Posts Tagged ‘Red Mountain’

A Decade Old 2006 Cadence, Bel Canto

The 2006 Cadence, Bel Canto, Cara Mia Vineyard, Red Mountain represents the first bottling of Bel Canto where all of the fruit came from the Cara Mia Vineyard.  This 10.5 acre vineyard was planted on Red Mountain in 1997.  The wine itself is an homage to Cheval Blanc given the blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  I cannot speak to any similarity in flavor, I have only drunk Cheval Blanc once or twice, but there is certainly no shortage of flavor!  It takes a few hours for the wine to show better flavor definition but it still pleases from the start.  The blue and black fruits provide plenty of mouthfeel which lets you experience the generosity a wine from Washington state may have without dialing it to 11.  This wine was purchased many years ago in Seattle.


2006 Cadence, Bel Canto, Cara Mia Vineyard, Red Mountain
This wine is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc and 48% Merlot.  Alcohol 14.4%.  There is a juicy fruit start followed by ample ripe, dense, and almost grainy fruit.  It is Cabernet Franc on steroids.    With air, the cool blue and black fruit shows variety character with some ripe greenhouse notes.  It is a powerful wine but not overdone.  The structure of sweet ripe tannins with spiced flavors is only apparent in the aftertaste.  *** Now – 2018.


Drink Urban Wine: The Tasting Room

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment


I took a look at the winery map on Seattle Urban Wineries and noticed that Wilridge Winery is located in Seattle.  Wilridge Winery is the oldest winery in Seattle having been founded in 1988. It was originally located underneath the Madrona Bistro. Today they are in a facility built in 1996 but there is also a tasting room downtown in Pike Place Alley. I had a bit of time before dinner so I headed over. It turns out that The Tasting Room is actually a cooperative tasting room of some five wineries: Camaraderie Cellars, Harlequin Wine Cellars, Latitude 46 N, Wilridge Winery, and Winelgass Cellars.


The Tasting Room is located within Pike Place Market. With concrete floors, exposed beams, walls full of wine, and a copper-topped bar it give off the feel of a very laid back wine cellar. Wines are available to taste by the ounce, half-glass, glass, and bottle. I opted for one ounce pours which ranged from $2 to $3 each. Several of the glasses were filled from just opened bottles with the rest dispensed from a pressurized preservative gas system. The base of the glasses are marked with the wine name to prevent confusion. Despite the efforts to present fresh wine they are served at room temperature which was far too warm for these wines. Temperature has a tremendous effect on a glass of wine. I suspect these wines would show better if cooler.


I was here to try the Wilridge wines so it was my first focus. They were out of the Zwiegelt so I picked three different red wines. My favorite of the group was the 2010 Estate Syrah-Mourvedre. Many of the wines are made from purchased fruit but in 2007 they planted their own vineyard in Naches Heights. Naches Heights is Washington’s second most recent AVA. This wine revealed good varietal character which started to integrate by the time I got to the bottom of my ounce. I would be curious to try it again.


2006 Wilridge Winery, Merlot, Klipsun Vineyards, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
Alcohol 13.8%. The light nose was slightly odd with thinning fruit aromas. In the mouth there were older, mature flavors, softer fruit, and some wood box. The fruit thinned in the middle as it became a bit tight and a little tart. The mature note returned in the aftertaste.


2009 Wilridge Winery, Estate Melange Rouge, Wilridge Vineyard, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Cabernet Franc, 16% Malbec, 7% Merlot, and 7% Petit Verdot. Alcohol 13.7%. This wine had a subtle nose of darker fruit, vintage perfume, and incense. The vintage perfumed fruit continued in the mouth then took on darker red fruit flavors and red cherry candy. The flavors faded a bit midpalate as it firmed up and the structure came out. The perfume then returned in the aftertaste.


2010 Wilridge Winery, Estate Syrah-Mourvedre, Wilridge Vineyard, Naches Heights
This wine is a blend of 78% Syrah and 22% Mourvedre. Alcohol 13.5%. The peppery nose steps out of the glass with a subtle, earthy berry undertone. The mouth follows the nose with the Syrah really acting as the spine of flavor and the Mourvedre supporting it from underneath. The two integrated with air followed by black fruit and acidity in the finish. Young tannins provide structure.

