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, April 16, 2008

Woodinville Passport II

A stop at Northwest Totem Cellars yields good reds and the lovely Late Harvest Viognier. On the way north we fight our way into the Matthews parking lot and taste the very good old standby Claret. Up to Efeste where the large space of the winery houses a madhouse of wine tasters. The same suspects as last year were all good, but not quite as exciting. Perhaps the newness has worn off. The lines to get into Covington and Stevens were so long on Saturday that we postponed a visit to Sunday when the crowds were smaller perhaps due to the return of cold, cloudy, rainy weather. These wineries are now totally surrounded by suburban tract housing. I guess they are in good company with the wineries in the southern Medoc, and Chateau Haut Brion, surrounded by apartments. Just because the other kids who sit in the front of the class get "A's" doesn't mean you will just by moving to the front of the class. The 2007 Covington Viognier was clean, fresh and spirited. the 2005 Sangiovese and the 2006 Starr Syrah were quite good. The 2006 Rough House Red was billed as "A Tribute to U. S. Armed Forces", an unusual blend of politics. patriotism and grapes. There was nothing "young and rowdy" about this wine. It seemed more of a soft peace loving wimp lacking body armor and a well protected MRWP (did I get this acronym right?). Somebody's baby sent to war, it was, in fact, delicious. The Tuscan Red was discounted to $75 a magnum, still overpriced IMO. The food pairings were interesting and probably appealing to the crowds, but frankly I found it a distraction from tasting the wine. Chatter Creek turned out all of the usual culprits. The Orange Muscat was light and floral. Very appealing, but, IMO, inappropriately served first. The Pinot Gris was "dry!" The Grenache was light and fruity, almost a "Nouveau" style. The Blend 105 was well balanced with good body and fruit. Javiar Alfonso, winemaker at Pomum Cellars, took my advice and this year had tasting notes ready for each of his wines. I really appreciate this as it helps me to scratch my own notes and remember the wine. I hope it helps you, too. Both the 2005 Syrah and the 2005 Shya Red were bigger this year. The Syrah is really big and needs some age. The Shya Red was still medium bodied with lots of fruit in the nose and and beautiful fruit in the mouth. This is a Bordeaux style blend with all five of the usual Bordeaux grapes and five great vineyards - a true classic. When will we see a Tempranillo? A pleasant surprise at Ross Andrew - my old publishing partner, Bill Getz, pouring wine for Ross. Seems they are both FOBS - friends of Bob, Bob Betz, that is. So few degrees of separation! The 2007 "Meadow", an Oregon white melange of Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling had a huge panoply of aromas and flavors. Very dry, good with Asian food. The 2005 Red Table Wine was more to my gout. Beautiful, user friendly and dominated by Merlot fruitiness, despite the majority of Cab grapes, this beauty has a great pedigree from four outstanding Washington vineyards. This batch of wineries has become hard to find, buried as it is in the middle of housing. You feel like you will eventually get to a cul de sac, rather than a winery, as you follow the winding, quaintly named streets south. Eventually when to can go no farther you see the limos double parked and you know that you have arrived. To be continued...

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