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'14 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Fresh Sheet August 28th 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012





Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases – includes wines from Robert Ramsay Cellars, Cadaretta, AntoLin Cellars, Palouse Winery, Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Erath, Zero One Vintners, and For a Song.

Robert Ramsay Cellars


The latest releases from Robert Ramsay Cellars include two Cabernet Sauvignons and two Syrahs. The Cabernets both come from Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain. For many years fruit from this vineyard disappeared into blends at large wineries. More recently, a number of small producers have been creating vineyard designates and the results have been attention getting.

These two Cabernets are a fascinating study in comparison and contrast. The Upland Cabernet comes mostly from the old block plantings and the Dump Block Cabernet coming exclusively from a single block, given its name because it was the spot where old equipment was kept. These are both high quality wines worth seeking out.

The Syrahs are also both single vineyard wines and provide another fascinating comparison with one with coming from Boushey Vineyard and one from Dineen Vineyard. All of the wines sampled here show the winery’s trademark style of balancing richness and grace while offering a velvety mouthfeel.

Read previous posts about Robert Ramsay here.

Robert Ramsay Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Upland Vineyard Snipes Mountain 2009 $30

(Excellent/Exceptional) Dark ruby. An aromatically compelling wine with earth, espresso, the darkest of cherries, and spice. The palate is refined with lithe cherry flavors and soft velvety tannins. High on the delicious scale. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (90% Old Block, 10% Dump Block). Aged in French oak. 14.0% alcohol. 139 cases produced.

Robert Ramsay Cellars Dump Block Cabernet Sauvignon Upland Vineyard Snipes Mountain 2009 $38

(Exceptional) An aromatically compelling wine with coffee, black cherry, coffee, and eucalyptus. On the palate, a hedonistic, rich, mouthful of a wine full of coffee, cherry, and chocolate flavors with pillowy tannins. An incredibly long finish. This is a thoroughly delicious wine with richness and grace. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in French oak. 14.1% alcohol. 63 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Robert Ramsay Cellars Syrah Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2009 $30

(Excellent) An aromatic wine with floral notes, orange peel, smoke, and chocolate. The palate is rich and velvety with abundant floral notes and chocolate flavors. Lingers on the finish. 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier. 14.2% alcohol. 183 cases produced.

Robert Ramsay Cellars Syrah Dineen Vineyard Yakima Valley 2009 $35

(Excellent/Exceptional) Dark in color. An aromatic wine with orange peel, chocolate, dark fruit, and light braised meat. The palate is hedonistic in style, full of chocolate and dark fruit flavors with a velvety feel. 100% Syrah. Aged in French oak. 57 cases produced.


Cadaretta


Cadaretta is owned by the Middleton family whose portfolio also includes California-based Clayhouse Wines as well as Buried Cane. The winery name is a callout to the family’s roots in the timber industry, with Cadaretta the name of the one of the family’s schooners in the early 1900s. Brian Rudin serves as winemaker.

Of note, the 2011 SBS White Wine – a Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend – is the first to contain fruit, albeit a small fraction, from the winery’s Southwind Estate Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley which was planted in 2008.

Read previous posts on Cadaretta here.

Cadaretta SBS White Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $23

(Good) Alluring aromas of tropical fruit, gooseberry, herbal notes, and citrus. The palate is medium bodied, tart and full of citrus flavors. 76% Sauvignon Blanc and 24% Semillon. Frenchman Hills, Tagus One, Desert Hill, Southwind Estate, Rosebud, and Klipsun vineyards. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13.1% alcohol. 820 cases produced.

Cadaretta Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $40

(Good/Excellent) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with pure cherry aromas, scorched earth, currant, licorice, and light herbal notes. The palate is medium-plus bodied with plump dark fruit flavors and soft, fine grained tannins. 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Merlot. Heather Hill, Gamache, StoneTree, and Alder Ridge vineyards. Aged 19 months in French oak (45% new). 14.9% alcohol. 588 cases produced.


Palouse Winery


Palouse Winery
is one of several wineries located on Vashon Island. The husband and wife team of George and Linda Kirkish founded the winery in 2005 after several years of home winemaking.

The winery is named after the rolling hills in southeastern Washington. The couple’s other business is running Vashon Island Air and one particular flight helped inspire the name.

“One day we were flying over the Palouse, and we just found ourselves commenting on how smooth round and textured the hills below us appeared. From that point no other name could measure up,” Kirkish says. "We wanted a name that represented the smooth and roundness we strive for in our wines.”

