- Written by Rand Sealey
So far this year, it's been a topsy-turvy Winter in Walla Walla. January was milder than normal with only one short snowfall and precipitation mostly rain. But February was colder than normal with most days below freezing and 10" of snow. So far in March, lows have been under 30 degrees. This morning, the thermometer registers 11 degrees outside. A warming trend is forecast by the end of the week. But it looks like Winter will not be over until the official beginning of Spring. The good news is that there will be plenty of snowpack to feed the springs and creeks for agricultural irrigation.
While many Walla Wallans fled South for January and returned to freezing weather, we stuck it out until February 27 for a trip to the post "Snowmageddon" Westside - two days in Seattle and two in LaConner in the Skagit Valley. Weather was cold there, too, mostly in the 30s and 40s. We had some interesting wines on our trip: a nice robust Malbec from Dussek (will have to check out this Woodinville winery), a lovely Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Bethel Heights, an elegant Pouilly Fuisse with oysters and Ling cod. A pleasant discovery was a crisp and nicely fruited 2017 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc. I generally haven't been impressed with Napa Valley Sauvignon, but this was an exception. I also ran across a Sauvignon Gris, a variety I will investigate.
This week, I will be in the processor tasting wines for the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines. This morning, I will be going to Rotie Cellars for the 2018 Rosé and whites. Later this week, a drive out to Dumas Station between Waitsburg and Dayton. Samples will be coming from Array Cellars (2014 Chardonnays), Brian Carter Cellars, Clearwater Canyon Cellars in the Lewis-Clark Valley, and more.
- Written by Rand Sealey
How I Began Reviewing Adams Bench Wines
It was on March 14, 2009 that we first visited the Adams Bench Winery in Woodinville. We had heard about it from other winemakers in the area, so we decided to check it out. Visits were by appointment only, so we scheduled a time. When we arrived, we were greeted by Erica Blue, co-owner (with husband Tim Blue) and winemaker. We sat at a table in front of the barrel room and winemaking equipment crammed into the small winery below the Blues' home on Hollywood Hill above Woodinville. The first releases were the 2006 "Reckoning" Red Wine and the 2006 "the V" Cabernet Sauvignon. They were reviewed in the April 2009 issue of the Review of Washington Wines, with scores of 18.5/20 points for the Reckoning and 19/20 points for "the V," highly respectable scores for the winery's second vintage (a limited bottling of a 2005 red blend had been released in 2008).
The following year, we revisited Adams Bench to taste the newly released 2007 vintage. I found the Red Willow Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon to be the first wine to score 20/20 points in the Review of Washington Wines. I wrote, "It is not a 'blockbuster' in the sense of weight and depth. But it is one of the most highly nuanced and harmonious wines I have ever tasted. I seen 40 minutes analyzing this at the winery in Woodinville." In scoring the wine, the clincher was the 4 out of 4 points for overall quality, "Wines of 'noble' quality with distinct and distinguishing character." Here is the full review:
2007 Adams Bench Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard - This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, from a block planted in 1999, exhibits a deep ruby color with rose edges, and a gorgeous nose of blackberries, cassis, crushed roses, exotic perfumes, lavender and spiced ripe berries. On the entry, a silky array of flavors fans out on the palate: ripe, lightly toasted fruits, sweet-dry berries, orange peel, vanilla bean, licorice, coffee, cocoa powder and minerals. The deep and seamless back palate adds even more complexity with traces of burnt sugar, mocha, dustings of clove and nutmeg and a sense of cinnamon bark. A dribble on the back of the tongue reveals tones of pomegranate juice and a precise juxtaposition of fruit acids, textures, tannins, etc. on a long, long finish. The fine-grained tannins are evident, suggesting 2-10 years aging, but are so satiny as to be unobtrusive. 20/20 points.
Over the years, I reviewed subsequent vintages from Adams Bench. Many of the wines scored 19.5/20 or 20/20 points. Such consistency is remarkable for any winery. Recently, I pulled out a couple of 2009 wines to see how they were showing. Here are my notes.
