- Written by Rand Sealey
As summer approaches, thoughts turn to rosé wines for warmer weather (although they're not just for summer). Of this season's crop of rosé, here are our top picks, along with some exceptional values and new selections.
2015 El Corazon "Red Frog" Rosé, Columbia Valley ($20) - This is only for those who like a more extracted style of rosé. Made from Syrah, it has lots of depth and spicy fruit. 18.5/20 points. Reviewed May.
2015 Gramercy Cellars Olsen Vineyard Rosé, Columbia Valley ($25) - One of the top Provence style rosés, produced from Consult, Grenache and Syrah. 18.5/20 points. - May
2015 Waters Rosé Wine, Washington State ($20) - This conferment of 60% Syrah and 40% Viognier offers lively pink fruits and fresh acidity. - 18.5/20 points - May
2015 Waters Patina Vineyard Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($22) - Drawn straight from press (like the Washington State) this 100% Syrah rosé has wonderful, fresh fruit and superb balance. 18.5/20 points. - May
2015 L'Ecole No. 41 Grenache Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, Alder Ridge Vineyard ($22) - Made in the style of a Tavel Rosé from near Avignon, this shows fresh and sprightly strawberry, watermelon and Rainier cherry flavors. 18.5/20 points - June
2015 The Walls "Cruel Summer" Rosé of Pinot Noir, Columbia Gorge ($21) - Showing lovely aromas of strawberry, cherry blossoms and Columbia Gorge volcanic minerals, this is a winner. 18.5/20 points - June
2015 Seven Hills Dry Rosé, Columbia Valley ($17) - Composed of 84% Cabernet Franc and 8% each of Petit Verdot, this is a real charmer, light and fresh with plenty of vibrancy. 18+/20 points. - April
2015 Northwest Wine Academy Rosé Wine, Columbia Valley ($12.50) - Produced from Blaufrankisch, a grape of Austrian origin, this has ripe aromas and lively, juicy flavors. 18+/20 points.- April
2015 Vino la Monarcha Pinot Noir Rosé, Ancient Lakes ($16) - This is a fresh, lively, likable rosé that picks up fruit liqueurs and Ancient Lakes minerals. 18+/20 points - April
2015 College Cellars Rosé of Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, Reed Vineyard ($15) - Produced from grapes that acquire a copper color from extended hang time, this offers aromas of peach and cantaloupe and grapeskin extracts. 18+/20 points.- June
There was not enough space in the past few issues to include all the noteworthy Rosés available. Here are some new recommendations.
2015 Lauren Ashton Rosé, Columbia Valley ($21) - This 50% Grenache, 50% Mourvèdre combination offers fresh raspberry and strawberry aromas and juicy flavors that are accented by notes of citrus zest and nicely extracted dry flavors that persist on the finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Browne Family Vineyards Grenache Rosé, Columbia Valley ($20) - This shows a copper tinged pink color and attractive aromas of strawberry, cherry and watermelon with lively flavors dancing on the palate, picking up fraise and cerise liqueurs on the way to a crisp, juicy finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Tertulia Cellars Tempranillo Rosé, Walla Walla Valley ($20) - This offers intriguing aromas of cherry, peach, papaya, and whiffs of musky incense and creamy texture, accented by cherry and peach liqueurs and touches of orange peel and among, followed by a dryish Rioja-like finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Balboa Rosé of Grenache, Walla Walla Valley, Summit View Vineyard ($20) - Light pink colored, this shows attractive aromas of strawberry, peach, Rainier cherry and elderflowers, with fresh vivacious minnerally flavors. 18.5/20 points. - A full review to be in the July issue.
2015 Forgeron Cellars Rosé of Sangiovese, Walla Walla Valley ($22) - With aromas of cherries, star fruit, tangerine, and fresh, lively flavors with notes of cherry stones, and silty minerals, this is one of the nicest pink Sangios we're run across. 18.5/20 points - July
2015 Castillo de Feliciana Rosé of Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley ($20) - This 75% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha combination offers a pink-copper color and intriguing aromas of raspberry, watermelon, tangerine peel and white incense. The flavors are fresh and vibrant with a deftly extracted dry finish. 18+/20 points. - July
- Written by Rand Sealey
Last week, the Seattle Wine Awards, which is coordinated by Master Sommelier Christopher Chan, announced the winners. I took particular interest in the Awards listing since I was on the panel of judges for the tastings, April 16th and 17th (see the Review of Washington Blog postings of April 13 and 19 for more about the judging). Here are some noteworthy award winners that have been reviewed in the Review of Washington Wines.
