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, October 11, 2006

The Incredible Lightness of Some West Yakima Valley Wines

Well, not all Yakima wines are light, but the ones we tasted our first evening were. Just ten minutes east of Yakima we visited Sagelands, Massett, and Piety Flats. All of their wines were made in an easy fruity style and for the most part, have easy prices.

At Sagelands, French winemaker, Frederique Spencer, has a very distinctive signature. For example, she made a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from Doval Vineyard that definitely tasted like a Bordeaux, but was so fruity I could have mistaken it for a Merlot, although my wife immediately spotted it as a Cab. It definitely tastes like a well made inexpensive Bordeaux. We also liked the 04 Malbec. Unfortunately, these two wines are only available at the winery. Fortunately, the 2003 Four Corners Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are widely available at supermarkets. Unfortunately, the refreshing 2005 Chardonnay and Merlot Rose are, also, only available at the winery. Sagelands is a medium sized winery with a tasteful tasting room. It has a nice feel and you would never guess that it is owned by alcohol conglomerate Deageo.

In contrast, Massett Winery, is a real Mom and Pop operation run entirely by the owners, Greg and Micaella Massett. Greg makes only 1800 cases of wine and everything is done by hand. He likes to emphasize the fruit and tends to go light on the oak. Most of the wines are excellent. We especially liked the 2004 Reserve Syrah which actually tastes like fresh free run juice straight out of the vat. The 2004 Basket Press Syrah has a little more backbone which I actually prefer. The 2004 Petit Sirah is one of only four wines made from this grape in the state. While nowhere near the monster produced by Palouse, this Petit Sirah has good fruit and spice. The 2004 Sandra Jane is a Bordeaux style blend named after Greg's mother. Unfortunately, these wines are only available at the winery.

Piety Flat’s wines are made for them by Dave Minick of Willow Crest Vineyards. They are made in an easy, simple, clean style similar to Dave’s Willow Crest Pinot Gris. The Reds are too light for my taste, but the whites are fresh and light – delightful summer wines. We especially liked the non-oaked 2004 Chardonnay and the 2005 Pinot Grigio /Chardonnay combination which has a very nice slightly tangy twist at the end. The 2005 Riesling is pleasantly clean, fresh and simple, while the 2005 Chenin Blanc is better than any Vouvray I’ve ever had.

Delightful, simple, clean easy wines at easy prices. One of the many reasons you need to visit wineries yourself. Yakima is less than a three hour drive from Seattle, so you have no excuse.

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