- Written by Rand Sealey
With the on line publication of the December issue of the Review of Washington Wines, I am in the process of wrapping up my coverage of Washington wines for 2012. Here's what's coming up this month in my upcoming Review Blogs:
December 7: The Compilation of Wines Reviewed July - December 2012 - This will list alphabetically all wines reviewed for the second half of the year. This listing will be accessed on the Subscription page (after login) under "Email Messages" (the link to the January - June 2012 Compilation can also be found here).
No Review Blog for Week of Dec 10-16 - I will be in New York City that week for a James Beard Foundation Dinner which will be featuring wines from Woodward Canyon, L'Ecole No. 41, Leonetti, Tero Estates and Three Rivers, with a menu prepared by Marcus Whitman Hotel chef, Antonio Campiolo. I will be reporting on the dinner in the following week's Review Blog posting.
December 17: The James Beard Foundation Dinner - The Foundation is an organization dedicated to preserving the culinary legacy of James Beard. Dinners prepared by renowned chefs are held regularly at the Foundation's headquarters in lower Manhattan.
December 24: Top Wines of 2012 and Wineries to Watch - This posting will list the 20/20 and 19.5 points wines, together with the Memorable 19 points wines of the year. The will also be a listing of Up and Coming wineries to watch in 2013.
December 31: January 2013 Issue on Line and Looking Ahead to 2013 - This posting will include my predictions for 2013 and a listing of Best Buys in wines scoring 18.5 points or more for $25 or less.
Here's my first listing for the Year End Wrap Up:
Exciting New Wineries of 2012
Caprio Cellars (February) - Owner-winemaker Dennis Murphy debuted his 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Eleanor's Vineyard, earning 18.5+ points, an auspicious first effort.
Pamplin Family Winery (April, June) - This Dundee, Oregon winery makes Bordeaux- style reds entirely from Washington grapes. The 2008 Proprietary Red garnered 19.5 points and the J|R|G Red, 19 points.
AniChe Cellars (May, December) - This Underwood Mountain winery in the Columbia Gorge was featured in the December issue with some impressive reds. Anais Mera and Rachael Horn also make a nice Albarino white.
Kevin White Winery (July) - Kevin White debuted his "En Hommage" 2010 Rhone-style Blend, earning 18.5+/20 points, and a terrific buy at $25 a bottle.
Delmas Cellars (August) - Mary and Stephen Robertson's 2010 Delmas Syrah from the SJR Vineyard in "The Rocks" of the South Walla Walla Valley is impressive, scoring 19+ points. Billo Naravane (Rasa Vineyards) is the consulting winemaker.
Avennia Winery (October) - Owner-winemakers Marty Taucher and Chris Peterson released their 2010 reds and a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, sourced from the Boushey and Force Majeure vineyards. They are quite impressive.
Clearwater Canyon Cellars (October) - Karl and Coco Umiker's winery was featured in a write-up on the Lewis-Clark Valley wine scene. Watch for their impressive 2010 Petit Verdot and Malbec in 2013.
Lauren Ashton Cellars (October) - Kit Singh's Woodinville Winery, named for his children, made an impressive debut with a fine 2011 Chardonnay and some exceptional 2009 reds.
Ellanelle Cellars (November) - Leonard and Leslie Brown are not exactly new to winemaking, as principals of the Watermill Winery in Milton Freewater, but their 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is an exceptional stand-alone effort, scoring 18.5+ points.
Proper Wines (December) - This is a venture of David Houle, Conor McCluskey and other investors from Colorado who planted a vineyard in "The Rocks" of the South Walla Walla Valley in 2006. The first commercial vintage, a 2010 Syrah is an impressive debut, earning 19 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
We have much to be thankful for: family, friends and good life. Be sure to celebrate the day with fine Washington State wines.
Two Red Wine Bargains
Recently, I picked up a couple of wines at Esquin that offer exceptional quality for their price levels, both from the 2007 vintage, a fine one for Washington wines.
