Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases – includes wines from Gorman Winery, William Church Winery, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Kontos Cellars, Scarborough Wines, and Long Shadows.
Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery is a man on the move with more projects underway than you can shake a stick at. Notably, the winery recently opened a tasting room – its first – in the Schoolhouse District next to the newly minted The Station Pizzeria, a must stop for anyone in the area. Why open a tasting room after all this time?
“I don’t know,” Gorman says plaintively.
The facility – a former garage - is beautiful and true to the winery’s style. A basalt column water feature greets visitors outside the winery. Inside the winery, in one corner is a Gretsch guitar hooked up to an amplifier for patrons to try their luck on ‘Strumming With The Stars.’ In the other corner is an AC/DC pinball machine. While Gorman brought numerous things over from his production facility in the Warehouse District, he also kept some of the touches from the old garage he now inhabits, such as the ‘No Smoking’ signs. The new tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday.
In other news, starting with the 2012 vintage, Gorman is starting a single vineyard Chardonnay project. The working name for label is Ashen, alternately meaning ‘smoky’ and referencing The Doors song ‘Roadhouse Blues.’ Gorman says of the project, “I love making Chardonnay. These wines will be different, even a bit more grand than Big Sissy.” Gorman has lined up fruit from Conner Lee, Celilo, and Kestrel vineyards. Production will be about 400-500 cases annually.
The winery also recently redesigned its website.
This would seem to be enough to keep Gorman busy yes? No, there is more, but we will leave that for another day.
The word for the 2009 Gorman Winery red releases, reviewed below, is texture. It’s written all over my notes for each of the wines, sometimes multiple times. The wines are all, as usual, of extremely high quality. The 2009 The Albatross Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the best Cabernet Sauvignons I’ve had from Washington. Alas, due to its limited production, this wine will now be wine club-only, so beg, borrow, but don’t steal. That would be bad juju.
Gorman Winery Big Sissy Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2011 $35
(Excellent) Medium yellow. An aromatic Chardonnay full of spice, tropical fruit, and marzipan notes. The palate is full-bodied with a rich, creamy feel. 100% Chardonnay. Conner Lee Vineyard. Barrel fermented and aged in 100% new French oak. Partial malolactic fermentation. Wild yeast fermented. 14.3% alcohol. 225 cases produced.
Gorman Winery Zachary’s Ladder Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $30
(Excellent/Exceptional) An aromatic wine full of blue and black fruit accented by spice and mineral notes. The palate has a voluptuous, full feel with soft fruit flavors. High on the pleasure factor with a lingering finish. 59% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot. Kiona, Klipsun, Ciel du Cheval, and Obelisco vineyards. 14.8% alcohol.
Gorman Winery The Pixie Syrah Red Mountain 2009 $45
(Exceptional) Dark as night with a purple rim. This wine is tight as a drum right now with mineral, spice, and dark berries. On the palate, this is a ‘wow’ wine full bodied with rich dark berry flavors and a creamy textured. 100% Syrah. Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road vineyards. 240 cases produced.
Gorman Winery The Evil Twin Red Wine Red Mountain 2009 $65
(Exceptional) A dark, brooding wine with high toned aromas of spice, mineral, dark fruit, and herbal tones. The palate is incredibly rich and textured, a multiple swallow wine with a healthy grip of tannins and a hugely long finish. A shockingly good wine with an absolutely outrageous texture. 65% Syrah, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in 100% new French oak. 15.2% alcohol. 450 cases produced.
Gorman Winery The Bully Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2009 $45
(Exceptional) A dark, glass staining wine that is an aromatic tour de force with the blackest of cherries, spice, bittersweet chocolate, and brambly fruit. On the palate, a rich, mouthful of a wine with incredible intensity and texture with a firm backbone of tannins. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot. Aged in 100% new French oak. 600 cases produced.
