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Reviewed Wineries

Five Under Fifteen - July

Friday, July 31, 2009 0 comments

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

The first wine is from July’s Virtual Tasting – the Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2008. Charles Smith, who also produces K Vintners and Magnificent Wine Company wines, calls the Charles Smith label his “modernist project.” See our writeup on the Boom Boom! Syrah from this label at a previous Virtual Tasting here. Charles Smith Wines is located in Walla Walla.

Barnard Griffin, located in Richland, was founded by Rob Griffin and Deborah Barnard in 1983. Griffin also served as winemaker for Hogue Cellars for a number of years. Barnard Griffin produces 75,000 cases annually.



One of the more anticipated value offerings is the Ghost of 413 wines from the Giant Wine Co. Giant Wine is the work of Mark McNeilly (Mark Ryan Winery) and Chris Gorman (Gorman Winery). These two winemakers have both received an avalanche of accolades for their respective wines. This year’s Ghost of 413 Red is a Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah (CMS) blend. The white is a Riesling. Giant Wine Co. also produces Sinner’s Punch Red and Sinner’s Punch White under this label. See my take on the Red here. Gorman and McNeilly did not release a vintage of these wines last year, feeling that they were not quite up to snuff. Giant Wine Co. is located in Woodinville.

Snoqualmie Vineyard Wines is located in Prosser. The winery has three tiers of wines: the Columbia Valley wines, Naked Wines, and Reserve Wines. Here we try the Naked Cabernet Sauvignon. The Naked label focuses on grapes produced organically and wines created with minimal intervention. Snoqualmie – note. This wine is not listed on the website.


If you have favorite Washington wines under $15, send them along and I will check them out.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling Evergreen State Vineyard, Washington 2008

Pale in color. Lots of mineral notes along with tropical fruit on the nose. As the wine opens, traces of floral aromas start to show along with abundant tangerine notes and a hint of citrus at the tail end. On the taste, crisp and tart like a Granny Smith apple. A layered wine with a fair amount of complexity.

$12

+

Barnard Griffin Cabernet Merlot NV

Lots of sweet oak notes and a touch of spice along with powdered cocoa, and cherry on a pleasing nose. The taste is right down the fairway – smooth and even with a bit of weight and lots of fruit. A good value, especially if on sale. 13.5% alcohol. Recommended.

Purchased at Safeway for $9.09

$13

+

Giant Wine Co. Ghost of 413 Riesling 2008

All about cantelope on the nose and taste. A fair amount of Residual Sugar makes the wine come off as fairly sweet. Overall, an enjoyable, solidly put together wine that doesn’t show a whole lot of complexity. 100% Stainless steel fermented. 12.9% alcohol.

Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $10.99

$12

+

Giant Wine Co. Ghost of 413 Red Wine Columbia Valley 2007

Soft blueberry and raspberry aromas give way to light oak spices and vanilla on the nose.
Lots of oak influence and a fair amount of grip on the taste at the moment. At times comes off as astringent. Still, there is lots of good stuff there. Needs time to come into its own or a big block of cheese. 55% Cabernet; 33% Merlot; 12% Syrah. 15% alcohol. 1,500 cases produced.

Purchased at Pete’s Bellevue for $12.99

$14

.

Snoqualmie Vineyard Wines Naked Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007

Lots of chocolate and sweet notes on a very fruity nose that is also marked by banana and vanilla. Nose and taste seem disconnected. Taste is dry and peppery and very thin across the palate. Reminiscent at times of rough sandpaper on the texture. 13.7% alcohol.

Purchased at Whole Foods for $12

$12

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This month's Virtual Tasting is tonight and is the 2008 Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling. As usual, I will be opening the wine about 7pm and updating this post with my notes along the way. Please join us in trying this wine and posting your notes.



7:15 Update: On the hottest day in Seattle's recorded history, how fortunate am I to have picked a white wine for this go round? Truly I can't take credit for this as it was Paul at Swordfern Wines/Full Pull that made the suggestion. In any event, the bottle is open. Let the Virtual Tasting begin!

