Review of Washington Wines Blog
Tips for Spring Release Weekend in Walla Walla
Written by Rand Sealey   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 13:30

For those of you who are heading over to Walla Walla for Spring Release this weekend, here are some tips on where to visit. Also, check the April and May issues of the Review of Washington Wines for previews of some of the new releases.


Sleight of Hand has a new 2010 "Enchantress" Chardonnay, plus the 2009 Archimage and Illusionist and 2010 Funkadelic Syrah, to be reviewed in June.

Gramercy Cellars has some new 2009's: Tempranillo, Lagniappe Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, all highly impressive.

Tero Estates / Flying Trout have new releases, including a 2009 FLT Mary's Block Malbec and 2008 Tero Estates Single Block Cabernets (see last week's blog below). Also, don't miss the Winemakers' Dinner at the Marcus Whitman on Saturday.

El Corazon just came out with some new 2010's: "First Base" Cabernet Franc, "Pistolero" Bordeaux blend, and Rotie/El Corazon "Swordfight" Rhone-style blend.

Rotie Cellars will also have new 2010's and a 2011 "Southern White." Reviewed in the May issue.

Cadaretta opened a new tasting room on Main Street last fall, where it will be pouring the new 2011 SBS White, 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Windthrow Rhone-style blend.

Walla Faces (also on Main Street) will have new vintages of their Walla Faces artist labels.

Rasa Vineyards will be open over the weekend on Powerline Road with its new 2009 "Limelight" Petit Verdot and other releases (see the February issue).

Tranche Cellars will be presenting its new releases (see the April issue) at the winery on Berney Road on Saturday, with a bonfire in the evening.

Trio Vintners - Karen LaBonte will be pouring a new 2009 Barbera and 2009 "Plaisir" Rhone-style red at her newly-redecorated tasting room downtown.

L'Ecole No. 41 and Woodward Canyon - See the May issue for new releases from these two wineries on Highway 12.

Stella Fino will be debuting its new 2010 Pinot Noir at Petit Noirs in Milton-Freewater (see the May issue).

Spring Valley Vineyard is worth the ten mile drive up the Middle Waitsburg Road to meet Dean and Shari Derby on Saturday.

Long Shadows is well worth the $20 tasting fee (refundable with purchase) to sample stellar wines.

Also Reccommended: Robison Ranch Cellars (north of WW); Otis Kenyon, Sinclair Estate Vineyards, Mackey Cellars, Forgeron, Don Carlo, Locati Cellars (Downtown); Buty, Adamant Cellars, SYZYGY Kontos Cellars, CAVU (Airport); Waters, VaPiano, Amavi, Pepper Bridge, Castillo de Feliciana, Balboa, Fjellene, Gifford Hirlinger, Basel Cellars (South Valley); Reininger and Glencorrie (West of WW); Walla Walla Vintners, aMaurice, K Vintners (East of WW); Zerba Cellars, Watermill (Milton-Freewater) also Su Lei on Beet Road just north of Stateline Road.

Kerloo Cellars, an up and coming is sold out and will be reopening the first weekend of June with its 2010's.





Last Updated on Sunday, 28 April 2013 21:29
The Tero Estates Single Block Cabernets
Written by Rand Sealey   
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 16:06

A few days ago, Doug and Jan Roskelley gave me samples of three Cabernet Sauvignons from different blocks of the Windrow Vineyard in the southern part of the Walla Walla Valley, a few miles northwest of Milton-Freewater. These wines are to be poured at the winery's winemaker's dinner at the Marcus Whitman on Saturday, May 5. They will be initially for Club members only. Here are my tasting notes, together with Doug Roskelley's descriptions of the vineyard blocks.


2008 Tero Estates Cabernet Sauvigon, Walla Walla Valley, Windrow Vineyards, Hill Block ($53)

"Hill Block is the youngest of our Cab plantings (1998) and is 3.4 acres on the side of the bench that Windrow sits on. Exposures vary from due south, swinging to west and then back to southwest. Trellised to VSP [vertical shoot positioning]. The soil (loess and silt loam) is shallow, having been scoured by the wind and has limited water holding capacity. Average yield has been 2.8 tons per acre."