Gorman Winery The Albatross Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2009 $80
(Exceptional) An aromatically intoxicating, glass staining wine full of dark cherries, floral notes, and spice. The palate is rich, voluptuous, and incredibly intense with dark fruit flavors, cherries, and chocolate and polished tannins. The word ‘rich’ is written three consecutive times in my original tasting notes. This is a stunning wine, and one of the best Cabernet Sauvignons I have had from Washington. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot. Aged in 100% new French oak. 140 cases produced.
Gorman Winery Behind the Black Curtain Reserve Syrah Klipsun Vineyard Red Mountain 2010 $80
(Excellent/Exceptional) Leaps up from the glass with violets, game, mineral, and blueberries on a wildly aromatic wine. The palate has both weight and a real sense of freshness, richness and restraint. 100% Syrah. Aged 20 months in French oak (100% new). Partial barrel fermentation.
William Church Winery
In the past year, William Church Winery has opened a tasting room in the bustling Schoolhouse District of Woodinville, not far from its production facility in the Warehouse District. The new facility demonstrates one of the reasons several warehouse wineries have opened second tasting rooms in this area – the ability to create an environment with additional charm (not to mention traffic).
William Church’s facility has a glass roll top door to open up the space during the warmer months (I question whether I should pluralize that). There is outdoor space for sitting and sipping. The walls are exposed brick.
“We wanted a warm, comfortable place where people would feel like hanging out,” Leslie Balsley says. Mission accomplished. In addition to tasting through the lineup of wines, patrons can also have wines by the glass, relax, and enjoy themselves.
The 2009 red releases from William Church all have a real sense of freshness with a clarity of fruit and a softness to the palate. These new wines are as good as any the winery has produced to date.
William Church Winery Viognier Columbia Valley 2011 $22
(Good/Excellent) Brightly aromatic with floral notes, peach, and jasmine. The palate is medium bodied with abundant stone fruit flavors. 100% Viognier. Conner Lee and Gamache vineyards. Aged 4 months in stainless steel. 13.6% alcohol. 480 cases produced.
William Church Winery Bishop’s Blend Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $20
(Good/Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with brambly black and red fruit accented by vanilla. The palate is full of silky dark fruit flavors and soft tannins. A fruit-forward, crowd pleaser of a wine made in a drink-me-now style. 47% Syrah, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot, and 7% Malbec. Dineen, Northridge, Seven Hills, and Gamache vineyards. Aged 19 months in French oak (32% new). 14.5% alcohol. 500 cases produced.
William Church Winery Sur La Mer Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $32
(Good/Excellent) A lightly aromatic wine with cherries, red fruit, and light herbal notes. The palate is soft, pretty, and understated with a restrained use of new oak. 42% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec. Dineen, Chandler Reach, Northridge, Gamache, and Seven Hills vineyards. Aged 19 months in French oak (42% new). 14.8% alcohol. 100 cases produced.
William Church Winery Syrah Yakima Valley 2009 $26
(Excellent) Dark in color with a purple rim. An aromatic wine full of blueberry, bacon fat, smoke, and light floral notes. The palate is soft and fresh with restrained fruit flavors. 99% Syrah, 1% Viognier. Les Vignes de Marcoux and Dineen vineyards. Aged 16 months in French oak (38% new). 14.6% alcohol. 130 cases produced.
William Church Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2009 $32
(Excellent) Leaps up from the glass with abundant cherry aromas, cranberries, herbal notes, and a light floral note. The palate has very pretty cherry flavors that draw out across a palate filled with velvety tannins on a softly structured wine. A hyperextended finish. The best red release from this winery to date. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon (Dineen) and 10% Petit Verdot (Northridge). Aged 16 months in French oak (47% new). 14.3% alcohol. 105 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
William Church Winery 2 Spires Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $28
(Good/Excellent) An aromatically restrained wine with blueberry jam and a light herbal note. The palate is soft and plush with cherry and blueberry flavors. 70% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dineen and Stillwater Creek vineyards. Aged 19 months in French oak (40% new). 14.5% alcohol. 100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
William Church Winery Malbec Columbia Valley 2009 $40
(Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine full of plums, boysenberry, and spice. The palate is plush and full of soft, rich fruit flavors. A very pretty wine. 100% Malbec. Gamache Vineyard. Aged 16 months in French oak (14% new). 14.7% alcohol. 180 cases produced.
