Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Parker and Rovani Discover Washington Wines

Robert Parker discovered Washington's "First Growths", Leonetti and Quilceda Creek, quite some time ago, but only recently have he and his sidekick, Pierre Rovani, discovered more of the 400 some odd wineries in Washington. Until recently they consistently complained about the overall quality of Washington wine. Admittedly there is some real swill made in Washington, but this is no different than any other wine region - California, France, Australia, you name it.

Parker et al. gave 2002 and 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet ratings of 100 which may help put Washington on the international wine map. The Quilceda Creek Cab is outstandingly delicious, but once it received the 100 rating, it overnight became a superstar. Wine ratings can be a useful way to communicate about the quality of a wine, but have two disadvantages. First, they create the illusion of objectivity, when in fact, the rating is just an objectification of one person's subjective experience. And ratings create the desire for highly rated wines to the detriment of excellent wines rated mere 80s or 70s. Kind of like being told you are a mere B or C student. I mean would you drink a "B" or "C" wine? How about a very good wine with a good bouquet, well balanced, with good fruit flavors, a hint of tannin, and a good finish for less than fifteen dollars?

In my opinion, Rovani's list is too biased toward "cult" wines that are astronomically expensive or simply unavailable except for a lucky few. He lists tasting notes for ten wines from Cayuse Winery which are available exclusively to a closed mailing list. Why list wines that are basically unavailable? To create envy and mimetic desire? Perhaps that is really what wine is about these days. By the way, if you want to get on a mailing list that is still open, go to
www.longshadows.com where you can hope to buy highly-rated Chester-Kidder, Feather,Pedestal, Piroette, Poet's Leap, and Sequel for $55 a bottle or so.

At least Rovani has discovered some of the other wonderful wineries in Washington. I told you about DeLille, Januik, and Novelty Hill first, along with Andrew Will, Betz, Northstar, Pepper Bridge, Reininger, Spring Valley, Syncline, Woodward Canyon, Walla Walla Vintners and L'Ecole. Also, Abeja, Apex, Barnard Griffin, Beresan, Buty, Bergevin, Columbia Crest, Cougar Crest, K Vintners, and Fidelitas. But what happened to McCrea. Rovani seems to have only liked the Counoise which is kind of a thin mean little wine. He should be "taken aback" by his "inability to recommend all of McCrea's other wines" which are very good to excellent. He must have had palette fatigue or a bad hair day or something.

And where are Basel Cellars, Dunham, Syzygy, Isenhauer, Rulo, Graeagle, Dusted Valley,Three Rivers, Two Mountains, Terra Blanca, Yakima Cellars, Boudreax, Andrake, OS, Brian Carter, Cadence and Fall Line among many others? He must've been dreamin' about California. California may be the Godzilla of American wine, but Washington is no Bambi. After California, Washington is the largest producer of quality wines in the United States with over 400 wineries 350 growers, and over 7.5 million cases of wine produced in 2005. Washington wines strike the perfect balance between new and old world styles. There are at least fifty wineries in Washington producing excellent wine. Come on! Time to start dreamin' Washington!

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