Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
Subscribe to RSS
Back to Cheers To You

Posts Tagged ‘Eleven Winery’

Eleven at Eleven

Friday, August 29th, 2014

It’s a special weekend for Eleven Winery, they turn 11 and there are several ways to help them celebrate!

The garagiste and volunteers during crush.

Matt Albee, a true garagiste,  first started the Bainbridge Island winery in 2003 in the garage. This humble beginning has blossomed into the same garage winery but with lots more equipment, and two tasting rooms, one on Bainbridge and one in Poulsbo.

This weekend’s celebrations include  a special 11th Anniversary commemorative wine glass for $5, bottle discounts on their 2011 vintage wines, and reserve tastings for $11.

This is also your last chance to visit the Poulsbo Tasting Room during the Great Poulsbo Sidewalk Sale on August 29th and 30th. After several years in Poulsbo, Albee has decided to refocus efforts on the winery location. There will be huge discounts on wine merchandise but not the wine.

With this closing, the winery hours and events will be expanded. The winery is located off 305 at 7671 NE Day Road. The winery tasting room will be open every Saturday and Sunday from 12-5 p.m. and other fun wine occasions for club members.

You can also order off their website but it won’t be near as much fun as being there!


2013 Harvest: Reports from the field week two

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Brynn writes:

It’s been a busy last few weeks for our area winemakers. Here’s the latest I’ve heard from a few of them (or been able to gather from their Facebook posts). (To see last week’s update click here).

Amelia Wynn Winery (Email from winemaker Paul Bianchi, Sept. 25):

This is the fourth road trip for grapes as I write from Yakima on the way to Horse Heaven Hills for Grenache and then on to Walla Walla for Syrah. Back at the winery Sauv Blanc, Chard, Viognier, Cab Franc Rose, Merlot, Sangiovese Rose, and two clones of Merlot are happily fermenting. We will most likely return tomorrow. More to come.

Email from Sept. 26: Picked up 3,000 lbs Grenache at the Six Prong Vineyard near Alderdale then drove on to Walla Walla where we are getting 2 tons of Syrah which was picked yesterday afternoon to avoid the rains.

Eleven Winery (From winemaker Matt Albee’s Facebook post Sept. 20):

Crushed Elephant Mountain Syrah today — it has amazing flavors this year, the best I’ve tasted.

Fletcher Bay Winery (From the Facebook page, Sept. 25):

Crushed Semillion grapes on Tuesday.

Perennial Vintners (From winemaker Mike Lempriere’s Facebook post Sept. 21):

It’s that time! We harvested, crushed and pressed Siegerrebe last week and it’s bubbling away. Lemberger from Red Mountain AVA was crushed this week and is on the skins. We harvested Madeleine Angevine yesterday and will crush it today, along with an experimental run of Zwiegelt. Muller Thurgau is still needs a bit of time/heat, as does the Melon de Bourgogne.

Rolling Bay Winery (Email from winemaker Alphonse de Klerk, Sept. 22):

Harvest has started for Rolling Bay Winery. Thursday we took in 3.5 tons of Chardonnay grapes from Upland Vineyardson Snipes Mountain. I’m showing my age but I have been sourcing from the Newhouse family since 1992. There is a link to some info on my Facebook page about Snipes Mountain. We crushed our Chardonnay on Friday and finished up with about 500 gallons. At this point we are cold settling the juice before we rack off and inoculate with our yeast.

Email from Sept. 24: Leaving this morning to pick up Syrah and Merlot.


2013 Harvest: Reports from the field

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

 

Cab Franc

Brynn writes:

Every year around this time I see posts on Facebook and email updates from our local winemakers. Many of them are making regular trips to Eastern Washington to harvest grapes and check the conditions of their vineyard blocks to determine the best time to pull the clusters from the vines.

