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...

'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Walla Walla Valley Report 2011 Part III

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Below is Part III of a report from the Walla Walla Valley including wines from Saviah Cellars, Tranche Cellars, Waters Winery, Amavi Cellars, Pepper Bridge, and Forgeron Cellars. Read a .pdf version of this report here. Read Part I here and Part II here.

Saviah Cellars

Winemaker Richard Funk at Saviah Cellars has a knack for making high quality wines at compelling price points. Funk, who started his winery in 2000 after working as an environmental health specialist, consistently crafts impeccably made wines all in an elegant style.

In recent years, Funk has been expanding the winery’s vineyard holdings. The goal in the long-term is to have Walla Walla Valley wines under the Saviah Cellars label with Columbia Valley fruit designated for the winery’s extremely successful The Jack program. To this end, Saviah now co-owns a series of sites, in partnership with other wineries, including Anna Marie (also Northstar, Watermill, Seven Hills); Duggar Creek (also Watermill); Watermill (Ste. Michelle, Watermill), and Saviah Estate Vineyard (currently selling fruit to Sleight of Hand and Rasa). These sites are spread across the valley and are managed by Leonard Brown, who Funk works closely with.

In terms of The Jack brand, Funk continues to expand the lineup. With its iconic playing card label, these wines, priced $18 and under but frequently found on-sale, offer consistent value. The lineup currently includes a Riesling, Red Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Of the current releases, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is the standout with fruit from Pepper Bridge, Lewis, Bacchus, Seven Hills, and Kiona vineyards (Note: Take a good look at the label to make sure it’s the Cabernet as the Red Wine looks very similar).

Saviah Cellars Star Meadow White Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $20
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine full of tropical fruit, buttery spices, pear, and floral notes. The palate is full and textured, rich with fruit and silky oak flavors followed by a spice filled finish. Not shy on the wood but holds it well. 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon. Stillwater Creek and Rosebud vineyards. Aged 7 months in neutral French oak. 13.8% alcohol. 223 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed November 18th, 2011

Saviah Cellars The Jack Riesling Columbia Valley 2010 $15
Rating: + (Good) Aromas of ripe pear and peach with chamomile and a lime twist. The palate is on the slightly sweeter side of off-dry but with well balanced acidity. Lingers for a long finish. A very enjoyable bottle. 100% Riesling. Evergreen Vineyard. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 12.4% alcohol. 1.79% Residual Sugar. 1,084 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended. Reviewed November 18th, 2011

Saviah Cellars The Jack Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2009 $18
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) An aromatic wine full of milk chocolate, ripe cherries, toasty spice, and light herbal notes. The palate is light to medium bodied chock full of chocolate and cherry flavors buffeted by silky tannins. Lingers on the finish. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 8% Merlot. Pepper Bridge, Lewis, Bacchus, Seven Hills, and Kiona vineyards. Aged in American oak (40% new). 14.1% alcohol. 980 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Saviah Cellars The Jack Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $18
Rating: + (Good) An aromatically appealing wine full of wild blueberries with a dusting of chocolate and spice. The palate is light bodied with soft, silky fruit flavors. An enjoyable, easy drinking wine. 75% Syrah, 21% Sangiovese, 2% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc. Lewis, Stillwater Creek, Songbird, Ranch at the End of the Road, and Elephant Mountain vineyards. Aged in American oak (20% new). 14.3% alcohol. 980 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Saviah Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2008 $28
Rating: * (Excellent) Lightly aromatic with floral notes, herbal notes, licorice, bittersweet chocolate, and fresh cherries sprinkled with earth. The palate is silky and seductive, seamlessly put together with chocolate and cherry flavors accented by soft, polished tannins. A long, lingering finish. A very pretty expression of Cabernet. Pepper Bridge, Bacchus, and McClellan Estate vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (50% new). 14.1% alcohol. 735 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Saviah Cellars Une Vallee Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2009 $32
Rating: ** (Exceptional) Moderately aromatic with earth, floral notes, incense, milk chocolate and dried cherries. The palate is both elegant and weighted, full of chocolate and cherry flavors seamlessly stitched together. The tannins are soft and silky. A very pretty wine. 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc. 382 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Saviah Cellars Petit Verdot Walla Walla Valley 2008 $30
Rating: * (Excellent) An immediately appealing wine full of a potpourri of floral notes, soil, and red cherries. The palate is soft and silky, belying a textured tannic structure that is beautifully integrated. A compelling varietal bottling of this rare grape. 200 cases produced.