7:30 Update: Initial specs. Screw top cap. Wine at 48 degrees although certainly won't stay at that temp for that long. I chilled the glasses to try to keep the wine cooler longer.

7:45 Update: Pale in color. Lots of mineral notes along with tropical fruit on the nose. As the wine opens, traces of floral aromas start to show. On the taste, crisp and tart like a Granny Smith apple. A Germanic style with restrained alcohol levels (will check the actual percentage and list later). My initial thought is that I am quite impressed, especiallyat this price point.

8:30 Update: Some additional detail. Wine is 100% Riesling from Evergreen Vineyard, Washington State. 12.2% alcohol. Lists for $12. I purchased it for $10.19 at Pete's Bellevue. Residual Sugar is 1.55. Personally I didn't think the RS showed through all that much. The Charles Smith website describes it as a "Mosel-style" Riesling. Fermented i n100% stainless steel.

8:45 Update: Still liking this wine. I would give it a "*" by my rating system. The layerig of the wine gives it some complexity that makes me bump it up.

The Tasting Notes from the Charles Smith website: THE MOST INTENSE KUNG FU GIRL TO DATE. Delicate aromas of stone fruit, white peach, apricot, Asian pear and white spring blossoms. Long and layered. THIS GIRL TRULY KICKS ASS!

Don't see other reviews, although I thought there were some out there. CellarTracker tasting notes give an average of 87 points with a mean of 88 from 15 tasting notes.

9:00 Update: Definitely agree with folks who are saying tangerine. A lot of it shows up on this wine. There is also a light citrus/lemon component that shows up at the tail end of the nose as the wine gets a bit warmer. Thanks to all who participated in this month's tasting. We'll do it all again next month. Let me know if you have thoughts on what the wine should be.

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Reminder that this month’s Virtual Tasting – the 2008 Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling – takes place on Wednesday July 29th at 7pm. Please join us in trying this wine and posting your notes.

Completing the trilogy of recently released wines from Tranche Cellars…

Tranche Cellars is new winery from Michael Corliss, Lauri Darnielle, and Kendall Mix of Corliss Estates (read about the Corliss wines here). In May Tranche released its inaugural whites – a Chardonnay, a Roussanne-Viognier, and a Pinot Gris. The winery’s first reds will be released this fall.

As with the other releases, the back of the bottle provides a description which reads “Be it known that the holder of this premier share of wine is entitled to enjoy aromas of lime, grapefruit, violets and mango. A mouthful of citrus, a touch of minerality, and delicate floral aromas. The maker pledges to bestow uncompromising standards of quality in creating this blend for generations to come.”

Related posts

Tranche Cellars

Tranche Cellars Chardonnay 2006


Tranche Cellars Rousanne Viognier Columbia Valley 2007


See Paul Gregutt’s writeup on the Tranche Cellars’ wines here.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

Tranche Cellars Pinot Gris Columbia Gorge 2006

Nose is marked by citrus, mineral, fresh cut Golden Delicious apple, pineapple, and a hint of freshly ground hot red pepper. Weighty on the tongue with a surprising amount of sweetness. Tropical fruit fills out the taste and finish. 13.3% alcohol.

$16

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The Washington Wine Commission announced today that the 2010 North American Wine Bloggers Conference will be held in Walla Walla, Washington. The dates for the conference will be June 25-27th. The 2010 conference will focus an unprecedented amount of attention on Washington wine in general and Walla Walla wine in particular. The 2009 conference is taking place this weekend in Santa Rosa, California and has attracted 275 attendees. Read more about the 2010 conference here.

See the 2009 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend report here (Note: Opens .pdf).

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Long Shadows (WWSR 2009)

Thursday, July 23, 2009 0 comments

What follows is an excerpt from the 2009 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend Report. Download the full report here (Note: Opens .pdf).

This trip to Long Shadows provided the opportunity to taste a lineup of new releases alongside their predecessors. The event, which took place on Friday evening, created quite a buzz with one visitor even flying in on a helicopter (Long Shadows does not have a landing strip at the moment, so the jet had to be left at home). Allen Shoup’s project of pairing some of the world’s top winemakers with Washington fruit continues to excel. The new releases match and in some cases exceed their predecessors. All wines sampled at 69 degrees unless otherwise noted.

