Well it took us long enough, but almost a month after attending
the state’s largest wine tasting event we have finally transferred
our thoughts from scribbles on pieces of paper to a coherent blog
post. (Well at least we hope it’s coherent).
Going into Taste Washington we had quite the
ambitious list of wineries we wanted to visit while attending the
four-hour event at the CenturyLink event center.
Unlike last year, this year’s event was held over two days. We
didn’t find out though until we received our press credentials the
week of the event that we could attend both days. Unfortunately I
had already scheduled myself for something Saturday afternoon, but
Mary took advantage of the access and went Saturday and Sunday.
You better believe if they hold it over two days next year
(which we’ve heard rumors they will) that I’ll be right there
beside Mary maximizing my sips Saturday and Sunday.
Like last year we made sure to pace ourselves as we cruised
through the aisles, stopping to nibble some of the delicious bites
prepared by area restaurants. We also carried bottles of water with
us to stay hydrated.
And while we had a list of where we planned to go, like any good
wine taster with ADD, we often found ourselves sidetracked by a
winery that caught our eye — sending us in crisscrossing through
the event center. The good thing is we still had a blast, even if
we didn’t hit every winery on our list.
One thing we did make sure to do was visit as many of the tables
that we could that were pouring the most expensive wines of the
Seeing as I was eight months pregnant at the time of the event,
my husband Jeff went as my designated taster. Before the event he
read through the list and marked some of the most expensive
bottles, figuring it might be the only time we’d get the chance to
taste that many high quality wines at one time.
I was in charge of photography, but I did taste at almost every
stop, followed by a lot of spitting. The reviews though are largely
from Mary’s and Jeff’s comments and my summations of their
responses to what we tried. Since my palate was still off from
pregnancy, and because I was taking micro sips, I let them take the
Without further ado, here are our thoughts on the day:
We’ll start with the most expensive wine we tasted.
It was the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Boudreaux Cellars out of Leavenworth
and it was $100. The cab comes from Champoux Vineyards (75 percent)
and Loess Vineyard (25 percent) in Walla Walla. An interesting side
note about this winery: it’s completely off the power grid, meaning
winemaker Rob Newsom relies heavily on nature to get things done.
My palate isn’t fine tuned enough to know whether I’m drinking a
$100 bottle of wine or a $50 bottle of wine, but between this and
the Bordeaux blend the winery was pouring the reserve was our
Speaking of favorites, the absolute favorite wine of the day for
Brynn and Jeff came from Rotie
Cellars. It was the winery’s Northern
Blend, made up of 95 percent syrah and 5 percent viognier.
The deep purple color exemplified what we’d expect from Rhone-style
syrah and its meaty nose had a beautiful aroma. The midpalate was
complex with a lot of flavors. This wine was reminiscent of
France’s Rhone Valley syrah — something winemaker Sean Boyd was
aiming to replicate. The finish is long lasting, leaving you time
to think about how much you want a second sip.
Another favorite from Rotie was the winery’s Southern
White, composed of 50 percent viognier, 30 percent
roussane and 20 percent marsanne. It is a perfectly balanced,
full-bodied wine with peachy fruit flavors and stony minerals.
Here are some other highlights from the weekend:
Cellars, 2009 McKinley Springs Mourvedre. We tried
this at the Kitsap Wine Festival and really liked it then — tasting
it a second time confirmed our first impression: it’s a great wine.
It’s rare to see this grape without its partners in wine, Syrah and
Grenache but that didn’t stop us. The color was dark purple red and
stained the glass. Lots of complexity with leather, dark fruits and
a pleasant earthiness.
Doubleback 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
This Walla Walla cab was one of the most expensive and therefore a
must try. At $89 it was probably the second most expensive
wine we had all day. This wine reminded Brynn of a Napa Cab, with
its in your face flavors. Winemaker Chris Figgins has created a
complex wine that we wish we could have tried as it opened up over
time — as recommended by winery owner Drew Bledsoe in his tasting
notes. It was a little too up front for Brynn, but would be one
we’d try again after letting it breathe for a couple hours.
