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Predictions for 2014
Written by Rand Sealey   
Sunday, 29 December 2013 16:01

After five years observing the wine industry with the Review of Washington Wines, I predict more exciting developments in 2014.

 

More Exceptional Wines

A year ago, I observed that the number of outstanding wines was increasing. Now, each monthly issue of the Review incudes fifty or more wines. This will continue through 2014. And there will be many more wines scoring 19, 19.5 and 20 out of 20 points. This testament to the growth of high quality wine making in Washington State.

 

Increased Recognition of Washington Wines

As their quality increases, the reputation of Washington wines is continuing to increase. Washington wines are getting more press around the country and abroad. (To see examples of what is being written these days, see Sean Sullivan's weekly news roundups in the Washington Wine Report.)

 

More Major Vineyard Land Acquisitions

This year's big news was the purchase of a large tract of land on Red Mountain by Francesco Aquilini, owner of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. Whether it's for investment or for development, this signals major interest in expanding the acreage of Washingron vineyards, following as it did, last year's acquisition of the Columbia winery by Gallo. The acquisiton of 40 acres on Red Mountain by Duckhorn is another sign of growing interest in Washington state. We can expect to see more developments along these lines in the future.

 

Watch for the 2012's, but Don't Overlook the 2011's

The 2012 vintage is shaping up to be an exceptional one. I've tasted quite a few of the wines from the barrels, and find them to be ripe, tasty wines, indeed. See my December 19 blog below for a report on Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend in Walla Walla (also see my report on the Reynvaan Family Vineyards 2012's in the January issue of the Review). But also pay attention to the 2011's which are well structured wines, more old than new world in style. And I have heard a couple of winemakers say the 2011's will age better than the 2012's.

 

Wineries to Watch in 2014

Balboa - This was a breakout year for Tom Glase's winery as the Eidolon Estate vineyard began to reach maturity. The 2012's from the barrel are highly promising. And there are some highly impressive 2011's.

Bunchgrass - Located off the Old Highway 12, this small winery is off the beaten track. But Tom Olander and Barb Comaree are crafting solid, exceptinal winers.

Cadaretta - Here, winemaker Brian Rudin is coming into his own with some highly impressive wines. Two exceptional 2011's will be reviewed in the January 2014 issue.

College Cellars - The student and faculty run winery of the Walla Walla Community College, is turning out some teriffic values.

Eight Bells - This winery is putting out some outstanding wines, especially ones from the Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. See the November issue for a report.

Frichette - With their 2011's Greg and Shae Frichette are off to a promising start at their Red Mountain winery. There will be a report in the January 2014 issue.

Kevin White - This winery is continuing to turn out amazing values. Kevin's 2011's (long sold out) scored 19 points for $25 or less. Watch for his 2012's which are sure to go fast.

Seven Hills - Casey McClellan showed his winemaking skill in turning out highly exceptional 2011's. Look for more fine wines next year.

Silverback - Working at the Artifex winemaking facility, Charles Herrold has been making truly striking wines. Watch for the 2011's and 2012's I tasted from the barrels last Spring.

Treveri - The Grieb family has been turning out well-made and attractively-priced sparkling wines at their Wapato facility in the Yakima Valley.

Waitsburg Cellars - Here, my wine writing cohort, Paul Gregutt, has ventured into producing wines, custom made by Precept Brands. See the May issue for a report on the first releases. More are to come.

Wilridge - This winery has been giving definition to the recently approved Naches Heights AVA. See the December issue for a report.

Waters - Its acquisiton by Tero Estates is giving this winery a new direction. Expect some fine new releases from winemaker Jamie Brown in the future.

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 30 December 2013 15:46
 
Best Buys of 2013
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 25 December 2013 15:58

Below, we list wines that give the biggest "bang for the buck'" ones scoring 19/20 points for $40 or less and ones scoring 18.5/20 points for $25 or less. Some of these wines may be sold out.