Tranche Cellars

Tranche Cellars is quietly making some of the best wines in the Walla Walla Valley. Like it’s sister winery, Corliss Estates, Tranche gives its wines extended time in barrel and bottle prior to release. As a result, many of the winery’s current releases hail from the 2006 vintage. For most wineries this would be a sign of stagnation; for Tranche, it’s a stylistic choice.

Tranche is located at Blue Mountain Vineyard, the old Nicolas Cole vineyard and facility located a quarter mile from Leonetti’s Loess Vineyard. This breathtaking spot, with a backdrop of the Blue Mountains and Red-tailed Hawk nests, has seen a good deal of expansion since Tranche purchased the facility. The site currently has 68 acres planted, including recent plantings of Grenache Blanc and Picpoul.

In recent years, the winery has settled in to making two series of wines – the ‘Slice of Pape’ wines as well as a set of varietally designated wines. The Slice of Pape series, an exploration of Southern Rhone-style wines, include a white, rose, and red. Varietal releases currently include a Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Red Blend, Syrah, Chardonnay, Cabernet, and Pinot Gris.

The 2011 releases include Tranche’s first two estate wines – a 2007 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Franc and a 2010 Pink Pape Dry Rose (see review here). Both show the tremendous promise of this vineyard site. However, the star of the 2011 releases is truly the 2006 Syrah. This is a stunning wine that is a beautiful balance of youth and age, fruit intensity and grace. Better yet, it remains extremely well priced for this level of quality.

Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape Blanc Columbia Valley 2008 $30
Rating: * (Excellent) Pale lemon yellow. An aromatic wine redolent with spice, floral notes, nectarines, and pear. Full bodied with a textured, glycerol feel with lingering fruit flavors. Just the slightest touch of sweetness on the palate leads to a dry, crisp finish. An absolutely beautiful wine. Roussanne, Viognier. Aged 8 months in French oak (40% new). 14.5% alcohol. 282 cases produced.

Tranche Cellars Barbera Columbia Valley 2006 $25
Rating: + (Good) Ripe, rich fruit flavors rise up from the glass including raspberries and red plums along with sweet spices and crushed nuts. The palate is full and broad with soft tannins and a tart kick to keep it all together. An enjoyable example of this seldom seen varietal. 100% Barbera. Aged 42 months in neutral French oak. 15.2% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. 525 cases produced. Recommended

Tranche Cellars Estate Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley 2007 $25
Rating: * (Excellent) Pleasing aromatics of black cherry, herbal note, oak spices, and kisses of chocolate. Palate starts off with opulent cherry flavors and then pulls back and sails with velvety tannins. Another top-notch effort from this winery. Aged 34 months in French oak (75% new). 15.1% alcohol. 180 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Reviewed June 23rd, 2011

Tranche Cellars Slice of Pape Red Wine Columbia Valley 2006 $35
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine with red fruit, pepper, and toasty spices. The palate is silky and rich, full of vanilla and chewy fruit flavors. Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault. Aged 32 months in French oak (60% new). 15.2% alcohol. 178 cases produced.

Tranche Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2006 $35
Rating: ** (Exceptional) An aromatically complex and appealing wine with wood spice, mineral, high toned blackberry, moist earth, baker’s chocolate, coffee, and dark floral notes. Dense and drawn out, coating the palate from end to end with rich fruit flavors accented by barrel notes and silky tannins. An extended finish. The wood plays a fairly dominant role in this show but it works for this wine. Drinking absolutely beautifully right now, this wine will continue to age gracefully for years to come. Aged 33 months in French oak (60% new). 15.2% alcohol. 274 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Waters Winery

Waters Winery has undergone a number of changes in the last year or so, selling off some of its vineyard holdings, changing winery staff, and making alterations to its lineup. “We put a lot of money into infrastructure. Now we’ve got to pay for it,” winemaker Jamie Brown explains of some of the recent changes. The core of this winery, however, remains Brown and his commitment to low oak, low alcohol, terroir driven wines.

