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Vol. 12, No. 4



28 Portland The best places to eat, stay and taste wine in the City of Roses.

Winter 2009/2010 DEPARTMENTS 6 Wine Nose A decade of seeking best in NW

10 A Distant Perspective

44 Harvest Report Our look at the 2009 vintage in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.

52 Platinum Judging For the 10th year in a row, we put the Northwest’s gold medal winners up against each other to see which wines are the best of the best.

70 For a cold winter’s night These tasty Northwest port-style wines are sure to warm up your winter.

78 Bubbly and... Two Northwest chefs pair their dishes with Domaine Ste. Michelle’s Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine.

Lies, damn lies and statistics

12 Market Grapevine The bright season

14 Swirl, Sniff & Sip NW Chenin Blancs worth seeking out

16 Urban Sips Wines that command performance

18 21 22 92 106

10 Things to Do Northwest Wine Events Northwest Wine News Recent Releases Vintage Musings Maryhill Winery’s first decade

COVER STORY Portland has many places for wine lovers to visit. Story begins on page 28. Photo by Jackie Johnston

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Wine Press Northwest is for those with an interest in wine — from the novice to the veteran. We focus on Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia’s talented winemakers and the wineries, vintners and restaurants that showcase Northwest wines. We are dedicated to all who savor the fruits of their labor. Publisher: Rufus M. Friday Editor-in-chief: Andy Perdue Phone: 509-582-1405 Fax: 509-585-7221 E-mail: Managing editor: Eric Degerman Phone: 509-582-1404 Fax: 509-585-7221 E-mail: Tasting editor: Bob Woehler Tasting panel: Winnie Alberg, Vanessa Bailey, Dan Berger, Jarrod Boyle, Jay Drysdale, Parks Redwine, Ken Robertson, Coke Roth, Dave Seaver, Paul Sinclair, Bob Woehler, Eric Degerman, Andy Perdue Master facilitator: Hank Sauer Page designer: Jackie Johnston Editor at-large: Jon Bauer Columnists: Jon Bauer, Dan Berger, Teri Citterman, Braiden Rex-Johnson, Ken Robertson, Bob Woehler Contributing photographer: Jackie Johnston Ad sales: Shelley Ransier, 509-582-1570 E-mail: To subscribe: Subscriptions cost $20 U.S. per year for four issues. Mail check, money order or credit card number and expiration date to address below or subscribe securely on our Web site. Subscriptions and customer service: 800-538-5619; e-mail: Letters to the editor: We encourage your thoughts and comments about our publication and about Northwest wines in general. Write to us at the address below. Free weekly newsletter: Sign up for our free Pacific Northwest Wine of the Week e-mail newsletter at Mailing address: P.O. Box 2608 Tri-Cities, WA 99302-2608 Shipping address: 333 W. Canal Drive Kennewick, WA 99336 © 2009 Wine Press Northwest A Tri-City Herald publication W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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the wine knows BY ANDY PERDUE

A decade of seeking best in NW


decade ago, I began thinking about how we could come up with a year-end list of top wines from the Pacific Northwest. For ages, wine writers have come up with their “best of the year” columns and national magazines have put together “top 100” lists. How could we create a list? We couldn’t re-taste every wine we’d reviewed during the year. We didn’t want to exclude wines we hadn’t tasted. It was a conundrum. My first idea was to create “Wine Press 100” list, with 10 categories containing 10 wines each. It would be the top 10 Rieslings, top 10 Pinot Noirs, etc. But what would those 10 categories be? And, again, how would we determine those wines? Then the idea struck: Let’s let professional judges do the preliminary work for us. We already tracked about 30 competitions around the world, capturing the medals won by wineries in the Pacific Northwest. What if we invited gold medal winners to a special year-end judging, in which each wine would be reviewed again under single-blind peer-group conditions? That first year, we printed out and mailed invitations to more than 200 wineries requesting samples of their gold medal winners and received 146 entries. Back then, we still used a 100-point system for scoring wines, then converted the final scores into our usual categories: Outstanding, Excellent and Recommended. That first Platinum Judging, one judge — a winemaker of some repute — took advantage of the system and basically hijacked the judging, resulting in just one Platinum award. We learned two things: Ditch the 100-point system for good — and don’t invite that winemaker back as a judge. Each year, we receive about 70 percent of the wines we request. What happens to the other 30 percent? The winery might be sold out of that vintage and might see no point in entering it into a competition. Some wineries simply forget to enter, as we send the the invitations out at the start of harvest. Starting in 2002, we began bringing in Dan Berger, the respected wine writer from Santa Rosa, Calif., as a judge. He judges in more than a dozen competitions annually all over the world and provides an important international palate. We later added Parks Redwine of Atlanta, Ga., a longtime wine writer, importer and director of the Northwest Wine Summit, the largest competition of Northwest wines. With the exception of one year, entries have increased annually, as has interest in the results by consumers, the wine trade and the industry. We knew it would never have the cachet of the large international publications, but our niche has been Northwest wines, and the Platinums were a yearend celebration of our region’s best. We have held the Platinum in many places. The first year was 6

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in the banquet room of an Applebee’s restaurant. Other years, we held it at different wineries in town. For the past halfdecade, it has been at the Clover Island Inn, a hotel overlooking the Columbia River in Kennewick, Wash. The staff has been great, and the judging rooms have been perfect for our needs. A year ago, entries broke 300 wines for the first time, hitting 329 (up from 261 in 2007). This was a problem because we could no longer conduct the judging in two days with one panel. In anticipation of increasing entries again this year, I added a second panel of judges so we could still complete everything in two days. Little did I realize we would see entries again increase dramatically: This year, we hit 450. Part of this is because more medals are being won by Northwest wineries as the industry increases in size and quality. Part of it is that more wineries are taking the Platinum more seriously. More entries mean more awards. In fact, this year, our judges handed out 16 Double Platinums (a unanimous Platinum) and 66 Platinums. At the end of the judging this year, I sat down to count up the numbers. At first, I was dismayed because I worried we were diluting the importance of earning a Platinum if we handed out too many. But as I discussed it with the friends and colleagues who make this thing run so smoothly every year, I had a change of heart. I reminded myself that, while we do not use a 100-point system, we do use a 10-point system of sorts. When our judges submit their votes, they are encouraged to add a “plus” or “minus” to their score. This gives them flexibility to change their scores during subsequent discussions. It also means I can sort the wines more accurately when we’re finished. We facetiously call it the “Coke Roth Modified Reverse Golf Scoring System” after Coke Roth, an international wine judge who has been on our panel since the beginning of the magazine and came up with the idea. For example, a score of “Platinum Plus” would earn a score of zero, a “Platinum” would earn a score of one and so forth. A “No Medal” would be a score of nine, effectively giving us a 10-point system. When all the scores are converted to numbers, the wine with the lowest score is No. 1. Thus, the “highest” score a wine can earn is zero (that’s never happened; the best score has been four). The lowest it can earn is 36. This turns out to be a pretty good spread. More importantly, the wines are listed in order, with the best at the top. So, as it turns out with this year’s 10th annual Platinum Judging, we awarded 82 Double Platinums and Platinums. Serendipitously, we are pretty close to that “top 100” list I was looking for a decade ago. ANDY PERDUE is editor-in-chief of Wine Press Northwest. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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a distant perspective BY DAN BERGER

Lies, damn lies and statistics


report some months ago in the Journal of Wine Economics strongly implied that the results of wine competitions were more likely to be random than replicate-able evaluations of professional palates. The fact that the report was based on research done by a statistician sounds as if the scientific method had been used in collecting data. Yet the accumulation of data was based around a methodology that I and other wine professionals believe is flawed. And it doesn’t help that the statistician knows little about wine competitions. Then a recent article in the Wall Street Journal further clouded the issue because it was written by the author of a book about how randomness rules our lives, and thus wine competition results. Too bad it’s not true. It may well be true that results of some wine competitions are inexact and related to factors that shouldn’t occur in major wine judgings. Such as bad category structuring, bad panel assignments and bad judges. The original damaging report conclusion, that randomness plays a huge factor in the way medals are awarded at major wine competitions, was an utterly unfair shot at all wine competitions, akin to doing brain surgery with a cleaver. True, the results of some wine competitions are better than others. Judges at various U.S. judgings have different skill levels and all taste under different rules, using different parameters and different groupings. Some judgings mandate that panels taste only a small number of wines; others require huge groups to be judged by the same folks. (Two years ago, I had 85 Syrahs and 80 Petite Sirahs on the same day. How much care goes into judging the last wines of the last group?) To verify how different wine competitions can produce different results, look at how wine is actually judged during the year: • In January, a wine is judged at the Dallas Morning News judging. Say it gets a bronze medal. But perhaps that wine was recently bottled and in January it hadn’t resolved and recovered from the bottling process. • By May, at the Riverside International (which I coordinate), the same wine has had three months to “come around.” The judges see its greatness and award it a gold. • But by June at the Los Angeles County Fair, the same wine is judged and gets a silver. Perhaps it was served too cold, or too warm. • In July, at the Indiana Wine Competition, say a panel of inexperienced judges judges it. There it gets no medal. Moreover, some wine competitions use a “majority rules” format in which three mediocre or poor judges can overrule 8

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two experts. This often leads to a lot of bronze medals. Where discussions are mandated, results tend to be better. The original report implying randomness in wine competition results didn’t mention Wines: Their Sensory Evaluation, a textbook by Maynard Amerine and Edward Roessler, in which wine tasting fallacies are listed. Was the author of the study even aware of this? Did he ask the coordinator of the California State Fair wine competition (which was the only event analyzed) if he had taken any precautions against errors? Then came the Wall Street Journal article. Both the study and the WSJ article made faulty assumptions that sound like science. But a sensory evaluation expert who looked at the report said it was faultily done. In particular, I believe that when you use the CalState wine competition as your model, you’re dealing with problems. What’s lacking, in my mind, is the professionalism that is implied by the name of the event. It is one of the worst possible events from which to draw data. But vital to this point is that the results of one competition cannot imply that the same results would occur with other, better-run competitions. When it first was proposed that the CalState Fair authorize publication of this research, I read the material and so did the sensory evaluation expert. Both of us strongly advised against publication of the study since it was faulty. Yet it was finally published, and it as well as the WSJ article lent further credence to this myth. I have written extensively on wine competitions and was a math major in college so I can explain why both articles were off base. But the most telling bit of evidence is this: In 2007, the Huntington Petite Sirah was entered in 14 wine competitions. It received 10 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 2 bronze medals. And in 2008 and 2009, 2006 Ventana Vineyards Rubystone won 12 gold and 13 silver medals — a tally equal to what Ventana’s 2005 Rubystone won! Randomness? That exists where a mediocre wine wins one or two gold medals but is shut out when truly professional wine judges get a chance to evaluate it. Randomness exists where there are poor systems, illtrained wine judges, or both. Quality judges and quality systems produce quality results. DAN BERGER is a nationally renowned wine writer who lives in Santa Rosa, Calif. He publishes a weekly commentary Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences ( W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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market grapevine BY BRAIDEN REX-JOHNSON

The bright season Each issue, Braiden Rex-Johnson matches four Pacific Northwest wines with fresh regional ingredients.


verybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright. But for Northwest cooks, succulent shellfish, heavy meat and game dishes and rich desserts paired with the proper wines make our holiday seasons bright. Bright holiday cooking begins with Sea Scallops with Basil and Prosciutto, a recipe from Short Cuts to Great Cuisine (The Crossing Press, 1994, $12.95). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut six paperthin pieces of prosciutto into thirds lengthwise. Top 18 medium sea scallops with 18 fresh basil leaves and wrap each scallop in a length of prosciutto. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake until the scallops are barely cooked (5 to 10 minutes). Serve with Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc from Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA ($18). Bursting with melon and citrus flavors balanced by herbal and grassy notes, this succulent wine mellows the saltiness of the prosciutto while enhancing the lush scallops. The recipe for Wine-Country Stuffed Mushrooms comes from Bonair Winery and Vineyards in Zillah, Wash. Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Rinse and trim 14 medium white mushrooms. Remove the stems and chop finely. Cut a small slice from the top of each mushroom (to form a cap) and reserve the mushrooms and caps. Cook the chopped mushroom stems, 3 tablespoons chopped onion and one tablespoon minced garlic in 3 tablespoons of olive oil 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often. Add a half cup of Chardonnay, stir well and cook 3 minutes. Pour the vegetables into a bowl and add one (3-ounce) package lowfat or regular cream cheese (room temperature and cut into cubes), 2 tablespoons cooked bacon (crumbled) and 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley and stir well. Fill the mushrooms with the mushroom mixture and top each with a mushroom cap. Arrange the mushrooms (sliced side down to keep from rolling) on a rimmed baking sheet and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Pair the mushrooms with Bonair 2008 Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, $13, which immediately entices with tropical fruit aromas and flavors (pineapple!), a sensible amount of oak and mouth-filling roundness. Skillet-Roasted Duck Breasts with Caramel-Cabernet Sauce comes from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining (Wiley, 2007, $34.95). The rich, balanced sauce is the star here; it would also work well over beef tenderloin. To make the caramel for the sauce, in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix 2 tablespoons each granulated sugar and water until dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until the caramel turns medium 10

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brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest for 2 minutes. Return the pan to medium heat and (carefully, as it may spatter!) add 6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the hardened caramel until soft and combined. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced to 3 tablespoons. Remove from the heat and reserve. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add three-quarters of a cup of chopped shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden but not browned. Add one-and-one-quarter cups of Cabernet Sauvignon and stir well. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid reduces to about half a cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the reserved caramel reduction to the skillet and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter a little at a time. If desired, strain the sauce for a more elegant presentation. Drizzle the sauce over duck or beef and serve with Burrowing Owl Vineyards 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley, $38, a serious red wine (powerful tannins!) that opens with aromas of cassis and cedar, then continues on the palate with dark-fruit and chocolate flavors and finishes L-O-N-G and satisfying. Ultralight Chocolate Cake is adapted from Little Meals (Villard Books, 1993, $20). Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Oil and flour an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Beat 6 egg whites until stiff and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine a half cup of unsweetened cocoa powder with 1 cup of granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 2 egg whites, 2 tablespoons cold coffee and one-quarter teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Mix a half cup of whole almonds (toasted and finely ground) with 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and add to the cocoa mixture. Stir well. With a rubber spatula, add onethird of the beaten egg whites. Fold in the remaining egg whites and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes (do not overbake!). Let rest for 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh berries. Serve the chocolate cake with Trio Vintners 2007 Carménère ($28) from the Walla Walla Valley. Trio’s Denise Slattery describes the wine as, “undeniably lush, with berry, pepperspice and floral aromas. On the palate, it is much darker, like a tobacco- and espresso-wrapped chocolate.” Cheers to the bright season! BRAIDEN REX-JOHNSON has been writing about Pacific Northwest food and wine for 18 years. She is the author of seven books, including Pacific Northwest Wining and Dining (Wiley, 2007). Read her blog, Northwest Notes, online at or follow her on Twitter at BraidenRJ. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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swirl, sniff & sip BY KEN ROBERTSON

NW Chenins worth seeking out Chenin Blanc was the wine that helped hook me on drinking something better than jug wine. Now, it seems to have almost disappeared. Where can I find some good Northwest examples?

Chenin Blanc has always been out there, but I have to admit that you sometimes have to search hard to find it in the sea of Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and all the other whites the Northwest now produces. Much of the Northwest’s Chenin appears to end up blended into other varieties, such as Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. That’s a shame because Chenin by itself is often a great value for the quality it offers. It’s also one of the most versatile whites; it can be outstanding either bone dry or as a lipsmacking, syrupy ice wine. When I typed Chenin Blanc into Wine Press Northwest’s wine review search section at story/1948.html, only 78 listings came up among the 11 years’ worth of reviews we have posted. That compares with 673 listings for Riesling, 772 for Chardonnay and 1,009 for Cabernet Sauvignon, so you’re right that Chenin can be hard to find. Even so, you can find excellent examples out there. Kiona Vineyards Winery on Red Mountain near Benton City, Wash., has been remarkably consistent with Chenin and has offered everything from dry to dessert styles, including a Chenin Blanc ice wine that is a consistent gold medal winner. In fact, Kiona had 13 of the 78 Chenins in our listings, including a couple of Platinum awards in the past few years. Prices range from about $10 for the regular Chenin, $20-$24 or a bit more for the 375-milliliter bottle of ice wine. And if you like Kiona’s dessert-style Chenins, try Chateau Ste. Michelle’s as well, though they start at about $25 and the ice wines are about $45. L’Ecole No. 41 in Lowden, Wash., also has been making a consistently good Chenin called Walla Voila that usually sells for about $12-$14 but is harder to find, and Pacific Rim Winemakers in West Richland, Wash., makes an off-dry version that’s been a consistent medal winner for about $12 and is widely available in the Northwest. In this issue, check out the results of our Platinum Judging, where you will find an award for a Chenin Blanc from Kyra Wines in Moses Lake, Wash. A friend recently described a wine to me as a nouveau-style red. What exactly did he mean?

Your friend, though no doubt well intentioned, was running the risk of having the European Union’s Wine Word Police ticket him for illegal American use of any French word remotely related to the wine trade of la belle France — unless of course he was speaking about a French wine. After all, the French have successfully ended the use of such revered words as Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux to describe U.S. wines and are currently fighting over chateau, clos and vintage, not to mention fine, tawny and classic. The penalty for U.S. wines that use French words on 12

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their labels? EU nations will ban them from import. Seriously, nouveau is used in France to describe the annual Beaujolais Nouveau, a purple-colored light, fruity unaged red wine made in Beaujolais primarily from Gamay grapes, although it may have some Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris. Its primary aromas are pear drops, bananas and bubble gum. It comprises roughly half of all the Burgundy wines produced each year, and every fall it’s released on the third Thursday of November. Your friend likely meant the wine was a simple, unpretentious, fruity red. If he’s a really serious wine buff and the winemaker was within earshot, he may have been politely hinting that it was, bluntly, crap. A few years back a French wine critic found himself hauled into court after he called some particularly bad Beaujolais “vin de merde.” If you’re totally lacking in French, see the more polite four-letter word above that follows “bluntly.” Now, all this French means it must be time for: Wine words: Sur lie

It’s been a year since we made a French phrase our wine word, so let’s brush the rust off our Franglais. Sur lie refers to the French practice, most common in production of Muscadet wines, of leaving the lees in the bottom of the barrel or tank for the wine to age with, thus giving it additional complexity. If a wine is not racked or filtered until it’s bottled, the elements in the lees, especially the dead yeast and some elements of the crushed grapes, bolster the flavors in two ways. First, as the yeast cells break down through a process called autolysis, they add a bit of a yeasty flavor boost. The wine also gets a bit more enhancement because without being racked or filtered, some additional carbonic acid lingers in the wine, imparting a fresh, lively mouth feel — a bit of spritz, if you will. For white wines made from the milder grapes — Muscadet, for example, is made from Melon de Bourgogne — the result is a bolder, more complex set of flavors and aromas. In the Northwest, it’s not unusual to discover a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc has been aged on the lees. And sparkling wine made in the method champenoise style ages on the lees in each bottle for a few years after secondary fermentation. Since sparklers commonly are made from grapes with lower brix — say 19 percent or so — it’s no surprise they also benefit from the yeasty elements, and the carbonic acid, of course, releases those lovely bubbles of carbon dioxide and enhances the wine’s aromas and flavors. KEN ROBERTSON, a newspaperman for 40 years and a Wine Press Northwest columnist since its founding, has enjoyed sipping and writing about Northwest wines for 32 years. He lives in Kennewick, Wash. Have a question for Ken? E-mail W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Wines that command performance


oon, hot bodies in cold weather will be descending on our neighbor to the north, and if you have a front-row seat, clearly 2010 is off to a great start! Yes, the Winter Games are upon us, and it’s only a matter of time that we, too, shall experience “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Some will experience it greater than others, and that should seriously put the rest of your year in perspective. Now, grab a glass and let the games begin. Who doesn’t love the idea of blasting down an ice track with the false confidence that you’re in control? The luge of all wines is Kestral Vintners’ 2007 Syrah, and if you make it to the bottom intact, you deserve a glass (or a magnum). This wine blasts fruit forward with blackberry and cherry jamminess. Its smooth, face-up texture is maintained with structured, fast-steering tannins that keep the sled in-line while life flashes before you. Oh yeah, ride on! And if you think that’s a mind-blower, Cor Cellars’ 2007 Momentum is the skeleton of the Olympic events. Do you think it’s called skeleton because one wrong move lands you in a body bag? Just a thought. Pointed head first, face down on the sled, say a quick prayer, before you launch into this insanity. Roaring down the track at 80 mph with no brakes and no steering, this wine erupts in sporadic bursts of blueberry, black cherry, dark chocolate and floppy funk as it sends your mouth into erratic delirium. Breaking 5Gs, you may wonder why a two-by-four just hit you across your noggin. This begs the question: Are you ready for a second glass? Then there’s the curling Canadians — ice and brooms and stones, oh my! I’m told for some, it’s as strategic as a game of chess; and for others (not naming names) it’s like watching paint dry. Yet noble nonetheless. Enter one JoieFarm 2005 A Noble Blend from the hosting country made from a blend of Alsatian varieties. Tropical intensity is defined by fruity spice and tangy acid. This wine is round and cool like the polished granite stone slithering down the ice for a defined and accurate finish. Now throw on a pair of cross-country skis and grab your gun, it’s time for the biathlon. Admittedly, for me, this ranks low as a spectator, unless of course a skier gets caught in the crossfire. But I morbidly digress. Endurance and exactitude is the name of the game, and Russell Creek Winery’s 2006 Tributary is a gold medal contender. Full of blackberry and dark fruit, this wine is targeted and swift exploding with smoky cocoa. Speaking of swift, Betz Family Winery’s 2006 La Serene Syrah is dense and dark, a ski jumping favorite because this wine soars. With style and grace, it glides down the steep ramp lifted by wings of dark blackberry and plum into suspended flight. Sharp precision takes this wine the great distance it goes for a flawless finish. Firm acid and strong tannins land 14

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the jump garnering a perfect 10 from the judge-iest of judges, who admits, it’s hard to compete with perfection. Speaking of gravity-defying events, Matthews Estate 2005 Lachini Vineyards Pinot Noir catches big air in the halfpipe. A Pinot through and through, this is a wine that makes it all look easy. Its structure is sturdy like a Cab, yet can turn on a dime like a Syrah. It’s a boundary-crosser and inventor of new tricks. Bold and earthy, a juicy ribbon of blackberry morphs into a ring of ripe strawberry. Elegance abounds from out of the gate, and is easily judged the favorite the longer it performs. Fast and furious, with thighs burning, Woodward Canyon Winery’s 2002 Estate Red Wine is the freestyle skier. Its rich berry maneuvers the moguls, while cassis and vanilla fly acrobatic aerials. Black fruit and spice show restrained speed, while a long, spicy nose confirms stylistic confidence. This wine is sophisticated with a strong and generous finish. Take the top spot on the podium. I think they’re playing your anthem. Then there’s controlled strength writhing with power, Sequel 2006 Syrah is the Apolo Ohno of wine. Slick and sexy on the short track, this wine skates through layers of spicy blackberry and bright velvet tannins. Charcoal and rose present an interesting contrast of soft speed and hard power. It’s the final lap that counts, and this wine keeps a steady pace, bursting with graceful momentum in the final seconds of the race. Bear down and dig in, this wine sails smoothly across the line to a long and triumphant finish. And what’s a competition without fierce inner-team rivalry? Remember Tonya and Nancy? Well, this isn’t that. More along the lines of pairs figure skating Kestrel Vintners 2006 Viognier and Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2007 Merlot present a complementary contrast. Besides the obvious differences, Kestrel skates with graceful creaminess, lemony vanilla spirals and a hint of lifted effervescence. Alexandria Nicole is there for its partner, smooth and feathery with a balanced twizzle of cocoa and blackberry. Each shows single varietal style synchronized in their respective spirals and twists. Feb. 12 is fast approaching and if you’re heading north, good luck. I’ll be watching the U.S. (and Germany, I suppose) go for the gold from the privacy of my own big screen drinking a glass of something competitive. Cheers!

With sass and attitude, TERI CITTERMAN is a Seattle dweller and an eager wine enthusiast. She is the author of the latest edition of Best Places to Kiss in the Northwest and the Northwest Wine Journal. She also was the winner of the Napa Valley Wine Writers Editor's Choice Award in 2007. She contributes to Seattle Metropolitan and writes An Urban Sip Wine Blog W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

Wine Shop Directory 09


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Pacific Northwest Wine Clubs ELLENSBURG WINEWORKS WINECLUB We offer 2 wine programs to suite your wine preference and budget. We take you on a trip around the world within a year! Priority notification on all allocated & specialty wines. 509-962-VINE (8463) THE OREGON PINOT NOIR CLUB. We taste all the pinot noir in Oregon & send you the best. Monthly wine clubs, case discounts, worldwide shipping, honest advice. If you love great pinot noir, call: 800-847-4474 • or e-mail: OREGON WINE CLUB The finest Oregon wines at your doorstep every month. Call to join or order wine gifts. 1-800-WINE CLB • PACIFIC NORTHWEST WINE CLUB, P.O. Box 2081, Lake Oswego, OR 97035. Each month, we’ll select: two top NW wines (red, white, sweet or a combination). Cost per month averages less than $35 plus shipping.Call 800-288-3008 or join online at PACIFIC WINE CLUB International & West Coast & Wine Clubs for all budgets and palates Tasting Room • Bottle Shop • Top Rated Wines 3588 Heathrow Way, Medford, OR. 97504 1-800-792-6410 •

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THE WINE ALLEY, Fairwood Shopping Center, 14276 SE 176th St., Renton, WA 98058 Finest wines from the Pacific NW & the world 425-271-4501 • MADISON PARK CELLARS, Rare, hard-to-find wines. (206) 323-9333 WINE OUTLET, Quality wines at discounted prices. Open daily. 1911 1st Ave. S. • (206) 652-1311 946 Elliott Ave. West. • (206) 285-1129

Olympia Area SAVORY FAIRE CAFE & WINE SHOP 135 S. Main St., Montesano, WA Open Mon-Fri: 10:30-3:30. Wine tastings & monthly specialty dinners. Friday wine tasting & tapas 5:30-9pm. • 360-249-3701 The WINE LOFT, 401 Columbia St. N.W., Olympia, WA 98501. Tues.-Fri. 11-6; Sat. 11-5. 360-754-6208 •

Tacoma Area WINE BANK, 7017 27th St W.,University Place, WA 98466. Open Tues-Sat. Saturday tastings. Wine club; weekly e-mail specials. We ship! Great wines, great prices, great service! 253-564-1101 •

Olympic, Kitsap Peninsula, San Juans

• VINE TALES WINE CLUB • Distinctive wines from smaller cellars with growing reputations -- offering superior values! NW, international & exclusive offerings. Join the Club! Get bi-monthly selections delivered! 1-888-883-VINE (8463)

OLYMPIC WINE SHOP, Unique NW wine in Poulsbo Village Shopping Center next to Taprock Northwest Grill 19740 7th Ave. N.E. 360.697.9463 •


HUCKLEBERRY’S Natural Market, Spokane, 926 S. Monroe, (509) 624-1349. The Inland Northwest’s largest selection of the world’s wines.

Greater Seattle Area CHAMPION WINE CELLARS, 108 Denny Way, 2 blocks W of Seattle Center. Convenient location & parking. Specializing: finer European & extended selection of WA wines. All important regions represented. Owned & operated by Emile Ninaud since 1969. Gift boxes, special orders, wine/menu recommendations. Case discounts. We will ship. (206) 284-8306. E-mail: deVINE WINES, 15224 Main St. in Mill Creek Town Center, featuring boutique NW wines, 425-357-6200 • ESQUIN WINE MERCHANTS, 2700 Fourth Ave. S., Seattle. More than 4,000 wines. Discount prices and free local delivery. Open 7 days a week. 206-682-7374. GEORGE’S WINE SHOPPE, Kelsey Creek Shopping Ctr., 15015 Main St. Ste 115, Bellevue, WA 98007. Wines for every taste! Open Mon.-Sat. 10-6. 425-644-7723 WEST SEATTLE CELLARS, 6026 California Ave. S.W., Seattle. Thurs. free tastings: 5:30-8 (206) 937-2868 •



VINO! Wine Shop, where you don’t need to know a lot about wine. Join our discount buying club or our “Wine of the Month Club.” Wine tasting every Friday & Saturday. Join the fun at 222 S. Washington St., Spokane, WA 800-826-5674 • 509-838-1229 • WILLIAMS SEAFOOD MARKET & WINES, 10627 E. Sprague Ave.,Spokane. Case discounts! “Treat yourself tonight!.” 509-922-4868

Washington Coast THE CELLAR WINE SHOPPE, Ocean Shores, 949 Point Brown Ave. NW. Open: Thurs-Mon. 360-289-2909 •

Central Washington ELLENSBURG WINEWORKS A specialty wine & beer bottle shop and wine bar. Themed wine tasting every Friday & Saturday. Artisan cheeses to pair with local and international wines. WE SHIP! 509-962-VINE (8463)

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CHELAN RED APPLE MARKET Wine Dept. 310 Manson Hwy. Chelan, WA. Extensive wine department; huge selection from Chelan & Pacific Northwest • Wine Club • On-line sales • 509-682-4521 GIFTS OF THE VINE, Ellensburg, WA. 421 N Pearl St. Suite 100; Tues-Sun afternoons, Pacific NW wines & gifts; Fri-Sun Tastings • 509-925-1020 LONE PINE FRUIT & ESPRESSO, 23041 Hwy 97 between Wenatchee & Chelan, 17 mi N. of Orondo. Regional wines, specialty foods, gifts. • 509-682-1514 MANSON RED APPLE MARKET WINES The best local wines of the Chelan Valley in one convenient location: 1610 Wapato Way in Manson, WA near beautiful Lake Chelan. Daily 6 a.m.-10 p.m. • (509) 687-3168

Yakima, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Pullman YOKE’S FRESH MARKETS, Featuring Extensive NW wine selection & world cheeses. 3 locations to serve you in the Tri-Cities with Wine Specialists in all locations. Pasco: 5455600 & Kennewick: 585-0888 & West Richland: 967-8000 or go to:

Oregon Greater Portland Area BRENTWOOD WINE COMPANY — Internet fine wine auctions. Titanium Schott Zwiesel crystal wholesale & retail. The Northwest's largest buyer of fine wine. For free appraisal, email wine list: (503) 638 WINE • CORNELL WINE COMPANY, Portland, 14740 NW Cornell Rd. #90. Open Tues - Sat 10-7 pm. Tastings: Friday & Saturday (503) 531-3981 • E & R WINE SHOP, 6141 SW Macadam, Ste 104, Portland, (503) 246-6101. 2,200 different wines in stock. Tues.-Fri. 10-6:30; Sat. 9:30-6. 1-877-410-8654 • GREAT WINE BUYS, 1515 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97232 Open 7 days a week. (503) 287-2897 • OREGON WINES ON BROADWAY, 515 SW Broadway, Portland. 503-228-4655. Select from more than 500 Oregon and Washington wines by the bottle or 30 Oregon wines by the glass/ taste in our wine bar in downtown Portland. Web site:

Eastern Oregon GREAT PACIFIC WINES & COFFEE CO., 403 S. Main St., Pendleton, OR. (541) 276-1350 Mon-Thurs: 10-8; Fri: 10-9; Sat: 8:30 am-9 pm W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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great things to do

in Northwest wine country


Be honest. If you read this magazine, life must not be treating you too poorly. It means you still have enough cabbage — perhaps not as much — to spend on Northwest wine. And you probably have friends and family willing to help drink it. So here’s an ideal time of year to spread some cheer. Let’s hope your cellar, the pantry or that region under your bed is full of future Christmas presents and good tidings. A portion of my drinkable inventory gets wrapped and placed under trees or taken to parties. Indeed, this job seems to have made folks more willing to have me darken their doorstep.


