In today’s Fresh Sheet – reviews of new and recent releases – we look at wines from Owen Roe, Forgeron Cellars, Tamarack Cellars, Daven Lore, Hogue Cellars, Pour Me, Milbrandt Vineyards, Proper Wines, Woodward Canyon, and Purple Star Wines.
There are a lot of exciting changes going on at Owen Roe with the winery recently moving production of its Washington wines to Yakima Valley (read a recent article on Owen Roe’s move) along with additional vineyard plantings and a new label for several of its wines. The high quality of the offerings remains the same however. The Sinister Hand in particular is one of the higher quality-to-price ratio bottles I’ve come across of late.
Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2012 $21
(Excellent) Thoroughly beguiling aromas of strawberry, cherry, and light mossy notes. The palate is full bodied, rich and fruit filled with a warm, lingering finish. A well-priced window into the 2012 vintage. 14.1% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Owen Roe ‘The Kilmore’ Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton 2012 $42
(Excellent/Exceptional) A moderately aromatic wine with plum and dark strawberries still on the vine. The palate is full bodied, rich and showy with great depth to the fruit flavors and a lingering finish. A thoroughly delicious wine that keeps demanding another sip. 100% Pinot Noir. 14.1% alcohol. 833 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Owen Roe Sinister Hand Columbia Valley 2012 $24
(Exceptional) A moderately aromatic wine with red plums, herbs, chocolate, and clove. The palate is medium bodied, seamlessly stitched together with exquisite balance, fruit and meat flavors, and an extended finish. A high (high) quality wine to find at this tariff, equal parts feel and flavor. 70% Grenache, 16% Syrah, 9% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault. 14.1% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley 2011 $55
(Excellent) An aromatically brooding wine with cassis, herbs, and bittersweet chocolate. The palate is lighter in style, understated and dialed back with soft fruit flavors and chewy tannins. Red Willow, DuBrul, Union Gap and Elerding vineyards. 14.1% alcohol. 680 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon Red Willow Vineyard 1973 Block Yakima Valley 2011 $72
(Excellent) Locked up aromatically with a complex medley of high toned, sweet herbs that announces this wine as Cabernet along with earth, pink peppercorn, touches of jalapeno pepper, and dusty cherries. The palate is equal parts grace and power but with the throttle pulled back and enough tannins lay down nicely in the cellar. 14.1% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2011 $72
(Excellent) A lightly aromatic wine with subtle notes of cherry, slate, dry chocolate, fresh green herbs, and licorice. The palate shows impeccable restraint and balance without an ounce of excess alcoholic fat to get in the way of its supple, subtle fruit and earth flavors and brooding but still soft tannins. 13% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Forgeron Cellars commitment to its Chardonnay is evident in the vineyard sourcing for its 2012 wine, which includes grapes from eight different sites across the Columbia Valley. “We realized with the cooler 2004 vintage that we had to rely on a diversity of sources to ensure complexity and maintain consistency regardless of seasonal climate variation,” winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla said.
The latest releases also include a Boushey Vineyard-designated Merlot, the winery’s first Syrah-Grenache-Mourvedre blend, as well as a Zinfandel and Primitivo. In terms of the latter two grapes, no winery consistently does them better in the Northwest than Forgeron Cellars. While studies have found these two varieties to be genetically identical, Gilla sees them as distinct. “We find subtle differences in both the winemaking and sensory profile of this grape,” she said. “Our Primitivo tends to be a rustic and slightly more powerful version of the Zinfandel.”
Forgeron Cellars Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2012 $28
(Excellent) An aromatically alluring wine with pear, toasty spices, peach, and touches of tropical fruit. The palate is medium bodied, rich and ripe but avoids going over the top, maintaining well balanced acidity with an open finish. 95% Chardonnay, 5% Roussanne. Crawford, Kestrel, Upland, The Benches, Weinbau, Connor Lee, Underwood Mountain and Lonesome Springs Ranch (Roussanne) vineyards. Aged in French oak (32% new). 14.1% alcohol. 1,014 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Forgeron Cellars Merlot Boushey Vineyard Yakima Valley 2011 $30
(Excellent) An aromatically expressive wine with mineral, dry chocolate, dark cherries, toast, earth, and vanilla. The palate is medium bodied with tart, lively acidity, grainy tannins, and a mocha filled finish. Drinking young. Give at least two years or pair with food to help tame the acid. 100% Merlot. Aged in French (56%) and American oak (50% new). 222 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Forgeron Cellars GSM Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $30
(Excellent/Exceptional) An aromatically appealing, complex wine with earth, white pepper, and savory spices. The palate is round and fruit-filled with red fruit and savory flavors along with a lick of acidity. 55% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 5% Mourvedre. Boushey, Lonesome Springs, and Kiona Heart of the Hill vineyards. Aged in French (77%) and American oak (36% new). 14.3% alcohol. 214 cases produced.
