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
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Sean P. Sullivan

2019 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

Fresh Sheet June 27th 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Seattleites, tune in to KKNW 1150AM at 8am Pacific today when I'll be talking Washington wine along with Kerry Shiels of Cote Bonneville on Table Talk.

Today’s Fresh Sheet - new and recent wine releases - includes wines from Syncline Wine Cellars, McKinley Springs, Wind Rose Cellars, Abacela, Pamplin Family Winery, Erath, and Owen Roe.

Syncline Wine Cellars
The latest releases from Syncline Wine Cellars mark some significant evolutions for this Columbia Gorge winery. Long relegated to wine club members, the winery has released small amounts of its ‘Scintillation’ sparkling wines to local markets. Hailing from Celilo Vineyard, these are beautiful bottles of bubbly. Additionally, several of the 2010 reds below were partially fermented in concrete cubes – the first time these have been used at the winery. Paired with the bright acidity of the 2010 vintage, this gives these wines an incredibly compelling freshness and purity, with the McKinley Springs Syrah and Horse Heaven Hills Mourvèdre some of my favorite releases from the winery to date.

Read previous posts on Syncline Wine Cellars here.

Scintillation Rosé Columbia Gorge 2010 $35

(Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with floral notes, strawberry, white grapefruit and brioche. The palate is chock full of white grapefruit flavors and bright acidity. A thoroughly delicious and appropriately named sparkler. 12.0% alcohol. Dosage 9g/L. 35 cases produced.

Scintillation Brut Blanc de Blanc Columbia Gorge 2009 $40

(Excellent) A lightly aromatic, appealing wine with brioche, green apple, and spice. The palate has a slightly broader feel than its rosé counterpart with tart fruit flavors. 100% Chardonnay. Celilo Vineyard (1981 planting). Fermented in neutral barrels with native yeast. Bottled for two years en tirage. Disgorged January 2012. Dosage 5g/L. 12.0% alcohol. 200 cases produced.

Syncline Wine Cellars Roussanne McKinley Springs Vineyards Horse Heaven Hills 2010 $20

(Excellent) An aromatically compelling, complex wine with spice, pear, and floral notes. The palate is textured and medium bodied, full of pear flavors. 100% Roussanne. Whole cluster pressed into older French oak barrels with native yeast fermentation. No malolactic fermentation. 132 cases produced.

Syncline Wine Cellars Rosé Columbia Valley 2011 $18

(Good) A very pretty pale salmon colored. A lightly aromatic wine with strawberry, spice, and grapefruit notes. The palate is tart and crisp full of citrus flavors. 35% Cinsault, 32% Mourvèdre, 21% Grenache, 7% Counoise, 5% Carignan. Milbrandt, McKinley Springs, Coyote Canyon, Alder Ridge, Ciel du Cheval, and Heart of the Hill. Whole cluster pressed, fermented and aged in stainless steel. No malolactic fermentation. 13.8% alcohol. 630 cases produced. Recommended.
Syncline Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Washington State 2010 $30

(Good/Excellent) Pale ruby. Aromatics draw you into the glass with strawberry, cherry, light spices, and a foresty note. On the palate, an extremely pretty, nuanced wine with bright acid and strawberry and cherry flavors. Should age beautifully in the cellar and is, once again, Washington’s flagship bottling of Pinot Noir. 100% Pinot Noir. Celilo (51%) and Underwood Mountain vineyards. Aged 11 months in French oak (20% new). 175 cases produced.

Syncline Wine Cellars Subduction Red Red Wine Columbia Valley 2010 $20

(Good/Excellent) An aromatically appealing wine with raspberries, cherry, white pepper, and herbal notes. The palate is tart and textured with fresh, vibrant fruit flavors with a tremendous energy backed by crisp acidity. Just a baby now, give this one some time to open up or a few months in the cellar with a suggested serving temperature of 62 degrees. 31% Mourvèdre, 25% Syrah, 21% Grenache, 12% Cinsault, 7% Carignan, and 4% Counoise. Aged 11 months in French oak (5-10% new) and concrete. 14.14% alcohol. 1,600 cases produced.