Your Christmas card on a bottle. Bob Delf launched Northwest Cellars in 2004 and the Kirkland, Wash., entrepreneur continues to build on the concept of putting quality wine in bottles that feature labels personalized for customers. His latest promotion targets the family Christmas card. First, you choose the style of wine. He bottles several varieties and blends, many have been recommended over the years by Wine Press Northwest, including his latest vintage of Intrigue (see Page 94). Next, e-mail a photo or the artwork to Northwest Cellars, and Delf ’s designer takes over from there. Customers can pick up the wine in Kirkland or have it shipped to states that will allow. There’s a 12-bottle minimum order. Visit for information.


Yappy Hour back on the scent. Bishop Creek Cellars closed its Urban Wineworks tasting room in Portland’s Pearl District earlier this year, so they’ve relaunched the Yappy Hour concept at their winery in Newberg, Ore. For three hours, the Pinot Noir house 18

opens its doors to dogs and their owners, giving both species time to socialize with others. I’m guessing it’s water-only for the canines. Masters get a glass of wine. New Year’s Mingle is set for Dec. 30, and this time they partner with Critter Cabana and the Newberg Animal Shelter Friends. Buy a bottle and a portion of the sale goes to the shelter. Sniff around at


A pack of coyotes pour in Idaho. Ron Bitner, one of the leading figures in the Snake River Valley wine industry, also has a passion for economic development. He first planted his vineyard in 1980 and recently opened a tasting room at his estate. However, he and new winemakers — John Danielson and Martin Fujishin — spotted a chance for something new in Caldwell. So the three College of Idaho graduates opened a tasting room in the Urban Renewal District and named it in honor of their college mascot. Folks now can sample Bitner Vineyards, Fujishin Family Cellars and Vale Wine Co., at Coyotes Fine Wines on the Creek. The retail outlet is open Friday through Sunday each week.


Going Rogue. The wineries of Oregon’s Rogue Valley would love to see you to go palling around in their appellation, and they’ve launched a new program called “Rogue varietal wine tasting.” On the first Sunday afternoon of each month, Medford’s Eden Valley Orchard estate is set to play host to wineries pouring the featured variety. For example, the inaugural tasting was Cabernet Sauvignon on Dec. 6 and scheduled for the historic Voorhies Mansion, built in 1898. Chardonnay is next on the schedule (Jan. 3). Wine lovers who prefer to vote red when it comes to what goes

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in their glass should enjoy the Feb. 7 variety — Pinot Noir. There are 12 tastings lined up at the 700-acre estate. Entry is $15, which includes the wine and light food pairings. To see the list of participating wineries, go to


A taste of Platinum. It’s dubbed “The best of the best in the Great Northwest with a view from the

top.” Of course, we’re talking about the Seventh Annual Platinum Dinner on the 75th floor of Seattle’s Columbia Tower Club on Friday, Jan. 29. It’s an evening when executive chef James B. Hassell and wine director Kerry Johnson pair their cuisine with wines from Wine Press Northwest’s 2009 Platinum Judging. There’s an hour-long meet-and-greet before dinner as people who made the wines pour them for guests. Yours truly is scheduled to again be the emcee and continue to reap the rewards of the investment in my Jones/NY tux and BeauTies bow tie. The event sold out last year. This time, the CTC has it at $110 for non-members (tax and gratuity included). Each attendee gets a one-year subscription to this magazine. It’s a heckuva deal. Contact the CTC at 206-622-2010.


Calling all Cougs. Washington State University’s colors are crimson and gray, but good Cougars must wear black tie to attend the Celebrate Washington Wine gala and auction Jan. 30. In the first eight years, the event has raised more than $1 million for WSU’s viticulture and enology program. Chateau Ste. Michelle plays host to the event, and CEO Ted Baseler serves on the WSU’s board of regents. One of the big auction items will be the Women in Wine Collection, which features wines by female winemakers W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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W I N E C O U N T RY and grape growers. Those who receive the school’s science magazine have seen that WSU wine czar Thomas Henick-Kling looks rather dapper in a tuxedo. The gala is a $250 ticket and usually sells out. Go to for information.


Chip pairing party. My friend Peeps told me during my college days that “Chips are for dips.” You can take that both ways. But after being inspired by an old PR kit from Kettle Brand potato chips, I learned some chips work with wine. Earlier this decade, Match Makers alumni Vitaly Paley and Caprial Pence produced recipes featuring Kettle Chips. The crisps are crafted in Salem, Ore., so I could smell a tax write-off. My extensive trials arrived at these pairings: Adelsheim 2006 Caitlin’s Reserve Chardonnay Stoller Vineyard from the Willamette Valley with both the Jalapeno and the Sour Cream, Onion & Chive; Chateau Faire Le Pont 2006 Milbrandt Vineyards Pinot Gris, Washington with the Jalapeno and the Tuscan Three Cheese; Nk’Mip Cellars 2007 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, with Jalapeno; Raptor Ridge 2006 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley with Honey Dijon; and Sawtooth 2005 Merlot, Snake River Valley with Tuscan. The Sawtooth Merlot with Tuscan might have been the best pairing, while the Adelsheim Chardonnay was the most versatile. None tamed the justifiably named Death Valley Chipotle. There are more than 10 other styles of Kettle Chips to try. Perhaps the best venue for your trials is the pregame for XLIV Super Bowl on Feb. 7.


B.C. wineries toast their Winter Games. Many of the world’s best athletes are coming to the Pacific Northwest as Vancouver and Whistler play host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. It didn’t take long for Canadian wine group Vincor to get behind its nation’s representatives and donate more than $3 million to the effort. Vincor Canada is the official supplier of wine for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games. That means Jackson-Triggs, Inniskillin, W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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W I N E C O U N T RY Nk’Mip Cellars, Sumac Ridge and See Ya Later Ranch will be featured at venues. Jackson-Triggs even created a line called “Esprit” with the Vancouver 2010 logo. I’ve spotted a number of the vintners — including VP of winemaking Keith Bown and Nk’Mip winemaker Randy Picton — proudly wearing some cool Olympic-themed company gear. The Games run Feb. 12-28. Go to and for details.


In search of the holy Merlot. David Merfeld — the man behind Northstar Winery and the Oakley Razerwires — has announced his quest is to make the best Merlot on the planet. So, the Walla Walla winery hired Northwest wine writer Leslie Kelly to provide multi-media coverage on a regular basis updating Merf ’s pursuit. They’ve dubbed the series as “The Big Dipper Chronicles,” and it began with the 2009 harvest. The wine won’t be released until 2012, so this reality series should have some long legs via the winery’s Web site, Facebook and Twitter. To follow, start at


Drinking and driving. I know there are a crafty people who enjoy wine. I also know that while some golfers enjoy oak in their Chardonnay, almost none still like wood in their driver. So why not turn those beautiful persimmon drivers and fairway woods into wine bottle stoppers? Last year, I received word that an East Coast outfit began doing just that. They were called SpoonStoppers, a reference to the Scottish term for a 3-wood. Such items appeal to golfers. They were advertised for $45, but the link to the company appears dead. Now I won’t pull the shaft out of that Tommy Armour, but this gives me an idea for my old Toney Penna driver. If someone wants to build me a bottle stopper with it, please drop me a line. ı What is your favorite thing to do in Northwest wine country? Send your ideas to ı Have a Northwest wine item to post on our free online Wine Events calendar? Go to


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January 8-9 Oregon Wine, Food and Brew Festival, Salem. This 27-year-old event at the fairgrounds has new owners. Call 866-904-6165 or visit 15-17 Winterfest: Fire & Ice, Chelan, Wash. Wineries in the Northwest’s youngest appellation warm up during Martin Luther King weekend. Call 800-424-3526 or visit 16-24 Okanagan Ice Wine Festival, Sun Peaks, B.C. The 12th celebration of the province’s stickies returns to this resort. Call 800-807-3257 or go to 19 Taste B.C. 2010, Vancouver. The Hyatt Regency plays host to the 16th annual fund-raiser for B.C. Children’s Hospital. Provincial wineries, restaurants, cheese and chocolatiers step up. Call 604-739-7801 or go to 30 A Celebration of Washington Wines, Woodinville. Chateau Ste. Michelle serves as the home for this black-tie event in its ninth year, which benefits WSU’s viticulture and enology program. Call 509-335-7772 or go to 30 Gifts from the Earth, Seattle. The South Seattle Community College Foundation showcases its culinary arts and wine program by pairing celebrity chefs with state wineries. Call 206-764-5809 or go to 30 Wenatchee Valley Winter Wine Gala, Wenatchee, Wash. The eighth annual fundraiser for the Wenatchee Valley Museum features regional wineries and chefs. Call 509-888-6240 or go to

February 3-5 Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers Convention, Kennewick, Wash. Growers, winemakers and vendors throughout the Northwest convene at the Three Rivers Convention Center and Toyota Center for the 14th annual meeting and trade show. Call 509-782-8234 or visit 5-6 Portland Seafood & Wine Festival. This multiple sclerosis fund-raiser features 50 wineries and food demonstrations at the Oregon Convention Center. Call 360-210-5275 or go to 6 St. Joseph’s Art & Wine, Kennewick, Wash. The 14th annual fund-raiser for St. Joseph’s Parish and School features regional wines, restaurants, artists and musicians. Cost is $60. Call 509-585-9371 or go to 6-7 and 13-15 Red Wine & Chocolate Tour, Olympic Peninsula, Wash. Member wineries on the peninsula and islands pour it on over two weekends and Presidents Day. Cost is $25. Call 800-785-5495 or go to 13-15 Red Wine and Chocolate, Yakima Valley, Wash. More than 50 wineries in the heart of the Northwest’s oldest grape-growing region pair their wines with chocolate. Reserve ticket is $35. Call 509-965-5201 or go to 21-23 Oregon Wine Industry Symposium, Eugene. Enology, viticulture and business meet at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. Go to 26-28 Newport Seafood & Wine Festival, Newport, Ore. The 33nd annual event features more than 50 wineries. Call 800-262-7844 or go to

March 2-6 Classic Wines Auction, Portland. This 26th annual fund-raiser for Portland-area children sells out months in advance. It features winemakers and restaurants on both sides of the Columbia. Call 503-972-0194 or go to 5-7 Poverty Bay Wine Festival, Des Moines, Wash. Rotarians stage this gathering of more than 20 Washington wineries, fare and live jazz at Landmark on the Sound for the sixth year. Cost is $25. Call 206-824-9462 or go to 12-14 McMinnville Wine & Food Classic, McMinnville, Ore. This 17-year-old event has landed at the aviation museum. Cost is $15. Call 503-472-4033 or go to 20 Greatest of the Grape, Canyonville, Ore. The oldest wine event in the Northwest celebrates its 40th anniverary and pairs Southern Oregon wineries with restaurants at Seven Feathers Casino. Cost is $75. Go to W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Corliss Estates unveils Walla Walla winery BY TERI CITTERMAN

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — For years, people entering downtown Walla Walla from Highway 12 drove past the secretive winery and wondered when it would open. On “Leonetti Weekend,” otherwise known as Walla Walla’s spring release


weekend, Corliss Estates finally unlocked its doors to guests five years after hiring its winemaker. Why so long? Michael Corliss and Lauri Darneille believe that good things come to those who wait. Anticipating greatness, customers picked up their allocation of 2004

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Syrah. From the peppery darkness of the wine to the sparkling light of the Phantom of the Opera chandelier, everything had its place. And no one was disappointed. A sense of place, in fact, is a defining premise on which the wines, vineyards and winery are rooted. The couple’s muse resulted from their love of wine and their world-wide travels to those wine regions. They took the qualities of each winery and region they visited. They blended them with the relationships they’ve established and used the knowledge to lay their groundwork. “You take a little piece of all those places,” Corliss said. The challenge was melding those pieces into a new winery in an emerging region. So they set out to build the right team of people, those who could work in Walla Walla and build upon the European model in which one generation follows its forefathers. Already, the two oldest of five children have expressed interest in furthering their wine knowledge. In 2004, they added Kendall Mix as winemaker. The team began to gel in an environment based on uncompromising excellence, not short-term cashflow. This perspective relates directly to the couple’s core business — commercial development, an industry that requires patience, planning and longterm investment. “We think in 20- and 40-year periods,” Corliss said. “When you have datapoints at 10 and 20 years, you have a different perspective.” The proof will be in the bottle. “What’s important to me is consistency, quality and character of the wines we’re producing,” he said. And there is no rush to the market place. Wines receive at least two years of aging in the bottle. In fact, Corliss Estates released its first vintage — 2003 — in 2008. This year, the 2004s emerged. “Because we take our time, we know W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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WINE NEWS what we have in the bottle,” Darneille said. Patience and precision is employed in their vineyard practices, too. Corliss said, “That often amounts to digging holes and tasting a lot of dirt.” They’ve spent the past two years doing just that with their newest vineyard on Red Mountain. The parcel, purchased from Mike Moore of Blackwood Canyon, never had been planted until 2009. Portions of it will remain in the natural shrub-steppe and surround the vines. About 50 percent of the vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon because of soil depth. Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot as well as Rhône varieties Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah make up the other half of the vineyard. Corliss Estates also owns another Red Mountain vineyard and a third in Walla Walla. Meanwhile, Tranche Cellars is the family’s white wine project, and the 2005 Chardonnay, 2006 Pinot Gris and 2007 Viognier-Roussanne were released in 2009. “We like white wine, and early on we started making it in our facility for ourselves,” Corliss said. “Friends said, ‘Your wine is pretty damn good, why not sell it?’ ” And here they are. “Lauri and I drink wines that are a minimum of 10 years old, and most of them are 20 years old,” he said. “We want people to be happy with the quality of our wines in 10, 20 and 30 years.” Time will tell. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Nom de vine: Stories behind wine names

‘Three Legged Red’ a tribute to special dog Port was a favorite with winery visitors, and up until his death in May 2008 at the age of 14, Port would put his paw print on posters of the label and for a book that featured the photos of winery dogs, she said. Dogs still greet visitors at the winery, including Maysy, herself a rescued dog from Yakima who graces the label for the winery’s Four Legged White blend. Still, Port is missed. “People, I think, came to see the dog more than anything else,” Dunham said.


It’s a compliment when a wine is said to have good legs; this wine has three of them. Three Legged Red is Dunham Cellars’ red table wine, typically a blend of Dunham’s Cabernet and Merlot grapes aged in old oak. While you can find a pack of dogs on wine labels, Three Legged Red’s threelegged dog Port may be among the first. Joanne Dunham, retail manager for the Walla Walla, Wash., winery explained that her stepson Eric had rescued the dog from a fight with a pit bull while he was an intern at Hogue Cellars in Prosser, Wash. The dog lost a leg in the fight, but Eric Dunham nursed the mixed breed back to health and named him Port for the two good legs on his portside.

Dunham’s “$1,000 dog,” became a member of the Dunham winery family and soon earned his keep as the face of its table blend since 2000, Joanne Dunham said.

Editor’s note: Nom De Vine explores the story of how some of the Northwest’s more oddly labeled wines and wineries got their names. Wondering about a name? Send your suggestions to Jon Bauer at

New book explores Idaho’s wine trails When you have an entire book about your state, you know you’ve arrived in the wine world. At least, that’s how Idaho has to feel after Steve Roberts’ latest book, WineTrails of Idaho came out in late November. Roberts is author of WineTrails of Washington and WineTrails of Oregon. His Oregon book came out earlier this year, but he barely took a breath before taking on the Gem State. The full-color 120-page book explores 33 wineries in Idaho. Cost is $16.95. Call 800-533-6165 or go to 24

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Longtime Washington winemaker Lake dies BY ANDY PERDUE

David Lake, one of the most influential people in the history of the Washington wine industry, passed away Oct. 5 after a lengthy illness. Lake, 65, collapsed at his home in Issaquah, Wash., and could not be revived. Lake had several health issues in recent years. As the wine grape harvest began in 2000, Lake had heart troubles, which led to two separate bypass surgeries. He also battled cancer. Lake, a fourth-generation Canadian, worked in the British wine trade for several years before moving to the West Coast, where he worked at The Eyrie Vineyard in Dundee, Ore., before being hired as winemaker for Associated Vintners in Seattle (now Columbia Winery in Woodinville). His first vintage was 1979, the year he met Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard in the western Yakima Valley. They would collaborate on many pioneering projects, the most significant of which was planting the first Syrah grapes in Washington. “David was a true gentleman,” Sauer said. “He was a grower’s winemaker and a master motivator. He was probably one of the most grower-oriented winemakers I’ve ever worked with.” Sauer noted that October marked the 25th anniversary of their first discussion about planting Syrah at Red Willow, an iconic vineyard first planted in 1971. Sauer recalled that as the 1984 harvest wound down, Lake approached him with the idea of planting Syrah, a red wine grape most famous in the Rhône Valley of France. At the time, just a few vineyards in California were growing the grape, Sauer said, so Lake made arrangements to bring cuttings from Syrah vines to Washington. In 1985, Sauer added them in his nursery until the vines were ready to plant in 1986. Lake came from the Seattle area to help with the planting, and the two ceremoniously buried bottles of Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie and other famous Rhône wines in the vineyard as a way to inspire W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

Washington’s first Syrah, Lake said later. Sauer said he can no longer recall where those bottles are buried. Lake’s first vintage of Syrah was from the 1988 vintage. Today, Syrah is the No. 3 red wine grape in Washington, after Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with more than 3,000 acres planted.

“David brought more of a worldwide knowledge of wine to Washington,” Sauer said. “He was always very European in his approach to wine.” Lake earned the rare and prestigious Master of Wine and was the first U.S. winemaker with that degree. Lake retired from Columbia in 2005.

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Which way do you swirl wine? Try this joke on your friends BY ANDY PERDUE

A couple of years ago, I was asked to give an impromptu wine-tasting demonstration to a group of friends. While showing the group how to swirl the wine, I was asked, “Which way do you swirl? Clockwise or counter-clockwise?” The person asked the question facetiously, but in a moment of inspiration, I replied, “counter-clockwise” — because that’s the only way I can swirl it without spilling wine on myself. When asked why, I had a second fit of inspiration — a rarity for me — and said, “Because we’re tasting wines from the northern hemisphere. If we were tasting wines from Australia, New Zealand, Chile or South Africa, we would want to swirl it clockwise. Believe it or not, the wine will actually smell different.” Nobody believed me. So I decided to push this a little further. I said, “Seriously, it’s true!” A few folks stopped laughing, but most of them still smiled, so I said: “No, I am really serious!” About two-thirds of the group of 25 began to believe. I knew I had them on the hook, so I reinforced it: “I am not kidding! It really does smell different if you swirl wines the other direction!” The room went silent. Then a few people began to slowly swirl their wines clockwise. Before they could get much further, I said with a smile, “Just kidding.” I’ve now pulled this joke succesfully three times — once in a Walla Walla tasting room. Work on your delivery and you, too, will be able to fool your wine friends, too. 26

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‘Bargain Bob’ mines for Double Gold wines BY “BARGAIN BOB” WOEHLER

Finding bargain-priced wines among gold-medal awards may seem like a foolish pursuit for old Bargain Bob, but I’ve come up with some dandy nuggets. At the 10th annual Platinum Judging, I sniffed out plenty of worthy wines for $15 and under. Here are a few of my favorites, all of which earned Double Gold medals from our judges. And remember that they’d already earned at least one gold medal elsewhere in the wine world before they arrived for our competition. Tualatin Estate Vineyards 2008 Frizzante, Willamette Valley, $15: This Early Muscat

sparkler is loaded with tropical flavors and is inviting and fun. Artisan Wine Co. 2008 Rigamarole Rosé, Okanagan Valley, $15 CDN: Mission Hill

“Naked” to celebrate the wine’s organically grown grapes. Yet this wine is fully clothed in sweet oak, spice and rich cherry flavors. Pacific Rim Winemakers 2008 Sweet Riesling, Columbia Valley, $11: Sweet and

refreshing, it’s low in alcohol at 9 percent and tasty with pineapple and peach components. Henry Estate Winery 2008 Müller-Thurgau, Umpqua Valley, $12: This west-of-the-

mountains grape is delightful when made as well as this. Aromas of delicate apple and peach while citrus lingers on the tongue. Jones of Washington 2008 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12: It’s hard to keep up

with the Joneses when they make Rieslings such as this. Think of apples, pears and ginger in perfect harmony.

Snoqualmie Vineyards’ 2006 Naked Merlot is a great bargain at $12 and was made from organically grown grapes.

Family Estate owns Artisan and has turned out a juicy red berry rosé that is lively with strawberry flavors forever. Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Dry Riesling, Willamette Valley, $14: This

Oregon Riesling offers honeysuckle and Germanic overtones. Crisp and food friendly with orchard-fruit flavors. Domaine Ste. Michelle NV Blanc de Blancs, Columbia Valley, $13: A welcome holiday

sparkler that’s dry to medium-dry on the palate with pear and pineapple aromas and fizzy flavors of crisp green apples and coconut. (See our Match Makers food pairing with this wine, starting on Page 78.) Hyatt Vineyards 2008 Riesling, Rattlesnake Hills, $9: Even with 5 percent residual

sugar, this sweet-style Riesling in a blue bottle is so balanced it can be enjoyed by all. Think apricots and lemons. Maryhill Winery 2008 Gewürztraminer, Columbia Valley, $13: Maryhill is where I

stop on my way to and from Portland so I can buy this deliciously fruity and spicy Gewürztraminer. Look for classic grapefruit characteristics. Snoqualmie Vineyards 2006 Naked Merlot, Columbia Valley, $12: Snoqualmie uses W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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A wine lover’s guide to Portland STORY BY J O N B A U E R & PHOTOS BY J A C K I E J O H N S T O N


ortland, Ore., is known as the City of Roses for its annual Rose Festival and abundance of rose gardens, but considering its proximity to Oregon and Washington state’s great wine regions and the selection of wineries, wine shops and fine dining, 28

maybe Portland could also be called the City of Rosés. And Reds. And Whites. Although City of Pinot Noir would be closest to the truth. Portland has long been a focus for the beer lover with breweries large and small, and now at least two distilleries have joined in, making

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brandies, whiskeys, gin and vodka. And while visitors to Portland will, with a couple of exceptions, have to do a little driving to visit a winery, there’s still much in and near the city to occupy and satisfy the wine lover. Here’s our guide to some of the

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The Made in Oregon sign, a historic landmark on the White Stag Building, faces traffic coming across the Burnside Bridge into downtown Portland.

best choices among wineries, wine shops, hotels, restaurants and wine bars:


If your image of a winery is that of

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a stately mansion, flanked by ancient oaks, rising above rolling hills of verdant vineyards, brace yourself. That’s not how the Hip Chicks Do Wine. Instead you’ll find the Hip Chicks Do Wine winery among a warren of warehouses in southeast Portland.

Follow the A-frame sidewalk signs; you’ll find it. You’ll also find that the mansion and trees aren’t required for serious wine or serious fun even when the verdant vineyards are miles down the highway, explained Hip Chicks publicist Callie Snyder, who was

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Callie Snyder pours a taste of Hip Chicks Do Wine at the winery’s warehouse location in Portland.

pouring tastes on an October Sunday. With crush just recently completed on the warehouse floor, the Hip Chicks tasting room was relatively quiet, but the past activity was obvious. Hip Chicks, founded in 1999 by Laurie Lewis and Renee Neely and since joined by Heather Flournoy, produces about 5,000 cases of handcrafted wine annually. Its selection includes Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Muscat as well as mischievously named and labeled blends dubbed Bad Girl Blanc, Riot Girl Rosé, Drop Dead Red and Wine Bunny Blanc, Blush 30

and Rouge, mainly from vineyards in the Yakima, Columbia, Umpqua and Willamette valleys. For the 2009 crush, the grapes were from Oregon vineyards only. The winery also produces a premium brand, dubbed Tiernan Connor. Different yeast cultures are used to enhance the fruit-forward flavors, Snyder said. The red wines are aged in French oak, while whites are fermented in stainless steel. The winery’s Portland tasting room, inside the winery’s warehouse, is a comfortable place to sample pours, shop for wine-related gifts and talk wine. And most people, Synder said, aren’t put off by the industrial location or the search.

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When you make good wine, “people really seek you out. They want to find you,” she said. The Portland tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily. Hip Chicks also has a tasting room in Newberg, open noon to 7 p.m. daily, at 602B E. First Street, Newberg. 4510 SE 23rd Ave., Portland 503-234-3790; on Facebook, P O RT L A N D W I N E P R O J E C T: GROCHAU CELLARS AND BOEDECKER CELLARS

Although Portland can only boast a handful of wineries within its city limits, wine lovers can visit two wineries at one location, the

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Portland Wine Project. Grochau Cellars and Boedecker Cellars recently celebrated their first year in the combined facility in northwest Portland, in good company across the street from the Pyramid Brewing Co. John Grochau and his wife Kerri started Grochau in 2002, and have been making each year about 3,000 cases of Pinot Noir and a few other varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Tempranillo, Grochau said. His wine-making philosophy is to minimize the handling and to go easy on the new oak. Grochau has a deep resumé in winemaking including work at Erath Winery and Brick House Vineyards.

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Locating a winery in Portland proper wasn’t a hard decision to make, he said. “It’s a 20-minute bike ride from my house,” compared with his former hours-long commute, he said. “It’s really nice to be closer to home.” And sharing costs with another winery made economic sense, cutting costs by sharing equipment, such as a forklift and bottling equipment that is only used at peak times of activity. Tastings of Grochau Cellars wines are available by appointment in the shared lobby of the Portland Wine Project. Gwen Goodrich, Boedecker Cellar’s “Jane of all trades,” agreed

with Grochau about the advantages to sharing a facility in Portland, including the people it brings to visit both wineries. One of Goodrich’s trades is keeping watch over the tasting room for Boedecker. Boedecker makes about 3,500 cases a year, including its budgetminded Pappas Wine Co.’s Pinot Noir and Gris, and a selection of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Grenache. But the wines that married winemakers Stewart Boedecker and Athena Pappas seem to have the most fun making are the Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs named after each other. When Boedecker started in 2003,

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the couple were preparing to blend a Pinot Noir from various barrels but couldn’t agree on the correct combination. Both set off to come up with the Pinot they liked best to determine whose blend would be made, Pappas said. But after creating their separate Pinots, the couple couldn’t choose between the two. Ever since, the pair have tasted the barrels blind and made their own blends. Generally, “Athena” is a bigger Pinot, while “Stewart” is brighter with softer tannins. Interestingly, Pappas said the gender split is similar among those who taste the wine, an observation that Goodrich confirmed: Women seem to prefer “Athena,” while men side with “Stewart.” Boedecker Cellars’ tasting room is open 2 to 7 p.m., Fridays; 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and by appointment. 2621 NW 30th Ave., Portland 503-288-7752

Grochau Cellars tasting room is open by appointment. 503-522-2455


An organic and biodynamic winery making Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Malbec and its Apicio Balsamic vinegar. Tastings noon to 5 p.m., daily 9480 SW Grabhorn Road, Beaverton 503-649-0027 OSWEGO HILLS

Occupying a historic farmstead, Oswego Hills makes a number of varietals and blends, including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Marechal Foch, Merlot, Riesling and Viognier. 32

Tastings are scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. 450 S. Rosemont Road, West Linn 503-655-2599 P O N Z I V I N E YA R D S

Another Oregon veteran, Ponzi makes Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay and an ice wine, and two rarer wines, Arneis and Dolcetto. The tasting room is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. And the Ponzi Wine Bar offers flights, glasses, bottles and cases from Ponzi and 150 other Oregon vintners. 14665 SW Winery Lane, Beaverton 503-628-1227 E D G E F I E L D W I N E RY

Part of McMenamins Brewing, the winery makes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and its Black Rabbit Red blend. Each April, the winery hosts its Celebration of Syrah festival. Tasting room open noon to 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday. 2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale 503-669-8610, 800-669-8610 H E LV E T I A W I N E RY

The winery makes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer and offers tastings in the century-old Yungen House, open noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. 23269 Yungen Road, Hillsboro 503-647-7596 O A K K N O L L W I N E RY

Built on the site of a dairy farm, Oak Knoll makes Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Niagara and blackberry and raspberry wines. Tasting room is open, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 29700 SW Burkhalter Road, Hillsboro 503-648-8198, 800-625-5665 (OAK-KNOL)

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Case after case of wine is stacked up at Vinopolis, one of Portland’s wine shops.

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Celebrating 25 years, St. Josef ’s makes Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet. The tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays but phone ahead. Closed in January. 28836 S. Barlow Road, Canby 503-651-3190 WA S S O N B R O T H E R S W I N E RY

Brothers Jim and John Wasson make Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Muscat as well as fruit wines from raspberry, loganberry, blackberry and rhubarb. Its new tasting room in Sandy, Ore., is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 17020 Ruben Lane, Sandy 503-668-3124


Vinopolis isn’t trying for a chic sense of style to attract customers. Wines are displayed in racks and in their original cardboard boxes or wooden crates, a sprawling selection well organized by region and variety.

