- 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.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Downtown Walla Walla Tasting Room Moves
The changes in wine tasting room locales in Walla Walla has been like a game of musical chairs. Here are the recent moves.
Lagana Cellars - Jason Fox and Todd Bernave's winery has moved its tasting room around the corner from Rose Street to South Second Avenue, taking the location vacated by Kerloo Cellars which has moved all its operations to Seattle's SODO district.
Spring Valley Vineyards - This winery is moving its tasting room to the corner of South Second and Rose, where the Gino Cuneo and Côte Ciel was located. The balcony loft (formerly an artist studio) will be turned into a tasting lounge.
G. Cuneo Cellars & Côte Ciel - Gino Cuneo and Michael Holmes (Côte Ciel) will share the space previously held by Spring Valley. Remodeling is under way and the new location will be opened this Spring.
Spring Coming in Walla Walla?
Last week, I reported on the unusually mild January and cold, snowy February. As of this writing, it is 36 degrees outside, with an expected high of 40. Snow has been melting slowly and refreezing at night, making driveways icy and hard to get in and out of. There'll be a warming trend into the upper 40s at the end of this week. The end of Winter is in sight, but will it be in time for the official beginning of Spring? We'll' see.
More Wines Recently Tasted
Below are some noteworthy wines we've tasted recently. from my wine collection reorganization.
2016 Domaine Gerard Thomas Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru, La Garenne ($41.99 - Total Wine) - This is relatively affordable for a Premier Cru White Burgundy. It offers a brilliant gold color and a lovely perfumed nose of Bosc pear, white peach, citrus, pear tree blossoms, acacia flowers and white incense. The palate is filled with copious white fruits and the back picks up poire William and pêche liqueurs and granitic minerals followed by a long finish. "That's the way a Chardonnay should be, with mouth feel," says Lynn. 19/20 points.
2015 J.J. Vincent Julienas ($21.99 - Wine.com) - One of the more robust Crus of Beaujolais, this offers a deep ruby color and a rich, smoky nose of wild raspberries, plums and black currants, with scents of crushed roses, mulberry, tobacco and incense. The flavors are thick and fleshy, with notes of licorice, cocoa, roasted coffee beans and wood smoke. The chewy textured back picks up macerated berries, roasted nuts and framboise and creme de cassis liqueurs, followed by a grainy ripe tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc ($39.99 - Wine,com) - Little white wine is produced in Chateauneuf du Pape, but this one is worth looking for. It shows a brilliant gold color and exotic aromas of Asian pear-apple, peach, Crenshaw melon, honeysuckle, anise and clover. The flavors are full bodied and penetrating, with notes of pear skin, peach stone and mas (cobblestone) minerals. The intensity continues on the back with poire and pêche liqueurs and melon rind, followed by a persistently minerally dry but unaustere finish. 19/20 points.
2012 DeLille Cellars "D2" Red Wine, Columbia Valley - I picked this up a few years ago at a tasting with Jason Gorski. It takes its name from the Route D2 in the Bordeaux Medoc. It is drinking nicely now, showing a deep ruby color and a bouquet of semi-dried fruits - raspberries, cherries, plums - crushed rose, tobacco and incense. The flavors are rich and smooth, yet vigorous, with notes of licorice, cocoa and alluvial earth. The back picks up macerated berries, roasted nuts, mocha and toasty oak (100% new) followed by a lingering savory finish, with the tannins rounding out. 19/20 points.