- Written by Rand Sealey
It's rosé wine season again and these light colored wines have been increasing in popularity after years of being out of favor with many consumers. Three years ago, hardly anyone paid attention to these wines. Then sales of rosé's started rising dramatically. Last year, many wineries made twice as much rosé as the year before and sold out quickly. This year, they made twice as much again and are nearly sold out. So here are my recommendations among this year's crop of rosés, grouped according to style.
Provençal Style - These are mostly Grenache and/or Mourvèdre and are modeled after the rosés of Bandol and the Cote d'Azur. Here are two examples.
2012 Tertulia Cellars Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, Riveria Galets Vineyard ($16) - Composed of 49% Mourvèdre, 26% Grenache and 25% Syrah, this shows a deep pink color and aromas of raspberry, Rainier cherry, orange peel, dried roses and Provençal herbs. The flavors mirror the aromatics with ripe dried fruits, grape skins, orange peel and melon rind followed by a lightly spiced dry finish. 18/20 points.
2012 Gramercy Cellars Rosé, Columbia Valley, Olsen Vineyard ($25) - Mostly Cinsault and Grenache. Reviewed in the May isssue. 18.5/20 points.
2012 DeLille Cellars Doynenne Rosé, Yakima Valley ($25) - Composed of 55% Grenache, 39% Mourvèdre and 6% Cinsault, this shows a pink/copper color and enticing aromas of strawberries, Bosc pear, orange peel, forest carpet and spring mountain wild flowers. The flavors are bright and juicy, with notes of melon rind and recurring orange peel, followed by a crisp, vibrant, lightly spiced dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
Rhone Valley Style - These are usually made from Grenache and/or Syrah.
2012 L'Ecole No. 41 Grenache Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard ($19) - Brilliant pink colored, this offers an attractive nose of strawberry, watermelon, pink peach, cherry blossoms and spice with bright bursting flavors. To be reviewed in the June issue. 18/20 points.
2012 Tranche Cellars "Pink Pape" Dry Rosé Wine Columbia Valley ($18) - Sourced from the Blackrock Vineyard, this displays a light pink color and an attractive nose of strawberry, watermelon and Rainier cherry with scents of cherry blossoms, lilac and spiced orange peel. The flavors are deliciously ripe and sprightly, underlined with notes of grapeskin and orange peel, followed by a crisp, dry finish. 18/20 points.
2012 Waters Winery Estate Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($22) This is distinctive in that it is made from co-fermented Syrah and Viognier, direct from the press. It is fresh and lively, with notes of squeezed berries. See the May issue for a full review, 18/20 points.
Rosé of Sangiovese - This Tuscan grape can be made into a nice rosé wine. Here are two popular examples.
2012 Waterbrook Sangiovese Rosé, Columbia Valley ($15) Brilliant rose colored, crisp and clean, this offers a lot for the price, especially when $9.99. Reviewed May, 17.5/20 points.
2012 Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($12) - Brilliant pink colored, this offers appealing aromas of strawberry, Rainier cherry, and orange blossoms. The flavors are bright and lively, with notes of rhubarb pie, orange peel and grape skin, followed by a crisp, sprightly off-dry finish. 17.5+/20 points.
Rosé of Cabernet Franc - These are made by cold soaking the crushed grapes for a short period of time, and then pressing off the juice.
2012 Sleight of Hand "Magician's Assistant" Rose of Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, Blackrock Vineyard ($18) - This Rosé shows a pale salmon color and aromas of raspberry, Rainier cherry, rhubarb, cherry blossoms and orange peel. The palate shows notes of melon rind, grapeskin and recurring orange peel, followed by a dry, lightly spiced cherry juice finish. 18/20 points.
2012 Trust Cellars Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley ($18) - Pink colored, this catches the essence of the grape in a rosé format. It offers aromas of freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and a cherry blossoms. The flavors are bright and lively, with notes of cherry pits, orange peel, and grapeskin extracts. The back picks up a dash of framboise liqueur, followed by a juicy, dry finish. 18/20 points.
Miscellaneous Rosés - Here are a variety of rosés made from differing combinations of grapes and styles.
2012 Saviah Cellars Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($18) - This is a combination of Sangiovese and Barbera. Cold press fermented, it displays a brilliant light copper color and enticing aromas of wild strawberries, Rainier cherries, orange peel and cherry blossoms. The flavors are ripe and distinct, with notes of grapeskin, melon rind and minerals, followed by a crisp, nicely balanced dry finish. 18/20 points.
