Review of Washington Wines Blog
The SOB Cru Beaujolais Tasting
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 13:59

Last night (June 16th) Lynn and I attended the Sons of Bacchus (and Daughters of Dionysus) tasting of Cru Beaujolais. Unlike Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages, the "Crus" are delimited Communal Appellations with distinctive terroir and microclimates. They are:




Côte de Brouilly




Moulin à Vent


Saint Amour

The grape is Gamay (also Gamay Noir) and it produces a typically fruity, medium bodied wine that is perfumed and very enjoyable to drink. We have fond memories of our soujourns in Beaujolais, the last time, in October of 2014 when we spent three nights at Château de Pizay in Morgon.

We tasted three flights of four wines. The rankings of the eleven tasters varied considerably, some ranked a particular wine first, another last. Overall, the scores had a range of only 3 or 4 points, very close. All the wines were good, ones that I would be happy to have on the table. Here are the rankings, with my notes and scores.

2013 Domaine des Chers Saint Amour - This is the wine I took to the tasting and it was a lovely.. Medium brick red colored, it possessed floral aromas of wild strawberries, red currants, and violets, with a velvety finish. I ranked this second overall, and found it very charming. 18.5+/20 points.

2012 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly - This was a striking wine. Medium brick red colored, it emited smoky aromas of blackberry, plum and cassis, with deep, direct ripe fruit flavors and a rich, earthy finish. The Côte de Brouilly is a high slope, and the wine's ripeness reflected this exposure. 18.5+/20 points.

2013 Domaine Pavillon de Chavannes Côte de Brouilly - It is interesting to note that two Côte de Brouilly wines came in the top three. It's a fine, although not well known, appellation. This one showed a light brick red color and lovely aromas of strawberry, Rainier cherry, crushed roses with silty medium bodied flavors. 18.5/20 points.

2011 Villa Porchagaso "La Reserve" Fleurie - Fleurie is typically perfumed and elegant, as was this one. It showed a medium brick red color with lovely scents of roses and violets and a charming mélange of red fruits, followed by a long, supple finish. This was my top choice. 19/20 points.

There were two other noteworthy wines, ones that I picked first in their respective flights, but didn't make it into the final flight. The rankings of all twelve wines were very close, though, so just about any wine could have been in the top group.

2009 Domaine de las Bruyierre Moulin à Vent - This was one of the most "Burgundian" wines of the tasting. Deep ruby colored, it emited rich smoky aromas of blackberry and cassis, with ripe, fleshy, minerally flavors. Well structured and balanced, I found this impressive. 19/20 points.

2011 Domaine de Gaudets Morgon, Côte de Py - This showed a brilliant cherry red color and an attractive nose of raspberry, cassis, red roses, violets. The flavors were thick, chewy and direct (typical of Morgon) with a long, satisfying finish. The aromatics gave it a plus. 18.5+/20 points.

This was a fine tasting of wines from a region that is not widely heralded. Thanks to Nina Buty for being a gracious host.

Correction (18 June) - I have learned that the final four rankings above is incorrect. First place was the Thivin Côte de Brouilly and the the de Chers Sain Amour second. There, however, was a difference in score between the two wines of ony one point, so it was a near tie.

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 June 2015 17:17
A Visit to Rôtie Cellars' "Rocks" Vineyard
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 14:04

A couple of weeks ago, Lynn and I had friends from Seattle, Kim and George Suyama, who were once neighbors of ours, stay with us. They are also mutual friends with Sean Boyd, owner-winemaker of Rôtie Cellars in Walla Walla. Sean invited the four of us to visit the Boyd family's vineyard in the newly-approved Rocks District of Milton Freewater American Viticultural Area.

We met up at the corner of highway 11 and Sunnyside Road in Oregon. From there, we drove west on Sunnyside, past Cayuse Vineyards (Christophe Baron's properties that put "The Rocks" on the viticultural map). A quarter of a mile further, we came to the Rôtie Estate Vineyard. There, we saw vines, comprising seven acres, five planted to Syrah, two to Viognier. They are now in their fourth leaf which means the first crop will be harvested this fall. The terrain - "terroir" - consisted of cobblestones ranging from three to six inches in diameter strewn all over the level yet well drained soil, on what was once the ancient riverbed of the Walla Walla River before it changed to its present course about 10,000 years ago. This is in a truly distinctive terroir.