2007 Zanzibar Cellars "Sandra" Red, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Creek Vineyard ($15.99 - originally $43)
This comes from a winery in St. Paul, Oregon, but is made from 100% Washington grapes. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, it displays a deep ruby color and an intriguing nose of raspberry cherry, cassis, sandalwood, rose petals, cigar box and oriental incense. The dark fruit flavors are begining to round out, underlain with notes of roasted cacao and coffee beans and Horse Heaven earth minerals. The back reveals sensations of roasted berries and nutmeats, and touches of leather and caramel, followed by a lightly spiced finish whose tannins are smoothing out. 18.5/20 points.
2007 Canoe Ridge Vineyard Merlot, Block 13, Columbia Valley ($18.99 - originally $45)
This Merlot was originally made to be sold only at the winery tasting room in Walla Walla. It comes comes from a selected block on the vineyard above the Columbia River. Deep garnet colored, it emits a rich nose of blackberry, cherry, cassis, dried roses, cigar box, rubbed sage and smoldering incense. The flavors are thick and supple, marked by licorice, chocolate, espresso and Columbia River basaltic minerals. The old vine character continues on the back with notes of fruit confit, dried cherries, roasted nuts and toasty oak on a lingering finish whose tannins and acids are rounding out nicely. Posesses depth and complexity at a bargain price. 18.5+/20 points.
Impressive New Wines from DeLille Cellars
Last Saturday, we visited DeLille Cellars' Carriage House tasting room in Woodinville. In addition to the new releases which will be reviewed in the January issue of the Review of Washington Wines, we tasted three wines which are for Wine Club members only. They are so impressive that they merit your considering joining the club.
2010 DeLille Cellars Merlot, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard ($49)
From 30 year old vines at Mike Sauer's vineyard, this wine displays a deep ruby color and seductive aromas of fraises de bois, cherries, plums, attar of rose and oriental perfumes. The seduction continues on the palate with layers of vibrant fruits, underlain with licorice, chocolate, French roast and alluvial minerals. The back reveals sensations of kirsch liqueur, roasted nuts and squeezed juices, followed by a lingering soft tannin finish. Beautifully proportioned from beginning to end, this gets 19+/20 points.
2010 DeLille Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 1, Red Mountain ($62)
This is a blend of four of the finest vineyards on Red Mountain: Klipsun, Ciel du Cheval, Upchurch and Grand Ciel. Deep purplish colored, it emits powerful aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cassis, orange peel, attar of rose and smoldering incense. The powerfulness continues on the palate with bold dark fruits that are underpinned with black licorice, dark chocolate, Sumatra roast and Red Mountain scorched earth and minerals. The back palate abounds with macerated saturated fruits, kirsch liqueur, creme de cassis and roasted nuts, followed by a lingering ripe tannin finish. Terroir driven and impeccably structured and proportioned, this wine will age well for 10 years or more. 19.5/20 points.
2010 DeLille Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Lot 2, Red Mountain ($62)
From the Upchurch Vineyard, this is DeLille Cellars' first 100% Certified Sustainably Farmed Cabernet. Deep ruby colored, it shows seductive aromas of blackberry, cherry, cassis, crushed roses, tobacco, and incense. The dark fruit flavors are thick, chewy and terroir driven, without being at all heavy, intermixed with licorice, dark chocolate, French roast and scorched earth minerals. The back reveals sensations of squeezed berries, cherry brandy, pencil lead and mocha, followed by persistent fruit on the ripe, grainy tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
The December Issue of the Review of Washington Wines goes on line November 30th.
This issue will have over fifty new wines reviewed, including ones from the Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla Valley's Fall Release Weekend and more. Watch for it!
