Today’s Fresh Sheet – new and recent releases – includes wines from Long Shadows, Northstar, Gård Vintners, Ryan Patrick Vineyards, Alder Ridge, Silver Bell Winery, Waterbrook, and Six Prong.
In the short time since Long Shadows was founded just over ten years ago, the winery has already left an indelible mark on the Washington wine industry. The winery – or truly a group of wineries – brings together superstar winemakers from around the globe to make wine from Washington fruit. The releases reviewed below continue the winery's tradition of excellence and in some cases, such as the Pedestal Merlot, raise the bar ever higher.
Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling Columbia Valley 2011 $20
(Excellent) An aromatic wine with freshly squeezed lime, lime zest, ripe nectarine, and wet stone. The palate is tart and spritely with electric acidity and abundant citrus and stone fruit flavors that draw out on the finish. 100% Riesling. 1.31g/100ml Residual Sugar. 12.3% alcohol. 0.81g/100ml TA. 3,895 cases produced.
Long Shadows Saggi Columbia Valley 2008 $45
(Excellent/Exceptional) Fully 45% Sangiovese along with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah, the 2008 Saggi leverages the strength of each of these grapes impeccably with Sangiovese’s taught acidity, Cabernet’s brawn and Syrah’s plushness all on display. There’s richness here but it’s far from over the top with red currant, earth, orange peel, and spice backed by firm but beautifully integrated tannins. Just a baby now, this wine will only improve with additional time in the bottle and should drink well for another fifteen years or more. 45% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah. Horse Heaven Hills AVA (63%), Candy Mountain (22%), and Boushey vineyards. Aged 18 months in French oak (55% new). 14.60% alcohol. 1,236 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Long Shadows Chester-Kidder Columbia Valley 2007 $50
(Exceptional) An aromatically brooding wine with dark, dried fruit, dark chocolate, coffee grounds, and spice. A rich, intensely flavorful, mouthful of a wine loaded with seamless black fruit flavors and dusty, firm tannins. Appropriately, it shows a bit of age but is drinking beautifully right now with a long life ahead of it. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah, 14% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Aged 30 months in new French oak. 14.9% alcohol. 1,015 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Long Shadows Pedestal Columbia Valley Washington 2008 $50
(Exceptional) An aromatically compelling wine with fresh raspberries, coffee, spice, and dark chocolate. The palate is bold and rich with an intense blast of fruit flavors and firm but beautifully integrated tannins. About as good as Merlot gets and should last in the cellar for decades to come. 81% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot. Taptiel, Dionysus, Weinbau, Conner Lee. Aged 22 months in French oak (85% new). 14.7% alcohol. 2,012 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Northstar, located in Walla Walla, is part of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and dedicates itself to the production of Merlot. The winery's two 2008 Merlots reviewed below are a study in contrast with the Columbia Valley Merlot coming from diverse sites across the Columbia Valley and the Walla Walla Valley Merlot focused on Anna Marie Vineyard in the southern section of the valley and Spring Valley Vineyard in the northern section.
Northstar Merlot Columbia Valley 2008 $40
(Excellent) A moderately aromatic, appealing wine with vanilla, anise, and cherries. The palate has concentrated, lip smacking fruit flavors, good concentration and a spice filled finish. 78% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Petit Verdot. Aged 18 months in French (98%) and American oak (60%). 14.6% alcohol. 9,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Northstar Merlot Walla Walla Valley 2008 $50
(Excellent) Immediately appealing aromatically with mocha, dark spices, ground coffee, and black and red raspberries on a barrel-forward wine. The palate has tart, compact dark fruit flavors, tightly wound with polished tannins and a lingering finish. 82% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Petit Verdot. Anna Marie, Spring Valley, and StoneTree vineyards. Aged 18 months in French oak (60% new). 14.7% alcohol. 1,110 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Gård Vintners was founded by brothers Hervey (‘Sandy’) and Josh Lawrence in 2006. The winery is named after a Scandinavian word ‘farm’ in tribute to the Lawrence family’s heritage. The winery’s estate vineyard is Lawrence Vineyards in the Frenchman Hills (Columbia Valley), with elevations ranging from 1,365 to 1,675 feet. The family has been farming the Royal Slope for more than 45 years. Aryn Morrell assumed winemaker responsibilities from the 2011 vintage onward. Previous vintages were made by Robert Smasne.