In terms of the lineup, Waters Viognier, often one of the best in the state, has been replaced by the Prelude White Wine, a Roussanne-Viognier Blend. The Interlude remains the winery’s Merlot-dominant Bordeaux-style blend alongside a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Additionally, the 2011 releases also include a new wine, the 2009 Capella Red Wine, made from 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot. “I waited for nine years to make this wine,” Jamie Brown says. “I finally did it.”

The heart of the winery remains Syrah, however, and the 2009 vintage wines continue to sparkle. The Loess Syrah, the only vineyard-designated wine made from this Figgins Family Wine Estates sites, is perhaps the best that the winery has made from this vineyard. The star of the show, however, remains the Forgotten Hills Syrah.

Forgotten Hills is one of Washington’s most distinctive, compelling Syrah sites. Unfortunately, it is also one of the cooler ones. Recent years have not been kind to this vineyard with no vineyard wines made in 2008, 2010, or 2011. This makes the release of the 2009 Forgotten Hills Syrah – another stellar wine that stands among the state’s best – all the much more cause for celebration. Note that due to the rarity of this wine in recent years, the 2009 vintage has seen a significant price increase.

Waters Winery Prelude White Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $30
Rating: * (Excellent) A perfumed wine with lemon drop, white peaches, melon, and floral notes. Palate is perfumed and full of fruit flavors with a rounded mouthfeel. Lingers on the finish. 60% Roussanne and 40% Viognier. Alder Ridge and Old Stones Vineyards. 75% aged in French neutral oak; 25% in stainless steel. 13.5% alcohol. 175 cases produced. Previously reviewed November 18, 2011

Waters Winery Interlude Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $36
Rating: * (Excellent) Aromas of cherry and green olive. The palate is deliciously fresh, full of cherry flavors, bright acidity, and restrained use of oak. A sleek, stylistic wine with a lot of hang time on the finish. 55% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot. Cold Creek, Canoe Ridge, and Seven Hills vineyards. Aged in French oak (25% new). 14.5% alcohol. 1,550 cases produced.

Waters Winery Cappella Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2009 $40
Rating: ** (Exceptional) Beautifully aromatic with high toned floral notes, cigar box, raspberries, and blue fruit, and soft herbal tones. The palate is clean and pure, textured and perfumed with soft, mouth coating tannins and a long, long finish. 60% Cabernet Franc (Old Stones), 40% Merlot (Seven Hills). Aged 11 months in neutral French oak. 14.2% alcohol. 188 cases produced.

Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2007 $50
Rating: * (Excellent) Abundant savory notes on a wine with whiffs of iodine, olives, and mineral. The palate is restrained with tart red fruit flavors and an acid etched finish. While the 2008 Cabernet will have more commercial appeal, this is the wine to put alongside your dinner. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cold Creek and Pepper Bridge vineyards. Aged two years in French oak (35% new). 14.5% alcohol. 359 cases produced.

Waters Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $50
Rating: ** (Exceptional) An alluring wine with baking spices along with floral notes, pencil lead, and high toned red fruit. The palate is deliciously rich with tart cranberry flavors and a weaving finish. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cold Creek, Windrow, and Pepper Bridge vineyards. Aged in French oak (40% new). 14.5% alcohol. 450 cases produced.

Waters Winery Loess Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $45
Rating: * (Excellent) Rises up from the glass with smoke, floral notes, brambly fruit, iron, and orange peel. The palate has great depth and intensity with a rounded feel and bright acidity. As good a Loess vineyard Syrah as the winery has made. 90% Syrah, 10% Viognier. Aged in second fill French oak. 14.1% alcohol. 190 cases produced.

Waters Winery Forgotten Hills Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $65
Rating: ** (Exceptional) After declassifying all of the fruit from the 2008 vintage, Waters Forgotten Hills Syrah returns as a tour de force with the 2009 release. The wine leaps up from the glass with crushed violets, red fruit, smoke, braised meat, iron ore, and earthy funk. The palate is broad and textured, displaying tremendous depth and intensity along with the winery’s trademark bright acidity. Sails on and on at the finish. Quintessentially Waters; unmistakably Forgotten Hills. As good – perhaps better? – than the heralded 2007 vintage release and more than worth the wait. 100% Syrah. Aged in French oak (25% new). 14.4% alcohol. 514 cases produced.