2012 Brian Carter Cellars "Abracadabra" Rosé, Columbia Valley ($20) - This is a catch-all blend of 41% Sangiovese, 39% Grenache, 9% Mourvedre, 9% Syrah and 2% Counoise, produced by the saignée method of bleeding off the skins. The result does work. It exhibits a brilliant pink color and an attractive nose of strawberry, Rainer cherry, pink peach and cherry and orange blossoms. The flavors are bright and well extracted, with notes of cherry pit, peach stone, melon rind and grape skins, followed by a deliciously crisp, fruited finish. 18+/20 points.
2012 Robison Ranch Cellars Rosé of Merlot, Walla Walla Valley ($16) - In 2011 Brad and Ruth Riordan made a Merlot rosé and it was so successful, they did it again. Pale orangish-pink in color, it offers aromas of raspberry and cherry, with soft, yet crisp and well defined flavors, with touches of grapeskin and orange peel on an off-dry finish. 17.5+/20 points.
Pinot Gris Rosé - Finally, there is this category of rosés made from Pinot Gris grapes that have been given longer hang time, resulting in pale salmon colored wines that possess unique qualities. Here are two such versions.
2012 Julia's Dazzle Pinot Grigio Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills ($16) - Made by Long Shadows, this wine displays a brilliant light salmon color and intriguing aromas of raspberry, pink peach and Rainier cherry with scents of lilac and jasmine, with bright flavors of tangerine, peach pit and Horse Heaven minerals, followed by a crisp finish. 18/20 points.
2012 Robison Ranch Cellars "Eye of the Pheasant" Rosé, Columbia Valley ($19) - As the name suggests, this shows a copper hued bird's eye color and fresh aromas of raspberry, cherry, citrus, cherry blossoms and a whiff of smoke. The grapeskin extracted flavors have a roundness that is brightened by crisp acidity and accented by tangerine peel on the refreshing finish. 18+/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
This year's Walla Walla Valley Spring Release Weekend, held May 3 - 5, was a highly successful event. Many wineries reported more traffic and brisker sales than last year. In walking around downtown, I saw people leaving tasting rooms with at least a bottle. And wine aficionados were loading up cases here and there. Here are some highlights of the weekend.
Spring Release Weekend got to an early start on Thursday the 2nd, as Abeja had the first of three days of being open for the winery's friends. There, a lovely 2012 Viognier and an elegant 2010 Cabernet were poured. These will be reviewed in the June issue of the Review of Washington Wines. There also was an impressive 2011 Cabernet Franc which, alas, is sold out. In the evening, we went to the basement bar of the irrepressible Philipe Michel (a Belgian cooperage broker) for wine and fun, and then to Olive to hear Paul Gregutt Hat No Hat duo play some nice tunes.
The next morning, we went to Tero Estates in the Oregon side of the Valley to see "Haulin' Sass," a restored trailer turned into a mobile boutique run by Catie McIntyre Walker and Shannon Smith-McKeown. At the winery, Doug Roskelley poured us some new releases which will be reviewed in June. For lunch, we stopped at Tertulia Cellars where we had grilled steak from Paul Freeman's Bank & Grill trailer kitchen with Ryan Raber's new vintages. The evening's big event was the Robison Ranch Cellars Club Party. After that, we went to Tranche Cellars bonfire at the Blue Montain vineyard which was a lot of fun. Watch for reviews of Tertulia, Robison Ranch and Tranche in the July issue.
On Saturday morning, our first stop was at Leonetti where we sampled the 2011 Merlot and 2010 Cabernet (to be reviewed in July) with Lostine Beef sliders. Then we went to àMaurice where we tasted new 2010 reds (June issue). At noon, we went to Catie McIntyre's Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman shop to taste Proper wine's 2010 and 2011 Syrahs from the "Rocks" (the 2011 to be released in fall). Afterwards, we stopped by Rotie Cellars to taste Sean Boyd's new 2012 Southern White and 2011 reds (July issue). Then we went over to Bunchgrass to sample Tom Olander and Barb Comaree's new 1010 reds (June issue). In the evening, we stopped at El Corazon for fresh oysters and wine, and then at Corliss, where the 2008 Cabernet (fall release) was previewed along with an impressive 2007 Cabernet Franc and 2007 Malbec.
