Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Washington wine to you and bringing you to Washington 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

Sean P. Sullivan

2019 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

September's Virtual Tasting will take place tonight! The wine is Novelty Hill's Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. As usual, I will be opening the bottle about 7pm and posting my comments and tweets (@wawinereport) along the way. Please join us in trying this wine and posting your notes.

For those of you in the Seattle area the winery, which is located in Woodinville, is sold out of the 2006 (see a list of Seattle-area retailers as well as on-line sellers of the 2006 here). However, today only, Novelty Hill will be extending a 20% discount on one bottle of the 2007 Cabernet to people who purchase at the winery. Just mention you are planning to participate in tonight's Virtual Tasting. As I mentioned in my original post, I will plan on tasting both the 2006 and 2007 as part of tonight's tasting so feel free to stop by the winery, pick up the 2007 and join in the fun.

7:15 Update: Okay folks. The bottles are open. Let the Virtual Tasting begin! We had a brief delay after I lost control of the robot requiring rebooting. As I mentioned earlier, I will be tasting both the 2006 and the 2007 wines. I picked up the 2007, which was just released a few weeks ago and should be making it on retailer shelves shortly, at the winery this afternoon. The drive to Woodinville reminded me what I love about the Northwest with a bald eagle soaring high overhead.

Both wines are using cork as a closure, both with vintage stamps. The 2006 has considerably more color on the cork (will get a picture up of this). I'm assuming this is largely due to the extra bottle aging but we'll see what the wines look like once I get them in the glass.

7:30 Update: Okay, I also popped and poured both of these wines. May end up throwing the 2007 into the decanter depending on how it's doing. I will focus on the 2006 for the moment. The wine is at 62 degrees. Some dusky spice along with pepper and cedar on the nose. The fruit is lying underneath this at the moment. My initial impression is to wonder what other varietals are blended in as they seem to be playing a fair bit on the nose. I'll give this a look later on.

7:45 Update: This is a round, rich wine with a lot of cherry flavors. Some light herbal undertones along with some resinous aromas. I agree with Paul's comment that there is a lot coming from the acid on this wine as opposed to the tannins. My first impression is that this is quite an enjoyable wine. I think it needs to open up a bit. I'm going to put it in a decanter and give the 2007 a try.

8:00 Update: Giving the 2007 a try. On the nose, a bit muted at the moment (no surprise given that it's a 2007). Chocolate along with spice (can't quite pick up what it is, a bit of anise perhaps?) and some pleasing herbal elements. Fairly acid driven on a taste that is very evenly balanced across the palate.

Comparing the 2007 to the 2006, I get a lot of what seems like seem like Cab Franc aromas on the 2006. Earthy, potting soil aromas. Not sure on the blend. The taste is evenly balanced with a slightly sharp uptick about 2/3 of the way through.

Overall, I find a lot of stylistic similarities in terms of nose and style on both wine.

8:15 Update: The 2007 has a nice, powdered chocolate element on the nose along with a bit more tannin structure. Smooth and even. The nose has lots of cherry, black pepper, and an under layer of anise.

The 2006 has some palate coating oak, in a pleasant way. The wine largely pulls it off. Starts with a very plush entry before pulling back a bit and getting a slightly sharp element that lingers on the palate.

8:30 Update: Some background details on the wines.

The 2006: 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. I KNEW there was some Cab Franc in this wine :). 3,832 cases produced. 14.4% alcohol.

The 2007: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc; 1% Petit Verdot. 3,964 cases produced. 14.4% alcohol.

8:45 Update: Here is what the publications have to say. Nothing on the 2007 as it is just released. Only thing I see is in Wine Spectator on the 2006, nothing on Wine Enthusiast or Wine Advocate:

92 points. Dense and chewy, but with a nice lift of acidity and freshness as the finish rolls in, framing the cherry, blackberry, coffee and smoke flavors as they linger expressively. Best from 2011 through 2018. 3,888 cases made. –HS

I agree on the lift of acidity but otherwise don't get too much from the description.

From CellarTracker, 13 notes. Average of 88.5 points and median of 90. Check out what people have to say here.

9:00 Update: Notes from winemaker Michael Januik on each wine.

2006 Cabernet: Rich and expressive with ripe blackberry, currant and spicy black cherry aromas and flavors. Well-balanced, with plenty of dark fruit flavors lingering across a lengthy, expressive finish.