The Kirkishs credit fellow island residents Will Gerroir, the original owner of Vashon Winery, along with Bill Owen from OS Winery with helping them get started.

The red wines below are unique in that - with the exception of the Eclipse Blend - they are all 100% varietal and are all sourced exclusively from Dineen Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills. These are also notable for their low (for Washington) alcohol levels and limited use of new French oak (33% for each of the wines below).

Palouse Winery makes 1,000 cases annually.

Palouse Winery Cloud 9 Riesling Washington 2011 $20

(Good) An aromatic Riesling with floral notes, ripe peaches, lime, and jasmine. The palate is medium sweet with sweet lime flavors. 100% Riesling. Bob Whitlach/Claar Cellars vineyards. 9.8% alcohol. 0.93g/100ml TA. 130 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Palouse Winery Mystique Merlot Washington 2009 $29

(Good)Medium ruby. An aromatic wine with red currant, sweet cranberries, dusty chocolate, herbal notes, and a light medicinal note. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with soft tannins and tart fruit flavors. 100% Merlot. Dineen Vineyard. Aged in French oak (33% new). 13.8% alcohol. 96 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Palouse Winery Dynamique Cabernet Franc Washington 2009 $28

(Decent/Good) Lighter side of medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with predominant herbal notes - leaning herbaceous - along with tea leaves, dry chocolate, and slightly under ripe cherries. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with soft tannins and abundant herbal flavors. 100% Cabernet Franc. Dineen Vineyard. Aged in French oak (33% new). 13.4% alcohol. 51 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Palouse Winery Eclipse Blend Washington 2009 $25

(Good) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with abundant herbal notes, cherries, chocolate, and spice. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with minimal oak influence and tart cherry flavors. 40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Syrah. Dineen Vineyard. 13.7% alcohol. 136 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Palouse Winery Red Satin Cabernet Sauvignon Washington 2009 $39

(Decent) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant herbal notes that venture into the green along with dusty chocolate, red licorice, and medicinal notes. The palate is soft and restrained with tart flavors. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dineen Vineyard. Aged in French oak (33% new). 13.9% alcohol. 75 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Palouse Winery Aah Syrah Washington 2009 $36

(Decent) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with abundant blueberry notes and milk chocolate. The palate is soft with abundant blueberry flavors. 100% Syrah. Dineen Vineyard. Aged in French oak (33% new). 13.9% alcohol. 123 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


AntoLin Cellars


AntoLin Cellars is a new a new winery located in Yakima. The winery was founded by Anthony and Linda Haralson with the moniker a combination of their two names. Before branching into the world of wine, both worked in the health care field with Anthony a practicing pharmacist and Linda a nurse manager at the Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

Anthony Haralson began making wine at home in 2001. He subsequently completed a winemaking and enology certificate course at the University of California Davis in 2008. Haralson says of the wines, “We want our wines to be accessible to our communities – having our customers feel that they are getting the best quality and value from a trusted, local winemaker.”

Of note, the winery has a five-acre estate site, Glacier Vineyard, in the Yakima Valley. AntoLin Cellars produces 500 cases annually.

AntoLin Cellars Estate Riesling Yakima Valley 2010 $14

(Good) An aromatic and appealing wine with lime zest, honeysuckle, and white peach. The palate drinks off dry with tart citrus flavors that draw out across the palate, dipping just a touch in the middle before coming back and lingering for a long finish. 100% Riesling. Glacier Vineyard. 12.2% alcohol. 2.03% Residual Sugar. 100 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended
AntoLin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2009 $22

(Decent/Good) Medium ruby. An aromatic wine with raspberry, cherry, somewhat strong herbal notes, and pine. The palate has chewy cherry fruit flavors with moderate tannins and herbal accents. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in French oak (40% new). 13.7% alcohol. 130 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Canoe Ridge Vineyard


Canoe Ridge Vineyard was founded in 1994. The winery is named after a ridge in the Horse Heaven Hills that explorers Lewis and Clark saw during their travels in 1805 (NB: Not to be confused with Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard in the same area).

In the days of winemaker John Abbott (now at Abeja), Canoe Ridge made some noteworthy wines, but the purchase by Diageo soon left the winery neglected and its tasting room closed. Precept Wine purchased the winery in 2011, and the winery reopened a tasting room in Walla Walla earlier this year on Cherry Street.

The current releases from Canoe Ridge sampled below are notable for being varietally correct wines that come in at lower than the norm (for Washington) alcohol levels.

