry) with notes of grape skin, herbal tea and minerals. Touches of dried orange peel and spiced cherries preface the dry, balanced finish. 18.5/20 points.
Hard Row to Hoe "Lucerne" Vermouth ($28) - Produced from Pinot Gris, infused with 16 botanticals, and fortified to 18% alcohol, this shows a deep amber color and intense aromas of ripe fruits - pear, peach, papaya and lemon - with scents of spiced orange peel, fennel, and oriental incense. The penetrating flavors are comprised of dried fruits that are infused with dried anise, bitterroots, cardamom, clove and other spices and botanicals. The dry finish lingers on and on. Drink chilled or on the rocks with a twist of lemon or orange. 19/20 points.