2007 Cabernet: A deep, concentrated wine with fresh blackberry, dark cherry and red currant. Expressive and balanced, with dark fruit flavors persisting across a long, generous finish.

See the full 2006 writeup from the winery here. See the full 2007 writeup here.

Both vintages list at $25. I bought the 2006 from Pete's for $21.50 and bought the 2007 from the winery for $20 (lists for $25 but includes the 20% discount for tonight's tasting).

My final thoughts. Both wines are very well made. I went back and forth as to which I liked more as they opened up.

I really enjoy the nose on the 2006. Gets more expressive as the wine moves up toward 67 as opposed to the 62 I originally had it at. A lot to swirl around and ponder over. Fun earthy elements. A good palate with the exception of the slight dip in the mid-palate. A good wine for $25; put it at $18-$20 and it's a steal. In my rating system I would put it as a "slash" wine between a + and *. So I would either list it as "+/*" or do as I usually do in such circumstances and score down. Given the amount of good things going on in this wine I would probably list it as +/* with a * a little too high and a + a little too low.

On the 2007, definitely more of a chocolate and anise component on the nose and taste than I get on the 2006. Otherwise a lot of the same things going on stylistically. I like the nose more on the 2006 but like the palate a bit more on the 2007. I think, given a bit more time in the bottle, the 2007 will be a bit better of a wine. I would score it as just painting the low edges of a * on my rating scale.

Thanks to everyone who participated. We'll do it again next month.

Final Update: Retrying these wines now a full three hours after they have been open and decanted.

On the 2006, chilled back to 62 degrees. A lot of toasted oak and spice aromas. Black pepper and earth are still there. Does seem to show a lot of Cab Franc influence strangely. The taste seems considerably more thin when the wine is cooler. It becomes more rich on the palate as it warms up. Tannins definitely pull back here on a more acid-driven, oak-textured wine.

More on the 2007 in the final final.

Final Final Update: Retrying the 2007 now. A lot of great stuff on the nose. I think the 2007 has a bit more upside, although the 2006 is tasting better right now with another year in the bottle. The 2007 carries more completely across the palate. I also get, as this wine opens up, a light egg component on the nose. Perhaps from egg fining? Overall, both are very enjoyable wines.

Thanks again to everyone who took part. If you have suggestions for next month's Virtual Tasting, send them along.

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Reminder that this month's Virtual Tasting is this Wednesday starting at 7pm. The wine is the 2006 Novelty Hill Cabernet. Read more about it here.

While Walla Walla’s Corliss Estates made its first vintage in 2001, the winery did not release its first wine until December of 2008. In the interim, the team at Corliss made and discarded two vintages. They also moved into and renovated the old Red and White Brand bakery building in downtown Walla Walla. With their third vintage – the 2003 – founders Michael Corliss and Lauri Darneille found what they were looking for. In that year Corliss produced a Red Wine, Cabernet, and Syrah that would constitute their inaugural release. However, it would be a full five years before these wines were available, much longer than the one to three years most wineries wait to release vintages.

The story behind these decisions shows why Corliss is not just striving to make wines that stand among the best in the state, they are achieving excellence. Corliss and Darneille started Corliss Estates with the goal of making exceptional, age-worthy wines. Doing so requires both patience and a meticulous attention to detail. In terms of patience, sticking to the adage that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, Corliss and Darneille discarded the first two vintages when they didn’t meet the level of excellence they were looking for. Similarly, believing many wines are released too young to be properly enjoyed (amen), they held the 2003 vintage wines until they believed the wines were ready. In terms of attention to detail, Paul Gregutt gives a good description on his blog of watching the processing of some of this year’s fruit, writing:

The bunches of grapes passed through a gentle de-stemmer and poured out onto a conveyer belt, where every bit of leaf, stem and vineyard detritus was picked out by hand. By the time the grapes reached the end of the conveyer belt – just before being dropped (not pumped) into fermentation bins – they looked like perfect blueberries, each pristine grape isolated and unbroken…This is what it takes to make great, not good wine.

Great wine is what Corliss is making. These wines are nothing short of extraordinary and are among the best I have had from Washington. They have jaw-dropping amounts of complexity, elegance, and power. They are also built for the long haul. The inaugural releases were so impressive Seattle Magazine listed Corliss Estates as one of Washington’s next “cult wines” in their August issue. Indeed, last April I tried Corliss' 2003 Red Wine alongside several vintages of Washington's premier cult wine, Quilceda Creek. The Corliss wine stood shoulder to shoulder.