Best of Show - Double Gold
2014 Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Franc, Wahluke Slope - To be reviewed in the July issue - 19/20 points
2013 Co Dinn Chardonnay, Snipes Mountain, Roskamp Vineyard - To be reviewed in July 19.5/20 points
2012 Cadaretta Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley - March - 19/20 points
2013 Cadaretta Windthrow Red, Columbia Valley - March - 19+/20 points
2013 Cadaretta Syrah, Columbia Valley - March - 19/20 points
2013 Convergence Zone Cellars "Storm Front" Red Wine, Red Mountain - May - 18.5/20 points
2013 L'Ecole No. 41 "Apogee" Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, Pepper Bridge Vineyard - April - 19+/20 points
2013 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson Estate Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley - June - 19.5/20 points
2013 Walla Walla Vintners Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley July, 2015 - 18.5+/20 points
2013 Woodward Canyon "Old Vines" Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State - April - 19.5/20 points
2013 Castillo de Feliciana Malbec, Columbia Valley, Phinny Hill Vineyard - To be in July issue - 18.5 points
2014 College Cellars Barbera, Walla Walla Valley, Anderson Vineyard - April - 18/20 points
2013 Kerloo Cellars Grenache, Snipes Mountain, Upland Vineyard - June - 19/20 points
2010 Tero Estates Hill Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Windrow Vineyard - June, 2015 - 19.5/20 points
2013 Walla Walla Vintners Merlot, Walla Walla Valley - November, 2015 - 18.5/20 points
2013 Woodward Canyon Artist's Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley - January - 19+/20 points
There were numerous wines that have not been reviewed in the Review of Washington Wines. In the future, I will be watching for award winners that merit upcoming reviews. Also, some award winning wines have not yet been released.
- Written by Rand Sealey
On Tuesday, May 24th, the Sons of Bacchus, and two Daughters of Dionysus assembled at our house for a tasting of Chenin Blancs. Some of the results were interesting. Here are the top wines and my notes.
2012 Domaine Joly Savennières, Clos de la Bergerie - This was a fine rendition of dry Chenin Blanc from Anjou. It showed a brilliant gold color and a rich, smoky nose of peach and apricot and semi-dried fruit flavors and distinct minerality. 18.5+/20 points.
2010 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec, Le Mont - This appeared twice in the same flight, one bottle ranked first, the other third (which I ranked first) in the group's ranking. It was a fine version of the drier style. Bright gold colored, with aromas of peach, butternut, almond and slate and ripe flavors that showed distinct minerality and great clarity. 19/20 points.
2013 Domaine Chidaine Montlouis sur Loire - Montlouis is situated across the river from Vouvray and the wines are similar. This one showed a medium gold color and a classic Chenin nose of minerals and slate and well balanced, elegant ripe fruit flavors. Ranked first in its flight by me and the grouo. 19/20 points.
2012 Domaine Fosse-Sèche "Arcane" Saumur Blanc - Generally, the wines of Saumur are not as distinguished as those of Anjou, but this was an exception. Deep golden colored, it showed an unctuous nose of pear, peach and apricot, with spicy, full-bodied classic Chenin flavors. 19/20 points.
2012 Waitsburg Cellars "Cheninierres" Chenin Blanc - This was one of two Washington Chenins in the tasting. While outclassed by the Loire wines, it showed well. Light colored, with pleasant pear and peach flavors. A nice picnic white. 18+/20 points.
- Written by Rand Sealey
Back in April, in preparation for my feature writeup on The Walls Vineyards, Lynn and I met with Ali Mayfield at Artifex, the state of the art winemaking facility on Dell Avenue in Walla Walla. There, we learned that the winery was started in 2013 with Michael Martin, a software attorney, as partner. The wines were being made at Artifex, but the winemaking was going to be moved to the former Whitman Cellars facility on 13th and Pine Street. We also learned that Ali took an interest in food and wine at the age of 19, growing up in southern Indiana. She also credited the late Stan Clark at the Walla Walla Community College for mentoring her. We then barrel tasted over a dozen wines which indicate a highly promising future for The Walls Vineyards. Here are my notes on some of them.
2015 - Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, French Creek Vineyard - Fermented and aged in concrete, this showed nice bright fruit and crispness. Ali noted that the 2015 vintage was tricky for white wines due to the rapidly rising sugars and dropping acids during harvest. But this wine was spot on.
2015 "McAndrew" Chardonnay, Columbia Gorge, White Salmon Vineyard - From cuttings originally from the Celilo Vineyard, this wine showed bright, almost spritzy, acidity and lovely, vivacious fruit.
2015 Grenache Blanc, Yakima Valley, French Creek Vineyard - Ali called this "the lipstinger" for its bright fruit and and acidity. Blended wih Roussanne, Marsanne and Picpoul, it had wonderful aromatics and lively flavors.
2015 Syrah, Red Mountain, Red Heaven Vineyard - Ali called this the "Concrete Momma." It showed vivid Red Mountain Syrah flavors. She prefers to keep racking to a minimum, leaving the wine on the lees as long as possible.
