Sunday we took advantage of the sunny weather and made the trek
to Bainbridge Island. We were lucky enough to have the company of
Food Life blogger and now freelance journalist Angela Dice as we
made our way to three of the six Bainbridge wineries that were open
Not to worry, no winemaker will be overlooked. We hope to attend
the next winemakers weekend, slated for May 28, 29 and 30, to visit
the wineries we missed this time around.
Our first stop Sunday was at Rolling
Bay Winery, which is along Murden Cove and surrounded
by beautiful gardens. Winemaker Alphonse de Klerk was on hand, as
was David Verwolf, also an owner of the winery. We had a great chat
with them about their wines, as well as what they are planning for
All of their wines come from Snipes Mountain in the Yakima
Valley, one of the state’s oldest vineyards and newest AVAs. It’s
also the second smallest AVA behind Red Mountain.
We started the tasting with their 2009
Chardonnay ($20), which was aged for nine months in
neutral oak barrels. Interestingly de Klerk uses two different
yeast strands for the Chardonnay. One barrel gets D-47, while the
other gets Montrachet. The D-47 leaves the wine with hints of
mineral, stone and earth flavors, while the Montrachet hits the
citrus notes of apple and pear — similar to flavors found in
Next we tasted the 2008 Syrah ($25), which is
the winery’s third release. De Klerk added 10 percent Merlot to
this wine, which gives it a brightness not found in most
The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($25) was next,
which aged for 22 months in new and 2-year-old French oak barrels.
Brynn noticed the tannins on the finish. Mary found the black
cherry and berry flavors delightful.
The last wine on the tasting list was the winery’s signature
blend: 2008 Manitou Red ($26). The mix includes 55
percent Cab, 40 percent Syrah and 5 percent Merlot. The wine is
aged 22 months in 2-year-old French oak barrels and then bottled
unfiltered. The color is light purple, and the nose slightly sweet,
hinting at the slight oak finish.
It’s no wonder this wine has won many awards for the winery.
While we were there, the Manitou Red and the Chardonnay were the
two wines that seemed to be selling like hot cakes. Interestingly,
de Klerk said they’re not sure they’ll have a 2009 Manitou Red
because they’re trying some new things.
Finally we ended our time at Rolling Bay with a taste straight
from a barrel. De Klerk let us sample a Cabernet Sauvignon
co-fermenting with 12 percent Cabernet Franc. They plan to bottle
this around July or August and then release it in October.
De Klerk said 2009 was a hot year; every time they turned around
during harvest they had grapes coming in. Eventually they ran out
of space, so when the Cab Franc came in they didn’t know where to
store it, so they threw it in with the Cab to co-ferment. We found
this to be very approachable straight out of the barrel with a nice
ruby/purple color and crispness. We’re excited to try it once ready
for its release later this year.
Our next stop was Eagle Harbor Wine Co., just
off Sportsman Road at the Coppertops business park. Winemaker Hugh
Remash was on hand, along with a film crew that was working a 30
minute feature on the Bainbridge winemakers. (We’ll let you know
when it’s supposed to air in case you’re interested in watching
We started the tasting with his 2009 Goldfinch
($17.50), a 50/50 Chardonnay/Viognier blend. The citrus of the
Chardonnay is a perfect match for the floral Viognier, giving the
wine complexity and balance. The finish is especially enjoyable,
leaving you to wonder whether you’re tasting the described orange
zest, or orange blossoms.
We moved into the reds with a 2008 Sangiovese
($27), which wasn’t on the tasting list, but was a great surprise.
The color was ruby red and the wine’s dry tannins left a mineral
impression. The grapes come from Kiona Vineyards, which were
planted in 1975 and are located in the Red Mountain AVA. One
technique Remash uses in all his reds is to not fine or filter his
wines. This generally adds body and complexity to a wine.
The 2007 Founders Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.50),
a 100 percent Cab was next. This was aged for more than 30 months
before the best wine was selected and transferred to four, 300
liter barrels made up of 33 percent new Virginia oak.
Remash’s 2007 Patina Vineyard Syrah ($24.95),
which is described to be similar in style to the Syrah’s coming
from the Northern Rhone Valley of France. The nose on this wine
could only be described as gorgeous.
Remash prefers to age his reds, which takes away the initial
jammy impression most Syrahs can leave. Instead the fruit has time
to mellow, allowing the complexity of the wine to come through.
