Leaving for Walla Walla in a couple hours for Spring Release weekend. Spring Release is one of the main event weekends in Walla Walla when almost all of the wineries open their doors and pour their latest releases. I will be visiting a number of wineries over the course of the weekend, trying to mix in wineries I have visited many times with new wineries/wineries that are new to me. As usual, I will be writing a report of the event (see 2008 Walla Walla Barrel Tasting report here. Note: Opens .pdf). As with Barrel Tasting, I will also be posting excerpts of this report to the blog. Drop me a note if you will be there. Next post from the heart of Washington wine country.
ontinuing a look a wineries in the Lake Chelan area in tribute to the new Lake Chelan AVA…
Tildio Winery is located in Manson, Washington near Lake Chelan. The name Tildio comes from the Spanish name for the Killdeer bird which frequents the winery’s vineyards. The winery is owned by Milum and Katy Perry. The Perrys purchased their vineyard property in 2001 and opened their tasting room in 2005. Katy graduated from the UC Davis Enology and Viticulture program and has a resume that includes stints at Robert Mondavi, Geyser Peak Winery, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, MacRostie Winery, and Chateau Ste. Michelle.
|Tildio Ideale Columbia Valley 2007|| Almost completely clear in color. An interesting blend of chardonnay and viognier that shows lemon zest and a bit of grassiness on the nose. Tart and enjoyable on the taste with a hint of fresh cut red pepper and just a touch of oak on the finish. ||$18|
|Tildio Malbec Columbia Valley 2006||An engaging nose with fresh ground black pepper, eather, Panda Bear licorice, and touches of cherry. Beautifully well put together and balanced on the taste with light chalky tannins. 13.9% alcohol.||$28|
Nefarious Cellars is located on the south shore of Lake Chelan within the new Lake Chelan AVA. Its owners state “We are a chick, two guys, and a dog striving to blow your mind…” Before you get any ideas, one of the two guys is baby George. The others are the husband and wife team of Dean and Heather Neff. He makes the reds; she makes the whites. Dean previously worked at Soter Vineyards and Deponte Cellars. The dog is Lucy.
The fruit from the 2007 Riesling comes from Stone’s Throw Estate Vineyard located in Pateros, Washington along the shores of Lake Chelan. Stone’s Throw, named due to its proximity to the family’s home, is planted with 2.5 acres of clone 9 and clone 12 Riesling.
Read about Nefarious Cellars 2005 Cabernet here.
|Nefarious Cellars Riesling 2007||Almost completely clear in color. A pretty nose marked by sugared grapefruit, melon, and honey. A very clean, well put together taste with lots of mineral. A pleasing off-dry wine. Stone’s Throw Estate Vineyard. |
Purchased from West Seattle Cellars for $18.
Washington added a new AVA today, its second in 2009, as the Lake Chelan AVA received approval. The boundaries of the AVA, which include the city of Chelan, more or less follow the lines of the land surrounding the lake. The new AVA is wholly contained within the larger Columbia Valley AVA.
Lake Chelan - the third deepest lake in the nation at 1,486 feet - has a cooling effect upon the surrounding area that contributes to the area's distinctive growing characteristics. At present there are only 260 acres of grapes planted, predominantly to Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. With 24,040 acres in the AVA, more planting is sure to follow. Many wineries in the AVA also source fruit from other Washington AVAs.
Wineries in the Lake Chelan area include:
Chelan Estate Vineyards & Winery
Chelan Ridge Winery
CR Sandidge Wines
Four Lakes Winery
Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards
Lake Chelan Winery
Rio Vista Wines
Tsillan Cellars Winery
Tunnel Hill Winery
Vin du lac Winery
Wapato Point Cellars Winery
Check out the AVA's website here.
Next up, Naches Heights AVA.