Wines:

Score

Name Notes

$

*

2008 Poet’s Leap Riesling

Lightly colored. A beautiful, fragrant nose marked by pear and honey. A very even, rounded wine. 12.9% alcohol. 2,656 cases produced.

$20

*

2006 Saggi

Rose hips and dried cranberries on a very appealing nose. Beautifully even with a rich palate laced with oak. 42% Cabernet; 39% Sangiovese; 19% Syrah. 14.6% alcohol. 1,725 cases produced.

$45

*

2006 Feather

An exuberant nose with spice and anise. Chalky tannins and a long finish. A bit of a dip in the middle is all that holds this wine back. 100% Cabernet. Primary blend Horse Heaven Hills (32%); Stillwater Creek (23%); Wahluke Slope (19%). Remaining percentage a variety of vineyards and AVAs. 14.2% alcohol. 2,238 cases produced.

$60

+

2006 Pedestal

Anise and rich chocolate aromas stand out on an oak-dominated nose. A bit of the oak monster on the taste. 86% Merlot; 8% Cabernet; 4% Petit Verdot; 2% Malbec. 14.7% alcohol. 1,877 cases produced.

$55

**

2005 Pirouette

Loads of anise mixes with other spices. Rich with fruit and a super long finish. 57% Cabernet; 20% Merlot; 14% Syrah; 5% Malbec; 4% Cab Franc. 14.6% alcohol. 1,733 cases produced.

$55

**

2006 Pirouette

Again, lots of anise, mocha powder, and spice along with a fair amount of caramel. Quite similar on the nose to the 2005. A rich, fruity, syrupy wine with well integrated tannins and a lot of texture. Throwing a good deal of sediment. 54% Cabernet; 20% Merlot; 15% Petit Verdot; 6% Cab Franc; 5% Syrah. 14.6% alcohol. 1,733 cases produced.

$55

**

2004 Chester-Kidder

Dark in color. An outrageous nose of wheat mixed with berry, pepper, and earth. With a swirl anise comes forward and then steps back. On the taste opens up and attacks with dark fruit and gorgeous tannins. A supremely long finish caps it all off. 58% Cabernet; 29% Syrah; 10% Cab Franc; 3% Petit Verdot. 14.7% alcohol. 1,797 cases produced.

$50

*

2005 Chester-Kidder

Lots of anise seed and a bit of funk on the nose. Fairly dry and very tart. Needs time. 55% Cabernet; 40% Syrah; 5% Merlot. 14.7% alcohol. 1,586 cases produced.

$50

*

2006 Sequel

Rich with coffee grounds and black licorice on an alluring nose. Fairly tight on the taste at present. Give 6-12 months. 96% Syrah;

4% Cabernet. 14.7% alcohol. 2,012 cases produced.

$55

**

2005 Poet’s Leap Botrytis Riesling Columbia Valley

The nose is marked by sugared grapefruit, honey, and a touch of pineapple. An outrageously rich and opulent taste that is sweet but not overly so. 15% alcohol. 11% residual sugar.

$50

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K Vintners (WWSR 2009)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 0 comments

What follows is an excerpt from the 2009 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend Report. Download the full report here (Note: Opens .pdf).

While there was a good deal of excitement about the new K Vintners wines being poured, the buzz was about a wine that was not being poured – the Charles Smith 2006 Royal City Syrah. The week prior to Spring Release Paul Gregutt of Wine Enthusiast scored this wine at 100 points, the first time Gregutt has awarded this honor to a wine. The Royal City Syrah will be released in the fall of 2009. All wines sampled at 58 degrees.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

2008 Rosé Walla Walla Valley

Lightly colored. A pleasing nose with mineral, stone, and bright fruit. Light on the palate with a crisp, tart finish. 66 cases produced.

$20

+

2008 Viognier Columbia Valley

Light gold color. Hay and melon with a lot of white peach thrown in on the nose and taste. Tart with abundant citrus notes. White grapefruit comes out on the nose and dominates the taste as the wine opens up.

