- Written by Rand Sealey
Back on 24 October, 2017, I wrote in my Review of Washington Wines Blog:
"At this stage, the 2015 reds are showing very well. In general, the wines are well fruited and structured, with fine aromatics (phenols) and depth. Acid levels are, for the most part, sturdy, more so than for the 2013s from another warm year and with well balanced tannins. Most of the 2015s released so far have been from other varieties than Cabernet Sauvignon, many of which will be released next Spring."
Now that the 2015 Cabernets and "BDX" blends are coming on the market, it appears that the climate gods smiled on Cabernet Sauvignon in 2015. After a hot summer, a moderate cooling trend in October allowed the flavors and aromatics of Cabernet Sauvignon, typically a late ripening grape, to develop.
Here's what we have so far and coming up in the way of high scoring 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet dominated BDX blends.
In the March issue, I reviewed the 2015 Long Shadows "Feather" Cabernet Sauvignon ($65) and the "Pirouette" BDX Red ($60), both scoring stellar 19.5/20 points.
In the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines, just now on line, we have:
2015 Guardian Cellars "Gun Metal" Red Wine ($42) - 19/20 points
2015 Andrew Januik "Stone Cairn" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($40) - 19/20 points
2015 JM Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Shaw Vineyard ($55) - 19+/20 points
2015 L'Ecole No. 41 "Perigee" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, Seven Hills Vineyard ($55) - 19+/20 points
2015 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson Vineyard Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($65) - 19.5/20 points
2015 Avennia "Sestina" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($65) - 19.5 points
In the May issue, there will a quintet of single vineyard 2015 Cabernets from the Seven Hills Winery: Seven Hills Vineyard, McClellan and Summit View in the Walla Walla Valley; Klipsun Vineyard on Red Mountain; and Elephant Mountain northwest of Zillah. Also, there will be the 2015 Mark Ryan "Dead Horse" Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain (19+/20 points).
I expect there will be more outstanding 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon and blends being released in the coming months. Stay tuned!
- Written by Rand Sealey
On Monday, February 19th, we went to the Seven Hills Industry Night where the winery's 2017 Dry Rosé was released. Three weeks later, on Monday, March 12th, Lagana Cellars debuted its 2017 Rose of Pinot Noir. These marked the kickoff of the season's 2017 rosé wines. Here's a preview of the rosés to be reviewed in the upcoming April and May issues of the Review of Washington Wines.
To be Reviewed in the April Issue
2017 Seven Hills Dry Rosé, Columbia Valley ($18) - Primarily Cabernet Franc with a bit of Petit Verdot and Malbec, this offers a pinkish light copper color and enticing aromas of strawberry, pink peach Rainier cherry, white flowers and white incense. The flavors are fresh and sprightly and picks up fraise and cerise liqueurs on the way to a mouth watering finish.18.5/20 points.
2017 Three Rivers Rosé Wine, Columbia Valley ($16) - Composed of 70% Syrah, 27% Sangiovese and 3% Riesling this shows a pinkish-copper color and enticing aromas of strawberry, red currant, grapefruit, spring flowers and whiffs of clover and spice. The flavors are gently extracted, accented by fraise and cassis liqueurs and a twist of grapefruit peel, followed by a juicy, dry finish. 18+/20 points.
2017 Brook & Bull Rosé Wine, Columbia Valley ($19) - Ashley Trout's March Cellars has been renamed Brook & Bull. This debut rosé is composed of 47% Mourvèdre, 33% Syrah, 18% Grenache and 2% Sangiovese. It shows a pink-copper color and attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry, watermelon and tangerine. The flavors are fresh and lightly extracted, followed by crisp, juicy, nicely balanced finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Lagana Cellars Pinot Noir Rosé, Walla Walla Valley, Breezy Slope Vineyard ($20) - Light salmon colored, this possesses expressive aromas of strawberry, cherry, red currant, strawberry and spring flowers. The flavors are quaffable, yet textured, with notes of grape skins, melon run and minerals, followed by touches of orange peel and hazelnut on the juicy, dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
To be Reviewed the May Issue
2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle Rosé, Columbia Valley ($8.99 at QFC) - I ran across this at the Totem Lake QFC in Kirkland while picking up some takeout sushi. Packaged in a tall pot shaped bottle, it resembles a Côtes de Provence Rosé. It shows fresh aromas of raspberry, pomegranate, tangerine, lavender, pepper and white incense. The flavors are fresh and lively with a nice, dry finish. Will retaste later when I can get another bottle. 18/20 points.
