Overview


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

Search

Loading...

Wine Blog Awards

'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Fresh Sheet November 30th 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November's Virtual Tasting takes place tonight 7-8pm Pacific. Read about how to participate here.






Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent Washington wine releases – includes wines from Hard Row to Hoe, Mannina, :Nota Bene, Ash Hollow, Long Shadows, and Owen Roe.

Hard Row to Hoe


The story of Manson’s Hard Row to Hoe is one of rebranding and rebirth. The winery was founded by Judy and Don Phelps as Balsamroot Vineyards. The couple subsequently rebranded the winery, taking advantage of one of the area’s unique stories.

Back in the 1930s Howe Sound Mining Company was a booming business. An enterprising Manson resident started a rowboat taxi service to bring miners across Lake Chelan to the local brothel at Point Lovely. Hard Row to Hoe’s main label shows the miners on their voyage. The Burning Desire label is named in tribute to the miners’ wives - who burned the brothel down.

Hard Row’s tasting room is full of period pictures and other items - look very closely at the wall paper if you visit – making it one of the more unique spots in the picturesque Lake Chelan area.

At the winery, Don Phelps works their estate vineyard (the winery also sources grapes from other areas) while Judy makes the wines. The estate wines below give an early look at the young Lake Chelan AVA, which saw its first production vineyard in 1998.

Hard Row to Hoe Shameless Hussy Viognier Columbia Valley 2010 $18

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) An aromatic wine full of peaches, pear, bananas, pineapple, and floral notes. A full, viscous mouthfeel loaded with fruit flavors. Alcohol pokes through a bit on this otherwise very enjoyable wine. 14.2% alcohol.

Hard Row to Hoe Sauvignon Blanc Yakima Valley 2010 $22
Rating: + (Good) A very intriguing, varietally correct wine with snapped green pepper, asparagus, mango, and lemon zest. Palate is tart and appealing with a broad mouthfeel and abundant grapefruit and herbal flavors. Thins out toward the finish. 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Muscadelle de Bordelaise. Lonesome Springs Ranch. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13.8% alcohol. 250 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Hard Row to Hoe Marsanne Yakima Valley 2010
$18
Rating: . (Decent) Toasty, smoky notes dominate aromatically followed by melon. Has a full, textured, oily feel. The oak rules the day, lingering long after each sip. 100% Marsanne. Boushey Vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel and neutral oak. 14.5% alcohol. 270 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Hard Row to How Burning Desire Estate Cabernet Franc Lake Chelan 2008 $45

Rating: + (Good) An aromatic wine with abundant cherry cola, chocolate, roasted pepper, and vanilla notes. The palate is rich and full of cranberry and chocolate flavors with the oak at the fore. An intriguing estate wine from this up and coming region. 100% Cabernet Franc. Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards. Aged 22 months in American oak (50% new). 14.5% alcohol. 225 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Hard Row to Hoe Syrah Lake Chelan 2008 $30

Rating: + (Good) Toasty aromas of sweet spices, coconut, freshly sawed wood, and red berries on a moderately aromatic wine. The palate is light bodied with oak spices overlaying light red berry flavors. 100% Syrah. Bear Mountain Ranch Vineyard. Aged 18 months in French and American oak (50% new). 13.8% alcohol. 125 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Hard Row to Hoe Burning Desire Petit Verdot Yakima Valley 2009 $35

Rating: . (Decent) Lightly aromatic with high-toned, perfumed floral and soil notes. Palate brings abundant cherry flavors with a grapefruit-like acidity. 80% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot. Lonesome Spring Ranch Vineyard. Aged in French and American oak (40% new). 14.2% alcohol. 285 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mannina Cellars


Walla Walla Valley’s Mannina Cellars occupies a unique niche. The wines all come from the Walla Walla Valley; most are vineyard designates; all are aged with minimal new oak; all are low in alcohol compared to most of their peers; and all are reasonably priced, with only one wine above $25.

While many of the 2008 releases from Mannina (reviewed here) showed abundant herbal and even green notes, the new releases from the warmer, 2009 vintage are fresh and fruit filled. The new wines include a rare Seven Hills Vineyard designated Sangiovese which comes in at $22. The other new wine is a Pepper Bridge Merlot, which retails for $24. Both are enjoyable, intriguing, and – best of all - well priced.

