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Dec. 26, 2011


Head-trained vines are covered with frost as Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain is mostly shrouded in fog. (Andy Perdue/ Wine Press Northwest)

Fresh Press is a weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest magazine. In each edition, we review recently released wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho. Feel free to forward to your wine-loving friends and family. For more information on our tasting methods and review process, please go to the last page.

A weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest • Vol. 1, No. 31 • © 2011

FRESHPRESS Dec. 26, 2011

Spotlight: Abacela 12500 Lookingglass Road, Roseburg, OR 97471 541-679-6642 •

Abacela founder Earl Jones said proudly, “This is the wine we came to Oregon to make.” In October, the famed Umpqua Valley winemaker lifted the veil on his secret project — Paramour — a proprietary red blend from the 2005 vintage with the robust Spanish grape Tempranillo as the base. “American Tempranillo will change forever” is how the Roseburg winery promoted the invitation-only evening to its wine club. Jones repeatedly, albeit playfully, declined to list the components of the blend. He said it was built in the Spanish tradition of Gran Reserva wines from the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions of the Iberian Peninsula, which specifies such wines as being aged five years and the product of an excellent growing season. Indeed, the 2005 vintage is viewed as one of the Northwest’s best of the young century. The production was 170 cases, and the 2005 Paramour ($90) ranks as one of Oregon’s most expensive wines not made of Pinot Noir. “I hadn’t even thought about that,” Jones said. “I know the economy is down, but I think it’s priced fairly.” This year, Abacela released about 2,500 cases of robust Tempranillo among its three tiers — regular ($20), estate ($35) and reserve ($45). The 2005 Paramour spans winemakers past and present, Kiley Evans and Andrew Wenzl, respectively. And yet Jones, director of the Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS), takes full credit for this unique Temp. “This was my project,” he said. “I’ve kept it close to my chest. It was tough keeping those six barrels a secret, though.” Ironically, the public got its first glimpse of Paramour two years ago when Jones donated three large-format bottles of it to the 25th annual Classic Wine Auction in Portland. The gift of the 2005 Paramour came as he celebrated being named the 2009 Oregon Vintner of the Year. “The 2005 vintage was a great one here at Abacela, and my read on the wine is that it hasn’t peaked,” Jones said. “I’m estimating that will be around 2017, and it probably will set on that plateau for 10 years.” It has been a particularly memorable year for Jones and his wife, Hilda, as they opened their stylish new

tasting facility this spring. And the proprietary name goes a long way in describing his latest adventure at his 77-acre Fault Line Vineyards. Jones views Paramour as the culmination of efforts that began in 1995 when he became the first in the Northwest to plant Tempranillo. He uprooted his family from the Florida Panhandle and transitioned from a decorated career in clinical dermatology to create world-class Tempranillo in the United States. “Paramour translates as ‘other love’ or ‘mistress,’ ” he said. “We’ve dedicated so much time and attention to this, it’s a good way to describe it.” Those who miss out on this debutante Paramour must wait a while for her younger sister. Jones doesn’t expect to release the next one — the 2009 Paramour — until 2015. Last week, we blind tasted the 2005 Paramour, as well as Abacela’s 2007 Reserve Tempranillo. Outstanding! Abacela 2005 Paramour, Umpqua Valley, $90. This “Gran Reserva” style red wine has been heralded as one of the finest wines in the Pacific Northwest, and our blind tasting confirms its beauty. Owner Earl Jones describes this as the culmination of his reason for starting Abacela in the mid-1990s. The grapes come from estate vineyards in Southern Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, and it spent nearly two years in French oak and another four years in bottle before being released this fall. It opens with aromas of black cherries, black currants, blueberries, fresh figs, leather, cola and caramel. On the palate, it explodes with flavors of Marionberries, black currants and caramel. It’s a big wine with robust tannins and earthy tones. (170 cases, 14.2% alc.) Excellent. Abacela 2007 Reserve Tempranillo, Umpqua Valley, $45. This Roseburg, Ore., winery is responsible for the rise of Northwest Tempranillo, having focused on the robust Spanish grape since its launch more than 15 years ago. As of this fall, Abacela now produces no fewer than four different bottlings of Tempranillo (and the grape finds its way into some of the winery’s other wines). This superb reserve-level red opens with intriguing aromas of purple fruit, late, orange pekoe tea, lemon zest, plums and chalk dust. On the palate, it shows off flavors of caramel, plums, cinnamon and something that reminds us of a grape lollipop. (281 cases, 14.6% alc.)

A weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest • Vol. 1, No. 31 • © 2011

FRESHPRESS Dec. 26, 2011

New releases we’ve tasted Cabernet Sauvignon Excellent. Columbia Crest 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $45. Thenwinemaker Ray Einberger turned to some of his favorite vineyards for one of Columbia Crest’s most famous wines. Wautoma Springs Vineyard next to Ste. Michelle-owned Cold Creek Vineyard, is the leading contributor at 33%, while Coyote Canyon in the Horse Heaven Hills and Stone Tree on the Wahluke Slope also are important sources. This wine spent 25 months in new French oak before being bottled. It’s a big, sturdy wine with aromas of black currants, Baker’s chocolate, cherries and sweet caramels, followed by flavors of pomegranates, sweet cherries, ripe plums and currants. Moderate tannins make this approachable now, and spice on the finish provides an intriguing farewell. (6,600 cases, 14.5% alc.) Recommended. Daven Lore Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $25. Owner/winemaker Gord Taylor brought in grapes from Alder Ridge and Double Canyon in the Horse Heaven Hills for this tasty Cab. He added a bit of Petit Verdot and Merlot for complexity. It reveals aromas of blueberries, black currants, moist dark earth, black tea, blackberries and mushrooms, followed by flavors of dark and blue fruits with a hint of graphite and mint. Assertive tannins still need a bit of time to resolve. (78 cases, 15.1% alc.)

Merlot Excellent. Best Buy! Columbia Crest 2009 H3 Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, $15. Columbia Crest has turned its H3 tier into a significant part of its portfolio. The grapes come from vineyards in the vast Horse Heaven Hills, where the Northwest’s largest winery has been located since its launch in the early 1980s. This wine is nearly all Merlot, with just a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec blended in for complexity. It opens with aromas of black currants, dark plums, blackberries, cocoa powder and cherry tobacco. On the palate, it offers flavors of chocolate, vanilla, dark berries, black currants and plums, all backed with beautifully integrated tannins. (58,000 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Outstanding! Best Buy! Waterbrook Winery 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $15. This wine is the perfect combination of quality, value and availability. Waterbrook, which is owned by Precept in Seattle, has broad distribution, so this superb and affordable red should be relatively easy to find. It was aged in a combination of new and used oak for 21 months, giving it a level of complexity not ordinarily found in such a value-minded wine. It opens with aromas of Earl Grey tea, rose petals, raspberries, pomegranates and caramel, followed by flavors of dried cranberries, cherry cola and ripe plums. Everything is expertly backed up with plush, approachable tannins. Age this one on the way home from the store, then serve it with grilled meats or linguine in a puttanesca sauce. (7,186 cases, 13.3% alc.) Excellent. Daven Lore Winery 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $25. Daven Lore has quickly developed into a can’t-miss winery, as everything we blind taste from this Prosser, Wash., winery is superb — and this Merlot is another example. Using primarily fruit from Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, this includes a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It is an attractive wine on the nose, with expressive aromas of blueberry jam, black cherries, red earth, caramel and black tea. On the palate, it shows off flavors of raspberries, cherries, blueberries and chocolate. The tannins show up late, giving this a hearty finish. We’d pair it with prime rib or a hearty stew. (58 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Tempranillo Recommended. Desert Wind Winery 2009 Tempranillo, Wahluke Slope, $20. More and more regions in the Northwest are exploring this important Spanish grape, which delights us. The hot, arid Wahluke Slope might just be perfect for Tempranillo, where the grower can control just about every aspect of the grape’s maturation. This effort from Desert Wind uses grapes from its vast estate vineyard on the slope. It opens with aromas of white pepper, chocolate, blackberries and allspice, followed by flavors of blueberries, new leather and Saskatoon

Wine ratings All wines reviewed here are tasted blind after being submitted by producers. They are rated Outstanding, Excellent and Recommended by a tasting panel. Outstanding: These wines have superior characteristics and should be highly sought after. Excellent: Top-notch wines with particularly high qualities.