I had a bit more time before dinner so I departed from my urban theme to try a wine from Camaraderie Cellars in Port Angeles and Latitude 46N in Walla Walla. Both of these came recommended. At first inspection I would have sworn they were from the same winemaker for they bore a similar dark and dense profile. But then with air they separated with the Camaraderie showing drier structure and the Latitude 46N attractive grip and bramble.


2007 Camaraderie Cellars, Grace, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Alcohol 14.5%. There was a subtle, dark nose. In the mouth the flavors were dense with dark red and blue-black fruit. There was a little racy aspect before the touch ripe and coarse midpalate. The wine was drier in the finish with fine+ drying tannins. This could age for several years.


2005 Latitude 46N, Merlot, Katherine Leone Vineyard, Wahluke Slope
This wine is 100% Merlot which was aged in neutral oak barrels. Alcohol 14.5%. There was a subtle nose of dark blue fruit. This wine immediately shows a fair amount of grip to complement the ripe, almost brambly core of fruit. Towards the finish it took on a soft density with blue fruit and some spice. There is a forward personality. This should age but its vigor is quite enjoyable.

Three From the Northwest

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

These three bottles were purchased during my fall trips to Seattle.  The Southard was purchased for $20 and the Ayres for $28 at Soul Wine.  The Rulo was purchased for $18.69 at Pete’s Wine Shop in Eastlake.  The Southard and Ayres wineries and wines were new to me.  The Southard was a decent drink but I would recommend spending the extra money on the Ayres.  It is a beautiful wine that I would cellar for a few years.  I certainly look forward to tasting more 2010 Oregon Pinot Noirs.  While I had previously tasted the 2008 Rulo, Syrah before Jenn had not and so I was excited to share a bottle with her.  She did enjoy it and I would recommend it if you want something of good value that tilts towards the rustic.

2009 Southard, Roussanne, Lawrence Vineyard, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Roussanne from the first crop at the Lawrence Vineyard.  This is a crisp wine with an initial period of weighty fruit then mildly, sweet flavors develop before it turns to steely stones, white fruit, and a tad of toast. * Now-2015.

2010 Ayres Vineyard and Winery, Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley
This is produced by the McLeroy and McClure families, where Brad McLeory worked under Veronique Drouhin at Domaine Drouhin Oregon.  The estate contains 15 acres of Pinot Noir planted in 2001.  This wine is produced from both estate and Eola Hills fruit.  This started with brighter red fruit and acidic cherries in an engaging manner.  The textured red fruit some red grapefruit acidity, with the acidity pleasing to swish around the mouth.  The flavors become lifted with air.  All in all this is a young and promising wine. **(*) 2014-2019.

2008 Rulo, Syrah, Walla Walla
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the Clifton & Clifton Hill and Ranch at the End of the Road vineyards.  There are blue fruits on the nose.  In the mouth there are ample blue fruit and stone flavors that are a bit spicy with some heat.  The acidity reveals on the sides of the tongue before there is a racy, sweet cinnamon note in the lifted aftertaste.  With time this bottle showed some midpalate heat and minor toast notes. **(*) Now-2015.

2008 Rulo Winery, Syrah, Walla Walla

August 5, 2011 1 comment

Rulo Winery Sign, Image by biktopincanada(flickr)

I have only drunk just two bottles of wine produced by Rulo Winery.  The first bottle was the 2006 Syrah Silo which was really quite good and well priced.  When I needed a wine to drink with dinner at my hotel room, I did not hesitate to grab a bottle of the regular 2008 Syrah.  It sells for $18.69 at Pete’s Wine Shop in Eastlake.  These are really good wines for the price.  I suspect you should try any bottle of their Syrah you can find.  The 2007 vintage of this Syrah received 96 points by Paul Gregutt in the Wine Enthusiast and **(Exceptional) in Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report.  I get really excited when I find an excellent Washington state wine that is $20 or less.  This is one of those. 

Rulo Winery is both solely owned and operated by just Kurt and Vicki.  Established in 2000, the first vintage was produced at Abeja Winery.  Later that year they purchased a six acre property in Walla Walla upon which they built the winery in 2001.  Today they produce some 3,000 cases of wine from several different varietals.

