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Best Buys to Kick Off the New Year
Written by Rand Sealey   
Saturday, 08 January 2011 18:36

Is $15 the New "Best Buy" Price Point?

 

January is traditionally the month when new discounts come up on all kinds of products. After the holiday "sales," merchandisers need to come up with new deals to entice consumers. This holds true for wine as well. As I stated in my last blog (see below) consumers continue to expect "deals" on their wines.

 

During the past week, I have seen wines on sale at Esquin and in supermarkets for $15 or less that were previously priced at two to five dollars higher. I have picked up several, and after tasting them, have come to the conclusion that $15 or less is the price point at which many consumers are motivated to buy "premium" on sale.

 

The first four examples come from Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle which shows clear evidence of how economies of scale at wineries of their size result in high quality/price ratios.

 

2009 Columbia Crest H3 Pinot Gris, Horse Heaven Hills (on sale for $11.88 at Thriftway - Regular: $18)

This wine displays a brilliant grayish gold color and a fresh pear, melon and lilac-scented nose and lively, well textured flavors that glide across the palate, picking up notes of grape skin, orange peel, lanolin, minerals and almonds on the way to a lively finish that is accented by touches of grapefruit and passion fruit. 18/20 points.

 

2008 Columbia Crest H3 "Les Chevaux" Red, Horse Heaven Hills (on sale for $11.88 at Thriftway - Regular: $20)

This wine tastes more expensive than it is. It displays a deep ruby color and a smoky, sultry raspberry and cassis nose with scents of dried roses and rubbed sage. The semi-roasted berry flavors convey a sense of Horse Heaven terroir and the back reveals notes of cocoa powder, licorice and orange peel, followed by a supple ripe tannin finish. 18+/20 points.

 

2008 Ch. Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot, Columbia Valley (on sale for $13.99 at Esquin - Regular: $20)

This wine offers an intriguing nose of wild raspberries, cherries, plums, sandalwood and dried roses. The dark fruit flavors are thickly textured and underlain with notes of bittersweet chocolate, licorice, coffee grounds and earth. On the back, the chewy texture continues and leads into a supple moderate tannin finish. 18+/20 points.

 

2007 Ch. Ste. Michelle Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, Canoe Ridge Estate (on sale for $16.99 at Esquin - Regular: $25)

This comes in at $2 higher than $15, but offers extraordinary value. It exhibits a deep ruby color and intense aromatics of blackberry, mulberry, cassis, lavender, rose petals and smoldering incense. The flavors are well saturated and loaded with bittersweet chocolate, licorice, scorched earth and French roast. The flavors thicken further on the back, with sensations of macerated berries, finely ground spices, coffee grounds, orange peel and cinnamon bark laid on a supple ripe tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.

 

The following are more examples of aggressive price point marketing.

 

2009 L'Ecole No. 41 Semillon, Columbia Valley (on sale for $10.99 at Esquin and Thriftway - Regular: $18)

Last year, the "special" pricing on this was $13.99, so this is a significant price drop. It offers an attractive nose of pear, peach and cantaloupe with apple blossom scents. The fruit compote flavors are fresh and vibrant, with touches of beeswax, toasted almonds and minerals. A touch of citrus (from 17% Sauvignon Blanc) adds crispness. 18/20 points.

 

N/V Bookwalter "Subplot No. 24" Red, Columbia Valley (on sale for $12.99 at Esquin - Regular: $20)

This blend of 30% Merlot, 29% Syrah, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon and others shows a deep ruby color and a rich nose of blackberry, cherry, cassis, spice and lavender. The flavors are well packed and direct, redolent of macerated berries mixed with bittersweet chocolate, licorice, loamy earth and black tea, and lead into a ripe supple, lightly spiced finish. 18/20 points.