Since their initial release last year, the people behind Corliss have been busy. Along with winemaker Kendall Mix, Corliss and Darneille launched a second winery, Tranche Cellars, this spring year with a Rousanne-Viognier, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. In 2010, they will launch a third winery, RMV Cellars (Red Mountain Vineyards) at the former Sandhill Winery location. While Mix will direct winemaking operations at each of the three wineries, each winery is intended to operate independently with its own staff and estate vineyards. To this end, Corliss Estates planted a fifty-six acre estate vineyard on Red Mountain this spring, with Tranche and RMV Cellars' estate vineyards already on-line.

After releasing their 2004 Syrah earlier in the year, Corliss will release their 2004 Red Wine and 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon in November. Having sampled these wines earlier this month, I can only say that Corliss continues to impress. While the Red Wine, a Bordeaux blend, is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, it is the large percentage of Cabernet Franc and other Bordeaux varietals that make this wine shimmer and shine. This is a bold, muscular wine that drinks beautifully now but only benefit from additional years in the cellar. The Cabernet Sauvignon, while displaying great intensity, also shows an immaculate, restrained elegance. Both wines are at the high end of their respective categories in my rating system with the Red Wine better measured on the Richter scale. These are impeccable wines that guarantee to build on the reputation of Corliss’ first release.

Note: Wines sampled at 65 degrees.







Corliss Red Wine Columbia Valley 2004

A nose that pulls you into the glass with fresh ground coffee, spice, dust, and dark cherries. A big, thick, voluptuous mouthfeel. Each sip takes multiple swallows to finish. Initially tight and drying on the palate with silky smooth fruit hanging above the tannins. As the wine opens up, mocha shows through and the fruit comes to the front. An exceptional wine that is a perfect combination of fruit and barrel. 45% Cabernet, 34% Cab Franc, 10% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot, 2% Merlot. 15.2% alcohol. 480 cases produced.



Corliss Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2004

Lighter and more refined wine than the Red Wine on both the nose and palate. The nose displays dense, dark fruit along with coffee grounds, mocha, and spice. Undulates along the palate with black licorice, coffee, and luscious cherry fruit. A palate coating wine with beautifully integrated oak. 82% Cabernet, 9% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec, 1% Merlot. 14.9% alcohol. 225 cases produced.


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Reminder that this month's Virtual Tasting is this Wednesday starting at 7pm. The wine is the 2006 Novelty Hill Cabernet. Read more about it here.

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Dusted Valley Vintners

Friday, September 25, 2009 0 comments

Dusted Valley Vintners was founded in 2003 by Chad Johnson and Corey Braunel. The winery is located in Walla Walla on the Old Milton Highway south of downtown. This summer Dusted Valley also opened a tasting room west of the crest in Woodinville’s Hollywood Vineyards Retail Center.

In terms of red wines, Dusted Valley produces a Cabernet, Cab Franc, Grenache, Malbec, and Syrah as well as several blends. The “Stained Tooth” Syrah – the name of Dusted Valley’s wine club - is a winery favorite. Dusted Valley added the “Boomtown” wines as its entry level series several years back (see a review of the 2006 Boomtown Cabernet here).

One aspect of Dusted Valley’s Walla Walla tasting room I will mention is, when I sampled these wines, it was at an impeccable wine serving temperature (all wines sampled at 63-65 degrees). Especially during the warmer months when tasting room temperatures can get into the high seventies and eighties in Walla Walla with the wines following suit, this went a long way toward helping these wines put their best foot forward.

On a less positive note, DVV's website is woefully out of date in terms of their offerings and needs a major facelift. C'mon guys!







Dusted Valley Vintners Grenache Columbia Valley 2007

Bright, dried black cherries, ground tobacco, and a light herbal quality on an enjoyable nose. Ripe and even on the palate with an extended finish.



Dusted Valley Vintners Stained Tooth Syrah Columbia Valley 2007

Pretty floral aromatics combine with light earth. Bright and tart on the palate. A very enjoyable wine that needs food to get the most out of it.



Dusted Valley Vintners Walla Walla Valley Syrah 2007

Light floral components along with touches of chocolate and just a hint of cured meats on a very pretty nose. Tart, brightly acidic, and up front on the palate. A lot of good stuff going on here. Perhaps will come together with a bit more time. Spofford Station & Birch Creek vineyards.



