Review of Washington Wines Blog
October Wine & Food Pairings
Written by Rand Sealey   
Friday, 30 September 2011 16:23

This is a new feature for the Review of Washington Blog. Each month, simultaneously with the monthly issue going on line, there will be a listing of food pairings with the wines reviewed in that issue. Here are the pairings for this month.


Pan Fried Oysters

This is an easy dish. Dip small size fresh oysters in egg and dredge them in bread crumbs. Fry in cooking oil until brown. I usually accompany them with cole slaw.

2010 Sparkrman Cellars "Pearl" Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley

2010 Buty Semillon-Sauvignon-Muscadelle, Columbia Valley

2010 Ross Andrew "Meadow" White, Washington/Oregon


Erik McLaughlin's Lentil Pasta and Vegetable Soup

Erik, Director of Wineries for Tranche Cellars and Corliss Estates, prepared this at a tasting of "Rhone-style" reds and whites. Here is his recipe.

Before starting, make sure you have a cup of cooked pasta or brown rice ready to add at the end. If not, start with preparing this.

Boil, covered 1 ½ cups your favorite Letnils (for this type of recipe, I prefer French Green Lentils, called “Puy Lentils) in 2 cups Vegetable stock or Vegetable broth and 2 cups water. Cooking time will vary on type of lentil from aprox 15-60 minutes. Green lentils will take 20-25 minutes. Boil until delicately yielding to bite into but still firm and holding shape.

Simultaneously, in a separate pan sauté mirapoix (mixture of finely diced ½ cup carrots, ½ cup celery, 1 cup onion) in olive or vegetable oil (I prefer half and half, just enough to lightly coat the pan) until carrots start to soften and onions are translucent.

In same sauté pan add a little more oil, then add 3 cloves finely minced garlic cloves and 1-2 cups (depending upon intensity of flavor of mushroom selected) sliced mushrooms (any type will do, but morels are best for this recipe). Saute until garlic just starts to turn color (before browning) and mushrooms start to stick to pan. Deglaze the pan with aprox ¼ - ½ cup white wine, making sure you use a flat spatula to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan into the deglazing liquid. Simmer, adding more wine to keep mixture moist until mushrooms are fully cooked. Stir in a bit of your favorite fresh or dried herb mixture, about 1-3 teaspoons (depending upon preference) of Cholula or Tapatio (or Tabasco or any other red chile based hot sauce), and 1 Tblespoon Miso if you have it. Give it all a quick sauté, keeping the mixture moist.

By this time your lentils will hopefully be cooked, with the boiling liquid turning dark brown and still soupy. If not done, keep cooking until lentils are soft to the tooth. If cooking liquid starts to reduce, add more vegetable broth/water to keep to a soupy consistency.

Once lentils are cooked add sauté mixture and 1 cup cooked pasta (penne works well), or for an even healthier option, 1 cup cooked brown rice. Brown rice, will absorb much of the liquid in the soup, so you will likely need to add more liquid. Stir all together and taste. Add salt, pepper, and more hot sauce to taste.

Serve right away with a loaf of crusty, artisan bread.

Any left-overs will freeze and re-heat well.

2007 or 2006 Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape Red, Columbia Valley (2006 vintage reviewed July, 2011)

2008 Cougar Crest "Syrillo" Red, Walla Walla Valley

2008 :Nota Bene "Una Notte" Red, Columbia Valley


Poulet Saute "Beausejour"

This is an adaptation of a recipe in Pierre Franey's 60 Minute Gourmet. Saute a quartered frying chicken. When brown, add chopped garlic or shallots, cook a bit more, then add a bit of white wine and fresh thyme. Then cook until tender. The aromas of Petit Verdot pairs nicely.

2008 Januik Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley

2007 Cougar Crest Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley

If you prefer a white, try this aromatic wine:

2010 DeLille Cellars Doyenne Roussanne, Red Mountain


The Bank and Grill's Roasted Pork Loin

Paul Freeman and Jeanine Gordon prepared this for Glencorrie Winery's Barn Dinner. Take a center cut pork loin (about 2/1/2 inches in diameter) and rub with garlic, herbs (preferably thyme), pepper and salt, and roast unti barely pink. Serve with vegetables and a huckleberry reduction sauce.

2008 Glencorrie Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

2008 Glencorrie Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley


An Outstanding Malbec from Kerloo Cellars

Ordinarily, I don’t publish reviews of wines that are available to only a select few, whether only through winery clubs or otherwise. However, I am making an exception for this particular wine. The members of the Kerloo Calling Club are extremely fortunate to have this.