- Written by Rand Sealey
During Fall Release Weekend the Reynvaans - Mike, Gale, Amanda, Angela and Matt - held retrospective tastings on Friday and Saturday of all the wines Reynvaan Family Vineyards has produced from the 2007 through 2011 vintages, It was an awesome event, tasting through 21 wines, all exceptional. Below are my notes. Because of the number of wines and amount of time to go through them, these are capsule descriptions rather than my usual nose to finish detailed reviews.
The wines were grouped by bottlings:
Foothills in the Sun - This is the Estate Vineyard, planted in 2007, adjacent to the winery. It is so named because of its location in the sun-drenched foothills of the Blue Mountains.
2010 - Showed the strength and structure of the vintage, with fine aromatics of blackberry, blueberry, roses, lavender and violets.2011 - Crimson colored, with aromas of wild berries, lavender, rose and orange peel. Deep, focused raspberry and cassis fruits.
2011 - A fine example of the strength and structure of the vintage, with fine aromatics of blackberry, blueberry, roses, lavender and violets.
The Unnamed - When the first vintage was bottled, it was called "The Unnamed" because the Reynvaans hadn't come up with a name for it yet. That designation stuck, and stayed on as the wine's name. Co-fermented with a bit of Viognier.
2008 - A classic 2008 Syrah: Smoky, perfumed aromas and thick, earthy chewy flavors, showing varietal character all the way through.
2009 - Typical of a warmer year, this vintage showed ripe, smoky aromas and generous flavors, marked by ripe, dryish tannins.
2010 - Showed smoky, exotic perfumes, ripely fruited with long, mouth-encompassing fruit.
2011 - This exhibited a brilliant ruby color an a ripe nose of blackberry and cassis, with a full, intense mix of fruits and earth.
In the Rocks - So called, because it comes from "The Rocks" in the South Valley in the bed of the Wala Walla River before it changed to its present course. Co-fermented with varying percentages of Viognier and Marsanne.
2007 - Brick red colored, it showed a sultry, smoky nose with oriental perfrumes. Thick and meaty, with macerated fruits and a touch of leather.
2008 - Redolent of exotic perfumes, with thick, mouth-permeating fruits, beginning to round out, marked by chewy tannins.
2009 - This showed the essence of Syrah: perfumes of roses, violets and lavender, with thick, chewy, minerally dark fruit flavors.
2010 - Deep purple colored, the perfumes jumped out of the glass, followed by supple, mouth-filling flavors, the essence of the rocks, with a touch of leather.
2011 - This barrel sample showed an already seductive nose of wild berries and lavender, with focused essence of Syrah.
The Contender - Each vintage of this wine has been a contender for top ranking. Co-fermented with undisclosed amounts of Marsanne.
2007 - Garnet-colored, this showed a smoky nose, just begining to mature, with thick, black fruits throughout, intermixed with earth, game and minerals.
2008 - Showed rich, smoky aromas and thich chocolately black fruits, orange peel and dryish tannins.
2009 - Sultry perfumes, pepper and spice. Thich, chewy and meaty, with touches of orange peel and leather.
2010 - Rose and violet scented, this showed generous fruit, stony minerals, orange peel and dried berries.
2011 - This is a comer. The barrel sample showed lovely perfume (roses, violets) and broad, yet focused bright red/blue fruit flavors, with much elegance and complexity.
Stonessence - This is a "Reserve" expressing the essence of the "Rocks," (hence the name)
2009 - Still young, this showed rich aromas of berries, roses, lavender and smoldering incense, with thick, chewy flavors, accented by touches of orange peel, leather and stony minerals.
2010 Opaque colored, this emited a smoldering nose of black currants, attar of rose, incense, accompanied by lavish, mouth-encompassing fruit flavors. Rated 20/20 points on release, it still merits this score, and has a great future.
2011 - Crimson colored, this vintage showed scents of lavender, lilac and violets with elegant fruits intermixed with earth and minerals. Highly promising.
