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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
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Reviewed Wineries

Five Under Fifteen - September

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 0 comments

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

The first two wines this month are from Lone Canary, a Spokane, Washington winery. Lone Canary released their first vintage in 2003. Winemaker Mike Scott was previously the winemaker and general manager for Caterina Winery.

The next wine is the Apex II Cabernet. Apex II is the second label for Apex Cellars which is located in Prosser, Washington in the Yakima valley. Apex is now a joint venture with the giant Precepts Brands (Giant Wine Co, Waterbrook, Sol Duc, among many others). Precept also owns Washington Hills who produces the next wine on our list.

The final wine is from Sageland Vineyards. Sageland has been making wine for over ten years now. The winery is located in Wapato, Washington in Yakima Valley. The Four Corners Cabernet refers to the “four corners of the Columbia Valley” - the Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, Rattlesnake Hills and the Walla Walla Valley.


Wines:


Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Lone Canary Winery Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2007

Clear in color with dust and cut grass on the nose. The taste is smooth and full with touches of honey and tropical fruit on the finish. Don’t care for the nose but otherwise a very good wine for the money. 14.1% alcohol. 1,975 cases produced.


$10

.

Lone Canary Winery Bird House Red NV

Prune is predominant on the nose and taste along with spice, soy, and menthol. The wine has the taste of a somewhat aged red. 55% Syrah; 22% Cabernet; 21% Merlot; 2% Sangiovese.14.3% alcohol. 490 cases produced.


$13

.

Apex II Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2004

Spice, tobacco, and dried fruit on the nose. On the taste, the wine is smooth but a bit thin, although soft tannins round it out a bit. 13.6% alcohol. 1,467 cases produced.


$15

+

Washington Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Bing cherry aromas laced with oak and traces of spice. Overall, an enjoyable nose. Firm tannins on the taste. Perhaps a bit astringent. 13.5% alcohol. Purchased for $7 at Pete’s.


$11

+

Sagelands Four Corners Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006

Lots of black cherries, Bing cherries, and chocolate on the nose. Fruit forward on the taste with some oak, spice and velvety tannins on the finish. Overall, the nose is better than the taste which is a little light. Still, not bad for the money if on sale (I purchased for $8). 14.1% alcohol. Purchased for $8 from Pete’s.

$13

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Tamarack Cellars was founded in 1998 by Ron and Jamie Coleman. The winery is located in an old World War II firehouse – hence the name of the Firehouse Red – in the airport region in Walla Walla, Washington. Tamarack is growing to be one of the larger producers in the Walla Walla AVA, producing over 11,000 cases in the 2005 vintage. The Firehouse Red accounts for over half of the total production.

When I initially wrote about the Tamarack Firehouse Red as September’s Virtual Tasting wine, I referred to it as a “kitchen sink” wine. This is a bit of a disservice to winemaker Ron Coleman’s extraordinary blending skills. Let’s take a look at what’s in the 2006 Firehouse Red:

34% Cabernet Sauvignon (9% Horse Heaven Hills; 8% Rattlesnake Hills; 6% Wahluke Slope; 4% Red Mountain; 4% Columbia Valley; 3% Walla Walla Valley)

30% Syrah
(16% Columbia Valley, 5% Horse Heaven Hills, 5% Wahluke Slope, 2% Walla Walla Valley)

21% Merlot
(12% Columbia Valley, 6% Walla Walla Valley, 3% Rattlesnake Hills)

8% Cabernet Franc
(4% Columbia Valley,2% Walla Walla Valley,2% Horse Heaven Hills,1% Rattlesnake Hills)

3% Sangiovese:
Columbia Valley

2% Carmenere:
Walla Walla Valley

2% Malbec:
Columbia Valley

That is staggering minimum of twenty different vineyard and varietal sources! Now anyone can throw a whole lot of grapes together, but to do it consistently with such excellent results is a tribute to Coleman’s abilities.

Note, the percentages beneath the varietals are the contribution to the wine as a whole, i.e. Cab Franc from Columbia Valley composes 4% of the total wine.

The 2006 Firehouse Red was aged in French, American, and Hungarian oak for 16 months. The Hungarian oak contributes nicely to the spiciness of this wine.

We'll do it all again next month. If you would like to suggest a wine, please send a comment or drop me an email.