I’ve always wanted to get a report from them about how harvest is going and to hear their initial projections about the vintage, but never want to bother them since I know they’re busy and running on minimal sleep. This year I took a chance and sent an email to the winemakers of Bainbridge Island (Amelia Wynn Winery, Eagle Harbor Wine Company, Eleven Winery, Fletcher Bay Winery, Rolling Bay Winery) and Mosquito Fleet Winery in Belfair to see if they’d be interested in sending me email updates of how things are going in the field.

I haven’t heard back from everyone, but a number of the winemakers wrote back almost immediately — some with reports from the field, others saying they would be sending me updates as harvest went along. My plan is to compose periodic blog posts that includes their reports from the field — either as a direct copy and paste from what they sent me, or my summary of what they have to say.

I was surprised to hear that a number of white grapes have been harvested and are already back on the peninsula fermenting. Matt Albee, winemaker for Eleven Winery, said his Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio grapes were about two weeks ahead of schedule this year.

Below is a list of the wineries I’ve heard back from and quick summaries of how things are going. As you’ll see, Amelia Wynn winemaker Paul Bianchi has supplied a great report from the field. I’ve copied and pasted his emails so you can see the life of the local winemaker around this time of year.

Amelia Wynn (Email from winemaker Paul Bianchi sent Sept. 17):

Timing is everything at harvest and plans take shape over weeks. When it’s time to pull the trigger the vintner puts the vineyard on notice for an agreed upon harvest date.

The players are: vineyard owner, vineyard manager (if not the owner), picking crew being paid by the pound, the custom crush facility (if used) and most importantly the truck rental agency because you need a big truck if you’re hauling more than 5,000 lbs.

This Sunday (Sept. 15) in Walla Walla it was 95 degrees with 20 mph drying winds. Not a good day for grapes. So the green light was given to pick on Tuesday (Sept. 16). Predicted light showers turned out to be heavier than anticipated, complicating the day.

All grape bins were covered and because the crush schedule got screwed up, our Merlot was to be destemmed around 11 p.m., making for a very long day for the crush crew. We have to be at Artifex at 8 a.m. Wednesday (Sept. 18) to pick up the destemmed grapes and then drive west to Prosser to press the Cab Franc and Viognier. The latter I need to pick up at the Elerding vineyard.

The pick date for the Viognier was established last week and all players were put in motion. The Cab Franc was given a green light Sept. 16 to be picked on the same day as the Viognier.  The intent is to make a 500 mile truck rental, two nights on the road, and use of commercial equipment as efficient as possible.

What has gone down toward the end of the 2013 harvest is: A record-setting hot summer has skidded to a slow walk with a cooling trend that is in fact a relief because the  grape varieties were rippening too close together as a result of the high temperatures. With a cooling period the wineries can pace the harvest dates so work in the winery is not chaotic.

When I return to the island tomorrow night (Sept. 18), I will have the following grapes fermenting or preparing to ferment:  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab Franc Rose, Viognier and two clones of Merlot from Walla Walla.

Here’s a summary of what winemaker Paul Bianchi’s days looked like Monday/Tuesday:

  • Monday: catching the 8:10 p.m. ferry and arriving in Prosser at midnight, staying at the Best Western.
  • In the morning dropping off bins for Cab Franc, which will be picked and pressed on Wednesday (Sept. 18) for a Rosé. Also dropped off two 275 gal juice totes where the cab franc will be pressed as well as 4,000 lbs of Viognier.
  • Drove on to Walla Walla where we will pick up 3 tons of Merlot and have destemmed at Artifex, a custom crush facility.
  • Sept. 18 back on the road to Prosser where we will pick up 2 tons of Viognier at Elerding vineyard and then to Kestral winery where the Cab Franc and Viognier will be slowly pressed in a membrane press.

Eleven Winery (Email summary from winemaker Matt Albee, sent Sept. 16):

I have Sauv Blanc and Pinot Grigio fermenting, and am leaving tonight (Sept. 16) to pick Viognier tomorrow (Sept. 17); Roussanne/Marsanne and Syrah on Thursday (Sept. 19).

The very hot summer perhaps favors later-ripening varieties like Cabs and Mourvedre, but so far everything is good quality!

