- Written by Rand Sealey
Lynn and I love French wines and we are always on the lookout for new ones to try. Here are some we've had, including some of the first 2018 Rosés.
2018 Paul Jaboulet Ainé "Parallele 45" Côtes du Rhone Rosé ($15.99 - wine.com) - Composed of 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault and 10% Syrah, this offers a light pink-peach color and enticing aromas of strawberry, pink peach, red currant, pink roses, lavender and spiced white incense. The flavors are pleasingly mouth filling, with bright young fruits that are accented by fraise and pêche liqueurs, and followed by a crisp, nicely juiced finish. Excellent value. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Fleurs de Prairie Vin de Provence Rosé ($16.99 - wine.com) - Brilliant copper-peach colored, this emits enticing aromas of fraises der bois, pink peach, cantaloupe, orange peel, spring flowers, lavender and whiffs of white incense. The flavors are bright and fresh, with notes of peach stone, fraise liqueur, melon rind and recurring orange peel, followed by a lightly spiced moderate acid finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Domaine La Colombette "Notorious Pink" Rosé de France ($18.99 - wine.com) - This is a pale peach-pink colored Rosé, but shows good depth. It possesses appealing aromas of fraises, peach, cantaloupe, orange peel and lightly spiced incense. The flavors are deftly extracted, with notes of fraise and pêche liqueurs and melon rind, followed by a lightly spiced dry finish. 18+/20 points.
2018 Fleur de Mer Côtes de Provence Rosé ($19.99 - wine.com) - The 2017 vintage was our go-to Provence Rosé last year and this 2018 will be too. It features a light peach-pink color and enticing aromas of fraises de bois, pink peaches, red currants, tangerine, red rose petals, lavender and spiced incense. The flavors are deliciously fresh and lively, with judicious extraction, peach stone and Provençal minerals. The allure continues on the back with fraise and cassis liqueurs and a twist of tangerine peel on the nicely juiced finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2018 Domaine de Fontsainte "Gris de Gris" Corbières Rosé ($21 - The Thief, Walla Walla) - Composed of 70% Grenache and 10% each of Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault, this displays a light copper-pink color and attractive aromas of raspberry, cherry, red currant, orange peel, cherry blossoms and orange peel. The flavors are fresh an buoyant, with notes of framboise and cerise liqueurs and recurring orange peel on the crisp finish. 18+/20 points.
2018 Château de Pampelonne Côtes de Provence Rosé ($21.99 - wine.com) - From near Saint-Tropez, this is composed of 40% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah and 10% Tibouren. It shows a light peach color and aromas of raspberry, pink peach, cantaloupe, tangerine and spring flowers. On the palate, the flavors are light, yet well defined, with notes of grape skin, melon rind and tangerine peel. The back picks up framboise and pêche liqueurs and touches of hazelnut and lanolin on the way to a resonant finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Isabelle Garrault "Les Grands Monts" Sancerre Rosé ($25.99 - wine.com) - Sancerre Rosé is made from Pinot Noir. This version shows a brilliant copper-pink color and a lovely nose of fraises de bois, cherries and red currants with scents of red roses, cherry blossoms, spring flowers and a hint of cracked red pepper. The flavors are fresh and vibrant, accented by grape skin, tangerine peel and upper Loire River minerals. The back picks up kirsch and fraise liqueurs on the way to a resonant, lingering finish. It shows uncommon elegance for a Rosé. 19/20 points.
2017 Domaine Les Capréoles Regnié ($25 - The Thief) - This Cru Beaujolais sports a deep ruby-purple color and attractive aromas of fraises de bois, cherries and black currants with scents of black roses, brambles, violets and incense. The flavors, as well, are appealing, with vivid red fruits that are imbued with red licorice, cocoa powder and medium roast coffee. The back picks up kirsch and cassis liqueurs and toffee, followed by a moderate tannin and acid finish. Expresses the joy of the Gamay grape. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Domaine de la Vôute des Crozes Côte de Brouilly ($29 - The Thief) - This Cru Beaujolais exhibits a deep ruby-crimson color ad a perfumed nose of wild raspberries, cherries, black currants, wild roses, violets and sweet incense. The flavors are generous and expressive, brimming with red and black fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, and schist minerals. On the back, the wine turns suave textured with framboise and cassis liqueurs and nougat, followed by a moderate tannin finish that is lifted by vivid fruit acids. 18.5+/20 points.