Wines:


Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Tamarack Firehouse Red 2006

A big nose with lots of spice – cinnamon perhaps? - black fruit, and chocolate. The chocolate on the nose, which becomes predominant as the wine opens up, is reminiscent of Walla Walla Vintner’s style. Bittersweet chocolate on the taste and a tactile feel to the tannins. The wine opens up nicely on the palate and finish. An excellent effort. 13.92% alcohol. 6302 cases produced. Sampled at 62 degrees.

$20

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Reminder that September’s Virtual Tasting will take place tonight, September 29. Read more information here.

A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 15th to 28th.


From around the world:


Britain’s Telegraph writes about the Washington wine industry.


From around the country:


The AP writes a story about Washington’s “grape dating services” - hooking up vintners and grape growers on-line.

Michigan’s Lansing State Journal writes about the rise of Washington Riesling with callouts to Columbia, Flying Fish, Silver Lake, and Milbrandt.


From the blogosphere:


Beyond the Bottle tries the Trust Cellars Riesling and the Reininger 2002 Syrah.

Wine Peeps does a spotlight of Fielding Hills and reports on a Washington Red wine tasting dinner.

Wine Press NW talks with Rob Griffin of Barnard Griffin on the start of this year’s harvest.

Riding Shotgun on the Hell Express writes about a Zanzibar barrel tasting party.


From the locals:


The Tri-City Herald writes about recent progress on the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center.

The Eastside Business Journal writes about Mercer Island’s Cellar 46° .

The Seattle PI writes about attempts to get funding for roads on Red Mountain.

KEPRTV writes about cork production coming to Kennewick.

The News Tribune does a feature on Otis Kenyon.

Gregutt writes about the Rattlesnake Hills AVA.

Oregon’s Statesman Journal, clearly on the same tasting panel as the Lansing State Journal above, writes about Riesling with callouts to the same wineries plus Hogue.

KNDO writes about the fall harvest.

The Idaho Statesman writes about touring Walla Walla with callouts to Northstar, Basel, Va Piano, Beresan, Saviah, Three Rivers, and Cougar Crest.

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September's Virtual Tasting of Tamarack's Firehouse Red 2006 is tonight. Planning to open the bottle around 7 and have my notes up around 9. Please join me in trying the wine and posting your thoughts on it. Read more about the virtual tasting here.

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Summary: Terra Blanca Winery is located in the Red Mountain AVA. The winery sources all of its fruit from its estate vineyards which surround the winery. Terra Blanca boasts a stunningly beautiful tasting room and facility. There are few more picturesque wineries in the state.



Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

.

Terra Blanca Chardonnay Red Mountain 2004

Pale in color. The nose is a bit off-putting with smells of cat piss. On the taste, the wine seems fairly flat and uninteresting with a short finish. 13.5% alcohol. 1,145 cases produced.


$11

+

Terra Blanca Merlot Red Mountain 2002

A nice nose that shows some age with spicy dried fruit, prune, cigar box and light floral notes. On the taste, the wine has chalky tannins with a bit of a grip and a tart finish. 13.5% alcohol. 4,261 cases produced.

$14

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àMaurice Cellars is a family run winery founded by the Schafer family – Tom, Kathleen, Anna, Nicholas and Stephanie. The winery is located east of Walla Walla opposite Walla Walla Vintners. àMaurice is currently sourcing grapes from the Columbia Valley AVA while they wait for their estate vineyard, planted in the spring of 2006, to bear fruit. The thirteen acre vineyard is located near Mill Creek and is planted with Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet, Malbec, Viognier, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot. Stay tuned.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

àMaurice Viognier Columbia Valley 2007

A great nose marked by mineral, peach, and light nut aromas. On the taste, the wine is dry and crisp with a tart finish. 14.5% alcohol. 237 cases produced.

$24

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Back from the mountains after doing search and rescue work yesterday that caused me to have to reschedule this month's virtual tasting. You can read about the rescue here.

The new date for the virtual tasting will be Monday, September 29th. Again, the wine will be Tamarack's Firehouse Red 2006. I'll have my notes up Monday night by around 9pm Seattle time. Hope you will join me and apologies again for the reschedule.

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Folks, I am responding to a search and rescue in the mountains and will most likely not be back in time for the virtual tasting tonight. I will send out information on the new date when I am back in town. Apologies.

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Canon del Sol Red Table Wine 2005

Thursday, September 18, 2008 1 comments

Summary: Reminder that September's Virtual Tasting will be Tamarack's Firehouse Red 2006 and will take place on Monday September 22nd. See more information here.