We picked Sauvignon Blanc on Aug. 29, Pinot Grigio on Sept. 9 (originally scheduled for Sept. 4, but pushed back due to forecast of rain, which ended up not hitting our vineyard). This week we will see if last week’s extreme heat had much impact. There seems to have been a lot of rain for September in Eastern WA, but my sources have largely been spared (whew!).

Fletcher Bay Winery (Email from winemaker Jim Wilford, sent Sept. 16):

My plans for harvest this year include: Tara Rouge ( Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon), a Walla Walla Cab Sauv, a Red Moutain Zinfandel, a dry Rose, Semillion and a Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Grigio is being picked, everything else is still on the vine.

Perennial Vintners (From winemaker Mike Lempriere’s newsletter):

The 2013 harvest is looking fantastic! It will be our largest local harvest to date. The Frambelle is done fermenting, it’s tasting superb already.  We will be getting an excellent harvest of Melon de Bourgogne, so mid-2014 we’ll have our signature wine available again!
The vineyard is mostly done with for the year, at this point we’re mostly just waiting for Mother Nature to finish the job of ripening. We do still have to spray for Botrytis mold, but other than that it’s just trying to catch up on weeding.  It’s a beautiful time to visit the vineyard as the grapes have gone through veraison, meaning they ‘re ripening and turning color.
From Facebook: Mike said they harvested the Siegerrebe Sept. 8.

Mosquito Fleet Winery (Email from winemaker Brian Petersen, sent Sept. 16):

Crush has just begun for us here at MFW and we are excited! We brought in a couple tons of our first white: A Viognier from Elephant Mountain. The fruit is very nice, tremendous flavors and great acids.

We will only be producing around 100 cases of Viognier this year. Partially fermented in stainless steel tank and partial barrel fermentation, which we will ferment and age sur lie and go through malolactic fermentation.

This Thursday (Sept. 19) we are bringing in Merlot from Double Canyon Vineyard and on Saturday (Sept. 21) we will bring in our first Malbec off Elephant Mountain as well. We are looking forward to this too.

We have increased our Pepper Bridge Vineyard fruit and we are now sourcing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from there as well. The PB Merlot will be ready in about a week.

Then it’s Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Touriga Nacional for our Port.

It will get very, very busy here shortly.


It’s cool to be square

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Brynn writes:

This is a post that I’ve had sitting in my draft queue for more than a week. I meant to get it published as soon as possible, but unfortunately other stories bumped it. Now that we’re up to the deadline, I figured better late than never, right?

Matt Albee, owner of Eleven Winery on Bainbridge Island, is trying a new way to get capital for his winery operations. Instead of going to a bank and taking out a small business loan he’s asking the community to be his lender. It’s an idea created by former Bainbridge Graduate Institute graduates who started a business called Community Sourced Capital in Seattle.

The concept behind Community Source Capital is that small businesses, like Albee’s winery, ask the community to support them instead of going to a bank and being tied down by loan requirements. The idea is to get the community behind small businesses to see them succeed. If you contribute money, you will be paid back within the year, it’s not a donation.

Albee is using the money to pay for the large-scale bottling he did last week. He used to bottle by hand and it took a long time (he could bottle one case per minute; the bottling truck does five cases per minute). This year he hired a company with a large bottling truck to come in and do the work.

“The benefit to us to doing bottling this way is we get a lot more done at one shot,” he said. “I can focus on other things, I don’t have to be bottling one weekend a month.”

Because the bulk of his wine was bottled all at once, Albee had to have all the bottles, corks and other necessary materials available. That means he needed $20,000.

“Having the money isn’t a problem for the business, but it’s having it all at once,” Albee said. “The cost of the loan is about the same as if I went to the bank, but I really like the idea of involving the community in what we’re doing. It’s a way for us to build community and get people involved in the winery, as well as get the cash together that we need to improve our processes.”

Instead of becoming a “shareholder” of Albee’s business, if you contribute you become a “Squareholder.”

