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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
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'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Woodward Canyon Dolcetto 2007

Thursday, October 30, 2008 4 comments

From the great state of Colorado...

I bought this wine intrigued by seeing a varietal I had not seen from any other Washington producer. Dolcetto is grown in the Piedmont area of Italy. These wines are typically meant to be consumed within a couple years of their release. Not knowing this and seeing it was a 2007, I decided to throw it in the decanter for a bit after first tasting it. Bad idea as the wine quickly fell to pieces. Before this the wine was quite enjoyable, although I have to confess I cannot say how true to the varietal it is or isn’t.

Dolcetto makes its way in to some of Woodward Canyon’s other wines, such as their Nelms Road Cabernet 2006.


Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Woodward Canyon Dolcetto 2007

A big nose with spice, tar, diesel, black fruit, and floral aromas. This is a fascinating wine which, although young, has a big taste. 88% Dolcetto; 6% Barbera; 6% Syrah. 13.2% alcohol. 403 cases produced.

$20

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Five Under Fifteen - October

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 0 comments

Posts for the next week will be coming from the road as I am out in Denver, Colorado doing get out the vote work for the 2008 presidential campaign.

Today’s posting is this month’s installment of five wines under fifteen dollars. Without further ado…

In tough times, we continue the search for good, cheap wines.

The first wine, Sageland’s Freddie’s Blend 2005 which I recommend, I had steered away from for a while. There were a couple reasons for this. The first was the name - “Freddie’s Blend.” I had some reaction to this name. Freddie Mercury? Freddie the Plumber? Not sure. The wine is named after winemaker Frédérique “Freddie” Spencer. The second reason I steered clear was that the branding confused me a bit. To have this wine, a blend, offered at the same price point as their Cabernet which I had tasted previously seemed strange. I’m used to the Cab being the more expensive wine or the blend being the more expensive wine but having both at the same (low) price point seemed a bit strange. Alas, I overcame this and was rewarded. This is an enjoyable wine for the money.

Red Diamond is a large production winemaker in Paterson, Washington. While I don’t know their overall numbers, the website states that they sold 25,000 cases their first year. I thought the 2006 Cabernet was quite interesting, especially on the taste which really surprised me for the rich chocolate flavors. However, the richness quickly became overwhelming and didn’t connect well to the taste.

The next wine is an interesting one. This wine has a complicated label. On the left it says “DPond Cellars” and underneath that in smaller print “Fries Family Cellars”. Already I am confused about who makes this wine. Looking up the Fries Family website listed on the back of the bottle leads to a dead site. Hmmm…A little research shows this to be made by Duck Pond Cellars run by the Fries Family. The winery is located in Dundee, Oregon although they sourced the grapes for this wine from the Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington. Continuing on the label, along the top “2003 Cabernet Sauvignon”. A 2003 wine on the shelves for under $10? This is quite an unusual thing as most on the shelves at this point are 2005 or 2006. Finally at the bottom it says “Columbia Valley Washington” followed by, again in smaller print, “Desert Wind Vineyard” and beneath this “Wahluke Slope”. Now of course the Wahluke Slope AVA didn’t exist in 2003 so this is correct but it still looks very busy on the label. Given the translation of “Red Wine” and “Product of the U.S.A” into French, perhaps this wine is made in large volume and is exported? Very strange label.

The final wine is a RiverAerie wine from Bunnell Family Cellars who I have written about before. The 2006 Spring Creek Redd – named after the word for the site where salmon spawn – is a decent wine but overall I did not find it that interesting. Perhaps pairing it with food would help. I’m thinking pizza or a tomato-based pasta dish would work well.

The search continues. If you have any under $15 wines you enjoy, please send them along to me in a comment or e-mail.


Wines:
Score Name Notes $
+
Sagelands Vineyard Freddie’s Blend Columbia Valley 2005 A fairly light nose with cherry, black currant, spice, and some sweet oak aromas. On the taste, the wine coats the palate and opens up nicely. The wine is a little weaker at the very back end and finish, but this wine is a very good value. 56% Merlot; 33% Cabernet; 10% Malbec; 1% Petit Verdot. 14.1% alcohol. Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $8. Recommended.


$12
+
Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Tons of black pepper and anise on the nose with chocolate and caramel appearing as the wine opens up. On the taste, the wine is mouth coating with rich chocolate and caramel. The nose and the taste seem a bit disconnected to me, and the wine becomes somewhat overwhelming after a glass or two. 80% Cabernet; 10% Syrah; 8% Merlot; 1% Cab Franc ; 1% Petit Verdot. 13.5% alcohol. Purchased at Safeway for $8. Recommended.