21 Grams Red Wine Columbia Valley 2008 $125
Rating: ** (Exceptional) Quite distinct from previous vintages, this wine reveals savory notes of soy and iodine along with licorice, green olive, and kisses of chocolate in a jumble of red and black fruit. The palate has plush, rich fruit flavors with ripe tannins and restrained oak accents. Lingers on and on. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 % Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. Cold Creek, Seven Hills, Sagemoor, Portteus, Va Piano, and Phinney Hill. Aged in French oak (50% new). 14.6% alcohol. 100 cases produced.

Amavi Cellars

If you’re looking for Walla Walla Valley wines that are consistently high quality and yet won’t break the bank, look no further that Amavi Cellars. At Amavi, winemaker Jean-Francois Pellet, who also serves as winemaker for sister winery Pepper Bridge, focuses on Semillon (see review here), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. These wines all hail from a limited number of estate vineyards – Les Collines (one of the state’s premier Syrah sites), Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, and Goff.

In most years, the extremely limited Les Collines Syrah steals the show. However, for the 2009 vintage releases, its Walla Walla Valley-designated cousin upstages it. Containing as large a percentage of Les Collines Vineyard fruit as the winery has used, this is an exclamation point of a wine, full of violets, chocolate, earth, and dark fruit. Many of the state’s finest syrahs cost $40-$80 or even higher. This one comes in at $29 and is a rare find.

Of note, Amavi opened a tasting room south of town a while back. This stunning, must visit site has picture windows overlooking Pepper Bridge vineyard and the Blue Mountains.

Amavi Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2009 $29
Rating: ** (Exceptional) Medium purple. An aromatic wine that leaps from the glass with violets, chocolate, earth, dark fruit, orange peel, cream, and mineral notes. The palate is lush and perfumed with blue and black fruits and savory notes with great complexity of flavors and depth. A wine that is simultaneously big and restrained with a creamy feel. Lingers on the finish with perfumed flavors. A rare find at this price point. 100% Syrah. Les Collines, Seven Hills, and Pepper Bridge vineyards. Aged in French oak (16% new). 14.1% alcohol. 1,396 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Amavi Cellars Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $29
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine with mineral, dry chocolate, light game, raspberries, violets and orange peel. Palate has a real weight and intensity along with tart acidity. Lingers on the finish. Another high QPR offering from this winery. 100% Syrah. 49% Seven Hills, 24% Pepper Bridge and 27% Les Collines vineyards. Aged in French oak (19% new). 14.1% alcohol. 1,314 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Amavi Cellars Syrah Les Collines Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2009 $34
Rating: * (Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine full of orange peel, violets, a light meaty streak, mineral, purple and black fruit, baker’s chocolate, and savory notes. A fruit filled, silky wine with creamy feel and winding palate full of chocolate, dark fruit, and savory flavors with grainy tannins. Lingers on the finish. 100% Syrah. Aged 16 months in French oak (15% new). 14.2% alcohol. 321 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Amavi Cellars Syrah Les Collines Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2008 $34
Rating: * (Excellent) An aromatic wine with violets, stewed raspberries, chocolate, and game. The palate is considerably denser, lush, gauzy, and rich than the 2007 offering. Draws out to a long finish. 100% Syrah. Aged in French oak (18% new). 14.2% alcohol. 274 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Amavi Cellars Syrah Les Collines Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2007 $34
Rating: ** (Exceptional) Leaps up from the glass with violets, game, raspberries, orange peel, and earth. The palate is medium bodied with a textured feel and a lick of acidity. Persists on the finish. 100% syrah. Les Collines Vineyard. Aged in French oak (20 percent new). 14.1% alcohol. 270 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Amavi Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2009 $28
Rating: +/* (Good/Excellent) Dark ruby. Tightly would up initially, this lightly aromatic wine takes some time to uncoil to reveal black cherries, herbal notes, wild blueberries, cassis, and earth. The palate is full of cherry flavors that slowly evolve into a chocolate filled finish with enough tannins to survive a few years in the cellar. A slight dip in the middle is all that holds this wine back. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Franc. 52% Pepper Bridge, 30% Seven Hills, 12% Les Collines, 6% Goff vineyards. Aged in French (88%) and American oak (25% new). 14.1% alcohol. 4,991 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Amavi Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2008 $29
Rating: + (Good) Aromatically appealing with baker’s chocolate, dark cherries, and light, high toned herbal notes. The palate ramps up slowly becoming tart and taught with plush cherry flavors and rounded tannins. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 3% Cabernet Franc. Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, Les Collines, and Goff vineyards. Aged in 88% French, 6% Hungarian, and 6% American oak (30% new). 14.1% alcohol. 4,833 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Pepper Bridge

