The weekend of April 5 and 6 is known as "Cayuse Weekend" because Christophe Baron and Trevor Dorland hold their annual Release Party at the winery on Skyline Road in the "Rocks" of the South Valley, on the Oregon side. Other wineries in the Walla Walla Valley receive many visitors as well. Here's my recounting of that weekend.
On Friday morning, Lynn and I went to the Cayuse party. There, we met up with Jim Kunz, a former part owner of Esquin during a few of the years when I owned that Seattle wine shop. We tasted through eight wines, three 2010's and five 2011's. For academic purposes (there is a winery waiting list and the wines are virtually unavailable elsewhere), here are my notes:
2010 "God Only Knows" Grenache - Medium ruby colored, this wine offers an exotic, almost ethereal nose of wild raspberries, orange peel and oriental perfumes. The medium-bodied flavors are seductive and well-wrought, incorporating minerally stones into notes of wild fruits, cocoa powder and tea, followed by a lingering finish with silky tannins and dusty spices. 19.5/20 points.
2011 "Widowmaker" Cabernet Sauvignon - Brilliant ruby colored, this shows a classic Cabernet nose of blackberry, cherry, tobacco and eucalyptus. The medium full bodied flavors are elegantly styled, with ample dark fruits, licorice, chocolate and earthy minerals, followed by a lingering, seductive finish. 19+/20 points.
2010 "The Lovers" Red Blend - Composed of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Syrah, this wine emits an intense nose of blackberries, cherries, cedar, olive and crushed roses. The dried berry flavors show an "old world" BDX style character with notes of macerated berries, roasted nuts, graphite and pulverized minerals. 19+/20 points.
2011 Syrah, Cailloux Vineyard - This wine exhibits a deep ruby color and a seductive nose of wild berries, crushed roses and smoldering incense. The flavors are intensely minerally, with fleshy red and blue fruits and touches of roasted nuts and suede leather, followed by a lengthy finish. 19+/20 points.
2011 Syrah, En Chamberlin Vineyard - This wine displays teriffic aromas of attar of rose, orange peel, rosebuds and violets. The medium bodied flavors are immediately seductive, with notes of Belgian chocolate, French roast and earthy minerals intermixed with touches of leather and roasted berries and nuts, followed by a long finish. 19+/20 points.
2011 Syrah, En Cerise Vineyard - Brilliant ruby colored, this shows lovely aromas of raspberries, cherries, crushed roses and violets. The medium full bodied flavors are lavish and enticing, deep cored, and throwing a broad, yet focused, beam of red and blue fruits, imbued by cocoa powder and stony minerals. 19.5/20 points.
2011 "Bionic Frog" Syrah - Deep ruby colored, with a bit of haze (from a barrel sample), this wine emits an intoxicating nose of wid strawberries, blackberries, cherries, lavender and violets. The finely wrought flavors spread out on the palate, with notes of dried orange, roasted nuts and stony minerals. The flavors persist on the back and push into a lingering finish. 19.5/20 points.
2010 Syrah, Armada Vineyard - This wine displays a brilliant garnet color and an intriguing nose of toasted berries, cherry, earth, tobacco and lavender. The thick, sweetish fruits are intermixed with stony, loamy earth, Swiss chocolate, roasted coffee beans and mocha. The back picks up notes of scorched nuts, kirsch liqueur and satiny fruits on a long, long finish. 20/20 points.
After Cayuse, Jim, Lynn and I drove on down Skyline Road and stopped at Otis Kenyon which was open especially for the weekend and tasted the superb newly-released 2010 Carmenere which will be reviewed in the May issue of the Review of Washington Wines. After Otis Kenyon, we went to the Tero Estates/Flying Trout winery and tasted Ashley Trout's 2010 Brook Blend and 2010 Old Vines Malbec (to be reviewed in May). Afterwards, Jim split off to make a few stops on his own while we returned home. He later stopped at our new home before heading back to Seattle.
In the late afternoon, we went to Glencorrie's "Industry Appreciation NIght" at the new tasting room downtown. Owner-winemaker Ronn Coldiron and tasting room manager Melanie Leathers were on hand to greet guests and pour their wines. See the February issue for reviews of the current Glencorrie releases.
The next morning, we drove up to the end of Cottonwood Road to Reynvaan Family Vineyards. Mike Reynvaan, son Matt, and a number of other family members were on hand to present three new limited production whites from the 2011 vintage: a Viognier, the "Queen's Road White," and a Grenache Blanc. Washington has plenty of good whites, but few great ones, including these three.
After Reynvaan, we went over to Rasa Vineyards and Mackey Vineyards where we tasted some of Billo new 2009 BDX and Cabernet wines, which will be reviewed in the June issue, along with the Mackey brothers' 2009 "RAC" Cabernet-Merlot blend and 2009 Red Mountain 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, also to be reviewed in June. Then, we stopped at Waters on JB George Road where we sampled a delightful 2012 Rose and 2012 Prelude white, and the 2010 Loess Vineyard Syrah, all to be reviewed in May. For lunch, we stopped at Dusted Valley for a burger from AK's Kitchen, along with some new releases - a 2011 Mourvedre and 2011 Squirel Tale Red, to be reviewed in June.
In the afternoon, we drove up to Dayton to the Dumas Station winery and had a behind the scenes visit of the historic railroad depot from which apples were shipped out of a storage facility. Then, we tasted some 2010 reds which will be reviewed in June. On the way back, we stopped in Waitsburg where Virginie Bourgue was pouring her Lullaby wines. See the December 2012 issue for reviews of these wines. Then on back to Walla Walla.