2009 Kerloo Cellars Malbec, Yakima Valley, Chelle den Millie Vineyard

I first tasted this wine from the barrel the spring after harvest and found it highly promising. It has evolved into a gorgeously aromatic, silky Malbec. It displays a deep purplish ruby color, and ripe blackberries, cherries and blueberries jump out of the glass, with scents of lavender, oriental perfumes, violets, smoldering incense and white pepper. On the palate, the flavors are super saturated, redolent of true blue fruits, intermixed with stony Missoula flood minerals, licorice, dark chocolate and mocha. On the back, the ripe fruit energizes with squeezes of blueberry and cherry juices and picks up tones of orange peel, roasted nuts, kirsch liqueur, crème brulée and light oak (25% new, 75% neutral) all merging effortlessly into a lingering fine-grained tannin finish. 19+/20 points.






Last Updated on Saturday, 01 October 2011 00:28
Harvest 2011 Approaches / New Renegade Wines
Written by Rand Sealey   
Friday, 23 September 2011 22:36

Wineries Gearing up for Harvest


After a very cool spring which set the growing season about three weeks, warm sunny weather continued through most of the summer, bringin the vineyards closer to a successful harvest 2011. Harvest is close at hand at last. Here are a few comments from winemakers, posted on Facebook:

Greg Harrington (Gramercy Cellars) - "Off to Red Willow and Olsen this morning. Getting close and 80 degrees plus at the end of the week. Could see some big (too big) brix jumps if we don't pay attention." (Sept. 20)

Trey Busch (Sleight of Hand) - "Great vineyard tour yesterday. French Creek Chard and Red Mtn. Merlot look like MAYBE next week. Lewis Syrah has never looked better, probably a mid October pick. Things should really start hopping next week for the WA wine folks." (Sept. 21)

Jason Gorkski (DeLille Cellars) - "6% pressed already. This harvest is flying by..." (Sept. 23)

As things develop, there will be additional posts. Keep tuned!


New Releases from Renegade Wine Company


I saw Trey Busch at Sleight of Hand Cellars this morning. He showed me a couple of new releases from his negociant wine label, Renegade Wine Company. Only about a couple of hundered cases of each were bottled, so they are going to go fast. The Renegade wines have been especially popular in the Seattle metropolitan area market.


2009 Renegade Wine Company Grenache, Walla Walla Valley ($15)

Medium brick red colored, this wine offers an attractive Pinot Noir-like strawberry and cassis nose, with scents of rose petals, jasmine and toasted nuts. The Pinot-like flavor profile continues with vivacious medium-bodied red fruit flavors that are accented by touches of earth, cocoa powder and dried orange peel, followed by a slightly toasted moderate tannin finish. Excellent value. 18/20 points.


2009 Renegade Wine Company Mourvedre, Walla Walla Valley ($15)

Also a fine value, this wine shows a medium ruby color and an intriguing nose of raspberry, cherry, lavender, spice and pepper, with whiffs of smoke. The forward red fruit flavors are bright and mouth-filling. The back reveals a chewy texture that is intermixed with notes of minerals, cocoa and dried fruits that add flavor interest to the ripe tannin finish. 18/20 points.



Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 23:15
Washington Mouvedre Comes of Age
Written by Rand Sealey   
Friday, 16 September 2011 14:24

I used to think that there wasn't much hope for Washington Mourvedre (which is widely grown in southern France, and in Spain, where it is known as Monastrell), except for blending with Syrah and Grenache for "Rhone style" blends. Many varietal Mourvedres seemed two dimensional, fruity and peppery, but without much depth. That's what I thought, until March of 2010 when I got a pre-release taste of Pinto and Billo Naravanne's 2008 Rasa Vineyards "Vox Populi" Mourvedre from the Minick Vineyard near Prosser. It was richly aromatic - wild berries and exotic perfumes with whiffs of white pepper. The extension continued on the palate, with dried fruits - cherries, berries, orange peel - and a chewy, yet velvety texture. It received 19/20 points, the highest score ever awarded to a wine of that variety to date. I ran across few other Mourvedres since then, but in March of this year, at the newly reopened Trio Vintners, I tasted a 2007 Reserve Mourvedre (since sold out) from the Den Hoed vineyard that had an uncanny resemblance to a Bandol from France's Provence coast.


My take on Washington Mourvedre is that the best ones show some of the traits of those of Bandol (situated near the coast between Marseilles and Toulon) where Mourvedre is the principal grape. The hallmarks are roasted fruits (berries, cherries and orange peel), toasted nuts, scorched earth (like graphite) and white pepper (both on the nose and the finish). To illustrate this, here are some noteworthy recent examples from Washington State.


2008 :Nota Bene Cellars Mourvedre, Columbia Valley, Stillwater Creek Vineyard ($30)

From a cool site, this wine displays a purplish color and aromas of wild blackberry, black cherry and black currant, Provencal lavender, incense, pepper and spice. The dark fruit flavors are deep and penetrating, infused with black licorice, minerally earth and mocha. The back reveals sensations of roasted cherries, graphite, coffee grounds, dried orange peel and toasted almonds, followed by bright fruit acids on a lingering sweet-dry tannin finish that is dusted with pepper and spice. Only 25 cases produced. 18.5+/20 points.


