Overview


Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Northwest wine to you and bringing you to Northwest wine. Our goal is:
  • To help you select Pacific Northwest wines at a variety of price levels
  • To keep you up-to-date about the Northwest’s wineries, vineyards, and individuals
  • To help you plan trips to wine country
  • To connect you to the larger wine community

Search

Loading...

Wine Blog Awards

'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

A round-up of last week's articles on Washington wine. (Note: Next week will be a quiet one as I visit family on the east coast).

From around the country…


Bloomberg writes about the Riesling Rendezvous at Chateau Ste. Michelle.

The San Francisco Chronicle writes about Washington Syrah.


From the blogosphere…


AmericanWinery.com interviews Soos Creek’s Dave Larsen.

Wine Press Northwest writes about Maryhill’s winemaker change.

The 89 Project writes about Helix 2005 Merlot.

WinePeeps does a spotlight on Gilbert Cellars.

Travels With Corky writes about Maryhill Winery.

Travels With Wine writes about Walla Walla, Washington.

Wine for Newbies has callouts to Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, and Hogue Cellars.

Bottle of Wine writes about Hogue Cellars.

Katcontextsf writes about Walla Walla wines with callouts to Zerba, Reininger, Pepper Bridge, and Saviah.

Wine Curmudgeon writes about green wines with a callout to Bookwalter.


From the locals…


The Tri City Herald writes about Seven Hills and Ash Hollow.

| edit post

Hard to believe it is almost September…

By popular demand, September’s Virtual Tasting will be Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red 2006. Several people had suggested this wine at August’s Virtual Tasting. It is an excellent choice as it is an interesting wine that is reasonably priced and is widely available.

Tamarack Cellars is located in the airport area in Walla Walla, Washington. The winery is in its tenth year. Winemaker and general manager Ron Coleman has an excellent lineup of wines that includes a Cabernet, a Merlot, a Syrah, a Sangiovese, a Cab Franc, and several red blends. Tamarack’s Sangiovese is one of the better ones coming out of Washington state. The Cab Franc, difficult to find outside of the winery, is also consistently exceptional.

Tamarack’s Firehouse Red is a kitchen sink wine that includes a lot of different grapes from a lot of different vineyards. This wine receives a wide distribution and can often be found in grocery stores as well as wine stores. As usual, you can also order this wine direct from the winery.

Based on feedback, I will also be giving people a bit more time to buy and try the wine. September’s Virtual tasting will take place on Monday, September 22nd. I will be opening the wine up at about 7pm and will look to get my notes up by 9pm. I will be pulling a few friends together to taste the wine with me and would encourage you to do the same. As always, once I get my notes up, please post yours as well. I look forward to hearing what you think of the wine.

| edit post

Summary: Last week we focused on white wines as an offering to the Sun Gods who have recently pulled up stakes and left Seattle for what appears to be the remainder of the “summer”. While the results were mixed, I did manage to get in a climb of Buckner in the North Cascades on Friday and Saturday before the rain returned. For that, I am extremely grateful. You can see pictures of the trip here. Alas, on Sunday the rain came back and the next few days are forecast to be gloomy.

So in another offering before the long weekend, I bring you OS’s 2007 Riesling Champoux Vineyard. O S Winery (formerly Owen Sullivan) is located in South Seattle along with several other up-and-coming wineries. Winemaker Bill Owen and partner Rob Sullivan focus most of their attention on red blends using grapes from some of Washington’s best vineyards.

This white wine comes from the famed Champoux Vineyard. The Champoux Vineyard is located near the Columbia River in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. This vineyard provides fruit to some of the state’s top wineries, including Andrew Will, Januik, and Quilceda Creek.

This is quite an interesting wine with a low percent alcohol compared to many of the Rieslings being made in the state. In this way, it is more Germanic in style. This stands in contrast to the increasing levels of alcohol in many wines produced in the state, as noted recently in an article in Wine Press Northwest.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

O S Winery Riesling Champoux Vineyard 2007

There is an almost spritzy quality to the nose, I believe due to the wine’s acidity. Nose also has apple, mineral, and stone. The wine has a pleasing fullness on the taste with apple notes throughout and a tart finish. The wine has bracing acidity (the winemaker’s notes puts it at 2.98pH). 9.8% alcohol. 270 cases produced.