Mannina Cellars Sangiovese Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2009 $22

Rating: + (Good) Pale ruby, this wine shows all the hallmarks of Sangiovese with cranberry, raspberry, rose hips, and dusty spices. The palate is palate is tart and puckering - occasionally verging on sour - with a big blast of cranberry flavors. Overall, an enjoyable, very varietal wine from a classic Washington vineyard. 84% Sangiovese, 16% Merlot. Aged 14 months in neutral French oak. 13.9% alcohol. 256 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Mannina Cellars Merlot Pepper Bridge Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2009 $24

Rating: + (Good) Medium ruby. Lightly aromatic with red fruit, spice, and a touch of herbal notes. The palate is tart with a compact ball of red fruit flavors and firm tannins. 96% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.8% alcohol. 168 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars


South Seattle’s :Nota Bene Cellars has always been a winery that likes to experiment with different blends and vineyard sources. While the results can be somewhat confusing to consumers – this is a winery where one truly needs a scorecard – the wines are all interesting studies in blending and vineyard sites which is, of course, the point.

To give a sense of the diversity on the display at the winery, in 2009 :Nota Bene Cellars made 11 different wines totaling 1,250 cases. These include an astonishing five different Bordeaux-style blends, including two Merlot-dominant wines given proprietary names (Abbinare, Miscela), two Cabernet-dominant vineyard designates (Ciel du Cheval Red Wine, Conner Lee Red Wine), and one Cabernet Franc-dominant vineyard designate (Dineen Vineyard Red Wine).

In addition to Bordeaux-style blends, winemaker Tim Narby (obviously) also likes to create vineyard-designates. The 2008 releases include wines from Conner Lee Vineyard (Merlot, Red Wine), Ciel du Cheval (Red Wine, Syrah), Verhey (Malbec), Dineen (Red Wine), and Stillwater Creek (Mourvedre).

Most of the wines are very limited production. The workhorses are the Columbia Valley, non-vineyard designates such as the Abbinare (237 cases), Miscela (150 cases), Syrah (163 cases).

For those keeping track at home, the table below gives the 2008 scorecard.

Wine Name

Blend

Cases

$

2008 Abbinare Red Wine Columbia Valley

53% Merlot, 21% Cabernet, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec

237

$25

2008 Miscela Red Wine Columbia Valley

47% Merlot, 38% Cabernet, 10% Cab Franc, 5% Malbec

150

$25

2008 Red Wine Conner Lee Vineyard CV

67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot

75

$30

2008 Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Vineyard RM

43% Cabernet, 29% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc

175

$35

2008 Red Wine Dineen Vineyard YV

60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon

100

$35

2008 Merlot Conner Lee Vineyard CV

100% Merlot

75

$30

2008 Malbec Verhey Vineyard YV

100% Malbec

75

$30

2008 Mourvedre Stillwater Creek CV

100% Mourvedre

25

$30

2008 Syrah Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain

95% Syrah, 5% Grenache

50

$35

2008 Syrah Columbia Valley

79% Syrah, 13% Mourvedre, 8% Grenache

163

$25

2008 Una Notte Red Wine CV

52% Grenache, 38% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre

131

$30


Nota Bene has always produced good wines at fair prices – it’s hard to find many Ciel du Cheval wines at $35. The 2008 wines include a new wine, a Verhey Vineyard Malbec, which provides another fine example from the state.

All of the 2008 releases are around or above 15% alcohol. Many of the wines have the fruit to pull it off, but on some, it interrupted the show.

:Nota Bene Cellars Merlot Conner Lee Vineyard Columbia Valley 2008 $30

Rating: + (Good) A lightly aromatic wine that is like a bowl of fresh raspberries sprinkled with chocolate and spices. As the wine opens up, toasty oak notes come to the fore. On the palate the wine is rich and full bodied with abundant red fruit flavors and moderate tannins. The alcohol provides a bit of sharpness and an afterburn. 100% Merlot. Aged 22 months in French oak. 16.2% alcohol. 75 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Abbinare Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $25

Rating: + (Good) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with red fruit, herbal notes, wood spice, and high-toned licorice. The palate is medium bodied with firm tannins and silky red fruit flavors. Finishes a bit sharp. 53% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec. Arianses, StoneTree, Chandler Reach, Verhey, and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. Aged 22 months in French oak (25% new). 14.9% alcohol. 237 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Miscela Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $25