2009 Syncline Mourvedre, Red Mountain, Heart of the Hill Vineyard ($30) - April 2011 issue

The Heart of the Hill Vineyard is located midway up Red Mountain. This wine shows a deep ruby color and an enticing nose of wild berries, cherries, spice, incense and rose hips. The flavors have the right ripeness and saturation to make for an exceptional Mourvedre, and are underlain with Red Mountain scorched earth, licorice and bittersweet chocolate. The back reveals semi-macerated berries and roasted nuts that are intermixed with spices on a lingering, ripe, sweetish tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.

2009 Rasa Vineyards “Vox Populi” Mourvedre, Columbia Valley ($45) - July 2011

This 100% Mourvedre shows a deep purplish color and a rich, spicy blackberry and cherry nose, with scents of wildflowers and lavender. On the palate, it is rich and chewy, like macerated berries mixed with licorice and chocolate. The back picks up a touch of creamy mocha along with squeezed berries and a twist of orange peel, followed by a long ripe tannin finish. 19/20 points.

2008 Robert Ramsay Cellars Mourvèdre, Horse Heaven Hills, McKinley Springs Vineyard ($42) - October 2011

This wine recalls the Mourvèdres of Bandol, on the Provencal coast. It exhibits a ruby color and an exotic nose of wild raspberries, black currants, and mulberry, with scents of oriental perfumes, smoldering spiced incense, and whiffs of white pepper. The palate is redolent of sweet-dry fruits laced with black licorice and bittersweet chocolate, and silty Horse Heaven minerals convey a sense of terroir. On the back, notes of roasted berries and nuts, mocha and orange peel emerge, along with a squeeze of pomegranate juice and a grinding of pepper, followed a lingering moderate tannin finish. Overall, the wine has the characteristic directness of Mourvèdre, combined with a bevy of intriguing aromas and flavors, so it gets 19/20 points.

For those of you looking for a bargain-priced Mourvedre, there is the following, which could have been labeled as a varietal.

2008 Trio Vintners “Riot Red,” Columbia Valley ($18) - June 2011

This blend, the backbone of which is Mourvedre (85%) with a bit of Sangiovese and Grenache, offers ripe, spicy aromas of blackberry, cherry and plum. The red and blue flavors are thick and chewy, with notes of roasted berries, licorice and cola. On the back, bright fruit acids, intermixed with spices, give the wine character, making it a fine choice for pizza or the barbecue. 17.5/20 points.

Trio Vintners, by the way, has a 2009 Mourvedre on the way. I am looking forward to it, along with any other versions that come along, for I believe Washington Mourvedre is coming of age as a wine that merits serious interest.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 September 2011 14:59
More on Upland Estates and Maison Bleue
Written by Rand Sealey   
Thursday, 08 September 2011 14:50

A Correction about Upland Estates


In the September issue of the Review of Washington Wines, the website for Upland Estates at the end of the article was erroneously listed as www.uplandvineyards.com. This takes you to a site "under construction." Although Upland Estates is the name of the winery and the vineyards on Snipes Mountain are called Upland Vineyards, the correct website domain name is www.uplandwinery.com. Upland Estates wines are very well made and are worth seeking out. A list of places where the wines can be found is on "Find Us" in the website.


How I Evaluated Maison Bleue's New Releases


I first tasted Maison Bleue's 2010 white wines on June 9th. It was just before they were to be bottled, and the wines were still somewhat cloudy (they were about to be clarified with bentonite, which pulls out particles still suspended in the wine). I tasted them with Jon Martinez and took extensive notes to use for reviews. Later, when I wrote up and scored the wnes, I noticed that the 2010's scored lower than the 2009's did a year earlier, and that the descriptions were less nuanced, especially for the 2010 vintage, generally a stellar one for Washington whites. I realized that this was due to the timing of tasting. They were tasted too early. I then sent Jon an email with my preliminary descriptions and scores. He replied that "In regards to your preliminary scores, I would agree. I really shouldn't have shown you those wines so soon."

Then I replied, asking if there would be any way I could get them retasted by August 14th, in time for the September issue of the Review. Jon responded by saying he could bring the wines to Walla Walla on the 12th. I then came up with the idea of our meeting at Catie McIntyre Walker's Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman ("W5") shop. I sent out emails to set it up, and Catie was thrilled with the idea.