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Replace the wine with books and you’d mistake it for a certain nearby new and used bookstore. Consider it the Powell’s Books of the wine world. “That was very much in my mind,” said Vinopolis owner Dan McCallum, when he started his wine shop five years ago at its downtown location. Like Powell’s, it’s certainly one of the largest shops of its kind around. McCallum knows exactly how many different wines he offers: 1,851 in nearly 4,000 cases spread over 5,000 square feet of retail space and another 5,000 square feet in the basement cellar. If it’s Oregon Pinot Noirs you’re looking for, Vinopolis stocks 125 to 130 different Pinots. And the selection is just as wide among other varieties, including 400 different Burgundies and 60 to 80 Champagnes and sparkling wines. “We’ve got wine for everybody,” McCallum said. “Lots for $10 and under and $1,000 bottles and everything in between.” Interest may be higher now in bargain wines, but McCallum said most of his customers are intent on getting the best wine for the best price. He sends out a weekly e-mail newsletter that brings in its share of business. It, like the shop’s Web site,

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is bare bones and skips the fancy graphics but is packed with deals and information. Vinopolis schedules tastings from 4 to 7 p.m. on Fridays and from noon “until the bottles run dry” on Saturdays. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 1025 SW Washington St. 503-223-6002 LINER & ELSEN WINE MERCHANTS

Liner & Elsen has served Portlandarea wine lovers for about 20 years, and has been in its location at 22nd Street and Quimby in northwest Portland for about three years, a move that expanded its floor space to more than 3,000 square feet, room for an estimated 2,000 labels. “We cater to everyone,” said employee Neil Thompson, from those looking for a $7 bottle to those searching for a high-end rare bottle. A climate-controlled cellar protects a collection of Old and New World wines, some up to 40 years old. The shop’s staff, owner Bob Schreb and three others with years of experience, are “extremely food


type” wine people, Thompson said. They enjoy answering questions and making recommendations about which wines to serve with a particular meal, picking out key ingredients. When the wine is something that a customer wouldn’t have guessed would work, that’s when it’s fun, Thompson said. “We got a call from the dinner table, with the people raving and praising the wine pairing,” he said. The shop also offers a selection of Reidel and Spiegelau stemware, including Reidel’s Oregon Pinot Noir glass. Tastings are scheduled for Friday nights from 5:30 to 7:30, and a fee is charged. Saturday afternoon tastings, from noon until the bottles are empty, are free. Check the Web site for a schedule. Tastings typically focus on a region. Liner & Elsen also schedules seminars and bus tours to wineries. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. 2222 NW Quimby St. 503-241-WINE (9463) 800-903-WINE (9463) BLACKBIRD WINE SHOP

Blackbird Wine Shop owner Andy Diaz has had his shop in northeast

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Portland for about 2 1/2 years, offering about 150 labels typically in the $15 to $20 range, with a handful, including an Oregon Pinot, up to $40. The emphasis here, Diaz said, is on small producers, particularly small winemakers who hand-harvest their fruit or grow grapes organically. It’s an ethic that fits with the “locavore” movement’s bias toward family producers, but Diaz expands it to include small producers throughout the world. Even keeping to his market for affordably priced wines, Diaz said he works to offer wines not found in supermarkets or other wine shops. He said he wants customers to find something that satisfies them as wines that can be enjoyed that day, balanced by value and comfort in the knowledge that customers are supporting small producers. Blackbird offers tastings on Friday night. By early December, Diaz had planned to open a companion cheese shop, again with an emphasis on family producers. With the cheese, however, he will concentrate on Oregon farms. The cheese shop will mean he’ll have bottles open for tasting much of the time, as well as cheese plates. Open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.


Some 500 labels with extensive Northwest list, at least 100 wines under $20; discount for Cork Club members; selection of fine chocolates. See Web site for listing of Friday night tastings, with tasting fee typically $15. Open noon to 6 p.m., Monday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m., Sunday. 2901 NE Alberta Street 503-281-2675 1715 NW Lovejoy Street 503-501-5028

food. Most wines under $25, grouped by style of wine. Open noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; ‘til 8 p.m. on Thursday. 6351 SW Capitol Highway 503-293-3146 G R E AT W I N E B U Y S

Tastings on Friday nights and Saturdays, emphasis on Oregon and Northwest wines. Open 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 1515 NE Broadway St. 503-287-2897


Tastings from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursdays, $10 fee. Cheese and cracker plate or bring your own


Emphasis on Spanish and Portuguese wines. Friday night tast-

4323 NE Fremont St., 503-282-1887 O R E G O N W I N E S O N B R O A D WAY

This wine shop and wine bar has 36 red wines available by the taste or glass and more by the bottle, kept away from air with an argon gas system. Thirty Oregon Pinot Noirs are in stock, as well as a bar menu of bread, cheeses, pate and nuts. Open noon to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. 515 SW Broadway St. 503-228-0126, 800-943-8858


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You’ll find a good selection of wine books at Powell’s City of Books.

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portland ings, 4 to 8 p.m., $15; Saturday and Sunday, samples from newsletter. Open 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, Sunday; ‘til 8 p.m. on Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 1430 SE 35th Ave. 503-234-4399

$15. Open 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday. 4316 SE Hawthorne Blvd. 503-235-4444



Free tastings 4 to 6:30 p.m. Fridays 4-6:30 and noon to 5 p.m., Saturdays. See Web site for classes. Open 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. 13486-A NW Cornell Road 503-643-5655 M O U N T TA B O R F I N E W I N E S

Emphasis on premier Northwest wineries. Tastings on most Fridays,

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Seriously now, you weren’t thinking of visiting Portland without a stop at Powell’s City of Books. With 68,000 square feet of store, it’s arguably the world’s largest independent new and used bookstore. In Portland’s Pearl District, the bookstore is a good first stop for wine country travelers. Powell’s helpfully organizes its books by subject, assigning room colors to general The bartender at Wildwood checks for spots on a wine glass he just dried.


areas of interest. You’ll find new and used books on wine and wine county touring in the Orange Room. (Yes, Red, Purple or Rose would have been more fitting, but it’s a minor quibble.) A quick scan of the shelves gives an idea of the options available for books on Oregon wine and wineries, including Pacific Pinot Noir, by John Winthrop Haeger; A Passion for Pinot, with photos by Andrea Johnson and Robert Holmes and text by Jordan MacKay; The Wine Trails of Oregon, by Steve Roberts; The Oregon Wine Country Guidebook by Cindy Anderson; and Oregon Wine Country, with photos by Robert Reynolds and text by Judy Peterson Nedry. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. 1005 E. Burnside St. 503-228-4651, ext. 5482 800-878-7323, press 3


You might think it would be difficult for a sommelier, considering the hundreds of wines he or she has to choose from, to help a diner select a good pairing with, say, a pan-roasted Muscovy duck breast or skillet-roasted Totten Inlet mussels. It’s really not, said Jeff Moore, wine director of Portland’s venerable Wildwood restaurant. Simplicity makes such recommendations easier. “The emphasis here,” under executive chef Dustin Clark, “is good local food, simply prepared to let the ingredients shine,” he said. The wine shines, too. Wildwood offers a list of about 250 labels, of which about 55 are Pinot Noirs. And Moore keeps things flexible, stocking wines that are ready to drink now and keeping an eye out for deals for his clientele. “That’s the upside to the downturn,” he said of the struggling econ-

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omy. To keep their names in front of wine lovers, many wineries are offering single-vineyard wines that once wholesaled for $30 now run $17 or $18. If a diner is trying to keep to his or her own budget, Moore said, he can recommend a number of choices under $40. The season and its food often dictates the wine choice, Moore said. For example, a richer dish might call for a wine with a little acidity. Your choice among appetizers, salads, entrées and desserts may be tougher. The menu changes frequently, but that’s to be expected at a restaurant attuned to seasonal ingredients. A recent menu featured a grilled halibut and butter lettuce salad with heirloom tomatoes and a clay-ovenroasted pork chop with squash empanada, mustard creamed Brussels sprouts and collard greens. Wildwood has been open for about 13 years, but with Clark as chef since 2007. Moore’s tenure is a little longer, having arrived in 2004. Wildwood is open daily for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday and for supper on Sunday. 1221 NW 21st Ave. 503-248-9663 TEN 01

Ten 01 is a relative newcomer to the Portland dining scene, and its executive chef ’s tenure is even more recent. Benjamin Parks beat out 400 applicants and six finalists in May to head one of Portland’s leading slow-food restaurants with its emphasis on wine-friendly food made with regional, seasonal ingredients. Again, the menu changes, but expect treats such as a pan-roasted duck confit on mascarpone polenta or Idaho trout with an apple cider beurre blanc. Ten 01’s sommelier, Erica Landon, has been with the restaurant since 2006, but has quickly earned a glowing reputation. 36

She’s built a cellar of some 3,000 bottles with more than 800 labels from 40 wine regions. The list puts an emphasis on Burgundies and sparkling wines. Parks’ culinary upbringing was simple enough, a military family in Texas living on meat and potatoes. But his mother, reflecting on her own military family life in Germany, introduced Parks to German cuisine and the unexpected flavors of caraway seeds and other unfamiliar ingredients. Parks celebrates a team effort in his kitchen that includes not only his kitchen staff but also the farmers and others who supply him and Landon and her expertise in wine. “I’ll sit down with Erica with a dish, and she’ll pick out the different flavor notes,” he said. Or, when planning a private dinner with a particular wine, Landon and Parks will taste the wine to see what ingredients it suggests. Ten 01 is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. 1001 NW Couch St. 503-226-3463 T O R O B R AV O

Toro Bravo is what you want a tapas restaurant to be: bustling and loud and with a menu that is salty, savory, fried and too long to list. If you’re lucky, French kisses — brandy-soaked prunes stuffed with foie gras — will be on the menu, which does change with availability of ingredients And should you feel any guilt over salt cod fritters, sautéed chanterelles or a chili-braised beef and sweet potato empanada, console yourself with the chalk-written list on the wall next to the kitchen listing every single local provider. It’s all good local food, if not entirely good for your arteries. The wine list is brief, but it includes some Oregon choices by glass and bottle along with Spanish reds and whites.

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Toro Bravo is open for dinner daily. 120 NE Russell St. A 503-281-4464 H E AT H M A N R E S TA U R A N T

The Heathman restaurant is an obvious choice for wine lovers, and that’s a good thing. The menu changes — sense a theme here? — but expect entrees such as a wild sturgeon with potato risotto and a beef tartar or roasted quail and pork belly from executive chef Philippe Boulot. Sommelier Jeff Groh’s cellar is equally generous with 750 individual labels, 6,600 bottles and 60 wines by glass, with an emphasis on Oregon and France. The Heathman schedules winemaker’s dinners, guided tastings, seasonal wine flights and regional wine dinners. The Heathman is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 1001 SW Broadway 503-241-4100 LE PIGEON

If sweetbreads and beef cheeks are an acquired taste, this is where you acquire it. The wine list is very French with some Oregon choices. And for dessert, bacon cornbread topped with maple ice cream. Open for dinner nightly. 738 E. Burnside St. 503-546-8796 L O V E LY H U L A H A N D S

Don’t expect Hawaiian. Expect an emphasis on local ingredients and a French-heavy wine list with several Oregon wines for good measure. Opening nightly, except Monday. 4057 N. Mississippi Ave. 503-445-9910 ANDINA

Andina offers a fusion of fresh local ingredients blended with Peruvian culture, such as quinoa-

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portland crusted scallops. Not surprisingly, the wine list centers on South American, but represents Oregon well. Open for lunch and dinner, daily. 1314 NW Glisan St. 503-228-9535


sustainably made and family estate wines, which include Oregon and Washington winemakers. The same ethic goes for the food menu. Alu is open nightly, except Tuesday. 2831 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 503-262-9463



Among the things that Bar Avignon says on its Web site that it likes are “hot soup on a cold Autumn afternoon,” “cheap red wine that tastes good” and “accordions.” We like Bar Avignon. The wine lists focuses on Oregon wine with other pleasures. The food menu includes


Sunset magazine just named Noble Rot, now in a new location on a fourth-floor rooftop, its favorite wine bar for 2009. Wines are available by the glass, bottle and flight, including a Willamette Valley Flight. The menu includes small plates and entrees, such as Porcini mushrooms with crispy semolina and leeks. The bar is open nightly Monday through Saturday. 1111 E. Burnside St. 503-233-1999 ALU WINE BAR AND LOUNGE

Alu has recently changed its menu and refocused its wine selections to

The Edgefield resort in Troutdale, a McMenamins property, includes Edgefield Winery, a wine tasting room in the midst of its cellar, a brewery, a pub (pictured here), and much more.

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small plates and entrées. Open daily after 4 p.m.

Open nightly after 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

2138 SE Division St. 503-517-0808

0315 SW Montgomery St. 503-295-2747



This wine bar, owned by Todd Steele, offers a diverse selection of 1.75-ounce tastes to full glasses and flights by using the Enomatic Wine Preservation System. Steele was GM of the AgriVino Wine Center and purchased the system from the Carlton operation. Menu includes appetizers, cheese, salads, soups and entrées. Open night after 5:30 p.m., except Sundays. 1139 NW 11th Ave. 503-517-7778 KIR

Kir calls itself a relaxed and intimate wine bar with wines from Oregon, France, Spain and Italy with small plates such as country pork and pistachio pate. With pickles. Precisely. Open Tuesday through Saturday after 5 p.m. 22 NE Seventh Ave. 503-232-3063 WINE DOWN ON 28TH

A comfortable bar with a fireplace to boot, serving Northwest, California and imported wines by the glass and bottle, including a large selection of Ports. Menu includes cheese, salads and small plates. 126 NE 28th Ave. 503-236-9463


Thirst emphasizes Northwest wines among its selection of 30 wines by the glass and 60 by the bottle. And if you want to prove something, order a Battle Flight that pits Northwest wines against imports. Menu includes antipasto, cheeses and small plates. 38


Wine lovers hoping to keep the theme going with their accommodations should consider Portland’s Hotel Vintage Plaza, a 117-room historic downtown hotel that offers nightly hosted wine tastings, scheduled classes, wine-centric packages and a knowledgeable concierge who can help direct travelers on their journeys. Originally built in 1849 in the Romanesque style of brick and stone, the building was bought by the Kimpton hotel group in 1985 and renovated in the early 1990s. Catering to wine tourism was an obvious choice said Marianne Moisant, assistant general manager at Vintage, considering the number of wineries, wine shops, wine bars and fine restaurants within an hour’s drive of Portland or a short ride on light rail. Fans of Pinot Noir even have their own package at the Vintage. Starting at $289 a night for two, Pinot in Portland guests are greeted in their room by a bottle of 2005 Chateau Bianca Pinot, with the hotel’s own label, and two Reidel Oregon Pinot Noir glasses to keep. Along with valet parking, the package also includes a certificate for a flight of wine pours at the hotel’s Pazzo restaurant, which itself has an abundant wine list that includes some 30 Pinot Noirs, most from the Willamette Valley. Those who skip the package can still get in on the wine fun. Northwest wineries are frequently the hosts for the daily tastings at 5 p.m. And most Wednesdays, classes are offered on food and wine pairings. The classes can get down to the finer details, including a recent seminar on vine-

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yard soil and terroir’s effect on wine, Moisant said. Even turning on the room’s flatpanel TVs offers a wine-related choice. During a recent visit, one of the in-house TV channels was running a documentary on, of course, Oregon Pinot. Guests also are encouraged to draw on wine concierge Cindi Marconi’s 20 years of wine industry knowledge, inquiring about winery destinations, tours and wines themselves. Rooms start at $130 a night, offseason. 422 SW Broadway St. 800-263-2305, 503-228-1212 HOTEL DELUXE

Originally the Mallory Hotel, built in 1912, Hotel deLuxe was reopened in 2006 after a renovation that restored the downtown hotel’s Art Deco and Art Moderne look and now celebrates the golden film era of the 1940s and ’50s. Photos of film stars are displayed, and rooms and floors are dedicated to actors, directors and producers, including the hotel’s premium Marlene Dietrich Suite. Rooms start at $129, off-season. DeLuxe also offers Gracie’s for diners and the Driftwood Room lounge. 729 SW 15th Ave. 866-895-2094, 503-219-2094 T H E H E AT H M A N H O T E L

Certainly among the city’s most celebrated hotels, The Heathman Hotel announces luxury from the moment you spy the Beefeaterdressed doorman at the entrance. The 150-room downtown historic hotel built in 1927 is a Condé Nast Traveler “World’s Best Places to Stay” and was recently renovated with an eye toward limiting construction waste going to landfills. Rooms start at $149, off-season. Wine lovers at the Heathman can enjoy a wine-tasting package that

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portland includes deluxe accommodations, valet parking, continental breakfast at The Heathman Restaurant (see restaurant listings), a bottle of organic Oregon Pinor Noir and a wine concierge. On Thursdays, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., The Heathman hosts an evening with complimentary wine and a program with authors, Heathman history and Portland tourism recommendation.

309 SW Broadway 888-523-6766, 503-228-2000

1001 SW Broadway St. 800-551-0011, 503-241-4100

400 SW Broadway 866-986-8086, 503-225-1717


Situated on the bank of the Willamette River in Portland’s South Waterfront District, the Avalon Hotel and Spa offers 99 rooms, many with views of downtown’s lights and of adjacent protected wildlife habitat. Rooms start at $99, off-season. Its spa offers more than 60 health and beauty treatments. And diners can enjoy the Aquariver Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar at the hotel for lunch and dinner. Continental breakfast is served on each floor of the hotel. 0455 SW Hamilton Court (On GPS, enter 4650 SW Macadam Ave.) 888-556-4402, 503-802-5800



Hotel Lucia in downtown Portland offers lavish rooms and services amid cutting-edge design. Rooms start at $118, off-season. Its Typhoon Restaurant and Bo Restobar specialize in Thai cuisine and Asian fusion dishes.


A vintage bed & breakfast in Portland’s northwest Irvington District, the Blue Plum Inn B&B offers a stately home base near downtown with rooms starting at $94. 2026 NE 15th Ave. 503-288-3848, 877-288-3844 LION AND THE ROSE B&B

The Lion and the Rose Bed & Breakfast — a 1906 Queen Anne mansion — offers six guest rooms, starting at $99, off-season. 1810 NE 15th Ave. 503-287-9245, 800-955-1647


Overlooking the Willamette River and the Hawthorne Bridge, the RiverPlace Hotel features plush suites and rustic Craftsman-style charm in its lobby. Rooms start at $142. Guests can enjoy the view from the Three Degrees Waterfront Bar and Grill. 1510 SW Harbor Way 503-228-3233 BENSON HOTEL

Downtown’s Benson Hotel is on the national historic register with rooms starting at $116, off-season. There are three dining opportunities — El Gaucho, London Grill and The Palm Court. The first two have been featured as Match Makers.

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P O RT L A N D ’ S W H I T E H O U S E

You’re not likely to see the first family, but you’d almost expect it when you approach Portland’s White House and its 14 columns, circular drive and fountain. The home was built by a Portland lumber baron in 1911 in the Greek Revival style. Rooms start at $125. 1914 NE 22nd Ave. 800-272-7131, 503-287-7131 portlandswhitehouse.comı JON BAUER is editor-at-large for Wine Press Northwest. His e-mail is JACKIE JOHNSTON , a freelance photojournalist, is a regular contributor and the page designer for Wine Press Northwest. Her Web site is

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2009 Northwest harvest report

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harvest report



t was a year of extremes in two Northwest wine-growing regions and a rather normal year for two others. Washington and British Columbia were on a roller coaster from late bud break to an early frost, while Oregon winemakers enjoyed a normal year and Idaho dodged the frost bullet and was picking Cab as snow began to fall in late October. Here is a region-by-region look at the Pacific Northwest’s 2009 vintage. WA S H I N G T O N

Participants celebrate harvest with some grape stomping fun at Airfield Estates in Prosser, Wash. (Not to worry, as far as we know, the results do not end up being bottled.)

When Washington winemakers look back on 2009, they will likely just shake their heads in awe. It was that kind of year. After a long, cold winter, bud break was at least two weeks late, and it had everybody nervous. “It’s cool and we’re late,” said veteran winemaker Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas Wines on Red Mountain. “We’re as late as I can ever remember. We definitely need some warm weather.” That warm weather came. By July 15, Paul Champoux of Champoux Vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills reported his vines were pretty well caught up, thanks to consistently warm weather in June and the first half of July. “We’re as close to normal as we need to be,” he said. “Everything is looking phenomenal.” About 10 days of triple-digit temperatures followed, then the rest of August was about normal, with the entire Columbia Valley experiencing daily highs in the low to mid-90s. Veraison came by the first week of August, which put winemakers on watch for the start of harvest. By the start of September, the grapes actually were nine days ahead of 2008, which was a cool vintage in Washington, and harvest began in earnest right around Labor Day. Reports coming in from throughout Eastern Washington indicated a quality harvest, even though grapes seemed to be earlier than usual. On Oct. 10, Mother Nature decided to put her foot down. Temperatures dropped as low as 20 degrees in areas of the Yakima and Walla Walla valleys, bringing harvest to an abrupt halt. “Luckily, most of the vineyards I’m involved in saw it coming and finished harvest by the time it hit,” said Norm McKibben, owner of Pepper Bridge Winery in Walla Walla, adding that he could not find a green leaf anywhere in the Walla Walla Valley after Oct. 10. Wade Wolfe of Thurston Wolfe Winery in Prosser said it was historically cold. “The most severe (frost) I remember was in 1978 when I first came up here,” he said. “On Oct. 20, we had a series of days when the temperatures went into the high teens every night. This one happened on the 10th, so it was pretty early to have that cold of a temperature.” Co Dinn, director of winemaking for Hogue Cellars,

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harvest report

called it a once-in-30-years event. “Fortunately, we had picked 90 percent of our fruit,” he said. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, which brought in about 90,000 tons of wine grapes this year, was just over halfway through harvest by the time the frost hit. It was able to bring in most of the rest of its grapes in the next 10 days, which meant the fruit came in relatively undamaged, said Doug Gore, vice president of winemaking and viticulture. Damage was widespread. In addition to the Walla Walla Valley, vineyards in the Yakima Valley were hard hit, as was Red Mountain. Areas on the Wahluke Slope, especially on lower elevations, were toasted, too. The Horse Heaven Hills came through pretty well, however, with damage in some areas but not others. And Lake Chelan also was hard hit, though most of the grapes were already harvested. Kate Michaud, winemaker for Covey Run Winery in Sunnyside called it the shortest growing season on record. “It was a good thing we were two weeks ahead or we would have been in a world of trouble when it froze.” Jarrod Boyle, owner/winemaker of Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser, likes the quality. “It’s light in the vineyard but great in the bin,” he said. “The berries are tiny, but the flavors are really intense. The skin-to-juice ratio is lower. And the Merlot is phenomenal this year. I’ve never tasted Merlot grapes this good.” OREGON

There’s reason for optimism in Oregon, where harvest wrapped up during the third week of October in the Willamette Valley. In the warmer Southern Oregon AVA, it continued up to Halloween. “The barometer needle stayed in the dry zone well into October, with the long growing season enabling full flavor development,” Ted Farthing, executive director of the Oregon Wine Board, said in a news release. “Another classic vintage, by a whisker.” However, winemakers’ hopes for an Indian summer were dashed soon after the arrival of fall. Early season forecasts predicted a warm and dry harvest — critical for ripening and picking of the finicky and labor-intensive Pinot Noir. That changed, but the nearideal growing conditions of July and August gave viticulturists and winemakers enough ripeness to work with. Greg Jones, Southern Oregon University’s worldrenowned climatologist, produced data illustrating that despite the early arrival of fall temperatures, 2009 should have produced more ripeness than 2008 did. Cumulative growing degree day values for the year show Milton-Freewater (3,402), Medford (3,384) and Roseburg (2,985) with increases ranging from 4 to 14 percent over 2008. Those figures are similar to the warm vintages of 2004 and 2006. McMinnville (2,161) came in similar to 2005 and 7 percent warmer than 2008, but it 46

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was a shade off of the current seven-year average. Jones said a weather signature for 2009 was one of high week-to-week temperature variability. It meant wide swings between both record-high and record-low maximum temperatures, but the climatologist said that had little to no effect on fruit quality. Rains during the Labor Day and Columbus Day weekends were not detrimental, either. Botrytis was relatively low, and according to growers, easily sorted on the crush pad. A final heat spike at harvest dehydrated many clusters, reducing yields and concentrating flavors. Here is a collection of comments, gathered by the Oregon Wine Board, from some of Oregon’s leaders: Harry Pederson-Nedry of Chehalem: “This vintage is similar to 2002, with good weather during harvest and lots of fruit, therefore satisfying both winemakers and accountants.” Ted Casteel of Bethel Heights Vineyard: “We ended up with that rare combination of excellent quality and quantity.” He added, “Here at Bethel Heights Vineyard, we left soft fruit hang for longer than I can remember in 30-plus vintages, and that has to be a good thing.” Sam Tannahill, whose A to Z Wineworks processes more fruit than anyone in the state, said, “The fruit just kept rolling in, and we never had to work all that hard. The wine is pretty forward with rounder tannin. Great color, higher alcohol, better acid and more freshness than 2006, but similar.” In the Columbia Gorge, there seemed to be many reasons for excitement. “We picked our earliest ever, beginning in the last few days of September,” said Bob Morus of Phelps Creek Vineyard in Hood River. “The harvest was relatively compact, with most fruit in by Oct. 10. I see the flavors of 2009 being complex and immensely pleasurable. Expect big, crowd-pleasing wines.” In Southern Oregon, some sites were off by 30 percent, and the crush pads were electric because of the condensed harvest. “We started 10 days after our expected first pick and were in a picking frenzy,” said Earl Jones, founder of Abacela and father of Greg Jones. “The sudden warmth during flowering had accelerated phenology on early, middle and late varieties, such that fruit maturity also occurred at the same time, thus the need to pick everything at once.” BRITISH COLUMBIA

Walter Gehringer’s first vintage in the Okanagan Valley was 1985, so he’s seen a lot of strange things in nearly a quarter-century of grape growing and winemaking. But he’s seen nothing as weird as 2009. “It has been a year of extremes, yet everybody has their crop,” said the co-owner and winemaker of Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery in Oliver.

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harvest report


Pumpkins are grown at the Suyematsu-Bentryn Farms on Bainbridge Island, Wash., next to wine grapes. Perennial Vintners leases some of the land for Müller-Thurgau. Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery also grows Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine here.

It started with a hard, cold winter that caused enough bud damage to reduce the crop by 20 percent. This was followed by an erratic bud break that started the growing season three weeks late. However, a warm late spring and summer followed, helping the vineyards to catch up within eight weeks. Then came Oct. 10. Temperatures dropped dramatically, as low as -8 Celsius (18 Fahrenheit), which frosted most vineyards in the valley. “Everybody in the south got decimated, even above the frost zone,” he said. “The next morning, grapes were frozen. And that was the end of the season.” Gehringer said he had everything harvested except for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and some Riesling. Roland Kruger of Wild Goose Vineyards in Okanagan Falls said his harvest lasted exactly 30 days, a record in his family’s quarter-century of grape growing. “We’ve never experienced that,” he said. Left to harvest still is ice wine because temperatures immediately warmed after Oct. 10 and have stayed that way through November. Despite the compacted nature of the season, Gehringer is reasonably optimistic about quality. “The wines are tasting good, even though everything matured in a shorter period than ever before,” he said. “It’s a pretty good vintage.”

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The cool start and hot summer manifested itself a bit differently in Idaho’s Snake River Valley. “We started off the season much like 2008 with bud break 2-3 weeks later than what we’ve come to think of as normal,” reported Gary Cunningham of 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards in Eagle. “With record rainfall in June and August, the threat of powdery mildew and concern over canopy management were real issues, but August and September brought welcomed sunshine for ripening.” On Oct. 9-10, potential damage from the cold episode was mitigated either by the appellation’s high elevation or the protective breeze that typically swirls through the valley, noted Moya Schatz, director of the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission. Ripening temperatures returned as Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling hit their targeted sugar levels. “It was a great harvest this year,” said Ron Bitner, who first planted his Caldwell vineyard in 1980. “Even though we picked our Cabernet Sauvignon on Oct. 27 with snow in the air, we still hit 26.5 brix with wonderful fruit flavors.” ı ERIC DEGERMAN is Wine Press Northwest’s managing editor. AN D Y PE R D U E is editor-in-chief of Wine Press Northwest. JACKIE JOHNSTON , a freelance photojournalist, is a regular contributor and the

page designer for Wine Press Northwest. Her Web site is WineCountr

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Vineyard Ln & Mill Creek Rd, Walla Walla

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10th Annual Platinum Judging STORY BY A N D Y P E R D U E PHOTOS BY J A C K I E J O H N S T O N

Our 10th annual Platinum Judging was remarkable in many ways. We received more wines — by far — than ever before with 450 entries. And our esteemed judges accordingly awarded more Platinums. Each year, we invite wineries in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho to send wines that have won gold medals in any of about 30 competitions we track. 52

These wines are then tasted again and awarded accordingly by our panel of judges. To win a Platinum, three out of four judges must agree to its greatness. If all four judges deem the wine a Platinum, then it wins a Double Platinum. This year, for just the second time in this competition’s 10-year history, a white wine earned the top position, taking the title of “Best of the Best.” The wine, from JoieFarm in Naramata, British Columbia, was a 2008 Riesling. Remarkably, the No. 2 wine overall also was from JoieFarm, and also a white wine. Many fascinating story lines emerged during this year’s competition: ıϧBarnard Griffin of Richland, Wash., won five Platinums. ıϧSix wineries won three Platinums each. They were: Domaine de Chaberton of Langley, B.C.; Gehringer Brothers of Oliver,

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B.C.; Inniskillin Okanagan of Oliver, B.C.; Jackson-Triggs of Oliver, B.C.; Vin du Lac of Chelan, Wash.; and Wild Goose of Okanagan Falls, B.C. The fact that five of these wineries are from British Columbia speaks volumes about the quality of wines coming from that province. ıϧEleven wineries earned two Platinums each. ıϧVin du Lac earned an unprecedented fifth consecutive Platinum for its Cabernet Franc. That’s five straight years for the same variety. And two of those were unanimous Double Platinums. ıϧDomaine Ste. Michelle of Paterson, Wash., won a Platinum for its Blanc de Noirs, a sparkling rosé. This is the fourth time in six years this wine has earned a Platinum. ıϧSixteen Platinums qualified as “Best buy” wines because they retailed for $15 or less. This means there are a lot of great and afford-

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able wines out there. Because of the size of this year’s competition, we only have room to run reviews of the 82 wines that won Double Platinum and Platinum. However, all of the wines that won Double Gold and Gold are available for downloading at: W W W. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M / W I N T E R 0 9

Our judges this year were: Dan Berger, wine writer from Santa Rosa, Calif.; Parks Redwine, director of the Northwest Wine Summit and a wine importer in Atlanta, Ga.; Bob Woehler, Wine Press Northwest tasting editor and the dean of Northwest wine writers; Ken Robertson, Wine Press Northwest columnist; Coke Roth, Wine Press Northwest tasting panelist and international wine judge; Winnie Alberg, vineyard manager and wine judge; Jay Drysdale, British Columbia wine writer and judge; and Jarrod Boyle, owner of Alexandria Nicole Cellars in

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W I N E R AT I N G S Each of 450 wines entered earned gold medals — or the equivalent — to get into our judging. Thus, the lowest medal they could earn was a gold. Here’s how wines are rated in our competition:

Double Gold

Superb wines that rise above. They should be highly sought after. Gold

Best of the Best

Our judges confirmed the gold medals they earned elsewhere. They should not be overlooked.

