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

Friday, June 25, 2010

Glencorrie - Washington DOT Crime

Glencorrie produces only 700 cases of wine, but they are some of the best wines in WallaWalla. This has been a well kept secret. Even Walla Wallans don't really know about it. This is great stuff made under the supervision of  Charlie Hoppes of Fedelitas fame. What is the crime? The new Hy 12 bypass, totally bypasses Glencorrie and a bunch of other outstanding Walla Walla wineries including Three Rivers, Reininger, and Cougar Crest. So your driving along Hwy. 12 from the Tri-Cities, you stop at Woodward Canyon and L'Ecole and then expect to see the other wonderful wineries west of Walla Walla. Instead you end up on the rnew improved Hwy 12 which by-passes all of the wineries on the old road. The road is blocked at the west end. There are side roads that could lead to the wineries, but no blue Hwy  winery signs from the DOT indicating  wineries. It is not clear whether the wineries are allowed to put out their own signs on the highway. This is criminal - a taking of private property rights from businesses that contribute to the Walla Walla and Washington State economies. These are some of the best wineries in Walla Walla and the DOT doesn't seem to want you to visit them. What a crime? YOU should make your way to them anyway despite the Department of Transportation. From downtown Walla Walla head toward highway 12 ,but before you get ther turn left onto W. Pine St which is the old highway 12 and just follow it out maybe 5 miles. You won't regret it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rare Walla Walla Value Wines

Well, 78,000 cases isn't exactly rare in Walla Walla, but wines priced at $12 and $15 are. Waterbrook winery produces some of the best values in Walla Walla. The 2008 PInot Gris has a round soft easy style with tropical fruit flavors - a great patio wine @ $12. The 2007 is a good dry quaff with hints of citrus, again for only $12. The reserve 2007 Chardonnay has a great stony, minerality at only $15. The 2009 Sangiovese Rose ($12) has a hint of orange zest in the nose followed by an amazingly dry wine in the mouth. Truly an amazing feat for an American Rose - competes with the best from Provence. The 2007 Riesling($12) at 1.4% sugar has an interesting sweet and sour character and the 2007 Reserve Cab has great black cherry flavors for only $22. Frankly the more expensive wines had little to offer at any price, but Waterbrook is a source of possibly the best values in Walla Walla

Saffron's Top Secret

No, not the ultra expensive spice, the restaurant in Walla Walla. For our pre-Wine Bloggers' Conference we went to Saffron the hole in the wall vaguely Spanish bistro with raciones and bigger plates beautifully prepared and a very interesting wine list which they apparently consider to be "top secret." When we asked for a copy so we could write about it we were informed that it is against their policy. Vinoterrorism, foodiesocialism, green communism, industrial spying?How to promote a really great wine list? Whatever! Excellent lamb tartare, baby octopus with ganbanzos, excellent roasted bluefish accompanied by 2009 Bleue Maison "Au Contraire" Chardonnay which despite the great name was good enough, but not great.  NV Prosecco Brut Ca'Vittoria was good , but not dry enough, like the 2008 Verdejo El Quintanal. 2008Rotie Cellars Syrah/Mourvedre, a good rich fairly big red. Good food, good wine, great service and a weirdly guarded wine list.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Best of Woodinville

Here is the grand finale of my Woodinville reporting. These are my "bests"
from the wines tasted. Of course, some of my favorite wineries would have turned
in many "bests," too - Hestia, Adam's Bench, Brian Carter, Januik, Novelty Hill, Baer,
DeLille, Gorman, Mark Ryan. Here are "the Bests":

Best Rieslings
  • Efeste
  • Pomom
Best White Blend
  • Isenhower "Snapdragon
Best Grenache
  • Chatter Creek
Best Sangiovese
  • Zefina
Best Barbera
  • Covington
Best Zinfandel
  • Two Vintners
Best Tempranillo
  • Pomum "Tinto"
Best Petite Verdot
  • Gifford Hinrlinger
Best Mourvedre
  • Robert Ramsay
Best Syrah
  • Two Vintners
  • Barrage
  • Pomum
Best Rhone Style Blend
  • Airfield "Mustang"
Best Malbec
  • Elsom
Best Petit Verdot
  • Gifford Hirlinger
Best Cabernet Franc
  • Barrage
Best Merlot
  • Gifford Hirlinger Estate
Best Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Dusted Valley "Walla Walla"
  • William Church "Bad Habit"
Best Bordeaux Style Blend
  • Pondera "Cuvee"
  • Airfield "Spitfire"
  • Des Voignes "The Groove"
Best Value Blend
  • Patterson "Big Daddy"
Best Value
  • William Church "Bad Habit"
Best Buy
  • Airfield "Bombshell"
Best Wine Names
  • Darby "Chaos"
  • William Church "Bad Habit"
Best Winery
  • Gifford Hirlinger
Best New Winery
  • Robert Ramsay
Best Winemaker
  • Javiar Alfonso
Best of Show
  • Pomum "Tinto"

Monday, June 07, 2010

Woodinville Passport IV- A Moveable Feast

Woodinville Passport was a moveable feast. So many outstanding wines, so many great winemakers, so much fun and pleasure. When I "have to" taste a hundred wines or more I always spit, well, almost always. Every once in a while I involuntarily swallow. Really, I can't help it, the wine makes me do it. Sometimes it is just so good that I swallow it. One swallow does not a summmer make, but one swallow tells me how much I love the wine and think it is fabulous. When I write notes I use a three star, or three swallow system. One star wines are wines I swallow, two star wines are wines I wish I could keep swallowing, three star wines are wines where I wish I could swallow the whole thing - slowly. So for me:

*     -  Excellent - Gold
**   -  Outstanding  - Double Gold
*** -  Extraordinary - Platinum
+    -   Best Buy + Good Value

There were an amazing number of swallows at Passport this year. Here are my faves organized by rating, but in no particular order within each category.