Canon del Sol is located in Benton City, Washington. Their winemaker, Victor Cruz, is also the winemaker for Anelare. Read a review of Anelare’s 2005 Cabernet here.



Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Canon del Sol Red Table Wine Columbia Valley 2005

Syrah is predominant on the nose with a light smokiness, some gamey notes, and spice. A very smooth taste with a touch of vanilla and spice. Syrah also stands out on the taste with Malbec adding spice at the backend. Ever so slightly heavier on the oak on the taste than I care for. Still, overall a very enjoyable wine. Blend of Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec.

$20

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Andrew Will Fall 2008 Releases

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 0 comments

Few winemakers in Washington are as heralded as Andrew Will’s Chris Camarda. And with good reason. Camarda makes intense, complex wines from some of the states finest vineyards. After originally producing a dazzling array of single vineyard, single varietal wines in the early part of the decade, Camarda has settled into creating vineyard specific blends that showcase the vineyard’s terroir.

Alas, most of Andrew Will’s wines are made to be laid down for extended periods before consumption, so you will have to be patient if you pick up a bottle or two.

Camarda makes the first wine listed below for Seattle-area wine store McCarthy and Schiering from declassified barrels. It is 40% Cabernet from Ciel du Cheval vineyard, 40% Cabernet, and 20% Cab Franc from Blondes. At $23, if you live in Seattle, you can’t afford not to. The wine gives a good indication of the winery’s style at less than half the normal price point.


Wines:


Score

Name

Notes

$

+

McCarthy and Schiering Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006

Pencil shavings, dried fruit, floral notes and a very light smokiness mark the nose. On the taste, the wine is very smooth and plush with lots of cranberry on the finish. 80% Cabernet; 20% Cab Franc. 14.1% alcohol.


$23

*

Andrew Will Two Blondes Vineyard Red Wine 2006

Cedar, black currant, sweet spices, and light anise notes on a fairly restrained nose. The taste is plush and full with incredibly smooth tannins. Black fruit and dried fruit on a super long finish. Give this wine two to three years in the bottle before drinking. 14.2% alcohol.


$49

**

Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard Red Wine 2006

A light almost elusive nose with pencil shavings, ink, floral notes, and an almost syrupy component. Gripping tannins on a taste that packs a punch. Give this wine 3-4 years in the bottle minimum before consuming. 14.1% alcohol.


$59

+

Andrew Will Annie Camarda Syrah 2005

An expressive nose with spice and blue and black fruit. An elegant wine that is soft and smooth but lets up a bit in the middle. Give two to three years additional bottle aging. 14.6% alcohol.

$45

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Reminder that our September Virtual Tasting will take place on Monday, September 22nd. More information here.

Due to my east coast trip at the beginning of the month, this edition of the Washington Wine Round-up covers the period from August 29th to September 14th. Without further ado…


From around the world:

The Calgary Herald writes about Woodward Canyon.


From the US:

The Salt Lake Tribune writes about Queensryche singer Geoff Tate’s recent teamup with Three Rivers Winery.

The Wall Street Journal picks up on the development of the Vineyards Resort Community. WSJ also writes about Flying Fish Riesling.


From the blogosphere:

Barers of Maple Valley does a tour of Walla Walla with callouts to Hiney, Spring Valley, Sapolil Cellars, and Bergevin Lane.

Wine Foot reviews Saviah’s 2006 Red Mountain Syrah.

WAwineman reviews L’Ecole’s 2006 Estate Cab Franc.

Wine Peeps writes about the best Seattle area stores for Washington wine and Red Mountain and Wahluke Slope AVAs.

Going for Seconds checks out aMaurice.

Write for Wine discusses the recent Seattle Magazine article on the 100 best Northwest wine.

Cuisiniers Kitchen makes a trip to Walla Walla with callouts to Buty, Russell Creek, Dunham, Saviah, Pepper Bridge, and Northstar.

Northwest Wine Blog writes about the 2007 Kung Fu Riesling.

The 89 Project reviews aMaurice’s 2005 Malbec.


From the locals…

The Tacoma News Tribune writes about Dusted Valley Vintners.

Portland’s OPB News writes about Walla Walla’s transition from wheat to wine.