Dusted Valley Vintners Reserve Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2006

A classic Walla Walla Valley syrah with a nose of violets, cured meats, and a touch of candied fruit. Exceptionally well balanced and put together on the palate. Picks up steam across the mid-palate but never overpowers. Holds and hangs on at the finish. Just shy of a double star (**) wine.



Dusted Valley Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006

The nose is marked by bittersweet chocolate, tobacco, and dried fruit. Dry on the palate with a lot of fruit. A very good wine for the price.



Dusted Valley Vintners Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley 2007

Generous amounts of black pepper heaped over black fruit that has a touch of sweetness. Thick and chewy on the palate. Well done but a bit overwhelming.



Dusted Valley Vintners Malbec Columbia Valley 2007

Vanilla dominates on the nose. A fair amount of greenness on the taste. Dips down and then back up. Drinking very, very young. May improve with time.



Dusted Valley Vintners Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2006

A bit of earthy funkiness,graphite, baking chocolate and spice on the nose. A big, dense, chewy wine that is round and opulent on the palate. Lots of cherry flavors. Impressive length on the finish. Best of the flight.


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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from September 15th to 21st.

From around the country…

FoodBizDaily picks up the story of Charles Smith being named Food & Magazine winemaker of the year.

Business Week writes about L’Ecole No. 41’s Apogee.

From the blogosphere…

Through the Walla Walla Grapevine writes about Palate Press. They also write about SuLei’s 2008 Roussanne (see my take on this wine here). Catie also writes for Palate Press on Walla Walla Wine.

WINO magazine writes about Darby Winery. They also write about round two of a Walla Walla roundtable, the latest Grape Killers event, and do some tasting and tweeting at Grand Cru Wine Bar.

Wine Peeps writes about one of the wine peeps. They also write about the Walter Clore Private Reserve, and Betz Family Winery.

Woodinville Wine Update writes about Arlington Road Cellars new name. They also write about the aforementioned Taste and Tweet, and Gorman Winery.

Paul Gregutt writes about Betz Family Wines. He also writes about Stevens and the state straddling Sineann.

WAWineMan writes about new Washington state wineries. They also write about Woodinville wineries, O’Reilly’s 2007 Riesling, and Smasne’s 2007 Rosella.

Wine Rasa writes about DuBrul merlot. They also write about harvest.

Write for Wine writes about Alexandria Nicole.

Tavola Rosso writes about Va Piano’s Bruno’s Blend III. They also write about St. Laurent’s 2007 Syrah Rose. writes about a WSU lecture on tannins.

From the locals…

The News Tribune writes about this year’s crop.

Paul Gregutt writes in his column in the Seattle Times about value wines with callouts to Ardenvoir, Balboa Winery, and SuLei Cellars.

The Yakima Herald writes about John Anderson’s induction into the Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame.

Othello Outlook writes about recent changes in Washington wine laws. They also write that the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers will continue to meet in the Tri-cities through 2015.

Woehler writes for the Tri-city Herald about Silver Lake Winery.

KATU writes about a bottle plant closing.

That’s all folks!

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Five Under Fifteen - September

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 0 comments

In tough times, we continue the search for good, inexpensive wines…

More hits than misses with this month’s Five Under Fifteen featuring four wines I gave a plus (+) rating and list as Recommended. I give this rating when a wine represents a particular value at its price point.

The most impressive of this month’s wines – and also the most expensive at $15 - is the 2006 Boomtown Cabernet. Boomtown is Dusted Valley Vintners entry level wine. Dusted Valley is located in Walla Walla and is one of a number of wineries to recently open a tasting room in Woodinville. This is one of the better value Cabernet’s I have come across recently.

Waterbrook is also located in Walla Walla. The winery unofficially opened their massive new production and tasting facility on the way into town on 2009 Spring Release Weekend. The official opening was a month later for Vintage Walla Walla. This facility now houses production for all of Precept Wine Brands wines.

Pacific Rim has long been a white wine specialist with a particular focus on Riesling. The winery even offers a free mini-book Riesling Rules! on the history and virtues of the grape. Pacific Rim recently added several red wines to the lineup. See a good background piece on Pacific Rim from Paul Gregutt’s Wine Adviser column here.

Kyra Wines
is located in Moses Lake and focuses predominantly on grape growing. The winery does however bottle small lots of wine.

