- Written by Rand Sealey
Over the past couple of months, we have been shuttling back and forth between Walla Walla and Seattle. Along the way, we have been visiting winery tasting rooms in Woodinville and the Yakima Valley as well as the Walla Walla Valley. Here's what will be coming up in future issues of the Review of Washington Wines. Some wineries are ones that are new to us and some ones we haven't seen in a while.
Tempus Cellars - Joe Forest's winery has moved to 760 C Street near the airport. Current releases will be reviewed in the July issue.
Truth Teller - This jester themed Woodinville winery has opened a tasting room on Main Street in Walla Walla. Wines will be in the July issue.
William Church - We haven't been to this winery for some time. A superb 2017 Viognier and some impressive 2015 reds will be in the July issue.
Darby Winery - This another Woodinville winery we haven't seen for a couple of years. We tasted the current line up with tasting room manager Denise Alevari. A report will be in July.
Patterson Cellars - I stopped at the Woodinville tasting room and was impressed with the quality/price rations of the wines. Reviews in August.
Gorman Winery - The current releases were tasted at the Hollywood School district, including a superb 2016 Chardonnay and outstanding 2014 reds, to be reviewed in the August issue.
Treveri - We stopped at this sparkling wine producer in Wapato on the way home. The Griebs' bubblies continue to amaze for their value. The Rosé is delightful and the Blanc de Blancs and Geworztraminer also impressive. Best Buys in the July issue.
Bunnell Family Cellar - We stopped at Wine O'Clock in Prosser for lunch and tasted the newly released 2015 Sangiovese, 2014 Mourvèdre, 2013 Lia GSM and the Newhouse Family 2011 Vestige Red. To be in the July issue.
Walter Clore Center - In Prosser, we also visited the Center to do some tasting and picked up some wines from wineries that are new to us and which will be reviewed in August.
Next Week: The Annual Rosé Wine Roundup, Monday, June 11
- Written by Rand Sealey
Over the past few weeks, we have been drinking French and Italian wines from time to time for some variety and a change of pace from Washington wines.
2015 Jean-Paul Brun "Terres Dorées" Cotes de Brouilly ($21.99 - wine.com) - This Cru Beaujolais comes from the sun-drenched slopes above the town of Brouilly. It shows a purplish ruby color and enticing aromas of strawberry, cherry and currant, with scents of red roses, mulberry and white incense. The flavors are engaging, with notes of red licorice, cocoa powder and silicate minerals. The back picks up macerated berries, fraise liqueur and creme de cassis, followed by a supple yet vigorous moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine du Clos de Fief "Tradition" Juliénas ($25 - The Thief) - Here, Michel and Sylvain Tete have turned out a vivacious Cru Beaujolais. Deep purplish colored, it possesses enticing aromas of wild raspberries, black cherries, black currants, crushed roses, violets and sweet incense. The flavors, as well, are appealing, with vivid dark fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, French roast and minerals. The back reveals sensations of pressed fruits, framboise liqueur and creme de cassis, followed by a slightly grainy ripe tannin finish. The wine's vivacity gives it a plus. 18.5+/20 points.
See last week's Review Blog below for more about The Thief Fine Wine & Beer shop in Walla Walla.
2015 Domaine du Prieuré Savigny les Beaune, 1er Cru, Les Lavierès ($38.99 - Esquin) - Brick red colored, this wine possesses a rich, smoky nose of fraises de bois, cherry and red currant with scents of rose petals, tobacco, violets and spiced incense. The medium bodied flavors show definite Pinot Noir character, underlain with chocolate, French roast and earth. The back picks up kirsch and cassis liqueurs and light graphite on the way ro a slightly grainy moderate tannin finish. The distinct Burgundian character gives it 19/20 points.