“You put $50 in to our project today, great things happen, and then you get your $50 back in a year or less,” Albee said in an email.

So far 132 squareholders have contributed $17,350 toward Albee’s $20,000 goal. Eleven’s campaign to gather community-sourced funds ends tomorrow, as in Friday, June 7.

If you’re interested in learning more, or contributing to become a squareholder, visit the Community Sourced Capital page dedicated to Albee’s campaign: www.communitysourcedcapital.com/eleven/.


Winemakers, industry leaders differ on impacts of liquor privatization

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Brynn writes:

In Sunday’s Kitsap Sun we ran an article about the effects of Initiative 1183 on the liquor sales industry to mark the voter-approved initiative’s one year anniversary. The story was a combined effort between myself and reporter Rachel Pritchett.

What often happens when you have two reporters working simultaneously on a story is that not everything you report or write is included in the final product. That was the case with my section of the story dealing with how Washington’s wine industry has grappled with the new law. Because only a fragment of what I wrote was included in the story, I am posting my full story below.

This blog is probably the best location for this anyway, seeing as the story is wine specific and this is a wine blog. I’m also including the photos Meegan Reid took that fell to the cutting room floor with my story.

 

Washington wine industry leaders see varying effects of 1183

While campaigning for Initiative 1183 supporters laid out reasons why the state should be removed from the liquor business. A selling point was the belief that a competitive marketplace would mean better selection and savings for consumers, while increasing business opportunities for retailers and local wineries.

But those against the initiative cautioned removal could have the opposite effect.

A year later, local winemakers and Washington wine industry leaders weigh in on the effects of 1183.

Small wineries that produce 3,000 cases or less a year that rely on wine club memberships and direct-to-consumer sales have largely been unaffected by 1183. Large wineries, like Chateau Ste. Michelle Estates that produces more than 1 million cases a year, have transitioned easily into the new market because they have experience selling in other states with a similar structure, according to industry experts.

It’s the mid-sized wineries, those producing between roughly 5,000 and 40,000 cases a year, that have been affected by the new law.

“As you get larger in production you can start to play the games that 1183 allows you to play. Whereas when you’re more in the 6,000 to 10,000 case range, that gets to be a little more difficult,” said Sean Sullivan, founder of Washington Wine Report, an online publication dedicated to Pacific Northwest wines. Sullivan is also the Pacific Northwest wine reviewer for Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Sullivan was against 1183. A month before the election he wrote an article predicting there would be less room on grocery store shelves for wine if the law passed. He also guessed it would be difficult for Washington’s small wineries to compete for that space because they wouldn’t be able to offer discounts on wholesale purchases like large wineries, including many coming in from California.

“The overall selection that consumers see in the grocery stores has definitely gone down,” Sullivan said. “Has it (1183) been catastrophic? No I don’t think so. Has it put a real squeeze on people in the retail sector? Yes.”

That’s been the experience of Bainbridge Island winemaker Hugh Remash, who owns Eagle Harbor Wine Company.

Unlike his peers on the island, Remash set up a business model focused on wholesale and not direct-to-consumer sales to drive profits. His wines are found in local restaurants, Town and Country Market and Central Market and boutique wine shops on the east side of Puget Sound.

“What happened is a poor law was changed into a bad law,” Remash said of 1183.

When 1183 passed big businesses like Total Wine and BevMo! — which offer one-stop shopping for beer, wine and spirits — moved into the state. The majority of their wine inventory comes from California, making it hard for Washington wineries to compete for shelf space because they can’t offer the same bulk discounts.

These large stores hurt small boutique shops where Remash and other winemakers sell handcrafted, artisan Washington wines.

“I have small wine shops in the Bellevue area that sell my wine, their sales are down 30 percent,” Remash said. “In one wine shop I was selling a couple cases a week, now I’m selling one every three weeks.”

Remash attributes the decline to the passage of 1183 and the fact consumers are choosing convenience over experience.