Recommended: Delicious, well-made wines with true varietal characteristics. Best Buy: A wine that is $15 or less. Priced are suggested retail and should be used as guidelines. Prices are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.

A weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest • Vol. 1, No. 31 • © 2011

FRESHPRESS Dec. 26, 2011

New releases we’ve tasted berries. It was aged for 17 months in American oak and is available exclusively in the Prosser winery’s tasting room or through its website. (427 cases, 14.5% alc.)

elegant wine with flavors of raspberries and boysenberries. The tannins are in check, making this an approachable everyday wine. (90,000 cases, 13.6% alc.)


Recommended. Long Story Short Cellars 2009 God King Slave, Rogue Valley, $26. Winemaker Chris Jiron and blogger Christine Collier are the young couple behind this Southern Oregon label. This blend of equal parts Syrah and Tempranillo from Folin Vineyard is securely sealed by a glass cork, and it’s a big wine. It opens with aromas of smoky cherries, cedar, sizzling bacon and dates, followed by bold flavors blueberries and black tea. We love the bold, chewy, smoky tannins. We’d suggest taming this with a rib eye or roasted lamb. (90 cases, 13.7% alc.)

Recommended. Daven Lore Winery 2010 The Apprentice Grenache, Columbia Valley, $30. Assistant winemaker Adrienne Mills crafted a juicy Grenache for this Prosser, Wash., producer using grapes from Lonesome Spring Ranch near the Yakima Valley town of Benton City. It shows off youthful aromas of cherries, pomegranates, raspberries and slate, followed by flavors of more red fruit backed with bright acidity. We would pair this with roasted duck, tomato-basil soup or brie. (27 cases, 15.3% alc.) Outstanding! Smasne Cellars 2009 Upland Vineyard Grenache, Snipes Mountain, $30. Robert Smasne crafts the wine for Upland Estate in the Yakima Valley town of Sunnyside, and he also benefits with some of the vineyard’s best grapes for his own label. More than a few winemakers have fallen in love with the Grenache from Snipes Mountain, and we can see why in this wine. It opens with aromas of cedar, boysenberries, plums, blackberries, tobacco leaf and brownies. On the palate, it’s a ripe, juicy, delicious wine, with flavors of Baker’s chocolate, boysenberries, plums, cherries and caramel. It’s a beautifully balanced wine with mild oak and modest, approachable tannins and has us salivating for paella. (70 cases, 13.9% alc.) Recommended. Snake River Winery 2008 Arena Valley Vineyard Grenache, Snake River Valley, $18. Arena Valley has long been a favorite vineyard in Idaho’s Snake River Valley, and it’s been the estate vineyard for Snake River Valley for many years. This tasty and rare Idaho Grenache offers a glimpse of the possibilities. It opens with aromas of moist earth, sweet spices, raspberries, figs and toast, followed by ample flavors of juicy dark cherries, violets, cinnamon and sandalwood. (245 cases, 14% alc.)

Red blends Excellent. Best Buy! Columbia Crest 2009 Two Vines Merlot-Cab, Washington, $8. Two Vines is Columbia Crest’s value tier, with the wines selling for under $10 (well under, if you look around). This is one of Crest’s most popular blends, which leads with Merlot (52%) and includes Cabernet Franc (43%) and a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). It opens with aromas of black pepper, toast, saddle leather, boysenberries, pie cherries, cinnamon and a hint of smoke. On the palate, it is a delicious, balanced and

Chardonnay Recommended. Best Buy! Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2008 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $12. Mike Conway opened Latah Creek in the early 1980s, making it one of the oldest wineries in the Spokane area. He crafts wine that are equally delicious and affordable. This Chardonnay, which spent just two months in oak, uses grapes from one of the top vineyards in Washington’s Columbia Valley. The wine opens with aromas of apples, sweet spices, pineapples, vanilla and a bit of toast, followed by spritzy flavors of apricots, lemon zest and apples. It shows off a nice touch of tartness on the finish. This will pair with shellfish or lemon chicken. (828 cases, 12% alc.)