2008 Rulo Winery, Syrah, Walla Walla, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah.  On the second night, this wine released ample flavors of blue fruits that were creamy.  Still drinking well, a hint of roast and wood toast mixed with cool, savory blueberry fruit that was enlivened by prickly acidity.  There was a sweet, sugar-spice in the finish.  The long aftertaste became a little wild.  A lovely drink for right now but will hold.

A Tasting With Lou

Aaron and Lou Tasting the Bagged Wines

Lou came over on Tuesday night to taste some wine.  He was interested in trying his 2005 DeLille D2 so we settled on tasting five Washington Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot blends and one ringer.  The wines were double-decanted about 15-30 minutes before we started tasting.  They were served at wine-fridge temperature and brown-bagged.  The leftovers were divided and enclosed with Private Preserve so that we could retaste them on the next night.  We spit a fair amount, which was a good thing, as these wines get into the 15.2% ABV range.

Lou and Jenn Enjoying Themselves

This was a fun tasting.  At first the five Washington wines showed some differences but still came across as a homogeneous group compared to the Tulip Winery ringer.  But as the evening progressed the different trajectories became evident and on the second night all of the wines reached markedly different destinations.

Aaron and Lou with Leftover Wine

If I had to rank these wines I would put the Quilceda Creek and Gramercy Cellars in the top group, followed by the DeLille and JB Neufeld in the next group with the Spring Valley Vineyard and Tulip Winery rounding it out.  Lou and I agreed that the Quilceda Creek and Gramercy Cellars shined through on the second night with the DeLille Cellars and JB Neufeld suffering a bit.  I highly recommend that you try the wines of Gramercy Cellars which you may readily find at Seattle stores.  I wished that the DeLille and JB Neufeld survived better because I did enjoy them.

  1. Quilceda Creek Vintners and Gramercy Cellars
  2. DeLille Cellars and JB Neufeld
  3. Spring Valley Vineyard
  4. Tulip Winery

2007 Spring Valley Vineyard, Uriah, Walla Walla Valley, Columbia Valley
I bought this at Pete’s Wine Shop in Eastlake for roughly $45.  This wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 285 Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, and 6% Malbec.  It was aged for 18 months in 65% new French oak barrels.  On the first night there was a nose of sweet red fruit with some heat.  In the mouth the red fruits were a little bit gritty and seemed sensitive to heat.  There were plenty of chewy, fine to medium textures tannins that were enjoyable.  There were ripe, sweet components that reminded me of old lady’s perfume and a bit of spiciness to the finish.  On the second night the perfumed coated the lips with a metallic tinge.  The fine tannins felt more oak sourced and the spicy finish persisted.

2005 DeLille Cellars, D2, Columbia Valley
Lou bought this somewhere.  This wine is a blend of 51% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.  It was aged for 18 months in 100% new French oak.  This wine started with a nose of dusty, dirty earth and notes of black cherry underneath.  While Jenn found it “sketchy at first” it cleaned up with air.  There were harder flavors of rip, black-red fruits and a creamy finish with mineral notes.  On the second night the nose had faded but the enjoyable black fruits were still present.  The fruit was mixed with minerals and the finish took on a stone-like profile with very blue fruits.  There was still a creamy component and many stone/mineral flavors that coated the mouth in the aftertaste.

2008 JB Neufeld, Cabernet Sauvignon, Artz Vineyard, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
I bought this for $32 at City Cellars in Seattle.  This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 19 months in 80% new French oak barrels.  There were aromas of red fruits with a piercing component that reminded me of a greener Merlot.  In the mouth the flavors were pure with red fruits mixed with powerful and definitive, very fine tannins.  This seemed much different from the others with its red fruit profile.  On the second day there were good, pure fruit flavors that become more blackberry.  There were very fine, grapier tannins.  The overall profile become more compact and closed than the first two wines.  Jenn found the finish became sharper and was “hard to drink.”

2007 Quilceda Creek Vintners, Red Wine, Columbia Valley
Lou bought this from the mailing list around $32 if I recall.  This wine is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Malbec.  This started off with a good nose of red fruit and herbs.  The mouthfeel was creamy with black cherries and sweet spice flavors.  Layers of herbs developed midpalate but the flavors dropped off a bit in the finish.  This was a young, big wine, but pleasant to drink.  With a bit more air an inky pervasiveness developed and a mouth-filling aftertaste left scented herbs.  On the second night the fruit showed a lovely spiced component.  It still showed young but again, a pleasure to drink.  The complex fruit holds up to the ample fine tannins.  I found a little more heat to the wine and hints of wood toast.