These are the top-rated wines in the judging. They should be considered extremely collectible and highly coveted. This year, the one wine that earned this award is also a Double Platinum.

Best Buy A red wine that is $15 and under or a white or rosé

Double Platinum

The judges unanimously decided these were Platinums. Again, these should be considered highly coveted. Platinum

Great wines, among the best in the Great Northwest.

Prosser, Wash., and Destiny Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. (Note: Boyle did not judge any of his own wines.) Two nonvoting guest judges were Kim Waddle of Texas and Metiner Kimel of Yakima, Wash.

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wine that is $10 and under. Prices are suggested retail and should be

used as guidelines. Prices are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted as CDN, which is Canadian dollars.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue of Wine Press Northwest organized and conducted the judging. Hank Sauer of Wine Press Northwest facilitated the competition and ensured the integrity of the results. The judging was conducted Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at

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the Clover Island Inn in Kennewick, Wash. On to the wines.

BEST OF THE BEST & D O U B L E P L AT I N U M JoieFarm $21 CDN 2008 Riesling, Okanagan Valley Heidi Noble and Michael Dinn approach winemaking from a food background. Their restaurant experience taught them to craft wines that will pair well with food, not just how they will hedonistically taste alone. This Riesling, from what the pair term a “delicate vintage” that favored their style of winemaking, is nothing short of stunning. On the nose, it exudes aromas of white peaches, apples, Bosc pears and delicate notes of jasmine. Its bold acidity — this wine has a remarkable 2.89 pH — shows up early, revealing notes of crisp apples, notes of minerals and astonishing balance from first sip through the lengthy finish. Enjoy with Thai, Mexican or Indian cuisine, as well as chicken or fresh crab. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit, Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition). (1,071 cases, 11% alc.)

DOUBLE PLATINUM JoieFarm $22 CDN 2008 A Noble Blend, Okanagan Valley This white blend is modeled after “Edelzwicker” blends


found in Alsace and comprises six varieties from eight vineyards. It is primarily Gewürztraminer (36%), along with fairly equal parts of Kerner, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Pinot Gris and the exceedingly rare Oraniensteiner. The “Noble” name has two origins: the literal translation of “Edelzwicker” and co-winemaker Heidi Noble’s last name. Because of the grapes involved, this is a beautifully aromatic wine with aromas of citrus fruits, especially grapefruit, lemon and lime, along with notes of lemongrass and herbs. It’s a bright, clean, delicious wine on the palate with flavors of white peaches sprinkled with cardamom. Pair with fresh fruits, roasted turkey or lemon chicken. Gold (All Canadian Wine Championships). (3,200 cases, 12.5% alc.) Barnard Griffin $17 2006 Merlot, Columbia Valley What never fails to astonish us is how consistently winemaker Rob Griffin’s wines rise to the top of our competitions, regardless of the category. In this case, the wine is one of Griffin’s bread-and-butter bottlings. This Merlot has just a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blended in for complexity. The fruit comes from five vineyards, including Caroway, a Griffin favorite. It opens with aromas of Oreo cookies, cherries and cedar, followed by flavors of blueberries, cranberries and even wild strawberries. Its velvety tannins back bright acidity and lead to a juicy, lengthy finish. Gold (Riverside International Wine Competition, International Eastern Wine Competition). (6,636 cases, 14.1% alc.) Best buy! Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery $14 CDN 2008 Canoe Cove North Bluff White, British

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Columbia In recent years, this winery has stepped up remarkably, releasing one superb wine after another. The winery was started more than a quarter-century ago by Claude and Inge Violet, making it the oldest producer in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. This proprietary white blend uses grapes from Chaberton’s 55-acre estate, including Pinot Blanc, Madeleine Angevine, Chardonnay and Madeleine Sylvaner. It opens with clean, bright, perfumy aromas, followed by flavors of citrus, lemongrass and fresh-cut apples. It’s a delicious wine with a lengthy finish. Pair with pasta with a garlic sauce or grilled halibut. Gold (Tasters Guild International). (585 cases, 12.5% alc.) Best buy! Domaine Ste. Michelle $13 NV Extra Dry, Columbia Valley Winemaker Rick Casqueiro oversees one of the largest sparkling wine producers in the United States, and this off-dry (2.3% residual sugar) bubbly is delicious, affordable and plentiful. It’s primarily Chardonnay (88%) with a bit of Pinot Noir, all from Washington’s vast Columbia Valley. It opens with wonderful aromas of lemon zest, oranges and tropical fruits, including pineapples. On the palate, it reveals flavors of citrus and tropical fruits, including mangoes. The touch of sweetness is perfectly balanced, making this a perfect wine to enjoy on its own, with brunch or picnic fare or with a salad containing sliced almonds and dried cranberries. Best sparkling (Riverside International Wine Competition), Gold (Long Beach Grand Cru). (51,919 cases, 11.5% alc.) Barnard Griffin $17 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

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Owner/winemaker Rob Griffin refers to Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills as a sweet spot for growing Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine, which is 79% Cab and the balance the other red Bordeaux grapes, comes primarily from Horse Heaven vineyards such as Alder Creek, Alder Ridge and Champoux. This is a young wine that obviously is already showing its greatness. It opens with aromas of mocha, pie cherries and whispers of violets, followed by complex flavors of blueberries, blackberries and huckleberries with hints of sweet spices and lingering notes of dark chocolate. It’s an elegant wine from first sip through the lengthy finish. Outstanding (Wine Press Northwest). (6,548 cases, 14.3% alc.) Glencorrie $35 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley A combination of great vineyard sources and superb winemaking has resulted in a stunning Cab for this new winery in the Walla Walla Valley. The grapes came from Stillwater Creek in the Frenchman Hills and Gamache Vineyards in the Columbia Basin, and Charlie Hoppes was behind the winemaking. This shows off aromas of pie cherries, blackberries, pink peppercorns and an intriguing herbal note. The palate reveals flavors of ripe blackberries, dried herbs, dark chocolate, freshly brewed coffee and hints of vanilla. It’s a beautifully balanced wine that should age gracefully for a decade or more. Outstanding (Wine Press Northwest). (208 cases, 14.7% alc.) Dusted Valley Vintners $53 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley This wine from one of the brightest stars in

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the Walla Walla Valley topped our big Cabernet Sauvignon judging in the fall and continues to show its brilliance in our best-of-the-best competition. It’s a fascinating wine, revealing aromas of sun-dried tomatoes, boysenberries, minerality, mocha and blue fruits. On the palate, it shows off flavors of pomegranates, black cherries, black currants and hints of black truffles. Its structure is stunning, with perfect acidity, moderate tannins and a superb finish. Pair with grilled meats and a mushroom sauce. Outstanding (Wine Press Northwest), Gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (125 cases, 14.7% alc.) La Frenz Winery $22 CDN 2008 Small Lots Sauvignon Blanc, Okanagan Valley Aussie natives Jeff and Niva Martin emigrated to British Columbia in 1994, where Jeff became winemaker for Quails’ Gate Estate Winery in Kelowna. The pair in 2001 opened up on the Naramata Bench and have been crafting some of B.C.’s finest wines since. This is a stunning and complex wine, thanks to a picking schedule that spanned much of harvest and included a third that was harvested late and was barrel fermented. The resulting wine reveals huge aromas of gooseberries, limes, quince, lychee and jicama, followed by grassy flavors as well as notes of lemon zest. As one judge noted: New Zealand Sauv Blanc lovers will feel right at home with this wine. Double gold (All Canadian Wine Championships). (800 cases, 13% alc.) Powers Winery $25 2006 Cougar Vineyard Syrah, Wahluke Slope Winemaker Greg Powers has been getting fruit from this Wahluke Slope vineyard for a couple of years, but this was the first time he made a reserve bot-

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tling from it. That was a good call, as this ended up being the No. 1 Syrah in our best-of-the-best judging (out of 52 judged). This gorgeous wine opens with aromas of ripe blueberry jam, raspberries, violets and even hints of oranges and oak spice. On the palate, this shows off flavors of boysenberries, leather, tea, chocolate and Mandarin oranges. Lively acidity backs up all the fruit and provides an intriguing leanness on the finish that had us thinking about pairing it with ossobuco. Gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (400 cases, 14% alc.) Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery $23 CDN 2008 Mystic River Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley Our 2009 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year did not disappoint in this year’s Platinum Judging. Pinot Gris is quickly becoming a trademark variety for second-generation winemaker Hagen Kruger, so it’s little surprise this was the top Pinot Gris in our judging. This shows off whiffs of lychee on the nose, along with grapefruit, floral notes, limes and jicama. On the palate, it reveals bright, crisp flavors of lemons, limes, pomelos and minerals. It’s a stunner that will pair well with oysters, scallops, pasta with a caper sauce or grilled halibut. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (300 cases, 13.4% alc.) Pacific Rim Winemakers $14 2008 Framboise, Washington This wine is nothing less than an amazing indulgence. Pacific Rim, based in West Richland, Wash., used a variety of raspberry grown specifically for it in the Skagit Valley, resulting in an incomparable dessert wine. It reveals pure aromas and flavors of fresh, vineripened raspberries with no bitterness. Surprisingly, it doesn’t show any of the fortifying alcohol that

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THE COMPETITION The Platinum Judging is by invitation only. To gain entry, a wine must be from Pacific Northwest fruit and have earned a gold medal or equivalent from any of about 30 competitions we chart throughout the year. They are: W I N E P R E S S N O RT H W E S T conducts three “peer-group” judgings each year. A wine that earns an “Outstanding” rating is invited to enter the Platinum. In 2009, we judged “Bordeaux Gems” (Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere), rosés and Cabernet Sauvignons. T H E N O RT H W E S T W I N E S U M M I T is the largest judging of Pacific Northwest wines and is staged each spring in Oregon. T H E R I V E R S I D E I N T E R N AT I O N A L W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N is arrested fermentation with the residual sugar at a decadent 20%. This is a dessert in itself. Or drizzle a bit of it over cheesecake or double chocolate cake. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (6,000 cases, 16.5% alc.) Hollywood Hill Vineyards $30 2006 Portteus Vineyards Syrah, Rattlesnake Hills Owner/winemaker Steve Snyder crafted this Syrah using organically grown grapes from longtime


conducted by Wine Press Northwest columnist Dan Berger in Southern California. T H E L O S A N G E L E S I N T E R N AT I O N A L W I N E & S P I R I T S C O M P E T I T I O N is held in Pomona, Calif., and is generally considered the most prestigious wine competition in the United States. T H E A L L C A N A D I A N W I N E C H A M P I O N S H I P S is conducted in Ontario. T H E I N T E R N AT I O N A L E A S T E R N W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N is put on by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine and is held in New York. T H E TA S T E R S G U I L D I N T E R N AT I O N A L competition is conducted by the Tasters Guild. T H E L O N G B E A C H G R A N D C R U is put on by wine writer Dan Berger in Southern California. T H E S E AT T L E W I N E AWA R D S are conducted by

grower Paul Portteus. The Rattlesnake Hills can be somewhat cooler than other areas of the Yakima Valley, a trait that can reveal itself in remarkable ways with Syrah. In this case, it provides aromas of boysenberries, eucalyptus, cola, rose petals and hints of oak, followed by beautifully balanced flavors of blueberries, blackberries and underlying hints of sweet herbs. Supple tannins give way to a lengthy and memorable finish. Gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (100

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cases, 13.9% alc.) Vin du Lac $35 2006 Barrel Select Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley Owner/winemaker Larry Lehmbecker has floored us again with his fifth consecutive Platinum award for this variety. This is an unprecedented level of quality and continues to mark this Lake Chelan, Wash., producer as one of the finest in the Pacific Northwest. This version opens with aromas of blue-

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Christopher Chan of the Rainier Club. is the largest judging of American wines. It is held each January in Cloverdale, Calif. T H E WA S H I N G T O N S TAT E W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N is held each June in Yakima. T H E O R E G O N S TAT E FA I R professional wine competition is held each summer in Salem. SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE WINE COMPETITION


is conducted by Anthony Dias Blue in San




is held in San


is held in New York. T H E S A N D I E G O I N T E R N AT I O N A L W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N

T H E N AT I O N A L W O M E N ' S W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N

is held in

Santa Rosa, Calif. T H E G R A N D H A R V E S T AWA R D S

Park, Calif., by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine. T H E I N D Y I N T E R N AT I O N A L W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N is held in Indianapolis. T H E W E S T C O A S T W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N is put on by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine in Santa Rosa, Calif. T H E N E W W O R L D I N T E R N AT I O N A L W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N is held in Southern California. T H E PA C I F I C R I M W I N E C O M P E T I T I O N is part of the National Orange Show in Southern California.


held in Southern California. is one of the nation’s largest and oldest wine competitions.


are staged in Rohnert

berries, boysenberries, black cherries and hints of bacon, followed by bright flavors of ripe strawberries, cherry jam, new leather and milk chocolate. It’s a supremely complex wine that will pair beautifully with roasted meats, lasagna or a gourmet pizza. Gold (San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition). (311 cases, 14.9% alc.) Whitman Cellars $24 2005 Narcissa Red, Walla Walla Valley California

escapee Steve Lessard started his Washington winemaking career on Red Mountain before heading east to Walla Walla in 2002 to join Whitman Cellars. There, he has successfully stressed balance and elegance over boldness. This proprietary red blend is named for Narcissa Whitman, wife of missionary Marcus Whitman. They were on the wrong end of the notorious Whitman Massacre in 1847. Ironically, Narcissa was a teetotaler, so she would not have

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appreciated the aromas of vanilla bean, dusty cherries, blackberries and chocolate-covered cherries, followed by flavors of ripe blueberries, huckleberries and dark chocolate. Taut tannins provide ample backbone for enjoying with a ribeye steak. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (2,316 cases, 13.8% alc.) William Church Winery $20 2008 Viognier, Columbia Valley In just its third vintage, this Woodinville, Wash., winery is quickly

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hitting its stride with world-class releases. This Viognier uses grapes from highly regarded Connor Lee Vineyard in the Columbia Basin near the town of Othello. It reveals aromas of pineapples, passion fruit, pears, apricots and starfruit, followed by flavors of Mandarin oranges, lemons and minerals. Viognier is notoriously low in acidity, yet this wine shows off remarkable steeliness and brightness, giving it gorgeous balance. Gold (Washington State Wine Competition). (204 cases, 14.1% alc.)

PLATINUM Best buy! Abacela Vineyards & Winery $14 2008 Rosado, Southern Oregon Winemaker Andrew Wenzl blended Garnacha (75%) with Tempranillo (18%) and Mourvédre to build this gorgeous and complex rosé, making it the best pink wine of our competition. It was the first wine released for Wenzl as head winemaker for this Roseburg, Ore., producer. The wine opens with gorgeous aromas of fresh strawberries, watermelon, rose petals and sweet spices, followed by bright, clean and crisp flavors of raspberries, strawberries and cranberries. It is a perfect wine to pair with barbecued pork or chicken. Outstanding (Wine Press Northwest). (246 cases, 13.8% alc.) Cadaretta $40 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley This suave, stunning Cab is from the inaugural vintage of this Walla Walla, Wash., winery, which speaks volumes about its future. Winemaker Virginie Bourgue blends 79% Cabernet Sauvignon with Petit Verdot,


Cabernet Franc and Merlot to build a complex and luscious wine. It opens with aromas of elegant blackberries, sweet herbs and sweet French oak spices. On the palate, it is a rich and elegant wine that showcases the Cabernet fruit from Heather Hill Vineyard in the eastern Walla Walla Valley. It reveals plums, blackberries and underlying herbs, all backed with beautiful acidity and gentle tannins. It’s a wine to enjoy in the next five years with bison, venison or leaner cuts of beef. Platinum (Critics Challenge International), double gold (San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition). (315 cases, 15.4% alc.) Cougar Crest Estate Winery $32 2006 Anniversary Cuvée, Walla Walla Valley This wine made its inaugural appearance from the 2003 vintage to mark Dave and Debbie Hansens’ silver wedding anniversary. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (27%), Petit Verdot (20%) and Malbec. It opens with aromas of sweet spices as well as plums, cherries and red and green peppercorns, followed by luscious flavors of dark chocolate and bold, ripe fruit. Absolutely brilliant use of oak melds with supple, elegant tannins and ample acidity through the lengthy finish. Enjoy now with prime rib or hang onto it for up to a half-decade. Gold (San Francisco International Wine Competition). (660 cases, 13.3% alc.) Best buy! Hogue Cellars $10 2008 Riesling, Columbia Valley Throughout its more than a quarter-century of winemaking, this large Prosser, Wash., producer has made Riesling one of its signature wines, and this most noble of

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white varieties shines at Hogue year after year, decade after decade. What perhaps is most remarkable about this wine is the combination of value and abundance; it is a most democratic of wines, available to — and affordable by — the masses. This vintage comes primarily from the Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills, and the resulting wine is straightforward yet stunningly complex, with aromas of apples, pears, melons and hints of honey, followed by flavors of lemons, minerals and just-ripe apricots. The 2% residual sugar is expertly balanced with bright acidity, making this a perfect wine to pair with spicy Thai, Indian or Mexican fare as well as sweet meats such as turkey or duck. Gold (Critics Challenge International). (78,379 cases, 12% alc.) Milbrandt Vineyards $25 2006 The Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope Butch and Jerry Milbrandt began planting vineyards on Washington’s Wahluke Slope and in the Columbia Basin in 1997. Today, their 13 vineyards total nearly 1,600 acres, and they’ve opened a tasting room in the Vintners Village in Prosser. This luscious Cab comes from their Northridge and Clifton Hill vineyards and includes 14% Petit Verdot and 7% Malbec. It reveals aromas of black currants, chocolate, leather, oak and a hint of smokiness, followed by dark-toned flavors of rich plums, chocolate and blackberries. Firm tannins provide plenty of backbone without overwhelming the fruit, creating a harmonious balance. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (1,284 cases, 14.3% alc.) Nk’Mip Cellars $60 CDN 2008 Qwam Qwmt Riesling Ice Wine, Okanagan Valley Since launching in 2000, North America’s

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first aboriginal-owned and -operated winery has made a name for itself with its wines as well as its stunningly beautiful setting. Its ice wine, in particular, has wowed wine critics year after year, and this vintage was no exception. Randy Picton has been the winemaker from the beginning and crafts a wide variety of wines, from bold red blends to this ultrasweet (27.7% residual sugar) dessert wine. The grapes for this wine were harvested from prized estate 30-year-old Riesling vines. The wine reveals aromas of minerals, honey, pears and pineapples, followed by flavors that don’t come off as overly sweet, thanks to impeccable acidity. It shows off notes of poached apples, kitchen spices and ripe tropical fruit. Gold (San Francisco International Wine Competition). (290 cases, 10% alc.) Best buy! Barnard Griffin $12 2008 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley Owner/winemaker Rob Griffin has been making this rosé for a number of years now, and his style epitomizes “made in the vineyard.” Griffin has worked with grape grower Maury Balcom for decades, and the grapes for this wine come from Balcom’s vineyard north of Pasco, Wash. Through the years, the pair have worked together to find the perfect balance long before the grapes arrive at the winery. This wine reveals aromas and flavors of cherries, rhubarb and cranberries, backed with depth, power, flesh and richness. One judge described it as “a red wine with no color or astringency.” Outstanding (Wine Press Northwest), Gold (San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition). (5,289 cases, 12.5% alc.)

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Chateau Ste. Michelle $24 2007 Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley As much as any wine, the Eroica has been the public face of American Riesling, thanks to its multiple awards, high profile and strong publicity. The bottom line, however, is that it’s become a great wine as Ernst Loosen and Bob Bertheau have dialed in the style they’ve sought over the past half-decade. This reveals refreshing aromas of minerality, fresh-cut apples and just hints of apricots, followed by harmonious flavors of slate, limes and pears. This would be an interesting wine to taste in another 10 years, as it should age beautifully. Gold (Riverside International Wine Competition, National Women’s Wine Competition). (24,250 cases, 12% alc.) Couvillion $25 2006 Equilibre, Columbia Valley Prior to now, Couvillion might have been best known as the winery next to Spring Valley Vineyards north of Walla Walla, Wash. But this wine reveals that owner/winemaker Jill Noble’s wines deserve a reputation based on quality rather than neighborhood. This red blend consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon from Dionysus Vineyard north of Pasco, Wash., and 30% Petit Verdot from Blue Mountain Vineyard, aged in French oak. The resulting wine is elegant, complex and well balanced. It reveals aromas of red and dark cherries, chocolate and hints of tobacco, followed by rich flavors of dark cherries and an intriguing hint of herbs with moderate tannins. Gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (300 cases, 14.2% alc.)

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Best buy! Greata Ranch Estate Winery $14 CDN 2008 Rosé, Okanagan Valley This is a label for CedarCreek Estate Winery in Kelowna, whose Greata Ranch Vineyards between Summerland and Peachland on the western shore of Okanagan Lake is a source of pride and beautiful grapes. This rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir and is basically bone dry. It opens with intense aromas of white strawberries, cranberries and a hint of tea, followed by impressive flavors of cranberries, raspberries and even a hint of citrus. Its bright acidity and full flavors make this a luscious wine to enjoy with picnic fare, poultry or grilled salmon. Outstanding (Wine Press Northwest). (278 cases, 12.5% alc.) Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards $100 CDN 2007 Discovery Series Tempranillo Ice Wine, Okanagan Valley Without a doubt, this is one of the rarest wines in the world. Though the Okanagan Valley has produced a small number of red ice wines, they’ve typically been made from such grapes as Merlot, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc. But Tempranillo? The grapes for this wine were picked at 2 a.m. Jan. 1, 2008. In Canada, this still counts as being from the 2007 vintage because that was the year the grapes were grown (In the United States, it would technically be a 2008 wine). And the wine itself is just as astonishing, thanks to aromas of exotic spices, fresh strawberries and ripe cherries, followed by sweet, luscious flavors of rich, decadent fruit. Gold (All Canadian Wine Championships). (240 cases, 9.5% alc.) Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards $60 CDN 2007 Riesling Ice Wine, Okanagan Valley

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Hungarian-born Sandor Mayer emigrated to British Columbia in the 1980s and has been Inniskillin Okanagan’s winemaker and viticulturist since its inception. Thus, his ability to craft great wines year after year is uncanny. The grapes for this gorgeous dessert wine were picked in the first two hours of 2008 from White Tail Vineyard near Oliver at an eyepopping 41.8 brix. The resulting wine is a stunner, with aromas of poached apples, honey and apricots followed by bold, round, delicious flavors of baked fruit. The rich mouth feel is beautifully backed with impressive acidity. It’s a dessert unto itself, though you also might try it with cheesecake or a plate of fresh fruit. Gold (All Canadian Wine Championships). (2,600 cases, 9.5% alc.) L’Ecole No. 41 $16 2007 Semillon, Columbia Valley Generally speaking, Walla Walla Valley wineries focus primarily on red wines. A primary exception through the years has been the work of L’Ecole winemaker Marty Clubb, who makes no fewer than four versions of Semillon on an annual basis. The grapes come from a mix of top vineyards, including Klipsun (Red Mountain), Rosebud and Fries (Wahluke Slope), Stillwater Creek (Frenchman Hills) and Seven Hills, Double River Ranch and Les Collines (Walla Walla). It opens with intriguing aromas of fresh linen, dusty apples, ripe pears and a hint of nuttiness, followed by flavors of light oak, straw and lemons. This would be a perfect wine to try with butternut squash bisque. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (4,680 cases, 14.3% alc.) Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards $38 2007 Reserve Syrah, Umpqua Valley Stephen


and Gloria Reustle moved to Oregon, planted Prayer Rock Vineyard in 2001 and launched their winery in 2004. Early in their history, they have made a name for themselves with the rare Tempranillo and even rarer Grüner Veltliner grapes. But they also craft more mainstream varieties, including this stunning Syrah. It opens with a greeting of elegant oak followed by holiday spices, blueberries and blackberries. On the palate, it reveals deep, luscious flavors of ripe dark fruit, backed with refined tannins and plenty of length. Best of class (National Women’s Wine Competition), gold (West Coast Wine Competition). (195 cases, 14.2% alc.) Thurston Wolfe Winery $18 2007 Howling Wolfe Zinfandel, Horse Heaven Hills Owner/winemaker Wade Wolfe has been roaming Washington vineyards for more than three decades, and he was among the first to recognize that Zinfandel in the Horse Heaven Hills could be something pretty special. The fruit for this Zin comes from Zephyr Ridge, one of Wolfe’s favorite vineyards. It is a big wine that should appeal to lovers of Paso and Dry Creek Zins. It opens with aromas of black raspberries, Bing cherries and freshly ground black pepper, followed by flavors of rich dark fruit that is bold yet stylish, even elegant. And not to be overlooked is the nice price. Double gold (Washington State Wine Competition). (480 cases, 15.5% alc.) Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery $19 CDN 2008 Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley In recent years, winemaker Hagen Kruger has been focusing more on this Alsatian variety that shines in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. The fact that the top

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two Gris in our judging were from Wild Goose shows all that hard work is paying off. This opens with luscious aromas of lychee, orange marmalade, oranges and pineapples, followed by flavors of tangerines, limes and minerals. Bright acidity gives this wine plenty of pep. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (2,000 cases, 13.3% alc.) Windy Point Vineyards $19 2005 Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley Mike and Liz Stepnieski are the husband-wife team at this winery in the western Yakima Valley. Their tasting room provides stunning views of the Yakima Valley and their 15-acre estate vineyard, which provided the grapes for this superb wine crafted by Liz. This opens with aromas of pomegranates, pie cherries, raspberries and hints of shaved dark chocolate, followed by flavors of cola, ripe plums, red currants and hints of cedar. It’s all backed with bright acidity. Gold (Washington State Wine Competition). (350 cases, 13.8% alc.) Basel Cellars Estate Winery $36 2006 Chelle Den Millie Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley This stunning winery south of Walla Walla, Wash., is an amazing 13,800-square-foot facility that is available for overnight stays for you and 17 of your best friends. This Cabernet Franc from this highly regarded Yakima Valley vineyard opens with aromas of ripe plums, cherries, blackberries and mint, as well as a bit of sexy fresh leather notes. On the palate are flavors of cedar, cherries and hints of licorice. It’s gorgeously balanced with modest tannins and an elegant finish. Gold (Seattle Wine Awards, Grand Harvest Awards). (150 cases, 14.2% alc.)