2016 Domaine des Chers Saint-Amour ($27 - The Thief) - Saint-Amour - a lovely name for this Cru Beaujolais, and a lovely wine. Crimson colored, it possesses a perfumed nose of strawberries, cherries, red currants, red roses, violets and incense. The flavors are medium bodied but mouth encompassing, intermixed with red licorice, cocoa powder and granitic minerals. The back picks up fraise and cassis liqueurs on the way to a resonant finish. The wine's charm gives it a plus. 18.5+/20 points.
2015 René Bouvier "Crais de Chêne" Fixin ($57.99 - wine.com) - This is quintessential old vine Fixin (located north of Gevrey-Chambertin). It shows a deep brick red color and an unmistakable Pinot Noir nose of raspberries, cherries, black currants, crushed roses, sweet tobacco, forest carpet, matchstick, violets and incense. The flavors are medium full bodied, replete with licorice, cocoa, French roast and earth. The back picks up framboise, creme de cassis and kirsch liqueurs, followed by a lengthy chewy yet satiny tannin finish. 19/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Last Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6 was Cayuse Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley when Cayuse Members pick up their allocations and taste the next year's releases. On Friday morning, I went down to the winery on Sunnyide Road, north of Milton Freewater. Here are my notes on the upcoming vintages.
2017 "Edith" Grenache Rosé - This showed a light copper-pink color and enticing aromas of strawberry, cranberry, cherry and currant with scents of cherry blossoms, orange peel and white smoke. The flavors were ripe, juicy and resonant, with distinct minerality and fine structure and acidity. 19+/20 points.
2016 "God Only Knows" Grenache - From the Armada Vineyard the "GOK" came on as a fruit and earth driven Grenache. Brick red colored, it possessed a rich nose of raspberry, black currants, pomegranate, crushed roses, lavender and incense. On the palate, the flavors picked up distinct "Rocks" character, accompanied by notes of roasted berries and nuts, orange peel, and graphite, followed by a chewy yet smooth ripe tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 "Widowmaker" Cabernet Sauvignon, En Chamberlin Vineyard - Deep ruby-crimson colored, this possessed an intoxicating nose of wild blackberries, cherries, plums, crushed roses, tobacco, cedar, sandalwood and incense. The dark fruit flavors were precisely structured, with notes of licorice, dark cocoa, French press and damp earth. The back picked up macerated berries, roasted nuts and pulverized charcoal on the way to a lingering satiny tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 Syrah, Cailloux Vineyard - From a vineyard planted in 1997 and co-fermented with 5% Viognier, this showed a deep ruby color and a rich, smoky nose of blackberry, blueberry, black currant, crushed roses, mulberry, lavender and smoldering oriental incense. The flavors were thick and generous yet deep cored, with layers of dark fruits that were infused with licorice, cocoa, crushed rocks, pressed berries, roasted nuts, creme de cassis, all followed by a long deliciously juicy finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 Syrah, En Cerise Vineyard - From a vineyard planted in 1998, this showed a ruby-crimson color and a perfumed nose of wild fruits - blackberries, blueberries, black currants - with scents of pressed roses, lavender, violets and spiced incense. The flavors were medium bodied but plush and deliciously mouth filling, with notes of cobblestone earth, roasted nuts, creme de cassis and charcoal, followed by a lavish, long, ripe tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 Syrah, En Chamberlin Vineyard - To me, this came on as the most elegantly styled of the 2017 Syrahs. Deep ruby-crimson colored, it emited lovely, perfumed aromas of fraises de bois, wild currants, pomegranates, rose petals, lavender, violets and wafts of oriental incense. The flavors matched the aromas in allure, with lavish red fruits that displayed incredible finesse, yet still conveying the Rocks minerality. The finish was decadently long and silky, yet forceful. 20/20 points. As I was writing the notes for this wine, Christophe came up to me and I showed him what I wrote. He was pleased.
2017 "Bionic Frog" Syrah - From the Cocinelle ("ladybug") Vineyard, this was another knockout Bionic Frog. Deep ruby-crimson colored, it possessed intoxicating aromas of raspberry, blueberry, cassis, crushed roses, orange peel, tobacco, lavender, violets and spiced white incense. The flavors were generous, savory and mouth filling, marked by licorice, cocoa, French press and Rocks earth. The back picked up macerated berries, roasted hazelnuts and burnt charcoal, followed by a long sweet-dry finish. Combines elegance and vigor. 20/20 points.