 

2008 Tamarack Cellars "Firehouse" Red, Columbia Valley (on sale for $12.99 at Metropolitan Market - Regular: $18)

No doubt the increased supply of quality bulk wine has made this possible at this price. A blend of Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot and other grapes, this has an attractive nose of raspberry, cherry, plum, lavender and sage with generous well saturated flavors that show undertones of bittersweet chocolate, licorice, mocha and graphite. The intensity holds up on the back, with gently macerated, spice infused berries on a moderate tannin finish. 18/20 points.

 

2007 Goose Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley (on sale for $14.99 at Esquin - Regular: $30)

From the vineyards surrounding the winery, just southwest of Richland, this wine packs a lot for the price. It offers a deep garnet color and rich aromas of blackberry, cherry, cassis, cedar, tobacco and dried rose petals. The flavors are thick and supple, with undertones of bittersweet chocolate, licorice, mocha, graphite and espresso. On the back, the chewy texture thickens further with sensations of macerated berries, coffee grounds, earth, nutmeg, clove and cinnamon, followed by a sweet-dry tannin finish. 18+/20 points.

 

2006 Goose Ridge Estate Syrah, Columbia Valley (on sale for $14.99 at Esquin - Regular: $26)

Deep purplish colored, this wine emits rich aromas of blackberry, raspberry, lavender and rubbed sage. The dark fruit flavors are ripe, juicy and well saturated, with a supple texture that is mixed with tones of Swiss chocolate, licorice and minerals. On the back, the dark fruits continue, along with notes of cinnamon bark, pomegranate juice, and coffee on a chewy tannin finish that has been smoothed out with some age. 18/20 points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 10 January 2011 15:16
 
Predictions for 2011
Written by Rand Sealey   
Saturday, 01 January 2011 20:52

Forecasts from the Crystal Ball

 

Washington Wines' Emerging Greatness - In my blog of 20 December, I observed that great strides are being made in the overall quality and in the peaks of Washington winemaking and that there is even more greatness to come. This will become evident over the coming year.

 

Washington Wines will Gain Momentum - The profile of Washington wines keeps growing nationwide. The Today Show segment and the accompanying website commentary gave awareness of Washington wines a boost. So did the Wine Spectator cover on Washington wines as well as the Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast's coverage.  I expect more such "boosts" this year as Washington wines pique the media's attention to the rising star in the wine world.

 

Wine Discounting to Continue - Last year, I predicted that dumping of wine at deep discounts would continue well into the year, which it has. I expect it to continue this year. The world wine market is just recovering (rising Champagne sales in 2010 is an indicator) and consumers continue to expect "deals" on their wines. As the economy recovers, this may taper off.

 

Wine Tasting becomes a Big Business - During the past year, we have seen a growing number of wineries opening tasting rooms, especially in Woodinville and Walla Walla. The opportunity to sample wines and take in the "wine country" ambience is an irresistible lure to tourists and wine aficionados alike. Multiple winery tasting venues such as Urban Enoteca in Seattle's SODO district (see my 1 December blog). And more are expected to open elsewhere.

 

Direct Marketing will become an Expanding Sales Tool - More and more wineries are turning to direct marketing. Isenhower Cellars has gone entirely to direct sales to consumers. Others are increasing their focus on consumer interfacing, through winery websites and social media such as Facebook. Many wineries now offer extra discounts or free shipping through websites and/or wine clubs.

 

Wineries to Watch in 2011

 

Adams Bench - Expect more outstanding wines from Tim and Erica Blue whose 2007 Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon was one of two 20/20 points wines for 2010. The 2008 Reckoning will be a wine to truly reckon with.

Brian Carter Cellars - Brian has turned out some highly impressive single vineyard, single varietal wines (see the January Review issue) with more to come.

Fielding Hills - Mike Wade has turned out some very fine wines from the family's Riverbend Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. As they develop, these wines are sure to help put this AVA on the map.

Kerloo Cellars - Ryan and Renee Crane released their second vintage, the 2008 Syrahs and Tempranillo, in October. They have some highly promising 2009's in the barrel, including a Grenache and Malbec to be added to the line-up.