$20

*

2006 Guido Walla Walla Valley

Lightly colored. An interesting nut aroma at the fore on a fascinating nose marked by light spice, rose petals, a touch of caramel. Light and refined on the palate with soft tannins. 80% Sangiovese; 20% Syrah. 140 cases produced.

$40

**

2007 The Boy Walla Walla Valley

A beautiful, earthy funkiness. Plush and full with loads of fruit. Glides along the palate to an extended finish. 90% Grenache; 10% Syrah. 340 cases produced.

$45

*

2007 Milbrandt Syrah Wahluke Slope

Lush red fruit including spicy red currant and raspberry. Opens up beautifully on the palate. Lets off a little bit about two-thirds of the way through. An exceptional value.

$25

*

2007 Pheasant Wahluke Slope

Red licorice and rose petals mark the nose. Thick with grainy tannins on a wine that hasn’t come together completely. Tart and pleasing. Needs time but will be a powerhouse of a wine for the money. 191 cases produced.

$35

**

2006 Motor City Kitty Columbia Valley

Beautiful earth, funk, and currant mix with olive and brine. A rich, gorgeous wine that coats the palate and is loaded with fruit. A steal for the money. Stoneridge Vineyard. 95 cases produced.

$30

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What follows is an excerpt from the 2009 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend Report. Download the full report here (Note: Opens .pdf).

Winemaker Serge Laville calls the 2006 vintage “our most labor intensive vintage ever” with almost all of the grape varietals reaching their peak simultaneously. Harvest took place over an intense three week period. While 2005 was an across the board excellent vintage for Washington state, Spring Valley’s 2006 wines exceed the 2005’s. Spring Valley favors a fairly extracted style and flirts with quite high alcohol levels. However, the distinctive style of their estate vineyards still shows through. Spring Valley will be producing 160 cases of Cabernet Franc to be released in the fall. All wines sampled at 60 degrees.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

2005 Muleskinner Merlot Walla Walla Valley

Pretty herbal aromas mix with cherry, cocoa, and bright raspberries. Lush and full, although a bit astringent at times. Cranberry lingers on the finish. 94% Merlot; 6% other varietals.

$35

*

2006 Muleskinner Merlot Walla Walla Valley

Raspberries and bittersweet chocolate laced with light floral notes mark the nose. Rose hips and light herbal notes show through as the wine opens. Rich on the palate. Opens up and sails. The better of the two vintages. 100% Merlot. 14.9% alcohol.

$45

**

2005 Uriah Walla Walla Valley

A lively nose with strong black licorice and jammy fruit. Lithe and refined on the palate. A lot of texture and grainy tannins. 59% Merlot; 36% Cab Franc; 5% Petit Verdot. 14.8% alcohol. 3,000 cases produced.

$50

**

2006 Uriah Walla Walla Valley

Rich mocha aromas mingle with cranberry, black cherry, rosehips, and light earth. A rich, thick, multiple swallow wine. 54% Merlot; 33% Cab Franc; 7% Petit Verdot; 6% Malbec. 14.9% alcohol. 5,000 cases produced.

$50

**

2006 Frederick Walla Walla Valley

Lovely dried red fruits mix with rosehips and light earth aromas. A bold, powerful taste packed with tannins and coffee notes. Still needs a good deal of time. 54% Cabernet; 27% Cab Franc; 10% Merlot; 7% Petit Verdot; 2% Malbec. 15.4% alcohol. 3,000 cases produced.

$50

*

2006 Derby Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

Light blackberry, earth, herbs, and dried fruit sprinkled with crumbles of dark chocolate. Very tight and still a bit green at times. Packs a puckering punch and is rich with syrupy fruit. Hasn’t completely come together yet but will be excellent. 100% Cabernet. 15.6% alcohol.

$50

*

2006 Nina Lee Walla Walla Valley

Oak spices weave through black and blue fruit. Wow this is a thick wine! Extremely tightly wound at the moment, though showing anise and blackberry. A bit heavy on the alcohol at times. 100% Syrah. 15.6% alcohol. 1,000 cases produced.