 

Wines Scoring 19 Points for $40 or Less

2010 Abeja Estate Viognier, Walla Walla Valley ($30) - July

2010 àMaurice Malbec, Columbia Valley, Gamache Vineyard ($35) - June

2010 àMaurice "The Graves" Red Blend, Columbia Valley ($35) - June

2010 àMaurice Syrah/Grenache, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard ($38) - June

2011 Array "Dijon Clone" Chardonnay, Yakima Valley ($30) - March

2011 Array Chardonnat, Columbia Valley, Conner-Lee Vineyard ($30) - March

2011 Avennia "Justine" Red Blend, Columbia Valley ($38) - October

2012 Balboa Chardonnay, Columbia Valley ($30) - August

2012 Balboa "Mith" White Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($30) - August

2008 Bunnell Family Cellar Petit Verdot, Wahluke Slope, Northridge Vineyard ($34) - March

2009 Bunnell Family Cellar Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope, Northridge Vineyard ($40) - March

2008 Bunnell Family Cellar Syrah, Yakima Valley, Boushey-McPherson Vineyard ($40) - May

2012 Buty Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Conner Lee Vineyard ($40) - November

2009 Cadaretta Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($40) - March

2011 Ch. Ste. Michelle-Dr. Loosen "Erioica" Riesling, Columbia Valley ($22) - February

2009 Ch. Ste. Michelle Merlot, Columbia Valley, Cold Creek Vineyard ($35) - July

2009 Corvus Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($39) - May

2010 DeLille Cellars Doyenne "Signature" Syrah, Yakima Valley ($39) - January

2010 DeLille Cellars "D2" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($40) - January

2010 Efesté "Ceidleigh" Syrah, Red Mountain ($39) - February

2010 Efesté "Joilie Bouche" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard ($39) - February

2011 Eight Bells "8 Clones" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard ($32) - November

2010 El Corazon "Blueprint" Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley ($40) - March

2011 El Corazon "Tiger's Blood" Carmenère, Walla Walla Valley ($38) - April

2010 Flying Trout Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills, Phinny Hill Vineyard ($38) - November

2010 Flying Trout "Mary's Block" Malbec, Walla Walla Valley ($39) - November

2009 Forgeron Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley ($30) - February

2010 Guardian Cellars "The Alibi" Red Wine, Red Mountain ($39) - January

2012 Helix by Reininger Viognier, Columbia Valley, Stillwater Creek Vineyard ($33) - September

2010 Hestia Cellars Malbec, Columbia Valley ($30) - January

2010 JB Neufeld Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley ($34) - May

2011 Kerloo Cellars Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills ($40) - September

2011 Kerloo Cellars Malbec, Wahluke Slope, Stone Tree Vineyard ($40) - September

2011 Kevin White Winery "Fraternité" Red Wine, Yakima Valley ($20) - September

2011 Kevin White Winery "En Hommage" Red Wine, Yakima Valley ($25) - - September

2009 Laurelhurst Cellars "El Humidor" Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills ($38) - January

2012 Maison Bleue "La Famille" Rosé of Mourvèdre, Columbia Valley ($20) - August

2012 Maison Bleue "Jaja" White Wine, Columbia Valley ($25) - August

2011 Maison Bleue "Jaja" Red Wine, Yakima Valley ($30) - August

2011 Maison Bleue "La Montagnette" Grenache, Snipes Mountain, Upland Vineyard ($40) - November

2010 Manu Propria "Ex Animo" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard ($35) - February

2012 Mark Ryan Viognier, Columbia Valley ($30) - December

2008 McCrea Cellars Syrah, Yakima Valley, Boushey Grand Cote Vienayrd ($36) - March

2008 McCrea Cellars "Cuvee Orleans" Syrah, Yakima Valley ($40) - March

2012 Nefarious Cellars Riesling, Columbia Valley, Stone's Throw Vineyard ($19) - October

2011 Nefarious Cellars Syrah, Lake Chelan, Defiance Vineyard ($30) - October

2010 Northstar Estate Malbec, Walla Walla Valley ($40) - October

2010 Northstar Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($40) - October

2010 Pamplin Family Winery J|R|G Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($33) - February

2012 Rasa Vineyards "The Composer" Riesling, Columbia Valley ($30) - August

2011 Rotie Cellars Southern Blend, Columbia Valley ($40) - July

2011 Rotie Cellars Northern Blend, Walla Walla Valley ($40) - July

2012 Rotie Cellars Northern White Marsanne, Washington State ($28) - August

2010 Seven Hills Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley, McClellan Estate Vineyard ($32) - August

2011 Seven Hills Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Seven Hills Vineyard ($35) - September

2009 SYZYGY Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($37) - July

2009 Tero Estates Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley ($38) - February

2010 Tero Estates "Herb's Block" Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Windrow Vineyard ($39) - October

2010 Thurston Wolfe Reserve Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills, Zephyr Ridge Vineyard ($30) - August