“Do you want to go to a small winery and talk to the winemaker and see what’s going on and support somebody who lives there?” Remash said. “Or do you want to be convenient?”

As Sullivan predicted, some national grocery stores like Safeway, took away shelf space from wine and replaced it with liquor, reducing the wine inventory. Smaller wineries like Eagle Harbor Wine Company had a chance to sell to stores like Safeway before 1183, but now they’re not buying.

“What they’ve done with me is, they’ve said we’re not interested anymore,” Remash said of Safeway. “The only reason the Safeway on Bainbridge has my wine is because the woman there knows me and has fought for me.”

Wholesale discounts were another bonus touted by 1183 supporters before the election. Previously Washington laws prohibited retailers from storing alcohol in warehouses. Now they can purchase larger quantities and ask for wineries to sell them at a discount.

Large wineries — like Chateau Ste. Michelle, which owns more than half of the state’s grapes — have enough inventory to take advantage of these new regulations, but the majority of Washington’s wineries are too small to be able to offer the same discounts.

Washington is the second largest wine-producing state in the nation but most of its more than 740 wineries produce 3,000 cases or less a year. As a result they and can’t offer competitive wholesale discounts because they don’t have the inventory.

“If I’d lower the prices they’d pick it up in a minute, but then I wouldn’t make any money,” Remash said. “Incidentally, I don’t make any money. I make money to run the business and I get some perks but in terms of actual putting a paycheck in my pocket, zero.”

Unlike the other wineries on Bainbridge, Remash doesn’t have a wine club where members pay to receive wine on a regular basis. He’s reconsidering that decision.

“I’m thinking about starting a wine club because I’m losing wholesale sales,” he said.

With an annual production of 2,000 cases a year, Matt Albee, winemaker and owner of Eleven Winery, is the largest wine producer in Kitsap County. Almost 95 percent of his wine is sold through his wine club and tasting room sales.

Albee hasn’t felt direct effects of 1183 like Remash, but he agrees the law isn’t as favorable as it was advertised.

“I felt like it would hurt smaller wineries because it was really written by Costco and primarily benefits other, larger players,” Albee said. “It seemed pretty clear that small wineries would suffer a little bit. Not so much the very small wineries, more the medium sized ones.”

Big stores like Costco and Total Wine are the ones who have benefited, he said.

Alphonse de Klerk, winemaker at Bainbridge’s Rolling Bay Winery, has no interest in competing for shelf space in those stores. His focus is on getting into restaurants like Seattle’s Metropolitan Grill, where his wine is offered.

“It was more of a topic before it was passed and now it’s like the wave has passed us over,” de Klerk said.

Marty Clubb, owner and managing winemaker of Walla Walla-based L’Ecole No. 41 Winery, agrees the effects of 1183 have yet to be realized. Clubb is the president of the Washington Wine Institute, a nonprofit representing wineries, growers and associations across the state by advocating on their behalf in Olympia. The institute remained neutral on 1183.

L’Ecole produces 40,000 cases annually and didn’t feel the effects of 1183 because as one of the oldest in the state it is established among consumers, restaurateurs and retailers, Clubb said.

“I think the bigger guys knew what the new world was going to look like post-1183. That’s not really true with some of Washington’s smaller brands because they sell locally,” he said. “I think it has created some challenges for Washington’s smaller brands.”

Paul Beveridge, president of the Family Wineries of Washington, another group advocating on behalf of wineries, agrees more time is needed before 1183 can be evaluated. Beveridge is the winemaker and owner of Wildridge Winery, which opened in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood in the 1980s. His group favored 1183.

“We like the pricing freedom because we can give quantity discounts to customers,” Beveridge said. “The biggest winners on 1183 are consumers and it’s only going to get better.”

One area of the law he’d like to see changed is eliminating the restriction that prohibits shop smaller than 10,000 square feet from selling liquor.

No matter a wineries size or how 1183 plays out in the years to come, industry leaders agree if winemakers continue to produce quality wine consumers will buy it.

“The good news is, if you make good wine there’s a market for that,” Clubb said.