McKinley Springs is located in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Doug Rowell serves as winemaker. The winery has over 2,000 acres planted to more than 20 different varietals. Unfortunately this Chenin Blanc was a disappointment. I plan to resample it in the future as the bottle seemed off.

If you have a wine under $15 you’d like us to check out, send it along.







Boomtown Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006

Loads of fresh berries, chocolate, and spice. A big, rich, crowd-pleasing taste with heaping amounts of fruit along with a touch of coffee. A solid finish. 14.2% alcohol. 5,000 cases produced. Recommended.

Purchased at Pete’s for $14



Waterbrook Cabernet-Merlot Columbia Valley 2007

Dusky spice pairs with dark fruit and sweet barrel aromas on the nose. Full and rich on the palate with well integrated oak. 56% Cabernet. 44% merlot. 13.5% alcohol. Recommended.

Purchased at Pete’s for $9



Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2007

An engaging nose marked by honey, white grapefruit, and mineral notes. A lot of citrus on a crisp, clean palate. Not a lot of complexity but very enjoyable. 50,000 cases produced. Recommended.

Purchased at Pete’s for $11



Kyra Chenin Blanc 2008

Almost completely clear in color. An expressive, fruity nose marked by freshly cut, ripe – almost overripe – apples along with coconut and tropical fruit. A fair amount of residual sugar (1.7%) on an enjoyable taste. 12.5% alcohol. Recommended.

Purchased at Pete’s for $12



McKinley Springs Chenin Blanc Horse Heaven Hills 2007

A yellowish tinge to the color. Light apple and leesy aromas along with something strange I can’t place. Fairly flat on the palate, seeming to lack sufficient acidity. The wine paints around the edges but the middle seems lacking. A slight metallic element on the back end. 13.8% alcohol.

Purchased at Pete’s for $12


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Bel Canto is Cadence Winery’s top end red wine. The 2004 vintage is a blend of ten different barrels from Cadence’s impeccable Red Mountain vineyard sources (Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, and Taptiel). Starting with the 2006 vintage, Cadence began using fruit from its Cara Mia Vineyard on Red Mountain for the Bel Canto. Winemaker Ben Smith has always had a strong interest in Cabernet Franc which composes a full fifty percent of this wine.

Related Posts

Grand Rêve

Cadence 2006 Vintage Releases

Cadence Coda 2006

2005 Vintage, Ciel du Cheval

Cadence 2005 Releases







Cadence Bel Canto Red Mountain 2004

Lots of black licorice and bright cherry on the nose. A perfect amount of grip and texture on the taste with chocolate threads winding through the wine. An impressively long finish caps it off. 50% Cab Franc, 40% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot. 14.4% alcohol. 250 cases produced.


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Gorman Winery 2007 Releases

Friday, September 18, 2009 1 comments

Gorman Winery had its first commercial release in 2002. Since that time the winery has had a meteoric rise to near cult wine status. Owner, winemaker, and one man show Chris Gorman focuses on small lot production, producing approximately 1,500 cases annually. The house style is to create big, bold wines. For his wines, Gorman looks to pair top notch fruit with top-of-the-line wood. In terms of the fruit, Gorman sources grapes from the likes of Ciel du Cheval and Conner Lee vineyards. In terms of the wood, he is not shy about liberally using new French oak from cooperages such as of Saury and Taransaud - or to price his wines accordingly. Gorman is also not afraid to pour on the alcohol. The new red releases, for example, clock in at 15%, 15.2%, and 15.5%. Release No. V that he made for Grand Rêve comes in at 15.8%.

An aside about wines with alcohol levels around fifteen percent or above. As many of you know, I am a stickler about wine temperature. This is never more important than with wines with moderately high alcohol content. If these wines get to seventy degrees or above, the fruit and alcohol will often come wildly out of balance like a top wobbling and spinning out of control. So when trying the Gorman wines or wines of a similar style, do yourself a favor and make sure your “room temperature” is more like sixty-two to sixty-five degrees than seventy to seventy-five. Now back to our story.

Gorman Winery is open only two times per year, once in March and once in September, for new releases. Of the wines released this month, with the exception of the chardonnay, all are drinking quite young, especially the monstrous, lay-me-down Evil Twin. On first pour, each of the red wines display a strong mixture of fruit and barrel aromas that then backs off and becomes quiet before being coaxed back out with vigorous swirling. All will benefit from some additional bottle age and will reward you for your patience.