Pepper Bridge uses only two vineyard sources for its wines, Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills. These vineyards are fascinating studies in contrast, and winemaker Jean-Francois Pellet expresses these sites as well as any winemaker in Washington.

The main production wines at Pepper Bridge, a Merlot and Cabernet, come from a combination of these two vineyard sites. Pepper Bridge’s 2008 Estate Merlot is easily one of the top Merlots in the state with dense fruit flavors and Washington’s signature tannins. The 2008 Cabernet meanwhile is a benchmark bottle of Walla Walla Valley Cabernet. Both wines show judicious use of new French oak, less than 50%, allowing the vineyards to shine. The winery also offers two other single vineyard wines, with the 2008 Seven Hills Red Wine showing this vineyard’s softer style while the 2008 Pepper Bridge Red Wine displays this site’s firm structure.

A recent visit to Pepper Bridge during harvest afforded a chance to look at the winery’s new optical sorter. The machine, used immediately after a crusher destemmer, is essentially a series of steel slats on a vibrating table, with the vibration causing non-grape and non-usable grape matter to fall between the slats. The Pepper Bridge sorter has two sections, leading to a gross sort and a fine sort. A look into the bin where all of the extra material was going was eye opening – a mixture of tiny unripe berries, pieces of stems, dried leaves, and bugs (lots of them). Jean-Francois said, “Will it make a difference? We’ll see.” Looking at how clean the fruit was as it came out and all of the material left behind, it is impossible to see how it could not.

Pepper Bridge Merlot Estate Vineyards Walla Walla Valley 2008 $50
Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) Tightly wound initially, this wine unfurls to reveal dark raspberries, red currant, and earth. The fruit is dense while avoiding ever being over weighted. The tannins are chalky and lead to a drawn out, spicy finish. Tremendous hang time. A beautiful example of Washington Merlot that balances grace and power and will only get better with some additional time in the bottle. Give 1-2 years. 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec. 51% Seven Hills, 49% Pepper Bridge vineyards. Aged 17 months in French oak (47% new). 14.1% alcohol. 1,181 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Pepper Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Vineyards Walla Walla Valley 2008 $55
Rating: ** (Exceptional) Almost completely closed up initially, this wine reveals high toned herbal notes, dusty chocolate, and dark cherries. The palate ramps up slowly then comes on gaining richness and texture with chalky, squeezing tannins. Persists for a full thirty seconds before slowly fading away. This wine is in its infancy and has an extremely long life ahead of it. Give 2 years or decant extensively. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot. 58% Seven Hills Vineyard, 42% Pepper Bridge Vineyard. Aged 20 months in French oak (48% new). 14.1% alcohol. 2,266 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Pepper Bridge Red Wine Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2008 $55
Rating: * (Excellent) Dark ruby. Aromatically locked up at present with toasty spice, cocoa, dark berries, and high toned herbal notes. A rich but soft – some would say feminine – wine full of dark fruit and chocolate flavors with grainy, well integrated tannins. Pulls back and sails on the finish. A very pretty expression of this elegant vineyard. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc. Aged 17 months in French oak (45% new). 14.1% alcohol. 468 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Pepper Bridge Red Wine Pepper Bridge Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2008 $55
Rating: */** (Excellent/Exceptional) A compelling contrast to the other wines sampled here, this wine is lightly aromatic with coffee bean, herbal notes, and dark cherries. On the palate it brings firm tannins along with rich fruit flavors of chocolate, cherry, and ripe cranberries. Lingers on the finish. A very sexy – some might say masculine - wine. Give one to two years. 55% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. Aged 20 months in French oak (48% new). 14.1% alcohol. 476 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Pepper Bridge Trine Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2008 $60
Rating: * (Excellent) Very lightly aromatic with espresso, black cherry, herbal notes. The palate brings a firm wall of grainy tannins along with dark fruit and dusty chocolate flavors. This wine needs some time to come into its own. Give two years. 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 8% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot. 52% Seven Hills, 48% Pepper Bridge. Aged 20 months in French oak (48% new). 14.1% alcohol. 290 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Forgeron Cellars