Babies at wine tastings? Yes please!

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Brynn writes:

Since having my son four months ago I’ve made a point of not letting the little guy slow me down. That doesn’t mean I haven’t spent time at home cuddling, playing and enjoying these early months where he thinks his mom and dad are the coolest people around (I know this won’t last forever), but when the chance arises to get out of the house for something fun, I typically won’t turn down the invitation.

That was the case Labor Day weekend. My best friend Michelle flew all the way from Maui to meet the little guy, and of course hang out with her bestie of 16  years. Not wanting to deal with the Seattle craziness, we opted to stay in Kitsap. Instead of hanging around our house all weekend I suggested we head to Bainbridge Island to take advantage of the winemaker open houses and try some wine.

Since Daddy worked Saturday, there was no leaving the baby at home. So we packed up the little guy and hit the dusty trail. We had so much fun we returned Sunday, this time with Daddy in tow. The baby handled his first wine tasting like a pro, hardly making any fuss, and the wines we tried were superb. (As you can see below, he enjoyed his time at Eleven Winery Saturday).

I know we just devoted several weeks of our “What we’re drinking” posts to the Bainbridge wineries, but there were some new releases this weekend that were too good not to mention.

They are, in no particular order:

Rolling Bay Winery’s 2011 Fusion. This wine is a blend of 75 percent chardonnay, 25 percent pinot gris. Winemaker Alphonse de Klerk sources all of the grapes for his wines from Snipes Mountain in Eastern Washington. This white blend is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, which allows the mingling of citrus and tart fruit flavors of the chardonnay and pinot gris to stand out. The winery showcased its Fusion white wine blend in 2007 and de Klerk has made it ever since, thanks to its popularity among his winery’s followers. It was a great wine to start our tasting with Saturday, and paired nicely with the mini cubes of white aged cheddar we sampled.

The Fusion is a great choice to sip in the sun while sitting at one of the tables de Klerk has positioned in the gardens surrounding the winery’s cozy tasting room. We loved the setting — especially the peekaboo views of Murden Cove, and the foliage. Apparently so does Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, which recently named Rolling Bay’s tasting room its “Best Essence of Puget Sound.”

Eleven Winery had a couple of wines that stuck with us after we left. While we enjoyed everything we tasted, we especially liked the 2011 La Primavera, a rosé, and the 2011 Angelica, a white port made from pinot grigio.

The Primavera was wonderful — made just the way I like it: dry. Winemaker Matt Albee blends all of the red grapes he sources for his other wines to make this delightfully light rosé. The Angelica port was a great surprise too. It’s not everyday you see a white port; most well-known ports are made from red grapes, but there is such thing as white port wine. This wine offered a delicate balance between the citrus flavors of the pinot grigio grapes and sweetness.

Eagle Harbor Wine Company’s 2009 Viognier. Winemaker Hugh Remash doesn’t offer this wine as a part of his five wines available for tasting, but we lucked out Sunday. Remash described the wine to us, saying he doesn’t filter or fine the wine, so it appears cloudy because of the sediment that stays in the bottle. This can be unappealing to some, which is one reason why Remash doesn’t taste people on it. As Michelle debated whether she wanted to buy a wine she hadn’t tried, Remash went into the back and brought out a bottle of his precious viognier. Saying he planned to open some for dinner guests that night anyway, Remash poured us a sip.

Oh my what a treat. This was hands down my favorite white wine we tried at his winery Sunday — Remash’s Goldfinch sits high on my list of favorite wines, so this is an impressive feat. The viognier grapes come from Remash’s block at Dwelly Vineyard in Walla Walla. While Remash warned the wine might be cloudy, it poured nicely. Floral and tropical notes filled our noses and then our mouths. The full mouthfeel of the wine was exactly what I love about oaked white wines, but by no means does oak overpower this wine — it adds weight, but doesn’t detract from the delicate characteristics of the viognier grape.