The Tri-city Herald writes about speculation of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s sale due to the pending sale of it’s parent company. They also write about plans to transform the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center.

The Yakima Herald writes about wine touring in Prosser and breaking ground on a 500 acre vineyard resort.

Paul Gregutt writes about Kamiakin 2006 Red Wine. See my review of this wine here.

The Seattle PI writes about the Januik 2006 Red Wine. See my review of this wine here.

Salem, Oregon’s Capitol Press writes about Hedges efforts to use biodynamic methods.

That's all she wrote folks.

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Januik Red Wine 2006

Monday, September 15, 2008 0 comments

Just on the shelves…

Januik Winery is located in a newly built facility in Woodinville, Washington. Mike Januik, former winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle, makes a number of excellent wines, especially those with vineyard designations. The 2006 Red Wine, coming in at twenty dollars, it is an excellent value.


Wines:


Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Januik Red Wine 2006

Spice, dark fruit, and mineral on the nose. On the taste, the wine is smooth and very even with rich, smooth tannins. The wine has pencil shavings on the nose and taste. 14.2% alcohol.

$20

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Yellow Hawk Cellar has opened a downtown tasting room in Walla Walla, Washington. The tasting room is located at 343 South 2nd Avenue and is open Friday through Monday 11am to 5:30pm. Winemaker Tim Sampson had previously opened his home south of downtown for event weekends.

Yellow Hawk focuses on wine styles and varietals few have explored in Washington, including Sangiovese and Barbera. Their wines are always interesting and very well priced. To see a review of recent Yellow Hawk releases, see my Walla Walla Spring Release 2008 report.

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Fidelitas M100 2006

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 0 comments

Summary: Fidelitas is a family-owned winery located in Benton City, Washington in the Red Mountain AVA. Owner and winemaker Charlie Hoppes named the M100 after his grandmother Mary who passed away at age 100 in 2005.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Fidelitas M100 Red Wine 2006

Lots of vanilla, clove, and other spices on the nose and taste. Overall, an enjoyable wine with a lot going for it, but a bit over-oaked for my taste. Merlot, Cabernet, Cab Franc, Petite Verdot. 14.4% alcohol. 2000 cases produced.

$18

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Chateau Rollat Semillon 2007

Tuesday, September 9, 2008 0 comments

Back on-line after a week in Boston and New York visiting family and friends.

Chateau Rollat was started by Bowin Lindgren who named the winery after his French ancestors. Lindgren recruited Christian LeSommer - wine master for Chateau Latour in the 80’s and 90’s - as a consultant. The results have been phenomenal. See a write up of Rollat's red wines in my Walla Walla Spring Release 2008 report.

Chateau Rollat’s wines can be somewhat difficult to find, so contacting the winery or asking your local wine shop to order some may be your best bet. However, they will be well worth the effort.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Chateau Rollat Ardenvoir Semillon 2007

Touches of lemon and yeast on the nose. The taste is marked by a hint of honey, a beautiful smoothness, and a crisp, tart finish. 13% alcohol.

$22

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Gorman Winery 2006 Releases

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 0 comments

Chris Gorman’s Bordeaux blends and Syrah are close to achieving cult wine status in Washington. The 2006 vintages - officially released September 1st – will no doubt please fans of this Woodinville winery. The two new Bordeaux blends – the Merlot-based Zachary’s Ladder and the Cabernet-based The Bully - are reviewed below. While I did not find either wine to be a life changer, they are both very well made and give a lot to think about and discuss. These wines tend to fly off the shelves quickly so make haste if you find yourself waiting for their release each fall.

Wines:
Score Name Notes $
*
Gorman Winery Zachary’s Ladder Columbia Valley 2006 Lots of anise, spice, dark fruit, and chocolate on the nose. The nose also has a fair amount of alcohol to it. A nice full feel on the palate with soft tannins and a long finish. Overall a very good wine, but the alcohol gets in the way a bit. 65% Merlot; 25% Cabernet; 10% Petit Verdot. 15% alcohol. 450 cases produced.

$28
**
Gorman Winery The Bully Red Mountain 2006 Blackberry and other dark fruit mix with black licorice, chocolate, and spice on the nose. A more subtle and restrained wine than Zachary’s Ladder. This wine is smoother and, ultimately, much bigger. An extended finish. 80% Cabernet; 10% Merlot; 10%; Petit Verdot. 15% alcohol. 400 cases produced. $42

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