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

Monday, March 12, 2007

Walla Walla Comes To Seattle

Walla Walla winemakers arrived in Seattle in force, reinforcing the Walla Walla Wine Alliance, the best local wine marketing group in the state. Taste Walla Walla was held at the Columbia Tower Club, a dramatic venue for some of the state's most dramatic wines. More than fifty Walla Walla wineries put in an appearance. Many top Walla Walla winemakers were there pouring and talking about their wines including the likes of Trey Busch from Basel Cellars and Brett Isenhauer from Isenhauer Cellars. With more than fifty wineries present and many more wines poured it was impossible to taste everything so several wineries got a free pass. Check future posts for a list of these reliable wineries. Look for a list of "new" Walla Walla wineries as well as posts about old favorites. Many of the wines were from the 2004 vintage which suffered a severe frost on January 4th wiping out a significant portion of the Walla Walla harvest. This didn't stop the resourceful Walla Walla vintners who managed to scrounge grapes from all over the state and make excellent Columbia Valley wines.

My favorite wine of the whole tasting was a rose. Now, I am not normally partial to pinks, but Brett Isenhauer made the Best Rose I've ever tasted including many outstanding Roses from Provence. The 2006 Horse Heaven Hills Rose is made from 42% Counoise, 41% Mourvedre and 17% Grenache. Rhone Rangers move over! Steely dry, with surprising hints of tannin. Brett told me that each varietal was fermented for two days on the skins producing that very rare hint of tannin in a Rose. The malolactic fermentation was blocked to retain acidity. Brett didn't want to make just another sweet rose and he didn't. In the best experimental tradition of Northwest winemakers, Brett has crafted an exciting cutting edge wine that will radically alter your idea of rose. Unfortunately, this limited production wine is only available at the winery, so hop in your plane and fly on over to Walla Walla or alternatively take a commercial flight or drive. You could just take my word for it and order a case from Brett and have in shipped. Brett charges $17 a bottle at the winery. The Best Red by far was the 2004 Uriah from Spring Valley Vineyard made by French winemaker Serge Laville who blended 60% Merlot, 31% Cab Franc, 5% Cab Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot to make a wine that seems like a cross between the backbone of a French Bordeaux and the ripe fruit of an American wine. The nose has a hint of Mocha which I usually don't like, but this time it was very pleasing. Complex fruit flavors hang on the firm structure of soft tannins producing a delicious, thoroughly pleasing wine. The Best White was 2005 Saviah Stillwater Creek Vineyard Chardonnay. Dry and crisp with a certain minerality, this French style white reminded me of an excellent Macon-Villages or Pouilly-Fuisse. The distinctive terroir of the Alborg family's Stillwater Vineyard was so strong that you could easily imagine that you were drinking Novelty Hill or Januik Chardonnay. To be continued...

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