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

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Prosser - East Yakima Valley Wineries

The Prosser area between Yakima to the west and Tri-Cities to the east, is home to one of the oldest wineries in Washington, Hinzerling Winery, founded by Washington wine pioneer, Mike Wallace. Hinzerling was initially known for Riesling and Gewurztraminer, then sweet dessert wines and now Port. Chinook Winery is here, too, producing very good wines at very good prices. If you read this blog regularly you know how much we love their Rose of Cabernet Franc. Hogue is another Washington wine pioneer founded by Gary and Mike Hogue in the 1970s. Alexandria Nicole is a newer winery making fine wines. Manchego Real had to change its name from the more recognizable Don Quixote Wines because of a legal dispute. They make good enough wines at very good prices. Willow Crest is an old favorite. Winemaker and owner, Dave Minick, makes excellent Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and excellent Cabernet Franc. He also makes wine for Piety Flats. Grapes from his extensive vineyards is also go into Sandidge Minick Vinevard Syrah.

Sandidge has opened a new tasting room at a “wine mall” just east of Prosser. They are making excellent wine, especially Syrah. Here is another great opportunity for terroiristes – a chance to compare syrah from three great vineyards - Minick, Klingele, and Boushay. These three wines are beautiful in their own distinctive low keyed way. The Boushay is the most subtle of the three - smooth , seemless, and velvety. The Klingele is spicier, and the Minick has more backbone. These wines are so reasonably priced – Boushay $16, Minick $18, Klingele $20 – that you really must try them . If you join the wine club you get a discount of 20 or 25% reducing the price to close to $12 a bottle. Why not order a mixed case ( no, I am not on commission). Apart from Canon de Sol, these may be the best Syrahs from the Yakima Valley. Lighter in style than Walla Walla Syrah and even Syrah made from Yakima Valley grapes by Walla Walla wineries, this is a more refined style, less sauvage (wild) and in-your-face than Walla Walla wines.

Sandwiched between Sandidge and Kestrel is Cowen Vineyards. This vineyard has been growing grapes for a number of years but only recently opened their tasting room. The wine are good and easy and so are the prices. The 2005 Gewurz had nice classic nose, the Rose and Merlot were good and the 2003 Tartan Red is a good table wine. The 2003 Cab Franc had a somewhat hot finish, but the 2003 Cab Sauvignon was quite nice with soft fruit, light to medium body, and vanilla and berry flavors. If you are a home wine maker you can buy grapes from Cowen for 50 cents a pound or $1000 a ton.

Kestrel is on a roll! All the Kestrel wines are good. Of the regular bottlings we liked the 2003 Syrah best. Of the premium wines, we particularly liked the 2002 Old Vine Merlot and the 2003 Co-ferment Syrah. The coferment had 8% Viognier added during fermentation much in the style of a Cotes Rotie. Kestrel won several medals this summer at the Northwest Wine Festival including the expensive, but very good, 2002 Raptor Red and the reasonably priced and well named Lady in Red red table wine.

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