All of these wines are of high quality and would score 19 points or higher. I found the 2009 In the Rocks, the 2009 and 2010 Contender and the 2009 and 2010 Stonessence particularly compelling, scoring 19.5 or 20 points. The 2011's, from a vintage with a reputation for being "difficult," showed particularly well, offering much promise.
This was a particulary memorable tasting. Mike Reynvaan said they probably will never do a tasting like this again.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Below are a number of memorable events that we participated in, before and during Fall Release Weekend in Walla Walla November 2nd through 4th.
The Cabernet Franc Tasting
On Tuesday, Otober 30th, the Sons of Bacchus (SOB's for short) assembled at the home of Erik McLaughlin (Seven Hills Winery). My wife, Lynn, attended as a guest. Twenty one Cabernet Francs were tasted in five flights. The opinons and individual rankings were diverse, with the top scorers as follows:
Flight One: 1992 Ridge York Creek, Napa Valley; 2010 Lang & Reed, North Coast, CA
Flight Two: 2007 Tranche Cellars, Walla Walla Valley (Blue Mtn. Vineyard); 2005 Dom. Bernard Baudry Chinon (Loire) "Les Granges"
Flight Three: 2008 Castello Poggiorella "Coloroso," Toscana (ringer - 50% Cab Franc/50% Merlot); 2005 Corliss Estates, WWV
Flight Four: 2002 Vierra, Columbia Valley, Chelle den Millie Vineyard; 2010 Spring Valley "Katherine Corkrum," Walla Walla Valley
Flight Five: 2009 Tero Estates, Walla Walla Valley, Windrow Vineyard; 2009 Steele, Lake County, CA
Overall, Washington Cabernet Francs were dominant, with the 2007 Tranche receiving the highest ranking, followed by 2009 Terro a close second, with the 2002 Vierra (made by Trey Busch) third, and showing remarkably well for a ten year old wine. Some tasters favored the Ridge York Creek and Castello Poggiorella. Six Loire Valley Cab Francs were tasted, but did not rank highly except for the 2005 Baudry Chinon, "Les Granges."
My favorites, in order of preference were:
2009 Tero Estates, 2005 Corliss Estates, 2007 Tranche Cellars, 2008 Forgeron Cellars, 2005 Baudry "Les Granges." To me, Washington Cabernet Francs were the clear winners. In concurrence, on their Facebook pages, commented Trey Busch (Sleight of Hand Cellars), "I really liked how WA State showed" and Paul Gregutt, "Washington showed well!"
The Tero Estates / Flying Trout Dinner
On Friday, the 2nd, Doug and Jan Roskelley hosted a nine course dinner for sixteen at their home at the Windrow Vineyard. The food was prepared by Dan Theissen of the Walla Walla Community College Culinary Department and his students. The menu and wine pairings ("Argentina...Walla Walla Style) is as follows:
Locro - 2011 Flying Trout Torrontes (Argentina)
Mushroom Ravioli, Seared "Theissen Ranch" Venison Loin - 2010 Flying Trout Gamache Vineyard Malbec
"Blue Valley" Goat Crepinette, Carmalized Onion - 2009 Tero Estates Merlot, Herb's Block
House Cured Pancetta Tora, Roasred Tomato Coulis - 2010 Flying Trout Cutthroat Red
Spiced "Upper Dry Creek" Lamb Empandas, Tomato Chutney - 2009 Tero Estates Cabernet Franc
Braised "Lostine" Beef Short Ribs, Celery Root Puree - 2009 Tero Estates Windrow Red
Cowboy Style Grilled "Lostine" Beef Striploin, Bacon Brioche Bread Pudding - 2009 Tero Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Old Block
Alfajores with Dolce Leche Ice Cream - Cellar Mystery Wine (2009 Terro Estates Petit Verdot)
The wine and course matchings were perfect and the dinner was a memorable occasion. Thanks to, Dan Theissen, Jan and Doug Roskelley and Ashley Trout!