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Best buy! Domaine Ste. Michelle $13 NV Blanc de Noirs, Columbia Valley Few realize much Pinot Noir is grown in Washington’s Yakima Valley, but that’s because nearly all of it goes to winemaker Rick Casqueiro for this beautiful pink sparkling wine. This reveals intriguing aromas of grapefruits, strawberries, pie cherries and even rhubarb, followed by a beautiful mouth feel loaded with cherries and white strawberries. This is a dry bubbly that will stand up with the best in the New World. And by the way, this is this wine’s fourth Platinum in six years. That’s what we call a consistently great house blend. Best of class (Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition), gold (National Women’s Wine Competition). (20,081 cases, 11% alc.) Best buy! Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery $15 CDN 2008 Private Reserve Riesling, Okanagan Valley Year in and year out, Gehringer Brothers near Oliver, B.C., crafts some of the finest German-style wines. This fact makes perfect sense when one realizes the brothers graduated from two of the finest winemaking universities in Germany. This beguiling Riesling opens with aromas of gooseberries, crab apples, lemons and lychee, followed by flavors of slate, grapefruit and fresh-cut Golden Delicious apples. It’s a complex wine with stunning acidity. Double gold (Indy International Wine Competition), gold (All Canadian Wine Championships). (1,000 cases, 13% alc.) Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery $47 CDN 2008 Minus Nine Ehrenfelser Ice Wine,

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Okanagan Valley Named for the Ehrenfels castle on the Rhine River, this cross of Riesling and Silvaner often makes a superb ice wine. Gehringer Brothers south of Oliver, B.C., has been crafting ice wine from this little-known variety for many years. This marvelous example shows off outrageous aromas of holiday spices, bold nectarines and peaches, followed by big, luscious flavors of round, ripe poached peaches and apples. It’s all backed with stunning acidity, which lifts all the flavor and sweetness. Best dessert (Indy International Wine Competition). (350 cases, 10.8% alc.) H/H Estates $28 2007 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Big John Cab Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills Coyote Canyon Vineyard is the highly regarded planting in the Horse Heaven Hills owned by the Andrews family and supplies top grapes to more than two dozen wineries across the Pacific Northwest. It also holds some back for its own winery, which has its tasting room in the Winemaker’s Loft in Prosser, Wash. This Cab reveals aromas of fresh-out-of-the-oven brownies, mint, cherries and black currants, followed by flavors of chocolate cookies, pomegranates and cola. Fine-grained tannins add plenty of structure without drowning out the ample, youthful fruit. Outstanding (Wine Press Northwest). (103 cases, 14.8% alc.) Best buy! Hogue Cellars $10 2008 Pinot Grigio, Columbia Valley Hogue Cellars, one of Washington’s largest Pinot Gris producers, also is one of its best. The grapes tend to come from relatively cooler vineyards,

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including Upland, Olsen and Airport in the Yakima Valley and Wallula in the Horse Heaven Hills. The resulting wine is bright, clean and crisp, making it a perfect wine to pair with shellfish, grilled halibut, lemon chicken or pasta in a cream sauce. This superb wine reveals aromas of pears, muskmelon, quince, starfruit and pineapples, followed by harmonious flavors of pears, minerality and Jonagold apples. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (91,500 cases, 13.5% alc.) Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate $20 CDN 2006 Proprietors’ Reserve Shiraz, Okanagan Valley Brooke Blair grew up in Australia and learned her winemaking skills there before emigrating to British Columbia. When J-T’s longtime winemaker Bruce Nicholson returned to his native Ontario, Blair was elevated to red winemaker in 2007. This Syrah, one of the first wines Blair shepherded through upon her promotion, reveals aromas of leather, black pepper and blackberries, followed by a dark, bold entry that shows off flavors of black licorice, black cherries and blackberries. It’s a pretty wine with nice plumpness on the midpalate and an elegant finish. Gold (San Francisco International Wine Competition). (5,000 cases, 14.1% alc.) Best buy! Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate $14 CDN 2007 Proprietors’ Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Okanagan Valley With the departure of JacksonTriggs’ first winemaker, Bruce Nicholson, after the 2006 vintage, assistant winemaker Derek Kontkanen was promoted to oversee production of white and ice wines. This Sauvignon Blanc from his first full

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vintage in that role reveals a fascinating wine that opens with aromas of gooseberries, starfruit, quince and a twist of lemon. On the palate, this has a rich, silky mouth feel with flavors of gooseberries, kumquats and grapefruits with a hint of minerality and smokiness with sexy tartness on the finish. Gold (San Francisco International Wine Competition). (10,000 cases, 13.9% alc.) Kalamar Winery $25 2006 Sangiovese, Yakima Valley Since launching his small winery a decade ago outside Tacoma, Mark Kalamar has perhaps become best known for crafting superb Merlot. This Sangiovese — blended with 20% Merlot — uses grapes from Chandler Reach Vineyard near Benton City, Wash, and Klingele Vineyard farther west in Prosser. It opens showing a fair bit of elegant oak on the nose, as well as rich cherries and strawberries, followed by flavors of pie cherries, strawberries and Baker’s chocolate. A nice little grip of tannin and acidity plays out on the palate, giving this just the right amount of structure to pair with roasted meats or vegetables. Gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (112 cases, 15.1% alc.) Best buy! Kyra Wines $12 2008 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley Kyra and Bruce Baerlocher run this small operation in the Columbia Basin city of Moses Lake, Wash., with estate vineyards on the Wahluke Slope. Since launching their winery in 2005, they have quickly gained a reputation for producing high-quality reds and whites with a focus on out-of-the-mainstream varieties. Chenin Blanc has not been highly regarded in the American wine scene, but we think it would


be if more were made like this. It opens with aromas of lemons, cotton candy, minerality and Mandarin oranges, followed by flavors of crisp citrus and just a bit of residual sugar (1.7%). Pair this with grilled chicken topped with mango salsa. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (430 cases, 12.5% alc.) L’Ecole No. 41 $25 2007 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Late Harvest Semillon, Walla Walla Valley After grapes for the regular Semillon were harvested in October 2007, winemaker Marty Clubb left an acre hanging for a dessert wine. He waited more than three months before picking them at an eye-popping 50 brix. The ultra-late harvest provided less than 200 gallons of juice, which was fermented and aged in new French oak for six months. The result: a stunning wine with aromas of honey, apricots, tangerines and limes, followed by flavors that reminded us of crème brûlée, as well as figs, apricots and dried peaches. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (80 cases, 13.5% alc.) Best buy! Snoqualmie Vineyards $8 2008 Winemaker’s Select Riesling, Columbia Valley Winemaker Joy Andersen has overseen Snoqualmie since the early 1990s, and in recent years this sweet Riesling has become a huge hit, resulting in a larger part of her production. This vintage includes 5% each of Muscat of Alexandria and Viognier to add complexity. At 6.06% residual sugar, it’s plenty sweet, though some of that is tempered by the low pH of 3. It opens with aromas of ripe peaches and baked pears, followed by rich flavors of peaches and refreshing apples. It’s a tasty wine that pairs well with spicy dishes. Gold (Long Beach

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Grand Cru). (60,000 cases, 10.5% alc.) Best buy! Sweet Cheeks Winery $15 2008 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley Sitting atop its 65-acre estate vineyard overlooking the Briggs Hill Vineyard southwest of Eugene, Ore., Sweet Cheeks Winery has quickly gained a reputation for crafting top Pinot Gris. This superb version opens with aromas of mangoes, lemon zest and dried pineapples, followed by lively flavors of pears, limes and Granny Smith apples. It is a flavorful wine with ample acidity, and we would pair it with scallops, crab, halibut or grilled chicken. Double gold (West Coast Wine Competition). (2,500 cases, 13% alc.) Vin du Lac $35 2006 Barrel Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley Owner/winemaker Larry Lehmbecker loves Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley for his legendary Cabernet Franc, and he turns there for this Cabernet Sauvignon, as well. He also blends in 16% Merlot and 8% Malbec to add red fruit tones to this rich, full-bodied wine. It opens with aromas of pomegranates, mint, black tea, slate and black currants, followed by flavors of black licorice, black currants, black cherries, dark chocolate and freshly brewed coffee. Moderate tannins provide all the structure necessary to enjoy with grilled meats. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (220 cases, 14.7% alc.) Barnard Griffin $30 2006 Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley Longtime Washington winemaker Rob Griffin built this wine using fruit from four vineyards in four separate appellations, which helps explain the complexity in

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this richly structured Merlot. It opens with aromas of black cherries, Christmas cake spices, chocolate and menthol, followed by lush flavors of ripe fruit and dark chocolate. Silky tannins accentuate the rich mouth feel. Gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (280 cases, 14.2% alc.) Brandborg Vineyard & Winery $16 2007 Gewürztraminer, Umpqua Valley Terry Brandborg made wines in Northern California for years before he and wife Sue moved north to the Umpqua Valley in 2001 to focus on crafting wines from Southern Oregon. The grapes for this wine were from Bradley Vineyard in tiny Elkton, planted in 1983. It opens with aromas of grapefruit, lychee and cloves, followed by flavors of oranges and grapefruit. This is a little on the sweeter side with 2.5% residual sugar, though the impressive acidity and ample fruit provide plenty of balance. Double gold (San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition). (798 cases, 13.4% alc.) Chateau Ste. Michelle $30 2006 Ethos Syrah, Columbia Valley With each vintage, winemaker Bob Bertheau continues to dial in what he wants out of his Ethos reserve program, and the result of this effort is amid the finest Syrahs in the Pacific Northwest. The fruit for this wine came primarily from the Wahluke Slope, with about 10% coming from CSM’s estate Cold Creek Vineyard contributing the balance. The wine opens with aromas of ripe blackberries and black currants along with hints of cedar. It is plush on the entry, with flavors of black licorice, almond extract and berry compote. It’s a luscious wine to enjoy with duck, lamb or venison. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards).

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(1,900 cases, 14.7% alc.) Coyote Canyon Winery $18 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills The Andrews family is one of the most respected wine grape growers in Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills, providing world-class fruit to top wineries throughout the Pacific Northwest. For the past three years, it has showcased its grapes with its own label — and in the Horse Heaven Hills, Cab is king. This superb red opens with aromas of rose petals, violets, blueberries, black cherries and almonds, followed by rich flavors of black olives, blackberries and Baker’s chocolate. It reveals ample acidity and moderate tannins, giving way to great length. Gold (Washington State Wine Competition). (131 cases, 14.8% alc.) Dusted Valley Vintners $28 2007 Grenache, Columbia Valley Grenache, a red wine grape most famous in France’s southern Rhône Valley, actually has a fairly lengthy history in Washington, as it was somewhat of a staple when wineries began using European grapes. In the past half-decade, Grenache has re-emerged because of a growing interest in Rhône varieties and blends. This wine by one of the big stars in the Walla Walla Valley is a prototypical Grenache. It reveals aromas of violets, pomegranates and cranberries, followed by flavors of raspberries, cranberries and other ripe red fruit. It’s beautifully balanced with a bright finish. Double gold (San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition). (175 cases, 14.7% alc.) Forbidden Fruit Winery $27 CDN 2008 Caught Apricot Mistelle, Similkameen Valley Steve and Kim Venables are not making your

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parents’ fruit wine. Rather, these are serious efforts from organically grown fruit along the Similkameen River in a valley just west of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. This fortified dessert wine is made from certified-organic apricots. It’s a harmonious and elegant wine that reveals aromas and flavors of apricots and peaches, and the added alcohol does not overwhelm the fruit. This is a wine to enjoy on a cold winter’s day. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (180 cases, 17% alc.) Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate $53 CDN 2007 Grand Reserve Riesling Ice Wine , Okanagan Valley When Bruce Nicholson was the winemaker at this Oliver, B.C., winery, JacksonTriggs was the undisputed king of ice wine. That hasn’t changed with Derek Kontkanen taking over in 2007. In fact, the consistency with which J-T wins golds for this amazingly difficult wine is nothing short of remarkable. This wine shows off aromas of honey, nectarines and poached peaches, followed by luscious flavors of baked apples and hints of citrus. It has refreshing acidity and a beautiful finish. Double gold (New World International Wine Competition). (300 cases, 9% alc.) Larch Hills Winery $17 CDN 2007 Marechal Foch, British Columbia Foch is a variety that is rather rare to find, especially on the West Coast where the focus has been on classic European varieties for so long. Yet Foch, a FrenchAmerican hybrid grape that is especially good in cooler climates, can result in a remarkable wine in the hands of an expert. And this is one of those examples. This winery near Salmon Arm, B.C., in the northern reaches of the Okanagan Valley, works with

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many cool-climate grapes, so it has a real handle on how to craft these styles of wines. This Foch opens with aromas of leather, blueberries and horehound, followed by flavors of Bing cherries and dark chocolate. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (700 cases, 12.7% alc.) Pend d’Oreille Winery $21 2005 Cabernet Franc, Washington This longtime North Idaho winery worked with grapes from famed Weinbau Vineyard on Washington’s Wahluke Slope for the first time and also blended in 14% Merlot to craft this superb Cabernet Franc. It reveals aromas of boysenberries, herbs, cedar and sweet spices, followed by flavors that reveal amazing concentration of dark fruits, especially black cherries, as well as black tea and mint. Its tannins are understated, as one would expect with Cab Franc, making this a gentle wine that focuses on fruit. Outstanding (Wine Press Northwest). (175 cases, 14.3% alc.) Tagaris Winery $25 2006 Alice Vineyards Mourvèdre, Columbia Valley Winemaker Frank Roth has had this longtime Columbia Valley winery (now in Richland, Wash.) going in a great direction since arriving three years ago. Roth, who spent many years under the tutelage of winemaker Rob Griffin, loves to work with lesserknown varieties, and this southern Rhône red is a great example. This opens with aromas of Rainier cherries, black pepper and cinnamon, followed by flavors of red currants, raspberries and allspice. Gold (Pacific Rim Wine Competition, Finger Lakes International Wine Competition). (252 cases, 13.2% alc.)


Township 7 Vineyards & Winery $25 CDN 2006 Merlot, Okanagan Valley This winery takes its name from an early name for Langley, a city in British Columbia’ Fraser Valley. Township 7 now has two locations, as it opened a facility near Penticton in the Okanagan Valley. The winery has been best known for its Merlot since it opened in 2001, and this version lives up to the reputation. It opens with aromas of oak, vanilla bean and blueberries, followed by flavors of blueberries, huckleberries and sarsaparilla. It’s a boldly structured red, so open it with grilled meats. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit, All Canadian Wine Championships). (1,200 cases, 13.9% alc.) Trinity Vineyards $17 2008 Viognier, Rogue Valley As far as we can tell, this is the first time we’ve reviewed a wine from Trinity Vineyards, a small winery near Salem, Ore. — and what a debut. The grapes for this Viognier come from Sundown Vineyards near the Southern Oregon town of Talent. It is a stunning example of the variety, with aromas of peaches, nectarines and pineapples, followed by bright, crisp flavors of lemons, oranges and fresh-cut apples. It reveals a surprisingly tart minerality on the midpalate, making this a luscious wine to pair with grilled shrimp or halibut. Best of show (Oregon State Fair). (240 cases, 14.5% alc.) Vin du Lac $18 2008 Vie! Viognier, Columbia Valley The 2006 version of this wine topped our judging of Northwest Viogniers two years ago, so it’s not surprising to see it showing up here. Owner/winemaker Larry Lehmbecker uses grapes from Snipes

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Mountain in the Yakima Valley as well as Lake Chelan to craft a Viognier with remarkable acidity. On the palate, this reveals aromas of apples, oranges and mangoes, followed by flavors of orange zest, limes and a hint of white pepper in the finish. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (750 cases, 14.3% alc.) Walla Walla Vintners $24 2007 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley Owners Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri have been making Sangiovese for a number of years and really dialed in their efforts with this release. They used grapes from five vineyards, then blended in a bit of Syrah and Malbec, which adds to the richness of the wine. It opens with aromas of Bing cherries, spicy oak and a bit of minerality, followed by flavors of ripe boysenberries and cranberries. It is loaded with acidity, making it a great wine to enjoy with lasagna, grilled portabellos or ravioli stuffed with butternut squash. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (820 cases, 14.2% alc.) Barnard Griffin $40 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley Two of Washington’s oldest and most respected vineyards — Sagemoor in the Columbia Basin and Champoux in the Horse Heaven Hills — contributed to this reserve-level Cabernet Sauvignon from our 2006 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year. It opens with aromas of black plums and spicy dark chocolate, followed by elegant flavors of warm strawberries, black currants and hints of caramel. It’s more subtle than explosive with somewhat restrained fruit and elegant tannins, making it a wine to enjoy with leaner cuts of beef. Gold (San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition).

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(508 cases, 14.6% alc.) Best buy! Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery $15 CDN 2008 Schonburger-Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley Schonburger is a relatively new variety, released from the Geisenheim Institute in 1979. It’s a cross that includes Pinot Noir, Chasselas and Muscat Hamburg. Gehringer Brothers in Oliver, B.C., blends it with Gewürztraminer, resulting in a wine with aromas of orange blossoms and Creamsicle, followed by flavors of rosewater, rose petals and citrus. It’s a pretty wine with impeccable balance and doesn’t come across as sweet. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (900 cases, 13.1% alc.) Best buy! Jones of Washington $15 2006 Syrah, Wahluke Slope For more than a decade, Jack Jones has been growing grapes for others on his estate vineyards. In 2001, he decided to get into the winemaking side as a way to take advantage of the beautiful fruit he was growing. Syrah in particular has shined at the Jones vineyard on the important Wahluke Slope, the source for this bold red wine. It opens with aromas of blackberries, hints of oranges and a whisper of smokiness, followed by flavors of marionberries, milk chocolate, blueberries and mint. It’s a luscious wine that will be at its zenith for the next half-decade. Gold (San Diego International Wine Competition). (243 cases, 14.6% alc.) Whitman Cellars $36 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley Winemaker Steve Lessard brought in grapes from five vineyards for this superb Cab, including

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Windrow in the Walla Walla Valley. Then, he blended in 7% Cabernet Franc for depth and complexity. The result is a red wine with aromas of black currants, brown sugar and elegant oak spice, followed by flavors of deep, dark, ripe currants, plums and a hint of sizzling bacon. It’s a wine that makes a powerful statement without being brutish, as the elegant tannins do little more than play background music. Gold (Seattle Wine Awards, Grand Harvest Awards). (957 cases, 14.2% alc.) Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery $23 CDN 2008 Mystic River Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley In the quarter-century since the Krugers began planting grapes in and around Okanagan Falls, B.C., they have gained a mastery over German and Alsatian varieties. The grapes for this vineyarddesignated Gewürztraminer come from their estate operation near the town of Oliver. It unveils beautiful aromas of cloves, grapefruits, rose petals and lychee, followed by bright, rich flavors of citrus and cloves. Thanks to the remarkable acidity, this is the rare Gewürztraminer that will actually pair with spicier dishes. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (250 cases, 13.2% alc.) Zerba Cellars $30 2005 Merlot, Columbia Valley Fans of this small winery in Milton-Freewater, Ore., will not be surprised to find this Merlot amid the best of the best in the Great Northwest, as the 2004 vintage won a unanimous Double Platinum from us in 2006. The grapes come from three vineyards in the Walla Walla and Yakima valleys. This has 18% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in, which adds complexity and depth. It opens with aromas of spiced apples, cola,

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vanilla and cherries, followed by flavors that reveal chocolate, vanilla, intense blueberries and red licorice. Gold (Riverside International Wine Competition). (754 cases, 14.2% alc.) Basalt Cellars $18 2006 Lemberger, Columbia Valley We love the name of this winery in Clarkston, Wash., near a source of the Columbia River basalt flows that covered most of Eastern Washington about 15 million years ago. Clarkston also was home to some of Washington’s earliest wineries in the late 1800s. And the future looks bright as well, if this Lemberger using Yakima Valley grapes is any indication. It opens with aromas of pink peppercorns, raspberries and cranberries, followed by lively flavors of raspberries, mint and dark chocolate. Modest tannins and elegant acidity give this just the right structure to enjoy with barbecued ribs. Gold (Grand Harvest Awards). (136 cases, 14.6% alc.) CedarCreek Estate Winery $40 CDN 2006 Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley One might see the name of this Pinot Noir as serendipitous or hubris on the part of this Kelowna, B.C., winery. In fact, it’s a way for the winery to define its finest efforts. The grapes come from two estate vineyards: CedarCreek and Greata Ranch, and the results are beautiful. This opens with aromas of peppermint, milk chocolate, cola and cedar, followed by rich flavors of cherries, raspberries and blackberries. Enjoy with duck breast, lamb or venison with a red currant sauce. Gold (Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition). (1,372 cases, 13.9% alc.)

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We launched the Platinum Judging in 2000 as a way to determine some of the finest wines each year from the Pacific Northwest. Here is a look at the entries and number of Platinums awarded each year. 2 0 0 0 : 146 entries, one Platinum 2 0 0 1 : 174 entries, one Double Platinum, 10 Platinums 2 0 0 2 : 179 entries, two Double Platinums, 12 Platinums 2 0 0 3 : 211 entries, one Double Platinums, 12 Platinums 2 0 0 4 : 241 entries, one Double Platinum, 38 Platinums 2 0 0 5 : 233 entries, six Double Platinums, 17 Platinums 2 0 0 6 : 247 entries, five Double Platinums, 27 Platinums 2 0 0 7 : 261 entries, eight Double Platinums, 25 Platinums 2 0 0 8 : 329 entries, eight Double Platinums, 46 Platinums 2 0 0 9 : 450 entries, 16 Double Platinums, 66 Platinums T O P P L AT I N U M W I N N E R S I N T H E F I R S T D E C A D E

The following shows the wineries with the most Double Platinum and Platinum awards in the first 10 years of this competition. J A C K S O N - T R I G G S O K A N A G A N E S TAT E : 25 B A R N A R D G R I F F I N : 14 Chateau Walla Walla $45 2006 Artisan Series #1 Masterpiece Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley This label for Le Chateau Winery speaks volumes about this operation at the Walla Walla airport. The building in which Le Chateau is housed started as a bland warehouse, but a regional artist was hired to paint the exterior to give it the appearance of a French-style chateau. Thus, the outside of this winery truly is a masterpiece. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is, as well, revealing aromas of berries, chocolate and vanilla followed by flavors of ripe Bing cherries, blackberries and even a bit of cream. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (100 cases, 14.3% alc.) Best buy! Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery $15 CDN 2008 Bacchus, Fraser Valley This white grape’s origins don’t go back to its namesake’s Roman times but rather 1933, when German viticulturist Peter Morio created a cross that includes Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner and Riesling. It is an early ripening variety and, thus, is grown in cooler climates, notably British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. This vintage — the 2007 also earned a Platinum — is a classic example with aromas of rosewater, orange oil and a trace of lime. On the palate are flavors of grapefruit, orange zest and rosewater. It’s an off-dry wine that is backed up with impressive acidity. Gold (All Canadian Wine Championships). (5,000 cases, 14.8% alc.) Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery $28 CDN 2006 Canoe Cove Shiraz, Okanagan Valley This winery near the Lower Mainland city of Langley is really coming into its own with a string of superb wines. This Syrah, released under Chaberton’s Canoe Cove label, uses grapes from the warm Okanagan Valley. It opens with aromas of blueberries, violets, cloves, white pepper and vanilla, fol-














Interested in trying some of these wines? There are at least three opportunities: ıϧ The Columbia Tower Club in Seattle puts on a Platinum Dinner each year at the top of the Northwest’s tallest building. The dinner is Jan. 29. The cost is $94. ıϧ The Yakima Enological Society conducts a Platinum Dinner in Yakima Wash. The dinner will take place during April with the cost yet to be determined. ıϧ Yoke’s Fresh Market, an upscale grocery in West Richland, Wash., will put on one or more Platinum tastings. Check out the Wine Press Northwest online calendar for details at W W W. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M / C A L E N D A R .

lowed by flavors of blackberries and chocolate. It’s a jammy, luscious wine whose moderate tannins don’t intrude on all the rich, wonderful fruit. Gold (Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition, Tasters Guild International). (520 cases, 13.5% alc.) Henry Estate Winery $18 2007 Pinot Noir, Umpqua Valley This young Pinot Noir is a killer combination of delicious and affordable — something one rarely finds with this variety. It opens with aromas of cherries, raspberries and delicate oak spices, followed by pleasing flavors of blueberries, boysenberries and raspberries. The tannins are well in check, providing just the right level of structure. As much as we like it now, we think it will only get better over the next year. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (3,495 cases, 13.5% alc.) Hester Creek Estate Winery $16 CDN 2007 Cab-Merlot, Okanagan Valley Niagara native Robert Summers oversees winemaking for this longtime producer along the famed Golden Mile just north of the U.S. border near Oliver, B.C. This affordable red is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and shows off aromas of dusty cherries, pomegranates and white pepper, followed by flavors of dried strawberries, pie cherries and a touch of eucalyptus, all backed with charming oak. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (3,400 cases, 13.8% alc.) Pentâge Wines $20 CDN 2008 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon, Okanagan Valley Paul Gardner and Julie Rennie should be getting used to accolades for their wines, as they are crafting some of the finest in the Okanagan Valley. From their perch above Skaha Lake south of Penticton, they rely on fruit from their estate vineyards. This new release is an uplifting wine made in a classic white Bordeaux style. It opens with aromas

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of lemongrass, figs and spices, followed by flavors of apples, pears and limes. The barest hint of sweetness brings out a fleshiness in this wine that provides impeccable balance. Gold (All Canadian Wine Championships). (350 cases, 12.5% alc.) William Church Winery $30 2007 Malbec, Wahluke Slope This Woodinville, Wash., winery crafted this rich red wine using grapes from the esteemed Wahluke Slope Vineyard, in one of the warmest viticultural regions in the Pacific Northwest. This Malbec opens with complex aromas of mulberries, sweet herbs and green peppercorns, followed by opulent flavors of smooth dark fruit backed with modest tannins and well-integrated oak. Malbec is one of the rising stars amid Washington grapes, and this is a great example. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (104 cases, 14.4% alc.) Anelare $39 2005 Syrah, Columbia Valley We wouldn’t be surprised if you have not heard of this small winery. Its wines are crafted in small amounts and available only to club members. Anelare opened a tasting studio in Kennewick, Wash., which is open to its members only. The grapes for this wine come from Gamache and Goose Ridge vineyards, both in the Columbia Valley. The result is a big Syrah with aromas of blackberries and new leather, followed by flavors of ripe plums and boysenberries, as well as mocha and moist earth. It’s a big, aggressive wine that will continue to evolve. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards). (200 cases, 14.6% alc.) Basel Cellars Estate Winery $22 2006 Mirage Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley Winemaker Justin Basel brought in grapes from Mirage Vineyard near Pasco, Wash., for this superb and affordable Cabernet Sauvignon.

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It opens with aromas that reminded us of chocolateraspberry cake and caramel, followed by rich flavors of boysenberries, black cherries and a refreshing hit of underlying minerality that lifts the purity and essence of the wine’s fruit. Juicy tannins provide just the right level of support to pair this wine with beef, lamb or game meats. Gold (Dallas Morning News Wine Competition). (625 cases, 14.3% alc.) Nk’Mip Cellars $35 CDN 2006 Qwam Qwmt Syrah, Okanagan Valley The Osoyoos Band began planting grapes in this area just over the U.S. border as early as 1968, and today about a fourth of all the grapes grown in the Okanagan Valley are on the tribe’s land. This reserve-level Syrah opens with rich, inviting aromas of boysenberries, blackberries, cola and cloves, followed by mellow flavors of black currants and even hints of cranberries. Gold (All Canadian Wine Championships, Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition). (948 cases, 14% alc.) Watermill Winery $28 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley This wine is from just the second vintage of this winery in the Walla Walla Valley town of MiltonFreewater, Ore. Using grapes from three vineyards, Watermill blended in 25% Merlot to create more depth and complexity. The result is a wine with aromas of pencil shavings, mocha, savory and black currants, followed by flavors of plums, black currants and a hint of oak. Tannins are elegantly managed to create a wine that is approachable now but should age well for up to a decade. Double gold (Seattle Wine Awards), gold (San Francisco International Wine Competition). (320 cases, 14.1% alc.) Watermill Winery $30 2006 Estate Midnight Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley Here is a classic Bordeaux-style red blend. Its backbone is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with even amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The grapes come from highly regarded McClellan Estate Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley. This opens with aromas of caramel and ripe Bing cherries, followed by ripe — dare we say “lusty” — black cherries and chocolate. The oak is subtle, and the tannins restrained, allowing the rich fruit to shine. Gold (Northwest Wine Summit). (245 cases, 14.1% alc.) Inniskillin Okanagan Vineyards $25 CDN 2007 Discovery Series Malbec, Okanagan Valley Winemaker Sandor Mayer seems to revel in trying varieties new to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Malbec, often relegated to the fractional role of being blended into other wines, takes center stage in this bottling. The grapes are from MacIntyre Vineyard near Oliver and were harvested on Halloween 2007. Even under blind conditions, our judges easily picked this out as coming from a relatively cooler climate, thanks to the expressive notes of black pepper and blueberries on the nose, followed by distinctive flavors of Saskatoon berries and sweet herbs. Gold (All Canadian Wine Championships). (575 cases, 13% alc.) ı A N D Y P ERD U E is editor-in-chief of Wine Press

Northwest. JACKIE JOHNSTON , a freelance photojournalist, is a

regular contributor and the page designer for Wine Press Northwest. Her Web site is

The Platinum Judging had a record number of wines enter this year’s competition: 450.

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W I N E R AT I N G S All rated wines are tasted blind then placed in the following categories:

Northwest Ports

Outstanding These wines have superior characteristics and should be highly sought after.

Brighten your nights with Pacific Northwest Port-style wines.

Excellent Top-notch wines with particularly high qualities. BY BOB WOEHLER



y any name, Port-style wines are fascinating. And in the Pacific Northwest, more and more wineries are making these rich, age-worthy, high-alcohol, sweet wines. In November, Wine Press Northwest gathered a remarkable 64 of these wines that often are associated with sipping in front of a cheery fireplace on a wintery night. It was undoubtedly the largest gathering ever of Northwest Port-style wines. Society has come a long way since the days that men would gather after dinner for Ports and cigars, leaving women to clean up. Port is enjoyed by both sexes these days, and you don’t need to light up a cigar to do so. Port-style wines comes in all sizes from a multitude of grapes or flavors and often are fortified by neutral spirits, primarily brandy. The common denominator in Port-style wines is the kick that can sneak up on you. Spirits are added to stop a wine from fermenting, resulting in a wine that often is 18 to 22 percent alcohol as well as rich in residual sugar. Consequently, Port-style wines are neither subtle nor timid. Some can be over the top with alcoholic heat and bite. However, the good ones have balance between the wonderful inviting flavors of berries, cherries, plums, nuts, chocolate, coffee and raisins. When the blend of high alcohol and fruit is balanced, a Port-style wine is akin to an elixir. Another attractive thing about Port-style wines is they can be

Recommended Delicious, well-made wines with true varietal characteristics.

infused with other flavors, such as chocolate, coffee, raspberries, vanilla and nuts. In the United States, there is a problem calling these wines “Ports” because it is a geographical name (rather than reference to the left side of a ship). An agreement signed in March 2006 between the U.S. and the European Union restricts the use of the “Port” term for any U.S. wine imported to Europe. However, American wineries using “Port” on a label prior to that time can continue to do so. Many wineries making “Ports” after March 2006 have come up with novel or clever names. Others simply term it a red or white dessert wine. Regardless of their names, the Pacific Northwest presents a treasure trove for Port-style lovers. These red and white Port-styles are made from a variety of grapes, including several Portugese types such as Touriga Naçional, Tinto Cao and Souzao. However, the most popular in our judging seemed to be Syrah. The Douro Valley of Portugal, where Port wine is produced, was defined and established as an appellation in 1756 — making it the thirdoldest official wine region in the world, after Tokay and Chianti. Red Port can be drunk alone and generally as an after-dinner wine, though it does have food applications. Try it with cheeses such as sharp cheddar, Parmigianino, Roquefort and Stilton. Pair with almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, dates, chocolate and caramel

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Best Buy! A wine that costs $15 or under. Prices are suggested retail and should be used as guidelines. Prices are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted. CDN: Canadian dollars.

desserts, coffee cake, pecan pie and chocolate chip cookies. White ports can match well with paté or a crème brûlée. Regular retail outlets usually have a very limited selection of Pacific Northwest Port-styles. The best bet is to buy directly from the winery. The judging panel consisted of four members of Wine Press Northwest’s tasting panel: Paul Sinclair, Dave Seaver, Andy Perdue and Bob Woehler. Hank Sauer facilitated the judging and certified the results. The wines were evaluated and rated under single-blind conditions, meaning they did not know the name of the producers until the judging was completed.