Owen Roe, named after a 17th century Irish patriot, produces wines from both Washington and Oregon fruit. David O’Reilly, who serves as winemaker, is also a co-founder of Sineann Winery along with Jerry Owen. O’Reilly recently created a new winery, Corvidae, which focuses on value-priced wine.
|Owen Roe Riesling DuBrul Vineyard 2007|| Almost completely clear in color. Orange peel, mineral, and a touch of sweetness on this pleasing, very smooth wine. 13% alcohol. 210 cases produced. ||$18|
|Owen Roe Pinot Gris Crawford-Beck Vineyard 2008|| Almost clear in color. Nose marked by banana, lemon, and yeast. A very interesting taste with a quick attack that drops off and then comes back on. Opens up on the palate and hangs. Note: Crawford-Beck Vineyard is located in Oregon. ||$18|
|Owen Roe Cabernet Franc Rosa Mystica 2007|| An interesting nose with loads of green and black pepper along with caramel. Alcohol shows through at times. A fair amount of oak on the taste. Red Willow Vineyard. 14.1% alcohol. ||$39|
|Owen Roe Syrah Lady Rosa Yakima Valley 2007|| Almost black in color. An excellent wine, although a bit atypical of the varietal. Lots of oak aromas including butterscotch and cedar. A plush, rich wine with an ultra-long finish. Red Willow and Outlook vineyards. 14.5% alcohol. 360 cases produced. ||$42|
|Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2006||A very unusual nose with peppermint and lots of pencil shavings. Tannins are a bit aggressive at times.||$39|
In tough times, we continue the search for inexpensive wines. More Five Under Fifteen here.
Townshend Cellars is located in Spokane. The winery produced its first vintage in 1998. The winery is a family affair run by father Don Townshend and sons Michael, and Brendon
Kyra Wines is the work of Kyra and Bruce Baerlocher. The Baerlocher’s main focus is wine grape growing, although they also produce small lots of wine.
Charles Smith Wines is a venture of Charles Smith of K Vintners (the “artisan winery”) and Magnificent Wine Company (“wine for the people”). Smith calls Charles Smith Wines his “Modernist project.” The Velvet Devil replaces the Holy Cow Merlot.
Hogue Cellars is owner by Vincor International, a Canadian company whose portfolio also includesRobert Mondavi. The winery was founded by Mike and Gary Hogue in 1982 and is located in Prosser. Jordan Ferrier serves as winemaker. Hogue is one of the largest wineries in the state producing over 450,000 cases annually.
Could summer be far away with three white wines sampled this month? Both the Townshend Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc are excellent values and are recommended.
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|Townshend Viognier Columbia Valley 2007|| Explodes with white peaches, honey, and mineral aromas. A very pleasant, easy drinking wine. 100% Viognier. 100% stainless steel fermented and aged. Willard Family Vineyard, Yakima Valley. 13.2% alcohol. Recommended. Purchased from Fremont Wine Warehouse for $10.96. ||$12|
|Townshend Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2006|| A pleasing nose with lychee, honeysuckle, and white grapefruit. Very dry and full of mineral tastes. An excellent wine to pair with seafood. 13.6% alcohol. Recommended. Purchased from Fremont Wine Warehouse for $10.96. ||$12|
|Kyra Chenin Blanc Columbia Valley 2007|| An enjoyable wine with apricot and floral notes on the nose and taste. Sweet with a viscous feel from the residual sugar (1.5%). Purchased from Poco Wine Room. ||$12|
|Charles Smith Wines The Velvet Devil Merlot Washington State 2007|| Loaded with oak aromas, notably vanilla and spice. Silky, oak dominated flavors. Simple but enjoyable. A lot of fruit but the oak gets in the way. Fruit is 44% Milbrandt Vineyards (Wahluke Slope), 36% Alder Ridge (Horse Heaven Hills), 20% Yakima Valley. 13.8% alcohol. Purchased from Pete’s Bellevue for $13. ||$13|
|Hogue Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007||A simple nose noted by black fruit. Lip smackingly tart. Very straight forward with a dog lick of tannins to finish things off. A cheap, easy drinker that would make a good barbeque wine. 13.7% alcohol. Purchased from Safeway for $8.||$13|
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Starting in January I have been counting down to my 40th birthday in May by opening a special bottle of wine on the 23rd of each month. January was the Leonetti Cellars 2002 Cabernet (notes deliquent); February was the Betz 2002 Pere de Famille; March was Leonetti Cellars 2007 Merlot. With Quilceda Creek recently consumed in the 2006 Cabernet release and the after party, the obvious choice for April was Cayuse Vineyards.