2005 Tulip Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Judean Hills, Israel
Lou bought this at the winery for roughly $25.  The blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and if Lou remembers correctly, was aged in Californian oak for 18 months.  On the first night there was a good nose of sweet (instead of ripe) fragrant berries.  The mouth was very rich with cool blue fruits in the finish and a spicy aftertaste.  It was jam-packed with fruit and incense.  A nice wine but huge and overtly amped up.  On the second night there was a bit of a chemically, varnish note to the nose.  Notes of old, musty wood preceded the sweet fruit that had become one-dimensional and lacked supporting acidity.  It did not hold up too well.

2007 Gramercy Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley
I bought this at Pete’s Wine Shop in Eastlake for no more than $45.   This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  I first found a nose of Concord grape juice and wood toast.  But with time there were flavors of red and blue fruits, a nice mouthfeel developed, and the tannins felt resolved and integrated at the midpalate.  The aftertaste was grapey with some tart flavors.  At the end of the evening a dark core became apparent.  On the second night there were great flavors of dark red fruit and this great core of sweetly spiced blue fruit that carried through to the aftertaste.  There were cool lifted fruits, some puckering tannins, then notes of sour red fruits.  This showed better on the second night.  Lou and Jenn really enjoyed this wine from the start whereas I was a bit skeptical.  But as the evening progressed it was obvious that this was an outstanding wine.

Tasting the Wines on the Second Night

Sparkman Cellars

After tasting wine at Efeste I drove across the street to the main wine warehouse area.  I first stopped at Sparkman Cellars where Bryan Keavy was pouring wine.  Sparkman Cellars was founded in Woodinville back in 2004 by Chris and Kelly Sparkman.  It is very much a family run winery where they provide a comfortable and inviting tasting room.  The wines are quite good and show development potential from aging.  I rather liked the Lumiere Chardonnay, thought their Malbec showed that it might be the next fun grape for Washington, and the Wilderness and Stella Mae, though rather different styles, were adroitly made.

The Tasting Room Entrace

The Tasting Room

2010 Sparkman Cellars, Pearl, Sauvignon Blanc
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc with 56% sourced from the Evergreen and 44% from the Klipsun vineyards.  It was aged for eight months in 56% stainless steel and 44% neutral French oak.  There was an intense nose of nearly full-strength stone-fruits, grass, and a little candy. There are grass notes in the mouth with ample flavor of grapes, tart fruit with a mouthfilling aftertaste.  Not Rated.

2010 Sparkman Cellars, Lumiere, Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from the Columbia Valley.  It was aged for eight months in 40% new French oak.  The color of this wine is very light. The nose is full of old-school aromas and stones that are interesting. In the mouth there are some barrel influences mixed with flavors of white and yellow fruits. A nice wine.  Not Rated.

Wines that I Tasted

2009 Sparkman Cellars, Preposterous, Malbec, Red Mountain
This wine is 96% Malbec and 4% Syrah sourced from the Klipsun Vineyard. It was aged for 18 months in 23% new French oak.  This wine smoothly delivers dark berries and spice in an easy to drink manner. While it retains a Malbec profile it is made in a Washington style that is sure to gain fans bored of Argentine Malbec.  Not Rated.

2008 Sparkman Cellars, Wilderness, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 18% Cabernet Franc, 18% Merlot, and 6% Petit Verdot.  The grapes were sourced from Klipsun, Kiona, 2 Blondes, Hedges, La Coye, Sheridan, DuBrul, and Les Gosses vineyards.  It was aged for 18 months in 45% new French oak.  A light nose of red fruits, stones, and purple berries. There is much more going on in the mouth. The initial burst of flavors is a complex blend of NW fruit but then it fades off leaving a dark aftertaste. This would be an attractive wine at a lower price.  Not Rated.

Tasting Room Decor

2008 Sparkman Cellars, Ruby Leigh, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 42% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot.  The grapes were sourced from Klipsun, Hedges, Kiona, Two Blondes, and Dubrul vineyards.  It was aged for 20 months in 56% new French oak.  A light nose but with focus. There is a good mouthfeel to the dusty fruit that turns spicy in the finish.   Not Rated.

