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, July 21, 2010

La Grand Tour De Walla Walla

We started out West on HY 12 at Waterbrook where we tasted a whole bunch of good quality inexpensive wine. We had to double back to Cougar Crest, where all the wines are good, we particularly liked the **2006 Estate Cabernet Franc. We smelled violets, pepper and spice and swallowed twice.  We swallowed the *2006 Estate Anniversary Cuvee after getting a whiff of it's mind-blowing nose. The 20% Petit Verdot in the cuvee was to our taste. Both the 2006 Estate Cab with it's real cassis character and the 2005 Estate Syrah with it's blackcurrant merited a swallow each. The highlight for me was the Petit Verdot which is an acquired taste I acquired from the Mike Januik's 2004 Petit Verdot. At Glencorrie, we "swallowed all of the wines, but had trouble swallowing the prices. Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas fame made the wines at Victor Cruz's Conon de Sol facility, but the wines were much more reserved than Fidelitas, more in the style of Jean Francois's Pepper Bridge wines. Good stuff, but where's the buzz.

 To the North at the airport - we visited the "Five Incubators" only to find the WBC bus got there about the same time. No matter, all of the Trio wines were excellent including the Sangio, Zin and I believe a Tempranillo. Diane Slattery and spouse are moving out of the incubator early. They are graduating to a new downtown venue near Forgeron. At Adament, Devin continues to adamantly turn out adamentine gems. About the 2007 Nalin Bordeaux style blend, my notes only say,"WOW - that's awesome." We also "swallowed" the 2006 Red Blend, a great buy at about $20.  Devin reminds us of some of the outstanding Boing wine club graduates making wine in the South Park area of Seattle such as Tim Narby at Note Bene. We skipped Buty because we had tasted their excellent reds and whites at Taste Washington

Down south, we tasted Pepper Bridge wines all of which were excellent and very European in style:
  •   **2006 Walla Walla Merlot - black cherry, beautiful and smooth  
  •  **2007 Walla Walla  Merlot - dirt, earth, big, concentrated, tannic, needs age - delish!  
  •    *2006 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon - sooo much black cherry! 
  •      2007 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon - "Oh, Man!", smooth but with some tanin,needs a little age 
  •      2007 Pepper Bridge Vineyard Blend - Merlot, Cab, Malbec, Petit Verdot - BIG, this is a mouthful 
  •  **2007 Seven Hills Blend - Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc - soft and spicey - Yum!
    Totally awesome wines. Don't forget swallows are an immediate response to the taste in the mouth  of yours truly, so some of the bigger wines don't have swallows but will be fabulous with time, eventuallythere will be six swallows or would it be twelve or more? We didn't visit so many other worthy wineries in this neck of the woods because of time constraints. However, we were able to taste Isenhower and and Dusted Valley at their Woodinville tasting rooms and you can. too. Lots of "swallows" there, too.

    Out East, a few blocks east of Rose on 2nd, that is, we found the two girls from Portland occupying their new digs in a storefront close to Forgeron. Their SuLei wines were even better this year - the 2009 WW Rousanne was light and bright, the 2007 Beet Red was more substantial and bigger, the 2008 WW Roller Girl Red, a Bordeaux style blend of equal parts Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, and and 11% Merlot was a delicious big swallow and a phenomenal bargain at $17. Definitely the the best value in Walla Walla. Roll on girls! Sadly, next door we found Yellow Hawk going out of business, selling their very good wines for a pittance. The Barbera was outstanding as it has been for a long time. At Forgeron, Jesse served up a long list of excellent wines. The *2007 Chardonnay was round soft and light with just a hint of European citrus crispness - definitely one swallow. The 2009 Marsanne was so typique - full, fruity and spicy. Among the reds, the 2005 Merlot was perfectly mellow and easy, the *2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - "a real wine"- lots of pepper, *2005 Syrah -m" I love the nose, a real meat wine, needs two years, 2006 Zinfandel - Kathy says, "My mother would even drink this wine", *NV Walldeaux Smithie - "That's good stuff!"  Walldeaux? A  hybrid of Walla Walla & Bordeaux and a great value @ $16. 

    Look for our comments on wines from non-Walla Walla wine regions and our spectacular night on the town.

    Monday, July 05, 2010

    Walla Walla Dreamin'

    Walla Walla dreamin' - sleep walking down Second or was it Rose or Main Street in the middle of the night, tasting the delicious 2008 WWV Roller Girl Red from SuLei, eating fabulous Burrito Lengue, the tongue Burrito from the Taco Truck, strawberries from Klicker's, possibly the best in Washington - so sweet. Walla Walla, a small banking center for an off-the-beaten-path farm community devoted to raising sweet onions and wheat, was transformed  into a wine and food Mecca in less than 20 years by pioneers such as Norm McKibbin who took the chance of converting his apple orchards into two of the best vineyards in the state - Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills. Speaking of sweet, we had a nice chat with Norm at Pepper Bridge winery. He is such an easygoing unassuming guy, just down home and obviously intelligent. He told the story of how he recruited and retained his outstanding winemaker, Jean Francois Pellet. Pellet has really settled in in Walla Walla, building himself a rather large vaguely Swiss looking home right in the middle of the vineyards. It turns out Jean Francois is no conservative Swiis banker type though, but a really cool adventurer who, if I remember correctly, has spent time in the Amazon and the Sahara. Lisa, the wine club manager is no slouch either. She has done her rounds on the race track! So the principals at Pepper Bridge show the same balance of excitement and order found at Cayuse, only on a much lower key. Speaking of low key, Debbie Hanson comes to mind. She and her husband come from long standing Walla Walla farm families and now own vineyards in the "Cailloux" right near Cayuse. In contrast to Christophe at Cayuse, she is an outstanding winemaker, but modest about her accomplishments. Cristophe, on the other hand, is a great winemaker and his own flamboyant self. The Norms and Deborahs and Christophes are the personalities that made Walla Walla what it is today. There are a huge number of excellent winemakers in Walla Walla today. There must be a hundred excellent wineries in Walla Walla. What a great venue for the third annual winebloggers conference #WBC10. For me, the highlights were the wine tasting events - wines from  Lake Chelan, Yakima Valley, Red Mountain, Australia, and Spain, even though I really would have preferred a Grand Tasting of Walla Walla wines. Fortunately we drove from Seattle so we were able to create our own Grand Tour of  excellent wineries not represented at the conference. To be continued...
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