Review of Washington Wines Blog
The 2014 Season's Rosé Roundup
Written by Rand Sealey   
Monday, 02 June 2014 14:24

About a year ago (16 May, 2013), I posted a Review Blog article about "This Season's Rosés and Their Various Styles. It turned out to be the most read posting of the year, 742 "hits." This is a remarkable testament to the growng popularity of rosé wines. Four years ago, hardly anyone would have paid any attention to these wines. For this season, here is a compilation of recommended rosés, grouped according to type.


Rhone Valley Style - Most of these are Syrah, some with Grenache, Cinsault or Counoise.

2013 Tranche Cellars "Pink Pape" Rosé, Yakima Valley, Blackrock Vineyard ($16) - Counoise, Cinsault, Grenache. Reviewed in the May issue of the Review of Washington Wines - 18+/20 points.

2013 Balboa Rosé of Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Eidolon Vineyard ($20) - Reviewed May - 18.5/20 points.

2013 K Vintners Syrah Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($20) - Reviewed May - 18.5/20 points.

2013 Renegade Wine Co. Rosé, Columbia Valley ($10) - Syrah, Cinsault, Counoise - April - 18/20 points.

2013 Waters Rosé Wine, Washington State ($18) - Co-fermented Syrah (55%) and Viognier (45%). Reviewed April 18.5/20 points.

2013 Gramercy Cellars Rosé, Columbia Valley, Olsen Vineyard ($25) - Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah - June - 18.5/20 points.


Provençal Style - These are modeled after the rosés of Aix en Provence (Grenache and/or Mourvèdre) and Bandol (Mourvèdre).

2013 L'Ecole No. 41 Grenache Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard ($19) - Reviewed June - 18+/20 points.

2013 Kerloo Cellars Grenache Rosé, Yakima Valley, Angolina Farm Vineyard ($20) - Brilliant pale pink colored, this emits enticing aromas of strawberry, Rainier cherry and watermelon, with scents of cherry blossoma, pink lilac and white incense. The flavors are fresh, ripe and minerally, with notes of fraise liqueur, melon rind and orange peel, followed by a lightly spiced finish, akin to a Aix en Provence Rosé. (New Review). 18+/20 points.

2013 Gard Vintners "Grand Klasse" Rosé, Columbia Valley, Lawrence Vineyard ($25) - This Grenache Rosé comes from the Royal Slope near Othello. It displays a brilliant pale pink-copper color and an intriguing nose of Rainier cherry, watermelon and tangerine, with scents of cherry blossoms and spiced white incense. The mouth feel is dry, yet flavorful, in the mannert of a Provence rosé, showing notes of grape skin, melon rind, orange peel and stony minerals, along with precise extraction and fruit acids on the lingering finish. (New Review). 18.5/20 points.

2013 College Cellars Mourvèdre Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, Birch Creek Vineyard ($16) - This resembles a Cotes de Provence Rosé with its pale copper color and aromas of pink peach, tangerine, melon, wildflowers, herbs, and white incense. The flavors are light bodied, yet well defines, with notes of peach pit, melon rind and hillside minerality, followed by a dry, lightly spiced finish that evokes the wine's sun drencehed high elevation terroir. (New Review). 18+/20 points.

2013 Ardor Cellars Mourvèdre Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, Birch Creek Vineyard ($28) - Reviewed June - 18.5/20 points.


Cabernet Franc Rosés - These are made by cold soaking the crushed grapes for a short period of time, and then pressing off the juice.

2013 Sleight of Hand Cellars "Magician's Assistant" Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, Blackrock Vineyard ($18) - Reviewed April - 18/20 points.

2013 Trust Cellars Rose of Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley ($18) - Pink colored, this comes on just as it is, a rosé made from Cabernet Franc, with aromas of crushed raspberries, cherries and orange and cherry blossoms. The flavors are fresh and lively, with notes of cherry pits, orange peel and grape skin, followed by a juicy, dry finish. (New Review) 18/20 points.

2013 Seven Hills Winery Dry Rosé, Columbia Valley, ($17) - Reviewed in the 19 February Blog. - 18.5 points.


Miscellaneous Rosés - These are rosés made from various varieties and combinations.

2013 El Corazon "Red Frog" Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($20) - Produced from Malbec, Reviewed May - 18+/20 points.

2013 Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($14) - May - 18/20 points.

2013 Saviah Cellars Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($18) - This combination of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Barbera from tge Dugger Creek Vineyard offers a light copper color and interesting aromas of pink peach, tangerine, ruhbarb and spiced white incense. These aromatics are mirrored in the deft, semi dried fuit flavors that pick up a bit of heft from sensations of melon rind and orange peel on the back, followed by a squeeze of citrus juice on the dry finish. (New Review). 18/20 points.

2013 Tertulia Cellars Rosé of Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, Riveres Galets Vineyard ($18) This comes from the winery's estate vineyard in the "Rocks" of the South Valley. It displays a light salmon color and intriguing aromas of grapefruit, Rainier cherry, orange blossoms and lavender. The flavors are well juiced, yet dry, with notes of melon rind, orange peel and riverstone minerals. The back picks up touches of bitter Marcona almond that characterizes the Tempranillo grape, followed by a classic "old world" dry finish. (New Review). - 18+/20 points.