My notes: Blended with 6% Cabernet Franc, this wine shows a deep ruby color and intriguing aromas of roasted blackberries, black cherries, cassis, dried roses, pipe tobacco, eucalyptus and sultry oriental perfumes. The dark fruit flavors are wrapped around a full-bore core, underlain with bittersweet chocolate, black licorice, dark roast coffee bean and scorched loess minerals. The back reveals sensations of macerated berries, cherry liqueur, roasted nuts and fruit confit, with notes of mocha, cinnamon bark, toasty oak, and glycerin. The strength extends on to the long, ripe, concentrated sweet-dry tannin finish. 118 cases produced. 19.5/20 points.


2008 Tero Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Windrow Vineyards, Plateau Block ($55)

"Plateau was planted in 1996 and sits on top of the bench and is planted on fairly level ground running southeast to northwest. Acreage is 3.8 acres. The soil is deeper having deposits that resulted in part from the soil that was scoured from the hillside. Trained to the Scott Hendry trellis design (4 cordons, two above two). Average yield has been 2.9 tons per acre."

My notes: Also combined with 6% Cabernet Franc, this displays a deep ruby color and smoky aromas of blackberry, cherry, damson plum and freshly brewed coffee, with scents of mulberry, crushed rose, cigar box, black pepper and spiced incense. The roasted dark fruits are mouth-encompassing, with notes of dark chocolate, black licorice, French roast and silty earth minerals. The intensity continues on the back with notes of macerated berries, dried cherries, roasted walnuts, cocoa powder, cinnamon bark and ground clove, all gliding effortlessly into a lingering finish, marked by dryish tannins and spicy oak, juxtaposed by a touch of lanolin. 185 cases produced. 19.5/20 points.


2008 Tero Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Windrow Vineyards, Old Block ($57)

"Old Block was part of the original planting of Seven Hills dating back to 1981. It sits on fairly level ground and is planted N-S using the Scott Hendry trellis design (4 cordons, two above two). It is 8.6 acres and average yield has been 2.6 tons per acre. Soils are primarily loess with various depth and excellent drainage."

My notes: Again blended with 6% Cabernet Franc, this exhibits a deep purplish ruby color and aromas of wild blackberry, huckleberry, and black currant, with scents of attar of rose, mulberry, and a hint of mint. The flavors are a bit more expansive than the other two, yet deep and pervasive, interwoven with notes of Belgian chocolate, black licorice and ground roasted coffee beans. On the back, sensations of macerated berries and dried cherries emerge along with tones of toasted hazelnuts, mocha, graphite, light spices (coriander, cardamom) on a deftly oaked finish with near-perfectly integrated tannins and acids. 110 cases produced. 19.5/20 points.


These three wines are superb expositions of terroir-driven South Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and are highly recommended. I urge you to join the Tero Estates wine club so you may be sure to obtain these wines.


State Liquor Stores Auction Winners Announced


The big news yesterday was the Washington State Liquor Contol Board's announcement of the winning bids on the state's 167 liquor stores which netted $30.75 million dollars, nearly double the early estimates of 16 million. Apparently, the bidding was all about location!, location!, location! with the highest bids going for the choicest locations and the lowest for the least desirable ones. One of the high bid stores was the one in Walla Walla on South 9th, which went for $340,000. It will be the only free-standing liquor store in Walla Walla County. The only other liquor stores are small contract stores in Waitsburg and Dayton (in Columbia County). The Walla Walla store, with much more available floor space for liquor and wine, will be able to offer a far wider selection than Super 1 across the street, or even Wal-Mart a few miles south. It looks like a smart investment.

While the winning bidders will be gearing up for the openings of the newly-privatized liquor stores, other retailers are also getting ready for June 1. I was at Esquin a week ago, and saw that the shipping room in back was being turned into what will become the spirits department, in order to meet the 10,000 square foot floor space requirement. In West Seattle, Trader Joe's has opened a new store on Fauntleroy Way, with space already reserved for spirits.


A correction: An artilcle in this evening's Walla Walla Union Bulletin states the bid for the Walla Walla liquor store as $180,400. The $340,000 price was reported in one of the Seattle TV stations' news website.





Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 00:38
A Visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico
Written by Rand Sealey   
Monday, 16 April 2012 15:11

Last week, Lynn and I were in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a vacation. The scenery of Georgia O'Keefe's country (we visited her studio and Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu) was gorgeous, and went to numerous galleries and museums. We ate out at a number of fine restaurants, but usually had a Argentinian Malbec or Chilean Carmenere, for South American wines seemed to go well with the flavors of Southwestern American dishes. The only New Mexico wines we had were the Gruet Winery's sparkling wines. We found the Blanc de Noirs especially charming: pale pink-orange colored, with aromas and flavors of strawberry and watermelon, followed by a crisp, nicely fruited finish (18/20 points). It sells for around $30 a bottle in restaurants and for under $20 in supermarkets. I was curious about other New Mexico wines, but I talked with an art gallery owner who had worked at Sherry-Lehman in New York and at a winery in California. He said New Mexico wines range from "very good to simply awful."


My experience with finding Washington wines on restaurant lists was mixed. The Compound, one of the top restaurants on Canyon Road (the art gallery road), had an extensive international wine list that was devoid of Washington wines. It was a very upscale place and could easily have had Leonetti and Corliss on the list. One fine restaurant, though, was the 315 Restaurant and Wine Bar that had DeLille Cellars, L'Ecole No. 41, and a few others on the list. In a liquor store, I found a L'Ecole Perigee and a Spring Valley Uriah. So there is a Washington wine presence in Santa Fe, but one that indicates there is an awareness and marketing challenge for the state's wine industry in New Mexico as well as other parts of the country.


Taste Washington: A Report
Written by Rand Sealey   
Friday, 06 April 2012 14:00

On Saturday, March 31, Lynn and I attended Taste Washington as Media representatives. In the morning, we participated in the Seminars. Lynn attended "Washington State Wine: Over-Delivering at Every Price," while I attended the "Vineyard Exploration: Red Willow Vineyard."


Lynn's Seminar consisted of a blind tasting of three Merlots, three Cabernet Sauvignons, and three Syrahs, one of each from Washington and the others from different regions. The panel was moderated by Sean Sullivan (Washington Wine Report), with Megan Krigbaum (Food & Wine Magazine), Shayn Bjornhold (Court of Master Sommeliers) and Luke Sykora (Wine & Spirits Magazine). For the Merlots, Lynn's favorite turned out to be the 2009 Duckhorn from Napa, but the 2009 L'Ecole No. 42, Columbia Valley turned out to be the best value at half the price of the 2008 Chateau Fonplegade, St. Emilion. Among the Cabernets, her top pick was the 2008 Abeja ($42), outshining the 2008 Chateau Calon Segur, St. Estephe and the 2008 Beaulieu, Georges de Latour, Napa at $125. The 2009 Amavi Syrah, Walla Walla Valley came out on top at a wow value of $29, compared to the Lagier-Meredith from Napa ($48) and the Molly Docker 2010 "Blue Eyed Boy" Shiraz from Australia. So Washington State does, indeed, Over-Deliver at Every Price.


My Seminar on the Red Willow Vineyard was moderated by Jon Bonne of the San Francisco Chronicle with Mike Sauer (owner-grower of Red Willow), Patrick Comiskey (Wine & Spirits Magazine) and Bob Betz (Betz Family Winery). Six wines were tasted. The panel discussed the terroir and characteristics of Syrah grown in various blocks of Red Willow, as well as the history, since the planting of Syrah in 1983, with the encouragement of the late David Lake of Columbia Winery. Here are my comments on the wines tasted.

2010 Gramercy Cellars Syrah (Barrel Sample) - Deeply aromatic and berried, showing silty soil characteristics. A bit tight now, but shows high promise. 19+/20 points.

2009 Betz Family "La Cote Patriarche" Syrah - Very deep and dark, with classic lavender and violet scents. The dark fruits are wrapped around a deep core. 19+/20 points.

2009 Mark Ryan "Lost Soul" Syrah, La Vigne de Marcoux - From another parcel of Red Willow. Deep and berried, with a lot of juice on the palate and back, Shows more of a "gamy" profile than the others. 19/20 points.