Syncline Wine Cellars Mourvèdre Horse Heaven Hills 2010 $30

(Excellent/Exceptional) Wound up very tightly right now with dark cherry flavors, light herbal notes, savory notes, and sauvage. The palate is incredibly textured and restrained with tart fruit flavors and a real sense of vibrancy. This is a wine that will only get better with a few years in the cellar and will fit in perfectly at the dinner table. 100% Mourvèdre. Coyote Canyon (65%) and Alder Ridge vineyards. Fermented and aged 16 months in concrete (50%) and neutral French oak. 350 cases produced.

Syncline Wine Cellars McKinley Springs Syrah Horse Heaven Hills 2010 $30

(Excellent/Exceptional) Locked up tightly right now, this is a moderately aromatic wine with pure dark fruit, light floral notes, and a light peppery top note. The fruit flavors here are incredibly pure with tart, vibrant acidity. Among the more exciting wines I have had this year and a wine that will lay down beautifully in the cellar for years to come. 100% Syrah. Fermented in concrete (80%) and open top fermenters. Aged 16 months in neutral French oak. 500 cases produced.

McKinley Springs

McKinley Springs had its beginnings in 1980 when Louise and Bob Andrews first planted grapes on their farm. Six years later three of their children and their spouses also became involved in the business, founding Andrews and Rowell. In 2002, the families established McKinley Springs Winery using estate grapes for their wines.

Located in the Horse Heaven Hills, McKinley Springs is one of the larger vineyards in the state with 20 different varieties planted over 2,000 acres. Grapes go to 25 different wineries large and small.

At McKinley Springs Winery, Rob Andrew manages the vineyard while Doug Rowell makes the wines. Of note, all of the McKinley Springs wines are priced below $25. Of the wines sampled here, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon contains fruit from the original 1980 block.

McKinley Springs produces 5,000 cases annually.

McKinley Springs Viognier Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $14

(Decent/Good) A moderately aromatic wine with toasty spice and apricot. The palate is rich and medium bodied, with the alcohol bleeding through on the finish. 100% Viognier. Aged sur lies in stainless steel. 15.1% alcohol. 461 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

McKinley Springs Bombing Red Red Table Wine Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $12

(Decent) A moderately aromatic wine with blueberries, smoke, cherries, and spice. The palate is on the lighter side of medium bodied, compact with tart fruit flavors. 52% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot. Aged 10 months in neutral oak. 14.6% alcohol. 1,726 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

McKinley Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills 2009 $22

(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with high toned notes of cherry, spice, and flowers. The palate is medium bodied with cherry flavors, dusty tannins, and a wood spice filled finish. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot. Aged 22 months in French (75%) and American oak (40% new). 14.6% alcohol. 805 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Wind Rose Cellars

There are scores of Washington wineries dedicated to the production of Bordeaux and Rhone-style wines. Wineries dedicated to Italian varieties in Washington, like Sequim’s Wind Rose Cellars, are considerably fewer.

Wind Rose was founded by David Volmut and his wife Jennifer States in 2009 (read a previous post about the winery here). The latest releases from the winery contain seldom seen single vineyard offerings of Barbera (Red Heaven on Red Mountain) and Nebbiolo (24K on the Wahluke Slope). All of the wines are priced $25 and under making for easy exploration without breaking the budget.

Wind Rose Cellars Rosado Dry Rose Washington State 2011 $12

(Decent) Medium cherry colored. A lightly aromatic wine with bubblegum, strawberry and sour cherry. The palate is medium bodied with abundant tart cherry flavors. 60% Barbera, 20% Primitivo, and 20% Dolcetto. 13% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Wind Rose Cellars Barbera Red Heaven Vineyard Red Mountain 2009 $25

(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with fresh cherries, raspberries, and spice. The palate is tart, fresh, and fruit-filled with a lingering finish. Aged 22 months in French oak. 14.5% alcohol. Recommended

Wind Rose Cellars Nebbiolo Red Wine 24 K Vineyard Wahluke Slope 2009 $25

(Decent) Pale ruby. An aromatically intriguing wine with strawberry, leather, peppermint, and spice. The palate is dry and full of sour cherry and cranberry flavors with firm tannins. 85% Nebbiolo, 15% Barbera. 24K Vineyard. Aged 22 months in new French oak. 14.2% alcohol. 85 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Abacela – named after an archaic Iberian Peninsula verb that translates “to plant a grape vine” - is located in southern Oregon in the Umpqua Valley. The winery was founded by Earl and Hilda Jones, who dedicated it to the production of Tempranillo.

