- Written by Rand Sealey
It seems like musical chairs when the wine tasting room scene changes in downtown Walla Walla. Here are some changes coming up for the coming season.
Glencorrie has just opened its tasting room on 6 East Rose Street (next to Nonie's Alterations), half a block east of Second Avenue. Tasting room manager Melanie Leathers is running this new location. The tasting room on Old Highway 12 is off the beaten track, so this new location will be a plus.
Maison Bleue (owner-winemaker Jon Meuret) will be open in time for Spring Release weekend (May 3-5). According to tasting room manager, Dawn Brumfield, there simply was not enough time to open for Cayuse weekend, so they are shooting for the beginning of May. The location at 12 North Second is boarded up for extensive renovations (Salumerie Cesario was the previous occupant, now located on Main Street).
Mackey has moved out of the 14 North Second location and down to the winery on Powerline Road (shared with Rasa Vineyards). This leaves the location vacant and available for rent.
The corner of Second and Rose is also vacant and available for rent. It was formerly occupied by Willow a boutique shop and gallery which closed down last fall.
The conventional wisdom here in Walla Walla is that a downtown location is highly desirable and that the prime are is along Main Street and on Second Avenue between Main and Rose. This area is where many tourists congregate. Karen LaBonte (Trio Vintners) told me her volume increased dramatically after moving from Second between Alder and Poplar to the Marcus Whitman Hotel (next to Tero/Flying Trout and Locati Cellars). It's all about Location! Location! Location!
- Written by Rand Sealey
Some weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the judging of Seattle Magazine's Washington Wine Awards. This is an annual judging by Washington wine industry professionals, including sommeliers, winemakers and wine writers. The 2013 Wine Awards will be published in the August issue of Seattle Magazine.
First of all, I would like to congratulate Seattle Magazine and the Wine Awards coordinater, Anne Nisbet,for organizing the well run wine tasting which was held on Monday, March 4th at the magazine's offices. Also, thanks to the staff and volunteers who poured 101 wines for 20 judges.
Here are my comments on the judging:
The wines were scored on a ten point system with 1 point assigned for Appearance, 3 for aroma, 4 for palate and 2 for "Judges choice," which is a subjective score component. It is similar to the University of California Davis 20 point system, except that I found ten points to be somewhat less precise. But it seemed to work well for a three hour session of working through 101 wines.
Wine judging with double blind tasting (wines poured from brown bags and all unknown to any of the tasters) always produces some expected and some surprising results. After the tasting, a list of the wines tasted was handed out. I found a few wines that I had previously reviewed that received high scores in both the Review of Washington Wines and in the tasting. They were the 2010 Avennia "Arnaut" Syrah which received 19+ points in the October issue of the Review and I scored 9.5 points in the Wine Awards judging for the Yakima Valley Syrah category and 20 points in the Red Wine of the Year. I believe the wine has gained complexity since tasting it in September. I scored the 2009 FIGGINS Red Blend 10 points in both the Walla Walla Valley Red Blend and the Red Wine of the Year categories. That wine scored 19.5 points in the August issue of the Review of Washington Wines. On the other hand, there were some wines I rated highly in the Review that did not score quite so highly in the Washington Wine Awards tasting. But my experience has been that there are always vagaries in the blind tasting process.
The tasting produced some surprises as well. My one criticism of the tasting would be the paucity of white wines. Since one of the tasting themes was Washington AVA's, there were Puget Sound Madeline Angevine and Siegreebe, and Columbia Gorge Aromatic Whites categories, but no Chardonnays or Marsannes. My top white in the White Wine of the Year category were the 2011 Efeste Evergreen Vineyard Sauvignon, a vivacious, floral white (not reviewed) with Virginie Bourge's 2010 Lullaby Viognier (reviewed December) a close runner-up. The 2009 Tildio Estate Syrah from Lake Chelan was a new discovery for me, scoring an impressive 9.5 points. It showed sultry, smoky lavender and violet aromas and thick, chewy flavors, hallmarks of a top-notch Syrah. The 2010 Fall Line Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was another winner, classically-styled and scoring 9/10 points. At $32, It scored 18.5 points in the January issue of the Review. Now, I'd give it 19 points and rate it great buy at $32.
That's it for now. Watch for the August issue of Seattle Magazine to find out what the judges picked out as the Washington Wine Awards winners.
- Written by Rand Sealey
On February 15th, we moved to Walla Walla full time. The past week has been a frenzy of unpacking and putting things in place at our new home. But we've found time to eat and drink wine. Here are some of the wines we've been drinking lately.
2011 Waters Prelude White Blend, Columbia Valley ($30)
We had this 63% Roussanne/37% Viognier blend with Jim Robison's recipe for stir-fried chicken breast with shallots and sundried tomatoes in cream sauce. The intriguing oriental-like aromas and flavors made for an interestring combination. 18.5+/20 points. (Reviewed July 2012)
2009 Glencorrie Merlot, Columbia Valley, Stillwater Creek Vineyard ($29)
We had this with sandwiches from the Walla Walla Baking Co. The Merlot was true to variety and deliciously ripe and supple. 18.5/20 points (Reviewed February)
2009 Laurelhurst Cellars "El Humidor" Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills ($38)
This robust, peppery, spicy red went nicely with grilled hamburgers. Petite Sirah, I think is an up and coming varietal. 19/20 points. (Reviewed January)
2011 Waterbrook Chardonnay, Columbia Valley (purchased for $10 at Harvest Foods)
This nice, lively Chardonnay with bright flavors and good varietal character is a great bargain. We had it for lunch with chicken salad. 17.5+/20 points.