Cayuse Vineyards is the work of Christophe Baron. Baron is a native of France and grew up studying enology in Champagne and Burgundy. The winery gets its name from French-Canadian fur traders who called the Native Americans in the Walla Walla area the ‘Cailloux’ (pronounced ‘ki-yoo’, plural for ‘stone’ in French). Baron planted his first vineyards in Walla Walla in 1996 in a dried up cobblestone riverbed. The rest as they say is history.
Cayuse makes a series of vineyard designated Syrah including En Cerise (French for cherry), Coccinelle (French for ladybug), En Chamberlin, and Armada. Bionic Frog is the name of the winery’s top of the line Syrah. Cayuse also makes a Cab Franc dominant Bordeaux blend (Flying Pig), a Cabernet dominant Bordeaux blend (Camaspelo); a Cabernet (The Widowmaker); a Tempranillo (Impulsivo); a Grenache; a Rose; and a Viognier.
Cayuse distributes its wine exclusively via mailing list. Since the initial releases, all of the wines have been highly rated and sought after. Here we try to the 2002 Flying Pig – the Cab Franc dominant Bordeaux blend – and the 2004 Callioux Vineyard Syrah.
|Cayuse Flying Pig 2002|| Almost completely opaque. Initially the nose is very light with lilacs and herbs. Cranberry dominates on the taste and also comes to the fore on the nose. As the wine opens, licorice takes over. Open on the palate then ramps down and hangs. A big acid kick three quarters of the way through like a whale kicking up its tail. 75% Cab Franc; 15% Cabernet; 10% Merlot. 14.5% alcohol. ||$45|
|Cayuse Callioux Vineyard 2004||Light and garnet colored. An outrageous nose that jumps out of the glass, slaps you in the face and grabs you by the nose. Reminiscent of a Pinot on the aromas with barnyard, a vegetable medley, and iron. Later, bacon fat and tomato emerge. Round and generous and very well balanced. The wine doesn’t have a finish. It just continues endlessly. Syrah co-fermented with 4% Viognier.||$55|
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The April Virtual Tasting tonight is the Columbia Crest 2006 Grand Estates Shiraz. Read more about this month's Virtual Tasting here. I will be updating this post with running notes as I taste the wine. Look for the first update a little after 7pm. I encourage you to post your comments along the way as well.
If you can’t join tonight feel free to send comments any time before or after. Also if you have suggestions for next month's wine, send 'em along.
7:30 Okay folks the bottle is open. Temperature is 65 degrees. Composite cork that is lightly colored. No signs of leakage. Pouring now...
7:45 Wine is medium ruby colored. Nose has light game notes along with sweet oak and berry. Fairly classicly styled syrah nose. Oak is occasionally intrusive.
Some background on the wine. The 2006 Syrah is a reasonable 13.5% alcohol, considerably lower than many produced in the state that are at or above 15%. The fruit is from the Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope AVA. The wine was aged for 12-14 months in 60% French and 40% American oak barrels. It was co-fermented with a small amount of Viognier in a northern Rhone valley style.
8:00 I like the nose a fair bit. The sweet oak notes come off after the wine opens up a bit. Surprisingly flat on the palate, especially in the middle. Doesn't have much to say along the finish. Oak also very present on the taste. Citrus elements about three quarters of the way through. Overall my initial impression is that the nose is fairly appealing but the taste is a disappointment. We'll see what happens with a bit more time.
8:15 Let this sit for a while. Not swirling the wine there are a lot of oak aromas - chocolate, vanilla, spice. Vigorous swirling brings the syrah aromas back to the front. Still can't say much about the taste other than that the oak dominates. Overall it's an inoffensive wine with an appealing nose but a disappointing taste. Based on the nose I would give it a plus (+) but the taste brings it down to a dot (.). Next up, adding a little food to the mix to see what happens.
8:45 Still find myself liking the nose but not seeing much different along the taste. One thing I will say is that I have had few syrahs, especially from Washington, at this price point. I purchased this at Pete's Seattle for $12. Most Washington syrah I have had have been somewhere between $20-$40. Would be interested to try other Washington wines in this price range.
9:05 Put the wine in to stress positions and subjected it to light and heat deprivation. In other words, into the fridge with it and dropped it down to 60 degrees to see what would happen. The game aromas get accented at this temperature as do floral aromas from the viognier. The taste seems to have improved. Carries better along the mid-palate. Way too oak dominated for me still through. The oak is what carries the palate along. Next up, what the winemaker and the 'zines had to say.