Amelia Wynn Winery’s 2011 Riesling is the wine I ended with Sunday while at the Island Vintners tasting room in Winslow. Since we got a late start on the day, 5 p.m. came upon us fast — that’s when the wineries close their doors to tasters. So we headed to the tasting room, which was open later. We ran through the list of Amelia Wynn winemaker Paul Bianchi’s white wines, including his chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and Riesling. Bianchi added all of these this year after seeing the high demand for white wines from visitors to the tasting room.

The 2011 Riesling was just released. It’s a refreshing wine, and a perfect match for some of the warmer afternoons we’ve been having recently. The color is a pale, barely visible yellow, and the slight sweetness of the grape is met with the balance of tart citrus flavors, leaving your mouth feeling refreshed sip after sip.


What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Eleven Winery

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Brynn writes:

Eleven Winery’s 2011 Roussanne is a somewhat new wine for winemaker Matt Albee. The 2011 is his third vintage of the Rhone varietal and we have to say he’s mastered it quite well.

This full-bodied white wine is very aromatic with floral hints on the nose and lemon, pear and fruit flavors.  Albee received recognition for his Roussanne at the recent Seattle Wine Awards, earning a bronze medal for his 2010 Roussanne.

Albee gets the grapes from 10-year-old vines on Elephant Mountain. He said the farmer planted the Roussanne as a test block so there are only a couple rows of the vines available. Albee takes all of these grapes, but with such a limited quantity it only makes 90 cases.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.


Reviewing Bainbridge Uncorked

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Last weekend we dusted off our wine glasses in preparation of our first joint tasting event where we could both do some serious tasting — while Brynn is still out on maternity leave she was able to get away to Bainbridge Island for a couple of hours for the Bainbridge Uncorked event.

We had the chance to attend a VIP event held Friday evening before the main event got started, giving us ample time to jump from table to table and to chat up each of the seven winemakers that were on hand to pour their wines.

The event also gave us a chance to try some of the wines that were recently recognized at the Seattle Wine Awards. Here’s a recap of those wines:

Amelia Wynn Winery

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Amelia Wynn Winery Cuvée, Columbia Valley

The Cuvee is a beautiful blend of 62 percent Cab, 27 percent Merlot, and 11 percent Petit Verdot. The color is deep and rich with a black cherry and plum upfront and then wonderful mineral and herb aromas. This all comes together to produce a very balanced wine.  This is the wine’s second year as a Double Gold Medal winner.

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Amelia Wynn Winery Sangiovese, Red Mountain

We love this Sangiovese, from its nose of cherries and herbs, the refreshing acidity, the balanced cherry, fruit and herbs, to the silky finish. A blend of Red Mountain’s Kiona Vineyard Sangiovese with a dollop of Merlot from the Vista Vineyard in Columbia Valley. This is a definite must try! And coming in 2013, winemaker Paul Bianchi will release a Sangiovese Rose.

Eleven Winery

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery La Ronde, Washington State

Here’s a blend of all winemaker Matt Albee’s reds that he sources from Horse Heaven Hills. This version is Syrah (44 percent), Mourvedre (22 percent), Petite Verdot (22 percent) and Malbec (11 percent). It has a perfumed nose of raspberry and strawberry. On the palate, this purple-black wine is rich in texture and has a beautiful finish that matches the nose.

BRONZE 2010 Eleven Winery Roussanne, Yakima Valley

We tasted Albee’s 2011 Roussanne made from 10-year-old vines off Elephant Mountain.

What a gorgeous wine. It’s aromatic with a rich, unctuous feel. The full-bodied wine is floral with lemon and pear fruit flavors. It is so delicious. But hurry; there are only 90 cases of this gem.

Rolling Bay Winery

SILVER 2009 Rolling Bay Winery Cuvée Aldaro, Snipes Mountain

Winemaker Alphonse de Klerk’s Cuvee this year is a blend of 78 percent Cab, 12 percent Cab Franc, and 10 percent Merlot. This blend is dominated by an herbal Cabernet with notes of dark cherry and plum from the Cab Franc and Merlot. The finish is more herbal than fruit so we’d pair this one with a steak that has plenty of grilled green peppers or even pesto.