2016 Syrah, Armada Vineyard - From a vineyard planted in 2001, this showed a deep ruby-garnet and a rich, smoky nose of semi-dried fruits, raspberries, blackberries, black currants, dried roses, lavender, brambles, garrigue and smoldering incense. The flavors, too, were rich and earthy, typical of Rocks Syrah, marked by notes of licorice, dark cocoa, French roast. lengthening out on the back with framboise and cassis liqueurs and savory elements, followed by ripe tannins on the finish. 19.5/20 points.
2017 "Impulsivo" Tempranillo - Crimson-garnet colored, this showed a rich nose of wild fruits - raspberries, cherries, currants, plums - with scents of Spanish lavender, violets and wood smoke. The flavors were lavish, yet focused, with layers of fruit, chicory coffee and earth along with typical Tempranillo penetration on the back, with notes of pressed fruits, orange peel and marcona almonds on a lingering Rioja-like sweet-dry tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
After Cayuse, I drove back to Walla Walla and up to the end of Cottonwood Road to the Reynvaan Family Vineyards Cayuse Weekend event. Here's what I tasted.
2017 Viognier, In the Rocks Vineyard - Fermented in French oak (50% new) this showed lovely aromas and resonant well textured flavors, Rocks minerality and varietal purity throughout. 19.5/20 points.
2017 Grenache Blanc, In the Rocks Vineyard - Fermented in French balls (60% new) this had lovely floral aromas and strikingly crisp yet round and smooth flavors and a lingering, crystalline finish. 19.5/20 points.
2016 "Queen's Road" White Wine, In the Rocks Vineyard - This 55% Marsanne, 45% Viognier combination spent 22 months in new oak. Enticingly aromatic and floral, it showed simultaneously rich and piercing flavors and a long, faintly honeyed finish. 19.5/20 points.
Full reviews of the above three whites to be in the May issue of the Review of Washington Wines.
2017 "The Classic" Cabernet, In the Rocks Vineyard ($75 - presale) - Tasted from the barrel, this 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 17% Petit Verdot and 11% Cabernet Franc showed a deep ruby color and rich aromas of blackberry, cherr, cassis and plum with scents of roses, cigar box and incense. The flavors were full loaded with layers of dark fruits and a long finish. 19.5/20 points.
2016 "The Classic" Cabernet, In the Rocks Vineyard ($75) - This traditional style blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 13% Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Franc showed a deep color and rich aromas of blackberries, Bing cherries and cassis, with scents of crushed roses, sweet tobacco, sandalwood and wood smoke. The flavors were deep and penetrating, authoritative yet elegant, with a long fine grained tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2016 Syrah, In the Rocks Vineyard ($90) - Co-fermented with 5% Viognier, this displayed a semi-opaque ruby color and intense aromas of wild fruits with scents of crushed roses, tobacco, lavender and spiced incense. The flavors were deliciously lavish yet deep and focused, with layers of black and blue fruits that were underlain with Rocks minerals, and followed by a long, complex, savory finish. 19.5/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Next Friday and Saturday will be Cayuse Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley. On Friday, we will go to the Cayuse Preview of upcoming vintages (a report to be in our next Blog posting, April 10). We'll also go to Reynvaan for the family's Spring event and to Steve Wells' Time & Direction Pop Up tasting. On Saturday, we'll go down to the Tero Estate Winery.
Last Sunday, March 31st, we drove out on Heritage Road to the preview opening of Smoky Rose Cellars. Owned by Josh and Jodi Roznowski, it takes its name from their kiddos, dog Smoky and daughter Laurelai Rose. There, we tasted some impressive wines - the 2018 Viognier and Rosé, 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2016 Merlot - which will are reviewed in the May issue of the Review of Washington.
On April 16, Canvasback will be hosting an industry event for its new tasting room, located in the former Waters location on JB George Road. The outstanding 2015 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and Passage Bordeaux Blend will be reviewed in the May issue. A new 2017 Riesling and 2016 Walla Walla Valley Syrah will also be previewed (to be reviewed in the June issue).
On the 17th, we will visit Force Majeure's facility near Milton-Freewater. Todd Alexander's winery has made a name for itself with its Bordeaux and Rhone inspired wines. A report will be in the April 25th Blog posting.
- Written by Rand Sealey
As of this writing (March 25) I am already working on the May issue of the Review of Washington Wines which will be focused on the wines that will be poured during Spring Release Weekend in Walla Walla on May 3-5. I preview as many wines as I can to provide a guide to subscribers who will be visiting Walla Walla the first weekend in May. Here's a rundown on what I'ver done so far and what I'll be doing over the next couple of weeks.