2010 Tildio Malbec, Columbia Valley, Stillwater Creek Vineyard ($35) - October

2008 Tranche Cellars Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley ($40) - July

Treveri Cellars Sparkling Syrah Brut, Columbia Valley ($19) - December

 

Wines Scoring 18.5 Points for $25 or Less

2012 A Broken Chair Cellars Roussanne-Viognier, Columbia Valley ($25) - September

2011 Array Chardonnay, Washington State ($25) - March

2012 Basel Cellars Estate Semillon, Walla Walla Valley, Double River Ranch ($24) - July

2010 Bergevin Lane "She Devil" Syrah, Columbia Valley ($24) - January

2012 Bergevin Lane "Dreamweaver" Roussanne, Columbia Valley ($24) - June

2011 Board Track Cellars "Suicide Shift" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($25) - July

2011 Board Track Cellars "The Chief" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($25) - December

2011 Brian Carter Cellars "Oriana" White Wine, Columbia Valley ($24) - July

2012 Buty Semillon-Sauvignon-Muscadelle, Columbia Valley ($25) - November

2012 Cadaretta "SBS" White Wine, Columbia Valley ($22) - August

2012 Cairdeas "Nellie Mae" White Wine, Columbia Valley ($22) - October

2012 Ch. Ste. Michelle "Mimi" Chardonnay, Horse Heaven Hills ($20) - September

2012 College Cellars Carmenère, Walla Walla Valle, Clarke Vineyard ($18) - October

2012 College Cellars Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, Clarke Vineyard ($20) - November

2012 Convergence Cellars "Sunbreak" Chenin Blanc, Snipes Mountain, Upland Vineyard ($19) - November

2010 Coyote Canyon Primitivo, Horse Heaven Hills ($25) - September

2012 Dunham Cellars "Shirley Mays" Chardonnay, Columbia Valley ($24) - October

2010 Eight Bells Syrah, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard ($25) - May

2012 Forgeron Cellars "Ambiance" White Wine, Columbia Valley ($25) - August

2012 Gramercy Cellars Rosé, Columbia Valley, Olsen Vineyard ($25) - May

2010 Guardian Cellars "Chalk Line" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($25) - January

2012 Hard Row to Hoe "Nauti Bouy" White Wine, Lake Chelan ($22) - October

2012 Hard Row to Hoe White Meritage, Lake Che;an ($22) - October

2012 Helix by Reininger Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Stillwater Creek Vineyard ($21) - December

2009 Jones of Washington Cabernet Franc, Wahluke Slope ($25) - March

2012 Laurelhurst Cellars "Vinum Vidua" White Wine, Columbia Valley ($24) - November

2012 L'Ecole No. 41 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley ($21) - September

2009 Locati Cellars Barbera, Columbia Valley ($25) - October

2010 Lost River Nebbiolo, Wahluke Slope ($25) - November

2012 Kerloo Cellars Grenache Rosé, Yakima Valley, Angolina Farm Vineyard ($24) - May

2010 McKinley Springs Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills ($24) - September

2010 McKinley Springs Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills ($24) - September

2010 Milbrandt "The Estates" Malbec, Wahluke Slope, Northridge Vineyard ($25) - March

2011 Milbrandt "The Estates" Ancient Lakes Riesling, Evergreen Vineyard ($17) - March

2009 Nine Hats Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($25) - February

2012 Novelty Hill Roussanne, Columbia Valley, Stillwater Creek Vineyard ($23) - July

2012 Ott & Murphy "Possesion" White Wine, Columbia Valley ($19) - October

2012 Robison Ranch Cellars Viognier, Walla Walla Valley ($19) - September

2012 Rotie Cellars Southern White, Columbia Valley ($20) - June

2010 Seven Hills Merlot, Columbia Valley ($22) - January

2011 Seven Hills Merlot, Columbia Valley ($22) - September

2012 Tempus Cellars Riesling, Ancient Lakes, Evergreen Vineyard ($16) - August

2010 Tero Estates Tero Red, Columbia Valley ($25) - June

2011 Three Rivers Riesling, Columbia Valley ($15) - February

Treveri Cellars Sparkling Rosé Sec, Columbia Valley ($18) - December

Treveri Cellars Gewurztraminer Sparkling Wine, Columbia Valley ($17) - December

2012 Waitsburg Cellars "Cheninières" Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley ($17) - May

2012 Waitsburg Cellars "Chevray" Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley ($17) - May

2012 Waitsburg Cellars Old Vine Riesling, Columbia Valley ($15) - May