2015 Catherine & Pierre Breton "Trinche" Bourgeuil ($25 - The Thief) - Produced from the Cabernet Franc grape, this Loire Valley red shows a deep ruby color and a rich smoky nose of black cherry, plum and black currant, with scents of black roses, pipe tobacco and spiced incense. The flavors are robust yet supple, with black fruits that are accompanied by notes of licorice, cocoa, French roast and limestone minerals. The back pickup pressed berries, roasted nuts and toffee, followed by a sweet-dry moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage ($36 - The Thief) - Inky purple-ruby colored, this wine emits unmistakable Syrah aromas of black fruits - blackberries, black plums and black currants - with scents of crushed roses, pipe tobacco, lavender, violets and spiced incense. The flavors, as well, are varietally pure, with dark fruits that are intermixed with licorice, dark cocoa, roasted coffee beans and earth. The penetration continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted hazelnuts, creme de cassis and pulverized charcoal, followed by a lengthy sweet-dry moderate tannin finish. 19/20 points.
N/V Champagne Jacques Copinet Brut Rosé ($45.99 - Esquin) - This was a hit at a recent birthday celebration. It shows a light pink color and fine streaming bubbles, with lovely aromas of wild strawberries and red currants, with scents of wildflowers, jasmine and wisteria. The flavors, as well are alluring, with vivid, delicate yet beautifully delineated red fruits that are imbued with grape skins and stony minerals. On the back, a simultaneously tingly and creamy texture emerges, leading into a complex true Brut finish. 19/20 points.
2016 Pieropan Soave Classico ($16.99 - Full Pull) - When I owned the store, Esquin was the first to bring the Pieropan Soave into the Seattle market. We sold over a hundred cases a year of it in the 1980's. This is Leonildo Pierpan's 50th vintage. It shows a lemon straw color and attractive aromas of pear and white peach, with scents of pear blossoms and meadow flowers. The flavors are exquisitely textured, with notes of grape and pear skins and sandy minerals. The back reveals sensations of gently pressed fruits, liqueurs and toasted hazelnuts, followed by a dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 La Gerla Rosso di Montalcino ($25 - The Thief) - Rosso di Montalcino is a younger version of Brunello di Montalcino, usually from younger vines. This one shows a ruby-garnet color and smoky aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, roses, mulberry, tobacco, oregano and incense. The flavors mirror the aromatics with medium bodied red fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, Italian roast and minerals. The back picks up macerated berries, roasted nuts and dried cherries, followed by a dryish moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2012 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino ($58.99 - Esquin) - Argiano is a highly respected producer in Montalcino. Produced from the Sangiovese Grosso ("Brunello") grape, this exhibits a deep ruby-garnet color and intoxicating aromas of black cherry, plum, cassis, attar of rose, pipe tobacco, cedar, lavender and smoldering incense. The flavors are deep and powerful, yet velvety, with intermixtures of licorice, chocolate, Italian roast and stony minerals. The intensity continues on the back with sensations of roasted berries, nougat, dried cherries and almond liqueur, followed by a lingering, herb dusted classic Tuscan dryish finish. 19+/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
In the past two months, a couple of wineries in the Walla Wallta Valley have moved to new locations and a new wine shop has opened in downtown Walla Walla.
Tempus Cellars has moved to 760 C Street in the Airport District in the building where Corvus Cellars was located. When the owners of Corvus decided to concentrate on grape growing on their Red Mountain vineyard and cease producing wine, that presented owner-winemaker Joe Forest an opportunity to move to a more spacious location. I visited the new location a few days ago and got up to date. The current releases will be reviewed in the July issue of the Review of Washington Wines.
Revelry Vinters has built a new state of the art production and tasting room facility at 3978 Peppers Bridge Road south of Walla Walla (just past Amavi Cellars and Waters/Flying Trout). The old location on C Street near the Airport was bursting at the seams, and owner-winemaker Jared Burns decided to build a new facility. The Grand Opening was held on May 5th (during Spring Release Weekend). I visited a few days ago and found the new facility to be spacious and very nicely designed. The new 2015 reds will be in the July issue.
The Thief Fine Wine & Beer opened its store on 102 E Main Street on May 4th. This is something Walla Walla has been needing for a long time, a shop where one could find fine imported as well as domestic wines. There are many locals, in the wine industry and in the wine loving community, who appreciate wines from outside the Walla Walla Valley, especially European ones. So The Thief meets this need admirably.