Willamette Valley Vineyards
Willamette Valley Vineyards is located in Turner, Oregon, south of Salem. Founder Jim Bernau purchased the winery’s estate property in 1983. After clearing the site, he subsequently planted 50 acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. Over the years, the winery has expanded its vineyard sources to include Elton Vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills, Tualitin Estate in the Willamette Valley, and Hannah Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. The winery is publicly trade on the NASDAQ with the ticker symbol WVVI. Don Crank III serves as winemaker.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Fermented Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2011 $22
(Decent/Good) Pale ruby. Moderately aromatic with leafy notes, lavender soap, high toned spice, strawberry, and cherry. The palate is light bodied with strawberry and cherry flavors. An enjoyable wine from the most recent vintage that shows promises of things to come. 100% Pinot Noir. Clones Dijon 114, 115, 667, 777, 828, Pommard, and Wadenswil. 12.5% alcohol. 21,200 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2009 $28
(Decent) Pale ruby. An aromatic Pinot with peppermint, vanilla, and cherry. The palate is light bodied with cranberry and cherry flavors. 100% Pinot Noir. Clones Dijon 113, 115, 667, 777, Pommard, and Wadenswil. Aged 11 months in French oak (22% new). 14.5% alcohol. 18,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Willamette Valley Vineyards Elton Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills 2009 $45
(Good/Excellent) An aromatically appealing Pinot with peppermint, strawberry, cherry, and tree bark. The palate is light bodied with soft, tart fruit flavors and grainy tannins. Alcohol pokes through occasionally but there is much to enjoy here. Pommard and Dijon 114 & 115 clones. Aged 11 months in French oak (38% new). 14.5% alcohol. 496 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Walla Walla’s Kontos Cellars was founded by Chris, Kelli, and Cameron Kontos. Brothers Chris and Cameron credit their father Cliff, who serves as winemaker at Fort Walla Walla Cellars, with giving them the inspiration to start the winery
Winemaker Cameron Kontos started out in the wine industry at Forgeron Cellars. Kontos spent eight years at the winery, much of that time serving as assistant winemaker before founding Kontos Cellars with his family.
The winery’s motto is, “Sharing a passion for ‘not screwing up great fruit.’” Indeed, the winery sources fruit from a variety of top flight vineyards, including Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, and Les Collines - and they stick to their motto well.
Kontos is located in the incubator buildings at the airport region of Walla Walla. The winery produces 1,000 cases annually.
Kontos Cellars Merlot Walla Walla Valley 2008 $30
(Good) Medium ruby. A lightly aromatic Merlot with cigar box, wood spice, herbal notes, and green olives. The palate has lush cherry, chocolate, and olive flavors with velvety tannins. An intriguing, unusual offering of Walla Walla Valley Merlot. 100% Merlot. Les Collines (66%) and Pepper Bridge vineyards. Aged 23 months in French (50%) and American oak (50% new). 14.3% alcohol. 220 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Kontos Cellars Alatus Blend Walla Walla Valley 2008 $32
(Good/Excellent) A lightly aromatic wine with wood spice, cocoa, raspberries, cherries, and light herbal notes. The palate is full of cherry and espresso flavors along with soft tannins. 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, and 5% Syrah. Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, Les Collines, and StoneTree vineyards. Aged 26 months in French (75%) and American oak (55% new). 14.3% alcohol. 240 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Kontos Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2008 $32
(Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with dried cherries, high toned herbal notes, and spice. The palate has a velvety feel with soft cherry flavors. A very pretty, understated expression of Walla Walla Valley Cabernet. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills vineyards. Aged 20 months in French (65%) and American oak (55% new). 14.2% alcohol. 210 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Scarborough Wines – formerly known as O’Shea Scarborough- is located in Tukwila, Washington. Travis Scarborough and Daryyn O’Shea started out making garage wines in 2003. In 2005 they founded their eponymous winery, making five barrels of wine. Production has since increased to 1,600 cases, and Scarborough has now taken over the winery. The Rebel is the winery’s second label, and Scarborough also makes wines for Cork House and Cork for a Cause.