2011 Waitsburg Cellars "Three" Merlot Malbec Mourvèdre, Columbia Valley ($25) - May

2012 William Church Viognier, Columbia Valley ($23) - July

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 February 2014 16:45
 
Holiday Barrel Weekend
Written by Rand Sealey   
Thursday, 19 December 2013 21:25

The weekend of December 7-8 was Holiday Barrel Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley. During this event, wineries got into the Holiday spirit with festive lights and decorations, while entertaining visitors with new releases and samplings of future releases. Here are some of the wines we tasted.

Cadaretta Winery - Here, we sampled a richly perfumed and tasty 2011 Syrah from the Blue Mountain and Stone Tree vineyards, and a 2011 Windthrow Rhone-style blend. Also, barrel samples of the 2012 Merlot from the winery's Southwind estate vineyard in the south Walla Walla Valley, and an intese Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain and Alder Ridge.

El Corazon - Here, with Spencer Sievers, we tasted the 2012 Grand Vidure (aka Carmenère) to be released next year as the next vintage of "Tiger's Blood" (named after the Sievers' son). It was richly aromatic and perfumed, with deep, saturated dark fruits and a long elegant finish (19 points). Also tasted was the 2011 "Dorado" Red, a 73% Sangiovese, 17% Malbec, 5% Cab Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot blend that is a departure from the usual "Super Tuscan" blend. To be reviewed in January.

Woodward Canyon - Rick and Darcey Small previewed the 2012 Artist's Series Cabernet Sauvignon to be released late next year. A rich, flamboyant wine with loads of fruit and minerality, it will be a highly pleasurable wine.

Maison Bleue - Next year, Jon Meuret will have a new "Voyageur" Syrah, his first from the Walla Walla Valley. Composed of 60% Pepper Bridge and 40% Seven Hills, the barrel sample showed seductive aromas of wild fruits, tobacco, violets and incense. Rich and supple, it has South Walla Walla Valley terroir written all over it. Stunning, it is a potential 19.5 points wine.

Forgeron Cellars - At the winery's Raclette Party, Marie-Eve Gilla previewed the next edition of the Anvil Reserve, a 2012 Malbec from the Stone Tree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. Deep purplish colored, almost midnight black, it recalled the "black wine" of Cahors in central France. The intense fruits, perfumes, maduro cigar, and black violets jumped out of the glass along with deep, saturated flavors. Also previewed was a 2012 Alder Ridge Zinfandel which was loaded with spicy fruits laid on a medium full-bodied frame.

Seven Hills Winery - The winery has a special pre-release offering of its first Estate Reserve Malbec, that scored 19+ points. A full review is to follow in the January issue of the Review.

Reynvaan Family Vineyards - The Reynvaans previewed their 2012's (to be released next Fall) during Fall Release Weekend. Superb wines, scoring 19 - 20 points. A full report will be in the January 2014 issue.

 

Another highlight of Holiday Barrel Weekend was the Tero, Flying Trout, Waters dinner at the Marcus Whitman Hotel on December 7th. Eighty diners were treated to superb dished prepared by chef Antionio Campolio and his staff, accompanied by impeccably paired wines. It was a fabulous and fun evening.

 

 
The Top Wines of 2013
Written by Rand Sealey   
Wednesday, 11 December 2013 23:35

Last week, I published my compliation of wines reviewed from July through December 2013. Links for this listing and the one for January - June can be found under "Email Messages" on the "Your Subscriptions" page after loging in to the Review of Washington Wines website. To find a review for a particular wine go to the issue for the month in which the wine was reviewed and scroll down until the review is found.

Below is the annual listing of the top wines of 2012, scoring 20/20 points and 19.5 points. On December 26th, the Review Blog will list the wines offering the most bang for the buck: Wines Scoring 19 points for $40 or Less and Wines Scoring 18.5 points for $25 or Less. Some of the wines in the listing below and in the upcoming ones may be sold out.