2009 Adams Bench "Artz & Shaw" Red Wine, Red Mountain - Composed of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, this showed a deep ruby color and an opulent bouquet of semi dried dark fruits, crushed roses, brandied cherries, pipe tobacco and smoldering oriental incense. At nine plus years of age (stored at 57 degrees F) it still showed vivid fruit, rich and fleshy yet deep and penetrating, with notes of licorice, dark cocoa, French roast and Red Mountain scorched earth. The velvety yet chewy textured back picked up semi dried fruits, roasted chestnuts and mocha, followed by a savory long finish. 19+/20 points. Reviewed August 2012 - 19+/20 points.
2009 Adams Bench Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Red Willow Vineyard - This vintage displayed a deep ruby color and an intense bouquet of blackberries, old tree cherries, plums, cassis, attar of rose, sweet tobacco, cedar, vanillin, anise and exotic incense. The flavors were thick and muscular, almost massive yet refined, infused with black licorice, dark cocoa, French press coffee and alluvial minerals. The wine intensified on the back with sensations of macerated berries, roasted walnuts, lanolin ("legs") and graphite. The oak was evident yet smooth and sweet, with some tannins to shed yet with plenty of fit. It could go another 10 years. 20/20 points. Reviewed August 2012 - 20/20 points.
Other Wines Recently Tasted
2017 L'Ecole No. 41 "Old Vines" Chenin Blanc ($14) - This is one of the greatest values in Washington white. Light lemon-gold colored, it possesses floral aromas of Anjou pear, peach, citrus, apple blossoms, lemon verbena and clover. The flavors are vibrant and resonant with notes of grape and apple skins, peach stone and saline minerals. The back picks up poire William and pêche liqueurs and lemon zest on the way to a crisp, nicely fruited finish. 18.5/20 points. Reviewed September 2018 - 18.5/20 points.
2013 Array Cellars "Dijon Clone" Chardonnay, Yakima Valley ($32) - Back in February 2018, I reviewed Array Cellars 2013 Chardonnays. Last week, I pulled out a bottle of the Dijon Clone from the Otis Harlan Vineyard. It showed a brilliant lemon-gold color and floral aromas of pear, peach, grapefruit, pear blossoms, lemon verbena and white incense. The flavors were well delineated, Burgundy-like, with notes of peach stone, pear skin and alluvial minerals. The leesy textured back picked up poire and pêche liqueurs and touches of creme fraiche and hazelnut one a still vibrant finish. Excellent value. This and the other 2013 Chardonnays are still available. 19/20 points.
2015 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie, "La Madone" - Once in a while, we'll drink a Beaujolais for the fun of it. This one showed a ruby-crimson color and perfumed aromas of raspberry, cherry and currant with scents pf roses, sweet pea flowers and violets. The flavors were filled with expressive red and blue fruits that were accented by licorice, cocoa and granitic minerals. The back picked up roasted nuts, kirsch and creme de cassis, followed by an elegant ripe moderate tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2015 Domaine Ragot Givry, "Vieilles Vignes" - The Côte Chalonnaise of Burgundy is another area whose wines we like. This one showed a deep brick red color and a rich, smoky nose of fraises de bois, cherries, red currants, crushed red roses, tobacco and incense. The flavors were not highly complicated, but very tasty with definite old vine Pinot Noir character, underlain with licorice, cocoa and earth. The back picked up roasted berries and nuts, toffee and soft pencil lead, followed by a moderate tannin finish. Purchased for $27.99 from wine.com. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Louis Jadot Côte de Nuits Villages - This is our go-to Red Burgundy and we drank a bottle last night. From the communes of Premeaux and Comblanchien, it showed a brick red color and attractive aromas of strawberry, raspberry and black currant, crushed roses and wood smoke. The Pinot Noir flavors were pleasingly supple yet substantial with plenty of red fruit, intermixed with cocoa, medium roast coffee and granitic minerals. The back revealed pressed berries, roasted nuts and fraise and creme de cassis liqueurs, followed by a ripe smooth tannin finish. Purchased for $45.99 from wine.com. 19/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Last week, I reviewed several wines from France and Germany. Here are some more that we have drunk over the past week as our ongoing search for affordable European wines.