2017 Isenhower Cellars Cabernet Franc Rosé, Yakima Valley ($17) - Sourced from 27 year-old vines at the Dutchman Vineyard, this offers a light copper-pink color and attractive aromas of strawberries, Rainier cherries, tangerine and watermelon. The flavors are pleasingly juicy, with notes of grape skin, fraise and cerise liqueurs and recurring tangerine peel, followed a lingering, faintly honeyed yet dry finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Sleight of Hand Cellars "The Magician's Assistant" Cabernet Franc Rosé, Yakima Valley, Blackrock Vineyard ($19) - This features a light salmon coli and intriguing aromas of strawberry, pomegranate, pink lilac and spring flowers. The young fruit flavors are accented by grape skin, pomegranate skins and stony minerals. The back picks up fraise and cerise liqueurs and tangerine peel on the way to a crisp, bright finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Saviah Cellars Rosé Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($18) - Composed of 57% Sangiovese and 43% Barbera from the Dugger Creek Vineyard, this shows a light salmon color and intriguing aromas of raspberry, cherry, tangerine, cherry blossom and white incense. The flavors are nicely extracted with notes of grape skin and creekside minerals, followed by a crisp, recurring tangerine peel accented finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Browne Family Vineyards Grenache Rosé, Columbia Valley ($20) - Light pink-copper colored, this shows aromas of strawberry, Rainier Cherry, red currants, strawberry blossoms, spring flowers and white pepper. The gently pressed fruits pick up fraise and cerise liqueurs and tangerine peel on the way to a crisp light alcohol (11.8%) Provence-like dry finish. 18+/20 points.
2017 Maryhill Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($9.99 at Albertson's) - This is the nicest 2017 Sangiovese Rosé I've tried so far. Brilliant pink colored, it possesses attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry, watermelon and ruby grapefruit. The flavors are delightfully fresh and lively, with notes of light grape skins, minerals and fraise and cerise liqueurs, followed by an, again, fresh, lively finish. 18+/20 points.
2017 Tranche Cellars Pink Pape Rosé, Yakima Valley, Blackrock Vineyard ($20) - Composed of 47% Grenache, 27% Counoise and 26% Cinsault, it shows a light pink-copper color and a fragrant nose of strawberry, Rainier cherry, pink grapefruit, cherry blossoms, spring flowers and a whiff of white incense. The flavors are sprightly and fresh, with notes of fraise and cerise liqueurs, followed by a zesty grapefruit peel accented boy finish. 18.5/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
This morning, we returned to Walla Walla from Seattle after a trip to Woodinville. There, we visited six wineries - Gorman, Guardian cellars, Efesté, Novelty Hill/Januik, JM Cellars and Avennia. We tasted a goodly number of outstanding wines which will be reviewed in the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines which goes on line March 23.
Coming up later this month, on Sunday the 25th, I will be flying over to Seattle to attend Taste Washington, the premier Washington Wine Commission event. Nearly 300 wineries will be represented. I will report on this event in the May issue.
Also coming up in the Walla Walla Valley are Cayuse Weekend on April 6-7 and then Spring Release Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley on May 4-6. In the April and May issues there will be preview reports on the wines being poured during Spring Release. I will be doing a lot of traveling the coming months as we will also be going to Kansas City, Bentonville, Arkansas and Dallas-Fort Worth in April. More later!
- Written by Rand Sealey
A week ago, on February 22, Lynn and I hosted a tasting of Cornas wines for the Sons of Bacchus and Daughters of Dionysus. Cornas is one of the principal appellations of the North Rhone Valley. It is situated across the Rhone River from Tain l'Hermitage and northeast of the town of Valence. By law Cornas wines must be 100% Syrah. The tasting comprised 20 wines, curated by Billo Naravane MW. There were four flights of five wines each, a few North Rhones from outside Cornas and a couple of "ringers" were included. Here are my notes on the more outstanding wines with my scores.
2012 Domaine Balthasar Cornas, "Le Chaillot" - Semi opaque purplish colored, this possessed an enticing nose of sweet fruits, crushed roses, lavender, violets and incense. The flavors wee mouth encompassing with Syrah purity and a long, complex finish. 19.5/20 points.