Canoe Ridge Vineyard Cherry Street Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $17

(Good) Medium ruby. A moderately aromatic wine with vanilla, resin, red fruit, and pine. The palate is medium bodied with plump fruit flavors and chalky tannins. 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 14% Zinfandel, and 1% Petit Verdot. 14.3% alcohol. 1,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Canoe Ridge Vineyard Select Merlot Columbia Valley 2009 $22

(Good) Medium ruby. Lightly aromatic with herbal tones and red fruit. The palate is full of soft, tart red fruit flavors with grainy, slightly dry tannins and a lip smacking finish. A very understated wine. 94% Merlot, 5% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.7% alcohol. 4,300 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Canoe Ridge Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2009 $22

(Good) Medium ruby. Very lightly aromatic with cocoa, dark cherries, red fruit, and high toned herbal notes. The palate is medium bodied with firm tannins and abundant cherry flavors. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.9% alcohol. 4,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Erath

These are the first of the 2010 red releases from Erath. The 2010 vintage was challenging in Oregon wine a cool growing season resulting in a dropping of much of the crop. This was followed by rain near harvest and the attack of migratory birds that picked some vineyards virtually clean. Despite these challenges, some wineries were able to excel with what was left as demonstrated by the two wines below.

Erath Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010 $20

(Good) Pale ruby. A very pretty wine aromatically with strawberry, peppermint, red cherries, and vanilla. The palate is light bodied with tart, delicate cranberry flavors. 100% Pinot Noir. Aged in 25% new French oak. 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery. Recommended
Erath Leland Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2010 $50

(Excellent) Very pale in color. An intriguing wine with aromas of vanilla, cranberry, pine needles, butterscotch, and earth. Light bodied, the wine coats the palate with soft, delicate, and nuanced fruit flavors and velvety tannins. A very pretty, very delicate wine. 100% Pinot Noir (Pommard & Wadenswil clones). Aged 14 months in French oak (40% new). 13.0% alcohol. 350 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Zero One Vintners


Zero One Vintners was co-founded by Gordy Hill and Kristin Vogele. The winery’s name has two meanings - the first is for the binary system, the second is for a “first step.” Initially, the winery focused on the production of two wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Riesling. However, for the 2011 vintage, the winery expanded its white lineup to include a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (not reviewed here). The winery also has a value priced red, ‘Sauce.’

Zero One Vintners Wild Sky Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2009 $36

(Excellent) Draws you into the glass with mocha powder, espresso, sweet, high-toned toasty spices, high toned herbal notes, and black cherry. The palate is medium bodied, quite dry with cherry flavors, tar, and grainy tannins, narrowing out toward the finish. 88% Cabernet, 8% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Merlot, and 1% Malbec. 14.4% alcohol. 954 cases produced.

Zero One Vintners Golden Delicious Riesling Columbia Valley 2010 $16

(Good) This single vineyard Riesling hails from Gamache Vineyard. It’s a moderately aromatic wine with pear, apple, and light floral notes. The palate is off-dry, light in body with restrained fruit flavors. 100% Riesling. Gamache Brothers Vineyard. 13.2% alcohol. 0.72g/100ml. 1.2g/100ml Residual Sugar. 785 cases produced.


Onesies

Yesterday I wrote about the For a Song Syrah in this month’s Five Under Fifteen. Today, another absurd value – the winery’s 2009 Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot is an up and coming variety in Washington with a number of prominent winemakers expressing excitement about the grape. Making it as a single varietal wine can be a challenge but winemaker Kyle Johnson, formerly of Olsen Estates and now of Purple Star Wines and Native Sun, who crafted this wine has consistently shown a knack for the grape. This is 100% varietal and all single vineyard from Olsen. $18? Yes please!

For a Song Petit Verdot Columbia Valley 2009 $18

(Excellent) Completely opaque. A dark, brooding wine with spice, fresh soil, and floral notes. The palate is soft and structured with a creamy feel, full of spice flavors and dark fruit that linger on the finish. 100% Petit Verdot. Olsen Vineyard. 14.2% alcohol. 195 cases. Sampled at 69 degrees.

Rating SystemPlease note, my rating system was revised at the beginning of 2012 as follows. Read additional details here.

(Exceptional)
(Excellent)
(Good)
(Decent)
(Not recommended/Flawed)

Readers, please note that Blogger, where this site is hosted, has upgraded to a new version which has significant bugs and formatting issues. There are, at present, no work arounds, so you may see significant formatting errors within the posts.

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