$20

| edit post

Five Under Fifteen - August

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 0 comments

Each month I will review five wines in the so called “value” category of fifteen dollars or under.

Of the wines sampled this month, I did not find any stunners. Perhaps my favorite of the group was the Washington Hills Rainier Red. This is a non-vintage wine that is predominantly composed of Cabernet Franc. The especially appealing aspect of this wine to me was that I bought it for under six dollars. With my expectations appropriately lowered, I thought this wine over-performed. While not by any means a complex or overly interesting, it was well put together. This would be a great wine for pouring at BBQ’s. It is a true quaffer.

To see last month’s wines, go here.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Hogue Cellars Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2005

A strong nose marked by coffee grounds, black pepper, earth, and boysenberry aromas. The nose is at times interesting and at times almost a bit off-putting. On the taste, it is a nice, even, medium-bodied wine with a good finish. Smooth tannins round out the back end. Consider if on sale. 81% Cabernet; 9% Cab Franc; 7% Merlot; 2% Syrah; 1% Lemberger.

$15

+

Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Don’t particularly care for the nose on which a smoky aroma is predominant. Not bad but not my style. Fairly light in color. Taste is very fruity but well put together. A decent wine for the money overall.

$9

+

Washington Hills Rainier Red NV

Nose is marked by sour cherry and cranberry. Opens up and expands nicely on the palate. This is an inoffensive, easy-drinking wine that is straight down the fairway. Surprisingly good for the money. A good BBQ swiller. 41.5% Cab Franc; 39.5 % Cabernet; 10.6% Syrah; 6% Pinot Noir; 2.2% Merlot. Recommended.

$8

.

Three Rivers River’s Red 2006

A green, stemmy, off-putting nose, also marked by some type ripe berry and mineral notes. The taste is decent but not much there on the mid-palate or finish. Fairly light bodied. 48% Syrah; 23% Cabernet; 18% Cab Franc; 9% Malbec; 2% Petit Verdot.

$15

.

Canoe Ridge Trout Trilogy 2004

Slightly brownish in color, as if a much older wine. Blackberry, a touch of spice, and traces of chocolate on an overall good nose. Too much alcohol on the finish.

$10

| edit post

Two weeks after announcing the release of their 2006 Bésoleil, La Serenne, and La Côte Rousse to their mailing list, the Betz Family Winery has sold out of all three of these wines. This is an astonishing accomplishment for the winery. Betz moved to selling their wine via a members-only mailing list starting with this release.


Betz always holds an allotment of wine back for retailers so some of these wines will make it to the shelves. However, in recent years they have been snapped up extremely quickly, so keep your eyes out if you are interested in them. Retailers should have them on the shelves by the end of September.

| edit post

While Woodward Canyon is consistently considered one of the top wines coming out of Washington, I have never been overly impressed with their wines. I think this is largely because the wines are strongly tannic and best considered after years of laying down or hours of decanting. I have typically sampled the wines young and haven't had the inclination to buy a bottle - the wines are fairly expensive - and wait for a few years to see what happens. That said, given the regard for their wines, it might be worth the investment.

The Nelms Road label accounts for 7,000 cases of Woodward’s total production. This label is now in its tenth year. As a second label, these wines are considerably less expensive and far more approachable than the first label cousins. That said, they still have the potential to improve with some age which is nice to see in a reasonably inexpensive wine.

The 2006 Cabernet contains a grape seldom seen in Washington wines, Dolcetto. Dolcetto is common in the Piedmont area of Italy. The 2007 Cabernet should be released shortly.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Nelms Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Lots of oak notes with light herb aromas mixed in. Cherry stands out on the taste. The wine has a very good structure with the potential to improve with a year or two of age. Not a whopper but a lot of wine for the money. Consider picking up if on sale. 92% Cabernet; 5% Cab Franc; 2% Merlot; 1% Dolcetto. 14.7% alcohol. 4,314 cases produced.

$21

| edit post

A round-up of last week's articles on Washington wine.


From around the country:


This biggest story this week was the Auction of Washington wines. The many articles and posts include this one from the Wall Street Journal.

Bloomberg News writes about Woodinville area wineries with callouts to DeLille, Gorman, Mark Ryan. Also included in this article are Red Mountain wineries Col Solare and Kiona.

Dallas’ D Magazine discusses Washington syrah with callouts to Waters, Columbia, McCrea, Milbrandt, Va Piano, and Gramercy.