The long range plan for the vineyard site is the planting of an additional eight acres and a state of the art winery. Production at the site is projected for about eight years from now, so what we saw is the first phase of the project.

After our walk about, we decided to drive across the Valley floor and up the north facing slope to the Cadaretta "Glass House." There, we could see a sweeping vista of the South Valley floor over Cadaretta's vineyards, surrounded by other premier vineyards, L'Ecole's Ferguson and Doubleback's. Here, at this wind-blown elevation, the soil consists of a thin layer of loess overlaying basalt, where the vines have to grown roots deep through the rock fissures.. It was a marvellous view, encompassing what will be a great future for the Walla Walla Valley. Then we drove gingerly down the gravel road to the valley below. Many thanks to Sean for taking us on this striking excursion.

On our way back, we stopped at Tero Estates where we were greeted by Jan and Doug Roskelley who treated us to two upcoming Fall releases, a delicious 2013 "ST" Cabernet-Sangiovese blend and an awesome 2011 Estate Nebbiolo, which showed classic aromas of roses and tar. Thanks, Jan and Doug!

See the June issue of the Review of Washington Wines for Rôtie Cellars' 2013 reds. For pictures, see the Review of Washington Wines on Facebook.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 16:43
About the Wines Reviewed January - June Compilation
Written by Rand Sealey   
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 14:08

On the "Your Subscriptions" page of the Review of Washington Wines website, you will find under "Email Messages" a link to Wines Reviewed January - June 1015 (erroneously named "Your subscription" as the subject).  This lists alphabetically all wines reviewed during the first six months of this year with their scores on the U.C. Davis 20 Point System and the months in which each wine was reviewed. For your quick reference, you may want to print out a copy of this Email.

This is the most monumental compilation to date of wines reviewed in the Review of Washington Wines since its inception in December 2008. There are 304 wines listed, of which 3 scored 20/20 points and 32, 19.5/20 points. Here is a listing of these top scoring wines.


20/20 Points

2012 Adams Bench Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard - May

2009 Corliss Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley - January

2013 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Stonessence" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - January


19.5/20 Points

2012 Adams Bench "Ursula" Sangiovese, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard - May

2011 Alleromb Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Scarline Vineyard - February

2011 Buty "Rediviva of the Stones" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, Rockgarden Estate Vineyard - January

2012 Col Solare Red Wine, Red Mountain - June

2009 Corliss Red Wine, Columbia Valley - January

2012 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Rouge, Red Mountain - May

2012 DeLille Cellars Harrison Hill Red Wine - Snipes Mountain

2012 Flying Trout "Mary's Block" Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, Windrow Vineyard - March

2012 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson Vineyard Estate Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley - June

2013 Leonetti Cellar Merlot, Walla Walla Valley - June

2012 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley - June

2012 Maison Bleue "Bourgeois" Grenache, Columbia Valley - May

2012 Maison Bleue "Voyageur" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - May

2012 Mark Ryan "Old Vines" Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley - April

2012 Mark Ryan "Lonely Heart" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain - April

2012 Proper Estate Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - May

2012 Rasa Vineyards "Doctrina Perpetua" Syrah, Columbia Valley, Bacchus Vineyard - June

2012 Rasa Vineyards "Fianchetto" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, XL Vineyard - June

2013 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Foothills Reserve" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - January

2013 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "The Unnamed" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - January

2013 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "In the Rocks" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - January

2013 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "The Contender" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - January

2012 Rotie Cellars "Swordfight" Red Wine, Washington State - January

2012 Rotie Cellars "dre" Mourvèdre, Washington State - January

2013 Rotie Cellars Northern Blend, Washington State - June

2012 Seven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Seven Hills Vineyard - February

2012 Seven Hills "Pentad" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley - May

2012 Sleight of Hand Cellars "The Illusionist" Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley - May

2012 Upchurch Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain - June

2012 Va Piano "Black Label" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Les Collines Vineyard - February

2012 Va Piano "Black Label: Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, DuBrul Vineyard - May

2010 Waters Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley - February


Emerging Stars

Included in the listing of wines reviewed are ones from a number of wineries which are turning out exceptional wines that merit special attention. Here is a listing.