Gård Vintners Pinot Gris Lawrence Vineyards Columbia Valley 2010 $20
(Decent) Considering the coolness of the vintage, this is a surprisingly ripe, full wine – all coming from Block 7 of the winery’s estate vineyard - with aromas of toasty spices, popcorn, and char atop pear and peach. Though listed at 3.22g/L of Residual Sugar, it comes off quite drier with a full, fleshy feel and firm acids. Almost unapproachable when first opened, the oak notes tone down considerably after a day. 100% Pinot Gris. Aged in 100% new French oak. 3.22 g/L Residual Sugar. 7.4g/L TA. 14.5% alcohol. 58 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Gård Vintners Viognier Lawrence Vineyards Columbia Valley 2011 $22
(Good/Excellent) Sourced exclusively from Block 10 of Gård’s estate vineyard, this is an aromatic wine with peach, banana, white flowers, and vanilla. The palate is full bodied and fleshy with citrus peal flavors and a creamy feel leading to a long, white grapefruit filled finish. 100% Viognier. Aged in neutral French oak. 13.1% alcohol. 176 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Gård Vintners Rose Lawrence Vineyards Columbia Valley 2011 $17
(Decent/Good) A dark salmon/strawberry color. Lightly aromatic with strawberry, cherry, peach, and light herbal notes. The palate drinks almost dry with fleshy, full cherry flavors. Aged in stainless steel. 1.5g/L Residual Sugar. TA 5.8g/L. 13.8% alcohol. 150 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Gård Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon Lawrence Vineyards Columbia Valley 2009 $35 (Good) All sourced from Block 1 (Clone 2 and Clone 6) of Lawrence Vineyards, this is an aromatically intense wine with black and red raspberries, licorice, vanilla, and pencil led. The palate is quite ripe and full with cherry, raspberry, and vanilla flavors with the vanilla carrying through on the finish. Though aged in neutral wood, the oak still plays a very prominent part in the show here. Aged 20 months in neutral French oak. 15.5% alcohol. 216 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Gård Vintners Syrah Lawrence Vineyards Columbia Valley 2009 $28
(Good/Excellent) A brooding wine with red raspberries, tar, graphite, and black fruit. The palate is voluptuous and rich with sweet, focused fruit flavors. This wine doesn’t hold much back and people looking for a ripe, full bodied Syrah with full oak treatment should look no further. Aged in 100% new French oak. 15.5% alcohol. 192 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Gård Vintners Reserve Syrah Lawrence Vineyards Columbia Valley 2009 $45
(Good/Excellent) Sourced exclusively from Block 3 of the winery’s estate vineyard, this is a brooding, darkly colored wine with cola, chocolate, tar, and bay leaf. The fruit here is intensely sweet, rich, and ripe. Not for all comers but people looking for a ripe style Syrah will find much to enjoy. Sample provided by winery.
Ryan Patrick Vineyards is located in North Central Washington in the new Ancient Lakes appellation. The winery was founded in 1996 by Terry and Vivian Flanagan, who named the winery after their two sons Ryan and Patrick (Aside, Ryan Flanagan is now vineyard manager at Evergreen Vineyard). The winery’s estate vineyard, Homestead Vineyard, is located near Quincy with the winery’s tasting room located in Leavenworth.
Ryan Patrick has made its mark over the years with its Naked Chardonnay and Rock Island Red and understandably so. Unaware of the price on the Chardonnay I wrote, “Recommended if less than $18.” It’s $10! In terms of the Rock Island Red, true to the Ancient Lakes area, it brings considerably more tannic heft than is frequently found at this price.
Ryan Patrick Vineyards Naked Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2009 $10
(Good) Light in color. This is a lightly aromatic, unoaked offering of Chardonnay with yellow apple, petroleum jelly, and mineral notes leading to a fleshy and full palate with a lingering tartness on the finish. 97% Chardonnay, 3% Riesling. Bishop’s Estate and Evergreen vineyards. 13.5% alcohol. 3,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended.
Ryan Patrick Vineyards Ryan’s Riesling Columbia Valley 2011 $10
(Good) An aromatically appealing wine laden with lime, peach, and mineral notes. The palate is off-dry with crisp lime and citrus peel flavors that persist on the finish. 95% Riesling, 4% Pinot Gris , and 1% Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 2.4% Residual Sugar. 7.5 TA. 11.5% alcohol. 2,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended.