Indiana’s Star Press writes about Columbia Crest’s Two Vines red.

The Coloradoan writes an article on L’Ecole syrah. L’Ecole’s Recess Red 2006 was the subject of August’s Virtual Tasting.


From the blogosphere:


Beyond the Bottle does a summary of on-line Washington wine resources with a callout to WWR, WineFoot, and TheWineCommentator.

Wine Cow does a fun summary of top Washington wines from various competitions and publications.

Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine writes on Washington sangiovese with callouts to Yellow Hawk, Mannina, Trio Vintners, Walter Dacon, and Stella Fino.

The Wine Merchant reviews the 2005 Poet’s Leap Riesling. See our review of the 2007 release here.

Tavola Rosso attends the Auction of Washington wines.

Hip2Wine writes about a winemaker dinner with DeLille and Betz as well as the Auction of Washington Wines picnic.

Travel Network Marketer writes about a number of Washington area wineries in the Spokane area.

Reign of Terroir does a review of the recent WineTrails of Washington book.

WinePeeps does a spotlight on Saviah Cellars, one of my personal favorites.


From the locals:


The Eastside Business Journal writes about Delille and others from last week’s auction.

The Tri-City Herald has callouts to Leonetti, Barrister, Chinook, and Ch. Ste. Michelle.

Seattle Times wine Q&A says the most age-worthy Washington wines are Quilceda Creek and Woodward Canyon. The article also mentions Betz, DeLille, and Andrew Will.

The Tacoma News Tribune writes about Walla Walla’s Rulo.

The Oregon Statesmen writes that Walla Walla has become a wine destination. I know news can travel slow but aren’t you guys just a couple of hours away? J

Local Public Radio affiliate KPLU does a story on Walla Walla vineyards.

| edit post

Continuing with our week of whites in honor to the sun gods...

Covington Cellars is located in an office park in Woodinville, Washington. Winemaker David Lawson makes an interesting array of reds and whites, including a sangiovese, a Semillon, a Cabernet, a Syrah, and several blends.

Viognier is one of my favorite white varietals. Covington’s 2007 Viognier is a bit heavy - almost in a dessert wine style - but is still very well made and enjoyable. Again, you’ll note the stainless steel fermentation on this white which generally increases the likelihood that I will enjoy it.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Covington Cellars Viognier 2007

Mineral, peach, and melon on the nose and taste. The wine has a fairly heavy, almost syrupy, quality. It is a fairly sweet wine, almost a dessert style. 13.5% alcohol. 100% Viognier fermented in stainless steel. 188 cases produced.

$20

| edit post

The Auction of Washington Wines took place last weekend in Woodinville, Washington. The events, from a picnic to winemaker dinners, a 10k run, and the gala auction, raise money for Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and the Washington Wine Education Foundation. The event is in its 21st year. Tickets for the events ranged from $125 to $500 per person.

I thought the event looked like fun but, even for a good cause, was a little spendy for my blood (especially with new releases from Long Shadows, Quilceda Creek, and Betz Family Wineries to pay for this month).

The event raised a staggering $2.25 million over the course of the weekend. If I felt like I was priced out of the event tickets, I don’t think I would have had any better luck at the auction. The top item was a collection of bottles from DeLille that went for $70,000. An article in the Wall Street Journal details other items of interest including:

- Three decades of Leonetti wine for $17,000
- A collection of Cayuse 3L bottles for $16,000
- Dinner with Matt Dillon and Allen Shoup of Long Shadows for $15,000

Wow. I don’t know who these people are, but if you are out there and are looking for someone to open those bottles with…

In all seriousness, give us your thoughts if you attended any of these events.

| edit post

Lost River Winery - Addendum

Thursday, August 21, 2008 0 comments

As one of my climbing compatriots points out in his comment on my write-up of Lost River Winery, there was, in fact, a casualty associated with the climb. Due to the trauma involved, I had completely blocked it out.

When I was pulling out my backpack that afternoon to prepare for the next day’s climb, a bottle of the Cabernet leapt to freedom, hitting the hitch on the back of the car in its escape attempt. While at first we thought it might have survived, it’s blood quickly started pooling in the paper bag that held it. After briefly contemplating using a water filter and a Nalgene to salvage what I could, I quickly accepted that all was lost.