2016 Domaine Brusset Rasteau "La Bastide" ($21.99 - Total Wine) - Rasteau is situated northeast of Avignon. Composed of Grenache and Mourvèdre, this shows a deep ruby-crimson color and a rich nose of blackberries, blueberries, currants, garrigue (lavender and herbs) and wood smoke, The flavors are robust and direct, with chewy dark fruits that are imbued with licorice, cocoa, French roast and limestone, followed by a ripe, smooth moderate tannin finish. 18/20 points.
2016 Domaine Brusset Cairanne, "Vieilles Vignes ($24.99 - Total Wine) - From a commune adjacent to Rasteau, this offers a purplish ruby color and aromas of black currant, cherry and blueberry with scents of lavender, sweet tobacco and spiced incense. The flavors are supple yet full and concentrated, with notes of licorice, cocoa and limestone and alluvial minerals. The back picks up kirsch, creme de cassis and charcoal on the way to a ripe tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
See last week's blog for the 2016 Domaine Brusset Gigondas, "Tradition de Montmirial."
2016 Domaine La Millière Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc ($39.99 - Total Wine) - Most of the wines of Chateauneuf du Pape are red, but this is a distinctive white. Brilliant gold colored, it emits intriguing aromas of pear, apricot, grapefruit, white roses, honeysuckle, lemon verbena and white incense. The flavors are full and mouth filling, composed of yellow fruits that are intermixed with pear skin, apricot stone, and mas (cobblestone) minerals. The back reveals sensations of poire William liqueur and grapefruit peel, followed a persistently minerally finish. 19/20 points.
2015 Domaine de Durban Gigondas ($27.99 - wine.com) - This 70% Grenache, 30% Syrah combination offers a deep ruby color and a rich, smoky nose of wild raspberries, plums, black currants, rosebuds, garrigue and spiced incense. The flavors are thick and chewy, marked by notes of licorice, cocoa, roasted coffee brans and Montmirail stone. The saturation continues on the back with roasted berries and nuts, framboise and creme de cassis liqueurs, followed by a savory moderate tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Domaine du Prieuré Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($50 - Whitehouse Crawford) - We had this wine with dinner at the Whitehouse Crawford Restaurant last night. It was mis-listed as a Savigny les Beaune, where the Domaine is located. But it turned out to be a winner. It comes from a vineyard just outside the commune of Savigny. From 39 year-old vines, it shows a medium brick red color and attractive aromas of strawberries, cherries, currants, rose petals and whiffs of spiced incense. The medium bodied flavors are pleasingly supple, yet well textured, with notes of cocoa powder, orange peel and alluvial minerals. The back picks up kirsch and creme de cassis liqueurs, followed a bright young fruit finish. For a restaurant wine, the price is right. Estimated retail: $20-25. 18+/20 points.
2016 Domaine Chevillon-Chezaux Nuits-St. Georges, "Vieilles Vignes" ($41.99 - Total Wine) - Deep brick red colored, this possesses enticing aromas of fraises de bois, red cherry, cassis, red rose petals, orange peel and whiffs of incense. The medium bodied flavors show considerable old vine Pinot Noir character along with lots of texture and mouth feel, imbued with licorice, cocoa and granitic minerals. The back picks up kirsch and creme de cassis liqueurs and recurring orange peel, followed by a satiny ripe tannin finish. 19/20 points.
