- 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.
- Written by Rand Sealey
In last week's Review Blog, I reviewed several wines from the great 2015 vintage in Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. This week, I have more tasting notes and scores on French wines plus a few from Italy.
N/V Louis Bouillot "Perle d'Aurore" Crémant de Bourgogne ($18.99 - Safeway) - This is a charming, attractively priced sparkling wine. It offers salmon-pink color and fine steaming bubbles along with fragrant aromas of strawberries, cherries, spring flowers and cherry blossoms. The medium bodied flavors are pleasing as well, accented by ripe red fruits and earthy touches, followed by a dry, true Brut finish. 18/20 points.
2015 Joseph Drouhin Morgon, Domaine Hospices de Belleville ($18.99 - wine.com) - This Cru Beaujolais is a real charmer. Purplish colored, it possesses floral aromas of wild raspberries, blueberries, currants, crushed roses, mulberry, and whiffs of white incense. The medium bodied flavors are finely fruited, with notes of cocoa powder, black tea and minerals. The back picks up gently pressed berries, framboise liqueur and creme de cassis, followed by a soft tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey ($27.99 - wine.com) - Faiveley has a strong position in the Côte Chalonnaise (see the Clos des Myglands in last week's blog) with several properties. Here, this communal bottling shows a brick red color and attractive aromas of fraises de bois, framboise and cassis, with scents of rosebuds, tobacco leaf, orange peel and whiffs of white incense. The flavors are palate pleasing, with true Pinot Noir character, imbued with red licorice, cocoa and Chalonnaise granitic earth. On the back, the wine turns chewy textured, yet velvety, with pressed bearer, toasted nuts and mocha, followed by a soft tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Louis Jadot Givry ($31.99 - wine.com) - Also from the Côte Chalonnaise, this Pinot Noir offers a brick red color and a nose of fraises de bois, cranberries, red currants, crushed red roses, sweet pea flowers, violets and whiffs of white incense. The medium bodied flavors, as well, are true to variety, with pleasingly supple ripe red fruits that are imbued with red licorice, cocoa powder, medium roast coffee and Saône alluvial minerals. The back picks up gently pressed berries, creme de cassis and toasted nuts on the way to a silky, yet well textured moderate tannin finish. As a vin de plaisir, this gets a plus. 18.5+/20 points.
2015 Les Pallières "Racines" Gigondas ($32.99 - wine.com) - From Domaine Brunnier and Kermit Lynch, this South Rhone red is composed of 80% Grenache, 8% Syrah, 7% Cinsault and 5% Clairette. It displays a deep ruby color and rich, earthy aromas of wild fruits - blackberries, cranberries, black currants - with scents of crushed black roses, mulberry, tobacco, garrigue, violets and incense. The flavors mirror the aromatics with thick fruits that show old vine character, along with licorice, dark cocoa, French roast and minerals earth. On the back, the wine turns simultaneously chewy and velvety, with sensations of macerated berries, roasted nuts, creme de cassis and charcoal, followed by a well fruited ripe tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2016 Allegrini Valpolicella ($14.99 - Safeway) - This Veronese red is principally Corvina. It shows a ruby color and attractive aromas of raspberry, cherry, plum, crushed roses, tobacco, orange peel and oregano. The medium bodied flavors are appealing as well, with red and purple fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, herbal tea and minerals earth. The back picks up pressed berries, dried cherries and recurring orange peel, followed by a dryish yet nicely fruited tannin finish. 18/20 points.
2013 Ruffino "Riserva Ducale" Chianti Classico, Riserva ($21.99 - Safeway) - Ruby-garnet colored, this wine possesses a rich, smoky nose of wild cherries, black currants, plums, crushed roses, tobacco, cedar and incense. The flavors mirror the aromatics with ripe semi dried fruits that are intermixed with cocoa, medium roast coffee beans and minerally earth. The back picks up roasted berries and nuts, toffee, recurring cedar and burnt charcoal, followed by a dryish tannin finish. This wine veers toward the traditional style of Chianti. 18.5/20 points.
2014 Antinori "Peppoli" Chianti Classico ($23.98 - Super 1) - Composed of 90% Sangiovese with the balance Merlot and Syrah, this displays a ruby color and a rich, smoky nose of cherry, plum, currant, red roses, bayberry, tobacco, cedar, orange peel, rosemary and incense. The flavors are medium bodied yet deep and focused, with red fruits that are imbued with re licorice, chocolate, medium roast and earth. The back reveals sensations of pressed fruits, dried cherries, roasted nuts, recurring orange peel and graphite, followed by a classically Tuscan dryish yet finely fruited tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Ca' Marcanda "Promis" IGT Toscana ($44.99 - Safeway) - From a Gaja property in Bolgheri, this blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah and 10% Sangiovese offers a deep ruby color and a seductive nose of blackberries, cherries, black currants, crushed roses, mulberry, a hint of mint, thyme and violets. The flavors, as well, are enticing, with supple yet penetrating red and black fruits that are imbued with red licorice, black tea, and minerals earth. On the back, the wine intensifies, with sensations of macerated fruits, dried cherries, grappa and polished tannins on the lingering herb dusted finish. 19/20 points.
2012 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino ($56.99 - Esquin) - Produced from the Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello) grape, this exhibits a nearly opaque ruby color and intoxicating aromas of black cherries, black currants, black plums, crushed black roses, mulberry, tobacco, fennel, a hint of mint and violets. The flavors are powerful, yet velvety, with infusions of licorice, dark chocolate, Italian roast and minerals earth. The intensity continues on the back with macerated fruits, roasted hazelnuts and ground charcoal, all pushing onward into a lingering spice and herb dusted Tuscan sweet-dry tannin finish. 19+/20 points.