$50

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Beresan Winery (WWSR 2009)

Monday, July 20, 2009 0 comments

What follows is an excerpt from the 2009 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend Report. Download the full report here (Note: Opens .pdf).

Beresan gets its name from the region of the Ukraine the Waliser family hails from. Beresan’s wines all have a distinctive style that is chock full of red fruit, dried fruit, and earth aromas. On the palate, the wines are rich, bright, and focused. The winery sources most of its fruit from its estate vineyards which owner Tom Waliser manages. Beresan is planning to increase its focus on these vineyards in future releases. All wines sampled at 65 degrees.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

*

2007 Sémillon Walla Walla Valley

Just a tinge of straw color. Pretty, tropical fruit mixes with mineral and smoke aromas. Beautifully balanced and even on the palate. 100% Sémillon. Beresan Estate Vineyard. 14.1% alcohol. 131 cases produced.

$18

+

2006 Buzz

Light caramel mixes with cranberry and currant. A plush texture on the palate. 50% Syrah; 50% Cabernet. 100% Yellow Jacket Vineyard.

$29

+

2006 Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley

Fairly light in color with an almost orange tinge. A good wine marked by green pepper and spice, but just a bit tart. 14.5% alcohol. 195 cases produced.

$29

+

2006 Malbec

A deep color. Smoke and pepper stand out on the nose. Evenly balanced with a pleasing finish. 14.4% alcohol. 125 cases produced.

$29

*

2006 Merlot Columbia Valley

Light in color. Lots of bright berries on this fruit forward wine, including cherry, raspberry, and red currants. Dry on the palate with spice, earth, and fruit. 100% Merlot. 14.5% alcohol. 293 cases produced.

$29

*

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

Abundant, jammy fruit along with a touch of spearmint. Very well put together with fruit interwoven with earth and spice. 100% Cabernet. 13.8% alcohol. 380 cases produced.

$35

+

2006 Syrah Columbia Valley

Distinctive earth aromas along with cranberry and dried fruit. 100% Syrah (45% Estate; 55% Candy Mountain). 14.5% alcohol. 224 cases produced.

$29

*

2006 Carménère Walla Walla Valley

White pepper is at the fore on the nose with abundant fruit lying underneath it. Well balanced with pretty spices. 100% Carménère. 14.5% alcohol. 90 cases produced.

$29

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Rotie Cellars (WWSR 2009)

Friday, July 17, 2009 0 comments

What follows is an excerpt from the 2009 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend Report. Download the full report here (Note: Opens .pdf).

Sean Boyd is up to something special at his new winery, Rotie Cellars. The winery focuses on Rhone-style blends. The Northern Blend is 97% Syrah co-fermented with 3% Viognier. The Southern Blend is a combination of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. Both wines are standouts. Boyd, who serves as assistant winemaker at Waters Winery, is perhaps most excited about his 2008 Grenache. This wine, still in the barrel, comes from Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. This Grenache will provide the backbone for the 2008 Southern Blend. Boyd’s style shows restraint, letting the fruit and the land speak largely for themselves. Wines sampled at 68 degrees with the exception of the Roussanne-Viognier (60 degrees).

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

2008 Roussanne-Viognier

Completely clear in color. Banana and pear aromas mark a wine that has yet to completely reveal itself due to the recent bottling. Crisp and clean on the palate. 55% Viognier; 45% Roussanne. 200 cases produced.

$25

*

2007 Southern Blend

A drop dead gorgeous nose with earth and mineral aromas surrounded by violets and a heaping of raspberries. Beautiful acid balance with a focus on the fruit and the land. The oak is there but is far out of the way. A long finish caps it off. 55% Grenache; 35% Syrah; 10% Mourvedre. 400 cases produced.

$35

*

2007 Northern Blend

Dark in color. Beautiful fruit (raspberries), bittersweet chocolate and exhilarating seed aromas on a thrilling nose. An intricate taste that plays effortlessly across the palate. A long, lingering finish that hangs and hangs. 97% Syrah co-fermented with 3% Viognier. 400 cases produced.

$35

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Forgeron Cellars (WWSR 2009)

Thursday, July 16, 2009 0 comments

What follows is an excerpt from the 2009 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend Report. Download the full report here (Note: Opens .pdf).