The Reynvaan Family Vineyards Retrospective Tasting
The Reynvaans - Mike and Gale, Matt, Angela, and Amanda - celebrated Fall Release with a tasting of all vintages and wines produced by the winery, comprising the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 vintages and barrel samples of the 2011. It was a stunning collection; all the wines were outstanding. Mike said they probably will never do this again. Next week, I will report on the wines tasted.
Other Special Events
On Saturday, the 3rd, several wineries held special events for their mailing list members. Memorable visits were at Doubleback's Main Street tasting room with Drew Bledsoe; Abeja, which served wine and food pairings at its "Autumn Celebration;" Virginie Bourge's Lullaby tasting (wines to be reviewed in December) at the Jimgerman Bar in Waitsburg; the Proper Wines 2010 Syrah (also to be reviewed December) pouring at Olive with David Houle; and the always famous Corliss Estates event with Mike and Lauri Corliss. On Wednesday, the 31st, I had a private tasting of the Seven Hills Winery's 2010 vintage releases with owner-winemaker Casey McCellan and Vice President for Sales & Marketing, Erik McLaughlin. Watch for reviews in the December and January issues.
- Written by Rand Sealey
The following are recommendations of wineries to visit during Walla Walla's Fall Release Weekend, November 2nd through 4th. Before going, also check out the October and November issues of the Review of Washington Wines for recommended new releases.
Long Shadows - There is a $20 tasting fee, but is applicable toward purchase of some mighty fine wines. Open Friday and Saturday.
Tero Estates and Flying Trout - This winery near Milton-Freewater is having a "Fall Release Argentine Style BBQ in the Vineyard" Friday through Sunday.
Trio Vintners has moved to the Marcus Whitman Hotel. See the November issue for Karen La Bonte's fine values.
Ellanelle, a promising new winery (see the November issue) is pouring its 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon at Petit Noirs in Milton Freewater.
Sinclair Estate Vineyards is having live music at it tasting room on Main Street from 3 to 4 on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Proper Wines is pouring its debut 2010 Walla Walla Valley Syrah (to be reviewed in the December issue - 19/20 points) at Olive Restaurant downtown on Saturday from 11 to 3.
Mark Ryan Winery opened a new tasting room on downtown Main Street in August. See the October issue for reviews of the 2010's Two more 2010's, Long Haul and Dead Horse will be released (to be reviewed in December).
Sleight of Hand - Trey Busch always has interesting wines for tasting, along with his favorite rock music in the background.
Rotie Cellars - Sean Boyd will be pouring his new "Homage" Grenache-based Rhone-style blend (reviewed November) along with other current releases.
Morrison Lane - See the November issue for a write-up on Sean and Kate Morrison's wines. The winery is located on Lyday Road off Braden Road in the South Valley.
Gramercy Cellars (now on North 13th) is especially recommended for Greg Harringron's fine wines.
Rasa Vineyards (Pinto and Billo Naravane) will be open for the weekend at the winery on Powerline Road.
Seven Hills Winery - Be sure to check out Casey McClellan's excellent 2009 reds (reviewed September).
Other downtown wineries worth visiting: Kerloo, Mackey, Otis Kenyon, Forgeron, Don Carlo, Locati Cellars, Cadaretta, El Corazon, Walla Faces and Charles Smith. Tero Estates and Flying Trout also has a tasting room in the Marcus Whitman.
South of Walla Walla: In addition to Sleight of Hand, above, Saviah, Waters, Va Piano, Waters, Fjellene, Tertulia and Gifford Hirlinger are recommended.
East of Walla Walla. At the Airport, visit Kontos Cellars, Corvus, and CAVU in the incubators, and Buty, Tempus and Patit Creek. Further east, on Mill Creek Road, go to K Vintners, àMaurice and Walla Walla Vintners. To the north, Robison Ranch Cellars will be open for the weekend.
West of Walla Walla, Reininger, Glencorrie, L'Ecole No. 41 and Woodward Canyon are recommended.