Rating: * (Excellent) Medium ruby. Appealing aromas of dusty cherries, milk chocolate, herbal notes, and exotic spices. The palate is medium bodied with rich fruit flavors and chalky, occasionally dry, tannins that give a firm squeeze before gently letting go. 47% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Malbec. Ciel du Cheval, Champoux, Dineen, and Verhey vineyards. Aged 22 months in French and Hungarian oak (33% new). 15.3% alcohol. 150 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Red Wine Dineen Vineyard Yakima Valley 2008 $35

Rating: + (Good) Medium ruby. An appealing wine with pickling spices, dusty chocolate, herbal notes, and cherries. The palate is medium bodied with tart cherry flavors, finishing slightly sweet. Occasionally shows some heat. 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 22 months in American and French oak. 15.1% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Red Mountain 2008 $35

Rating: * (Excellent) Medium ruby. Aromatically shows abundant toasty notes along with vanilla extract and herbal notes. The palate is medium bodied with dark cherry flavors and silky tannins. 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, and 28% Cabernet Franc. Aged 22 months in French and American oak. 15.3% alcohol. 175 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Red Wine Conner Lee Vineyard Columbia Valley 2008 $30

Rating: + (Good) Deep ruby. Lightly aromatic with herbal notes and spice. The palate is tart with gritty tannins. Finishes a bit sour. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot. Aged 22 months in French oak (33% new). 15.1% alcohol. 75 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Malbec Verhey Vineyards Yakima Valley 2008 $30

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Medium purple. This wine has all the hallmarks of Washington Malbec with peppery spices, plum, and light green notes. The palate is tart and on the lighter side of medium bodied tart with chocolate flavors, grainy tannins, and a silky smooth finish. Occasionally shows a bit of heat. 100% Malbec. Aged 22 months in French and Bulgarian oak. 15.2% alcohol. 75 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Note Bene Cellars Una Notte Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $30

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Pale ruby. An aromatic, appealing wine with red fruit, blueberries, white pepper, spice, and game. The palate is lush and fruit filled with a drawn out finish. A slight bitter note on the finish is all that holds this wine back. 52% Grenache, 28% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre. StoneTree, Stillwater Creek, and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. Aged 22 months in stainless steel (Grenache) and French and American oak (Syrah). 15.2% alcohol. 131 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Mourvedre Stillwater Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley 2008 $30

Rating: ./+ (Decent/Good) Pale ruby. Closed up initially, this wine opens to reveal white pepper, baker’s chocolate, and light game notes. The palate is light bodied and tart, finishing a bit sour. 100% Mourvedre. Aged 22 months in French oak. 14.7% alcohol. 25 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2008 $25

Rating: + (Good) Labeled as a Syrah, this wine is truly a GSM with 13% Mourvedre and 8% Grenache added to the mix. It’s a moderately aromatic wine with wood spice, white pepper, and dark fruit. The palate is full throttle with abundant dark fruit flavors. The alcohol bleeds through a bit in the second half. 79% Syrah, 13% Mourvedre, and 8% Grenache. StoneTree and Stillwater Creek vineyards. Aged 22 months in French and American oak. 15.5% alcohol. 163 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

:Nota Bene Cellars Syrah Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 2008 $35

Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) A perfumed, expressive wine with Stargazer lilies, blueberries, and mineral notes. The palate is broad and fruit filled with chalky tannins and a lingering finish. 95% Syrah, 5% Grenache (StoneTree). Aged 22 months in French and American oak (50% new). 15.0% alcohol. 50 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Ash Hollow Estate Vineyards and Winery


Ash Hollow Estate Vineyards and Winery is located at the western border of the Walla Walla Valley. The winery was founded in 1998 and is named after a hollow of ash trees located on the original homestead property at the vineyard site.

The Ash Hollow wines reviewed below come at a $20 and under price point – rare territory for Walla Walla Valley wines. These wines both have a viscous feel and a sweet finish. While I personally found this distracting, these wines should have broad consumer appeal.

Of note, Ash Hollow recently made a YouTube splash with its video of a headless horseman in support of its 2008 Headless Red Red Wine. It’s an enjoyable watch.