At this event Gorman also gave a sampling of the March releases. The Albatross – a standout from this tasting – is a blend of Cabernet and Petit Verdot. Intriguingly, as he poured this wine, Gorman stated that he hoped the Albatross would be his “swan song.” A customer pulled him aside before I could ask the intention behind this statement. Not to worry, Gorman has been spending his time of late cleaning barrels and just picked up his 2009 Ciel Syrah earlier this week. If you’re looking for this winery being going anywhere, look up not out.

Related Posts

Grand Rêve

Gorman Winery 2006 Releases
Gorman Winery 2005 Releases

Mark Ryan McNeilly and Chris Gorman Second Label Wines
Note: All red wines sampled at 61 degrees.

Score Name Notes $
Gorman Big Sissy Chardonnay Conner Lee Vineyard 2008 Light in color. Nose marked by a light grassiness and a light spice. Clean and crisp with well-integrated oak and a rounded mouthfeel. A long finish caps it off. 100% Chardonnay. 100% Native yeast fermentation, Malolactic fermentation, and new French oak. 14.2% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Sampled at 54 degrees.

Gorman Zachary’s Ladder Red Mountain 2007 An intensely fragrant nose with jammy fruit, flowers, and powdered chocolate. A fair amount of weight on a palate marked by tart fruit and chalky tannins. Lavender shows through as the wine opens. Needs additional time to ocome together. 42% Cabernet; 25% Merlot; 25% Mourvedre; 7% Syrah; 1% Petit Verdot. 15.0% alcohol. 400 cases produced.

Gorman Pixie Red Mountain 2007 Lots of jammy fruit with seeds along with sage and baking chocolate. A richly textured, dry wine with lots of fruit and polished tannins. Occasionally comes off as a bit coarse and sharp toward the back end. These edges will smooth out with a bit more time in the bottle. 100% Syrah (50% Kiona, 50% Ciel du Cheval). 15.2% alcohol. 200 cases produced.

Gorman Evil Twin Red Mountain 2007 More closed on the nose than the other wines sampled with light floral and herbal notes. Dense and extracted on the palate. Dry and smooth with a big lick of tannins at the end. This is a red meat wine. 60% Syrah, 40% Cabernet. 15.5% alcohol. 225 cases produced.

Gorman The Albatross Red Mountain Reserve 2007 A pungent nose with pepper and licorice. A dense, whopper of a wine with a monstrous lick of tannins. Wraps around your tongue and squeezes until you ask for mercy. Very young at present but will be exceptional. 66% Cabernet; 34% Petit Verdot. 120 cases produced. To be released in March 2010. NA

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A summary of articles from September 1st to 14th on Washington wine.

From around the country…

Business Week writes about Pepper Bridge’s 2005 Cabernet.

Food and Wine magazine names Charles Smith their winemaker of the year.

Tulsa World also writes about Charles Smith.

From the blogosphere…

Wine Peeps writes about Dusted Valley. They also write about new retailer Full Pull Wines, a pairing challenge, WA wines available in NYC, and Washington wine month.

Beyond the Bottle checks out àMaurice Cellars 2006 Chardonnay. Thad also check out L’Ecole No. 41’s Walla Voila 2008 Chenin Blanc.

Paul Gregutt writes about Sineann. He also writes about the price of Washington wine, some Washington Wine Month deals, and answers a question about scoring.

Tavola Rosso does a Washington vs California Syrah taste off.

Through the Walla Walla Grapevine writes about Charles Smith being named winemaker of the year by Food and Wine magazine. Catie also writes about Robison Ranch Cellars.

Going for Seconds writes about a Tanzer tasting.

Write for Wine also writes about Full Pull. Margot also writes about DeLille’s D2 and Alexandia Nicole’s Syrah.

Wine Foot does a duel of California and Washington merlots. They also interview Efeste’s Brennon Leighton.

WINO magazine writes about :Nota Bene. They also write about Furion Cellars, and give Part II of a trip to Col Solare (Note: see my recent Focus report on Col Solare here).

Washington Wine Guy checks out some K Vintners wines.

You’ve heard of the Dogs of Walla Walla. Shona at Woodinville Wine Update now talks about the Winery Cat of Woodinville. WWU also writes about Gorman’s The Bully, wineries who tweet, Dusted Valley Vintners, and a day in the vineyard with Hollywood Hill Vineyards.

The Wine Connoisseur posts a variety of videos taken at the Seattle Wine Awards.