Last week, I visited Balboa which has a new 2018 Rosé and Grüner Veltliner. On Friday, I had a preview tasting at The Walls of the outstanding 2017 Martin's Gold Chardonnay and 2016 Reds including a distinctive "Stanley Groovy" Portuguese varieties blend. On Saturday, I visited Gramercy Cellars for a tasty 2018 Olsen Vineyard Rosé and some impressive 2016 and 2015 reds, including a tasty Third Man Grenache. On Saturday, I picked up Trance Estate's new Pink Pape, Pape Blanc and Red Pape, all delicious. Gino Cuneo has a new 2014 Nebbiolo and Nebbaro, along with Côte Ciel's 2013 Cabernet Franc.
This week, we will be going out to Long Shadows to taste the new 2016 reds and 2015 Chester-Kidder. Out at the airport, I'll go to Buty and Adamant Cellars to check out the Spring releases.
During the first week of April, I will pick up new releases from College Cellars. I look forward to trying the 2018 Pinot Gris Rosé and the 2017 Carmenère. The weekend of April 5-6 is "Cayuse Weekend" and I will be reporting on it in my 9 April Review Blog. I'll also be stopping at Reynvaan for their Cayuse Weekend event. And some other wineries that are open especially for that weekend.
The on line publication date for the May issue will be April 25. Watch for it!
- Written by Rand Sealey
Last Sunday, March 17, Lynn and I hosted what we called a "Random" tasting. Here is what we wrote in our invitation:
Rand has a wide assortment of wines in our back room "cellar." He decided it would be fun to organize a tasting. His plan is to choose wines at random: some might be outstanding, some "O.K." and others perhaps over the hill. But it will be fun to taste what he's collected over the past several years.
Some of the wines were indeed outstanding, some o.k., some over the hill. Here are some of the more noteworthy wines tasted.
2014 E. Guigal Saint Joseph Blanc - This Viognier-Marsanne combination showed a mineral nose and exquisite, precise flavors with a ling granitic mineral finish. 19+/20 points
2012 E. Guigal Condrieu - This Viognier showed a deep gold color and maturing aromas and flavors of semi dried fruits, hazelnuts and minerals. Slightly past its peak, but still superb. 19/20 points.
2010 Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru - A fine maturing white Burgundy at its peak. It came on as being not powerful, but elegant, with a bit of that Bois de Corton woods on the nose and palate. 19+/20 points.
2012 Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru - From a soft but elegant vintage, this showed a ruby-garnet color and a rich, smoky bouquet and maturing "velours" flavors, with a long finish. 19/20 points.
2010 Domaine Mugneret Nuits-St. Georges Clos de la Marechale Premier Cru - Ruby garnet colored, this displayed classic aromas of fruit and earth, with vigorous yet velvety flavors and a rich, sultry finish. 19+/20 points.
2012 Betz Family Winery "Besoleil" Red Wine, Columbia Valley - This Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah blend was a fine rendition of a "CdP" style red, with pleasing ripe aromas and mixed fruits and a long smooth finish. At its peak. 19/20 points.
2008 No Girls Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, La Paciencia Vineyard - This was holding up well for a ten year old Grenache, showing a funky "Rocks" nose and mature flavors that had faded a bit, but still sound. 19/20 points.
2012 Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas, "Terres Brulées" - This came on as classic North Rhone Syrah, with a strong bouquet and palate entry, followed by layers of smooth, elegant flavors. 19+/20 points.
2004 Long Shadows "Pirouette" Red Wine - Columbia Valley - This "BDX" blend showed a garnet color and aromas of semi dried fruits and nuts, maturing but showing considerable strength and complexity. 19/20 points.
2012 Château Monbousquet, Saint Emilion Grand Cru - This hit the right notes with a rich, smoky nose and pleasingly supple yet structured flavors, with touches of suede and lanolin and a vigorous finish. 19/20 points.
2010 Château Brane-Cantenac, Margaux Cru Classé - This showed a deep ruby color and a classic Margaux bouquet of earth and fruits. The flavors were firmly structured, yet fleshy, with layers of dark fruits, followed by a long, complex finish. Just beginning to come around. 19.5/20 points.
2007 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Red Wine, Red Mountain - This was highly impressive with a well developed smoky-nutty bouquet and medium full bodied mature flavors, still showing considerable fruit and a long complex finish. 19.5/20 points.
2008 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva - The wines of the Rioja district of Spain can age well as this one has. Garnet colored, it possessed a smoky bouquet of dried fruits, orange peel and exotic perfumes. The flavors were deep and complex. Aged in neutral American oak. 19/20 points.