Usually with a bad omen like this before a climb, I head home. However, we persevered and continued with the climb the next day. Thanks Pete for making me relive this horror.

| edit post

As promised, a brief digression from the focus on white wines this week. This diversion takes us to Lost River Winery.

The weekend of August 8th I set out for eastern Washington for a climbing trip with the Seattle Mountaineers. Our plan was to do two rock climbs of the same peak on two different days. The peak was Kangaroo Temple near Washington Pass on Route 20. On the first day, we planned climb the North Face. On the second day, we planned to climb an intermediate route – the Northwest Face.

I had looked forward to climbing this peak since I first took the Mountaineers Basic Climbing class back in 2001. The North Face route has a famous step-around move that puts a lot of air under you. I remember seeing a picture of this move during the first lecture for the class and putting it on my list of places to get to. It took seven years, but I was finally about to do the climb! With an August weekend in front of us and a climb in perennially sunny eastern Washington, our chances were good. Or so it would seem.

We awoke at 4am on Saturday and were on the trail by 5am. The weather looked questionable at best, but we still had some optimism that we might be able to get the climb in. This optimism quickly waned as the rain started falling. Rain in eastern Washington in August you say? Impossible! Not so.

We quickly retreated to our cars and regrouped. After driving to Winthrop and enjoying a breakfeast, we decided to visit Lost River Winery.

Lost River Winery is in an enviable position. They are the only winery in the immediate area of Winthrop, are prominently located along the highway, and sit in a year-round tourist area. Lost River’s first vintage was in 2002. The winery makes a number of good wines at very good prices with a total production of 3,800 cases. All of the wines have a consistent minerality and smoothness. The tasting room is also a pleasant place to stop and while away the hours while thinking of mountain climbing.

On Sunday, our attention turned back to climbing and we did manage to get a climb of Kangaroo Temple’s Northwest Face in despite the continually threatening weather. Today the problem was not rain though. It was snow! Snow on the east side of the crest in August you say? Impossible. Not so. See climbing pictures from both days here as well as pictures from other climbing trips here.

Please note that, as these wines were sampled at the tasting room, some may have been open for a period of time.

With this brief diversion, we return to the wines.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Lost River Pinot Gris Columbia Valley 2007

Lots of Golden Delicious apple on the nose and taste as well as Asian pear. Crisp acidity with a nice weight on the back end. 50% Inland Desert Vineyard; 50% Willowcrest Vineyard. 13.2% alcohol.

$14

*

Lost River Nebbiolo Wahluke Slope 2006

Light in color, the nose is marked by floral, mineral, and dried fruit notes. The wine has good body and a nice, even taste with mineral, cranberry, and a touch of sweetness. 13.9% alcohol. 148 cases produced.

$22

+

Lost River Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2005

Classic Walla Walla Valley smokiness on the nose. However, unlike many, it is appealing and not overbearing. Tar and earth round out the wine. Very nicely done. 93% Syrah (Morrison Lane, Stone Valley, and Les Collines vineyards); 7% Cabernet (Les Collines). 13.8% alcohol. 574 cases produced.

$22

*

Lost River Merlot Columbia Valley 2005

An almost candied aroma along with violets and cherries. Beautifully balanced on the taste which, like many of the wines, is marked by a pleasing minerality. Some soy notes on the nose, indicating the wine may have been open for a bit. 14.5% alcohol. 595 cases produced.

$22

*

Lost River Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2005

A fairly big nose with spice, dark fruit, and floral notes. The wine is light in body and exceptionally smooth. 33% Inland Desert Vineyard; 33% Pepperbridge Vineyard; 34% Wallula Vineyard. 13.9% alcohol. 575 cases produced.

$24

+

Lost River Community Red 2006

Black olive, bright red fruit, earth, and light cranberry notes on the nose. The earth notes come through on the taste which is, again, very even. A very fun wine for the money, especially paired with food. Recommended.

$13

| edit post

In continued supplication to the Pacific Northwest sun gods, another in a series of white wine reviews.

Cougar Crest is a Walla Walla area producer. The winery – already receiving high scores from Wine Spectator for a number of years – received a significant boost from Wine Library TV last year.

I liked this wine quite a bit, which is not surprising given my preference for chardonnays fermented in stainless steel.