Ryan Patrick Vineyards Rock Island Red Columbia Valley 2009 $20
(Decent/Good) Medium ruby. Though a greater percentage Merlot, Cabernet is at the fore here with sweet cherries, plum, and light, high toned herbal notes. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with soft cherry flavors accented by oak spices and buffeted by firm, grainy tannins. 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. Bishop’s Estate Vineyard. Aged 20 months in American oak. 13.8% alcohol. 1,969 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Ryan Patrick Vineyards Barbera Columbia Valley 2009 $25
(Good) Still somewhat of a rare grape in Washington, this is an aromatically appealing Barbera with cranberries, stewed cherries, and sweet herbal streaks. The palate is quite tart with mouth puckering acidity and minimal oak influence. 82% Barbera and 18% Merlot. Soaring Eagle 7 Vineyard (Rattlesnake Hills). Aged in French and American oak. 13.0% alcohol. 269 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Ryan Patrick Vineyards Syrah Columbia Valley 2009 $30
(Decent) The aromas are a bit jumbled here with dark floral notes, leather, and whiffs of licorice. The palate is tart and surprisingly tannic, almost unyielding. Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre field blend. Bishop’s Estate Vineyard. Aged in French oak. 13.5% alcohol. 145 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Magnificent Wine Co.
Magnificent Wine Co. is part of Precept Wine. The winery makes a wide variety of value priced wines under their omnipresent House Wine label. These varietal wines are not only true to their varieties, they are also – true to their name – perfect everyday wines, with the whites especially representing tremendous values at $12.
Magnificent Wine Co. House Wine Riesling Columbia Valley 2011 $12
(Good) An aromatically appealing wine with ripe peaches, jasmine, and citrus peel. The palate is medium bodied, off-dry with well-balanced acidity. 89% Riesling, 7% Chardonnay, 4% Gewurztraminer. 1.90% Residual Sugar. 12.5% alcohol. 5,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended
Magnificent Wine Co. House Wine Fish House Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2011 $12
(Good) An aromatically expressive wine with abundant herbal notes, lime, and gooseberry. The palate is tart and puckering with light fruit flavors. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 0.24% Residual Sugar. 13.5% Alcohol. 3,526 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended
Magnificent Wine Co. House Wine Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2010 $12
(Good) A very clean, very varietal wine with light spices and yellow apple. The palate is medium-plus bodied with a crisp, rounded feel drinking just the slightest hair off dry. 94% Chardonnay, 4% Viognier, 2% Gewurztraminer. 0.75% Residual Sugar. 13.0% alcohol. 4,469 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended
Magnificent Wine Co. House Wine Mountain Merlot Columbia Valley 2010 $12
(Decent/Good) A very ripe, almost sweet smelling wine with red and black raspberries, crushed nuts, and light herbal tones. The palate brings a surprising amount of tannic grip. 82% Merlot, 10% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. 13.5% alcohol. 1,200 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Alder Ridge Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $30
(Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with mint, cherry cola, light medicinal notes, and sweet barrel spices. The palate is tightly wound with cherry flavors and firm, dusty tannins. A lot of wine for the price. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 9% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot. Aged 20 months in French oak (40% new). 14.4% alcohol. 800 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Silver Bell Winery Syrah Dineen Vineyard Rattlesnake Hills 2010 $35
(Decent) Silver Bell is a new winery founded by winemaker Alan Holtzheimer and his wife Diane. The winery is located in Burlington, Washington. Here, Holtzheimer sources grapes from Dineen Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills to produce an aromatic Syrah with raspberries, cranberries, and orange peel. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with a pillowy feel and tart fruit flavors. 100% Syrah. Aged in once used French oak. 13.5% alcohol.
Waterbrook Icon Series Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley Washington 2009 $55
(Good) This wine squarely leans toward the green, leafy side of Cabernet Sauvignon with light green olive and poblano pepper leading to a soft, understated palate with smooth tannins. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Spofford Station, Seven Hills. 13.2% alcohol. 234 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Six Prong Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills 2008 $20
(Good) Lightly aromatic with ripe cherries and sweet oak spices. The palate brings abundant cherry flavors and dry, grippy tannins. 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, and 4% and 14.2% alcohol. 1,460 cases produced. Alder Ridge Vineyard. Sample provided by winery.
Please note, my rating system was revised at the beginning of 2012 as follows. Read additional details here.
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