2015 Domaine Chevillon-Chezeaux Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits ($31.99 - Total Wine) - This comes from the plateau above the Côte de Nuits. It comes on like a high elevation Pinot Noir with a medium brick red color and intriguing aromas of fraises de bois, cherry, red currant, orange peel and white incense. The medium bodied flavors mirror the aromatics with supple yet well structured red fruits that are underlain with licorice, cocoa and cobblestone minerals. The back picks up pressed berries, toasted nuts, creme de cassis and light graphite on the smooth tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Weinhaus Dönnhof Riesling trocken, Nahe ($28 - The Thief) - "Trocken" means dry in German, so this is a dry Riesling. It shows a brilliant lemon-gold color and intriguing aromas of pear, pear, melon, lime, pear tree blossoms, lemongrass, anise and white incense. The full bodied flavors, as well, are distinctive, with white fruits that are accented by peach stone, pear skin, and minerally earth (typical of Nahe, south of the Rhine River). The back picks up pear and peach liqueurs, melon rind and lime zest, followed by a resonant dry (fermented to 12% alcohol) but un-austere finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel ($38 - The Thief) - This is a beautiful example of Mittel Mosel Riesling. Brilliant lemon-gold colored, it possesses fragrant aromas of pear-apple, pear, honeydew melon and citrus with scents of apple blossoms, honeysuckle and clover. The flavors are ripe (late harvest) with notes of peach stone, melon rind and slate minerals. The resonance continues on the back with sensations of poire William liqueur and lemon zest followed by a low alcohol (7.5%) faintly honeyed lingering finish that is counterpointed by racy fruit acids. 19/20 points.
First of the Year Rosés
During the past couple of weeks, we have been attending previews of the new 2018 Rosés from Walla Walla Valley wineries. Here are capsule reviews of them. Full reviews will be in the March issue of the Review of Washington Wines which will go on line February 26.
2018 Seven Hills Dry Rosé, Columbia Valley ($18) - Predominately Cabernet Franc, this offers a light copper-pink color and enticing aromas of strawberry, Rainier cherry, watermelon and pink grapefruit. The flavors are fresh and vibrant with a kiss of fruit juice on the dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 SMAK Wines "Spring Rosé" Sangiovese, Walla Walla Valley ($16) - Pale copper colored, with scents of pear, peach, tangerine, spring flowers and white incense, this wine is fresh and buoyant. The flavors are crisp and lightly extracted with light alcohol (11.2%) lifted by bright fruit acids. 18.5/20 points.
2018 SMAK Wines "Summer Rosé" Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley ($16) - Made from Pinot Gris grapes given extra hang time to produce a rosé with a greyish pink-copper color and intriguing aroma pear, watermelon, tangerine, pink lilac and white incense. The flavors are vivid and refreshing, with a crisp pleasingly fruited finish. To be released in April. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Underground Wine Project "And Why I am Mr. Pink" Rosé, Columbia Valley ($13) - This collaboration of Trey Busch and Mark McNeilly offers a brilliant pink color and attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry and tangerine. The flavors are expressive and are followed by a pleasingly juicy dry finish. 18+/20 points.
2018 Vital Wines Rosé Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($19) - Predominately Sangiovese (85%) this displays a pale copper color and aromas of wild strawberries, citrus and star fruit. The flavors are bright and vivid, with sensations of fraise and kirsch liqueurs and orange peel on the persistently minerally finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Brook & Bull Rose, Columbia Valley ($19) - Composed of 54% Cinsault, 40% Mourvèdre and 6% Counoise, this shows a pale copper color and intriguing aromas of peach, cherry, guava, cherry blossoms and spiced white incense. The flavors are fresh and juicy, with notes of peach stone, melon rind and flint. 18.5/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
As our quest for affordable European wines, we have discovered some more wines that merit your attention. All are under $40 a bottle, most much less. Here they are.
