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, July 20, 2009

Go East Young Woman - II

Winemaker Anna Schafer and her family migrated east from the Seattle area to found aMaurice winery out on Mill Creek Road near the excellent Abeja winery. We ran into her father Tom who was pouring the libations in the tasting room. Tom told us what an emotional experience it was to finally make wine from their very own estate grown grapes. The 2006 Chardonnay was round, fruity and balanced, but lacked that incredible stoniness and minerality of the first Chardonnay bottling. The 2006 Syrah is somewhat schizophrenic in style. Perhaps this is because of its parentage with grapes coming from Lewis and Boushay vineyards. It appears there is a step-father involved, too, 15% Grenache from Minnick Vineyard. This androgenous combination is smooth on the one hand and a little rough on the other. It will be interesting to see how it evolves. The 2006 Malbec is a beauty with a deep rich color and and great fruit. The 2006 Red Blend, named after artist Tsutakawa is a masterpiece - a totally awesome blend of the cinq cepages of Bordeaux - Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Frnac, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

Just up the hill is Walla Walla Vintners a consistent producer of reliable wines. The wines seem to be a little more tame than in the past. The Cab Franc used to be my fave, but this time around the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard Select took the prize. The '07 Sangio blended with 14% Syrah and 9% Malbec was not bad either.

Even farther east is Spring Valley Vineyard, but they apparently have decided that they are too far out, so they have opened a tasting room right in downtown next to Trey Busch's Sleight of Hand winery. Spring Valley manages to turn out more than 5,000 cases of wine and still maintain consistently excellent quality. Uriah is usually my favorite from this winery, but this time it was surpassed by the deep dark, purple 2006 Frederick, a blend of the Bordeaux five. The 2006 Muleskinner, 100% Merlot, had a slightly too acid finish for my taste and the 2006 Nina Lee left me unmoved as it usually does.The 2006 Derby, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon,had a wonderful nose with round berry fruit flavors - delish. Winemaker Serge Laville makes fabulous wines, but one wonders how Spring Valley will sell five thousand cases at a $50 price point.

Back at the airport, we visited a French Chateau. Le Chateau Winery has a very impressive "Trompe d'Oeil", faux facade spread over a particularly long wall of an airport building. What fun! Unforunately, the winemaker seems to have achieved the same effect with his wines. With chateau level prices, they just don't seem worth it. The 2007 Castle White, a Sauvignon Blanc /Semillon blend was not bad. The 06 Sangiovese had a green quality I found unappealing. The 2005 Castle Red was not really fit for a king with it's hot finish. One questions the provenance of the 2006 Red Masterpiece. Was it really a Titian or just a copy. The giveaway? A hot finish. I don't believe these are remediable defects that will go away with ageing - too much acid and astringent tannins. The whole facade is enough to make you believe that the Emperor is wearing clothes, but is he? Well, yes, in one instance. The 2006 Cabernet Franc was well balanced with good fruit. This time Cab Franc was King instead of Cab Sauv.

We ended our trip East with a stop at Sygygy where Zack, a fellow New Yorker, still has all his astray bodies lined up in a straight line even though he no longer sell the thongs to put on those bodies. The three reds we tasted were all excellent with good fruit and lively interesting flavor profiles. The 2006 Columbia Valley Red, a blend of 56% Syrah, 20% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Malbec was very smooth , friendly, interesting and a good value at $24.

Next up we go south to visit some old friends and two girls from Portland.

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