Forgeron Cellars Zinfandel Columbia Valley 2011 $30
(Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with barrel spices, chocolate, red cherries, and abundant licorice notes. The palate is rich and full bodied with great depth to the fruit flavors but still with good acidity to balance it all out. 78% Zinfandel (Alder Ridge) and 22% Primitivo (StoneTree). Aged in French (55%) and American oak (50% new). 14.7% alcohol. 205 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Forgeron Cellars Primitivo Stonetree Vineyard Wahluke Slope 2011 $30
A thoroughly delicious wine that pops with dried cranberries and cherries, anise, vanilla, cocoa, pipe tobacco, and barrel spices. The palate is ripe and rounded, soft in feel. 100% Primitivo. Aged in American oak (28% new). 14.7% alcohol. 116 cases produced. (Wine Enthusiast review to be published in an upcoming issue).
Tamarack Cellars provides an interesting roadmap for Washington wineries with a large, readily available, recognizable brand in Firehouse Red that accounts for most of the winery’s production (they make over 16,000 cases of the wine annually). This wine, which provides consistent quality and value, essentially pays the bills and allows the winery to explore a variety of other directions. Of course, producing at that volume with that level of quality is another matter.
Tamarack Cellars Firehouse Red Red Wine Columbia Valley 2012 $18
(Good) Barrel spices of mocha, vanilla, and spice are at the fore along with cranberry, plum, smoke, and pencil lead. The palate is medium bodied with smooth tannins and abundant plum flavors along with tart berries and bitters on the finish. 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Syrah, 22% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec, 3% Sangiovese, 2% Grenache, 2% Cinsault, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Counoise, 1% Mourvedre, and 1% Carmenere. Aged in French, American, and Hugarian oak (40% new). 13.86% alcohol. 16,500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Tamarack Cellars Sangiovese Columbia Valley 2010 $25
(Good/Excellent) Aromatically locked up with notes of mineral, cranberry, and raspberry. The fruit is on the lighter side of medium bodied with firm, grippy tannins and tart, racy acidity. Needs time to stretch its legs. 100% Sangiovese. Candy Mountain (80%) and Blue Mountain vineyards. Aged in French oak (33% new). 14.1% alcohol. 136 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Tamarack Cellars Merlot Columbia Valley 2010 $28
(Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with cherries, dark coffee, high toned herbs and barrel spices. The palate juxtaposes lighter bodied fruit flavors with chewy tannins, tart acidity and a lingering finish. Give some additional time in the bottle to see it at its best. 88% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Syrah, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Tapteil, Weinbau, Ciel du Cheval, Seven Hills, Dionysus, Bacchus, and Gamache vineyards. Aged 19 months in American, French, and Hungarian oak (50% new). 14.27% alcohol. 543 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Tamarack Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2011 $36
(Good) A lightly aromatic wine with high toned notes of fresh herbs, plum, and a mixture of barrel spices. The palate is elegantly styled with a firm grip of chewy tannins. An enjoyable wine that needs some additional time in the bottle. 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. Bacchus, Dionysus, Weinbau, Alder Ridge, and Tapteil vineyards. Aged 24 months in French oak (65% new). 14.48% alcohol. 1,218 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Tamarack Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2011 $25
(Decent) A moderately aromatic wine with notes of copper, sage, and chocolate. The palate is medium bodied with a firm grip of tannins. 100% Syrah. Bacchus, Alder Ridge, and Destiny Ridge vineyards. Aged in Hungarian and French oak (10% new). 14.5% alcohol. 264 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Tamarack Cellars Sagemoor Vineyard Reserve Columbia Valley 2010 $50
(Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with notes of cocoa powder, black currant, fresh herbs, mineral, and cherry. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with firm, somewhat dry tannins and a lingering finish. Give at least two years. Sample provided by winery.
Daven Lore Winery is located in Prosser. The winery was founded in 2005 and is the work of soil scientist Dr. Joan Davenport and winemaker Gordon Taylor, with parts of their last names making up the winery name. Especially considering the challenges of the vintage, these are an impressive set of wines.