2013 Castillo de Feliciana Rose of Tempranillo, Columbia Valley ($19) - Reviewed May - 18/20 points.

The following two wines are made from Pinot Gris grapes that have been given longer hang time, resulting in pale salmon colored wines that possess unique gualities.

2013 Castillo de Feliciana "Vino Verano" Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley ($16) - May - 18+/20 points.

2013 Julia's Dazzle Pinot Grigio Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills ($18) - May - 18.5/20 points.



Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 19:42
A Visit to the Ferguson Vineyard
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 12:19

On the morning of May 15th, Lynn and I met up with Marty Clubb to visit L'Ecole No, 41's Fergusion Vineyard - named after the winery's founders, Baker and Jean Ferguson - located in the South Walla Walla Valley, west of Milton-Freewater. After a loop through the adjacent Seven Hills Vineyard, we drove up a gravel road to the upper levels of the Ferguson Vineyard, so far planted with 18 acres of vines, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, along with some Cab Franc and Malbec. When planted out, there will be about 42 acres of vines. The elevation is 1350 to 1500 feet, one of the highest points in the Valley, above the Missoula Floods level. This altitude also protects the vines from winter freezes.

In exploring the vineyard, we saw stunning vistas of the Valley, where we could see the original Seven Hills and Windrow vineyards. The terrain consists of basalt bedrock overlain with a thin layer of wind-blown glacial loess. The fractures in the rock form crevices for vine roots to grow deeper. At one point, we stopped at a section of the slope where basalt rock was cut away and then crushed for gravel to pave the vineyard roads. Here, Marty pointed out the importance of the lava flows that occurred around 15 million years ago. While the Missoula Floods of around 15,000 years ago play a major role in the geology of the area, so do the lava flows.

The ridge along the southern rim of the Walla Walla Valley AVA is emerging as an important development in the expanding vine acreage of the area. Cadaretta's Southwind Vineyard and Doubleback's McQueen Vineyard are also on this ridge to the west. The basalt substrate adds exceptional structure, graphite and iron minerality, and sturdy acidity to the wines, as evidenced by the 2011 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson Vineyard Red Wine that was reviewed in the June issue of the Review of Washington Wines.

For pictures of the Ferguson Vineyard, see the Review of Washington Wines Facebook page.


An Exceptional Sangiovese from College Cellars

I was going to put this wine in the July issue of the Review of Wines but recently learned that it is almost sold out. So I am including it here. Don't miss it!

2012 College Cellars of Walla Walla Sangiovese, Walla Walla Valley, Seven Hills Vineyard ($25)

Deep purplish colored, this Sangio offers rich aromas of blackberry, cherry and plum, black roses, mulberry, tobacco and incense. On the palate, the dark fruit flavors are generous and supple, yet focused, intermixed with licorice, baker's chocolate, breakfast roast and silty minerals. The back picks up notes of squeezed berries, mocha and roasted nuts, followed by a ripe moderate tannin finish that is enlivened by a dollop of tart cherry juice. As an easy drinking, yet serious, wine, this is a real bargain. 18.5/20 points.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 14:41
Tasting Grand Cru Chablis and Sangiovese
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 13:55

A week ago, on May 14th, the Sons of Bacchus (SOBs) and a Daughter of Dionysus assembled at the Seven Hills Winery for a blind tasting of Grand Cru Chablis - all Grand Cru, no Premier Cru. These come from the slope overlooking the town on Chablis with a southwest exposure and the heaviest concentration of calcium in the soil, which gives Chardonnay a distinctive minerally taste. The top wines in each fligh, with my scores, were:

2011 Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru, Valmur - This was my favorite, as well as the group's. It possessed an intriguing saline and floral nose and a classic, crisp texture, turning steely and dry on the lemon zest finish. 19+/20 points.

2009 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru, Le Clos - I ranked this second close second. It shoed a medium greenish gold color and classic aromas of green apple and gunflint. The palate showed much minerality and biting acidity. 19+/20 points.

2004 William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru, Le Clos - Again, I ranked this second. It showed a classic pale colo and a flinty, yet rich nose, with hints of hazelnut (showing the wine's maturity) and a long, dry, herb tinged finsh. 19/20 points.

Other outstanding wines.

2012 Domaine L. Chatelain Chablis Grand Cru, Le Clos - Light gold colored, this had a fresh, minerally nose and notes of pear and peach, with a classic, steely finish. Purchased from Total Wine, it cost $59.99, a best buy, as the others cost upwards of $70 a bottle. 19/20 points.

2010 Domaine Patrick Piuze Chablis Grand Cru, Blanchots - This was my favorite in the entire tasting, and number two in the second flight. It showed a brilliant gold color and a saline nose of flint, peach and citrus, with a steely, classic finish. 19.5/20 points.

The tasting was preceeded by a 2000 Hanzell Sonoma County Chardonnay, in honor of its winemaker, Bob Sessions, who had just passed away. It had held up remarkably well, with superb varietal delineation and little oxidation. Thanks to Casey McClellan and Erik McLaughlin for hosting.