Riesling Excellent. Best Buy! Columbia Winery 2010 Cellarmaster's Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12. This Woodinville, Wash., winery began in the early 1960s as Associated Vintners and has been a maverick in wine style and quality since the beginning. This is Columbia’s most popular wine, thanks to its consistency and sweetness. It opens with aromas of peaches, apples and a minerally perfuminess that is rather intriguing. On the palate, it is loaded with ripe, juicy fruit, including peaches, mangoes and lemons. At 6% residual sugar, it’s plenty sweet, but it has the acidity and flavor to pull it off. We’d pair this with spicy cuisine from Thailand, India, Vietnam, China or Mexico. (61,900 cases, 10% alc.) Recommended. Best Buy! Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2010 Riesling, Washington, $9. Using grapes from Familigia Vineyards near the Columbia Basin town of George, Wash., this longtime Spokane winery has crafted a Riesling that is delicious and affordable. It opens with aromas of rose petals, apples and caramel, followed by flavors of pineapples,

A weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest • Vol. 1, No. 31 • © 2011

FRESHPRESS Dec. 26, 2011

New releases we’ve tasted lemon-lime, grilled peaches, apples and slate. It’s on the sweeter side at 2.5% residual sugar but is nicely balanced. (1,170 cases, 10.5% alc.) Recommended. Best Buy! Waterbrook Winery 2010 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12. Riesling is Washington’s No. 1 grape by production, and Waterbrook is in the game with this delicious and affordable version. It opens with intriguing aromas of spices, apples, pears, dried figs and a hint of nuttiness. The palate follows with flavors of apricots, caramel and spices. At 4.4% residual sugar, it’s on the sweeter side. Pair with Tex-Mex, gumbo, chicken tikka masala or pho. (1,984 cases, 10.9% alc.)

Pinot Gris Excellent. Kramer Vineyards 2009 Kimberley’s Reserve Pinot Gris, Yamhill-Carlton District, $18. Trudy and Keith Kramer named this reserve-level wine after their daughter Kimberley, who now is a winemaker for the family winery in northern Yamhill County. This wine was fermented in neutral oak, which added a depth of flavor and complexity. It reveals aromas of tropical fruits, lemon zest and lemon verbena. On the palate, it’s an expressive wine with flavors of bright lemons and white peaches. This would pair well with butternut squash ravioli in a light white wine sauce. (145 cases, 14.3% alc.) Excellent. Best Buy! Waterbrook Winery 2010 Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, $12. John Freeman oversees winemaking at one of Walla Walla’s oldest and largest operations. Now owned by Precept in Seattle, Waterbrook works out of a large production facility west of town. The grapes for this bright and delicious Pinot Gris come from Willow Crest Vineyard near the Yakima Valley town of Grandview. This opens with approachable aromas of apples, peaches, oranges and sweet spices. On the palate, it offers luscious flavors of tangerines, orange zest, pears, peaches and guava. Pair with seared scallops. (2,042 cases, 12.3% alc.)