OUTSTANDING Yellow Hawk Cellar $26 NV Opportunity, Columbia Valley This Walla Walla Valley winery steps up with a wine that is a blend of Zinfandel (50%), Barbera (25%) and Tempranillo (25%) from Gunkel Vineyard in the lower Columbia Gorge. It is lush and inviting with aromas of dark fruit, spices, golden raisins and chocolate, followd by lush flavors of blackberries and huckleberries. Supple tannins and dark chocolate on the finish add to the pleasure. (71 cases, 19.5% alc.) Eaton Hill Winery $50 NV Lot 03 Port-Style Cabernet Sauvignon, American Using grapes from Konnowac Vineyard, this winery in the upper Yakima Valley has enjoyed great success with table wines, and this superb Port solidifies winemaker Edwin Stear’s reputation. This is a fun wine that spent 30 months on American oak to gain age and complexity. It is loaded with aromas of raspberries and hazelnuts, followed by flavors of

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Styles of port usually include the following: ı R U B Y is made in stainless steel tanks, generally bottled young and is less expensive. ı R O S É is a ruby made in a rosé style and often less heavy than other Ports. ıϧW H I T E P O RT , as the name applies, is made from white wine grapes. ı TAW N Y is a Port aged in barrels for many years. The difference between it and vintage port is that new berry jam and underlying chocolate. (80 cases, 19% alc.) Hinzerling Winery $40 NV Rainy Day Fine Tawny Port, Washington Mike Wallace moved to the Yakima Valley town of Prosser in the early 1970s and started Hinzerling in 1976, making it one of the oldest in the state. Over the years, Wallace has established himself as Washington’s pre-eminent crafter of Port-style wines. Each year, a portion of this wine is bottled and the rest is blended into the next of three tiers. This “solera” style of wine began in 1982, thus this wine represents more than a quarter-century of winemaking. It offers aromas of hazelnuts and plums with flavors of golden raisins, caramel and maple syrup. This is a classic. (50 cases, 18% alc.) Kestrel Vintners $50 2007 Signature Edition Syrah Port, Yakima Valley This is just the second release of this Prosser, Wash., winery’s Port. The grapes were harvested in the third week of October, then fermentation was stopped with the addition of brandy. The result is a wine with 13% residual sugar. It is a beautiful wine with aromas of coffee and new leather, followed by flavors of dried Bing cherries and dates. The alcohol is perfectly in check and doesn’t get in the way of the ample flavors. (123 cases, 18.2% alc.) Thurston Wolfe Winery $20 2005 JTW Port, Washington Longtime Washington winemaker Wade Wolfe uses classic Portugese grapes Touriga Naçional and Souzao, as well as Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in the Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills. It reveals aromas of black cherries, black pepper and caramel, followed by rich, juicy flavors of plums, cherries and chocolate. It should pair beautifully with dark chocolate or blue cheeses. (140 cases 19% alc.) Badger Mountain Vineyards $17 NV NSA Cabernet Franc Port, Columbia Valley Winemaker Greg Powers produces this Port from estate certified organic grapes, and the wine is made with no sulfites added (NSA). Thus, for those sensitive to sulfites, this is a great alternative. This reveals aromas and flavors of Bing cherries, dark chocolate, caramel and raisins. This is a perfect wine for sipping while watching a winter storm on the Washington or Oregon coast. (472 cases, 18% alc.) Maison de Padgett Winery $25 NV McHargue True Friendship Malbec Port, Rattlesnake Hills David Padgett founded this Zillah, Wash., winery in 2003 and also owns


vintages are added to the same barrels so what is bottled has part of different vintages that could expand 20 years or so. ı V I N TA G E is made when a winemaker feels that a particular vintage has merit. These often are aged for decades and are quite expensive. Pacific Northwest vintage Port-style wines are not as expensive or aged so long as true Ports, but they can show characteristics of a particular vintage. ı C R U S T E D P O RT is not generally practiced in the Pacific Northwest yet. It usually is from several particular noteworthy vintages and is bottled unfiltered.

Horizon’s Edge Winery. Padgett has a passion for fortified wines, as well as zany names and labels. This was the only Malbec Port we tasted, and it is a stunner, thanks to captivating aromas of raspberries and flavors of rich, jammy fruit, dark chocolate and sensual spices. Perfect to sip or pour over vanilla ice cream. (210 cases, 19.5% alc.) Horizon Edge Winery $25 2005 Intimate Affair Reserve Port, Rattlesnake Hills Owner/winemaker David Padgett crafted this wine from Cabernet Sauvignon. Imagine liquid Almond Roca and you will begin to realize the depth and hedonism of this wine. It reveals aromas of chocolate, coffee, vanilla and peaches, follwed by flavors of cherries jubilee and a cherry cordial. (110 cases 19.2% alc.) Troon Vineyard $23 2007 Insomnia Port, Applegate Valley We guarantee that if you drink enough of this before bedtime, you won’t have any trouble sleeping. This Port from Southern Oregon is made with Tempranillo, and it’s a beauty. It reveals aromas and flavors of golden raisins, sweet mocha, molasses and rich dark fruit. This should age beautifully for 20 years or more, but if you don’t want to lose sleep over waiting to drink it, pop the cork and enjoy with chocolates or Stilton. (379 cases, 19% alc.)

alc.) Wind River Cellars $25 2007 Harriet’s Port, Columbia Gorge This winery near Bingen, Wash., has crafted this white Port from Riesling grapes off Silvertooth Vineyard. It provides aromas of oranges and pineapples along with flavors of nectarines and tropical fruits. (200 cases, 21% alc.) Bitner Vineyards $25 2006 Sevana, Snake River Valley This Port-style wine uses Syrah grapes from southern Idaho’s Snake River Valley. It provides aromas of coffee, caramel and oak, followed by rich flavors of chocolate and thick, ripe boysenberries. (50 cases, 19% alc.) Thurston Wolfe Winery $20 2007 JTW Port, Washington This wine is made with four different grapes from the Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills. It reveals aromas of vanilla and coffee, followed by flavors of chocolate and blackberries. (217 cases 19% alc.) Hinzerling Winery $23 NV Three Muses Ruby Port, Washington This longtime popular fortified wine from Mike Wallace in Prosser, Wash., is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It reminds us of classic Portugese styles with its aromas of cherries and hazelnuts and flavors of rich berries and chocolate. (400 cases, 18.8% alc.)


Best buy! Thurston Wolfe Winery $15 2007 Zinfandel Port, Columbia Valley This wine uses Zin from the warm Wahluke Slope blended with tiny amounts of Touriga Naçional, Souzao, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. It has a big, rich entry with notes of Baker’s chocolate, marionberries and toasted nuts, all backed with sturdy tannins. This should only get better. (110 cases 19% alc.) Gilstrap Brothers Winery $18 NV 45 Passion Syrah dessert wine, Columbia Valley It’s rare enough to find a winery in Eastern Oregon and rarer still that it is near LaGrande. This Syrah comes from Columbia Valley grapes and reveals aromas of plums and flavors of blackberries and butterscotch. (19.2% alc.) Willow Crest Winery $18 NV Syrah Port, Yakima Valley Dave Minnick has been growing grapes and making wine in the Yakima Valley for many years and opened a new tasting room a few years ago in the Vintners Village in Prosser. This Port provides aromas of leather and dark chocolate and flavors of smooth Bing cherries.

Maison de Padgett Winery $19 NV Smoking Gun Coffee Port, Yakima Valley This is one of the most unusual wines in the Northwest, a fortified wine that is made from coffee. It is a stunning wine with luscious aromas of pralines and coffee and flavors of Kona coffee, maple syrup and caramel. A great after-dinner treat. (210 cases, 19.2% alc.) Troon Vineyards $23 2005 Insomnia Reserve Port, Applegate Valley This wine from Southern Oregon is made from Tempranillo and Dolcetto. It reveals huge chocolate aromas and flavors, as well as richly structured fruit. (135 cases, 19%) Barnard Griffin $17 2008 Syrah Port, Columbia Valley Winemaker Rob Griffin has been crafting a Port from Syrah for several years, and it is a real favorite among Northwest Port drinkers. This reveals aromas of black cherries and black pepper, followed by mouthcoating flavors of blackberry jam. (1,200 cases, 18%

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ports (172 cases, 18% alc.) Claar Cellars $30 NV Fouled Anchor Port, Columbia Valley This “solera” style of Port is made of blends from the 2002 through 2006 vintages and includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. It is loaded with aromas of Bing cherries, herbs and spices and flavors that remind us of chocolate-covered cherries. (121 cases, 18% alc.) Tefft Cellars $16 NV Cabernet Sauvignon Port, Yakima Valley This longtime Yakima Valley producer is under new ownership but continues its tradition of crafting delicious dessert wines. This is laden with aromas and flavors of blackberries, raspberries, cranberries and mocha. (80 cases, 18% alc.) Maison de Padgett $25 NV Pillow Talk Vanilla Port, Rattlesnake Hills This winery near Zillah has crafted a dessert wine made from vanilla bean, and it reminds us of an oldtime cream soda. It’s good in the glass and could be even better served over ice cream or pound cake. (46 cases, 19.5% alc.) Westport Winery $22 NV Shelter From the Storm, Washington This might take our award for “best name for a Port that avoids that term.” It’s a deliciously sweet and thick wine with aromas and flavors of cranberries, blueberries and blackberries. (220 cases, 18% alc.) Paradisos del Sol $25 2004 Angelica G, Yakima Valley Longtime Washington winemaker Paul Vandenberg launched his winery several years ago near the Yakima Valley town of Sunnyside, where he crafts distinctive wines. This white Port is made from Gewürztraminer and Riesling and shows off aromas of apple pie and flavors of white chocolate, raisins and nectarines. (143 cases 19% alc.) Eaton Hill Winery $40 NV Lot 99 Cabernet Sauvignon Port, American This Cab-based Port was aged 17 months in American oak. It shows off aromas of sweet herbs and ripe plums followed by rich, elegant flavors of chocolate and ripe dark fruit. (51 cases, 19%) Abacela Vineyard & Winery $25 2006 Port, Southern Oregon Count on owner Earl Jones to use five classic Portugese varieties for this wine. It is seductive on the nose with aromas of Baker’s chocolate and ripe cherries, followed by balanced flavors of plums and raisins. The winemaker suggests pairing this with baklava. (211 cases 19% alc.) Tefft Cellars $18 2005 Zinfandel Port, Columbia Valley This winery near tiny Outlook, Wash., has been crafting fortified wines for years, and this one from Zinfandel grapes is delicious. It provides intriguing aromas and flavors of brown sugar, cherries and raspberries and is beautifully balanced. (18 cases, 18% alc.) Tagaris Winery $26 Walker 2005 Syrah Port, Wahluke Slope Winemaker Frank Roth moved next door to this winery after learning his craft from Rob Griffin of Barnard Griffin. This Port made with Syrah grapes shows off aromas and flavors of cola, dark cherries, brown sugar and milk chocolate. (210 cases, 19% alc.) Hinzerling Winery $26 NV Angelica, Yakima Valley Winemaker Mike Wallace has crafted this Gewürztraminer-based fortified wine for many, many years, and it’s a favorite with Hinzerling regulars. It opens with aromas of almonds and citrus, followed by flavors of apples and pumpkin pie. (200 cases 18% alc.)

Preston Premium Wines $39 1999 Tenrebac Port, Columbia Valley This longtime winery north of Pasco, Wash., got clever with this Port, spelling "Cabernet" backward. It’s a luscious red with aromas and flavors of molasses, chocolate and red plums. (222 cases, 19% alc.) Maison de Padgett $25 NV Pleasure Point, Rattlesnake Hills Imagine fresh peaches with tangerines in syrup, and you begin to get the picture for this delicious peachbased dessert wine. (110 cases, 19.5% alc.)



18.5% alc.) Zerba Cellars


2006 Syrah Port, Walla Walla Valley This winery just over the state line in Milton-Freewater, Ore., produced this dessert Syrah from Walla Walla Valley grapes. It reveals aromas and flavors of sweet spices and juicy cherries. (296 cases, 19% alc.) Tagaris Winery


2007 Kennedy White Port, Columbia Valley This Richland, Wash., winery has blended Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling to craft a white Port with aromas and flavors of apricots and lemons with a smooth,

Maryhill Winery $28 2006 Port, Columbia Valley Maryhill’s first port uses Touriga Naçional, Tina Cao and Souzao. It’s a delicious inaugural wine with aromas of oak, tar, chocolate and boysenberries. (425 cases, 19.2% alc.) Best Buy! M.W. Whidbeys $13 2007 Port, Columbia Valley Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has been making this Port since 1984 and now it is produced by Snoqualmie winemaker Joy Andersen. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (78%) and Syrah and provides aromas and flavors of cherries, plums and maple syrup. (3,500 cases, 19.1% alc.) Van Duzer Vineyards $30 NV Windfall Port, Oregon, $30 This longtime winemaker near Dallas, Ore., has crafted luscious Pinot Noirs for years, and this Pinot Noir-based Port is superb. It offers aromas and flavors of coffee, dark plums and hints of herbs. (35 cases, $18.6% alc.) Whitman Cellars $40 2003 Port, Red Mountain Winemaker Steve Lessard started his Washington winemaking career on Red Mountain and returned to these roots to produce this Port for his Walla Walla Valley winery. It’s made with Cabernet Sauvignon and provides aromas and flavors of rich dark fruit and milk chocolate. (32 cases, 19.5% alc.) Blackwood Canyon $25 2005 Fort Syrah Port, Red Mountain Longtime Red Mountain winemaker Mike Moore has crafted this fortified wine from estate Syrah grapes. It is loaded with aromas and flavors of chocolate-covered raisins, blackberries and a hint of orange oil. (350 cases, 20% alc.) Tefft Cellars $27 NV Concordia, Washington It’s rare to find a wine made with Concord grapes, but Tefft has made it with great success for years. It smells and tastes like the grape that makes Welch’s famous with juicy flavors and a nice kick. (70 cases, 18% alc.) Tagaris Winery $40 2006 Kennedy White Port, Columbia Valley This blend of Gewürztraminer and Riesling shows off aromas of honey candy with apricot and peach pie flavors. (180 cases, 19% alc.) Wind River Cellars $25 2006 Port of Celilo, Washington Winemaker Joel Goodwillie has crafted this Lemberger-based Port for many years. This version reveals aromas of new leather, blueberries and sweet, luscious spices. (200 cases, 20.5% alc.) Hinzerling Winery $38 2003 Wallace Vintage Port, Washington Mike Wallace’s most serious and age-worthy Port is made with Cabernet Sauvignon and is only now beginning to reveal its greatness. It opens with aromas of cranberries and apple spices followed by flavors of ripe plums and chocolate-covered raisins. (160 cases,

F O R M O R E W I N N I N G W I N E S ➤ W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M / M E D A L S

sweet finish. (180 cases, 19% alc.) Blasted Church Vineyards

$65 CDN

2005 Amen Port-de-Merlot, Okanagan Valley This winery near Okanagan Falls, B.C., takes its name from a church that was blasted off its foundation before being moved to town. This is aptly named because it should be the end of a good meal. It unveils aromas and flavors of cocoa, vanilla and plums with notes of dark berry compote. Hallelujah. (47 cases, 19.2% alc.) Horizon Edge Winery


NV Wishful Thinking, Yakima Valley This chocolate dessert wine might cause some wishful thinking indeed, as it reveals sensual aromas and flavors of dark chocolate and ripe plums. (210 cases, 19.5% alc.) Whitman Cellars


2007 Syrah Port, Walla Walla Valley This Walla Walla, Wash., winery’s latest port uses valley grapes and provides aromas and flavors of freshly ground coffee with concentrated notes of chocolate and berries. (28 cases, 19.5% alc.) Tagaris Winery


Walker 2001 Port, Washington This blend of Lemberger and Cabernet Franc is a tasty dessert wine that offers aromas and flavors of dark cherries, smooth berries and underlying chocolate. (210 cases, 18% alc.) Preston Premium Wines


1999 Royal Port, Columbia Valley This wine is made with the rare Royalty grape, which typically is used for blending because of its dark color. This shows off aromas and flavors of chocolate and sweet prunes. (93 cases, 19.5% alc.) Best Buy! Knipprath Cellars


2007 Syrah Ruby Port, Columbia Valley Longtime Spokane winemaker Henning Knipprath makes a large number of Port-style wines. This reveals aromas and flavors of caramel, chocolate and rich cherries. (400 cases, 20 alc.%) ı

BOB WOEHLER is Wine Press Northwest’s tasting

editor. He has been writing about wines of the Pacific Northwest since 1976. JACKIE JOHNSTON , a freelance photojournalist, is a

regular contributor and the page designer for Wine Press Northwest. Her website’s at:

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M AT C H M A K E R S Lamb Carpaccio with Roasted Beets and Coriander Vinaigrette from Celilo Restaurant & Bar, Hood River, Ore., paired with Domaine Ste. Michelle’s Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine.


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Bubbly that’s special enough for every day


Northwest chefs match their dishes with Domaine Ste. Michelle’s Blanc de Blancs BY ERIC DEGERMAN



HOOD RIVER — When Ben Stenn landed in 1993, Hood River was just starting to catch the wave of outdoors enthusiasts, the wine industry hadn’t begun to grow and the suburbs of Portland were still an hour away. Yet, he and business partner Maui Meyer saw Hood River was ripe for a new type of restaurant — Sixth Street Bistro. It combined local ingredients and some regional wines with casual dining, and the concept took off in the Columbia Gorge much like a kiteboarder. So in 2005, Stenn, Meyer and Jacqueline Carey gambled again, launching Celilo Restaurant and Bar just a few blocks to the east. “Celilo is a new opportunity,” Stenn said. “The town has established itself as a great dining town and that’s allowed us to stretch our boundaries a bit more. What we were

most excited about — and we established that at Sixth Street — is the connection to our local food environment. We are able to live this whole local cuisine theory.” And that carries on through to Carey’s wine list. “When I started at Sixth Street in 1996, a lot of the list was California because there weren’t too many wineries around here,” said Carey, who moved from hostess to waitress to manager and is now a partowner. “Gradually, we thought, ‘We don’t have to do this anymore!’ There’s nothing wrong with imports, but as the agriculture and wine in the area have grown, we want to support that. We streamlined the list to Pacific Northwest wines, and that was an easy channel to grow.” Those businesses that focus on being local also seem to be weathering the recession. “With the economy, a lot of folks are staying home, so an hour-trip to the coast or an hour trip to Hood River is becoming more appealing,” Carey said. “We also have a great relationship with the Hood River Hotel right across the street. We’re even seeing a lot of people

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Domaine Ste. Michelle $12 Nonvintage Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine, Columbia Valley —32,640 cases produced, 11.5% alcohol everal times a year, Wine Press Northwest sends wine to two chefs with a passion for our region’s wines. The chefs are asked to match a recipe to the selected wine. This past summer, Food & Wine magazine editor Ray Isle took a bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle’s Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine to his appearance on NBC-TV’s “Today Show.” Isle categorized it as one of his favorite “Made in America” wines. During 2009, this wine has won best-ofclass awards in three major U.S. competitions. That level of success is not unusual for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates or Rick Casqueiro, who makes five sparkling wines on a large scale using methode champenoise in Paterson, Wash. “Our grapes are grown in the cooler viticulture regions of the Columbia Valley – with the majority grown in the Yakima Valley,” he said. “Because of the cooler region, beautiful base wines are produced exhibiting desirable high fruit acids and low pH with delicate fruit-forward aromas and crisp flavors.” Ben Stenn, executive chef at Celilo Restaurant & Bar in Hood River, Ore., attended culinary school in France and returned with an appreciation for sparkling wines. “My experience was that Champagne started every meal,” he said. “It wasn’t that there was an occasion. The wine itself was the occasion. It’s just that bubbly wine and the festivity of opening the bottle give it a bit more circumstance that makes people feel like it requires an event of some kind.” Domaine Ste. Michelle bubbles are created by secondary fermentation in the bottle. The Blanc de Blancs — a French term referring to white wine made from white grapes — is 100 percent Chardonnay. “After the completion of secondary fermentation and aging on the spent yeast cells (nine months to two years), the wine is disgorged,” Casqueiro explained. “It receives a brut dosage, creating a beautiful marriage of delicate yeast toastiness, crisp pear, apple and citrus aromas and flavors which persist on the creamy dry-medium finish.” Chefs point out that serious sparklers often are overlooked as a food-pairing wine. Their high acidity, low alcohol and dry structure make them perhaps the most versatile wines. And the price of the Blanc de Blancs affords one to celebrate almost every meal on any day of the week. Domaine Ste. Michelle, Paterson, Wash., 866-701-3187. There is no tasting room, but the company maintains an interactive Web site at

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M AT C H M A K E R S Ben Stenn demonstrates the toughest part of making his dish: Making paperthin slices of the lamb tenderloin. The keys to success are a really sharp knife and waiting until the tenderloin has defrosted just enough to cut easily.

from Portland become regulars. Sometimes, they’ll just come out for dinner and drive back home.” Carey fancies 375-millilter bottles — she lists a dozen from the Northwest — and that’s a boon for her guests. Winemaker dinners have been a draw, too, and the cast has included Basel Cellars, Fidelitas, Penner-Ash, Andrew Rich, Charles Smith, Syncline and Woodward Canyon. One of Carey’s strongest supporters — starting with the Sixth Street days — is Sineann’s acclaimed Peter Rosback, who makes wine for several wineries in the Columbia Gorge. “We’ve been buying Peter’s wines for a dozen years, so when he offered to make us a house Pinot Noir, we jumped at the chance,” Carey said. “He even wanted our label on it.” These days, Carey sits back and smiles at where life has taken her.


RECIPE Lamb Carpaccio, with Roasted Beets in Toasted Coriander Vinaigrette Serves 4

1 lamb loin (or rack as a substitute) 1 tablespoon whole coriander pods salt and pepper, to taste 1 pound Oregon beets olive oil, to taste 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar micro greens, fresh herbs or other seasonal greens for garnish

Please note: This dish needs to be started a day ahead. Day 1: Trim all exterior fat and silver skin from the lamb loin. (Note: This is a specialty cut but a good butcher can provide you with a clean loin, trimmed of any excess.) Grind the whole coriander to a medium grind. Set aside 1 teaspoon for the vinaigrette. Roll the loin in the remaining coriander and season with salt and pepper. In a lightly oiled skillet, over high heat, brown the exterior of the loin for just a few seconds to brown the coriander and external skin while keeping the interior raw. Remove from the pan and let the loin cool at room temperature about 10-15 minutes. Roll the browned loin in plastic wrap making a tight cylinder. Tie it at each end and place in the freezer overnight. Day 2: To prepare beets, first preheat the oven “I grew up on Cape Cod, and my father is in the restaurant business. I swore I’d never do it,” she said with a chuckle. “But here I am. I received an English degree from the University of Colorado and a good friend of mine from college, who was moving to Hood River, convinced me it was a good idea. In 1993, I signed a sixmonth lease, took a job at Mount Hood, had a great time and moved here. I literally saw tumbleweeds rolling down the street back then.” Earlier this year, they sold Sixth Street to their longtime bartender, so Stenn could devote more time to his family and Celilo’s food sources.

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to 325°F. Rinse off the beets. Cut off the stems and greens, and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay the beets in a roasting pan or glass roasting dish, add about 1 cup of water and cover with foil. Roast the beets in the oven until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 75-90 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool at room temperature. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the beets with a knife. Then finish cooling in the refrigerator. Once chilled, cut the beets in a 1⁄2-inch dice. While the beets are roasting, prepare the vinaigrette by combining the mustard, reserved coriander, olive oil and vinegar in a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. (This is a broken vinaigrette and will separate.) To serve, chill the plates for this dish. Toss the diced beets in 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste then set aside. Remove the loin from the freezer. Using a very sharp slicing knife, slice paper-thin slices of loin and place directly onto the plates in a decorative circle around the interior rim of the plate. You can make several concentric circles depending on the size of the plate. (Work quickly with the sliced lamb, it will tear easily.) Spoon marinated beets into the center of each plate. Spoon vinaigrette over the sliced lamb to “cook” the carpaccio. Season with fresh pepper and salt. Decorate with micro greens, fresh herbs or other seasonal greens. It showed in his Match Maker pairing to the Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Blancs — Lamb Carpaccio with Roasted Beets and Coriander Vinaigrette. “We’ve just entered our beet mode here at Celilo, and we have our roasted beet salad on the menu, but when we tasted the Domaine Ste. Michelle Blancs de Blancs it needed more than just the beets,” Stenn said. “The dish, as we had it, had a salty cheese with it, and that was not a good pairing, but the wine has a toastiness that’s traditional to the style. That got me thinking about coriander. “We use coriander with the Lamb

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M AT C H M A K E R S Carpaccio, so I thought, ‘This is coming along nicely,’ Stenn continued. “The dish is a lamb tenderloin with a dusting of coarsely ground coriander on the exterior that gets seared on.” He pointed out the light flavors and bright acidity were critical as to not overwhelm the delicate lamb. There’s an earthiness to the beets, and the sparkler brought out even more sweetness in the purple root. Coriander is akin to a white peppercorn and accented the lemony notes of the wine. Apple notes in the bubbly reminded Stenn and Carey of orchard fruit produced in the Hood River Valley, adding to the theme. “The lamb in this dish is from Cattail Creek (in Junction City, Ore.), and I have a great relationship with John Neumeister. The beets are from Prairie Creek Farm (Joseph), which is Gene Thiel. He’s an anchor of food growing in Oregon. The microgreens come from Chris Wells’ White Oak Woodland in Goldendale. “I personally received the delivery of these things from these people, and I feel a great sense of pride in that,” Stenn added. “To me, that is what Celilo is about. It’s a success because of those relationships. Celilo Restaurant and Bar, 16 Oak St., Hood River, Ore., 97031, 541-386-5710,


NAMPA — When Dustan Bristol told far-flung friends he was launching his own restaurant, some couldn’t believe their ears. “Really! You’re opening a place in Napa?!! That’s awesome!” The Idaho native quickly corrected them. “No, that’s Nampa with an ‘M,’ not Napa,” he recalls with a smile. Step inside Brick 29 Bistro and the surroundings seem closer to what you’d expect to find in America’s

Dustan Bristol discusses the transformation of Masonic Lodge 29 into his Brick 29 Bistro.

most famous wine region rather than the Snake River Valley. “I’d love for this appellation and valley to become the next Walla Walla, and I’d like to trailblaze it,” Bristol said. He’s quickly developed in roads with Idaho’s wineries, which refer their customers to Brick 29. “It’s kind of funny when the best food in the valley is in Nampa rather than Boise,” said Gina Davis, winemaker for Davis Creek Cellars in nearby Caldwell. Bristol’s cuisine continues to gain critical acclaim. He was Idaho’s lone nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s 2009 Best Northwest Chef award, one of 20 semifinalists from six states. And last year, the Coeur d’Alene native won the Iron Chef Boise at Qwest Arena — toppling three-time champion Jered Couch of Eagle’s SixOneSix. “It was Jered’s first competition since they retired him, and I stomped him,” Bristol said, served with a smirk and a side of playful bravado. On this afternoon, the staff at Brick

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29 prepped for dinner while listening to the radio broadcast of the Idaho vs. Boise State football game. Bristol didn’t seem to mind. He credits BSU’s culinary program with helping him to define his desires and design his future by age 25. “I applied and got accepted to a good school back East, but I made too much money at the time working at a sawmill,” he said. “Later, I decided to go to an in-state school — BSU — become poor and move on. “A school won’t teach you creativity, a sense of urgency or drive,” he added. “It’s either internal or not. I realized that about myself and got rooted in the valley. I’ve been here since.” He built his resumé at some of Boise’s best — Berryhill & Co., Murphy’s Seafood Bar & Grill and the Sandpiper. His reputation drew the attention of Treasure Valley developer Mike Mussell, who had his eye on Nampa’s historic Masonic Lodge. “It had been for sale for seven or eight years, and he wanted to buy the building, develop it and have

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M AT C H M A K E R S RECIPE Trout Roulade with Lentil Hummus and Pear Chutney Serves 2

2 ⁄2 1 ⁄2 1 ⁄4 1 ⁄4 1 ⁄4 2

pears, small diced small yellow onion, small diced green bell pepper, small diced cup white wine vinegar cup sugar cup water tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped kosher salt and pepper 1 cup cooked lentils 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced 2 teaspoon tahini paste 1 teaspoon cumin juice of one lemon 1 ⁄4 cup olive oil 2 4-6 oz. trout fillets with skin removed 1 tablespoon garam masala Pan spray Special equipment: 2 small empty cans from canned vegetable or tomato sauce with both ends removed and washed 1

To prepare chutney, place pears, onions, peppers, vinegar, sugar and water in small sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until liquid is reduced in half and add fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper and pull from heat and refrigerate until later use. To prepare lentil hummus, place lentils, garlic, tahini, cumin and lemon in food processor. While running, slowly drizzle in oil until emulsified and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. To prepare trout, preheat oven to 375°F. Rub trout fillets with garam masala, salt and pepper. Place clean cans on baking sheet, spray oil inside and place trout fillets in cans, pushing them up against the inside of the cans. Fill center of each trout fillet with lentil hummus. Roast in oven for 12-15 minutes or until trout appears cooked and hummus is warm. Pull trout from baking sheet with a spatula and place on serving plate. Being careful, remove can mold and top trout with pear chutney. renters immediately,” Bristol said. “I told him I loved the layout; I did a business plan and he funded me.” Brick 29 Bistro became the key tenant of the Masonic Event Center, built in 1919. 82

“This was Lodge No. 29, so we named the restaurant after the lodge,” Bristol said. “And 29 is copper on the periodic chart, so I used it for my logo and for color tones throughout the restaurant.” Bristol, who designed and decorated the interior, and his wife, Keela, haven’t looked back since opening in May 2007. Business is growing, and he expects $2 million in revenue for 2009. “I think recession makes everybody a little smarter, and we’ve also diversified,” he said. “We never say ‘no’ to an event or catering. And we’ve started going to the market with retail products. We do soups, and our big hit right now is a really killer bacon. We’ve been packaging that and selling 200 pounds a week. We want to retail that and go to grocery stories with it by next year.” Another key to his business is the symbiotic relationship with the Idaho wine industry, which gained national recognition when the Snake River Valley AVA was approved about the time of Brick 29’s debut. “That will attract more winemakers to the valley, which is good for me,” Bristol said. “I think I’m pushing the outer edge of Boise even closer to the winemakers, and I support the winemakers by putting their wines on my list. They support me by giving me functions and parties, and telling anybody who passes through to dine this way.” Those wanting to savor Idaho wines have many to choose from. Brick 29 won Wine Press Northwest’s 2009 Best Idaho Wine List award, which features at least one wine from more than 20 Gem State wineries. That represents about half of the state’s wineries. “He’s given us a restaurant where our wines are featured well because they are paired with awesome food,” Davis said. “It’s important for local wine to be paired with local food, and he’s doing it in a way that no one else is really doing here.” That list also includes wines from

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Oregon and Washington. When Bristol finds something during his travels, he’s passionate to add it. “We were touring the Horse Heaven Hills, stopped at Alexandria Nicole Cellars and I loved their Quarry Butte,” he said. “It turns out they didn’t have distribution in Idaho yet, but I managed to get it in.” To say he’s driven is an understatement. “I like to go fast,” he said. “I boat and I motorcycle. I ride a Carefree Custom that’s like a Harley Softail — big motor, flashy paint, big fat tire and real loud.” Bristol didn’t hold back on his Match Maker assignment as he shared that Iron Chef Boise recipe. “The dish is basically four ingredients — squash, pear, trout and lentils — all Idaho,” he said. “I did a Middle Eastern take on it with garam masala-rubbed trout roulade, lentil hummus, garlic squash and pear cardamom foam.” And Domaine Ste. Michelle’s nonvintage Blanc de Blancs sparkler proved an ideal foil, Bristol said. “I think that for the most part Champagne is underappreciated. It goes great with just about every dish and not just for special occasions,” he said. “The wine was great because I can pick up a little bit of garam masala aromas in it. And I tasted notes of pear, so I utilized pear in two elements of the dish.” Pulling off a winning combination didn’t surprise the winemaker Davis. “Idaho Preferred — a state organization — uses Dustan as the chef for a lot of their events, so we always know it’s going to be a good event with good food to go with our wines,” Davis said. “We don’t have to worry.” Brick 29 Bistro, 320 11th Ave. South, Nampa, ID, 83651, 208-468-0029,ı ERIC DEGERMAN is Wine Press Northwest’s manag-

ing editor. Have a suggestion for a future Match Maker? E-mail him at JACKIE JOHNSTON , a freelance photojournalist, is a regular contributor and the page designer for Wine Press Northwest. Her Web site is

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Trout Roulade with Lentil Hummus and Pear Chutney from Brick 29 Bistro in Nampa, Idaho, paired with Domaine Ste. Michelle’s Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine.