2016 Domaine Maurice Charleux & Fils Maranges 1er Cru, Le Clos des Rois ($28.99 - wine.com) - Maranges is situated at the southern end of the Côte d'Or. This one offers a brick red color and an unmistakable Pinot Noir nose of fraises de bois, cherries, currants, red roses, mulberry, orange peel and incense. The medium bodied flavors are ample yet deep and focused, with notes of licorice, cocoa and minerals, followed by a kirsch and creme de cassis on the smooth tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Bouchard Ainé & Fils Fixin "La Mazière" ($33.99 - wine.com) -From north of Gevrey-Chambertin, this offers a brilliant brick red color and enticing aromas of strawberry, cherry, currant, crushed red roses, tobacco leaf, orange peel and incense. The flavors are supple yet robust, with red fruits that are marked by red licorice, cocoa, roasted coffee beans and earth. On the back, the wine intensifies with macerated berries, fraise and cassis liqueurs and charcoal, followed by a ripe sensuous finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Ropiteau Saint-Romain Blanc ($26.99 - wine.com) - Saint-Romain is situated above Meursault. This shows a medium gold color and attractive aromas of apple, peach and grapefruit with scents of apple blossoms, acacia flowers and lemon verbena. The flavors are crisp and lively, indicative of a high elevation Chardonnay, with notes of grape skin, peach stone, grapefruit rind and granitic minerals, followed by a finely fruited finish. 18+/20 points.
The following two whites are Tête Cuvées from Pouilly-Fuissé. I bought them to see if they were worth the higher prices than those for the regular bottlings. They are.
2016 Château Fuissé Pouilly-Fuissé "Tête de Cru" ($38.99 - wine.com) - Sourced from the top parcels of the Domaine's vineyards, this is an outstanding White Burgundy. Aged in oak barrels (70%) it displays a brilliant gold color and floral aromas of pear, peach, lemon custard, pear tree blossoms and acacia flowers. The pure Chardonnay flavors are expressive, with notes of pear skin, peach stone and granitic minerals. The resonance continues on the back with poire and pêche liqueurs, vanillin and creme fraiche, followed by a lingering, complex finish. 19/20 points.
2014 Domaine Trouillet Pouilly-Fuissé, "Coeur de Pouilly" ($34.99 - Total Wine) - This is a fine example of Pouilly-Fuissé with some age. Deep golden colored, it possesses a seductive bouquet of ripe pears, pêche melba, orange peel, semi dried pear tree blossoms and oriental white incense. The flavors reveal pure Chardonnay character with white fruits that ate imbued with ripe pear skin, peach stones and granitic minerals. On the back, the wine glides forward, with sensations of toasted hazelnuts, lanolin and poire and pêche liqueurs into a lingering, precise finish. 19/20 points.
2017 Les Pallières "au petit bonheur" Rosé Wine ($24.99 - wine.com) - This South Rhone wine is another Rosé not just for summer (see the previous blog below). Peach colored, it possesses exotic aromas of pink peach, cherry, cantaloupe, pomegranate, cherry blossoms, lavender, orange peel and spiced incense. The flavors complement the aromatics with lively fruits that show notes of pear and cherry stones and saline minerals. The back picks up lightly pressed fruits, poire and pêche liqueurs and recurring orange peel on a crisp, dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Domaine Brusset Gigondas "Tradition Le Grand Montmiral" ($23.99 - Total Wine) - This is terrific value. It shows a purplish ruby color and a rich nose of raspberries, black currants, plums, black roses, mulberry, pipe tobacco, lavender and incense. The flavors are generous and mouth filling yet focused, with notes of licorice, dark cocoa and Montmiral minerals. The back reveals macerated fruits, framboise and cassis liqueurs followed by a pleasing ripe tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
The following wine was purchased from Last Bottle, which, as the name suggests, deals in end of vintage closeouts. This wine is sold out, but the website lastbottlewines.com is worth checking out for upcoming buys.
2015 Domaine Saint Michel Chateauneuf du Pape, "Les Deux Soeurs" ($35 - Last Bottle) - Deep ruby colored, this wine possesses rich, smoky aromas of raspberry, blueberry and black currants with scents of roses, lavender, olive tapenade and garrigue. The medium full bodied flavors are thick and chewy, with notes of licorice, black tea and mas gravel. The back picks up touches of leather and bacon fat on the way to a grainy yet smooth ripe tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Karhäuserhof Eitelsbacher Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Kabinett, Mosel ($19.99 - wine.com) - From near Trier on the Ruwer, this wine offers a brilliant lemon-gold color and floral aromas of pear, peach, apricot and grapefruit with scents of wildflowers and wet stone. The flavors are deliciously ripe and lively, accented by a bit of spritz along with notes of grape and pear skins and Ruwer River minerals. The low alcohol (8.5%) is lifted by bright fruit acids on the lightly spiced medium dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Dr, Heidemanns-Bergweiler Bernkastler Badstube Riesling Spätlese ($23.99 - Total Wine) - Lemon-gold colored this wine emits floral aromas of Asian pear-apple, white peach, passion fruit and citrus with scents of apple blossoms, wildflowers and clover. The flavors show definite spätlese (late harvest) ripeness, with notes of pear skin, peach stone and granitic minerals, enlivened on the back with racy fruit acids and a bit of spritz on the honeyed medium dry finish. At 8% alcohol, it is easy to drink yet serious. 18.5/20 points.