Sunday morning, we wrapped up the weekend by stopping at SYZYGY for Zach Brettler's new 2009 Syrah and 2008 Cabernet and Saros Red (to be reviewed in July), at Buty for the 2010 Rediviva of the Stones (July), and then Corvus for the new releases which will be reviewed in a Focus article in the June issue. The Sunday activity was surprisingly brisk, with many people staying in town to take in more wineries, a sign of a very successful 2013 Spring Release Weekend.
- Written by Rand Sealey
The Walla Walla Valley Spring Release Weekend is being held Friday, May 3 through Sunday, May 5. It will be a busy weekend with many visitors hitting many wineries. For preview reviews of the wines being released, see the March, April and May issues of the Review of Washington Wines. The following list is by no means all inclusive, but highlights those with new and recent releases.
àMaurice Cellars will be releasing new 2010's, which will be reviewed in an upcoming issue.
Adamant Cellars has some very nice 2009"s (reviewed April, 2013).
Balboa Winery - Owner-Winemaker Tom Glase has knockouts with his 2009 Wraith and Eidolon (reviewed April) and other fine wines.
Bunchgrass - Here, Tom Olander and Barb Comaree will unveil some new reds and whites to be reviewed later. This is a "gem" of a small winery.
Buty Winery - Caleb Foster always impresses with his wines made at this small Airport operation.
Cadaretta - The tasting room is located a few blocks East on Main Street. Brian Rudin continues to make fine wines.
Corvus Cellars - Two new 2010 blends and a 2009 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon will be introduced.
Dusted Valley - This is a Mecca for Stained Tooth Society members. The 2010's and 2011's were reviewed in April.
Forgeron Cellars - Marie-Eve Gilla has turned out some exceptional 2009's and 2010's. See the February and March issues.
Gramercy Cellars - Greg Harrington has some immaculate wines, including a lovely 2012 Rosé and 2010 "L'Idiot du Village" Red.
Kerloo Cellars - Ryan Crane will be pouring his continuously impressive wines
Kontos Cellars - Stop by Cameron and Chris Kontos' place in the Airport Incubators. Consistent wines.
L'Ecole No. 41 - This winery has just released some fine 2010 reds and a very nice 2012 Chenin Blanc and 2012 Grenache Rosé.
Northstar - The current releases , reviewed in the May issue, are excellent.
Mackey Vineyards and Rasa Vineyards are now both located on Powerine Road. Check out the superb 2009 reds.
Mark Ryan - Mark McNeilly's winery now has a tasting room on Main Street. Excellent wines across the board.
Otis Kenyon - Stop by the Main Street tasting room to sample the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère.
Revelry Vintners - This Airport winery merits a visit for the Limited Release wines reviewed in February.
Rotie Cellars - This week, Sean Boyd will be releasing his new 2011 reds, to be reviewed in the June issue.
Seven Hills Winery - The 2010 wines were previewed in the January issue, but now being "officially" released.
Sleight of Hand Cellars - Trey Busch's 2010 Archimage, Illusionist and Levitation are awsome. Reviewed in March, they are even better now.
Va Piano - I tasted the excellent 2009 Syrah and Cabernet which will be reviewed in June. Also a knockout 2010 DuBrul Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
Waters - See the May issue for two fine 2010 Syrahs. Also, a 2012 Prelude white to be reviewed in June. Also try the 2012 Rosé.
The Marcus Whitman Tasting Rooms - The hotel is home to the tasting rooms of Trio Vintners, Locati Cellars, Lodmell Cellars, Don Carlo Vineyards and Tero Estates/Flying Trout. So be sure to visit them.
Also Downtown: Maison Bleue (Jon Meuret) is slated to open this weekend, also, Glencorrie has a new tasting room around the corner.
Finally, I should mention Paul Gregutt's Waitsburg Cellars, reviewed in the May issue. The wines are made at Precept Wines, and there is no tasting facility for these custom-made wines. But they are being poured by the glass at the Marcus Whitman, Whitehouse Crawford, Brasserie Four and Olive restaurants. I urge you to try them.
- Written by Rand Sealey
On Tuesday, April 16, the Sons of Bacchus (SOBs for short) convened for a tasting of Chateauneuf du Papes, 10 years or older. The preferences among the twelve tasters were widely variable, so there were no clear consensuses as to the best wines in each of four flights. But for the record, here are my favorites, and several, but not all, tasters concurred.