“I think that for the most part Champagne is underappreciated. It goes great with just about every dish and not just for special occasions” — D U S TA N B R I S T O L

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Hester Creek Estate Winery 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine evaluation methods

Okanagan Valley, 300 cases, 13.8% alc., $35 CDN

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 “double blind,” meaning the tasting panelists know neither the producer nor the variety. 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 a U-Line Wine Captain, which allows 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.

in Canada’s Golden Mile makes for a classic Cab that fits in with the profile of its new Tuscan-theme villas. It broadcasts balanced notes of blackberries, strawberries, brown sugar, cedar and menthol within an age-worthy structure.

Reds Cabernet Sauvignon Chelan Estate Winery & Vineyards 2004 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

pinch of lavender, followed by plums and rich barrel notes of milk chocolate, coffee and a Fig Newton. The flavor profile focuses on juicy black cherries with coffee and leather in the backing, framed by bright tannins.

Fidelitas Wines 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

Columbia Valley, 241 cases, 13.5% alc., $30

Columbia Valley, 1,500 cases, 14.6% alc., $25

Excellent. Rich Nestor took fruit from outside the

Outstanding! Nine vineyard sites — primarily Champoux, Chandler Reach, Gamache and Weinbau — each bring something to the mix, and Charlie Hoppes skillfully sorts it all out. Purple fruit aromas are joined by hints of cocoa powder, cinnamon spice and Graham cracker. Open wide and experience a remarkable intensity of fruit that arrives on time and stays through the finish as dark cherries and blackberry flavors swirl about. It’s balanced, full, round and smooth with firm tannins and warm oak. The finish of mint leaf and white strawberry add complexity. In the Red Mountain neighborhood, this looms as a bargain.

new Lake Chelan AVA for this silky Cab that opens with pleasant aromas of boysenberry, mocha, mince meat and oak notes of allspice, tar and toast. It’s creamy black cherry on the attack with the backing of rich boysenberry, a drizzle of honey and drip of milk chocolate and chalky tannins. Each time back presents something extra.

Cor Cellars 2006 McKinley Springs Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills, 600 cases, 14.8% alc., $25

Recommended. Luke Bradford’s winery is within

the Columbia Gorge AVA, but here he taps into one of Washington’s up and coming vineyards for a Cab that features blackberries, pie cherries, figs, green olives, crushed pink peppercorns, menthol, bittersweet chocolate and Graham cracker.

DavenLore Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills, 113 cases, 15.4% alc., $25

Excellent. Alder Ridge gave Prosser winemaker

Gordon Taylor the base for his quaffer that greets with aromas of black cherries and Milk Duds. Richness reigns on the palate with more black cherries, a bite of blackberry and its seeds, followed by bittersweet chocolate and espresso notes as Malbec (11%) and Petit Verdot (4%) supply some additional power.

Fidelitas Wines 2006 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills, 361 cases, 14.8% alc., $60

Outstanding! Sometimes in life you get what you pay for, and Red Mountain winemaker Charlie Hoppes doesn’t disappoint his grower or the consumer here. Floral aromatics include a


Fidelitas Wines 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley, 243 cases, 14.3% alc., $40

Excellent. LaTour and Windrow vineyards share a

spotlight that flips on with aromas of dark plums, strawberry fruit leather, blackberries and toasted sesame seeds. More plums arrive on the plush palate, where blueberries and milk chocolate vie for attention in the midpalate. Easy drinking continues through to the notes of minerality in the finish.

Griffin Creek 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Rogue Valley, 321 cases, 14.5% alc., $35

Excellent. The Southern Oregon piece of

Willamette Valley Vineyard’s portfolio offers big reds from Don and Traute Moore’s Griffin Creek site in Ashland. Nearby Lakeside Vineyard also factors in, and they meld for a deliciously smooth Cab. Aromatics feature hints of a cherry Mountain Bar, Almond Joy, pie cherries, Beechnut chewing tobacco and green olives. Cherries and black currants race smoothly across on the palate with pleasing acidity and bold tannins.

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Recommended. One of the oldest estate plantings

Lake Chelan Winery 2005 Rivers Bend Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, 749 cases, 13.7% alc., $28

Recommended. Boysenberry, stewed plums,

coconut and chocolate notes from this Benton City, Wash., site are wrapped within a hugely muscular wine built for a duck breast, well-marbled meat or the cellar.

Feather 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, 2,238 cases, 14.2% alc., $60

Excellent. Randy Dunn, who made Napa Valley’s Caymus famous, continues to craft these Cabs in Walla Walla for those with patience. His trips to the Horse Heaven Hills, the Wahluke Slope and Stillwater Creek resulted in an invitation from plums, chocolate chip cookie, cocoa butter, timothy hay and saddle leather. Tipping the glass produces sensations of more plums with Bing cherry acidity and nononsense tannins that deserve a char-broiled Angus beef steak or two to five years in the cellar.

Olympic Cellars 2006 La Dolce Vida Dionysus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, 150 cases, 14.5% alc., $23

Recommended. The Olympic Peninsula’s oldest

winery taps into one of Washington’s most venerable vineyards for this racy and spicy Cab that’s highlighted by black cherries, black pepper and black-strap molasses tones. Its lively acidity and zesty tannins make this perfect with a plate of puttanesca or a slab of lasagna.

Otis Kenyon Wines 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley, 581 cases, 14.6% alc., $34

Recommended. Here’s a product from the fourth vintage for this winery in Milton-Freewater, Ore. It’s a balanced and worthy wine from Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge and Windy Ridge, full of boysenberries, dried strawberry, vanilla extract, cigar leaf and almond notes. The farewell is of black licorice and a bite of fresh blackberry.

Rio Vista Wines 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, 50 cases, 14.5% alc., $25

Recommended. This young and tiny operation

along the Columbia River below Chelan, Wash., maintains a small yet active vineyard below the tasting room. Currants, plums and mincemeat notes are held tight by firm tannins. There’s enough acidity for this wine to mature and improve in the next 3-5 years. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Walla Walla Vintners 2006 Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley, 345 cases, 14.3% alc., $48

Excellent. This Walla Walla icon looks upon its

“vineyard-select” program akin to a vintage Port — not every year is deemed worthy. Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills, Tokar and Windrow contributed the Cab, while little-known Frazier Bluffs supplied Petit Verdot (6%). The math pencils out nicely. It’s done in the hallmark Walla Walla Vintners fashion, layered with opulent oak to release aromas of chocolate-covered cherries, plums, brown sugar, cigar leaf and tar. They are delivered exponentially on the tongue with sweet spiciness and boldness, then finished with chocolate fudge. The proprietors suggest chicken breasts flamed with scotch, sautéed with shallots, chicken stock, tarragon, green peppercorns, crème fraîche and nutmeg.

Pinot Noir

on the suggested pairing with a duck breast that’s joined by a blackberry sage sauce.

mint and allspice. It’s an easy drink of raspberries and cherries with a bit of grip at the end.

Anne Amie Vineyards

King Estate

2007 Pinot Noir

2007 Domaine Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley, 3,671 cases, 13.6% alc., $35

Oregon, 617 cases, 13% alc., $60

Recommended. Nine vineyards come together in

Recommended. The smallest production from one

the bottle for a featuring of blueberry, boysenberry, cedar and vanilla, with an underpinning of minerality, muscovado sugar and lively acidity. Suggested fare includes a grilled burger with truffle fries.

of Oregon’s largest producer offers notes of raspberries, spearmint and tart cranberries, backed by the program of new French oak (71%) shows with tones of tobacco and tar.

Apolloni Vineyards

Kramer Vineyards 2006 Cardiac Hill Pinot Noir

2007 Olivia Vineyard Pinot Noir

Yamhill-Carlton District, 100 cases, 14.4% alc., $40

Willamette Valley, 237 cases, 13.3% alc., $32

Excellent. Trudy Kramer admits that this 10-year-

Recommended. One of four estate parcels at this

old parcel of Pommard and Dijon 115 tried her patience, but thankfully she stayed the course. Complex aromas include deep black cherries, strawberries, cinnamon bark, smoke paprika and a hint of baseball card bubble gum powder. There’s an Old World attitude on the palate with pie cherries, cassis and some smokiness that will lend it nicely to a hearty stew or Beef Burgundy over noodles.

Forest Grove, Ore., winery, it makes for a delicately styled Pinot, accented by pie cherries, allspice, eucalyptus, cedar and grassy tones.

Elk Cove Vineyards

Adelsheim Vineyard

2007 Pinot Noir

2007 Bryan Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley, 19,751 cases, 13.5% alc., $29

Chehalem Mountains, 280 cases, 12.9% alc., $68

Excellent. Second-generation winemaker Adam

Excellent. Fruit from these Pommard clones

received more hangtime than most lots under winemaker Dave Paige’s command. The patience paid off. Strawberry, leather, cedar and Graham cracker aromas turn into delicious flavors of strawberry/rhubarb jam, plums and lingering blueberry. Loads of acidity, just a bit of tannin and red pepper flakes in the finish bode well for osso bucco or the cellar.

Campbell strives annually to make this his most approachable Pinot Noir. Thankfully, it’s also his most accessible. Black cherry, malted milk ball and rum spice aromas waltz into a big, juicy and balanced drink of blackberry going in and blackberry going out. In between are notes of Ovaltine and smoky green peppercorn. Enjoy this with a Montreal seasoned tri-tip or a steak encrusted with ground coffee and cocoa.

Adelsheim Vineyard

Garry Oaks Winery

2007 Calkins Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir

2007 Estate Pinot Noir

Chehalem Mountains, 249 cases, 12.8% alc., $58

Gulf Islands, 350 cases, 12% alc., $23 CDN

Marchesi Vineyards

Recommended. This legendary Newberg., Ore.,

Excellent. Elaine Kozak makes the wine. Marcel

2007 Giuseppe Pinot Noir

winery beat the rains by harvesting this parcel on Sept. 24. That helped create a blue-toned offering featuring blueberry and raspberries with Bing cherry acidity and oak accents of brown sugar and tar. Suggested fare includes lamb shanks or roasted duck.

Mercier grows the grapes. It’s difficult to tell who has the more demanding job at this winery in the middle of the Strait of Georgia, but they continue to succeed. The nose is akin to fruit punch with cherries, blueberries, leather and cedar. It’s exceptionally bright on the palate with beautiful Bing cherries and more blueberry, then a trailing finish of cranberry tartness. Enjoy this chilled just a bit and admire its rose color in between sips.

Anne Amie Vineyards 2007 Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton District, 148 cases, 13.5% alc., $50

Outstanding! Thomas Houseman and viticulturist Jason Tosch teamed up on their first full vintage together here, and this product of Pommard clones shows remarkable finesse and foodfriendly acidity. Aromatics feature cassis, Red Vines licorice, cedar, caramel and allspice. That cherry licorice returns on the palate with plums and milk chocolate tones from French oak. Later accents of green peppercorn, raspberry and orange peel make for a great partnering with salmon.

Anne Amie Vineyards 2006 L’iris Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 100 cases, 14.3% alc., $75

Outstanding! Estate fruit makes up a third of this

remarkable effort, backed by Boisseau (25%), Hawks View (25%), Deux Vert and Louise. Effusive aromas of white pepper, plums, baked cherry pie and tobacco evolve into a beautifully rich approach by more cherries, marionberry, plum and milk chocolate. Its carriage of acidity and anise finish will reward those who follow up


Illahe Vineyards & Winery 2007 Pinot Noir

Kramer Vineyards 2006 Estate Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton District, 250 cases, 14.6% alc., $20

Excellent. This release includes fruit from vines

planted in 1984, and the ripeness of the hot 2006 vintage shows. Strawberries, black cherries, blackberries, leather, candela tobacco and milk chocolate tones play out in the nose and the mouth with a sturdy structure and bittersweet chocolate in the finish.

Columbia Gorge, 144 cases, 13.5% alc., $28

Excellent. Alexis Pouillon crafts the wines for

Italian-born Franco Marchesi and his Hood River, Ore., winery. The blend of Wy’East and White Salmon vineyards yields scents that open the door to a Hallmark store, followed quickly by hints of dark strawberries, pie cherries, cassis, forest floor, peppermint, light tobacco and peppermint. Hand-picked strawberries dominate the palate with good weight and balance. There’s a touch of citrus and mint in the finish that bodes well for chinook salmon.

Willamette Valley, 1,700 cases, 13.5% alc., $20

Maysara Winery

Excellent. Named after a tribal term that the

2007 Asha Pinot Noir

French would refer to as terroir, this operation in Dallas, Ore., once sold grapes to Cristom and Joe Dobbes. This entry-level release features aromas of Cherry Garica ice cream, blueberry, tar and leather. There’s a follow-through of flavors with nice leafiness, a nice blast of acidity and assertive tannins. The cherry candy finish will play nicely with pork tenderloin that’s rubbed with herbs de Provence or pasta tossed with cherry tomatoes.

McMinnville, 580 cases, 13.5% alc., $39

Illahe Vineyards & Winery

Recommended. This bio-dynamic estate blend of

2007 Reserve Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 200 cases, 13% alc., $38

Excellent. Co-winemakers Brad Ford and Michael

Lundeen showcase 50% new French oak, but the program still allows for fresh aromas of a nice Hawaiian Fruit Punch to emerge above

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Recommended. Mulberry, leather, light cherries

and tar aromas spin off into a silky structure centered on strawberries and boysenberries. A subtle smokiness and blueberry acidity add to the finish.

Maysara Winery 2007 Jamsheed Pinot Noir McMinnville, 4,500 cases, 13.7% alc., $25

Pommard and Dijon clones is named for an ancient Persian king, and it’s a showy tribute. Sweet oak aromas are met by piquant notes of pomegranate, pie cherries, allspice and cedar smoke. It’s an easy and light-bodied drink with a princely ransom of cherries, chocolate and bright acidity. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Maysara Winery

Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery

2007 Three Degrees Pinot Noir

2006 Deux Verres Reserve Pinot Noir

McMinnville, 3,500 cases, 12.5% alc., $18

Willamette Valley, 981 cases, 14.3% alc., $50

Recommended. Tahmiene Momtazi’s lineup from

Outstanding! Raid your buddy’s cellar for what ranks as one of Jacques Tardy’s finest efforts. It’s a lovely melange of nine sites — Hawks View (Chehalem Mountains), Bella Vida, La Colina and Olson (Dundee Hills), Anden, Temperance Hill and Vanjon (Eola-Amity Hills), Hyland (McMinnville) and Battle Creek (Willamette Valley) — off five appellations. The introduction shows a lot of fruit with black strawberries, raspberries, pie cherries and watermelon with a whiff of toasted almonds. There’s a rush of fresh blueberries into the mouth, backed by strawberries and Bing cherries. Bright acidity and tannins tucked in the back make it great for quaffing or serving with salmon.

the 2007 vintage shows consistent approachability. This is no exception with aromas of raspberry, strawberry Jolly Rancher candy, crushed mint leaf and eucalyptus. Cherries and raspberries lead the way in an easydrinking, straight-forward Pinot. Zesty acidity is accented by a long, smooth and smoky finish.

Nk’Mip Cellars 2007 Pinot Noir Okanagan Valley, 1,270 cases, 13.9% alc., $20 CDN

Recommended. Bear Cub Vineyard provides the

majority for this offering. Black cherries, dried cranberries and woodruff make for a good, clean food-friendly Pinot that proudly showcases acidity rather than tannin.

Nk’ Mip Cellars 2007 Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir Okanagan Valley, 1,246 cases, 13.9% alc., $25 CDN

Excellent. Randy Picton and his team at North

America’s first aboriginal-owned winery/vineyard take pride in their growing success with Pinot Noir, and rightfully so. This won best of class at the All-Canadian Wine Competition, starting with its nose that focuses on high-toned red fruit, rose petal, moist earth, coffee, brown sugar and red peppercorns. Enjoy the creamy strawberry pie and sublime acidity on the palate, along with notes of more earth and coffee. Mellow tannins make this a joy to drink in its youth, but the flavors will continue to meld and gain complexity over the next 2-3 years.

Redhawk Vineyard and Winery 2007 Pataccoli Family Vineyard Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills, 124 cases, 13.5% alc., $35

Recommended. John Pataccoli’s one-acre block of

31-year-old Pommard clone vines presented him with notes of boysenberry, pie cherry, white strawberry, grassiness and tar. It’s wound around a structure that’s bold with acidity and tannin.

Redhawk Vineyard and Winery 2007 Redhawk Estate Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Signature Cuvée Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 305 cases, 13% alc., $50

Outstanding! The pride of this publicly owned winery in Turner, Ore., is on display here in a meritorious manner. New French oak is showy yet balanced to back the early aromas of plums and Rainier cherries. That fruit turns juicy on the palate, which exhibits beautiful body, accented by allspice in the finish. Suggested fare includes smoked duck, mushroom risotto and even raspberry chocolate torte.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2008 Whole Cluster Fermented Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 19,270 cases, 12.5% alc., $19

Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery 2007 Olson Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, 246 cases, 13.15% alc., $65

Excellent. Oregon’s signature berry — the mari-

onberry — takes the leading role here. There also are notes of cherries, smoky oak and saddle leather in the nose, and the juicy, balance and lightly structured palate includes boysenberry.

Recommended. Here’s the largest production of

Beaujolais-style Pinot Noir in the Northwest, and it’s sweet, fresh and fruity in every aspect with plums, cherries and blueberries. This vintage is showing more tannin than the previous two, so tuck this away for year or two to see how this approach ages, or enjoy now with holiday turkey, smoked salmon or pizza.


Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery 2007 Oregon Pinot Noir Oregon, 8,600 cases, 13.6% alc., $29

Claar Cellars

Recommended. No fewer than 18 vineyards con-

2006 White Bluffs Merlot

tribute to this delicious and straight-forward drink. Aromas feature black cherries, strawberries and tobacco leaf, followed by more cherry, tobacco and nutmeg flavors.

Columbia Valley, 249 cases, 13.8% alc., $19

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Elton Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 410 cases, 13% alc., $45

Outstanding! Here’s one of Oregon’s premier vineyards —an Eola-Amity HIlls site first planted in 1983 — and winemaker Forrest Klaffke shows amazing grace. Rainier cherries, cranberries, light coffee and allspice aromas transcend to flavors of sweetened pie cherries and light strawberry. Subtle tannins and zippy acidity make this a smooth and easy drink with a flash of citrus in the finish.

Eola-Amity Hills, 103 cases, 13.4% alc., $22

Willamette Valley Vineyards

Recommended. This Pinot Noir house in Oregon’s

2007 Founder’s Reserve Pinot Noir

capital city delves into its namesake estate vineyard, a home to Dijon clones 113 and 114. John Pataccoli steers his program toward wines featuring high-toned red fruit inside a foodfriendly structure. Here’s another example with strawberry fruit leather, raspberry, cherry pipe tobacco and oregano tones that focus the palate on pie-cherry acidity and tannins that broaden across the palate.

Willamette Valley, 1,285 cases, 13% alc., $30

Excellent. Cherry fruit leather, strawberry, watermelon and cherry tomato aromas trail into a sweet and bright introduction of strawberry and black cherry on the palate. Plums and coffee on the midpalate and the mouthfeel of zesty acidity and cherry-skin tannins suggest pairings with duck, turkey and salmon or cellaring until 2014.

Redhawk Vineyard and Winery

Willamette Valley Vineyards

2007 Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir

2007 Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley, 163 cases, 13.7% alc., $30

Willamette Valley, 37,446 cases, 13% alc., $25

Recommended. Cranberry, pie cherry, citrus, san-

Excellent. This largest release by Jim Bernau’s

dalwood and spice are the hallmarks of this lively little wine that charms with shiny acidity and very little tannin, finishing with bittersweet chocolate and strawberry fruit leather.

winery has a lot to offer. Plums, cranberry and watermelon aromas are entwined with cracked black pepper, toasted oak and a wisp of cedar. The pour brings a delicate and tart entry of


cherries, strawberries and chocolate with leather and more caramel in the finish.

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Excellent. The Claar family sold off its grapes for more than a decade before deciding to bottle their own wine in 1997. This releases notes of cassis, cherry liqueur, lavender, rose petals, brown sugar, cigar leaf and steaming drip coffee. It’s a hedonistic drink with more cherries, cola and menthol that heighten the structure that features acidity before the tannins add some staying power. This earned a gold at the San Francisco International judging.

Chelan Estate Vineyards & Winery 2004 Estate Vineyard Merlot Columbia Valley, 342 cases, 13.5% alc., $20

Excellent. This winery on Lake Chelan’s south

shore has relied on fruit outside the area for a portion of its program since opening in 2004. Estate grapes allowed Rich Nestor to bring out aromas of raspberry, blackberry jam, crushed almonds, chocolate, coffee and cherry liqueur. All that carries through on the fruity and jammy palate, where those brambleberries cascade into heavy tannins that bode well for a New York strip.

Des Voigne Cellars 2006 The Emcee Merlot Walla Walla Valley, 147 cases, 14.3% alc., $28

Excellent. Woodinville-based Darren Des

Voigne’s impressive network of vineyard sources includes famed Pepper Bridge, and his Art Deco-themed labels pay homage to jazz legends. Here’s a smooth delivery of black cherries and stewed plums, backed by root beer, violet and quiet oak accents, served with a cup of green tea in the finish. Des Voigne’s suggested pairing? Search For the W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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recent releases New Land by the late trumpeter Lee Morgan.

Fidelitas Wines 2006 Merlot Columbia Valley, 579 cases, 14.4% alc., $25

Recommended. A blend of Conner-Lee, Stillwater Creek and Weinbau vineyards form the base of this richly textured Merlot that features red-fruit notes of raspberry and strawberry, flanked by Whitman Sampler chocolate and smoky oak. The structure features acidity over tannin, food-friendly tartness and cinnamon bark in the finish.

Fujishin Family Cellars 2007 Merlot Snake River Valley, 105 cases, 14.1% alc., $20

Excellent. As Greg Koenig’s assistant, Martin

Fujishin plays a role in making some of Idaho’s best wines. Now, this College of Idaho grad is moonlightight with his own label, here having tapped into the erstwhile-named Polo Cove Vineyard for this fruit. Older barrels allow him to preserve the red-toned aromas of cranberries, Bing cherries, beet juice, allspice, cedar and milk chocolate. Sweet cherries arrive on the palate as Bings jostle with maraschinos, all of it ensconced in delicious acidity and long and pleasing tannins.

Gordon Brothers Family Vineyard


tobacco tones fill the senses, finding favor from sweet oak and a juicy structure that offers a depth of flavors, backed by lively tannins and bold acidity.

Westport Winery

Nk’ Mip Cellars

Wash., created this small-lot program in a fresh and youthful style that’s akin to a barrel sample. Blackberry jam, boysenberry and plums are bound by easy tannins and hints of mocha and leather.

2007 Qmw Qwmp Merlot Okanagan Valley, 2,696 cases, 14.5% alc., $27 CDN

Excellent. The top-tier line from this resort/win-

ery/vineyard in Osoyoos, B.C., shows finely knit aromas of black cherry, unripe blackberry, crab apple, chocolate-covered orange rind, tar, tobacco and football leather. It’s a youthful release of cranberries and pie cherries, but already showing beautiful balance of acidity and tannin to make it built for aging. Pair with a lamb burger slathered in caramelized onions or spaghetti under meatballs.

Olympic Cellars 2006 La Dolce Vida Bacchus Vineyard Merlot Columbia Valley, 150 cases, 14.9% alc., $18

Excellent. A perfume of brambleberries, candied

crab apples and green peppercorns waves you in for the silky arrival of sweet cherries, huckleberries and blueberries on the palate. There’s a nice balance of acidity and tannins, which will reward a Kittitas Valley beef sirloin, topped with melted smoked Gouda.

2008 Boomrunner Reserve Merlot Washington, 90 cases, 12% alc., $29

Excellent. The Roberts family in Aberdeen,

Syrah Abacela 2006 Estate Syrah Southern Oregon, 297 cases, 14.5% alc., $30

Outstanding! Earl Jones and his former winemaker, Kiley Evans, made quite a splash with their 2005 Reserve Syrah, and this deserves headlines, too. Aromatics offer up warm chocolate syrup, plums, plump blackberries, caramel and rose petal. You are presented with an opulent entry of plums and loganberries that evolve into cherries, then devil’s food cake with the sturdy structure to survive well into the next decade.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2006 Rock Star Red Syrah Horse Heaven Hills, 220 cases, 14.5% alc., $38

2007 Merlot

Okanogan Estate & Vineyards

Excellent. Jarrod Boyle produced a hit with this

Columbia Valley, 5,000 cases, 13.7% alc., $23

2005 Merlot

Excellent. Estate vines that overlook the Snake River upstream of Pasco, Wash., made for this drink that includes Syrah (5%) and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cassis, cinnamon and cedar aromas gather complexity by the accompaniment of mocha, saddle leather and thyme notes. A wealth of strawberry and vanilla flavors on the entry come with a pinch of green peppercorns and the good grip of tannin. That youthful structure, along with ripe pie cherries in the finish, will pair with suggested fare of T-bone or a New York strip topped by blue cheese and plated with a Merlot reduction sauce.

Washington, 618 cases, 14.1% alc., $20

blend for a band trio made up of Northwest wine industry folks Paul Gregutt, Jeff LindsayThorsen and Dan McCarthy. Black cherry, bubble gum, cinnamon, cedar, mincemeat and pink peppercorn aromas are tuned up in a lively way on the palate with plums, raspberry, chocolate and tar. It closes with curtain call of more cherries.

LaStella Winery 2006 Maestoso Okanagan Valley, 250 cases, 15.3% alc., $85 CDN

Outstanding! Sideways be damned, Merlot is the flagship wine at this sister winery of Le Vieux Pin, our 2009 B.C. Winery to Watch. Vineyard blocks from sites near Oliver and Osoyoos get cropped to 1 ton per acre, which explains the complexity, intensity and bottle price — among the most expensive Merlots in the Pacific Northwest. It’s effusive with aromas of frozen raspberries, blackberry, orange peel, ginger root, cedar and garden-fresh green bean. Blackberry jam and sweet strawberries gush across the palate with cassis and earthiness arriving at the midpoint. Tannins gather and frame both the fruit and the acidity, and the finish is of bitter dark chocolate. It’s a massive wine that coats the glass like a tailored jacket and can be enjoyed now with game or lamb. However, it will get better.

Mercer Estates 2007 Merlot Columbia Valley, 3,395 cases, 14.5% alc., $22

Recommended. Black cherries and cherry pipe W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

Recommended. Sites not far from the Canadian

border — Orchard Hills, Sorensen and Blackler vineyards — filled the bins for this noteworthy approach of blueberries, cherries and mincemeat with a bit of chalk and a lot of chocolate in the finish.

Bunchgrass Winery

Otis Kenyon Wines

2006 Syrah

2006 Merlot Walla Walla Valley, 385 cases, 14.9% alc., $30

Recommended. There’s a lot of attraction within

this product of Seven Hills Vineyard as the aromas include hints of blueberries, cherries, chocolate and muscovado sugar, green peppercorns, cigar leaf, cedar and tar. The entry is of sweet tobacco, pie cherry tartness and a remarkable smooth, long and warm finish reminiscent of eating an Extra Dark Chocolate Chipotle Cherry from Chukar Cherries.

Columbia Valley, 289 cases, 14.6% alc., $32

Recommended. This Walla Walla winery was shuttered for a time, but it’s been resurrected. Lewis Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills allowed for this bottling in which blueberry, loganberry and black cherry serve as the tasty theme, assisted by a bit of chocolate and green peppercorn.

Church & State Wines 2007 Coyote Bowl Vineyard Syrah Okanagan Valley, 1,165 cases, 14.4% alc., $26 CDN

Walla Walla Vintners

Recommended. The Okanagan estate vineyard for

2007 Merlot

this Victoria, B.C. winery delivers a diverse Old World-style wine with blueberries, enticing herbaeceousness and bright acidity that will accent a smoky slab of pork ribs or duck breast alongside a berry compote.

Walla Walla Valley, 670 cases, 14.2% alc., $28

Outstanding! Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri celebrate the 15th anniversary of their winery this winter, and their lead winemaker — Bill von Metzger — constructed one of the best Merlots produced from Walla Walla Valley fruit, namely Dwelley, Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills. Boysenberry aromas sing out, joined by pomegranate, cherries, spearmint, rose petal and barrel notes of oatmeal and chocolate akin to Guinness stout. Indeed, there’s a creaminess to the palate with more boysenberries, then it’s buoyed by great acidity, supple tannins and a long finish of bittersweet chocolate. Their suggested pairing features braised ribs and the music of Charles Aznavour — the Frank Sinatra of France.

Claar Cellars 2005 White Bluffs Syrah Columbia Valley, 212 cases, 13.5% alc., $17

Excellent. Fruit from the Claar family estate

spent two years in warm oak, showing aromas of milk chocolate, allspice and tar that wrap around black cherries and black currants. The drink is full-bodied with a big delivery of more black cherries and bittersweet chocolate that fine-grained tannins carry from beginning to end.

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recent releases

DavenLore Winery 2007 Syrah Columbia Valley, 115 cases, 15.5% alc., $25

Outstanding! Gord Taylor and Joan Davenport’s

young winery in Prosser, Wash., provides a helicopter view of the Yakima Valley, and here’s another wine that sends you soaring. The melange of Syrah from Alder Ridge (Horse Heaven Hills) and Newhouse (Snipes Mountain) vineyards as well as Petite Sirah (5.5%) from Zephyr Ridge and Malbec (5.5%) and Mourvedre. It’s a rich offering of black cherries, plums, boysenberry, vanilla extract and Hershey’s syrup with ample acidity and some slate in the finish. Suggested pairings include red-sauced pasta or lamb.