Under $30

 * 2007 Sparkman "Widerness" ($28)
 * 2006 Gifford Hirlinger "Vireo" ($23)
 * 2008 Des Voignes "The Groove" ($20)
 * 2005 Mathews Red (?)
 * 2008 Airfield "Bombshell" ($16) +
 * Darby "Chaos" ($28)
 * 2007 Davenport " R.H.D." ($24)
 * 2007 Davenport "Continuity" ($24)
 * NV Woodslake Due Ani ($17)+
 * 2007 Robert Ramsay "Mason's Red" ($19)+
 * 2007 Two Vintners "Lola" ($25)
** 2007 Elsom "Red" (?)
** 2008 Airfield "Mustang" - Rhone blend ($25)
** 2008 Airfield "Spitfire" ($25)
*** Patterson "Big Daddy" ($18) +

Other Reds
* 2007 Dusted Valley Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon ($28                                                                       * 2007 Elsom Cabernet Sauvignon (?)                                                                                                         * 2008 William Church "Bad Habit"  Cabernet Sauvignon ($17)+                     
* 2007 Two Vintners Syrah ($21)
* 2007 William Church Syrah ($28)
* 2006 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Merlot ($22)
* 2008 Covington Barbera ($29)
* 2005 Zefina Sangiovese($25)
* 2007 Gifford Hirlinger Petit Verdot ($26)
* 2007 Elsom Malbec (?)
* 2008 Chatter Creek Grenache ($18)+
* 2007 Chatter Creek Malbec ($24)
* 2007 Barrage Cabernet Franc (?)
* 2007 Barrage "Secret Weapon" Syrah (?)
* 2008 Two Vintners Zinfandel ($20)
*** 2007 Pomum "Tinto" Tempranillo ($25)+

Over $30
* 2005 Canon De Sol Meritage (?)
* 2007 Pondera Salon II (?)
* 2007 Des Voignes "Solea" ($30)
* 2007 Irlandes Reserve Syrah ($34)
* 2007 Covington Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)
* 2007 Irlandes Reserve "Karma" ($44)
* 2007 Sparkman "Kingpin" ($56)
** 2007 Pondera "Cuvee" (?)
** 2007 Robert Ramsay Mourvedre ($42)
***2007 Pomum Syrah ($36)
***2007 Robert Ramsay Cabernet Sauvignon ($38)                                                           


* 2007 Red Sky Semillon ($18)
* 2009 Efeste Riesling ($10)+
* 2008 William Church Viognier ($21)
* 2006 Pomum Riesling ($18)
** 2008 Isenhower "Snapdragon"  Roussanne blend ($19)+


* 2009 Covington "Josie" Rose ($15)+
* 2009 Patterson Rose ($18)


* 2008 Chatter Creek "Dry" Orange Muscat ($18)+
* 2009 Patterson Late Harvest Roussanne ($22)

Truly a movable feast! How sweet it is! These days we need some sweet endings. BTW, Northwest Totem's Late Harvest Viognier is consistently good and another sweet thing. Almost all of the wines that Hestia, Adam's Bench, Novelty Hill and Januik offer up almost always make me want to swallow. You will, too! Almost never a bad wine from these outstanding wineries. You can pretty much count on quality from them and the other wines rated here. The 2007 vintage is profound. You must stock up on these wines. The 2007 vintage was one of the best in Washington and many of these wineries have reduced their prices by about 15%. This year for the first time in a while, I could have used $20 or $25 as a cutting point rather than $30. Twenty dollars is a lot closer to the $14-$15 price point that most consumers use. Why were there so many swallows? Because 2007 was an almost perfect year in a "Perfect Climate,"  Here you have over 50 recommendations not counting at least another 25 from my top faves - Hestia, Adam's Bench, Novelty Hill and Januik (see Tour Des Favorites - 9/9/09 in the archives). There must be at least another 25 from wineries I didn't get to - DeLille, Betz, Brian Carter, NW Totem, Gorman, Mark Ryan, Darby, Baer, Edmonds, etc,. - so over 100 top wines from over 100 wineries. That's why the annual Wine Bloggers Conference should come to Seattle/Woodinville next year! Here is proof that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg for truly excellent wine. These are special wines. Vintages like this don't come along that often and the wines are affordable. So much pleasure, for relatively little expense. Okay, so maybe it's a little more than twice as much as you usually spend for wine, buy half as much and double your pleasure. I wish the Washington wine commission would pay this shill a commission :) Enjoy!
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