Obelisco Estate - See the January issue of the Review of Washington Wines for a Focus write-up on this Red Mountain winery with a tasting room in Woodinville.

Rasa Vineyards - Pinto and Billo' Naravane's '07 Principia Reserve Syrah was the other 20/20 points wine for 2010. Look for a sensational '08 DuBrul Vineyard Cabernet-Merlot Blend to be released this year.

Reasons - See the January issue of the Review for Ned and Susie Morris' wines.

Reininger Cellars - Chuck Reininger has turned out a stellar '07 Carmenere and a superlative '05 Cima "Tuscan-style" blend. Watch for more this year.

Reynvaan Family Vineyards - Mike, Gale and Matt have some fantastic 2009 Syrahs that will be released in fall. The "Stonessence" is a potential 20/20 points wine.  See my 12 December blog for a barrel tasting report. The futures are "must buy."

Saviah Cellars - Owner-winemaker Rich Funk is turning out some impressive 2008's and has some highly promising 2009's in the barrel, especially from estate vineyards.

Sleight of Hand Cellars - Trey Busch has some highly promising 2009's in the barrel. Look for the 2009 Levitation Syrah next fall - thick, super ripe black fruits, minerals and earth.

Tero Estates / Flying Trout - Doug and Jan Roskelley's 2008's were highly promising from the barrel, including a seductive "Super Tuscan" red. They are not to be missed. Ashley Trout will turn out more impressive reds from the Malbec and other grapes. Both wineries will be opening a tasting room at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in the near future.

TL Cellars - Watch for Troy Ledwick's Release No. Four, a 2006 Alder Ridge Horse Heaven Cabernet Sauvignon, and No. Seven, a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Pepper Bridge Vineyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 03 January 2011 23:44
 
Top Wines of 2010
Written by Rand Sealey   
Thursday, 23 December 2010 17:25

About this Year's Lists


This year, I have put the two wines scoring 20/20 points at the top, followed by The Next Top Twenty which consists of all wines scoring 19.5 points plus a few particularly memorable 19+ points ones. The following list, The Best of the Rest consists of outstanding wines that are highly recommended. The Best Buys for $25 or Less are wines scoring 18.5 points, or close to that, making them outstanding values. Some wines may be sold out at the winery, but are worth looking for at retail stores. This year, instead of listing the wines alphabetically, as I did last year, they are listed in the order in which they were reviewed, from January to December 2010. Omissions from this list do not necessarily mean that certain wines lack merit. There is not enough space to list all of them here or in my Review of Washington Wines. Also, with the hundreds of wineries now in operation around the state, it is impossible to cover all of them. And I intentionally have left out wines which are allocated, or unavailable in the general market.

 

The Two Wines of the Year - 20/20 Points

 

2007 Adams Bench Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard (March) - sold out

2007 Rasa Vineyards "Principia" Reserve Syrah, Columbia Valley (June) - $85

 

The Next Top Twenty - 19.5/20 Points

 

2006 DeLille Cellars Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain (January) - $135

2007 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Red, Columbia Valley (February) - $75

2007 Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard Red, Horse Heaven Hills (February) - $56

2007 DeLille Cellars Harrison Hill Red, Yakima Valley (March) - $75

2007 Buty Rediviva of the Stones Red, Walla Walla Valley (May) - sold out

2007 Woodward Canyon "Old Vines" Cabernet Sauvignon, Dedication Series #27 (June) - $79

2007 Cadence "Camerata" Red Mountain, Cara Mia Vineyard (June) - $55

2006 Cadaretta Springboard Red, Columbia Valley (July) - $50

2008 Goedhart Family Syrah, Red Mountain, Bel Villa Vineyard (July) - $50

2007 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red, Red Mountain (August) - $57