9:35 Winemaker notes: “This opaque, reddish-purple wine contains expressive aromas of pepper, spice, blueberry, and violet. It makes a fresh entry on the palate with layers of fresh fruit and soft tannins that carry through the long silky finish. Enjoy this wine with grilled dishes.”
Wine Spectator: 89 points. Smooth and generous. A plush mouthful of plum, blackberry and spice flavors that linger on the open-textured finish. Drink now. 30,500 cases made. –HS
Wine Enthusiast: 86 points. From the use of the term Shiraz (rather than Syrah) to the sweet, vanilla-and-tobacco-laden flavors, this seems to be aimed squarely at the consumer who loves a forward, round and rather soft Australian-style wine. It delivers ripe berry flavors, silky tannins and plenty of up-front pleasure for the price. -PG
10:30 Final thoughts. So we're almost three hours in to the bottle being open. I still like the nose which I have consistently throughout. Taste has improved. Oak seems a bit less intrusive now. Overall more even on the palate. Finish has also improved a bit as well. I still would stick with giving it a dot. Creeps up towards and + but doesn't quite make it. On a 100 point scale I would say 86-87.
Great comparison of Harvey Steiman's and Paul Gregutt's writing style above. Have to say that Paul's review aligns closely with my thoughts. Don't really read Harvey's review for this one and feel like we are talking about the same wine. Didn't feel like it was as generous as I wanted. I must say that I would feel better if it were in the $8-$9 price range, like the merlot and cabernet can often be found for, rather than $12.
Thanks Lisala, Mac, RW, and the Anonymi for your thoughts. Paul, kept waiting for your mid-class notes. Others feel free to try the wine at any point and send your thoughts along.
Let me know if you have suggestions for next month's wine.
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During the release event, winemaker Marv Crum had noted that the 2004 Columbia Valley Cabernet was drinking exceptionally well. This is quite an understatement. I would be interested to hear what Wine Advocate subtracted a point for (the wine received a 99 point rating) as this wine is as close to perfect as I can conceive. We also tried the 2004 Merlot which Crum had said “hits good for a pitcher.” Indeed. Both of these wines are drinking beautifully. In comparison, the 2003 Cabernet was monstrous and took several hours of decanting to be even slightly tamed.
This year we added a non-Quilceda wine to the mix - the 2003 Corliss Estates Red Wine. We sampled this wine at last winter’s Walla Walla Holiday Barrel Tasting and wanted to see how it compared to Washington’s best. While it took a good deal of decanting to open up, once it did, it showed why Corliss will be a major player in Washington wine.
Note: All wines were decanted over the course of several hours.
Wines: Score Name Notes $ Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2004 A stunningly beautiful, refined nose with blackberry, blueberry, earth, mineral, wood smoke, and light herbs. The taste is other worldly. Perfectly refined. Immaculated detailed and textured. Hangs on the palate for minutes. Quite simply the best wine I have tasted. 96% Cabernet; 3% Merlot; 1% Cab Franc. Champoux, Tapteil, and Klipsun vineyards. 14.4% alcohol. 3,400 cases produced. Sampled at 62 degrees.
$100 Quilceda Creek Red Wine Columbia Valley 2004 Very dark in color. A rich, opulent nose with toasted oak aromas and dark syrupy fruit. As the wine opens, earth, violets, lavendar, blueberry, and blackberry emerge. A gauzy, rich taste that effortlessly hangs on and on. Son of the best wine I have tasted. For the price a simply outrageous wine. 81% Cabernet; 13% Cab Franc; 6% Merlot. Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Galitzine, Klipsun, and Tapteil vineyards. 14.9% alcohol. 2,100 cases produced.
$35 Quilceda Creek Merlot Columbia Valley 2004 Extremely dark in color. A perfumed nose with lilacs, incense, black, syrupy fruit, green peppercorns, and a potpourri of spices. A gorgeous, elegant taste with grainy yet soft tannins. Dense and compact yet beautifully balanced. Lots of blackberry emerges on the nose and blackberry pie on the tastes. Give three plus years. 88% Merlot; 12% Cab Franc. Champoux and Tapteil vineyards. 14.9% alcohol. 400 cases produced. Sampled at 63 degrees.