2008 Sparkman Cellars, Stella Mae, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon 21% Petit Verdot, 16% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.  The grapes were sourced from Klipsun, Kiona, and Hedges vineyards.  It was aged for 20 months in 50% new French oak.  This has more power than the Ruby Leigh, in a structured and controlled manner. The concentrated blackberry flavors have an enjoyable inkiness.  Good stuff that needs some age and a step up from the Ruby Leigh.  Not Rated.

2009 Sparkman Cellars, Ruckus, Syrah
This wine is a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Syrah grapes were sourced from the Klipsun vineyard and the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Klipsun and Kiona vineyards.  It was aged for 15 months in 26% new French oak.  Purple in color and flavor with ample savory flavor. This is an enjoyable wine with some red candy flavors.  Not Rated.

Barrels in the Back Room


The Efeste Sign

After Matthews Estate I drove over to the Woodinville Warehouse WineriesEfeste is located off to the side and is a working winery, tasting room, and test kitchen.  Efeste is pronounced like the letters F, S, and T which are the initials of the last names of the owners: Daniel Ferrelli, Patrick Smith, and Kevin Taylor. Brennon Leighton is the wine maker and gained his preference for indigenous yeast while working at Chateau Ste. Michelle.  Although there was a small private event taking place and a tour, Daniel kindly poured the wines for me to taste and Brennon also stopped by the tasting bar.  I really liked the 2008 Ceidleigh Syrah and on a future visit I would certainly look for the Eleni and Jolie Syrahs.

Tasting Room Entrance

2010 Efeste, Feral, Sauvignon Blanc, Evergreen Vineyard, Ancient Lakes
This wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc sourced from the Evergreen Vineyard.  It was made with indigenous yeast and aged in 100% neutral French oak.  The nose was definitely wild with grassiness.  There are grassy flavors in the mouth with a sour-tilt to this different wine with notes of grape fruit.  While it is interesting, I was quite distracted by the grass aromas and flavors.  Not Rated.

2010 Efeste, Evergreen, Riesling, Evergreen Vineyard, Ancient Lakes
This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from the Evergreen Vineyard. It was made with purchased yeast.  More floral fruit of peaches, well done, fills the mouth with the aftertaste. A step up from the Feral Sauvignon Blanc.  Not Rated.

Tasting Room with Daniel and Brennen in the Background

2008 Efeste, Ceidleigh, Syrah, Red Mountain
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 40% Klipsun, 34% Ciel du Cheval, and 26% Ranch at the End of the Road vineyards.  It was made with indigenous yeasts and aged for 15 months in 22% new French oak.  There was a light nose of pure, dark red fruit and some lipstick.  In the mouth there are wild flavors of dark berries combined with heat breaking through.  The flavors turn towards pervasive, bright fruit, with an incense note that is consistent and attractive throughout.  My favorite wine of those tasted.  Not Rated.

2008 Efeste, Final-Final, Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon and 42% Syrah.  The grapes were sourced from Ciel du Cheval, Klipsun, Kiona, Sagemoor, Bacchus, Red Willow, Boushey, Weinbau, and Stone Tree vineyards.  It was made with indigenous yeasts and aged in 54% new French oak. There is an interesting nose, similar wildness, but with harder fruit of black cherries and berries.  There are some scents in the finish and plenty of tannins.  This might be in an awkward, youthful state and should settle down in a year.  Not Rated.

2008 Efeste, Big Papa, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced with 35% source drom Kiona, 27% from Klipsun, 20% from Sagemoor, and 18% from Weinbau vineyards.  The vines average 31 years of age.  It was made with indigenous yeast and aged in 83% new French oak.  This is a young wine that reveals dark flavors of blackberry and other black fruits but no complexity.  There are plenty of tannins and medium-bodied flavors. The tannins develop and put this wine just over the top.  Not Rated.

Women's World Cup Final in the Tasting room

J. Bookwalter

The J. Bookwalter Tasting Room Entrance

After visiting the Ross Andrews tasting room I headed over to J. Bookwalter.

