The September issue of the Review of Washington Wines which is now on line includes eleven 2025 whites and eight 2014 reds. More will be in the October issue and then more in the following months. This is the beginning of another vintage cycle as the new releases of 2014 whites and 2013 reds taper off. Here's how the new vintages are shaping up.
The 2015 harvest for whites was a tricky one. Timing was everything. A hot summer led to an early harvest in late August and early September. The white grapes ripened quickly, with sugar levels rising and acid levels dropping. So it was essential to get the grapes to the crush pad at just the right times. Getting them in too late resulted in high alcohol, low acid wines. That said, I have found most 2015 whites to be rich and fruity, yet well balanced. A case in point is Rotie Cellars Rhone-style whites. Owner-winemaker Sean Boyd purposely picked for fruit acid levels rather than sugars. The Northern White Marsanne and Grenache Blanc (in the September issue) were fermented dry to 11.2% alcohol, lower than usual. But the results were balanced wines with just the right fruit acid levels.
Most of the 2015 whites released so far have been the Rhone varietals (Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc), Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Riesling. In my reviews, most scores have been in the 18+ to 18.5/20 points range. The most outstanding wines so far are the Mark Ryan Viognier (19 points) and the Rotie Cellars whites (19 points). Until now, I have not been a big fan of Sauvignon Blancs (oftentimes pleasant but uncomplex) but there have been some impressive 2015's, especially Savage Grace's Sancerre-like one from the Celilo Vineyard (reviewed August), Seven Hills, Ch. Ste.. Michelle's Horse Heaven and Browne Family (these three to be in the October issue).
It's still to early for the 2015 Chardonnays to be released (although a nicely balanced one from College Cellars is in the August issue). But I have tasted several promising ones from the barrels at The Walls (see the blog of 24 May) with Ali Mayfield, and a striking one from the Rosekamp Vineyard with Co Dinn. These will be reviewed when they are released.
For the 2014 reds, the harvest was another early, warm one with much of the picking completed by the end of September. The 2014's seem to be a bit more structured than the 2013's (also from a warm year) with more phenolics, which result in more complex aromatics (perfumes, tobacco, incense, etc.). The 2014 Syrahs and other Rhone red varietals are especially impressive. See the Rotie Cellars reviews in the August and October issues and watch for Ardor Cellars' 2014's in the October issue. Also noteworthy are Mark Ryan's Mourvedre and Syrah (September) and L'Ecole No. 41's Stone Tree Grenache (September). Some very nice Malbecs and Cab Francs were made in 2014. For the "BDX" reds, the Mark Ryan Dissident shows promise for the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon based blends. More later!
Next Week: A First Look at the 2016 Harvest