Next, we’ll take a brief diversion to Lost River Winery before returning to the whites and, hopefully, the sun.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Cougar Crest Chardonnay 2006

Mineral, lychee, pear, and golden delicious apple aromas leap from the glass. On the taste, this wine is dry and crisp with a touch of mineral and apple on the back end.

$20

| edit post

Novelty Hill Roussanne 2006

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 0 comments

In an attempt to beckon the sun gods back to the Pacific Northwest, the first in a series of white wine reviews this week…

Novelty Hill shares a new multi-million dollar facility with Januik Winery in Woodinville, Washington. Mike Januik, who served as head winemaker for ten years at Chateau Ste. Michelle, is winemaker for both wineries.

The Novelty Hill label consistently offers great wines at exceptional values. Novelty Hill uses grapes primarily from its estate vineyard, Stillwater Creek. Stillwater Creek is located in the Frenchman Hills in Royal City, Washington (Columbia Valley AVA). This vineyard has been used by an increasing number of winemakers of late, including Saviah Cellars, Betz, and others.


Roussanne, one of the six white Rhône grapes, does not make it in to lot of single varietal bottlings in Washington. Others that come to mind are McCrea Cellars, who was the first to do a single varietal bottling here, DeLille, Forgeron Cellars, and Morrison Lane. If you know of others, let me know. Roussanne also shows up in a number of other blended wines in the state.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Novelty Hill Roussanne Stillwater Creek 2006

The nose is marked by mineral and floral notes. There is an almost spicy quality to both the nose and taste. The taste is smooth and opulent. Some oak shows through on the nose and mid-palate as the wine warms up a little. 100% Roussanne. 13.5% alcohol. 485 cases produced.

$22

| edit post

Where has Seattle's summer gone?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 0 comments

As I write this from my apartment in Seattle, the rain falls. The forecast is for the snow level to drop down to 6,500 feet tonight. Where has our summer gone? August is typically the most reliably good month of the year for weather here. Not so this year.

In an attempt to beckon summer back, I will be spending the next few days focusing on Washington whites, with a brief detour to the Lost River Winery which I visited the weekend before last following a rained out climbing trip.

Keep those August virtual tasting notes coming. My thanks to Pauly and the anonymous poster for sending their notes in.

| edit post

Welcome to Washington Wine Report’s inaugural virtual tasting! Here’s the deal. At the beginning of each month we will announce a wine to be the focus of our virtual tasting. Two weeks later – to allow time for people to purchase and sample the wine – I will post my tasting notes and hope you will do the same.

This month’s wine is L’Ecole No. 41’s Recess Red 2006. The Recess Red is L’Ecole’s table wine. It is composed of wines not used in their premium blends, often including the hard press fractions. The 2006 vintage is a primarily a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah with dollops of Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, and Carmenère thrown in. The wine was aged for ten months in second and third year French and American oak.

Overall I liked this wine quite a bit, especially the nose which I thought was great. The taste was quite good but left me wanting just a little more, which held me back from giving it a star. However, especially on sale - I purchased it for $15 - it is a lot of wine for the money. See my tasting notes below. I look forward to hearing your comments.

We’ll do a virtual tasting again next month. If you would like to suggest wine, varietal, or area, leave a comment or send me an e-mail.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

L’Ecole No. 41 Recess Red 2006

A rich nose with white pepper, spice, stewed rhubarb, and berry aromas. On the taste, it is a well put together wine with cherry throughout and soft tannins. The wine has a good mid-palate but lets off a little on the finish. Sampled at 65 degrees. 37% Merlot; 26% Cabernet; 24% Syrah; 6% Cab Franc; 4% Petit Verdot; 3% Carmenère. 14.1% alcohol. 3,794 cases produced.

$20

| edit post

Today is our inaugural virtual tasting! As you know, the wine will be L'Ecole No. 41's Recess Red 2006. See additional information on the virtual tasting here.

I will be opening up the bottle at 7 tonight and will post my notes by 8. Looking forward to seeing what people think of the wine.

| edit post

A round-up of last week's articles on Washington wine.


From around the country…


By far the biggest story of the week, which was picked up by, um everyone, was the story of vineyards in Yakima being converted to grow marijuana plants. Perhaps Amsterdam-style “coffee shops” will sit alongside tasting rooms in the future.

From Bryn Mawr comes a story on research by a pair of geology students on Walla Walla and Red Mountain terroir.