That’s definitely the case with the Syrah, which he recommends
decanting before drinking. This was demonstrated when two of us
were poured the bottom of a bottle and one of us got a taste from a
newly opened bottle. The gorgeous nose was missing on the just
opened bottle, indicating it needed time to open up.
Lastly we tasted the 2007 Condor ($29.50), a
50/50 Syrah/Cab blend. Brynn liked this wine just about as much as
the Syrah, until Remash brought out a bottle of his 2008 Condor.
Although just bottled two weeks earlier, the 2008 had hints of oak
on the finish that smoothed the overall impression of the wine.
The blend is also different, instead of 50/50, it’s a 60 percent
Syrah, 40 percent Cab. We’d like to try it again, after it gets
over its bottleshock — which Remash described as the wine sulking
after being pumped from a barrel through a tank and into the
Our next destination was to see Charlie Merrill at Victor Alexander Winery off Island
Center Road. We ran into the television producers again, so didn’t
want to stay too long because they needed Merrill’s time. But we
did get a chance to try a handful of what he was pouring.
His 2009 Washington White Wine blend is an
interesting mix of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Semilion with a
mineral hint balancing the pear flavors. This wine is crisp and
unique. This is his theater edition wine, which means a portion of
the wine sales goes to support the Bainbridge Performing Arts.
Next up was Merrill’s Semillon, which is one of
Brynn’s favorite wines coming out of Victor Alexander. The 100
percent blend is aged in oak, giving in a round, full mouthfeel at
the finish. While sipping the wine among the oak barrels in
Merrill’s winery, we tried to conjure up visions of sitting on a
back deck in the afternoon sun, Merrill’s Semillon in hand and
fresh asparagus, zucchini and mushrooms grilling after a quick dip
in a balsamic, olive oil marinade.
Merrill’s Merlot was next. He blends it with a
little Cab and Syrah. Brynn didn’t try, but Mary and Angela enjoyed
this smooth, very approachable blend.
Realizing the clock was quickly ticking toward 5 p.m. we hopped
in the car and jetted over to our last stop of the day: Fletcher Bay Winery. Brynn
heard winemaker Jim Wilford would have his “Super Tuscan” style red
blend ready for the weekend, and was excited to give it a try.
Before getting to try the Tuscan we started with the winery’s
2010 Pinot Grigio ($14.50). The grapes are sourced
from the Crawford Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. The wine had a
hint of pink to its pale yellow color. We were told after
fermentation, it was the color of pink grapefruit juice. It’s
acidity was well balanced, making it another wine that would be
great to enjoy while outside on a deck in the sun with a bit of
Next up was the 2009 Battle Point Red ($16.50),
which blends 39 percent Tempranillo, 35 percent Cabernet Sauvignon,
9 percent Petite Syrah, 8 percent Merlot, 6 percent Cabernet Franc
and 3 percent Sangiovese. The wine is aged 10 months in French and
American oak. It’s approachable and offers a nice complexity that
would saddle up nicely to steak or pasta with red sauce.
Our third sample was the 2009 Valvano ($19.83)
otherwise known as the “Super Tuscan”. Super Tuscan is a
traditional blend of the indigenous Tuscan grape Sangiovese with
the French Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a blend of 54 percent
Sangiovese and 46 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The Sangio is from
the vineyard of Zerba Cellars in the section of the Walla Wall
Valley that dips into Oregon. The Cab is from three vineyards in
Washington. The wine was aged for 16 months in French oak.
It was tasty, but a bit “dumb” because it had only been bottled
two days earlier. We want to return in another month or two and
compare notes. As we were told, some of the components were still
getting to know each other after being all shook up during the
We ended our time at Fletcher Bay, and our tour of the island,
with some sips of the Blackberry Bliss dessert
wine ($16.50), sourced from Kitsap County blackberries. The balance
of acidity to sweetness is just right, making the wine a perfect
compliment to a sliver of dark chocolate.
If you’re considering a visit to Fletcher Bay at an upcoming
wine tasting, they’ll be releasing their 2009 Tara
Rouge in June. This wine is a traditional Bordeaux blend
of 54 percent Merlot, 33 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 13 percent
For more on the next Bainbridge Island winemakers weekend,
the group’s website, which lists the upcoming dates
and a map of all the locations. Like we said earlier, we’ll hit up
the wineries we missed this time around and write about them next
Brynn and Mary
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