Next Week: Some more French wines, including super values from the Cotes du Rhone Villages such as Cairrane, Rasteau and Vacqueyras, and a few more German Rieslings.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Gary and Nancy Figgins to be Inducted into the Hall of Fame
On August 9, at a gala dinner at the Walter Clore Center Nancy and Gary Figgins will be inducted into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame. This is an honor well deserved for the Figgins who founded the Leonetti Cellar winery in Walla Walla in 1977. The prestige of the Walla Walla Valley AVA is largely due to this iconic winery. Congratulations Nancy and Gary!
Jason Gorski takes over as DeLille Winemaker
Jason Gorski, formerly Assistant Winemaker, has taken over as Winemaker at DeLille Cellars in Woodinville. Chris Upchurch becomes Founding Winemaker at DeLille, a culmination of 27 years. Before coming to DeLille in 2011, Gorski was assistant winemaker at Spring Valley Vineyards in Walla Walla. This change coincides with the winery's move to the former Redhook Brewery facility. I have known Jason for several years and have gone through a number of productive wine tasting sessions with him. Congratulations!
Derick Vipond takes the Reins at Walla Walla Vintners
Another winemaker transition is at Walla Walla Vintners where Derrek Vipond takes over as winemaker. Derrek comes to WWV from Long Shadows where he was assistant winemaker. Former winemaker, Bill VonMetzger will continue working at Walla Walla Vintners through a transition period. Congratulations to Derrek and all the best to Bill.
Lagana Cellars moves to South Second in Walla Walla
When Kerloo Cellars left its tasting room in Walla Walla to focus on its SODO facility in South Seattle, Lagana Cellars moved around the corner into that Second Avenue location. There, Jason Fox and Todd Bernave are pouring their current releases.
Washington Wines Revisited
Over the past few weeks, I have been reorganizing my wine collection. In doing so, I have retasted some wines that have been lying around for years, and some recently acquired. Here are my notes on some of these wines.
2017 Abeja Viognier, Walla Walla Valley ($35) - This was reviewed in June 2018 (19/20 points). Retasted a week ago, it showed a lovely nose of pear, peach, passion fruit, wildflowers honeysuckle and white incense. The flavors were exquisitely wrought and vibrant with crystalline minerality and a long ripe finish. It paired nicely with liguine with mushrooms and Alfredo sauce. 19/20 points.
2017 Aluvé Estate Chardonnay, Walla Walla Valley, Menozzi Vineyard ($35) - This is another fine example of how the 2017 vintage is shaping up beautifully for white wines. It showed a brilliant lemon gold color and a floral nose of Asian pear-apple, white peach, grapefruit, apple blossoms, acacia flowers and white incense. The flavors came on as true to variety and balanced, with notes of pear skin, peach stone and minerals. The back picked up poire and pêche liqueurs and touches of vanillin and lanolin, followed by a long finish. 19/20 points.
2015 March Cellars "Come Hell or High Water" Red Wine ($35) - This blend of 39% Grenache, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Mourvèdre, 11% Counoise and 2% Syrah was reviewed December 2017 (18.5+/20 points). Last tasted, it showed a deep ruby color and a rich, smoky nose of blackberries, blueberries, black currants, black roses, pipe tobacco, garrigue and spiced incense. The flavors were thick and supple yet focused, with notes of cocoa, coffee beans and earth, followed by a satisfying pepper and spice dusted finish. 18.5+/20 points. This vintage is sold out, but the 2016 (reviewed October 2018 - 19/20 points) is available under Ashley Trout's Brook & Bull label.