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Journal Gazette briefly mentions Paul Gregutt’s recent book on Washington wine.

In San Jose, an article on Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Riesling Rendezvous in the Mercury News.

The Memphis Flyer writes an article on Bunnell Family Cellars.


From around the world…


From China, an article on distribution of Washington wine in Asia.


From the blogosphere:


Tavola Rosso writes about Mark Ryan McNeilly and Chris Gorman’s Elle 2006. This wine, along with the 2006 Sinner’s Punch were Paul Gregutt’s “Picks of the Week” last week. See my review of these two wines here.

Our friends at Wine Peeps write about a weekend in the Columbia Valley with callouts to Alexandria Nicole, Barnard Griffin, Columbia Crest, Fidelitas, and Gilbert. The also review a set of Washington Syrah, including Fielding Hills, Waters, Dunham, Stephenson, Mark Ryan, and Dusted Valley.

Going for Seconds does a tasting with Steve Tanzer. Tanzer has callouts to Gramercy, Long Shadows, Trust, and Va Piano. More on this in a post yesterday.

A writeup of a trip to Yakima valley from Lundestyle.

Hip2wine checks out Long Shadows and other Walla Walla wineries with callouts to aMaurice, Tamarack, Five Star, Hence, and Ash Hollow. He also checks out Red Mountain’s Col Solare.

Dailywinetasting reviews Tamarack’s 2006 Firehouse Red.

The Wine Commentator checks out Doyenne’s and McCrea’s Roussanne’s.

Beyond the Bottle lists recommended Washington wineries.

Brightcove.tv does a feature on Walla Walla’s Sapolil Cellars.

Crosscut reports on wine importer Terry Thiese’s swipe at Washington Riesling.

Wine Press Northwest discusses who would be considered the “first growths” in Washington and recent progress on creating a Lake Chelan AVA and potential complications that may result.


From the locals:


Oregon’s Statesman Journal writes up a recent trip to Walla Walla with callouts to Pepper Bridge, Trust, Chateau Rollat, Zerba, Saviah, Beresan, and Balboa.

| edit post

Going for Seconds recently blogged on a tasting in Seattle with Steve Tanzer of International Wine Cellar fame. The purpose of the event was to taste ten of the best Cabernet and Syrah in Washington. The list is quite interesting. Here it is:

  • 2004 Leonetti Cellar Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2004 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2005 L'Ecole No. 41 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2005 Abeja Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2005 Chateau Rollat Edouard de Rollat Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

  • 2006 Betz La Serenne Columbia Valley Syrah
  • 2004 Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard Walla Walla Valley Syrah
  • 2005 K Vintners Walls Walla Walla Valley Syrah
  • 2005 Gramercy Cellars Walla Walla Valley Syrah
  • 2005 Waters Forgotten Hills Walla Walla Valley Syrah

Let’s start with the cabernets. Leonetti and Quilceda Creek are clearly the standard bearers. L’Ecole’s spot is well-deserved given their consistently exceptional wines and twenty-fives years of production. The last two are quite interesting. Abeja has developed a strong following over the last several years. Chateau Rollat is a relative newcomer. Consulting winemaker Christian LeSommer of France’s Rothchild creates Bordeaux blends for owner Bowin Lindgren. The results thus far are spectacular.

Moving on to the Syrah, Betz, Cayuse, and K Vintners are all well-known for their exceptional wines from this varietal. Gramercy and Waters are again relative newcomers who continue to receive a good deal of critical acclaim. Their inclusion on this list shows how far they have come (not to mention how quickly).

For write-ups of recent releases from Abeja, Chateau Rollat, Waters, and Gramercy as well as many other wineries see my Walla Walla Spring Release 2008 report.

| edit post

L’Ecole No. 41 is one of the premier Washington wineries and boasts something few other state wineries can – a twenty-five year track record.

Last month saw the release of two white wines from L’Ecole, the 2007 Semillon - one of the wines L’Ecole is best known for – and the 2007 Chardonnay.

L’Ecole’s 2006 Recess Red will be the subject of our virtual tasting on Monday August 18th.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

L’Ecole No. 41 Semillon Columbia Valley 2007

Nut aromas stand out on the nose. A crisp tartness marked by lemon on the taste. 90% Semillon; 10% Sauvignon Blanc. 14.3% alcohol. 4,680 cases produced.