Wine and Beer of Washington State writes about a wine class at William Church Winery.

Washington Wine writes about Washington Wine month.

Seattle Wine Blog hits some Woodinville wineries.

RJ’s Wine Blog does a bonus round on Owen Roe.

WA Wine Man writes about Columbia's Gwertztraminer, Eliseo Silva's 2005 Merlot, Washington Tempranillo, Alexandria Nichole's 2006 Temp, JM Cellars 2008 Chard, Doyenne's 2008 Rose, and Betz' La Cote Patriarche.

Portalis Wine Blog writes about Rieslings with a callout to Efeste’s 2008 Evergreen Vineyard Riesling.

Schwartz Brothers Restaurants writes that Bellevue’s Daniels will now be serving only Washington wine on their Cruvinet system.

The Industry Made Me Do It tries WA wines alongside BS wines with callouts to DeLille, Trust Cellars, and Chateau Ste. Michelle.

The Examiner writes about the 2006 Red Diamond Cabernet. See my take on this wine here. They Examiner also writes about Boudreaux Cellars.

Doug Paulding Wine Picks writes about Hogue Cellars. looks at Mercer’s Chardonnay. They also check out Bridgman’s Chardonnay.

Associated Content writes about Washington’s best wines with callouts to Chateau Ste. Michelle, Leonetti, Gramercy, Abeja, and Andrew Will. writes about Hogue’s 2006 Genesis Syrah.

Cherries and Clay writes about Walla Walla’s 8 Bit Vintners.

Inspired Imbiber 2.0 writes about a trip to Walla Walla.

My Vine Spot does a blind Viognier tasting where Washington’s Bridgman comes out near the top.

Eric Bandholz writes about a trip to Walla Walla.

From the locals…

The Seattle PI picks up an AP story about a truck carrying Washington wine to Wyoming catching on fire and sending corks flying. No word on the wines that perished.

Andy Perdue writes for the Tacoma News Tribune about the beginning of harvest season.

Woehler at the Tri-city Herald writes about Washington Wine Month.

KNDO reports that Labor Day weekend was a success in Yakima Valley.

That’s all folks!

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September's Virtual Tasting will be Novelty Hill's Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine retails for $25 and can frequently be found on sale. Note that this wine just had a vintage change so I will be tasting both the 2006 and the newly released 2007 side by side. Feel free to pick up either (or both!) for the tasting.

The tasting will take place on Wednesday September 30th. As usual, I will be opening the bottle about 7pm and posting my notes along the way. Please join us in trying this wine and posting your notes.

Novelty Hill is located in Woodinville. The winery shares a tasting room with Januik Winery, although the two are independent ventures. Michael Januik serves as winemaker for both wineries.

Where to Buy - Seattle Area:

Pete's Wine Shop

Where to Buy - On-line:
Avalon Wine

I will be updating the Seattle-area list as I get information back from retailers about whether they have this wine in stock. Check back. Also, feel free to comment on places you have seen this wine in your area.

Note: I am not affiliated with nor do I receive compensation from any of the above retailers.

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Buty Winery is located in the airport region in Walla Walla. Among the many excellent wines this winery makes, the Sémillon/Sauvignon blend is consistently one of their best. This is the seventeenth vintage that winemaker Caleb Foster has been making this Bordeaux-style blend in Washington. This experience, paired with grapes from vines planted in 1982 (Rosebud Ranch Vineyard, Wahluke Slope AVA) make this wine soar. Describing the new release Foster writes:

"We crushed the sémillon and cold-soaked it on its skins overnight. This builds the weight and creaminess of the wine. We fermented in old Burgundy barrels then aged it on its lees for nine months to developing bready aromas and supple texture. The sauvignon was whole cluster pressed and native yeast fermented in tank without malolactic fermentation. The wines were bottled on June 4, 2009."

Where to Buy: Winery, McCarthy & Schiering

Score Name Notes $


Buty Sémillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle Columbia Valley 2008 Straw colored. A beautiful nose marked by lemon zest, touches of honey, mineral, and yeast. Floral notes emerge as the wine opens up. Fresh, tart, and lemon0-loaded on the palate. 69% Sémillon, 26% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Muscadelle. Rosebud Ranches, Spring Creek, and Lonesome River Ranch vineyards. 13.8% alcohol. 1,050 cases produced. $25

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Betz Family Winery Fall Releases

Monday, September 14, 2009 1 comments

Betz Family Winery was founded by Bob and Cathy Betz in 1997, producing its first vintage that same year. Since that time the winery has gone from making 150 cases of wine annually to approximately 3,500 – about where they are looking to stay. They have also gone from an upstart to one of the premier wineries in Washington.