BRONZE 2009 Rolling Bay Winery Syrah, Snipes Mountain

This was a hot year on the south facing slopes of Snipes Mountain. And as a result, this wine is fruit-forward with lots of blackberry and plum flavors. It has a heady floral aroma and a deep purple hue. Almost two years in French oak, this medium-bodied wine has soft tannins. It would be a great pairing with grilled baby back ribs.


Bainbridge wineries recognized at Seattle Wine Awards

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Brynn writes:

I was recently contacted by Jim Wilford, winemaker of Fletcher Bay Winery on Bainbridge Island, who let me know that a number of the island winemakers did quite well in the recent Seattle Wine Awards, announced May 21. As the winemakers’ put it: “the small wineries of Bainbridge Island took home a disproportionately large share of the medals.”

Here’s the information from the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island’s website:

Amelia Wynn Winery

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Amelia Wynn Winery Cuvée, Columbia Valley

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Amelia Wynn Winery Sangiovese, Red Mountain

Eagle Harbor Wine Company

SILVER 2008 Eagle Harbor Wine Co. Eagle Harbor Wine Co. “Raptor” Cabernet, Walla Walla

Eleven Winery

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery La Ronde, Washington State

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery Sweet Sarah, Washington State

BRONZE 2010 Eleven Winery Roussanne, Yakima Valley

Rolling Bay Winery

SILVER 2009 Rolling Bay Winery Cuvée Aldaro, Snipes Mountain

BRONZE 2009 Rolling Bay Winery Syrah, Snipes Mountain

While he wasn’t listed in the Seattle Wine Awards, Wilford’s winemaking skills were recently honored at the New York International Wine Competition, where his wines were judged against others from around the world.

Here’s how he did:

Fletcher Bay Winery

SILVER 2011 Pinot Grigio

BRONZE 2010 Battle Point Red


What we’re drinking: Petit Verdot

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Petit verdot is a red wine grape that traditionally was blended in classic Bordeaux wines.

In the “new world” it is occasionally bottled as its own varietal, but its power is better off lending structure and flavor to blended wines. Think of it as a “best supporting actor” to a Bordeaux or Meritage.

So why blend it instead of letting it stand on its own? The grape was relegated to the wings when it arrived late on the scene. It ripens much later than cabernet or merlot, the “best actors.” When it is added wine has more structure, color and flavor.

Winemakers use petit verdot like chefs use seasoning. The spices this grape add to blends are pencil shavings and vanilla when young, and leather and tar when mature.

In the St. Julien commune of Bordeaux, Chateau LaGrange uses the greatest proportion of petit verdot grapes in its blend. This wine can never be drunk young; but patience will be greatly rewarded.

Recently we’ve noticed petit verdot becoming more of a player on the local wine scene.

We helped out with crush at eleven winery in 2009 and were rewarded with a bottle of wine. It was a spectacular bottle of wine! And well worth all that hard work.

The aromas of Eleven’s 100 percent petit verdot reminded us of second grade when emptying the pencil sharpener with a hint of herbs and cedar. But no worries, there is plenty of fruit. It has a thick and rich mouthfeel, redolent with black fruits, licorice and tar. Did we mention it is rich, smooth and utterly elegant? With a long finish that is silk?

Today, you can buy the 2009 Petit Verdot Yakima Valley Elerding Vineyard for $45. It is a rare and most prized wine. Only 12 cases were bottled. That’s 144 bottles and an Oscar for best actor.

Brynn also recently sampled a Five Star Cellars Supernova, a blend of 55 percent petit verdot and 45 percent cab franc. Both are blending varietals in Bordeaux, but they did wonders just the two of them together. The concentrated finish was full of the cab franc flavors, while the petit verdot was upfront giving the wine a nice mix of bright acidity at first, followed by a full mouthfeel.

The wine retails for $38.


Archives: Cheers to You