2008 Walla Faces "Winnie" Riesling Ice Wine, Columbia Valley, Lawrence Vineyard (Sept.) $25 (375 ml.)

2009 Maison Bleue "Petite Joie" Marsanne, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard (September) - $32

2006 TL Cellars "Release No. Six" Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley (September) - $65

2008 Sparkman Cellars "Darkness" Syrah, Columbia Valley, Boushey Vineyard (Sept.) - $56

2008 Kerloo Cellars Tempranillo, Columbia Valley (October) - sold out

2007 Col Solare Red, Columbia Valley (October) - $75

2008 Flying Trout Malbec, Columbia Valley (November) - $35

2007 Tero Estates Windrow Red Blend, Walla Walla Valley (November) - $45

2008 Gramercy Cellars "The Third Man" Red (December) - $45

2008 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "In the Rocks" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (December) - $50

 

The Best of the Rest - 19/20 Points

 

2007 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley Artist's Series #16 (January) - $50

2007 Spring Valley Vineyard "Nina Lee" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (February) - sold out

2007 Adams Bench "The V" Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley (February) - $42

2004 TL Cellars "Release No. One" Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley (February) - $50

2007 JM Cellars "Tre Faniculli" Red, Columbia Valley (March) - $42

2007 O'Shea Scarbrough "Stand Alone" Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills (March) - $55

2007 Seven Hills Vintage Red, Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (April) - $32

2008 Maison Bleue "Liberte" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard (April) - $39

2007 Bunnell Family Cellar Syrah, Wahluke Slope, Clifton Vineyard (April) - $43

2007 Spring Valley Vineyard "Uriah" Red, Walla Walla Valley (April) - $50

2007 Rasa Vineyards "Vox Populi" Mourvedre, Yakima Valley, Minick Vineyard (April) - $45

2007 Brian Carter Cellars "Corrida" Red, Columbia Valley (May) - $36

2007 Waters Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Forgotten Hills Vineyard (May) - sold out

2007 Waters Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Pepper Bridge Vineyard (May) - $40

2008 Buty Merlot-Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley (May) - $40

2007 Betz Family "Clos de Betz" Red, Columbia Valley (May) - $48

2007 Efeste "Big Papa" Cabernet Sauvigno, Columbia Valley (May) - sold out

2008 McCrea Cellars Counoise, Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (June) - $32

2006 McCrea Cellars "Amerique" Syrah, Yakima Valley (June) - $34

2009 Rasa Vineyards "The Composer" Riesling, Columbia Valley, Sagemoor Vineyards (June) - $30

2007 Sinclair Estates "Pentatonic" Red, Columbia Valley (June) - $55

2007 Cadence "Bel Canto" Red Mountain, Cara Mia Vineyard (June) - $55

2007 Cadaretta "Windthrow" Red, Columbia Valley (July) - $50

2007 Cadaretta "Highclimber" Sangiovese, Columbia Valley (July) - $50

2007 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley (July) - $45

2007 Waters Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley (July) - $50

2007 Fidelitas Red Mountain Red Wine (July) - $50

2007 Fidelitas Boushey Vineyard Red, Yakima Valley (July) - $50

2007 Long Shadows Sequel Syrah, Columbia Valley (July) - $50

2007 Grand Reve Collaboration Series II Red Wine, Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (August) - $55

2007 Grand Reve Collaboration Series III Syrah, Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard (August) - $55

2007 L'Ecole No. 41 "Apogee" Red, Walla Walla Valley, Pepper Bridge Vineyard (August) - $49

2007 L'Ecole No. 41 "Perigee" Red, Walla Walla Valley, Seven Hills Estate Vineyard (August) - $49

2007 Pepper Bridge Merlot, Walla Walla Valley (August) - $50

2007 Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley (August) - $55

2006 Dunham Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon XII, Columbia Valley (August) - $45

2007 aMaurice Cellars "The Horiuchi" Red Bend, Columbia Valley (September) - $35

2007 Saviah Cerllars Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley (September) - $35

2009 Maison Bleue "Au Contraire" Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, French Creek Vineyard (September) - $20