Amelia Wynn - Paul Bianchi has been making wine on Bainbridge Island since 2008, but has been somewhat under the radar until recently. See the June issue for reviews.

Andrew Januik - Mike Januik's son debuted with an impressive 2012 "Stone Cairn" Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain. Reviewed in June.

Don Carlo Vineyard - Tim and Lori Kennedy's winery is off the beaten track, near Milton Freewater, but the wines are worth seeking out. Reviewed March.

Full Pull & Friends - Paul Zitarelli's negociant label delivers 19/20 point wines for $30. See the April issue for a report.

Lagana Cellars - Walla Walla Community College Enology graduate, Jason Fox has turned out a very nice 2014 Roussanne and 2013 Syrah, both reviewed in June.

Nota Bene - Tim Narby and Carol Bryant have turned out a range of 2011 Rhone and BDX style wines scoring 18.5-19 points in the $25-40 price range.

somme des parties - David Rudnik has debuted with three very nicely done reds, all scoring 19 points, reviewed in the June issue.







Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 June 2015 19:18
The 2014 Rosé Wines Wrapup
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 13:40

Three weeks ago, I reported on Mike Eberle's tasting of Rosés from Walla Walla Valley wineries. Last evening (May 26), Mike put on another tasting of the top Rosés from the first two rounds, the "Best of the Best." Ten wines were tasted blind in two flights, and then the top five were retasted in a final round. Here are the top five in order of overall preference by the participants.

2014 Palencia Pinot Noir Rosé, Ancient Lakes - This wine seemed to have wide appeal for its floral aromas and vibrant strawberry and watermelon flavors. I found it to be very nice, but not paricularly complex. See below for my full review.

2014 CAVU Barbera Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard - I found this to be the most interesting Rosé in the final round and ranked it first. See full review below.

2014 Seven Hills Dry Rose, Columbia Valley - Predominately Cabernet Franc (with 8% each of Malbec and Petit Verdot), this came on as and attractive, balanced Rosé, and I ranked it third. Reviewed in the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines.

2014 L'Ecole No. 41 Grenache Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard - This was a nice rendition of South Rhone style Rose with bright fruits and a dry finish. See review below.

2014 Julia's Dazzle Pinot Gris Rose, Horse Heaven Hills, Benches Vineyard - Made from Pinot Gris grapes that were given extended hang time to produce its copper hue, this was a pleasant wine. Reviewed April.

It were my observatons at the two tastings I attended that ranking Rosés depends, to a large degree on personal preference. Some like them drier, some a bit sweeter. When tasting Rosés, I look for complexity, which seems to be found more often in those made in the Rhone or Provence style. Interestingly, the 2014 College Cellars Mourvèdre Rose was ranked number one overall by the three wine professionals on the tasting panel, Tim Donahue (College Cellars), Mike Eberle (Maison Bleue) and myself (Review of Washington Wines). See the June issue for my review of that wine.


New Rosé Wine Reviews

2014 Palencia "Vino la Monarcha" Pinot Noir Rosé, Ancient Lakes ($15) - This is an excellent value for those who prefer a less dry Rosé. Light copper-pink, it possesses charming aromas of wild strawberries, watermelon, tangerine, jasmine and white incense. The flavors are light and sprightly, marked by Ancient Lakes minerality, and accented by touches of fraise liqueur, melon rind and orange peel, followed by bright fruit acids on the off-dry finish. 18+/20 points.

2014 CAVU Barbera Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard ($20) - Light copper colored, this offers intriguing aromas of strawberry Rainier cherry and plum, with scents of cherry blossoms, rosebuds and spiced white incense. The flavors are bright and lively, with sensations of pressed juices, grapeskin and stony minerals, followed by an orange peel imbued bone dry finish. 18.5/20 points.