$72 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2003 A fragrant nose with rich black and blue fruit mix with wood smoke and anise seed. Holy smokes what a monster on the taste! A huge tannin lick. A dense, rich, outrageous wine that needs many, many years of time. After several hours of decanting the tannins start to calm down. Give this wine quite a bit of time in the cellar still. 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot. Champoux, Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Tapteil vineyards. 14.9% alcohol. 3,400 cases produced. Sampled at 63 degrees.
$95 Corliss Red Wine 2003 Intense smoke and incense on a wine that is loaded with sediment. Earth, slate, and light floral notes show through as the wine begins to open. Thick and chewy. Red fruit and cranberries glide along the palate. Exquisitely integrated tannins. A seemingly endless finish. After extended decanting, coffee grounds come to the fore. Sampled at 62 degrees. $65
Quilceda currently produces two cabernets: one from the Columbia Valley and one from Galitzine Vineyard, Red Mountain AVA. Starting in the fall of 2009, Quilceda will release a third cabernet from Palengat Vineyard in Alderdale, Horse Heaven Hills AVA near Champoux Vineyard. Palengat Vineyard was purchased several years ago and is bears the maiden name of Jeannette Golitzin. Approximately 1,000 cases of the Palengat cabernet will be produced. Quilceda also produces a merlot and a red wine. The winemakers for these wines are listed as Paul Golitzin, Marv Crum, and Alex Golitzin.
Quilceda is planning construction of a new building which they hope to complete in approximately one year. This facility will allow all wine production to be done under a single roof. Quilceda currently occupies two buildings and shuttles equipment and wine between the two.
Quilceda Creek’s wines are sold exclusively through a mailing list. The winery is open one time per year in April for mailing list members and their guests (that would be me) to pick up their allocations of Columbia Valley Cabernet and Merlot. Other releases are shipped directly to customers. At the release event the winery provides each guest with a red (Red Wine) and black (Cabernet - pictured at left) poker chip for a pour of these wines. The Cabernet was released this weekend. The Red Wine will be released in the fall. With each passing year, it seems impossible to imagine that the Quilceda releases will live up to their predecessors. However, the 2006 Cabernet and Red Wine are every bit as good as the wines that came before them.
While the Cabernet is both expensive and largely unavailable, the Red Wine, produced from declassified barrels, is a bit more widely available and is consistently exceptional. Suffice to say that when a winery is striving for perfection, the barrels that fall short are still far above most other wineries in the state (NB: For those in the Seattle area the Quilceda Creek 2005 Red Wine is currently available at Cellar 46 on Mercer Island for $20 a glass)
Next up, the 2nd Annual Quilceda Creek Pick-up After-party including tasting notes from:
Score Name Notes $ Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006 A dark, brilliant wine. A rich nose with cassis, vanilla, chocolate, and fresh ground pepper. A fair amount of alcohol shows at times, perhaps due to the temperature. Surprising amounts of chocolate and an interesting spice component – nutmeg? Light herbal notes also emerge. Dense and rich. Considerably more integrated than the red wine at present. This is a beautiful wine that perfectly combines power and elegance. Will benefit from significant additional bottle time. 97% Cabernet; 3% Merlot. Champoux, Klipsun, and Taptiel Vineyards. 15.2% alcohol. Sampled at 69 degrees.
$125 Quilceda Creek Red Wine 2006 Dark and inky in color. Almost opaque. Abundant dark fruit, including black currant and blackberry jam, along with spice and oak. Touches of vanilla and light perfume. A thick, gripping wine with a strong tannin lick and a gigantic mid-palate loaded with fruit and spice. Lots of oak notes on the nose. Alcohol comes through occasionally as well. One year in the bottle. Still fairly closed at the moment. Decant extensively before consuming or wait 3-5 years. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 77% Cabernet; 10% Cab Franc; 10% Merlot; 2% Petit Verdot; 1% Malbec. 15.2% alcohol. Sampled at 65 degrees. NR
Corvus Cellars is a new venture by Stephen Lessard and Randall Hopkins. The winery focuses on small production wine - less than 300 cases total - from Red Mountain fruit. Winemaker Stephen Lessard also makes wine at Walla Walla’s Whitman Cellars. The fruit for the 2006 release comes from Red Mountain Estate Vineyards.
|Corvus Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2006||Dark in color with purple tinges. Marked by tobacco, blueberry, anise seed, pencil shavings, and cola. Evenly balanced with a pleasing, long finish. 100% Cabernet. 12.8% alcohol. 225 cases produced.||$39|
A summary of articles from April 1st to 14th on Washington wine.