Each of the Scarborough wines has a colorful name. For example, the ‘Cease & Desist’ Riesling is named after a letter received from a brewery that saw the original name as conflicting with their brand. ‘The Royale’ is named after a line in the movie Pulp Fiction.
Scarborough Wines The Rebel White Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $12
(Decent) A moderately aromatic wine with floral notes, orange peel, citrus, and spice. The palate is medium plus bodied with a viscous feel. 65% Viognier, 20% Marsanne, 15% Roussanne. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13.2% alcohol. 504 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Scarborough Wines The Rebel Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $14
(Decent) An moderately aromatic wine with raspberries, red currant, cranberries, and wood spice. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with tart red fruit flavors and moderate tannins. 33% Grenache, 28% Mourvedre, 22% Sangiovese, 11% Syrah, 4% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in neutral French oak. 14.2% alcohol. 1,325 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Scarborough Wines Desolation Chardonnay Yakima Valley 2010 $30
(Good) Pale lemon yellow. An aromatically appealing wine with spices, melted butter, and whiffs of tropical fruit. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied, very tart with a big lick of lemony acid that lingers long after the last sip. 100% Chardonnay. Desert Hills Vineyard. Barrel fermented and aged 18 months in neutral French oak. No malolactic fermentation. 13.7% alcohol. 221 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
O’Shea Scarborough Cease & Desist Riesling Dineen Vineyard Yakima Valley 2009 $15
(Decent) An aromatic wine with abundant diesel notes, herbal notes, sea breeze, and citrus. The palate is just a hair off dry and austere in style with tart fruit flavors. 100% Riesling. Aged 7 months in stainless steel. 1.5g/L Residual Sugar. 12.2% alcohol. 197 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Scarborough Wines The Royale Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $35
(Decent) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with herbal notes, orange peel, cherry, and wood spice. The palate is medium bodied with soft, somewhat sweet cherry flavors and grainy tannins. 32% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 19% Petit Verdot. Klipsun, Wallula, Boushey, Two Blondes, Dineen and Meek vineyards. Aged 24 months in French oak (55% new). 367 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Scarborough Wines ‘Midnight’ Red Blend Yakima Valley 2009 $25
(Decent) A brightly aromatic wine with freshly peeled orange, floral notes, a light meaty streak, and red raspberries. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with tart fruit flavors and soft tannins. 40% Mourvedre, 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah. Meek and Lewis vineyards. Aged 16 months in neutral French oak. 13.9% alcohol. 141 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
The Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling is consistently one of the state's finest white wines and the cool 2011 vintage continues this tradition. Of note, in this month’s Virtual Tasting, this wine was a rare, unanimous “buy” wine – only the fourth time that has occurred in the past four years.
Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling Columbia Valley 2011 $20
(Excellent/Exceptional) A moderately aromatic wine with lime zest, stone fruit, wet stone and honeysuckle. The palate has a real zing of mouthwatering acidity offset by a touch of residual sugar. Give this one some time to open up in the glass to let it show its stuff. 100% Riesling. Sonnet (The Benches), Phil Church, Weinbau, and Dionysus vineyards. TA 0.81g/100ml. 1.3g/100ml Residual Sugar. 12.3% alcohol.
Please note, my rating system was revised at the beginning of 2012 as follows. Read additional details here.
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