$15

+

L’Ecole No. 41 Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2007

Toasted oak notes, nut, and mineral on the nose. The wine has a nice weight to it. Overall, a very good effort, although the oak gets ever so slightly in the way at times for my taste. 100% Chardonnay (52% Schmitt Vineyard; 36% Evergreen and 12% Bacchus vineyards).

$20

| edit post

June saw the launch of a new print magazine dedicated to Washington wine. The magazine – Wino – is planned as a free monthly and will be distributed to businesses throughout the Puget Sound area. The magazine is also available via subscription. A website serves as a supplemental to the print version. To see where Wino is distributed, go here.

In an upcoming post, we’ll review how they are doing three months in.

| edit post

Boudreaux Cellars

Monday, August 11, 2008 0 comments

Summary: Boudreaux Cellars is a small winery located in Leavenworth, Washington. Winemaker Rob Newsom was attracted to the area by its spectacular rock climbing routes (for you climbers out there, the winery is located near “Classic Crack”).

Boudreaux gained a huge boost last year with a positive review from phenom Gary Vaynerchuck of Wine Library TV. Wenatchee World also recently wrote an interesting article on Boudreaux. Avalonwine.com also provides good information on the winery and winemaker.

Boudreaux Cellar’s wines all have a very distinctive style. The noses of these young wines were not particularly compelling to me, marked by cola and soy notes. However, the taste of all the reds was smooth and spectacular with lots of grip on well-integrated tannins. All of the red wines need extensive time in the bottle and/or decanting. I would expect over time the nose will evolve and change considerably.

Of these wines, Newsom says the 2004 Syrah was his “problem child.” The grapes were at 27 brix when picked. The wine underwent secondary fermentation for one and a half years. Interestingly, in the end, it turned out quite well.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Boudreaux Cellars Chardonnay 2006

The wine is somewhat cloudy and color, reflecting the unfiltered style. Hay and lemon are predominant on the nose. A very nice, full wine on the palate. 100 cases produced.

$36

+

Boudreaux Cellars Merlot 2005

Black licorice (like the kind in the box). Light cola and soy notes, along with a very light menthol note. Lighter on the palate than I would expect with a huge grip on the finish. Needs time and/or decanting. 150 cases produced.

$40

*

Boudreaux Cellars Syrah 2004

A fascinating nose that is somewhat difficult to pin down with ground pepper and roasted pepper notes occasionally showing through. A chewy, thick, beautiful taste that coats the tongue.

$40

*

Boudreaux Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

A big nose with cola, light soy notes, fig, and spice. A chewy, big wine that needs lots of time to grow up but will be exceptional. Consider extended decanting if drinking in the near future. 80% Cabernet; 6% Merlot
4% Cab Franc; 3% Malbec
3% Petite Verdot; 2% Syrah; 2% Sangiovese. Alcohol 13.5%. 1400 cases produced.

$50

| edit post

A roundup of articles on Washington wine from August 1st to 7th .


From around the country…


To the north, The Vancouver Sun discusses Riesling, one of the grapes that originally put Washington on the wine map. The article has a callout to Chateau Ste. Michelle.

In the south, North Carolina’s Raleigh Metro Magazine discusses the emergence of Washington as a wine region with callouts to Long Shadows, Betz, Brian Carter, Delille, Quilceda Creek, Leonetti, and Waters.

In the business world, Andrew Will’s most recent releases continue to receive top ratings, this time from Robert Parker for Business Week.


From the blogosphere…


The latest on former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s Doubleback wine project from the Walla Walla Wine Woman who also asks Wine Library TV’s Gary Vaynerchuck questions regarding Washington’s wine industry.

Some tasting notes on Washington wines sampled in July from MagnumGourmet’s Wine Notes.

Wine Peeps writes about Milton-Freewater’s Watermill Winery and a recent trip to Woodinville.

Hip2wine discusses a trip to Sheridan, Yakima River Winery, Hogue Cellars, Kestrel, Alexandria Nicole, Fidelitas, and Kiona.


From the locals…


August is Washington wine month for the Washington state liquor stores. State stores will be selling wine at reduced prices for the month. Wine Press Northwest provides a list of the wines and prices here.