Marie-Eve Gilla continues to impress at Forgeron. Her 2004 Boushey Vineyard Syrah was my top wine at Uncorked’s Syrah event in April. This time around it was the 2004 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet that grabbed my attention, leading my friend Lindy to interrupt a conversation we were having with people from the winery to exclaim “Oh my God!” After a minute more of conversation I sampled the wine and also said “Oh my God! You weren’t kidding!” This is a big, bold wine that demands attention. Gilla’s wines display both a feminine and a French touch. The results speak for themselves and demonstrate why Gilla is one of the best winemakers in Walla Walla Valley. NB: Forgeron Cellars 2005 Zinfandel also came in second in our 2008 Reader Survey. All wines sampled at 64 degrees unless otherwise noted.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

+

2008 Roussanne Columbia Valley

Just a hint of color. A touch of lemon zest and mineral on this bright, tartly acidic wine. An excellent wine to pair with seafood. 100% Roussanne. Crawford, Lonesome Springs, Alder Ridge vineyards. Sampled at 62 degrees.

$23

+

2006 Barbera Columbia Valley

The nose is marked by spice, green pepper, tobacco, and – at times – chocolate. Very tart and puckering on the palate. The alcohol shows through occasionally. 100% Barbera. Sagemoor Vineyard.

$30

+

2003 Syrah Columbia Valley

An anise bomb that is also loaded with cola. Very evenly textured and opens up on the palate. 100% Syrah. Les Collines, Boushey, Milbrandt, Stonetree, and Den Hoed vineyards.

$30

*

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Pepper Bridge Vineyard Walla Walla Valley

Pretty spices and a beautiful earth component on an appealing nose that is also marked by anise, coffee notes, and cola. Taste has a good acid balance. A touch of pencil lead on the finish. 100% Cabernet.

$46

*

2001 Merlot Columbia Valley

A fair amount of browning in the color. Campfire, sarsaparilla, and pain grille show on the nose. Very evenly balanced with just the right mix of fruit and grip along with a beautifully rich texture. Lots of life left on it.

NA

**

2003 Vinfinity Reserve Columbia Valley

A simply gorgeous nose with cherry cola mixed with tobacco, spices, and smoked meat. An exceptionally well-balanced wine.

$46

*

2005 Zinfandel Columbia Valley

Nose jumps out of the glass with spice, eucalyptus, orange blossom, and a faint hint of graphite. Rich and intense on the palate. A long, lingering finish.

$30

**

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Champoux Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills

Almost completely opaque. Violets, tobacco, funk, and earth emerge on the nose. Packs a gigantic punch on the taste. A complete whopper. Almost completely overwhelms all senses and then comes back and sails.

$46

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Recently I have been discussing why Washington Syrah does not sell particularly well and what value Syrah are out there. This was inspired by a post on Paul Gregutt’s blog last month. One of the hypotheses is that Washington Syrahs are relatively expensive and that there are not that many value offerings out there. I discussed value offerings in a previous post on a qualitative level. Here I look at how Washington Syrah compares at a more quantitative level. Specifically, I look at how Washington compares to a top Syrah producing region – Australia – in terms of price and rating.

For these purposes, I used the Wine Spectator database. This is not to imply that Wine Spectator is the be-all-end-all of wine reviews. Rather, I used the Spectator database as they are a major publication and have a large database that is easily searchable. Let me also say up front that I am comparing Washington, the state, to Australia, the country, so there are built in differences that affect the validity of the comparison.

In the Spectator database, I compared the score and price (average, median, minimum, maximum) for all Australian and Washington Syrah/Shiraz with a Tasting Date of the previous 12 months. This was done to look at the most recent information as well as to limit the overall dataset.

Overall, average and median scores for Australian and Washington Syrah were comparable. The median price was also comparable. The average price was higher for Australia Shiraz due to a number of expensive wines skewing the average.