Estate Red Bordeaux this 2008 estate blend came in at
$85. It’s a mix of cab, merlot and petit verdot. The cab is heavy
upfront, yet the nose hints at its merlot subtleties. It’s a wine
that could be drunk now, or laid down for a little more time to
Carter Cellars always has interesting blends. His
Corrida is a Spanish style blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, Garnacha
and Cab. An unusual blend with the Cab and Merlot in there, but
these grapes added a little more body and flavor to the
Castillo de Feliciana’s Columbia
Valley Micalato, another Spanish style from Red Mountain grapes is
a blend of 68 percent Garnacha, 13 percent Tempranillo, 10 percent
Syrah and 9 percent Counoise. Wine had ripe red fruit and herbal
flavors and a really nice and round, smooth finish. Right next-door
was bin on the lake with Pork belly tart tatin coins. Darn! Those
Cave B’s Barbera was nice but what truly
impressed us was the 2010 unoaked Columbia Valley Chardonnay. If
you want to taste Chardonnay, no oak ageing, no barrel
fermentation, no sur lies, this is it pure unadulterated
Cascade Cliffs’ Barbera was
awesome. Bob Lorkowski planted Piedmont grapes along the Columbia
River in 1997. Mary likes to think she set him off on the Piedmont
path when she tasted him on what she thought was the best Barbera
on the planet at her Grape Expectations wine shop. Cigluitti
Barbera d’Alba. He also has a very good Zinfandel.
Reach Vineyards from Benton City has a rich, smooth
Cab called Parris. The wine was aged in American, French and
Hungarian oak before blending and bottling. The complexity comes
from the different blends of oak rather than the grapes. Another
Januik Winery 2009 Ciel du Cheval
Petite Verdot is a rich with black fruits with hints of minerals,
great balance and a weighty mouthfeel. The finish is smooth but
will improve with some cellaring.
Kana Cellars 2008 Dark Star is a
luscious blend of mostly Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache that is
barrel aged for 3 years. V.G.
Vintners 2007 Columbia Valley Pedestal Merlot is a
concentrated dark cherry, toasty oak-kissed wine made by Michel
Rolland from Pomerol.
Sophia Winery is located in Graham. Winemaker Laela
Cramer sources her grapes from Alder Ridge and Horse Heaven Hills,
two very well known vineyards. Her 2009 Yakima Valley Merlot is a
blend of 85 percent syrah and 15 percent cab franc aged in American
oak. Well worth seeking out. She also makes a syrah in the
traditional way, cold soaking to extract flavor and color and then
co-fermenting with a bit of viognier. It’s earthier then most
syrahs but impressive.
Michael Florentino 2008 Columbia Valley
Monastrell. It’s rare to see this grape without its partners in
wine, syrah and grenache. monastrell is the Spanish way for saying
mourvèdre. It’s thick-skinned grape is the reason these wines are
so inky purple and tannic. This monastrell has lots of black fruit
flavors with spice, leather, and herbal nuances. A really good lamb
sausage from the Hook & Plow restaurant was perfect with this
Pondera Winery out of
Woodinville 2008 Columbia Valley Consensio is a Bordeaux blend of
58 percent cab, 27 percent merlot, 10 percent cab franc and 5
percent malbec. This full-bodied wine is richly colored with
flavors of cherries plums and hints of spice and mocha. The finish
is long and smooth.
Saviah Cellars 2008 Walla
Walla Petit Verdot is a rich, glass-staining-black red wine with
black fruits with hints of leather and minerals, balanced, smooth
and velvety. What a mouthful!
Cellars 2009 Red Mountain Kingpin Cab. There’s a
mouthful of wine. Rich with black currant and plum, tobacco,
leather and spice. Smooth, rich with a long, long finish. Nicely
paired with Assagio Ristorante’s Penne with wild boar ragu.
Syncline James and Poppy Mantone’s 2009 Blanc
de Blanc has a fine bead and citrus flavors that paired very nicely
with the chicken liver pate from RN74.
Cellars Sparkling Mueller-Thurgau. This grape is a
cross of riesling and silvaner grapes. The citrus and mineral
flavors balanced by 3 percent residual sugar paired very nicely
with the shrimp seviche with dry cured chorizo and cucumbers from
the Purple Café and Wine Bar.
Winery out Walla Walla way has a fabulous 2008
Columbia Valley Cabernet. With dark fruits, leather and spice, it
has depth and complexity. Sourced from Cold Creek and Pepper Bridge
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