So Jon and I met with Catie and her assistant, Thomas, at W5 on the afternoon of August 12th. In addition to the three 2010 whites, Jon brought his newly released 2009 "Le Midi" Grenache and "Liberte" Syrah, both from the Boushey Vineyard. Catie, being her usual chatty self, kept the conversation going while I, seated on a comfortable sofa, sampled the wines one by one. I took extensive notes and scored each wine on my U. C. Davis score sheet (see the Review blog of 7 September, 2010 to learn more about the 20 Point System - to find it, go to the bottom of this page and click on page 10). Meanwhile, Catie and Jon scheduled a tasting to be held at W5 in early November. At the end, I had scored all the wines 19 points or higher, with the Liberte Syrah receiving a perfect 20/20 points. I subsequently rewrote my reviews of the whites and added those of the reds, and emailed them to Jon, commenting, "It was really beneficial to re-taste the wines, and as a result the reviews are more detailed and the scores higher." Jon replied: "It was great sitting down with you at Catie's. Good idea, that was a nice comfortable meeting place. I am glad we re-tasted some things as well. I am also very privileged to be one of three to receive 20/20 points. It is the best effort I have had and shows exactly what I am trying to achieve in Washington State with Syrah. The tasting notes are impeccable and so detailed as usual."


A Couple of Red Wine Bargains


I was in Esquin a few days ago, and spotted a couple of potential bargains which I picked up. At their respective prices, they are not to be missed.


2008 Cor Cellars "Momentum" Red, Horse Heaven Hills ($15.99 - Regular, $20)

A blend of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Petit Verdot, and 21% each of Merlot and Malbec, this wine offers a deep ruby color and rich aromas of cherry, blackberry, cassis and rubbed sage. The flavors are full and generous, marked by tones of licorice, dark chocolate and Horse Heaven earth, followed by notes of roasted nuts and dried orange peel on a chewy moderate tannin and acid finish. 18/20 points.


2007 Saviah Cellars Big Sky Cuvee, Columbia Valley, Stillwater Creek Vineyard ($19.99 - Regular $35)

Composed of 69% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cab Franc, 3% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot this is Saviah’s flagship red. It exhibits a deep ruby color, and aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, crushed roses, eucalyptus, jasmine and black tea. The dark fruit flavors are redolent of stony minerals, licorice, bittersweet chocolate and coffee grounds. The thickness continues on the back, with squeezed juices mixed with roasted nuts, savory spices, and leads into a sweet-dry tannin finish. 18.5/20 points. (January 2011 issue)

Note: I have also seen this wine at Metropolitan Market in West Seattle.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 September 2011 17:51
Wine and Food Pairings for September
Written by Rand Sealey   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 14:02

This our first posting of this new feature from the Review of Washington Wines. Here, and in future Review blog postings, I will suggest food pairings with wines from the current issue of the Review.


Grilled Marinated Chicken

For this recipe, I marinate chicken (usually boneless thighs) in my all-purpose marinade: 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tb soy sauce, 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (this is sufficent for 4 thighs, for larger quantities, double or triple the amounts). Marinate for 2-4 hours and grill until tender.

Wine pairings:

2009 Robison Ranch Sangiovese, Walla Walla Valley

2009 Maison Bleue "Le Midi" Grenache, Yakima Valley

2008 Airfield "Spitfire" Red, Yakima Valley


Grilled Halibut

I also use my all all-purpose marinade for fish, adding a tablespoon of lime juice to the above ingredients. Marinate for 30-40 minutes, then grill.

Wine pairings:

2009 Upland Estates Chardonnay, Snipes Mountain

2010 Maison Bleue "Notre Vie" Viognier, Yakima Valley

2010 Rotie Cellars Southern White, Columbia Valley


Grilled Lamb Chops

I like to put fresh rosemary leaves on top of the chops as they cook. Grilled yellow squash or eggplant make fine accompaniments.

2008 Upland Estates "Teunis" Red, Snipes Mountain

2007 Watermill Estate "Midnight" Red, Walla Walla Valley

2008 Cadaretta "Windthrow" Red, Columbia Valley


Grilled Salmon

I use the same marinade as for Grilled Halibut above. Salmon pairs nicely with a medium bodied red.

2009 Gilbert Cellars Grenache, Wahluke Slope

2008 El Corazon "Tiger's Blood" Reserve Carmenere, Walla Walla Valley

2008 Adamant Cellars "Winemaker's Select" Merlot, Walla Walla Valley


Braised Short Ribs of Beef

I select thick cuts of beef ribs and braise them with vegetables (diced carrots, celery, onion, leeks, fennel, tomato) and red wine, preferably of the same varietal as will be served with the dish.

2008 Upland Estates Malbec, Snipes Mountain

2009 Gilbert Cellars Malbec, Wahluke Slope

2008 Zerba Cellars Malbec, Walla Walla Valley

2007 Dunham Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley

2008 Alexandria Nicole "Alderdale" Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills




Last Updated on Friday, 30 September 2011 16:41

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