For your Washington wine reading pleasure, the Spring issue of Wine Press Northwest is out as is the April/May issue of Wino Magazine.
From around the country…
Forbes compares regular and reserve wines for Pacific Rim wine company.
The St. Louis Dispatch writes about Washington state Pinot Gris.
The San Francisco Chronicle writes about Cab Franc with a callout to Andrew Will.
From the blogosphere…
As you would expect, lots on the Taste of Washington this go round including:
Going for Seconds, A Dash in the Pan, Food and Wine, Wine Foot, An Urban Sip and Write for Wine. Winery blogs from Woodward Canyon and Fidelitas also join in the fun.
Wine Peeps gives a complete recap on the ToW and also looks at the Restaurant Awards and educational day. Wine Peeps also conducts a wine tasting dinner of Washington merlot and writes about vineyards of the Yakima Valley.
Seattle Wine Blog writes about the Common Ground area at the Taste of Washngton and the event overall.
Swordfern Wines gives some first thoughts on the Taste of Washington and follows up with posts on Betz Family Wines 1999 Pere de Famille and Grenache. Swordfern also writes about Tamarack Cellars and Cayuse 1999 Cailloux Syrah.
Wine Foot looks at Taste of Washington food. They also take a look at Vin du Lac whites, interview Dean Neff of Nefarious Cellars and Debbie and Dave Hansen of Cougar Crest.
Bricks of Wine writes about ToW hits and misses.
Beyond the Bottle gives some reflections on the Taste of Washington and also writes about Ryan Patrick’s 2005 Reserve Cabernet.
Washington Wine writes about Syrah and also about Pinot Noir.
Ambassador of Wine writes about Five Star Cellars 2006 Sangiovese.
Encompass Wine looks at Columbia Crest’s 2006 H3 Cabernet.
About Boxed Wine writes about Tefft Cellars and Badger Mountain Winery.
The Wine Spies write about Revelry Vintners 2006 Merlot.
Through the Walla Walla Grapevine writes about Robison Ranch Cellars.
Wine Press Northwest discusses how wineries are faring in the recession. They also write about Pacific Rim winemakers expanding into the world of red wines.
Chat Wine looks at some offerings from Charles Smith.
I Drink Your Wine looks at McKinley Springs.
Terry at TheWinos talks to the folks from DaMa.
From the locals…
The Tacoma News Tribune looks at a couple of wine bars. They also report that bud break seems a bit behind this season.
The Eastside Business Journal writes about the Taste of Washginton and also writes about Sky City Restaurant winning Washington Wine Restaurant of the Year.
The Seattle Times writes about the Taste of Washington.
The Pacific Northwest Insider writes about Washington’s 600th winery.
The Bellingham Herald writes about viognier.
The Penninsula Daily News writes that Lost Mountain Winery will close.
That’s all folks!
What pairs better than wine and charity? Wine, food, and charity.
The 8th Annual Sexy Syrah event will be held at Salty’s on Alki on Wednesday April 15th. This event features over 40 Washington wineries along with food from Salty’s. The event is a benefit for FareStart, a job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Sommelier’s David LeClaire of Seattle Uncorked and Tim O’Brien of Salty’s are hosting the event. I will be participating as a judge along with four others to determine the night's Gold, Silver, and Bronze wines. Stop by and say hello if you will be attending.
The following wineries will be pouring at this event:
Badger Mountain/Powers Winery
Bunnel Family Cellar
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Eaton Hill Winery
Jones of WA
Liberty Bay Cellars
Lost River Winery
Magnificent Wine Company
Naches Heights Vineyard
Nota Bene Cellars
Otis Kenyon Winery
Sawtooth / Zefina
Two Mountain Winery
Va Piano Vineyards
William Church Winery
Willis Hall Wines
Windy Point Vineyards
Last month I travelled to Napa Valley and visited Darioush, Chappellet, Duckhorn, and Heitz. The trip to Napa was my first in several years and provided an interesting comparison to wine tasting and traveling in Washington. The highlight of the trip both in terms of experience and wine was Chappellet.
