This year, Fall Release Weekend in Walla Walla was November 5-7. Many new wines were poured at most wineries. I had already tasted most of them before the first weekend of November (see last week's blog posting below for a preview of those wines. Here's what we did during Fall Release Weekend.

To kick off Fall Release on Thursday, November 4, we had our friends, Jeff Freude and Laurie Wolf from Iowa, Stu and Barb Vos from North Carolina, Josh and Jodi Roznowski of Walla Walla and Jan Roskelley and son, Kyle of Milton-Freewater to our house for a boeuf Bourguignon dinner, centered on a vertical of 2010, 2009 and 2007 Domaine Vieux Telegraphe Châteauneuf du Pape "La Crau." All three were impressive, with the 2010 a standout for its sheer depth and old vine calcareous complexity (19.5/20 points). Jeff and Laurie had visited Doubleback and brought the 2017 Cabernet which was highly impressive, deep, well-structured and classically styled (19.5/20 points). Our guests had raided the Roskelley's wine collection and brought over a 1999 Stag's Leap Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23. The cork broke up, but the wine came through okay, showing mature complexity. The 2005 Bunchgrass Walla Walla Valley Founder's Blend was past its' peach but still holding up.

On Friday, I took a friend, Bill Henry, to Reynvaan to taste the 2019 Syrahs and some library wines. The standouts were the 2018 In the Rocks Syrah (with 10% Viognier), an elegantly bold and graceful wine with tremendous depth and complexity (20/20 points) and the 2016 In the Rocks Syrah (also co-fermented with Viognier) which showed amazing depth and complexity (20/20 points). Also outstanding were the 2017 In the Rocks and 2015 In the Hills (19.5/20 points). Of the 2019's, the Stonessence from In the Rocks, was sensational from beginning to end, and the Foothills Reserve from the Foothills in the Sun Vineyard was also amazing, sultry and exotic, with superb balance (20/20 points). Also outstanding were the 2019 The Contender, In the Rocks and In the Hills Syrahs (19.5/20 points). Also poured was the 2019 Queen's Road Marsanne-Viognier from In the Rocks, rich and viscous yet steely and crisp (19.5/20 points).

On Saturday, Lynn and I went to the Foundry Gallery opening which exhibited art works from Mark and Patty Anderson's personal collection from artists who worked with the Foundry over the years. There, we had the tasty newly released 2018 Artisan Red Blend (19/20 points - full review to be in the December issue) whose label displayed Keiko Hara's "The Field and the Sky," a tribute to Mark Anderson who passed away in 2019. 

After the Foundry, we went over to the VUE where the Iowa and North Carolina visitors were staying for a lasagne dinner along with the Rozonowskis and Jan Roskelley. We started off with a preview of Josh's new Smoky Rose sparkling wine and 2004 Bollinger Grand Reserve Champagne. The centerpiece wines were the 2011, 2010 and 2009 Château Grand Pontet from Pauillac, a property that was upgraded in 2004 by Guy Tesseron, elevating the Third Growth to a wine of First Growth caliber. The 2010 and 2009 vintages were 100 point wines. They did not disappoint. The 2010 and 2009 were monumental wines (20/20 points) and the 2011 a near great wine (19.5/20 points). The Bordelais would look askance on serving a Grand Cru Bordeaux with lasagne, but it worked. To give the dinner an Italian touch, I opened a 2013 Ciacci di Piccolomini Pianrosso Brunello di Montalcino which was fabulous (19.5/20 points). The dinner was topped off by a 1997 Fonseca Vintage Port, just rounding out beautifully (19.5/20 points).

On Sunday, I stopped by DAMA wines to taste three new releases, a tasty 2019 GSM (19/20 points), a 2018 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot (19/20 points) and an outstanding 2018 Cabernet from the Heather Hill Vineyard (19+/20 points) - full reviews to be in the December issue. Then on Monday, Lynn and I wrapped up at L'Ecole No 41 with a tasting of the new 2018 releases: Perigee (19.5/20 points), Apogee (19.5/20 points), Ferguson Vineyard Cabernet (20/20 points) and Erudite Estate Red fro the Ferguson and Seven Hills vineyards (20/20 points) - to be reviewed in the December issue.