2003 Domaine de Cristia, "Renaissance" - This appeared twice in separate flights. In the first flight, it was my favorite. It had a deep ruby color and aromas of roses, violets and toffee, with notes of baked chocolate and a lip smacking finish. In the second flight, it came in second, with notes of truffles, dried cherries and an elegant sweet-dry finish. Again, a touch of toffee emerged. Overall, I thought this was the best wine(s) of the tasting, although others had their favorites. 19+/20 points.
1998 Chateau La Gardine - This showed a deep garnet color and scents of dried cherrries and orange peel. Medium full-bodied, it showed considerable elegance and a penetrating stony "mas" character. Interestingly, the 1999 vintage from this property also showed well, coming in second in the fourth flight, but not quite as complex as the 1998. 19/20 points.
2001 Domaine Bois de Bousan "Cuvee des Felix" - This had a brilliant ruby/garnet color and a perfumed nose and pretty, well textured mature flavors, with notes of orange peel and leather. 18.5+/20 points.
There was one ringer, a 2007 Domaine la Barroche (less than ten years old, the theme being CdP ten years or older). I picked it out as being younger than the others. It seemed sultry, smoky, ripe, almost sweet. Some tasters liked it very much. I wonder it it will age as well as some of the others.
The rest of the wines ranged from fair to very good. There was one flight of three wines which showed one with petrol, one over the hill and one with dried fruits. I would have liked to give each a ranking of 3, but couldn't.
Next Week's Blog: A Guide to Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend
The May issue of the Review of Washington Wines will go on line Monday, April 29, a few days ahead of Spring Release Weekend to help subscribers visiting Walla Walla May 3-5 plan ahead. The Blog will comprise a listing of recommended wineries to visit.
- Written by Rand Sealey
A few days ago, I ran across an interesting article in Tom Lee's Zinfandel Chronicles (zinfandelchronicles.com) about Washington Whites. In it, he noted that the Cayuse, Leonetti, Quilceda Creek and Betz wineries had one thing in comon: they do not make white wines. A reader would suppose that iconic wineries don't do whites. Lee goes on to classify the makers of the Great Whites of Washington:
old guard: Woodward Canyon (Chardonnay), Ch. Ste. Michelle (Erioica Riesling) DeLille (Chaleur Estate White).
new guard: Efeste (Lola Chardonnay) Sleight of Hand and Maison Bleue (French Creek Chardonnay) Guardian (Angel Sauvignon Blanc) and others.
Along these lines, here are some noteworthy Great Whites of Washington, all more in the new guard style rather than the old.
Array Wines: this winery makes only Chardonnay and the 2011 Washington State, Dijon Clone and Conner Lee bottlings are excellent (reviewed in the March issue of the Review of Washington Wines). New guard.
Buty: Caleb Foster makes two remarkable whites: a Semillon-Sauvignon-Muscadelle and a Conner-Lee Chardonnay. He uses a combination of barrel fermentation and aging in concrete tanks, a new guard approach.
Tenor Wines: Aryn Morell makes a striking Sauvignon Blanc, barrel fermented and very intense. See the February issue for a review of the 2011.
Waters: The 2012 "Prelude" Roussanne-Viognier is a delicious white. I was going to review it in May, but was told it would get even better, so I will wait until the June issue.
Dowsett: No one, I think, makes Gewurztraminer better than Chris Dowsett. The 2011 Celilo Vineyard is excellent (August 2012) and will be reviewing the 2012 in the next few months.
Waitsburg Cellars: Paul Gregutt has turned out a quartet of "The Aromatics" from the Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc and Riesling grapes. They are amazingly good for their price points ($15 and $17). They have qualities that seem to embrace both old and new world styles. Watch for the May issue (on line on April 29) for reviews of these wines.
Sleight of Hand and Maison Bleue: Both make intense Chardonnays from the French Creek vineyard (see above). Jon Meuret also makes superb Rhone-style whites at Maison Bleue.
Finally, in this connection, I should mention that Brennon Leighton, maker of Efesté's "Lola" Chardonnay, is now working for Charles Smith Wines in Walla Walla, making Chardonnays. Starting with the 2012 vintage, we should be seeing additions to the Great Whites of Washington.