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Posts Tagged ‘Wahluke Slope’

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.

Three Washington State Wines from Pike & Western Wine Shop

November 2, 2011 2 comments

The Lobo Hills, Robert Ramsay, and Pandora Cellars were all purchased from Pike and Western Wine Shop during my last trip to Seattle.  These are relatively new producers with Pandora Cellars  and Lobo Hills founded in 2010.  Robert Ramsay Cellars has been around a bit longer.  The Lobo Hills cost $20, the Robert Ramsay cost $15, and the Pandora Cellars cost $25.  The Lobo Hills wine shows good promise for a new winery, I particularly like the feel of the wine and the reasonable price.  The Robert Ramsay is a good value at $15 which makes it a daily drinker.  The Pandora Cellars is a decent wine but it showed too much heat for me and is a bit pricey at $25.  So give the Lobo Hills and Robert Ramsay a go!

2008 Lobo Hills Wine Company, Cabernet Sauvignon, Fries Vineyard, Wahluke Slope
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the Fries Vineyard. It was aged for two years in French oak. The light nose has floral hints to it. The red and black fruit is soft with a sour tilt and delivered with a nice textured, sandy feel. There are notes of toast and green house before fine, ripe tannins come out in the finish. ** Now-2015.

2008 Robert Ramsay Cellars, Masons’s Red, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 92% Syrah, 5% Viognier, and 3% Mourvedre sourced from the McKinley Springs and Boushey Vineyards. It was aged in 61% used and 39% new French oak. The tart fruit mixes with ample flavors of cocoa before it expands in the mouth. Though there is plenty of acidity on the side of the tongue, the fruit is a bit soft and upstaged by the acidity.  Accordingly to the website, the goal is to produce a wine with ample enough acidity to stand up to a variety of foods.  I missed out, I usually taste after dinner! ** Now.

2009 Pandora Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from two vineyards in Yakima Valley and one in Red Mountain. The nose has aromas of dark fruit that is a tad spirity. In the mouth the dark cherry and other dark red fruit, is soft and tart. Light to medium tannins come out midpalate as the wine becomes a little disjointed and showing heat. There is a good dark blue aftertaste. ** Now-2015.

Two More Wines From The Bunnell Family Cellar

I was curious to try more of Bunnell’s wines after tasting the 2007 Syrah, Clifton Hill Vineyard that I had purchased on an earlier trip.  With Michael’s help at City Cellars in Seattle I was able to obtain these two selections.  The 2007 vif was purchased for $34 and the 2006 Syrah, Clifton Hills Vineyard for $42.

Jenn and I opened these bottled together.  Both wines were quite closed for the first half of an hour but then continued to open up over the next several hours.  You will be missing out if you drink a glass early on, these wines really do need air!  I recommend both of these wines.  If you have never drunk a Bunnell wine before then start with the vif.  Even though it is almost $10 cheaper it is a cracking good wine.  Actually, I give a slight tilt towards the vif since it does not have the sweet notes I found in the 2006 and 2007 Syrahs.

2007 The Bunnell Family Cellar, vif, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 60% Syrah, 27% Mourvedre, and 13% Petite Sirah.  The Syrah was sourced from the Horse Heaven Hills and the Wahluke Slope.  The Mourvedre and Petite Sirah were sourced from the Wahluke Slope.  The specific vineyards are the Andrews-Rowell, Northridge, and Stonetree.  The wine was aged for 17 months in American and Hungarian oak.  There were 367 cases produced.  The nose eventually revealed focused aromas of lavender, herbs de Provence, and roasted earth.  According to Jenn, the wine was medium-bodied but was light in fruit-weight.  There were some flavors of smoke, a salty profile, and a savory aftertaste.  With air it put on weight and became a little spicy.  Good stuff!  This is more approachable right now than the Syrah.

2006 The Bunnell Family Cellar, Syrah, Clifton Hill Vineyard, Wahluke Slope
This wine is 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier that were cofermented.  The grapes were sourced from the Clifton Hill Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope.  The wine was aged in American and Hungarian oak.  There were 204 cases produced.  On the first night there were some banana notes mixed with Bazooka Joe.  The fruit is more concentrated than the vif.  On the second night the fruit was pleasingly weighty with flavors of sour cherry mixed with smoky earth.  The tannins are soft and integrated in this harmonious wine.  I would age this another year or two but if you drink it now then decant the wine for several hours.

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.

Barrage Cellars

The Entrance

With less than one hour left I had time to visit one more winery before stopping by Baer Winery. A few people had recommended stopping by Barrage Cellars so I did.  This is another young winery.  It was founded in 2006 by owner and winemaker Kevin Correll.  Kevin started off in 1997 by making wine at home followed by volunteering at three different harvests.  He began taking classes at UC Davis and received his winemaking certificate in 2008.  The Barrage name is a combination of Barn and Garage and is a tribute to the first two locations where he made wine.  Today he produces single varietal wines where he often blends across vineyards.