As indicated by its name, Betz is a family-run business. Cathy serves as the winery’s president, Bob as its winemaker, and daughter Carmen as head of sales. Bob, who holds the prestigious Master of Wine degree, spent twenty eight years at Stimson Lane (now Ste Michelle Wine Estates) before retiring in 2003 to focus on the winery full-time. Betz held a variety of positions at Stimson Lane, including Vice President of Winemaking Research at the time of his retirement. Interestingly given the deft touch he shows at the family winery, Bob never served as winemaker during his time at Stimson Lane.

Betz shows a meticulous attention to detail from grape to glass. On the viticulture side, Betz partners with some of the state’s top vineyard managers to achieve the style he is looking for. Each year the winery uses the same blocks and rows from its vineyard sources to maximize control and consistency. On the enology side, the family broke ground on a custom facility in Woodinville in 2004. The building was designed to move both grapes and juice as efficiently as possible. It was also designed to maximize sanitation with walls and floors of concrete for easy spray washing. The facility was completed in time for the 2005 harvest.

In the five years since Bob’s retirement from Stimson Lane, the winery has continued to thrive. Last year, Betz moved to selling their wine predominantly through a mailing list. In July of 2008 they closed their mailing list and last fall they sold out of their new releases in two weeks. In a nod to the long-established relationships Bob has built across the industry, Betz continues to hold some wine back each year for retailers.

Betz Family Winery has two releases each year. The spring releases include the Bordeaux blends Pere de Famille (Cabernet dominant) and Clos de Betz (Merlot dominant). The fall releases focus on Rhone varietals with two Syrahs and a Grenache blend. The first Syrah is the La Serenne which is 100% Syrah from Boushey Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. The second is La Côte Rousse whose fruit is sourced from Red Mountain. This year, Betz added a third - La Côte Patriarche – whose Syrah comes from Red Willow Vineyard, the oldest Syrah planting in Washington. The Bésoleil, a Southern Rhone-style, Grenache-centric blend rounds out the Fall offerings.

This fall’s releases, with the exception of the 2007 La Côte Rousse which is still fairly closed, are more immediately accessible than their 2006 counterparts. For the 2007 Bésoleil, Betz used both a larger amount of Grenache as well as a new vineyard source, Olsen Estates. The 2007 Bésoleil is not only as good as any I have tried from the winery, it is also as good as any Grenache blend I have sampled from the state. The 2007 La Serenne exhibits more intensity and power than the 2006 offering while retaining exceptional balance. Finally, the 2007 La Côte Patriarche – whose Syrah comes from 23 year old vines – exhibits a depth and layered intensity that bodes well for Washington’s young vineyards.

Overall, Betz’ 2007 releases exhibit unequaled power, balance, and refinement. These wines are Betz at its best.

Note: All of these wines were poured from magnums and sampled between 67 and 68 degrees.

Score Name Notes $


Betz Bésoleil Grenache Columbia Valley 2007 Ruby colored. An elegant, alluring nose with light toast, red berries, black licorice, and earth tones. Light on the palate with a bowl of red fruit. A refined wine that is exceptionally well balanced. A tribute to the Rhone style. 80% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah.



Betz La Serenne Syrah Yakima Valley 2007 A dark, intense color. Hallmark Boushey Vineyard Syrah nose with smoke, bacon fat, and floral notes. Rich on the palate with black fruit. Hangs endlessly on the palate. An earth-shaking wine that provides both power and refinement.



Betz La Côte Patriarche Syrah Yakima Valley 2007 Deep and dark in color. A lively nose with light smoke, game, fresh berries, floral notes, and black licorice. Seamless on the palate with a creamy mouthfeel and a perfect amount of rich, intense fruit. 80% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre. Red Willow, Olsen, and Alder Ridge vineyards.


Betz La Côte Rousse Syrah Red Mountain 2007 Dark purple. The nose is fairly closed at present with light roasted meat, flowers, and a hint of licorice. A scrumptious, seductive wine that is seemingly light on the palate but offers a lot of fruit and layers of intensity. 100% Syrah. Ciel du Cheval and Ranch at the End of the Road. $55

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