$10
+
Goose Ridge Red Wine Columbia Valley 2005 A huge, smoky nose with chocolate and syrupy black fruit. The wine is thinner on the palate than expected and the taste seems very disconnected from the nose. 36% Syrah; 31% Merlot; 28% Cabernet; 5% Malbec. 14.3% alcohol. Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $15.

$15
.
DPond Cellars Fries Family Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Desert Wind Vineyard, Wahluke Slope 2003 On first pour, the wine shows lots of coffee. After a few moments, this changes to black cherry, black currant, white pepper and aromas somewhat reminiscent of a Pinot. On the taste, the wine is marked by coffee grounds and a touch of tannins. The wine is sharp in the middle. 14.5% alcohol. Purchased at Safeway for $8.

$10
.
RiverAerie Spring Creek Redd 2006 Raspberry and a touch of sage on the nose. On the taste the wine is crisp and tart. Not a bad wine. I just didn’t find it that interesting. 69.2% Cabernet; 15.4% Syrah; 7.7% Petite Syrah; 7.7% Mourvedre. 14.2% alcohol. 276 cases produced. Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $12. $12

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Syncline Cellars is located along the Columbia Gorge in Lyle, Washington. The winery was founded by James and Poppie Mantone and produces about 3,000 cases annually focusing on Rhône varietals. Syncline gets its name from a three hundred foot cliff near the winery known locally as the “Coyote Wall Syncline.”

An early vintage of Syncline’s Subduction Red was one of my first loves in Washington wine. The wine composition of the wine has changed a good bit since then, this wine continues to be a great wine for the money.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Syncline Cellars Subduction Red Columbia Valley 2007

A beautiful, rich nose with spices, blueberries, black currants, and floral aromas. The wine is round and lush on the palate. 35% Syrah; 21% Mourvedre; 16% Grenache; 15% Cinsault; 13% Counoise. 14.1% alcohol. 1,750 cases produced.

$18

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The fun thing about tasting different wines is it allows you to figure out what you like. And what you don’t…

Columbia Crest is a mega-producer with national reach. For perspective, Columbia Crest made 295,500 cases of their 2005 Grand Estates Merlot. How they made that wine so enjoyable at that quantity and price point I will never understand.

The winery is located in Paterson, Washington and has a twenty-five year history of winemaking. The winery makes a number of different wine tiers including Two Vines, Grand Estates, and Reserve wines. The H3 wines – for Horse Heaven Hills – sits in between the Grand Estates and reserve wines.

This is the second year of the H3 label which the winery recently announced it was taking national. While I enjoyed the previous vintage, I found the 2006 disappointing. Alas…

Please join me in posting your notes and letting me know what you thought of this wine. Also let me know if you have suggestions for next month’s wine.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

.

Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills 2006

A fairly good nose marked by black cherry, black pepper, coffee, and earth aromas. The taste is disappointing, especially on the mid-palate. While there are some decent oak and coffee notes, the wine is quite sharp and thin at points on the palate. These aspects seemed more pronounced over time. 14.2% alcohol.

$20

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Reminder that this month's virtual tasting will take place tonight. The wine is Columbia Crest's H3 Cabernet 2006. Please join us in trying this wine and posting your comments. If you can't try the wine tonight, give it a try at some point and send along comments and suggestions for next month's wine.

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A reminder that October’s Virtual Tasting will take place on Wednesday October 22nd. Read more about it here.

Catching up a bit…A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 28th to October 14th.


From around the country:


The New York Times writes about AmericanWinery.com – a new on-line wine seller based out of Walla Walla.


From the blogosphere:


Randy Buckner of Wine Lover’s Page reviews a large number of Washington wine releases.

Bottle of Wine reviews Columbia Crest’s Vineyard 10 Red Wine.

Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine writes about Spring Valley’s 2004 Muleskinner Merlot.

The Rattlesnake Hills newsletter can he found here.

Wine Peeps writes about Walla Walla Valley vineyards.

Wells on Wine writes about Owen Roe’s 2006 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet.

An article about wines of Washington state that the author splattered across a number of sites on the blogosphere including this one.


From the locals:


KPLU reports on WSU’s research center in Prosser.

KVEW in Kennewick also writes about this story.

Paul Gregutt recommends 8 wines with callouts to Adamant, Barrister, Bergevin Lane, Cadaretta, Flying Trout, JLC, Nefarious Cellars, and Zerba. He also writes about a new winery, Corliss Estates.

Wenatchee World On-line reports on the crush.