Table 1

# of Wines Reviewed

Avg Score (Median)

Av Price

(Median)

Min Price

Max Price

Australia

239

89.94 (90)

$50.77 ($35)

$7

$625

Washington

103

90.20 (90)

$36.60 ($35)

$8

$75



Looking at a distribution of Australian and Washington wines by price and score also shows a number of Australian wines at higher price points (Note: For easier comparison, I have made the axes of the graphs the same. This eliminates one data point, an Australian Shiraz at $625).










Next up I looked at how the two areas compared in terms of overall production levels of the wines that were rated. Two of the main drivers of wine sales are high scores in trade publications and high availability/low cost/good value. In terms of high scores and price, based on the information above, Washington Syrah is doing quite well. Let’s take a look at the comparison by production.


Table 2

Total # wines

Australia (%)

Total # wines from WA (%)

# of Wines

Reviewed

239

103

> 1,000 cases

produced

122

(51%)

21

(20.4%)

> 5,000 cases

produced

71

(29.7%)

6

(5.8%)

> 10,000 cases

produced

33

(13.8%)

3

(2.9%)


Clearly there is a difference in the overall production levels between the two areas. Many of the Australian wines are being made at high production levels whereas the Washington wines are at small production levels. This matches the expectation – Australia is churning out a lot of wine whereas Washington has many small producers. I believe that this low production level is one of the reasons why Washington Syrah has a modest impact on the market outside of Washington.

As I stated previously, I believe as Washington Syrahs continue to rack up high scores and garner attention, the sales will follow. I also expect that more moderate to high production offerings will be created as more interest is generated. In short, I believe that Washington Syrah’s time in the sun is coming.

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Trust Cellars (WWSR 2009)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 2 comments

What follows is an excerpt from the 2009 Walla Walla Spring Release Weekend Report. Download the full report here (Note: Opens .pdf).

One of the most exciting parts of this trip to Walla Walla was the stop at Trust Cellars. Winemaker Steve Brooks began making wine in 2005 after leaving his job at CNN. While his initial releases showed great promise, Brooks’ new releases realize that potential and more. Two of these wines – the 2008 Riesling and 2007 Walla Walla Valley Syrah – my friends and I talked about quite literally for the remainder of the weekend. With an exceptional lineup of wines and a wine club with a waiting list, there appears to be no limit to where this winery can go. All wines sampled at 65 degrees unless otherwise noted.

Wines:

Score

Name

Notes

$

**

2008 Riesling Columbia Valley

A beautiful nose with sugared grapefruit and pineapple. Spectacular citrus tastes blend with other fruit flavors. Exceptionally well balanced with mineral and a light sweetness on the taste. 100% Riesling. 38% CS Farms (Wahluke Slope); 30% Pheasant (Yakima); 30% Evergreen (Wahluke Slope); 2% Ancient Lakes. 12% alcohol. 224 cases produced. Sampled at 54 degrees.


$16

+

2008 Rosé of Cab Franc Columbia Valley

Light smoky hints accompany pepper and a slight mustard component. Crisp and clean on the palate. An excellent summer wine. 100% Cab Franc. Bacchus Vineyard. 13.4% alcohol. 151 cases produced. Sampled at 60 degrees. Recommended


$16

*

2007 Syrah Columbia Valley

Dark purple. Blueberry and other light berries along with a hint of wintergreen mark the nose and taste. Two months in the bottle. Unfined and unfiltered. 54% Lewis; 31% Portteus; 13% Sundance vineyards. 14.5% alcohol. 320 cases produced.


$28

**

2007 Syrah Walla Walla Valley

Very dark purple. Light game and floral aromas dance together on the nose. Dry on the palate with beautiful berry tastes. Finish hasn’t entirely come together yet but given a little more bottle age will be absolutely superb. 89% Syrah; 11% Cabernet. 61% Les Collines (Block 50 & 30), 28% Va Piano, 11% Lewis (Cabernet). 14.4% alcohol. 214 cases produced.


$28

*

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley

Extremely dark to the point of almost being opaque. A compelling nose marked by pencil lead, light anise, and white pepper. Beautifully integrated tannins. 80% Cabernet; 20% Merlot. 39% Phinny; 20% Baccus; 11% Kelly; 10% Champoux. 20% Conner Lee (Merlot). 13.8% alcohol.

$36

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