Ash Hollow Legends Headless Red Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2008 $18

Rating: . (Decent) Brightly aromatic with red and black fruit, mint, jalapeno pepper, chocolate and wood spice (pine). The palate is broad and full, almost viscous, with abundant cherry flavors and soft tannins. Finishes is a bit sweet and cloying. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 58% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Syrah, and 3% Malbec. Ash Hollow Vineyards. 14.1% alcohol. 1,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Ash Hollow Nine Mile Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2007 $20

Rating: . (Decent) A pungent wine with sweet raspberries, brambly fruit, cola, light herbal notes, and oak notes. The palate is thick and viscous, finishing extremely sweet. Tasted twice with consistent notes. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Malbec, and 10% Petit Verdot. Ash Hollow and Bella Terra vineyards. Aged in French oak (20% new). 14.8% alcohol. 300 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Onesies


The downturn in the economy has brought much to lament. However, it has also brought moments of joy in the form of lower priced wines. Long Shadows is one of the state’s finest wineries. However, almost all of their wines, with the exception of the consistently delicious Poet’s Leap, are at or above $50 – a price point most consumers have steered away from the past several years. Enter the Nine Hats label, named after the winery’s numerous winemakers.

Long Shadows Nine Hats Sangiovese Columbia Valley 2008 $25

Rating: * (Excellent) Earth, cranberry, raspberry, and kisses of chocolate on an appealing aroma profile. The palate is tart and fruit-filled with a lingering finish. An excellent expression of Sangiovese at a can’t-be-beat price point given the quality. 14.6% alcohol.

The Owen Roe Ex Umbris – Latin for ‘out of the shadows’ – consistently provides extremely high quality at a compelling price point (and with one of the state's most minimalist labels). This is never truer than with the 2009 vintage, a beautiful wine with full throttle fruit flavors and minimal oak influence.

Owen Roe Ex Umbris Columbia Valley 2009 $24
Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Aromas of raspberries, plums, and light chocolate. Palate has seamless, fresh, pure fruit flavors with great depth and intensity with a lick of cranberry. Alcohol shows through at times. 100% Syrah. Erickson Road (Columbia Valley), Six Prong, Lewis Vineyard, Outlook, Slide Mountain, Red Willow, and Union Gap vineyards. Aged 16 months in French oak (10% new). 14.8% alcohol. 4,862 cases produced.

| edit post

5 comments

  1. Tom Palmer Says:
  2. Hi Sean,

    I'm surprised you didn't mention the '09 Owen Roe landed at #25 on the Wine Spectator list this year.

    At least in my neck of the woods, this wine has been harder to find due to the publicity. Eventually the point chasers will move on, but for now it might be worth mentioning this one is in the spotlight...

     
  3. Tom, I should indeed have mentioned that this wine landed high on the WS Top 100 list. My notes were from a month or so back when I tasted the wine. My bad. There was a big run on this wine when the 93 point WS score came out earlier this year. That has only increased since the Top 100 was published. Folks will need to do some looking but will be more than rewarded - assuming retailers haven't jumped up the price! :)

     
  4. Anonymous Says:
  5. Hi Sean,
    I'm really surprised at your evaluation of the 2007 Ash Hollow Nine Mile Red. I agree with most of your notes up until the sweet and viscous part. I don't have my notes in front of me at the moment but I do not remember it being either viscous or sweet. Sure it was rich and ripe, but I found it to be a quite elegant and integrated Bordeaux blend. In fact I've sold this wine to several wine-loving customers of mine and they enjoyed it so much that they came back and bought more...a lot more. Do you ever have days where wines just don't taste right? I know I do. Yes, I noticed you tasted it twice.
    I wonder if there's is more than one lot out there? Perhaps you tasted on a leaf or fruit day, speaking biodynamically? Palate fatigue? Maybe it's just another case of subjective palates. Sorry for rambling. Have a good evening.

     
  6. Anon, we definitely all have our good days and bad. I tasted the wines about a week apart, and both times they had a noticeable sweetness which seemed to increase over the course of the day when resampling them (a friend who was sampling the wines with me noted it as well).

    I'm not surprised to hear that you've had customers that have enjoyed the wine and came back to buy more. I think they are well priced and are in a style that a lot of consumers will very much enjoy as I indicated above. I'm more than a little reluctant to make the comparison as the wines, wineries, and styles have nothing in common, but I recall having a similar reaction to this wine as I did to the Hot to Trot Red Wine in that it was not a wine that I could rate highly but that it was a wine I thought would have broad appeal. That is to say, I expect many people to disagree with my assessment!

    Thanks for the comment!

     
  7. Seattleites, regarding the comments above about difficulty finding the Owen Roe Ex Umbris I was at Wine World earlier tonight and saw a good number of bottles retailing at $24.99 if you're interested.

     

Post a Comment

Follow

TN Database


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

WA Wine Books

Blog Archive