Last Saturday, the Perfectly Aged Wine Sippers (PAWS) assembled at the home of Ted and Joyce Cox for a tasting of Sangiovese wines, some from Italy, some from Washington. The wines were scored on the "Wine Country Getaways" 25 point scale (a new one for me). The scores were all over the place, so I am just listing the group's favorite and my top pick.

2010 Balboa Sangiovese, Columbia Valley - This was an amiable Sangio, which explains its top ranking. It showed a deep ruby color and rich aromas of raspberry and cherry, with a supple texture. I found it to be a nice wine, but not my favorite. 19/25 points.

2007 La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino, Riserva - I picked this out as a Brunello (Sangiovese Grosso). It showed a garnet color and classic aromas of dried berries and cherries, woody smoke and elegant medium-full bodied flavors and a long, dry, complex finish. A beautiful wine, I scored it 25/25 points.

Curriously, Walla Walla Vintners appeared three three times out of the seven wines being blind tasted, two from the 2012 vintage, one from 2011. Here's my notes on the 2012:

2012 Walla Walla Vintners Sangiovese, Columbia Valley - Deep ruby colored, it showed attractive aromas of raspberry, cherry and crushed roses, with supple, medium-bodied flavors that carried on nicely through the finish. I scored both bottles 21/25 points.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 May 2014 14:48
Can There be Too Many Tasting Rooms?
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 14:08

In my Review Blogs of April 30 and May 7, I mentioned that there are five tasting rooms that have opened in Downtown Walla Walla before Spring Release Weekend. The June issue of the Review of Washington Wines, which goes on line May 29, will report on these new tasting rooms. A similar proliferation has occurred in Woodinville. I was just there last Friday and noticed more tasting roomns around the vechicular roundabout by the Hollywood School. I visited new tasting rooms for Sparkman Cellars and Lauren Ashton Cellars (reports on these and others will be in the June issue).

This proliferation raises the question, "Can there be too many tasting rooms?" A few months ago, a friend forwarded an article from the Healdsburg California newspaper about locals complaining about too much traffic and too many people teeming around the downtown wine tasting rooms. Similar complaints have been voiced in Walla Walla.

The answer is simply that the wine industry, wherever it is, is a benefit to the local economy. It brings in visitors who spend their dollars, not only on wine, but on lodging and dining. It also creates jobs and grows the real estate market. All this brings in tax revenue that supports the schools, police and fire departments.

Overcrowding and environmental protection may be legitimate concerns, especially in the Woodinville area where county planners has restricted development in the agricultural areas surrounding the city. Another alarm has been sounded in Walla Walla with news of vineyard developers (with some out of state investors, including Chinese) purchasing land north of Highway 12, not far from the Spring Valley Vineyard. Some fear that the little guys might get squeezed out. To all this, I have to say that there's still plenty of room for growth. Walla Walla and Woodinville are still far away from becoming another Napa Valley or Sonoma County.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 14:37
Walla Walla Valley Spring Release Weekend
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 07 May 2014 13:33

In my last blog posting, I predicted that Spring Release Weekend in Walla Walla would be the biggest and best ever. By all accounts, this has turned out to be the case, with a big turnout and lots of sales. Here's my rundown of our experiences. Our objectives for the weekend were to visit wineries that are open only for special events and to check out newcomers.

On Thursday, May 1, Lynn and I stopped by Tertulia Cellars which had some new Rhone-style reds and a Viognier and Rosé that will be reviewed in the July issue of the Review of Washington Wines. We also visited Dusted Valley whose new 2012's will be reviewed in July. At Abeja, we tasted the new releases which are already sold out.

On Friday, we went to Long Shadows (wines to be reviewed in July) and to the new downtown tasting rooms: Result of a Crush (Angela Reynvaan and Amanda Reynvaan Garratt), SuLei Cellars (Tanya Woodley and Elaine Jomwe), and the eponymous Gino Cuneo Cellars, and Henry Earl Estates. Previously, we had visited Mansion Creek Cellars (Julia Russell) and Studio TwoZeroTwo (Aryn Morell and Brandon Kubrock). A special report on the new tasting rooms will be in the June issue. In the afternoon, we stopped by àMaurice Cellars whose knock-out new Estate wines will be reviewed in July.

We started Satuday off by visiting Leonetti Cellar, chatted with Gary Figgins, and then tasted the new 2012 Merlot and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon to be in the June issue. In the afternoon, we drove south to Balboa (Tom and Amy Glase) for their Fiesta de Vina Blanco, for their new white releases which will be reviewed in July. In the afternoon, we went to Corliss' (Michael and Lauri Corliss) annual gathering, where a sensational 2012 Syrah was previewed along with the 2011 reds which will be released in the fall.

On Sunday morning, we went to a brunch at Cadaretta's Glass House on the high slope overlooking the Valley from the south. The new 2013 SBS White and 2011 reds will be reviewed in July. That concluded a great and eventful Spring Release Weekend.




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