2012 Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas, "Les Rochets" - This showed a deep ruby color and classic aromas of raspberry, cherry and currant, with scents of tobacco, lavender and incense. The flavors were thick, earthy and vigorous, with considerable varietal purity and a long peppery finish. 19+/20 points.
2015 Domaine du Tunnel Cornas, "Stéphane Robert" - This was thick, almost massive with an intense nose of raspberries, cherries and black currants, spice, garrigue and incense. The back picked up roasted berries and nuts and a long terroir and varietal driven finish. 19.5/20 points.
2010 Domaine Lionnet Cornas, "Terre Brulée" - This wine lived up to its name with scorched earth aromas and flavors of wild fruits, garrigue (lavender, herbs) and smoldering incense. The flavors were well saturated and pure, with a long burnt charcoal and spice finish. 19.5/20 points.
In between flights two and three, Steve Maxood popped open a Champagne Camille Salvès which made a delicious, frothy nearly bone dry palate cleanser before proceeding to the following flights.
2015 Vincent Paris Cornas "Granit 60" - Deep ruby colored, this showed a smoky almost super ripe nose of roasted berries and scents of roses, lavender and violets. The dark fruit flavors were vivid, matching the intensity of the aromas. 19+/20 points.
2012 Vincent Paris "Granit 60" - This vintage showed a ruby-crimson color and a rich, berried nose of raspberry and cassis with scents of crushed roses, lavender and violets. The flavors were deep and taut, showing much Syrah character. 19+/20 points.
2015 Domaine Durand Cornas "Premice" - This was one of the most attention-getting wines of the tasting. Ruby crimson colored, it possessed lovely aromas of raspberry, blueberry, cassis, roses, lavender, sweet tobacco and violets. The flavors were deep and beautifully structured with a long, pure finish. 19.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine Clape Cornas "Renaissance" - This showed a ruby-crimson color and a sweet, smoky, spicy nose of blackberries, blueberry and cassis with scents of crushed roses, lavender and violets. The flavors were thick and generous, yet focused. The chewy textured back picked up roasted berries and nuts and charcoal, followed by a long finish. 19+/20 points.
There were a couple of interesting "ringers:"
2013 Le Crête Syrah, Valle d'Aosta - This Italian Syrah showed a deep ruby color and an attractive nose of raspberry, cherry and currant with supple fruits and bright acidity, medium full bodied, spicy and peppery. 19/20 points.
2006 Pax Syrah, Mendocino County, Alder Spring Vineyard - Semi opaque colored, this showed a sweetish nose of blackberry, cassis, bayberry, tobacco and garrigue. The flavors were thick and generous, with considerable Syrah character. 19/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Since our last industry news posting (19 January) there have been more news of acquisitions, a new tasting room and management changes. Here's the latest:
Tamarack Cellars under New Ownership
Tamarack Cellars, located in near the Airport has been acquired by Vintage Wine Estates of Santa Rosa, California, whose portfolio includes Clos Pegase, Cosentino and other brands. Tamarack Cellars was founded in 1998 by Ron and Janine Coleman. This acquisition enables the Colemans to take a well deserved retirement. The rest of the winery staff will be carrying on.
Armstrong Family Winery Opening a new Tasting Room
In the Review of Washington Wines Blog of 30 AugusI, I announced that Armstrong Family Winery was moving to the Walla Walla Valley with the acquisition of a farmhouse and vineyard on Middle Waitsburg Road. The move has been made and the 2017 vintage harvested and made in Walla Walla. A new tasting room in downtown Walla Walla on West Main Street, next to Valley Vision, is about to open. A report will be in an upcoming issue of the Review of Washington Wines.
March Cellars is now Brook & Bull
Ashley Trout's March Cellars has changed its name to Brook & Bull. The new brand reflects Ashley's name and her Eastern (Washington D.C.) and Western (Washington State) connections, named for the eastern Brook Trout and western Bull Trout. Reviews of the inaugural Brook & Bull releases will be in the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines.
Passing the Baton at Woodward Canyon
As part of the ongoing generational transition at Woodward Canyon, Darcey Fugman-Small, General Manager and Owner has turned the day to day operations of the tasting room and direct relationships to her daughter, Jordan Dunn-Small. The tasting room and customer relationships will continue to operate superbly. Rich Small remains director of winemaking.