The Tri-City Herald reports on a new Washington Wine board game and this season's crush.

The Everett Herald writes about the WineTrails website.

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Just a reminder that October's virtual tasting will take place this Wednesday, October 22nd. The wine is Columbia Crest's H3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. As reported last week on Wine Press Northwest's blog, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates will be taking this label national so expect a big increase in production in coming years. You can read more about the virtual tasting here.

Please join us in trying this wine and posting your notes.

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Another presidential debate, another debate wine pairing, this time with a third party candidate. This was a three year vertical of SYZYGY’s Red Wine. In our snap polls, the 2004 edged out the 2005 with the 2006 a distant third.




Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

SYZYGY Red Wine Columbia Valley 2004

An engaging nose loaded with anise and clove aromas alongside black cherry, dark fruit, and spice. The wine has a beautiful mouthfeel that opens up and lingers for a long, long finish. Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec. 14.6% alcohol.


$22

*

SYZYGY Red Wine Columbia Valley 2005

A more delicate nose than the 2004 with rich black cherry and light oak aromas. The wine has light anise on the nose and taste. The 2005 wine is smooth with a good finish but overall lacks the depth and grip of the 2005. Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec. 15% alcohol.


$22

+

SYZYGY Red Wine Columbia Valley 2006

A smoky nose with anise, bing cherries, and brambly fruit. The wine has a good body but it does not really come together with the nose and is a little thin on the mid-palate. Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet, Malbec. 14.8% alcohol.

$22

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GraEagle Red Wing 2005

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 0 comments

GraEagle is the second label for Nicholas Cole Cellars, a Walla Walla winery. I found the GraEagle Red Wing to be quite impressive at first blush. Interestingly, it didn’t hold up as well as I would have expected over the course of a couple hours.





Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

GraEagle Red Wing 2005

Packed full of dark fruit with baking spices, licorice, and cola. The wine is beautifully smooth and full with soft tannins and an extended finish. A very impressive wine for the money. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. 14.8% alcohol. 916 cases produced.

$25

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October's virtual tasting will be Columbia Crest's H3 (Horse Heaven Hills) Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. The 2005 vintage of this wine received a 90 point rating from Wine Spectator. The wine retails for about $20 but can frequently be found on sale for considerably less. The Virtual Tasting will take place on Wednesday October 22nd. I will be opening the bottle at about 7pm and posting my notes later in the evening. Please join us in trying this wine and posting your notes.

September 2008 Virtual Tasting

August 2008 Virtual Tasting

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Tildio SBW 2005

Thursday, October 9, 2008 0 comments


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Tildio is a new winery located in Manson, Washington near Lake Chelan. A Lake Chelan AVA, which would presumably include Tildio, is currently in the works with the comment period ending next week.The name comes from the Spanish name for the Killdeer bird which frequents the winery’s vineyards. Northwest Wine Press called Tildio a “Winery to Watch” earlier this year.

The SBW is named for the vineyards the grapes comes from – Sagemoor, Baccus, and Wienbau which are all part of Sagemoor Vineyards. These vineyards have provided fruit for a number of Washington wineries with excellent results. Unfortunately in the case of the Tildio SBW 2005, the oak gets in the way of the fruit.


Wines:

Score
Name
Notes
$
.
Tildio SBW Columbia Valley 2005
Lots of oak aromas on the nose, perhaps a bit too much, along with cola, menthol, prune, dried fruit, and spice. On the taste, the wine comes off as over-oaked and finishes with strong, sand paper tannins. 13.9% alcohol. 124 cases produced.
$25

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Figuring out what wine to pair with food is one of the more difficult assignments a wine lover faces. However, it pales in comparison with what wine to match with a presidential debate.

For last night’s presidential debate, we decided that a mini-vertical of Mike Januik’s Novelty Hill Red Wine was the way to go – the 2004 versus the 2005. Please note that this is not intended as a commentary on the candidates – old versus new, more similar than different, conservative wine versus big bold wine etc etc.

In our insta-polling, the 2004 was the clear favorite of the group.


Wines:


Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Novelty Hill Red Wine Columbia Valley 2004

A big earthy, funky nose with lots of spicy plum aromas. The taste has lots of dark fruit and an excellent mid-palate and finish. This is an excellent wine for the money. 49% Cabernet; 19% Syrah 16% Malbec 16% Cab Franc. 14.1% alcohol.


Purchased at Esquin for $14.