Excellent. Best Buy! Willow Crest Winery 2010 Estate Pinot Gris, Yakima Valley, $10. The Minnick family began growing wine grapes in Washington’s Yakima Valley in 1982, and Dave Minnick opened his winery in the mid-1990s. Over the years, his wines have earned high acclaim for quality and value. His winery and tasting room are now conveniently located just off Interstate 82 at the Vinters Village in Prosser. This delicious and affordable white wine offers aromas of spices, peaches, apples, minerals and grapefruits, along with a complex note of nuttiness and flowers. On the palate, it reveals flavors that reminded us of applesauce and peaches. (5,400 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Sauvignon Blanc Excellent. Best Buy! Waterbrook Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $12. Eric Rindal founded Waterbrook Winery in 1984, making it one of the Walla Walla Valley’s oldest producers. And he helped many budding winemakers along the way, helping to develop the valley’s storied wine industry. Rindal sold the operation to Precept a few years ago, but his tradition of providing high-quality wines at value prices has continued. This delicious Sauvignon Blanc reaches out and grabs you at first whiff, offering classic aromas of freshly cut grass, grapefruits and gooseberries, as well as notes of green apples and nutmeg. On the palate, it shows off ruby red grapefruits, gooseberries and mangoes. This will pair beautifully with seafood pasta, mussels, crab cakes, grilled vegetables or baked chicken. (2,409 cases, 12.9% alc.)

A weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest • Vol. 1, No. 31 • © 2011

FRESHPRESS Dec. 26, 2011

Northwest wine regions Multi-state appellations Columbia Valley: This multi-state appellation is 11 million acres in size and takes up a third of Washington. Established in 1984. Columbia Gorge: This multi-state appellation begins around the town of Lyle and heads west to Husum on the Washington side of the Columbia River. It was established in 2004. Walla Walla Valley: Walla Walla Valley: This multi-state appellation is in the southeast corner of Washington and around Milton-Freewater, Ore. Established in 1984. Snake River Valley: This is in southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon. It covers 8,263 square miles and was established in 2007.

Washington Yakima Valley: The Northwest’s oldest appellation (established in 1983) stretches past Wapato in the west to Benton City in the east and includes Red Mountain, Rattlesnake Hills and Snipes Mountain. Red Mountain: Washington’s smallest appellation is a ridge in the eastern Yakima Valley. It is 4,040 acres in size. Established in 2001. Horse Heaven Hills: This large appellation — 570,000 acres — is south of the Yakima Valley and stretches to the Oregon border. It was established in 2005. Wahluke Slope: Approved in early 2006, this huge landform north of the Yakima Valley is an 81,000-acre gravel bar created by the Ice Age Floods. It is one of the warmest regions in the entire Pacific Northwest. Established in 2006. Rattlesnake Hills: This appellation is in the western Yakima Valley north of the towns of Zillah, Granger and Outlook. The appellation is 68,500 acres in size with about 1,300 acres of vineyards. It was established in 2006. Puget Sound: This sprawling appellation is in Western Washington. It stretches from the Olympia area to the Canadian border north of Bellingham. It also sweeps through the San Juan Islands and to Port Angeles. Established in 1995. Snipes Mountain: This is one of Washington’s oldest wine-growing regions. At 4,145 acres in size, it is the state’s second-smallest AVA. Grapes have been grown on Snipes Mountain and at the adjacent Harrison Hill (also part of the AVA) since 1914. This AVAwas approved in 2009. Lake Chelan: This area in north-central Washington is almost entirely within the Columbia Valley. It is a young area, with the oldest vines dating to 1998. About 250 acres are planted here. It was approved in 2009. Naches Heights: Approved in 2011, this area near the city of Yakima has fewer than 50 acres of grapes planted.