2009 Three Rivers Malbec, Columbia Valley ($29)
One night, we had pizza delivered by Hempler's Big Cheese (Walla Walla's best). With it, we had this ripe, peppery, full flavored Malbec. 18.5/20 points. (Reviewed January)
2009 Milbrandt Mourvedre, Wahluke Slope, Clifton Vineyard ($29)
We had this with bread, cheese and salami from Salumerie Cesario on Main Street. An ideal combination for lunch. 18.5/20 points. (Reviewed September, 2012)
2009 Saviah Cellars Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley ($35)
This made a nice accompaniment to sautéd chicken thighs with rosemary. The somewhat smoky, perfumed aromatics made this an enjoyable wine. 18.5+/20 points. (To be reviewed in the March issue)
2009 Three Rivers Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley ($29 - winery only)
This is another attractive rendition of an up and coming variety. We had it with grilled lamb chops and white and wild rice. 18.5+/20 points. (Reviewed February)
2008 Reininger Winery "Mr. Owl's Red," Walla Walla Valley ($28)
This blend is Chuck Reininger's tribute to cellar master Raul Morfin ("Mr.Owl" to the Reininger children). The slightly herbacious character made it a good accompaniment with grilled chicken sausage. 18.5/20 points. (Winery only, not reviewed)
2010 Hard Row to Hoe, Primitivo, Columbia Valley ($32)
This brawny, high alcohol (15.5%) clonal Zinfandel went nicly with meat loaf sandwiches from the La Reina Rosado delicatessen on Main Street (when in Walla Walla check it out). 18.5/20 points. (Reviewed October 2012)
- Written by Rand Sealey
On Monday, February 11th, the tasting rooms at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla celebrated their anniversaries, as Trio Vintners, Locati Cellars, Tero Estates and Flying Trout, Lodmell Cellars and Don Carlo Vineyard welcomed guests for an evening of fun and friendship. All rooms were packed, as many people in the wine industry and other locals came to celebrate. Lots of delcious wine was poured and the event was a memorable one. Congratulations to Karen LaBonte (Trio Vintners), Mike Locati (Locati Cellars), Doug and Jan Roskelley (Tero Estates), Ashley Trout (Flying Trout), Andrew Lodmell (Lodmell Cellars) and Tim and Lori Kennedy (Don Carlo Vineyard) for helping make Walla Walla such a vibrant wine producing scene.
Coming up in June: Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine
What used to be called Vintage Walla Walla, has been revamped into Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wines, which will be held June 20-22. The event will compare Cabernet Sauvignon wines from the Walla Walla and Napa Valleys, with tastings and symposiums featuring winemakers and guest speakers. So put the dates on your calendar. There will be a website with more information beginning February 18. Duane Wollmuth, head of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, says "This event will be a gem."
- Written by Rand Sealey
This week's Review of Washington Wines Blog posting is a brief one. The reason: our move to Walla Walla is consuming a lot of time with packing, coordinating movers and getting our Seattle home ready for the market.
Here are a few more Best Buys, found at Esquin Wine & Spirits, to add to those in the February issue of the Review.
2010 Gordon Brothers Chardonnay, Columbia Valley ($18 - $13.99 at Esquin)
This is a servicable Chardonnay at an attractive price. Brilliant gold colored, it offers an attractive nose of apple, peach and pineapple with scents of apple blosomss and grapefruit peel. The flavors are direct and true to variety, with touches of lemon custard and vanilla on a ripe, lightly toasted finish. 17.5+/20 points.
2010 Two Vintners Syrah, Columbia Valley ($25 - $18.99 at Esquin)
This is a rich, savory Syrah. It exhibits a deep ruby color and enticing aromas of blackberry, blueberry and cassis with scents of lavender and spiced incense. The dark fruit flavors are generous and savory, with notes of dark chocolate, licorice and loamy earth, followed by macerated berries, mocha, roasted nuts and creme de cassis on a ripe, persistent finish. 18/20 points.
Here are two wines reviewed in previous issues that are available at special pricing.
2010 Blacksmith Syrah, Columbia Valley ($18 - $14.99 at Esquin)
This was reviewed in the December 2012 issue. "...The flavors are well focused, with the dark fruits intermixed with licorice, cocoa and earthy minerals...." 18/20 points.
2010 Seven Hills Winery Merlot, Columbia Valley ($25 - $18.99 at Esquin)
At under $19, this is a teriffic deal in Merlot. Reviewed in January: "Deep ruby colored, it offers a rich raspberry, cherry and cassis nose with rose and violet perfumes. The flavors are rich and mouth caressing, yet deep..." 18.5/20 points.
The next Review of Washington Wines Blog posting will be on February 12. Because of our move, the next posting will be moved to the next Tuesday. In it, I will report of barrel tasting 2011's in Walla Walla.