2015 Touriga Nacional, Red Mountain - From a Portuguese variety, this showed an opaque color and smoldering aromas of roasted berries and nuts, and full-bodied, structured flavors.
2015 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, Stoney Vine Vineyard - Fermented in concrete and then put in barrels, this showed a deep color and firm, yet fleshy flavors and distinctive aromatics.
2015 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Stoney Vine Vineyard - Also fermented in concrete and aged in barrels, this had loads of flavor and distinct Rocks minerality. Powerful and deep, yet fleshy.
Afterwards, we went over to the future winemaking facility. We met Ali's brother, Jake, who is helping out in getting ready for thie winery's transitioning. There are plans for a tasting room in downtown Walla Walla on West Poplar, next door to the Jim German's Passatempo (formerly Pastime) restaurant. It is an ambitious and exciting project. Architect Alex deMambro is designing both the restaurant and tasting room.
Later, on May 7th, during Spring Release Weekend, we went to the inaugural event at the future winery. Mike Martin was on hand to help pour the wines , including a tasty new "Cruel Summer" Rosé of Pinot Noir. Reviews of the wines are in the June issue of the Review of Washington Wines. Jim German and his culinary crew served up pulled pork and pasta, a wonderful preview of the Passatempo Restaurant. There is a lot to look forward to.
- Written by Rand Sealey
On Saturday, May 7, during Spring Release Weekend in the Walla Walla Valley, we visited Tertulia Cellars' Elevation Vineyard. It is located almost in the southeastern corner of the AVA at an elevation of 1500 to 1700 feet (hence the vineyard name) in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, along the North Fork of the Walla Walla River. Lynn and I and about 20 other guests were guides by Tertulia winemker Ryan Raber, vineyard manager Ryan Driver, and consulting geologist Kevin Pogue who is also a Whitman College professor.
After leaving Tertulia Cellars on Whitely Road in the South Valley, we caravaned along a winding route to the vineyard. There, we convened at the base of the steeply sloped and terraced vineyard. We walked along a steep rock strewn slope. Ryan Driver said they had to use jackhammers to dig holes for the vines and posts. Kevin Pogue explained that the terrain comprises fractured basalt topped with varying layers of loess silt. The silt was deposited by wind from layers of silt left from intermittent glacial floods between 25,000 and 18,000 years ago. The loess deposits came from as far away as Idaho and Montana, blown by wind.
We went up further in elevation to plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. This site is ideal in elevation, exposure and drainage for classic varieties. On a terroir covered by loess over deep basalt, the vines grow deep roots for water and nutrients. We then reached the top of the slope, saw a nursery where cuttings were being propagated for planting around the vineyard. There, we could see extensive plantings, almost all terraced, and on distant slopes. We walked back down the other side of the slope past Merlot anf Cabernet Franc vines.
After the vineyard tour, we assembled in a large shed for a tasting of barrel samples of the first release from the Elevation Vineyard, produced by Tertulia under the label, Tierra Labrada - "carved earth." From the 2015 vintage, the future releases are a Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Petit Verdot. They are available for purchase as futures to be released in 2018. Here are my tasting notes. The pluses indicate potential for advancement in these young wines., most lilely 19.5/20 points.
2015 Tierra Labrada, Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Elevation Vineyard ($85 - futures) - Deep young crimson colored this showed a perfumed nose of wild fruits - raspberries, cherries and currants - with scents of rose petals, lavender, tobacco and incense. The flavors were deep and penetrating, with classic minerality, along with notes of bittersweet chocolate, French roast and basalt. The back picked up fraise and cassis liqueurs, mocha and toffee, followed by a long sweet-dry tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
2015 Tierra Labrada Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Elevation Vineyard ($95 - futures) - This showed a semi opaque crimson-ruby color and an intense nose of blackberry, cherry, cassis, crushed roses, pipe tobacco, sandalwood, violets and smoldering incense. The flavors were deep and penetrating, with great varietal purity, marked by licorice, cocoa, French roast and basaltic minerals. The back revealed sensations of macerated berries, roasted nuts, creme de cassis, lanolin ("legs"), toffee and graphite, followed by a lingering fine-grained tannin finish. 19+/20 points.
2015 Tierra Labrada Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley, Elevation Vineyard ($95 - futures) - This is the best Petit Verdot I have ever tasted. It exhibited a deep crimson olor and a lovely, perfumed nose of cherries, plums and cassis with scents of lavender, violets and oriental incense and pepper. The flavors were deep and laser-like in focus, with the lavish dark fruits marked by Belgian chocolate, French roast and silt-basalt minerals. The powerful back revealed sensations of roasted berries and walnuts, creme de cassis, creme fraiche, nougat and pencil lead, followed by a long, long, extremely focused ripe tannin finish. 19.5+/20 points.