2015 DeLille Cellars "Signature" Syrah, Yakima Valley - I tasted this with Jason Gorski, now DeLille Winemaker (see above) in May 2018 (reviewed June, 2018 - 19+/20 points. "Signature" suggests an elegantly styled Syrah, which this fitted beautifully in our retasting. It exhibited a deep ruby-crimson color and seductive aromas of blackberry, blueberry and cassis with scents of crushed roses, tobacco, violets and oriental incense. The flavors were simultaneously velvety and authoritative, with notes of licorice, cacao and minerals, followed by a long, smooth yet invigorating finish. 19+/20 points.,
2012 LaRata Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley - La Rata is a project of Elizabeth Bourcier, Assistant Vigneronne at Cayuse. This vintage is comprised of 60% Grenache and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It showed a brick red color and seductive aromas of wild raspberries, cherries, black currants, crushed roses, tobacco, orange peel and spiced oriental incense. On the palate, the wine was simultaneously broad and focused, comprising layers of black and blue fruits that were intermixed with licorice, cocoa powder and Rocks minerality. On the back, the wine acquired a velvety texture, from the Grenache, bolstered by the Cabernet, along with sensations of pressed fruits, creme de cassis, orange peel, nougat and graphite, all flowing seamlessly into a long savory smooth tannin finish. 19.5/20 points.
2013 College Cellars Carmenère, Walla Walla Valley, Clarke Vineyard - I found this on the floor in the wine storage room. The last release of Carmenère was the 2016 (sold out), with the 2017 coming spring. This vintage showed a ruby color and a developing bouquet of semi dried fruits, spices and wood smoke. The flavors came on as being full and supple, with notes of licorice, cocoa, French roast and silty minerals. The back picked up pressed berries, dried orange peel and roasted nuts on the dryish tannin finish. It drank very nicely. Purchased for $25. 18.5/20 points.
2014 Xenolith Vintners Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley - Xenolith is Rasa Vineyards cellar master Noé Martinez's wine. I reviewed it in November 2017 (19/20 points). Tasted last night, it showed a brick red color and enticing aromas of raspberry, bayberry, red currant, orange peel and spiced incense. The flavors were deep and supple, with notes of licorice, cocoa, French roast and Rocks minerals. The back picked up macerated berries, roasted nuts and mocha, followed by a ripe tannin finish that was beginning to smooth out. Still available on Xenolith's website. 19/20 points.
2008 TL Cellars "Release No. Five" Grenache, Walla Walla Valley - A few days ago, I ran across a call on Facebook from Troy Ledwick asking, "Still some TL Cellars out there...Let me know how it's drinking...." So I got out a bottle of this wine to try. It has held up well for Grenache which typically and a medium bodied Pinot Noir like profile. It had been stored in a Eurocave for the last five years. It showed a red-garnet color and maturing aromas of semi dried fruits, orange peel, dried herbs and oriental incense. The flavors were well developed, with notes of chocolate, mocha and silty earth (Minnick Vineyard), spices and toasted nuts, followed a dryish tannin finish. Reviewed October 2010 (19/20 points). Yesterday, 19/20 points.
2015 Walla Walla Vintners Dolcetto, Walla Walla Valley, Dwelley Vineyard - This dates back to the Myles Anderson, Gordy Venneri, Bill VonMertzger era at Walla Walla Vintners. Tasted today, it showed a ruby-garnet color and enticing aromas of Boysenberries, cherries, plums, partially dried roses, orange peel and incense. The flavors came on as being generous yet serious, with notes of Toberlone chocolate, Italian roast and Dwelley silty loam. The back picked up roasted berries and nuts on a sweetish ("dolce") yet dry finish. 18.5/20 points. Reviewed May 2017 (18.5/20 points). The current vintage is 2016 (reviewed November 2018 - 18.5/20 points).