2009 Maison Bleue "Soleil" Roussanne, Yakima Valley, Olsen Vineyard (September) - $32

2008 TL Cellars "Release No. Five" Grenache, Columbia Valley (September) - $65

2007 Kerloo Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (October) - $32

2007 Kerloo Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Les Collines Vineyard (October) - $32

2008 O'Shea Scarborough "Black Cask" Syrah, Yakima Valley (October) - $35

2008 Mark Ryan "Wild Eyed" Syrah, Red Mountain (October) - $45

2008 Mark Ryan "Lost Soul" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Les Vignes de Marcoux (October) - $48

2007 :Nota Bene Ciel du Cheval Red, Red Mountain (November) - $35

2008 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, Riverbend Vineyard (November - Note: this was rated 18.5+ points in this issue; in retasting recently, it has advanced to 19 points.) - $42

2008 Flying Trout "The Brook Blend" Horse Heaven Hills (December) - $33

2008 Buty "BEAST" Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, Phinny Hill Vineyard (December) - $40

2008 Sleight of Hand "Levitation" Syrah, Columbia Valley (December) - $40

2008 Gramercy Cellars "Inigo Montoya Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley (December) - $45

2008 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "The Unnamed" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (December) - $45

2007 SYZYGY Saros 154 Red Blend, Columbia Valley (December) - $45

 

Best Buys for $25 or Less - 18.5/20 Points or More

 

2007 Davenport Cellars "R.H.D." Red, Columbia Valley (February) - $24

2007 Davenport Cellars Continuity Red, Columbia Valley (February) - $24

2007 Waterbrook Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley (March) - $22

2007 Waterbrook Reserve Syrah, Columbia Valley (March) - $22

2008 Maison Bleue "La Roque" Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills (April) - $25

2009 Robison Ranch Cellars Viognier, Walla Walla Valley (May) - $19

2008 McCrea Cellars Sirocco Blanc, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard (May) - $25

2008 McCrea Cellars Grenache Blanc, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard (June) - $25

2008 McCrea Cellars Syrah, Yakima Valley (June) - $25

2009 Bergevin Lane Vineyards Viognier, Columbia Valley (July) - $25

2009 Maison Bleue "Jaja" White, Yakima Valley (September) - $17

2009 Maison Bleue "Au Contraire" Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, French Creek Vineyard (Sept.) - $20

2009 William Church Viognier, Columbia Valley (September) - $21

2009 Long Shadows Poet's Leap Riesling, Columbia Valley (September) - $20

2009 Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, Columbia Valley, Cold Creek Vineyard (Sept.) - $17

2009 Tempus Cellars Riesling, Columbia Valley (October) - $16

2008 Fidelitas Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley (October) - $25

2009 Nefarious Cellars Riesling, Columbia Valley, Stone's Throw Vineyard (October) - $18

2007 Lost River Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (October) - $24

2009 El Corazon "Supernova" Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills (November) - $23

2007 Tero Estates Tero Red, Walla Walla Valley (November) - $24

2007 Nicholas Cole Cellars "Gra Eagle Red Wing," Walla Walla Valley (December) - $25

 

Top New Wineries of 2010

 

Barrage Cellars, Woodinville - Kevin Correll

Goedhart Family, Red Mountain - Brent and Sarah Goedhart

Hard Row to Hoe, Chelan - Don and Judy Phelps

Hestia Cellars, Woodinville - Shannon and Angie Jones

JB Neufeld, Yakima - Justin and Brooke Neufeld

Laurelhurst Cellars, Seattle - Gabe Warner, Dave Halbgewachs and Greg Smallwood

Locati Cellars, Walla Walla - Michael and Penne Locati

Mackey Vineyards, Walla Walla - Philip and Roger Mackey

Reynvaan Family Vineyards, Walla Walla - Mike & Gale Reynvaan and Matt Reynvaan

Robison Ranch Cellars, Walla Walla - Jim & Jane Robison and Brad & Ruth Riordan

Sinclair Estate Vineyards, Walla Walla - Tim and Kathy Sinclair

Sweet Valley Wines, Walla Walla - Josh McDaniels and family & friends

Tempus Cellars, Walla Walla - Joe Forest

Tero Estates, Walla Walla - Doug & Jan Roskelley and Mike & Jude Tembruell

Walla Faces, Walla Walla - Rick and Debbie Johnson

Two more newcomers to be reviewed in January:

Obelisco Estates - Woodinville - Doug Long, Paul Kaltnick and Dick Shaw

Reasons Winery, Walla Walla - Ned and Suzie Morris

 

Coming Next: Predictions for 2011 and Wineries to Watch in 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 27 December 2010 14:53
 
Looking Back on 2010
Written by Rand Sealey   
Monday, 20 December 2010 20:54

Washington Wines' Emerging Greatness

 

As we are about to enter the second decade of this century, a look back at 2010 is breathtaking, as I have seen great strides being made in the overall quality and the peaks in Washington winemaking. And I believe there is even more greatness to come.

Lynn and I have been back and forth between Seattle and Walla Walla numerous times, and been all around the state. The quantity of good and outstanding wine has been amazing. There is a lot of talent, and we've met a lot of promising winemakers and made great friends.


Looking Ahead to 2011

 

There will be a lot to write about next year as well. In my first blog of the year, I will make my predictions for 2011. And next year's Review issues will include many, many more exceptional wines.

 

The Washington Wine Report Readers Survey Winners

 

In last week's blog, I mentioned that Adams Bench and Reynvaan Family Vineyard were the finalists for Sean Sullivan's Washington Wine Report Readers Survey. For the Wine of the Year 2010, the Adams Bench 2007 Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon was the winner, with the Reynvaans' 2008 In the Rocks Syrah the runner up. For the Wine to Watch in 2011, the Adams Bench 2008 Reckoning was the top vote getter, followed by the Reynvaan 2009 Stonessence Syrah. I have tasted all four and found them to be highly meritorious. See the Washington Wine Report website for Sean's report and for my comments.

 

Next Week: The Top Wines of 2010

 

I am in the process of compiling my list of Top Wines of 2010. There will be two wines that scored perfect 20/20 points and twenty more 19+/19.5 point ones. There will also be a long list of highly recommended wines. Watch for it!

 

Happy Holidays!

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 20 December 2010 23:12
 
Barrel Tasting 2009's
Written by Rand Sealey   
Sunday, 12 December 2010 21:13

Barrel Tasting 2009's in Walla Walla

 

During Fall Release Weekend (November 5-6) and Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend (December 3-5) in Walla Walla, I had the opportunity to taste several 2009's from the barrel (see last week's blog for my report on 2008's). Here are the highlights. These are preliminary scores and some of these could go higher.

 

2009 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Unnamed" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (Futures: $40 - Fall 2011 Release)

The Reynvaans (Mike, Gale and son Matt) made a big splash with their 2008's which were released in November. The 2009's are sure hits, too. In tasting on November 5, the "Unnamed" showed a deep purplish color and an intense nose of wild berries, cherries, lavender, rose petals and sage, with dark, well-saturated fruit flavors that showed tones of chocolate, licorice, mocha and minerals. 19/20 points.

 

2009 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "In the Rocks" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (Futures: $45 - Fall Release)

From the "Rocks" district south of the border, in what was once the riverbed of the Walla Walla River before it changed to i ts present course. It showed a deep purplish color with an intriguing nose of wild berries, mulberry, oriental perfumed and lavender. Fairly taut in structure, but it showed fine elegant fruit that held on beautifully on the back. (Co-fermented with 3% Viognier). 19/20 points.

 

2009 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "The Contender" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (Futures: $55 - Fall Release)

This wine emitted an entrancing wild berry nose, with scents of lavender, violets, mulberry, sandalwood and. Strikingly rich and saturated, it oozed with dark fruits that surged on the back, intermixed with minerals, cocoa powder, loess dust and stony minerals. The finely fruited finish showed superb balance. 19.5/20 points.