The winemaker is a blending machine.  Not only is he capable of blending vintages but he adroitly blends varietals and vineyards.  I have included the compositions for various wines, not only because the vineyard sources are so important in Washington, but because I love the names.  Before my trip to Woodinville I had never heard of Elephant Mountain Vineyard nor Ranch At the End of the Road.  These wines do a good job of containing their alcohol and coming across as medium-bodied.  But the strengths of this winery lie at the extreme ends.  My recommendation is to drink the NV Subplot while the highly allocated Chapter 3 matures.

The Tasting Room

2010 Couplet
This is 74% Chardonnay and 26% Viognier entirely from the Connoer-Lee Vineyard in Columbia Valley.  It was fermented and aged in stainless steel.  This wine has a fresh, but sweet nose reminiscent of banana.  It is quite sweet and tart in the mouth with banana, brown sugar, and spice.  It is a bit odd and has a persistent aftertaste of sweet spice.  Not Rated.

2010 Anecdote
This wine is 100% Riesling that 34% was sourced from Charbonneau, 19% from Sagemoor, and 19% Bacchus of Columbia Valley with the remaining 28% from Sugar Loaf in Yakima Valley.  It was fermented and aged in stainless steel. This wine a light nose that combines funk and freshness.  It is a little sweet in handling the fruit but also acidic.  It leaves the impression of being forcefully made.  Not Rated.

Some J. Bookwalter Reds

NV Subplot #25
This is the 25th non-vintage wine made since 1983.  This is a blend of 48% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% Barbera.  This is a blend of vintages encompassing 20% 2010, 32 % 2009, 37% 2008, 1% 2007, 7% 2006, and 3% 2005.  This saw a mish-mash of stainless steel and used French oak for aging.  This reveals purplish highlights in its color.  There are tart red fruits then ripe aromas mixed with darker notes.  With some air there are sweet, spiced aromas.  This is richer in the mouth, with ample sweet spice then soft, purple fruits, with some stuffing and surprisingly, no noticeable wood tannins.  It is actually an interesting wine and the best value.  It was my favorite along with the Chapter 3.  Not Rated.

2008 Foreshadow, Merlot
This wine is a blend of 81% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc.  These grapes were sourced from five vineyards: 33% Ciel du Cheval and 25% Klipsun (Red Mountain AVA), 24% Connor- Lee (Columbia Valley AVA), 11% Elephant Mountain (Yakima Valley AVA), and 7% McKingley Springs (Horse Heaven Hills AVA).  The wine was aged for 18 months in new and one to two-year old French oak barrels.  I found soft, Merlot flavors that were gentle in the mouth and monotonic.  Not Rated.

2008 Foreshadow, Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Malbec, 12% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc.  These grapes were sourced from six vintages: 26% Dionysus and 15% Connor-Lee (Columbia Valley AVA), 18% Klipsun and 10% Ciel du Cheval (Red Mountain AVA), 27% Mckinley Springs (Horse Heaven Hills AVA), and 4% Elephant Mountain (Yakima Valley AVA).  The wine spent 20 months in new and one to two-year old French oak barrels.  This showed brighter, red flavors as compared to the Merlot, along with some cinnamon toast spice.  A bit simple like the Merlot.  Not Rated.

2009 Antagonist
This wine is a blend of 88% Joseph Phelphs Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Merlot.  These grapes are sourced from 88% Elephant Mountain (Yakima Valley AVA) and 12% Conner-Lee (Columbia Valley AVA).  It was aged for 16 months in new and  used French oak barrels.  This has the largest mouthfeel yet with purple, Syrah flavors that are balanced by an articulate nose.  There is heat in the finish, ample spice, and very fine tannins in the aftertaste that are from newer oak.  Not Rated.

The J. Bookwalter, Chapter 3

2007 Chapter 3
This wine is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec, and 7% Petit Verdot.  The grapes  were sourced from 47% Conner-Lee (Columbia Valley AVA), 23% Ciel du Cheval (Red Mountain AVA), 22% Elephant Mountain (Yakima Valley AVA), and 8% McKinley Springs (Horse Heaven Hills AVA).  It was aged for 20 months in new French oak barrels.  There is a bit of fresh tuna, sweet sushi from the barrels, then sweet fruit followed by dark berry flavors.  The dense flavors are not overdone as they move on to a great mouthfeel. This wine needs age before it fully expands.  There is good potential if you do not mind some obvious oak in your wine.  Not Rated.