I visited the store two days ago. It is named for the pipette used to draw wine or beer from a cask, called a "thief." There is a selection of over 300 wines, about 150 beers, plus aperitifs, Vermouths, and even a few Sakes. Most of the wines are imported, but there is a selection of local wines, priced in line with those of wineries. Emily Riley, one of the partners, along with Bryan Brammer and Kyle Pottroff, took good care of me. I purchased four bottles, three French and one Italian. I will be reviewing them in an upcoming posting on the Review Blog. I will come back for more wines to try. The shop also has a tasting bar where one can sample wines by the glass.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 6 was Spring Release Weekend in Walla Walla. This is the time when many wineries officially release their new wines. It is also the time when some wineries open up for special events. Here's what I did that weekend.
On Friday morning, I drove over to the Airport District to visit Steve Wells' Time & Direction winery where I tasted the inaugural releases of a 2017 white, a 2017 rosé and a 2016 Syrah from the Frenchman Hills of the Royal Slope. The wines will be reviewed in the June issue of the Review of Washington Wines. Then I visited the Armstrong Family Winery's new tasting room on Main Street. The 2014 reds will be in the June issue.
The next day, I attended the annual Abeja and Leonetti Spring events. Reports on these will be in the June issue. In the afternoon, I stopped at The Walls for the new 2015 "Stanley Groovy" Red and Curiositas Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, to be reviewed in June. I also made stops at Foundry Vineyards (impressive 2014 reds) and Gramercy Cellars. In the evening, we went tp Corliss for the release of the 2013 Syrah and previews of upcoming vintages.
On Saturday evening, we went to Dunham Cellars's Winemakers Dinner in the barrel room, prepared by chefs Mauro Golmarvi of Assagio in Seattle and Andrae Bopp of AK's. Mauro and Connie are our next door neighbors and Andrae and Michelle live a quarter mile south of us. So it was great having a great dinner prepared by our neighbors. The menu and wines were wonderful. Roasted beets with 2015 Shirleu Mays Chardonnay. Wild greens, pear and apple salad with 2014 Trutina Red Blend. The entrées consisted of braised pork belly by Andrae and Rosso buco by Mauro, with 2013 Lewis Vineyard Cabernet and 2014 Columbia Valley Syrah. Dessert was Mauro's olive oil cake with 2016 Late Harvest Riesling. There was a lot of fun and conversation. It was one of the best winemaker dinners we've ever been to. The Dunham wines will be reviewed in June.
Watch for the June issue of the Review of Washington Wines which goes on line April 25.
- Written by Rand Sealey
This week, we have some Walla Walla Valley wine news items and more recommendations of wineries to visit during Spring Release Weekend.
The Abeja Winery Sold
On the front page of Sunday morning's Walla Walla Union-Bulletin was the top headline: "Mill Creek fixture Abeja sold." The article reported that the Mill Creek winery and inn had been sold to new owners. The winery's founders, Ken and Ginger Harrison have sold their majority interest to Arnie Prentice of Seattle, owner of an insurance brokerage and consulting company, USI Kibble & Prentice. The Inn at Abeja has been sold to another investment group, Seattle based Columbia Hospitality, which recently acquired the Walla Walla Red Lion Inn and Suites. The Harrisons will continue to retain "significant equity ownership" in the Winery and in the operation's oversight. The winemakers, husband and wife team of Daniel Wampfler and Amy Alvarez-Wampfler will continue their roles in the operation. The Inn at Abeja will keep all on site team members, including innkeeper Mary Besbris. Metis, an Exvere Company, served as advisor for both transactions. The Abeja sale is the most recent of a succession of merger and acquisition deals put together by Metis, which has an office in Walla Walla.
Walla Walla Valley Spring Release Weekend Coming Up
In addition to the wineries listed in my previous Blog posting, there are a few more wineries especially worth visiting May 4-6.
Tero Estates - The winery near Milton-Freewater is featuring the Swing Notes Big Band on Saturday from 11 to 4. The winery is also releasing its new DC3 Red and the Block Cabernets.
Armstrong Family Winery - Tim and Jen Armstrong have opened an new tasting room in downtown Walla Walla on Main Street. Last Fall, the family moved their winery operations to the area, where they have a vineyard.
Gramercy Cellars - Greg Harrington and Brandon Moss have some new releases including a delicious Olsen Vineyard Rosé and a tasty 2015 Grenache and 2015 Mourvèdre.
Also, check the April and May issues of the Review of Washington Wines for other wineries with new Spring Releases.