2008 Columbia Winery Syrah, Red Willow Vineyard - Classic blackberry and huckleberry aromas and flavors. Minerally and well-poised, in a chewy style. 18.5/20 points.

2008 Owen Roe Syrah, Chapel Block - This vineyard has east (silty soils) and west facing (basking in sun) slopes. Lots of ripe fruits and earthy minerals, with notes of macerated berries an creme brulee. A plush style. 19/20 points.

2009 Efeste "Eleni" Syrah - Brooding aromatics and a thick, saturated earthy and minerally wine, that is permeated with varietal character, in a deep, savory style. 19.5/20 points.


After the Seminars we attended the Grand Tasting from 1:00 to 5:00. There were over 100 wineries represented, so, obviously, I couldn't cover them all. Two of the highlignts were the much talked about 2008 Figgins Estate Red and 2008 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla, both of which lived up to expectations. Lisa Baer unveiled the 2009 Baer Ursa and Arctos blends. The Bunnell Family Cellar showed an interesting "Petit Bec" 50/50 Petit Verdot-Malbec blend. Chris Camarda poured his stellar 3009 "Two Blondes" and "Sorella" blends. James and Poppie Mantone showed their newly-released 2010 Mourvedre amd 2011 Rose. A terrific value is McKinley Springs' 2008 Malbec from the Horse Heaven Hills. These and other wines will be reviewed in the May issue of the Review of Washington Wines.


The next posting of the Review of Washington Wines Blog will be on April 16th. Lynn and I will be flying to Santa Fe for a week's vacation, so I will be skipping the next week.



Last Updated on Friday, 06 April 2012 15:06
More About the April Issue
Written by Rand Sealey   
Friday, 30 March 2012 13:59

There was not enough space in the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines to elaborate on a couple of the wineries that were featured. So I shall do do here in this blog. Also, I have a special call out to The Library in Woodinville.


Pamplin Family Winery is located near Dundee, Oregon, but the two wines that are made are produced entirely from Washington grapes. The vision is to craft the best Bordeaux varietal wines. To do this they have to source their fruit from the neighboring state. The Proprietor, Dr. Robert Pamplin Jr., is a businessman, philanthropist, conservationist and ordained minister, among many accomplishments (to see his bio, go to the winery website). The President is Art North, who, by the way, contacted me to see if I was interesting in sampling the Pamplin wines. He is a business graduate of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma and is married to Amy Pamplin, his college sweetheart. The winemaker is Robert Henry who came from the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. Educated as a chemist, he became a "cellar rat" in Virginia and then California, and studied viticulture at Fresno State University (see the website for his thoughts on winemaking). The winery's 2008 Proprietary Red, reviewed in the April issue, attests to the skill of this winemaking team. I look forward to reviewing the 2009 J|R|G Red in the near future.


Adams Bench had just opened its new tasting room when we visited it on February 25. Being located high up on Hollywood Hill in Woodinville, there was snow on the ground. Entering the tasting room was going into a warm, cozy though spacious environment, quite a contrast to the cramped space in the nearby winery facility. Tim and Erica Blue (and her sister Ursula and niece, Jamie) were gracious hosts as always. There, we tasted the new 2009 "the V" Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2009 Mays Discovery Cabernet, both reviewed in the April issue. We also sampled the 2009 "Ursula" Sangiovese which will be reviewed in the June issue. The tasting room, which is situated above the barrel room, overlooks the future site of a Chardonnay vineyard which will be planted with the idea of making sparkling wine. For pictures, see the Review of Washington Wines on Facebook.


The Library in Woodinville is another place I must mention. Located across from the Hollywood Vineayards Plaza (Purple Cafe) on the Woodinville-Redmond Road, it is a tasting room that is devoted to presenting the wines of Long Shadows (Walla Walla) and Den Hoed (Horse Heaven Hills and Wallula) and Boudreaux (Leavenworth). Traci McFarlane is the manager. Tastings are conducted in a comfortable library-like setting with a gas fireplace. There is a fee for tasting (about 45 minutes) which comprises of a flight of various wines, and appointments are necessary (call 425 408-1608, or go to www.thelibrarywines.com). The Library is an exciting new concept in wine tasting, and I recommend it highly.






Last Updated on Friday, 30 March 2012 20:48

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