Forgeron Cellars can often fly under the radar in Walla Walla. The winery is set off by itself downtown and has a long enough tenure that it doesn’t get the ‘new winery buzz.’ However, year after year French-born winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla keeps crafting compelling, well-priced wines using fruit from some of Washington’s best vineyards.

Recently, Gilla worked with executive chef Charles Calder on a series of holiday pairings for some of her wines, using classic recipes from her native France. Wine and food pairings can go a number of different ways. Often it is neutral with neither elevating the other nor subtracting from it. Occasionally it is catastrophic (think smoked salmon and red wine). Ah but when it is perfect the results are sublime, elevating both the wine and food and leaving the recipient in a state of nirvana. Though I only tried only two of several pairings (see the full recipes here), the Noix de Saint-Jacques à la Crème au Curry avec 2009 Chardonnay is so perfectly matched to the Forgeron Chardonnay it becomes hard to imagine one without the other.

Forgeron Cellars Ambiance Columbia Valley 2009 $25
Rating: + (Good) Light in color. Pleasing notes of spice and apple, toast, and floral notes. Crisp and tart on the palate. 55% Roussanne, 27% Grenache Blanc, 18% Viognier. Alder Ridge, Crawford, Boushey, and Dwelley vineyards. Aged in French oak (20% new). Sample provided by winery.

Forgeron Cellars Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2009 $25
Rating: * (Excellent) An appealing, expressive wine with peach, pear, and melon flavors accented by silky oak spices. 98% Chardonnay, 2% Orange Muscat. Crawford, Underwood, Olsen, and Weinbau vineyards. Aged in French oak (33% new). 484 cases produced.

Forgeron Cellars Vinfinity Columbia Valley 2007 $46
Rating: * (Excellent) Appealing aromas of mocha, cherry, and spice. The palate is tart, tight, and flavorful with firm tannins and elegant fruit flavors. Give one year. 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 14% Malbec, 14% Petit Verdot. Aged in French oak (100% new). 186 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Forgeron Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $30
Rating: * (Excellent) Very pretty, appealing aromas of spice, dark cherry, and chocolate. The palate is loaded with silky fruit flavors and grainy tannins. 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec. Dionysus (Cabernet), Lonesome Springs (Petit Verdot), and Stonetree vineyards (Malbec). Aged in French oak (40% new). 367 cases produced.

Forgeron Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2007 $30
Rating: * (Excellent) Mineral, light smoke, chocolate, spice, blueberry, and light earth notes. The palate is rich and opulent with a dense core of fruit and a velvety texture. A delicious, full wine that still manages not to be full throttle. 100% Boushey. Aged primarily in French oak (50% new). 14.2% alcohol. 73 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

| edit post

4 comments

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Love Forgeron! Great wine, great prices, and friendly tasting room staff! Definitely one to make sure you hit next time you're in WW.

     
  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. We must have hit Forgeron on an off year. The wines were unexceptional; nowhere close to the league of the other wineries cited.

     
  5. Anonymous Says:
  6. Jamie is making great wine, but it is Robbi who keeps me coming back. I rate her ** (Exceptional).

     
  7. Joe Says:
  8. You have to try the 2008 Walla Walla Valley Syrah from Saviah it too is exceptional!

     

Post a Comment

Follow

TN Database


Tasting Note Database Read an explanation of the fields here. Last updated 3/7/2014.

WA Wine Books

WA Wine Blogs

Blog Archive