An interesting article on Boudreaux Cellars in Wenatchee World. In this week’s column, Seattle Times' Paul Gregutt writes about Walla Walla winery L’Ecole, whose 2006 Recess Red we will be sampling for our inaugural virtual tasting later this month.

Finally, the Peninsula Daily News writes about Olympic Cellars Kathy Charlton’s battle with the U.S. Olympic Committee over the use of “Olympic.” Only in America. Perhaps suing the park service is next.

| edit post

Syzygy is a term for the moment of alignment between three celestial bodies, such as the earth, moon, and sun. The name reflects winemaker Zach Brettler’s long interest in astronomy.

Syzygy’s wines are always rich and intense. The Red Wine in particular is consistently an excellent value. This year, Syzygy has added a new wine “Saros” to their lineup. Saros, and the related Saros numbers, again reflect Brettler’s interest in astronomy. The Saros 134 2005 wine is a fascinating blend of tempranillo – a grape that doesn’t make its way in to many Washington wines – Malbec, and cabernet.

Syzygy wines can be somewhat difficult to find as they are self-distributed. In Seattle, both West Seattle Cellars and McCarthy and Schiering carry their wines. Other stores and restaurants that sell their wine can be found here. Otherwise, ordering from the winery is probably your best option.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Syzygy Saros 134 2005

A good nose with vanilla, white pepper, and spice. Up front on the palate and then settles down and sails. 44% Tempranillo; 44% Malbec; 12% Cabernet.

$45

*

Syzygy Red Wine 2006

A beautifully smooth with with blueberry and huckleberry on the taste. The nose is marked by white pepper, blueberry, and toast.

$24

| edit post

Summary: Anelare is a new winery located in Benton City, Washington. Winemaker Victor Cruz also has his own winery, Canon del Sol. “Anelare” is Italian for “desire” or “yearn for.” The 2005 Cabernet, which received an “Outstanding” rating in the Seattle Wine Awards and a bronze medal in the Tri-Cities Wine Festival Competition, is their first release. This is an excellent first effort, although a bit over priced in my mind. The 2006 Cabernet is expected to be released later this summer.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Anelare Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2005

A good nose with dark fruit, white pepper, spice, black cherry, and earth aromas. A smooth wine with pleasing tannins. Overall, an excellent first effort from this winery. 100% Cabernet, Wahluke Slope (Katherine Leone & Weinbau Vineyards). 14.9% Alcohol.

$44

| edit post

One of the most enjoyable aspects of drinking wine is discussing it with others. Discussing wine helps you hone your wine tasting skills and enhances the experience.

Starting this month, I am launching a “virtual tasting” group. You are invited! Each month I will select a particular wine or wines. Two weeks after I announce what the wine will be for the month, I will post my write-up and rating of the wine.

Here is where you come in. During the intervening period, I encourage you to go out and try the wine, maybe even invite a few friends over. When you try the wine, consider writing some notes about it. What should you write? Whatever you like. For example - What do you get on the nose? What do you get on the taste? Do you like the wine? Consider rating the wine using my system (see sidebar) or another rating system, such as the widely used 100 point scale. To complete our virtual tasting, I encourage you to post your comments on the wine once I put my review up.

Of course, I can’t guarantee that you will always like the wines I choose. I might not either. That is just the way it goes and is part of wine tasting. I will generally try to find wines that are in a reasonable price range and that receive decent distribution where possible.

For this month’s virtual tasting, I have selected L’Ecole No. 41’s Recess Red 2006. L’Ecole is one of the top producers in the Walla Walla area. The Recess Red is L’Ecole’s table wine and typically retails for under $20.

If you live in Washington state, this wine receives a fairly wide distribution. If you live outside of Washington or if this wine is not available in your area, I encourage you to order the wine directly from the winery (see blog on Buying Washington Wine).

In two weeks time, on August 18th, I will post my write-up and rating of the wine. Let our virtual tasting group begin!

| edit post

A story in Wednesday’s Washington Post about Washington wine. The article discusses Washington’s meteoric rise from 70 wineries in 1990 to 540 today. The article has call-outs to Gramercy’s Greg Harrington, whose wines have been receiving a good deal of attention of late (see 2008 Walla Walla Spring Release report for review), as well as Hogue and Mercer Estates.

| edit post

Follow

TN Database


Tasting Note Database Read an explanation of the fields here. Last updated 7/15/2014.

WA Wine Books

Blog Archive