$18

+

Novelty Hill Red Wine Columbia Valley 2005

A light nose with black pepper, anise, and dark fruit. The wine becomes a bit smoky as it opens up. The taste is marked by anise and sour cherry. This is a good wine but is a bit thin on the mid-palate and the finish is somewhat disappointing. 47% Cabernet; 19% Malbec; 15% Petit Verdot ; 11% Sangiovese; 8% Syrah

14.1% alcohol. 1,079 cases produced.


Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $12.99.

$18

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Mark Ryan Fall 2008 Releases

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 0 comments

Few Washington wine releases are more anticipated than Mark Ryan’s Long Haul and Dead Horse. Both wines are Bordeaux blends from the famed Ciel du Cheval Vineyard on Red Mountain. The Long Haul is Merlot-driven while the Dead Horse is predominantly Cabernet based. Starting in 2005, the winery also added Watch Witch, a cabernet and merlot blend from Klipsun Vineyard, also located on Red Mountain.

This year’s releases are quite simply the best that winemaker Mark Ryan McNeilly has made. While you will want to sit on them for a while, your patience will be rewarded.


Wines:


Score

Name

Notes

$

+

Mark Ryan Viognier 2007

A pleasing nose with white peach and mineral notes. Fairly full on the taste with a bit of sharpness on the backend. 13.9% alcohol. 6576 cases produced.


$29

**

Mark Ryan Long Haul Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 2006

A beautiful, expressive nose with lots of intense blackberry, licorice, and floral notes. A full taste that is elegant with soft tannins and lots of fruit. Give 1 to 2 years, although it is drinking well now. 48% Merlot; 46% Cab Franc; 6% Petit Verdot. 14.6% alcohol. 650 cases produced.


$45

**

Mark Ryan Water Witch Klipsun Vineyard 2006

The wine leaps from the glass with lots of spice, dark fruit, and floral notes. This wine is loaded with anise. A great nose. The wine has a big fruit forward taste and gripping tannins wrapped around a black cherry core. Give at least 2 to 3 years. 58% Cabernet; 42% Merlot. 14.3% alcohol. 375 cases produced.


$45

**

Mark Ryan Dead Horse Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 2006

The nose is marked by rich spices, dark fruit, floral aromas, and licorice. The mocha notes are stronger on this wine than the others. A beautiful mouth feel with an almost chalky feel to the tannins. The blackberry on the taste leads to an extended finish. Drinking the best of the three wines right now. 52% Cabernet; 24% Cab Franc; 17% Merlot; 7% Petit Verdot. 14.4% alcohol. 650 cases produced.

$45

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The Value of a Penny

Friday, October 3, 2008 1 comments

At a recent commercial wine tasting, a friend noticed the person who was pouring the wine putting a penny in the decanter. Never having seen this before, I did some research. There is an interesting explanation here.

In short, when a wine has aromas due to excessive oxidation or reduction - such as a sulfur or a sherry like taint - adding a penny can often alter the chemical reaction and remove the taint.

While it's simple chemistry, I still found myself a little surprised by this. So when the opportunity arose to test it, I gave it a try. Lo and behold, the sherry like taint in the wine I was trying was magically gone. Note that pennies minted prior to 1982 are mostly copper whereas those after 1982 are mostly zinc. Not sure what difference this might make if any as both zinc and copper can act as reducing agents, I used a copper penny. I remembered something about zinc toxicosis in dogs after ingesting pennies. I figured I wouldn't put anything in my wine that would kill a puppy.

So while a penny may not be worth a penny to make and is not worth picking up if you make more than $11. 88 an hour, it's hard to put a value on a penny if it can save your wine.

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Summary: Brian Carter Cellars, located in Woodinville, Washington, makes a number of wines that are completely unique in the state. Carter is known for his exceptional blending skills. The winery makes a Super Tuscan, a Southern Rhône-style blend, two Bordeaux blends, and a white wine that is a blend of Roussane, Riesling and Viognier. Carter’s wines are always interesting and at times transcendent.


I found the current release of the Abracadabra – a wine I had enjoyed greatly in previous vintages – a bit disappointing unfortunately. Perhaps I’ll give it a mulligan given its track record.


The Byzance – French for “luxurious” - is a Southern Rhône-style blend composed of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.



Wines:


Score

Name

Notes

$

.

Brian Carter Abracadabra 2006

A fascinating nose with black pepper, boysenberry. The taste is a little disappointing, somewhat thin in the middle and seemingly disconnected from the nose. 13.9% alcohol. 578 cases produced.


$20

+

Brian Carter Byzance 2005

Tar, floral aromas, and spice on the nose. On the taste, this is a pleasing, medium-bodied wine that is a bit sharp toward the end. 57% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre. 13.3% alcohol. 331 cases produced.

$30

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