Daven Lore Grenache Lonesome Spring Ranch Yakima Valley 2011 $35
(Good) Light in color. A lightly aromatic wine with notes of sage, berry, copper, and pepper. The palate is light, elegant and transparent in style with a hyperextended finish. It doesn’t all match up in terms of the aromas and flavors but there is a lot of intrigue in this rare, vineyard-designated bottle. 95% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre (Arthur’s Vineyard), and 1% Syrah (Alder Ridge). Aged 18 months in neutral American oak. 14.5% alcohol. 75 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Daven Lore Aridisol Red Red Wine Columbia Valley 2011 $28
(Good/Excellent) A moderately aromatic wine with notes of cherry, sage, freshly hewn wood, coffee, peppery spices, and vanilla. The palate dances lightly with cranberry, dark coffee, and barrel spice flavors on this well made wine. 63% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 11% Mourvedre, and 5% Durif. Alder Ridge, Lonesome Spring Ranch, and Arthur’s vineyards. Aged 17 months in American oak with French oak heads (66% new). 13.8% alcohol. 113 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Daven Lore Mourvedre Arthur’s Vineyard Yakima Valley 2011 $35
(Good/Excellent) An expressive wine with abundant notes of black pepper, cumin, raw meat, vanilla, and other barrel accents. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with a soft, textured feel with barrel notes taking the lead on the finish. 95% Mourvedre, 1% Durif (Zephyr Ridge), and 1% Syrah (Alder Ridge). Aged 17 months in American oak (50% new). 14.3% alcohol. 80 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Hogue Cellars Merlot Columbia Valley 2012 $11
(Decent) Though labeled as Merlot, the aromas seem to lean more toward Cabernet with notes of herbs, olive and freshly cut bell pepper. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied with firm tannins and abundant dark cherry flavors that linger on the finish. 91% Merlot, 4% Syrah. 13.5% alcohol. 30,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Hogue Cellars The Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley 2011 $30
(Good) A lightly aromatic wine with notes of mint, mocha, dark raspberries, and black licorice. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied, elegantly styled with a wash of firm tannins and a long, persistent mocha filled finish. 96% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% other (Malbec, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay). 13.6% alcohol. 500 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Hogue Cellars Genesis Syrah Columbia Valley 2011 $16
(Decent/Good) Moderately aromatic with notes of vanilla, woodspice, and cherry Leudens along with a sprinkling of herbs and licorice. The palate is elegantly styled with blocky tannins and a supple feel. 100% Syrah. Olsen, Fries, and Bouy (Snipes Mountain) vineyards. 13.5% alcohol. 3,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Pour Me Red Wine Blend Columbia Valley NV $18
(Excellent) Lightly aromatic with notes of dried herbs, black currant, and berries on an aroma profile that smells distinctly like Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate has a soft, supple, smooth profile and is lightly styled while retaining good depth to the mocha and cherry flavors. Capped off by a finish that sticks around and weaves it all together. An elegant wine that brings a lot of enjoyment and glides along. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Sangiovese. Aged in French oak (40% new). 14.6% alcohol. 1,008 cases produced. NB: All fruit comes from 2010 vintage. Sample provided by winery.
Milbrandt Vineyards Traditions Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2011 $16
(Good) A stylistic departure from previous vintages with the oak dialed way back. This is to this wine’s advantage. The aromas bring notes of black currant, cherry, and fresh from the garden herbs with a distinctive Washington Cabernet profile. The palate is medium bodied, supple in feel with lightly grainy tannins. A spot on wine that delivers easy drinking enjoyment at the right price. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot. Katherine Leone, Clifton Bluff, Wahluke Slope, Northridge, and Clifton vineyards. 13.5% alcohol. 16,400 cases produced. Sample provided by winery. Recommended.
Proper Stone’s Throw Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2011 $37
(Exceptional) Less opulent aromatically than its 2010 vintage counterpart – and coming from a nearby vineyard after the winery’s property was affected by the 2010 freeze - with notes of smoked meat, crushed stone, and mineral. The palate brings a sense of seamlessness, end to end with great depth to ash, herb, smoke, and liquid rock flavors, brightening acidity, and a lingering finish. A beautiful mixture of Old World and New World styles that is absolutely dee-licious and is also one of the best values coming out of this area. 100% Syrah. 13.8% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.
Woodward Canyon Estate Dolcetto Walla Walla Valley 2012 $26
(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with barrel notes of toast, mocha, and vanilla followed by berry. The palate is medium bodied with dark fruit, cardamom, and abundant barrel notes. 100% Dolcetto. Aged 6 months in seasoned French oak. 14.7% alcohol. 221 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Purple Star Syrah Columbia Valley 2011 $18
(Good) An aromatically appealing wine – unmistakably Syrah - with dark berries, plum, char, and smoke. The palate has puckering blue fruit and floral flavors with tart acidity and tacky tannins. A young wine that is not showing its best now but has the stuffing if it comes together. Give one to two years. 100% Syrah. Weinbau (71%), Red Heaven, Olsen, and Emory vineyards. Aged 17 months in French oak (3% new). 1,036 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.
Erratum - Please note that when this Fresh Sheet was first published there was a lack of congruence between the star ratings listed and the parenthetical definitions of these star ratings for several wines. Specifically, several wines showed a four star rating () but showed a parenthetical rating of "(Good)" which would equate to three stars. Each of these wines should have been displayed as (Good). This has been fixed. My apologies for the error and any confusion it may have caused.
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