Chappellet (pronounced, SHA-pell-lay) was started by Don and Molly Chappellet in the late sixties. Chappellet is located on Pritchard Hill twelve hundred feet above the valley floor. The Chappellet family was the first in Napa Valley to establish a mountain winery. The winery has no sign or other indication of its presence from the road. While you might think this is to fend off unscheduled visitors, it is, in fact, an indication of the winery’s desire to fit into rather than mar the landscape. Turning onto the road to Chappellet takes you up a spectacular, steep, long and winding, one lane dirt road. It is almost impossible to not feel lost as there is nothing in sight save the gorgeous views. Finally, as you near the end of the road, there is a small, inconspicuous sign that says “Winery” with an arrow pointing into the forest. A short jaunt up a trail leads you to an inconspicuous, pyramidal structure that is partly underground and almost completely blends in to its environment. This building serves as Chappellet’s winemaking facility and barrel room.
Since its inception, the winery has put a strong emphasis on the environment and on sustainability. Solar panels supply all of the winery’s electricity. Cover crops protect the soil between the vineyard rows that wind up the hillside. The vast majority of the grapes on the vineyard are certified organic, and the rest are in the final process of certification. The vineyard is resplendent with birds and wild-life. The views are expansive and unparalleled. The family’s house is even hidden behind trees and gives no indication of its presence from the winery. “I want to live here” one of my companions said, almost to herself as birds fluttered around us and turkey vultures soared overhead. It is the awe inspiring scenery that leads to this thought that the family has worked so hard to maintain. The intention of the winery’s design is to show the area almost as it had first appeared to the Chappellet’s in the late sixties
The trip to Chappellet was by reservation and cost $15 per person. This included an hour long tour of the winemaking facility and a walk through the vineyards to see and hear about the winery’s history. Throughout the vineyard walk we tasted through a series of wines. There is something to be said for tasting wines while looking at the vines that they came from. The vineyard walk was followed by a tasting inside the winery of Chappellet’s 2006 Signature Series Cabernet, 2006 Pritchard Hill Cabernet Franc, and to-be-released 2006 Pritchard Hill Cabernet (Note: This wine was released at the end of March).
In addition to the Signature Cabernet and Napa Valley Chardonnay which receive reasonably wide distribution, the winery makes a variety of wines only available to club members or by visiting the winery. These include the Zinfandel, Las Piedras Red Wine, and Pritchard Hill Cabernet Franc listed below.
|Chappellet Chardonnay Napa Valley 2007|| Very light in color. Abundant spice and light oak notes. A dry, crisp wine with intense mineral flavors. 14.8% alcohol. 5,000 cases produced. ||$32|
|Chappellet Zinfandel Mount Veeder 2006|| Cracked black pepper, light vanilla bean, raspberry jam, and peat. A big, spicy, jammy tart wine with pretty oak notes. ||$32|
|Chappellet Merlot Pritchard Hill 2006|| Light dried cranberries, tobacco, dust, spice, and earth. A dry wine with gripping but not overwhelming tannins. 89% Merlot; 6% Cabernet; 5% Malbec. ||$38|
|Chappellet Red Wine Las Piedras Napa Valley 2006|| A peppery nose along with black tea and tobacco. A big, full mouthfeel. Excellent across the mid-palate with flavors of chocolate and spice. 350 cases produced. ||$52|
|Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2006|| Mint, earth, caraway seeds, and black currant along with touches of bell pepper. A lush, big wine that hangs on at the finish. 14.9% alcohol. 7,000 cases produced. ||$52|
|Chappellet Cabernet Franc Pritchard Hill Estate 2006|| Toasted oak and grilled bell pepper predominate on the nose. A big, gripping, full-bodied, intense wine. ||$65|
|Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Pritchard Hill Estate 2006||An intricate nose marked by toasted oak and rich black licorice. Silky smooth with perfectly integrated tannins and an extended finish. 76% Cabernet; 12% Petit Verdot; 9% Merlot; 3% Malbec.||$135|