2014 Saviah Cellars Rosé Wine, Walla Walla Valley, Dugger Creek Vineyard ($18) - This 50/30 Sanviovese and Barbera combination shows a brilliant pink color and enticing aromas of strawberry, Rainer cherry, and tangerine, with scents of cherry blossoms, pink lilac and white incense. The flavors are fresh and lively, brimming with summer fruits and creekside minerals. The appeal continues on the back with fraise and cerise liqueurs, followed by a juicy, lighlty spiced finish. 18+/20 points.

2014 L'Ecole No. 41 Grenache Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard ($21) - Pink-copper hued, this offers attractive aromas of strawberry, Rainir cherry, pink peach and tangerine peel, with scents of cherry blossoms, jasmine and spiced white incense. The flavors, as well, are enticing, with bright fruits that are accented by peach stone, grape skin and Horse Heaven minerality. The back picks up touches of fraise and cerise liqueurs on the way to a lingering, Provençal-like lightly herbed and spiced finish. 18+/20 points.

2014 Gärd "Grand Klasse" Grenache Rosé, Columbia Valley, Lawrence Vineyard ($25) - I picked this up at Studio TwoZeroTwo in downtown Walla Walla. It shows a light peach color and attractive aromas of strawberry, pink peach, Rainer cherry, pink lilac, jasmine and spiced white incense. The flavors brim with bright summer fruits that are imbued with peach stone, grape skin and alluvial minerals. The back picks up fraise, pêche, and cerise liqueurs, followed by a juicy, dry finish. It evokes a South Rhone Rosé such as a Tavel. 18.5/20 points.

2014 Ardor Cellars Mourvèdre Rose, Walla Walla Valley, Nostra Terra Vineyard ($22) - Also from Studio TwoZeroTwo, this Rosé shows a copper hued pink color and exotic aromas of raspberry, pomegrante, orange peel, rose petals and spiced oriental incense. The flavors, as well, are intriguing, with bright fruits that are imbued with peach stone, grape skin and stony minerals. The back picks up framboise liqueur, pomegranate seeds, and recurring orange peel on the way to a dry finish that recalls a Bandol from Provence. 18+/20 points.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 16:57
Don't Miss Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 14:11

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance's third annual Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine to be held June 18-20, will focus on The World of Merlot, a varietal that the Valley is especially known for. It is an event that is not to be missed. Here are the highlights.

The Vintage Pour - Thursday, June 18 - This event, to be held at Dunham Cellars will feature current releases and library wines from many of the Valley's wineries. This is a rare opportunity to taste a wide range of world class wines.

The Winemaker's Panel - Friday, June 19 - At this event, to be held at the Marcus Whitman Hotel, participants will taste Merlot wines from the Walla Walla Valley, the Napa Valley, Bordeaux, and Tuscany. The panel will consist of:

Marty Clubb, Walla Walla Valley

Casey McClellan, Walla Walla Valley

Dave "Merf" Merfeld, Walla Walla Valley

Renée Ary, Napa Valley

Vince Lignac, Saint Emilion, France

Virginie Saverys, Tuscany, Italy

Sean Sullivan, Panel Moderator

Guest Speakers:

Fred Dame, Master Sommelier

Stephen Tanzer, Wine Critic

Merlot Wine Tasting and Dinner - Friday Evening, June 19 - To be held at the Reid Center at Whitman College, this event will feature wines poured by various Walla Walla Valley wineries along with a walk around dinner prepared by award winning chefs.

Winemaker Dinners - Saturday Evening, June 20 - In conjunction with Celebrate Walla Walla Wine, wineries will be hosting dinners at various locations, offering great opportunities to learm more from the winemakers. The parrticipating wineries and dinners can be found on the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance website.

I highly recommend participating in The World of Merlot. The past two Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine events, the first on Syrah and the second, on Cabernet Sauvignon proved to be highly informative and enjpyable. They also proved that the Walla Walla Valley does produce world class wines. This year's events are sure to be great successes.

For more information and tickets, go to www.wallawallawine.com/celebrate.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 May 2015 14:47

Page 3 of 61

Login Form