 

2009 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Stonessence" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (Futures: $60 - Fall Release)

This is a "Reserve," wine, intended to convey the "essence" the "Rocks." In tasting, it was phenomenal. It showed an elegant nose of wild blackberries, raspberries, currants and blueberries, with scents of violets and oriental perfumes along with whiffs of spices and pepper. The flavors were well-structured, but not overbearing, multilayered with tones of silty loess, ground minerals, stony rock, Swiss chocolate, vanilla bean, creme brulee, roasted nuts. The wine was completely seamless, with a fine grained tannin finish that went on and on. Most likely it will go to 20/20 points. 19.5+/20 points.

 

2009 Saviah Cellars "Une Vallee" Red, Walla Walla Valley (Fall Release)

Composed of 56% McClellan Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Seven Hills Merlot and 6% Stillwater Creek Cab Franc, this showed a deep purplish color and a sweet wild berry nose with scents of roses and hyacinth. On the palate, the dark fruit flavors were deliciously ripe and seductive. A very promising wine. 18.5+/20 points.

 

2009 Gramercy Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla Valley (Fall Release)

Tasted at Waters Winery, where Gramercy shares facilities, this showed a deep purplish color and an intense nose of roasted berries. The flavors were thick from beginning to end, chock full of coffee, chocolate, licorice and spices laid upon ripe tannins. A potential killer Syrah. 19/20 points.

 

2009 Waters Winery Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Forgotten Hills Vineyard (Fall Release)

This looks to be a superb rendition of the loess-laden Forgotten Hills Vineyard south of Walla Walla. It showed the vineyard's typical perfumed raspberry, currant and strawberry aromatics, with silky, yet well-defined, flavors, accented by notes of cocoa, licorice and orange peel along with a fine fruit-acid balance and integrated tannins. 19/20 points.

 

2009 Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley (Fall/Winter Release)

Composed of Pepper Bridge and Windrow Vineyards, this showed rich berry fruits and gorgeous perfumes of rose, violets and hyacinth. The flavors were thick and mouth encompassing, yet velvety with plenty of fruit and glycerine, laced with cocoa, spices and toasty oak. 19/20 points.

 

2009 Castillo de Feliciana "Rosebud" Tempranillo, Wahluke Slope (Fall Release)

This looks to be a fine follow-up to the 2008 which was released in November. It showed a deep garnet color and a seductive nose of wild berries, rose petals and soft spice. The chewy, taffeta-like red and blue fruits showed plenty of charm, accented by notes of cocoa powder and licorice, with hints of spice and pepper. This will give winemaker Ryan Raber a good track record with this variety. 18.5/20 points.

 

Other noteworthy '09's previously tasted:

 

Kerloo Cellars Grenache and Malbec - I tasted these from the barrels in September and found them to be remarkably well-extracted and fruited. They will be wines to watch.

 

Sleight of Hand Cellars - See my blog of December 1 below for my report on tasting Trey Busch's '10's and '09's.


 


Adams Bench Red Willow Cabernet a Washington Wine Report Wine of the Year Finalist


Sean Sullivan's Washington Wine Report is having its annual on line Reader Survey of the 2010 Wine of the Year and the 2011 Wine to Watch. One of the three finalists is the 2007 Adams Bench Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon which I awarded a perfect 20/20 points in the March issue of the Review. I was the first to review that wine, so, naturally, I'm pleased to see it get this kind of recognition. The 2007 "V" Red is also a finalist. The Adams Bench 2008 Reckoning is a finalist for the 2011 Wine to Watch. The 2009 Reynvaan Stonessence Syrah (see above) is also a finalist in that category.

 

If you, too, have been impressed with these wines, you should go to the Washington Wine Report website and cast your vote.

 

Coming Up: Next Week - Looking Back on 2010, December 27 - Top Wines of 2010, January 3 - Predictions for 2011

 

Last Updated on Monday, 13 December 2010 18:53
 
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