Ross Andrew Winery

July 20, 2011 1 comment

Entrance to the Ross Andrew Tasting Room

After a strong start tasting wines at Amavi/Pepper Bridge I walked next door to Ross Andrew Winery.  When I tasted the 2008 Syrah, Boushey Vineyard I suspected this might be the highlight of my day.  Six hours later I knew that it was.  It is worth the trip to Woodinville alone just to try this wine.  I am remiss at not purchasing a bottle or two but then I had decided not to buy any wine that day.  I still have this evening to check for any availability.

Inside the Tasting Room

The pedigree at this winery is great.  Ross Andrew Mickel is the winemaker and after working at DeLille Cellars and Rosemount Estate, he spent nine years as the assistant winemaker at Betz Family Winery.  Kirsten poured the wines and happily discussed the winery.

2008 Ross Andrew Winery, Syrah, Boushey Vineyard, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Syrah from three different Boushey clones.  The wine was aged 14 months in 70%  new and 30% old French oak.  There were 551 cases of this beautiful wine produced.  This attractive nose has very delicate aromas of berries, purple fruits, and herbs mixed with orange and citrus.  The orange aromas are incredibly lovely.  The nose is quite aromatic but not lifted.  In the mouth the savory flavors have a gritty component with almost subtle tannins that are very fine.  It is drinking well right now and well priced at $35.  This is a unique wine that must be tried by anyone with an interest in Washington wines.  It effortlessly stands above so many other wines.  Not Rated.

2008 Ross Andrew Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Klipsun and Ciel du Cheval Vineyards on Red Mountain with additional Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Alder Ridge on Horse Heaven Hills.  The Merlot is sourced from Ciel du Cheval.  In the 2006 vintage the wine spent 19 months  in 100% new French oak.  This new release is still coming together in the bottle.  It starts off with slight aromas of stinky armpit funk (not from anyone in the tasting room!) then a alcoholic headiness to the blue and red fruited nose.  The blue fruits in the mouth are soft in texture and delivered in a linear fashion that gains tannins as it progresses.  This is a young wine and needs to be aged, but honestly, just taste and buy the Boushey Syrah.  Not Rated.

Blueprints for Wine Press Designed by Ross Andrew

Derby Day Wines

Animal Kingdom, Kentucky Derby, 07 May 2011

We went to our neighbor’s house to watch the Kentucky Derby and eat a grilled dinner. While my daughter was off placing her winning bet on Animal Kingdom, I sampled some of the wines.

2003 Louis Roederer, Brut, Champagne
Robust and rich, the fruit balanced out the acidity,  good quality fizz.  This disappeared quickly.  Not Rated.

2007 Domaine La Cabotte, Cuvee Garance, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Massif d’Uchaux
This domaine was purchased twenty years ago.  Cabotte refers to huts built in fields used to store tools or provide shelter.  The domaine is in the process of converting to a biodynamic operation.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, and 20% Syrah.  It showed steely, light clean blue fruit flavors.  The Mourvedre and Syrah definitely revealed themselves.  This seemed somewhat shutdown.  Not Rated.

2008 Stuhlmuller Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
This wine offer primary, round blue fruits with some spice.    It is a polished wine that is balanced all around.  It is close to being full-bodied.  It is a good wine but not exciting.  I would cellar it a few years.  Not Rated.

2009 The House of Independent Producers, La Bourgeoisie, Merlot, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Merlot from the Goose Ridge Vineyard in Columbia Valley.  The project aims to showcase different vineyards throughout the state.  This bottle had a decent nose of red berries and herbs.  In the mouth it had redder fruit than the Hedges Red Mountain.  It is light to medium bodied with red and blue fruit in the mouth, more herbs, and decent finish.  It is relatively low alcohol and easy to drink.  A good budget wine.  Not Rated.

2008 Hedges, Red Mountain
This wine is a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 14% Syrah, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Malbec.  It was the most aromatic of the reds I tasted.  It show good dark fruit and nice complexity.  I preferred it to the Stuhlmuller.  Not Rated.

2003 Torbreck, Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Several years ago I bought six magnums on closeout from Wide World of Wines.  It has been a few years since Jenn and I last tasted this wine.  This magnum was quite nice, entering maturity, and offering ample aromas and flavors.  Some olive notes, sour red cherry, and a decent finish.  Not Rated.