Many moons ago, Earl Jones developed a fondness of the wines of Ribera del Duero and Rioja, finding that these wines held up better to spicy meats than Italian or French fare. After researching where in the country Tempranillo might grow best, Jones and his wife relocated from Pensacola, Florida to southern Oregon.

The Joneses planted their first Tempranillo vines in 1995. Since that time their plantings have grown to 77 acres and include 20 different varieties. Notably, this is their 11th vintage of Albariño.

Abacela Estate Grown Albariño Umpqua Valley Oregon 2010 $18

(Good/Excellent) An extremely aromatically appealing wine with spice, lime, floral notes, and savory notes. The palate is tart and austere, bringing a big blast of mouthwatering acidity and green apple flavors. 100% Albariño. Aged in stainless steel. 13.1% alcohol. TA 10.8g/L. 1,259 cases produced.

Abacela Estate Grown Albariño Umpqua Valley 2011 $18

(Good) A moderately aromatic wine with melon and peach along with floral and citrus notes. The palate is tart and fleshy with a crisp finish. 100% Albarino. Fault Line Vineyards. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 12.9% alcohol. TA 11.2g/L. 1,829 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Abacela Tempranillo Umpqua Valley 2009 $21

(Good) Pale ruby. A lightly aromatic wine with strawberry, leather, and spice. The palate is medium bodied with soft red fruit and chalky tannins. Pair this one with some food to bring out its best. Fault Line, McCorquodale, and Delfino vineyards. Aged in French (93%) and American oak (21% new). 13.9% alcohol. 2,260 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.


Pamplin Family Winery
was one of my big surprises from last year (read previous posts on the winery here). Here winemaker Robert Henry crafts another excellent bottle using fruit from Canoe Ridge and Seven Hills vineyards.

Pamplin Family Winery JRG Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $30

(Excellent) An aromatically appealing, distinct wine with dark raspberries, blueberries, and graphite. The palate is rich and broad, full of ripe dark fruit flavors and soft tannins with restrained use of new oak. Occasionally shows some heat. 75% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot, and 10% Malbec. Canoe Ridge (Merlot) and Seven Hills vineyards. Aged 20 months in French oak (22% new). 14.9% alcohol. 219 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

This well-priced Pinot Noir from Erath is in the midst of a vintage change but it’s worth snapping up a bottle of the 2009 vintage if you see it on the shelves. Look for a review of the 2010 vintage in a subsequent post.

Erath Pinot Noir Oregon 2009 $20

(Good) An aromatically appealing wine with strawberries, cranberries, peppermint, and a light earthiness. Broadens out and expands across the palate with soft fruit flavors and supple tannins. A very enjoyable, representative bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir at a superb price. 100% Pinot Noir. Aged in French oak (25% new). 13.5% alcohol. Recommended

Oregon saw its fair share of difficulties in the 2010 vintage, with a cool growing season followed by rain close to harvest and the problems with migratory birds. No matter here for producer Owen Roe who shows with the 2010 “The Kilmore” Pinot Noir that great things can come from challenging circumstances.

Owen Roe Pinot Noir “The Kilmore” Yamhill-Carlton 2010 $42

(Excellent) Pulls you into the glass with strawberry, cherry, and forest floor aromas. The palate is loaded with plump, ripe red fruit flavors and beautifully refined tannins. A an absolutely gorgeous wine and a compelling expression of the 2010 vintage. 100% Pinot Noir. Lenne and Merriman vineyards. Aged in French oak (28% one year, the rest older). 988 cases produced.

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