 

The 20/20 Points Wines

2009 Leonetti Cellar Reserve Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($160) - January

2009 Rasa Vineyards "Perfect union" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($95) - January

2010 Seven Hills Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley ($75) - November

 

The 19.5/20 Points Wines

2010 Adams Bench "the V" Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($52) - July

2010 Adams Bench Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, Mays Discovery Vineyard ($60) - October

2010 Andrew Will "Sorella" Red, Horse Heaven Hills, Champoux Vineyard ($75) - May

2010 Andrew Will Red Wine, Horse Heaven Hills, Champoux Vineyard ($62) - November

2009 Balboa "Wraith" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($75) - April

2009 Balboa "Eidolon" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($75) - April

2010 Betz Family Winery "Pere de Famille" Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($68) - May

2011 Betz Family Winery "La Cote Rousse" Syrah, Red Mountain ($60) - December

2010 Cadaretta "Windthrow" Red Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($50) - August

2008 Col Solare Red Blend, Columbia Valley ($78) - April

2008 Corliss Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($65) - December

2008 Corliss Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($75) - December

2010 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Rouge, Red Mountain ($75) - July

2010 DeLille Cellars Harrison Hill Red Wine, Snipes Mountain ($75) - July

2007 Den Hoed "Marie's View" Red Wine, Horse Heaven Hills, Wallula Vineyard ($80) - February

2007 Den Hoed "Andreas" Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, Wallula Vineyard ($80) - February

2010 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley ($85) - August

2012 Dowsett Family Winery Gewurztraminer, Columbia Gorge, Celilo Vineyard ($24) - August

2010 FIGGINS Estate Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, Figgins Estate Vineyard ($85) - November

2009 Forgeron Cellars "Anvil Reserve" Red Blend, Columbia Valley ($56) - August

2010 K Vintners "The Hidden" Syrah, Wahluke Slope, Northridge Vineyard ($70) - May

2010 K Vintners "Broncho" Malbec, Wahluke Slope, Northridge Vineyard ($70) - May

2011 Kerloo Cellars Tempranillo, Columbia Valley ($36) - November

2010 Long Shadows "Pirouette" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($50) - October

2010 Mark Ryan "Lonely Heart" Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($80) - April

2009 Rasa Vineyards "Plus One" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Kiona Vineyard ($75) - January

2009 Rasa Vineyards "Creative Impulse" Red Blend, Yakima Valley, DuBrul Vineyard ($95) - January

2011 Rasa Vineyards "Living in the Limelight" Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley, Dionysus Vineyard ($55) - July

2010 Rasa Vineyards "Principia" Reserve Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($85) - December

2010 Rasa Vineyards "Creative Impulse" Red Wine, Yakima Valley, DuBrul Vineyard ($95) - December

2010 Silverback Vineyards Syrah, Columbia Valley ($80) - June

2010 Sleight of Hand Cellars "The Illusionist" Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($52) - March

2010 Spring Valley Vineyard "Nina Lee" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley ($50) - September

2009 Tenor 1:1 Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($98) - February

2009 21 Grams Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($125) - January

2009 Woodward Canyon "Charbonneau" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($69) - August

 

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013 16:03
 
The Compilation of Wines Reviewed July - December 2013
Written by Rand Sealey   
Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:53

Our semi annual listing of wines reviewed in the Review of Washington Wines has been published. To see it, go to the Review webisite and login. Then you will see the subscription page "Your Subscriptions." Below that, you will see "Email Messages." There will be a link to the listing, "Wines Reviewed July - December 2013" (you will already have received an email with this listing). This is a link that will be kept on the subscription page so you can access this list, as well as ones for January - June 2013 and 2012 at any time.

Upcoming postings on this Review Blog will compile additional listings and special reports.

December 12: Top Wines of 2013 - This will include all wines scoring 20/20 and 19.5/20 points.

December 19: Winter Barrel Tasting in Walla Walla - This will report on wines tasted from the barrel from the 2012 and 2013 vintages.

December 26: Best Buys of 2013 - A listing of wines scoring 19 points, costing $40 or less and wines scoring 18.5 points for $25 or less.

December 30: Looking Ahead to 2014 - This will accompany the January 2014 issue of the Review, and will include Predctions for 2014 and Wineries to Watch in 2014,

Happy Holidays!

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 15:10
 
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