Ribbon Ridge: This is the Northwest’s smallest appellation at 3,350 acres. It is best known for its Pinot Noir and is within the Chehalem Mountains AVA. It was established in 2005. Yamhill-Carlton: This is a horseshoe-shaped appellation that surrounds the towns of Yamhill and Carlton. It was established in 2005. The “District” was dropped in 2011. Chehalem Mountains: This is the largest within the Willamette Valley. This 62,100-acre appellation is northeast of the Dundee Hills. It was established in 2006. Dundee Hills: Many of Oregon’s pioneer wineries are in the Dundee Hills within Oregon’s Yamhill County. The appellation is 6,490 acres in size. It was established in 2005. Eola-Amity Hills: This important region stretches from the town of Amity in the north to the capital city of Salem in the southeast. It is 37,900 acres in size. It was established in 2006. McMinnville: The hills south and west of the Yamhill County city of McMinnville are more than 40,000 acres in size. It was established in 2005. Umpqua Valley: This Southern Oregon appellation surrounds the city of Roseburg north of the Rogue Valley. It can produce Pinot Noir as well as warm-climate grapes. It was established in 1984. Rogue Valley: The Northwest’s southern-most appellation surrounds the cities of Medford and Ashland, just north of the California border. It is known for its warm growing conditions. Established in 2001. Applegate Valley: This small valley within the Rogue Valley is known for a multitude of microclimates that can result in wines of distinction and complexity. Established in 2004. Southern Oregon: This AVA encompasses the Umpqua, Rogue and Applegate valleys and Red Hill Douglas County. It was established in 2005. Red Hill Douglas County: This tiny appellation — just 5,500 acres — is within the Umpqua Valley. Fewer than 200 acres of wine grapes, primarily Pinot Noir, are grown here. Established in 2005.

British Columbia

Okanagan Valley: In the province’s interior, this 100mile valley stretches from the border in Osoyoos to Salmon Arm in the north. Most wineries are near Oliver, Penticton and Kelowna. It was established in 1990. Similkameen Valley: This warm valley is west of the southern Okanagan Valley. It was established in 1990. Vancouver Island: This marine-influenced appellation is in the southwest part of the province. Established in 1990. Fraser Valley: This farming area is in the Lower Mainland, south of Vancouver. Established in 1990. Gulf Islands: This appellation includes approximately Oregon Willamette Valley: Oregon’s largest appellation stretches 100 islands spread out between Vancouver Island and the southern mainland. Established in 2005. roughly from Portland to Eugene. Established in 1984.

A weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest • Vol. 1, No. 31 • © 2011

FRESHPRESS Dec. 26, 2011

About us Wine Press Northwest is a quarterly consumer magazine that focuses on the wine regions of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho. Annual subscriptions are $20. Click to subscribe. Editor-in-chief: Andy Perdue Managing editor: Eric Degerman Advertising inquiries: Parker Hodge © 2011

Tasting methods Recent Releases are evaluated under strict conditions to ensure objectivity. Northwest wineries submit wines to Wine Press Northwest for evaluation by Wine Press Northwest’s tasting panel. After wines are received, they are stored for at least two weeks and a third party serves them “blind,” meaning the tasting panelists do not know the producer. In addition, the panelists are served glasses of wine and are not able to view the bottles or their shapes prior to tasting. Wines are stored in temperature-controlled conditions, allowing them to be served at perfect cellar temperatures. Price is not a consideration in these evaluations, nor is a winery’s advertising activity with Wine Press Northwest, as the magazine’s editorial/wine evaluation activities and advertising/ marketing efforts are kept strictly separate. The panel has a combination of technical and consumer palates. If at least three of the four panelists consider a wine technically sound and commercially acceptable, it is included here as “Recommended.” The panel may also vote the wine as “Excellent” or “Outstanding,” our top rating. Wines considered

unacceptable by the panel are rejected and not included. Reviews are grouped by variety or style and listed alphabetically by winery. Prices listed are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise indicated. To ensure we maintain an international perspective, our tasting panelists judge thousands of wines annually at various competitions, including: Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition, Riverside International Wine Competition, Dallas Morning News Wine Competition, Indy International Wine Competition, Virginia Governor’s Cup, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, Grand Harvest Awards, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru, Washington State Wine Competition, Seattle Wine Awards, Northwest Wine Summit, British Columbia Wine Awards, New York Wine and Grape Foundation Competition, Tri-Cities Wine Festival, Capital Food & Wine Fest, North Central Washington Wine Awards and Idaho Wine Competition.

A weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest • Vol. 1, No. 31 • © 2011

Fresh Press for Dec. 26, 2011  

A weekly publication of Wine Press Northwest. This week, we spotlight Abacela in Roseburg, Ore., and its heralded Paramour, a red blend. We...

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