Previous vintages of the red wines have seen approximately two years of barrel aging in 50% new and 50% second-fill French oak.  The alcohol levels have also danced around 15%.  The wines fell into three tiers with the Outcast Cabernet Franc at the top.  This is a wine with potential and certainly worth trying.  The other reds and the Nuclear Blonde Chardonnay are in the middle.  Perhaps with a bit more finesse and less barrel time these wines will rise to the level of the Outcast.  The Riesling was at the bottom and came across as an experiment.

The Tasting Room

2008 Nuclear Blonde
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from the Conner Lee Vineyard.  The vines are seven years old.  It was 100% barrel fermented in neutral French oak for 12 months sur lees.  There were aromas of cheese and biscuits on the nose.  The flavors are ripe with good mouthfeel and a nervey quality.  The aftertaste leaves residual sweet-spices.  It is somewhat disjointed between the nose and mouth.  Not Rated.

2008 Trifecta
This wine is 100% Merlot sourced from Les Vignes de Marcoux, Sheridan, and Conner Lee Vineyards.  There were some green notes on the nose.  In the mouth the ripe fruits are delievered in a medium-bodied package.  Not Rated.

2008 Outcast
This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from Boushey and Sheridan Vineyards.  This wine was bottled 6-7 months ago and is a well made selection.  The red and blue fruits mix with hot spices in this rich wine.  There are sweeter spices towards the finish as the flavors water down a bit.  I preferred this over the Trifecta.  Not Rated.

2007 Double Barrel
This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with 40% sourced from Red Willow, 30% Sheridan, and 30% Destiny Ridge Vineyards.  It was aged for 25 months in 50% new French oak.  There is a restrained nose.  In the mouth the black berries compete with some sweet, agressive tannins.  Not Rated.

2008 Eclipse
This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from the Les Vignes de Marcoux Vineyard.  This wine spent 24 months in barrel.  The nose contains strong aromas of bacon and toast from the barrel.  There are spicy black fruits along with sweet blue fruits.  This is nicely done but I really prefer the Outcast.  Not Rated.

2009 Riesling
This wine is 100% Riesling sourced from Dineen Vineyard.  Tasted last this Riesling is intended to be off-dry.  The nose was a bit offputting and not that great.  In the mouth this obviously sweet wine lacked acidity.  Not Rated.

The Barrel Room

2007 The Bunnell Family Cellar, Syrah, Clifton Hill Vineyard

This estate was started by Ron and Susan Bunnell.  Ron had a previous career making wine for Chateau Ste. Michelle, Beringer Vineyards and Kendall-Jackson. The winery is located at the old family herb farm River Aerie.  The cellars are built into the hill so they remain naturally cool. This wine is from the Clifton Hill Vineyard owned by the Milbrandt brothers in the Wahluke Slope AVA.  This vineyard was planted in 1999 with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc.  This wine is a blend of 97% Syrah and 3% Viognier that are co-fermented.  It is aged in American and Hungarian barrels.  There were 270 cases produced.

Wahluke Slope Vineyards, Image from Milbrandt Vineyards

I bought this wine from Esquin Wine Merchants.  I do not recall wait I paid but suspect it was in the $35-$40 range.  If you can find it, buy it.  Highly recommended.

2007 The Bunnell Family Cellar, Syrah, Clifton Hill Vineyard
This wine starts off sweet and creamy but gains richness with air.  The black cherry flavors are smooth with a sweet spice that is more candy-like than Rhone-like.  This wine is still young and dense with waves of cream-like flavors that persist in the mouth.  It turns a bit tart in the finish.  Jenn found notes of “pure brown sugar.”  While it is good drinking now, I’d give one or two years of short-term aging.  ***(*) 2014-2019.

Syncline and McCarthy & Schiering’s Store Blend

These wines are relatively well priced with the Syncline at $20 and the McCarthy & Schiering at $23.  Many of the Syncline wines are available at Soul Wine so at $17 this Grenache/Carignan is an absolute deal.  Go buy some!

2008 McCarthy & Schiering, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
This wine is produced at Quilceda Creek Winery and some say it comes from pressed Quilceda Creek grapes.  The label states 15.2% ABV!  This wine starts off as structured with a nice underlying, creamy, blue fruits.  There are stone-like minerals.  The fine+ tannins coat the mouth as a spicy aftertaste develops.  There are drying tannins.  This tilts towards a more alcoholic and wood tannic wine, that clearly needs age.  **(*) 2015-2019.

2009 Syncline, Grenache & Carignan, Columbia Valley
This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Carignan.  The Grenache is sourced from Milbrandt Vineyards and Wahluke Slope.  The Carignan is sourced from McKinley Springs and Horse Heaven Hills.  The grapes are hand harvested and the wine is aged for eleven months in neutral French oak.  This bottle drank great over three nights.  The aromas of raspberries and red fruit float out of the glass.  In the mouth there are meaty flavors of dark, red fruit.  There are subdued tannins intermixed with tart red fruit.  There are fresh, strong, purple fruit flavors in the aftertaste.  That wine is a bit disconnected at this point as it leaves the impression of two components: fresh fruit and tannins.  I suspect it just needs some time to integrate.  **(*) 2014-2017.