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

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Secret Of The Palouse Of Vashon

OK, so you figured you'd outfox me and you looked up Palouse on the net and you found that it is a town of 1015 at the intersection of State Route 27 and the Palouse River just north of Lewiston, Clarkston, Pullman and Moscow almost on the Idaho/Washington border. The railroad runs through it and it is the center of the Palouse rolling hills of wheat. No wineries here, though! What's Palouse got to do with Vashon? That's what I asked Linda and George Kirkish of Palouse Winery? The answer - nothing! George liked the name. He liked the way it rolls off your tongue, kind of the way the Palouse wheat fields roll across the horizon, the way the "P' on the winery label rolls in an italicized French Medieval-like font across the label. He likes soft curves - smooth, round and voluptuous! Maybe he figured he would outflank the Red Mountain boys(and girls), even outflank Walla Walla. So Palouse Winery is on Vashon. What's Andrew Will got to do with Vashon, either?

George and Linda got started the way so many Washington wineries start, they had winemaker friends who encouraged them to try it and they had a good source of grapes from their friend Paul Porteus who owns the twenty-five year old Porteus Vineyard. This year George & Linda made 100 cases, next year it will be 750 , the year after 1500. George says he wants to stay under 2500 cases. They are so low key that there is no winery sign by their house, only a sign for Vashon Air (George's day job) and three wine barrels out front. What looks like a garage is the winery, so that must qualify them as real garagistes. They have an ideal location for a tasting room only half a mile from the ferry, but they seem to have had no trouble selling a hundred cases to friends and local retailers and a few restaurants. Right now, the only way to buy their wine is to make an appointment or get on their mailing list. In the future, being on the mailing list may be the only way to get Palouse wine. They may deny it to themselves and others, but you can tell they are going to go for the gold. It won't be long until Vashon Air becomes George's "night" job. Palouse Winery is certainly no fly-by-night outfit, though they did start out making wine in a hanger. Don't let me say, I told you so, again.

Al and I tasted three wines. The 2004 Eclipse (about $42) was a delicious, well made, well structured Bordeaux style blend with great fruit and lots of backbone. Despite the fact that it is predominately Cab Sauv, the Merlot, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot stand out. This wine has great fruit, is drinkable now, and will probably improve over the next few years. The six per cent Petit Verdot lifts this wine above the ordinary giving it a little zest and jazz that I felt was lacking in the 2004 Fusion Cab/Merlot. The standout wine is the big black monster 2004 Black Pearl Petite Syrah($60). Deep dark purple, you know you will plunge into something deep and mysterious. Big black plum flavors are followed by spice and black pepper. Big as this wine is, it is not in-your-face or overwhelming. It actually reminds me of George, a big guy with a big laugh, but not overwhelming. Maybe, this is the dark wine that Rumi was longing for. Anyway, don't be caught longing for Palouse wines when they are no longer available. Get on their mailing list now! Tel: 206-567-4994.

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