Des Voigne Cellars 2006 Montreaux Red Mountain, 183 cases, 14.3% alc., $30

Excellent. Syrah fruit from the Williams family’s Kiona Vineyard covers several octaves in the glass under the direction of Darren Des Voigne. The opening act includes aromas of blackberries, black cherries, Boylan Cane Cola, Garden Herb Triscuit, smoke and green peppercorns. Inside is a mouth-filling melody of jammy blackberries and blueberries, then cherry acidity and chocolaty tannins chime in.

DiStefano Winery 2005 Syrah “R” Columbia Valley, 433 cases, 15.3% alc., $32

Recommended. Creamy black cherries, cassis,

blueberry and tar components swirl in a huge extraction on the palate, backed by mincemeat and cured bacon. Enjoy with spicy meats and dishes such as Moroccan lamb.

Griffin Creek 2005 Fortmiller Vineyard Syrah

vors of dark plums, marionberry, more boysenberry, bacon, leather and root beer. There’s a sturdiness to the tannin and a long, oaky finish. Those who embrace barrel accents will find this easy to swallow and difficult to put down.

Lake Chelan Winery 2007 Rivers Bend Estate Vineyard Reserve Syrah Columbia Valley, 199 cases, 13.5% alc., $35

Outstanding! Because this vineyard is in the Yakima Valley — and not the new Lake Chelan AVA — this winery on the lake’s north shore will need to sell these grapes or create a second label for this fruit. Ray Sandidge’s work with this release should have the owners thinking of the latter. Blueberry, cherry, chocolate and bacon fat aromas shout out “Syrah!” That profile is matched on the smooth entry, joined by notes of mincemeat, vanilla NECCO wafer, chocolaty tannins and bright, food-friendly acidity. That restrained alcohol and acidity bode well for five years of aging or a visit to the winery’s onpremise barbecue restaurant.

L’Ecole No. 41 2006 Syrah Columbia Valley, 2,683 cases, 14.8% alc., $25

Excellent. Marty Clubb and his crew often shuffle

their lots with the skill of a Mandalay Bay poker dealer. Here, they folded in berries from eight sites throughout Eastern Washington — Bacchus, Candy Mountain, Clifton, Mirage, Pheasant, Seven Hills, Stone Tree and Willard Farms — and drew in some Grenache (5%). Resulting aromas include blueberry, boysenberry, cranberry, cedar and lightly toasted oak. Those delicious berries make for an easy-going drink with food-friendly acidity in the foundation and managed tannins. The last call is of dried cherries and tar.

Rogue Valley, 128 cases, 14.1% alc., $35

Lone Canary

Recommended. Chukar cherries, dried plums,

2007 Syrah

saddle leather, pie cherry acidity and brassy oak tones make this a quaffer for the next 1-2 years and one that should pair well Italian dishes or lamb.

Griffin Creek 2006 Syrah Rogue Valley, 235 cases, 15% alc., $35

Outstanding! Joe Dobbes inspired Willamette Valley Vineyards to launch this label more than a decade ago, and here’s a testament to his prescience. The high-elevation site of Fortmiller (2,000 feet) and Lakeside in Talent, Ore., show off appealing notes of pomegranate, strawberry fruit leather, vanilla bean, pink and green peppercorns. That fruit sings on the palate, joined by a chorus of blueberries, sweet cherries and boysenberries. There’s late acidity to accent the chocolaty tannins, and the finish features Red Hots cinnamon candy. Suggested fare includes Beef Wellington or a tri-tip with plum compote.

Lake Chelan Winery 2007 Rivers Bend Estate Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley, 400 cases, 13.7% alc., $28

Excellent. A big and brawny nose of blackberries,

sweet oak, spearmint and lilac funnels into fla-


Columbia Valley, 148 cases, 13% alc., $22

Outstanding! Spokane vintner Mike Scott devotes a lot of his energy to the Milbrandt vineyards in Mattawa, Wash., and for good reason. Here’s a beautiful and balanced Syrah with red tones to its aromatic profile, namely ripe strawberry and red currants with violets and baking spices on the upper shelf. There are no misgivings and no misconception on the pour, which is akin to velour. While the same fruit is there, it’s not sweet, and joined by blackberry acidity on the midpalate. Inviting tannins are joined by espresso and cloves.

McKinley Springs Winery 2006 Syrah Horse Heaven Hills, 409 cases, 14.9% alc., $22

Excellent. The Andrews family has been farming

their land since World War II and tending its 2,000-acre vineyard since 1980. Doug Rowell turned this fruit into a wine rich with black cherry, raspberry and cranberry tones, backed by aromas of vanilla, tobacco leaf and cedar. That rich approach spills out seamlessly with more raspberries, joined by plums, tar and tobacco on the midpalate. There it’s met by bright acidity and finished with dark strawberries and orange peel.

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Mercer Estates 2007 McKinley Springs Vineyard Syrah Horse Heaven Hills, 145 cases, 14.2% alc., $30

Excellent. David Forsyth focused his attention on

six barrels for this new Prosser winery’s first vineyard-designated production. Chukar Cherries, cordial cherries, blueberry and exotic herb aromas are alluring. The rich drink continues to offer lots of entry points with a raspberry jam entry and the American oak even yields hints of a PB&J sandwich. There’s refreshing tartness in the finish of white strawberry and its leaf.

Northwest Totem Cellars 2006 Elerding Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley, 160 cases, 13.6% alc., $30

Outstanding! Woodinville winemaker Mike

Sharadin gained a quick and early following with the sticky Viognier he produces from this Yakima Valley vineyard. Now, he’s back with a stunning Syrah. It exudes wealth in the aromas of sweet toasted oak, backed by blueberry, black cherries, Milk Duds and cracked black pepper. There’s more richness and longevity through the palate with blackberries, boysenberries and chocolate-covered cherries. Lean blueberry acidity makes it foodfriendly, trailed by fine-grained tannins and a Nilla Wafer.

Northwest Totem Cellars 2006 Longhouse Syrah Yakima Valley, 220 cases, 13.7% alc., $20

Outstanding! For the second straight year, Mike Sharadin lands our top rating for his more affordable Syrah. Dense black fruit aromas include Chukar Cherries, slate, moist earth and leather. This, too, is incredibly smooth with juicy brambleberry fruit. Acidity and tannins work to frame the structure without either dominating, and it saunters into a farewell of Bosco Chocolate Syrup.

Okanogan Estate & Vineyards 2005 Syrah Washington, 537 cases, 13.5% alc., $20

Outstanding! Mike Buckmiller’s debut vintage with this variety at the first winery in Oroville, Wash., is a stunner. Black cherries, boysenberries, beautiful oak spice and chalkboard set the table for more richness on the palate. The black cherries continue to spill forth across the oak-driven palate with hints of bittersweet chocolate and lavender. A sandy tannin platform merely accents the length of the drink and will sidle up to a slab of pork ribs hot out of the Traeger.

Olympic Cellars Winery 2006 La Dolce Vida Sagemoor Vineyard Syrah Columbia Valley, 150 cases, 14.7% alc., $25

Recommended. Port Angeles winemaker Benoit

Murat commands attention with this wildly expressive release, starting with aromas of boysenberry, dried apricot, white chocolate, vanilla, violets, tar, roasted coffee beans and cola. Blueberry and boysenberry flavors are joined by pie cherry acidity and finished with a bite of a 5th Avenue candy bar. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Best Buys: Red wines Outstanding, Excellent or Recommended wines that retail at $15 and under.

Claar Cellars 2006 White Bluffs Cab-Merlot

sugar) and suggests pairings of smoked fish, cheeses or a movie with popcorn.

Columbia Valley, 900 cases, 13.7% alc., $13

Ridge Crest

Excellent. The Claar family in Pasco furthers its

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

reputation for quality, price and food-friendly wines. This 60/40 blend of estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot elicits aromas of raspberry, light cherry, vanilla bean, smoky tobacco and leather. It delivers more of the same on the palate, featuring blueberries and raspberries, racy acidity on the midpalate and black tea in the finish.

Kramer Vineyards NV Quad Rosé

Columbia Valley, 558 cases, 13.8% alc., $10

Excellent. Consumers can expect more of the

same quality from this second label for Claar Cellars. Heck, you even save a couple of extra bucks. Aromas are of cherry pomegranate cocktail juice, backed by blackberries, espresso and black licorice. It’s an easy approach of additional cherry flavors with nice pomegranate acidity and more of that Aussie black licorice in the finish.

Willamette Valley, 115 cases, 12% alc., $12

Ridge Crest

Excellent. Trudy Kramer, the queen of Yamhill,

2006 Merlot

continues her tradition of wines priced for regular folk. Pinot Noir, mostly from the 2007 vintage, gained color from Carmine and complexity from Pinot Gris and Müller-Thurgau. It’s swarming with strawberries, nectarine, plums, cherries, apples and watermelon aromas, then focused on delicious strawberries and cherries on the palate. There’s more watermelon in the slightly off-dry finish (1.5% residual sugar), making it an easy drink in a warm environment.

Columbia Valley, 243 cases, 13.9% alc., $10

Oakwood Cellars 2006 Lemberger Blanc Yakima Valley, 200 cases, 12.1% alc., $9

Recommended. Few folks craft Lemberger. Fewer turn it into blush, and no one has been doing it as long as Eppie Skelton at this winery on the shoulders of Red Mountain. It’s a brunch wine that features strawberry/rhubarb jam and blackberry. She left it off-dry (2% residual

Otis Kenyon Wines 2006 Syrah Walla Walla Valley, 266 cases, 14.9% alc., $30

Recommended. Chilly evenings beside the fire call

for a Syrah such as this. Spicy boysenberry and milk chocolate aromas are met by a warm greeting of juicy brambleberries, menthol, black pepper and black cherry liqueur. Suggested fare includes cracked pepper crackers topped with herbed goat cheese.

Sovereign Cellars 2006 Finnegan’s Daughter Syrah Horse Heaven Hills, 50 cases, 13.5% alc., $25

Recommended. Retired science teacher Dennis

Gross takes fruit from Kiona and Aldercreek vineyards back to his diminutive Olympia winery. Raspberry, strawberry, watermelon and menthol notes splash around with verve, tied with a structure of lively acidity and a finish of cinnamon, cherries and chocolate.

Outstanding! Hillside Vineyard off the estate

White Bluffs site, which overlooks the Columbia River near Pasco, Wash., produced beautiful fruit. Bruno Corneaux delivers this multi-faceted wine at an astounding price. Inviting oak aromas are backed by sweet herbs, Red Vines licorice, watermelon, rhubarb, black pepper and Mexican chocolate. It’s a rush of sweet cherries, plums, strawberry rhubarb and cinnamon on the entry. The sweet fruit is reminiscent of an Amarone, but there’s some cherry skin tartness and tannin in the background. The dash of Cabernet Franc (3%) peers out with a bit of leafiness that will lend this well to Italian dishes.

Rigamarole Winery 2007 Red Wine Okanagan Valley, 5,000 cases, 13% alc., $16 CDN

Excellent. The Artisan Wine Co., a property of

Koenig, pulled from Skyline Vineyards for this bold expression of plums, pie cherries, espresso, leaf tobacco, bittersweet chocolate and green peppercorn. It’s all woven inside a structure that highlights age-worthy acidity rather than tannin.

2007 Burgess Vineyard Syrah Washington, 148 cases, 14.2% alc., $18

Outstanding! Wade Wolfe’s success in working with

this site in Pasco, Wash., continues. His craftsmanship makes it smell like a Walla Walla cult with the oak, and it feels like Horse Heaven Hills because of the depth and complexity. Blackberry and black cherry aromas are whirled around by notes of cinnamon, a chocolate brownie, black pepper and roasted coffee. And yet, there’s marvelous opulence with that same black fruit. He suggests serving it with ham, lamb or sausages.

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2007 Reserve Syrah

Recommended. A profile of purple fruit includes

W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

2008 Rosé Okanagan Valley, 2,000 cases, 12% alc., $14 CDN

Excellent. This brand first hit the market in

2007, and the wines are as fresh and fun as their whimsical safari-themed labels. The pink version is filled with notes of Rainier cherry, cranberry, plum and watermelon. There’s a slice of tart rhubarb and strawberry leaf to balance the drop of residual sugar (0.95%). Enjoy during the holidays with a slice of turkey or a ham sandwich.

Sweet Valley Wines 2007 Righteous Red Wine Columbia Valley, 792 cases, 13.6% alc., $12

Excellent. To find a wine made in Walla Walla

at this price is a bit of an anachronism. And yet, here’s a Merlot-based throwback via Josh McDaniels from Forgotten Hills, Seven Hills, Arete and Alice vineyards. There’s little to knock as the nose features bright plums and whiffs of vanilla, citrus, cedar, cigar leaf, gun metal, smoky oak and chocolate. The creamy palate tastes of blueberry, boysenberry, nutmeg and chocolate. Sublime tannins make this an easy drink.

Tempranillo Abacela Vineyards & Winery 2007 Delfino Vineyard Tempranillo Recommended. Here’s one of two non-estate vineyard designate Temps offered by the Roseburg, Ore., winery that made the grape famous in the Northwest. Ripeness was not a problem with this site. Softened black cherries, cola, milk chocolate and chalkboard dust aromas turn into a drink of spicy cherries and creamy blueberries showing pleasing chalkiness and minerality.

Abacela Vineyards & Winery 2007 McCorquodale Vineyard Tempranillo Umpqua Valley, 120 cases, 13.5% alc., $25

Recommended. The other non-estate lot from this

Westport Winery Washington, 205 cases, 12% alc., $27

Recommended. Idaho’s top hired gun, Greg

Rigamarole Winery

Umpqua Valley, 119 cases, 15.5% alc., $25

Thurston Wolfe Winery

2008 Swimmer’s Last Vintner’s Reserve Syrah

Snake River Valley, 402 cases, 14.2% alc., $19

British Columbia icon Mission Hill Family Estate, offers this blend of Pinot Noir (40%), Gamay Noir (25%), Merlot (20%) and Cabernet Franc. New winemaker Tish Cooper blended them into inviting aromas of spicy cherries, cranberries, candela tobacco, green peppercorns, leather and eucalyptus. It’s mouthfilling, big and food friendly with smoky cherries, chocolate, Italian herbs and assertive, but not pushy, tannins.

boysenberries and black currants in a light structure with ample acidity.

vintage came in five days later and shows more restraint in the vineyard with notes of cherry preserves, raspberries dipped in chocolate and Graham cracker. Taut tannins, shiny acidity and a hint of sweetness bode well for smoked baby back ribs.

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recent releases

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2007 Destiny Ridge Vineyards Tempranillo Horse Heaven Hills, 73 cases, 14.6% alc., $55

Excellent. This Spanish variety thrives in the

heat, and Jarrod Boyle’s estate site is not lacking. Cherries and chocolate, chalkboard dust and wood smoke aromas swirl over this bold drink of more cherries and chocolate.

Bill Redman, who died of cancer in March. He targeted Czarnecki Vineyard in The Dalles, Ore., for this offering of cherry, slate, dark chocolate, saddle leather and a whiff of smoked clams. Cherries and chocolate dominate the smooth palate, joined by soft plums. It’s a lightly structured Temp that will pair nicely with pork tenderloin joined by a cherry/Port reduction.

Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards

Cabernet Franc

2007 Tempranillo Columbia Valley, 83 cases, 13.5% alc., $65

Outstanding! Son-in-law Marc Nelson tends the vines for the Gordons, and he and winemaker Tim Henley teamed up for this Pasco, Wash., winery’s remarkable debut with this variety. Cinnamon bark, cocoa powder, black cherries, dill weed and smoked green peppercorn aromas set the table for a remarkably silky drink of blueberries, cherries, chocolate and coffee that’s finished with some mint.

Redman Vineyard & Winery 2007 Tempranillo Columbia Gorge, 150 cases, 13% alc., $26

Outstanding! Here’s a fitting tribute to the late


San Juan Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc Horse Heaven Hills, 220 cases, 14.5% alc., $20

Outstanding! This marked Chris Primus first full year at this Friday Harbor, Wash., winery. Alder Ridge Vineyard afforded him quite an opportunity, and he capitalized. Aromas of black cherries, plums baked on parchment paper and cherry cola also include cedar and a Swisher Sweets cigar. Lots of cherry flavors follow smoothly with more crushed leaf component and charming acidity. The tannins come off as tony, and the finish is of plums and mint chocolate.

W I N E P R E S S N O RT H W E S T • W I N T E R 2 0 0 9 / 2 0 1 0

Walla Walla Vintners 2007 Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley, 760 cases, 14.6% alc., $28

Outstanding! The red-roofed barn on the outskirts of Walla Walla continues as one of the Northwest’s top producers of Cabernet Franc. Cordon Grove (Yakima Valley), Dwelley (Walla Walla), Sagemoor (Columbia Valley) and Weinbau (Wahluke Slope) contribute the Cabernet Franc, with Merlot (14%) making up the rest. Breathe in hints of blueberry, cherry, Red Vines licorice, toasted almonds, cedar and baker’s chocolate. Drink down more blueberries and cherries, with hints of moist earth and crumpled cigar leaf in the midpalate. By this point, the tannins catch up and take over for a bit prior to a flourish of horehound and more blueberries at the finish. Suggested fare is ratatouille that includes Walla Walla sweet onions and tossed with penne.

Zinfandel/Primitivo Pend d’Oreille Winery 2007 Coyote Canyon Vineyard Primitivo Washington, 186 cases, 15.4% alc., $28

Outstanding! A past Idaho Winery of the Year, this

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recent releases Sandpoint hot spot focuses its gaze on the Yakima Valley and — in this case — the Horse Heaven Hills. The Andrews family gave Stephen Meyer quite a palette to work with, and it’s a nose full of Bing cherries, blueberries and Hershey’s milk chocolate. Those berries and melted chocolate stream across the tongue in an inky fashion. Boysenberry tartness hits the midpalate before a cup of mocha espresso to go.

Pleasant Hill Cellars 2006 Zinfandel Columbia Valley, 70 cases, 14.6% alc., $19

Excellent. Rare it is to see a Zin offered for less

than $20, but leave it to Larry Lindvig in Carnation, Wash. It’s a very cherry nose with oak influences of milk chocolate, vanilla extract and saddle leather. Sweet and creamy best describes the flavors of cherry candy, strawberry fruit leather and black licorice, which turn to bittersweet chocolate in the finish.

Sangiovese Des Voigne Cellars

mas of pie cherries, blackberry, dried strawberry, cherry cola, tar, allspice and Italian parsley. Anticipation is fulfilled on the palate, which is approachable and lively with sweet cherries and chocolate, and the fruit carries into the finish.

Grenache Abacela Vineyards & Winery

Horse Heaven Hills, 67 cases, 14.5% alc., $42

spelling, but this Rhône variety otherwise known as Grenache excels in these Fault Line Vineyards. It’s upfront with red and purple fruit tones such as pomegranate, cherries and blueberry, backed by cola and cedar. Inside, its hallmark is the precocious acidity and youthful structure from that same fruit that will pair nicely with cedar-planked Copper River salmon and lemon.

Outstanding! Jarrod Boyle furthers this appellation’s track record with this grape on his first goround. There’s an instant appeal with plump brambleberries, chocolate and espresso aromas. It carries into opulence on the palate with more blackberries and raspberries, delicious acidity and a lengthy finish of chocolaty tannins.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars

2006 Petit Verdot

DiStefano Winery Columbia Valley, 113 cases, 14.7% alc., $23

2007 Destiny Ridge Vineyards Grenache Horse Heaven Hills, 171 cases, 14.3% alc., $32

Excellent. There’s nothing petite but a lot of

pleasure within this release by Woodinville’s Hillary Sjolund. Whiffs of boysenberry syrup, plums, cherries, vanilla bean, nutmeg, coffee, cigar leaf and cedar evolve into a delicious structure. It’s oozing blackberry pie, allspice and toast, topped with nicely managed tannins.

Dry Falls Cellars 2008 Cinsault

Other reds

Wahluke Slope, 80 cases, 14.1% alc., $28

Abacela Vineyards & Winery 2007 Estate Dolcetto

2007 Seven Hills Vineyard Sangiovese

Southern Oregon, 236 cases, 13.6% alc., $20

Walla Walla Valley, 322 cases, 14.1% alc., $22

Recommended. Blueberry, cherry juice, plums, blackberry, cranberry and cola tones all are easily detected, thanks to this lively little Italian grape. Suggested fare includes herbcrusted rotisserie chicken with a cranberry demi glaze.

winery in 2004, and this marks the fourth bottling spotlighting this Italian variety. His Sicilian grandmother, Rose, would be proud. It makes you sit up and pay attention with complex aro-

Recommended. Bright red fruit notes of raspberry, pie cherries and boysenberry provide foodfriendly tartness rather than tannin with accents of dried strawberry, cedar and saddle leather.

Excellent. Earl Jones defers to the Spanish

cinnamon and bittersweet chocolate conjures up thoughts of sliding into a leather upholstered booth in the cigar lounge at Portland’s El Gaucho steak house. This drink’s lively structure and inviting citrusy acidity will reward a sizzling ribeye.

Outstanding! Don Redman opened his boutique

Horse Heaven Hills, 168 cases, 14.1% alc., $32

2007 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Mr. Big Petite Sirah

Excellent. The profile of cherries, tobacco, cedar,

Mannina Cellars

2007 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Block 20 Malbec

Umpqua Valley, 166 cases, 14.4% alc., $22

Red Mountain, 223 cases, 14.5% alc., $26

a nice track record with this variety. And it stays true to the grape, starting with high-toned red fruit aromas of strawberries, cherries, huckleberry, toffee cedar and vanilla. Then it’s a pleasing entry of cherries and strawberries beside a tannin structure which adds but doesn’t overwhelm. It trails into a finish of mocha.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars

Alexandria Nicole Cellars

2007 Estate Garnacha

2007 Ciel du Cheval San Remo Excellent. This Woodinville winery is developing


Outstanding! For the second straight vintage, this tiny family operation in Moses Lake earns our top rating with this Rhône variety off Rosebud Vineyard. Delicate and nubile describe its perfume of sensuous strawberries, plump blueberries, satiny raspberry and moist forest floor. It saunters onto the palate similar to a fresh and fruity Pinot Noir, seductive with those same fruits, then joined in the midpalate by cherry pie and a bit of tartness in the farewell.

Experience the Northwest’s Best Wine Store • Over 5,000 wines • Discount prices • Free local delivery • We ship UPS • Call for free mailer • Private wine lockers • Secured access • Climate controlled • Convenient location

2700 Fourth Avenue South Seattle, WA (206) 682-7374 • (888) 682-WINE W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Dry Falls Cellars 2008 Malbec Wahluke Slope, 110 cases, 14.1% alc., $28

Excellent. It’s a short drive from Moses Lake to

Mattawa for Jim Englar, which is a good thing considering he lives and works in Boise. An affinity for oak shows in this release, starting with aromas of vanilla bean, French-roast coffee and black cherry. Dark strawberries and cherries battle each other on the palate before giving way to bittersweet chocolate, more coffee, tomato paste and some tannins that will marry well with a blackened steak.

Freewater, Ore. Dick Beightol’s Phinney Hill site grows this “lost Bordeaux” variety, and Dave Stephenson spins it into something remarkable. Every time you pick it up, something new will unveil itself, starting with aromas of plums and blueberries, lavender, cedar, pizza spices, cola and Ethiopian coffee. It turns to red fruit on the palate with tart cherries, lively acidity, crushed oregano and cracked black pepper, a package that seems destined for a stuffed green pepper, meatloaf or a Mexican mole dish.

together blends. Strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, cedar, almond and toasted wheat aromas transcend into a plush and creamy entry of black cherries, vanilla extract and crushed walnut. The structure achieves great balance with a nice grip of chocolate tannin.

Thurston Wolfe

one of Washington’s primo spots for Sangiovese — Candy Mountain, which neighbors Red Mountain — and the Walla Walla Valley’s Nicholas Cole, as well as Pepper Bridge for the Cab (37%) and Merlot (10%). The result is focused on canned pie cherries, pomegranate, figs, smoky blueberries, white peppercorns and bittersweet chocolate. There’s a wealth of tannin to go along for the ride, or enjoy now with smoked duck breast accompanied by a berry compote.

2007 Zephyr Ridge Petite Sirah

Fidelitas Wines

Washington, 450 cases, 14.6% alc., $23

2006 Malbec

Excellent. Time flies when you are having fun,

Columbia Valley, 245 cases, 14.1% alc., $35

Excellent. Charlie Hoppes is one of Washington’s

big champions for this lesser-known Bordeaux variety, and here’s a glimpse into the intense grape’s future with fruit from Conner-Lee and Stillwater Creek — sites not far from Othello. Dark strawberries, blueberries, molasses, vanilla cream and caraway seed aromas guide into opulent flavors of plums and raspberries, framed by judicious use of oak and blueberry acidity and approachable tannins.

and this is the sixth vintage for this variety out of this renowned Prosser, Wash., winery. Opulent oak aromas of chocolate, vanilla bean, coffee and leather share the spotlight with cherries. Bold cherries land softly on the palate with vanilla extract, chased by horehound and mint before tannins emerge. It’s more quaffable than most its age, which speaks to its maker.

Wapato Point Cellars 2007 Malbec Columbia Valley, 422 cases, 13.8% alc., $28

Marchesi Vineyards

Recommended. Lake Chelan winemaker Jonathan

2007 Achille Barbera

Kludt turns the intensity provided by this thinskinned grape into a drink filled with blueberries, sweetened pie cherries and minced spearmint. Firm tannins will reward those visiting the Winemaker’s Grill across the hall who request one of chef Sean Akin’s dry-aged steaks.

Columbia Valley, 160 cases, 14.5% alc., $27

Recommended. Franco Marchesi grew up in the

Piedmont region of Italy, so he knows this variety, which he began planting in 2003 in an abandoned Hood River orchard. Here’s a lively berry bomb offering from Klickitat County vines loaded with juicy boysenberry, blueberry and cherry tones akin to Hawaiian Punch.

Red blends

McKinley Springs Winery

Abacela Vineyards & Winery

2006 Malbec

NV Vintner’s Blend #10 Red Table Wine

Horse Heaven Hills, 215 cases, 14.8% alc., $22

Southern Oregon, 2,016 cases, 13.3% alc., $16

Recommended. There’s a growing buzz about this

Excellent. Andrew Wenzl sourced throughout six

lesser-known Bordeaux variety, and here’s one of the least expensive bottlings you’ll find. It’s intense in the aromas of black cherry, plum, tar, cola and mint. Sweet plums and blackberries follow through on the palate with crushed mint leaf in the finish.

Olympic Cellars 2007 Dungeness Red Champoux Lemberger Horse Heaven Hills, 320 cases, 14.4% alc., $18

Outstanding! Winery founder Gene Neuharth

vineyards — including Earl Jones’ ever-expanding estate — for a blend of 14 varieties that leads with Tempranillo. It’s a wild undertaking, but the continued success shows with an opening of plums, pomegranate, cranberry, blackberries, Bing cherries, fig, milk chocolate and violets. Toss in some boysenberry on the full-flavored palate that shows black licorice in the finish. Holiday fare will fare well.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2007 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Members Only Red Wine

began sourcing fruit from this site nearly 30 years ago, and this is the second straight year for winemaker Benoit Murat to earn our top rating with this heritage series release. Pomegranate, black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, saddle leather and teriyaki aromas don’t belie the zesty, food-friendly drink. There’s staying power on the palate with cherry and blackberry, while chocolate and anise usher you to the finish. The structure is focused on acidity, not tannin. Suggested pairings include grilled salmon or halibut.

Excellent. The winning blend arrived at via a competition among wine club members shows off accents of boysenberries, cherries, molasses and tobacco wrapped in good acidity and a really long finish of blueberries and tar.

Otis Kenyon

2007 Destiny Ridge Vineyards Quarry Butte Red Wine

2006 Carménère

Horse Heaven Hills, 168 cases, 14.6% alc., $20

Horse Heaven Hills, 105 cases, 14.3% alc., $36

Outstanding! Prosser product Jarrod Boyle readily hands off credit achieved by his successful program to the promise of his 260-acre vineyard, but he definitely knows how to stitch

Excellent. Don’t get used to finding this unusual

wine because subsequent vintages will be allocated to club members of this winery in Milton-


Horse Heaven Hills, 147 cases, 14.6% alc., $38

Alexandria Nicole Cellars

W I N E P R E S S N O RT H W E S T • W I N T E R 2 0 0 9 / 2 0 1 0

Apolloni Vineyards 2007 Conti di Val Seriana Soleggio Columbia Valley, 237 cases, 13.9% alc., $27

Recommended. This Super-Tuscan style taps into

Ash Hollow 2007 Headless Red Walla Walla Valley, 370 cases, 14.1% alc., $18

Recommended. These folks had fun on Oct. 31, going with Ash Holloween in its promotion of their blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot. However, they’d sold through it by September. Indeed, it’s a rather haunting drink of cordial cherries, white strawberry, golden raisins, lavender, chocolate, molasses, black pepper and dried Italian parsley. There’s a bite of tannin and a trickle of viscosity, too, adding to its intrigue.

Bitner Vineyards 2006 Merlot/Petit Verdot Snake River Valley, 72 cases, 14.1% alc., $22

Excellent. Longtime grower Ron Bitner and wine-

maker Greg Koenig team up again to produce 60/40 blend that opens with pie cherry, cedar and graphite aromas. Blackberry leads on the palate, followed by more sour cherries, making for delicious balance and an ideal mate for lasagna slathered in a rich meat sauce.

Bitner Vineyards 2006 Reserve Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon Snake River Valley, 95 cases, 14.1% alc., $30

Excellent. Ron Bitner has devoted several

months each year to bee research in Australia, times reflected in the naming of this 66/34 blend. The Syrah component helps account for the aromas of blueberry and plum, backed by notes of lavender, teriyaki and minerality. Juicy blueberries re-emerge in the mouth, joined by cherries, chocolate, chalkboard dust, tar and green peppercorns. Enjoy this with teriyaki beef that includes green beans.

Bunchgrass Winery 2006 Triolet Red Wine Walla Walla Valley,117 cases, 14.3% alc., $28

Excellent. The folks at Walla Walla Vintners, par-

ticularly young winemaker William von Metzger, along with Abeja innkeeper Tom Olander revived this charming project west of Walla Walla. Minnick Hills Vineyard fills the majority of this blending of Cabernet Sauvignon (85%), Cabernet Franc (10%) and Petit Verdot. It’s richly loaded with black cherries and blueberW I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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recent releases ries, accented by crushed leaf, and woven together by chocolaty tannins before trailing off to dried strawberry.

Col Solare 2006 Red Wine


Mouthfilling and smooth notes of more brambleberries and blueberries include plums. The structure is graceful and sophisticated with a cigar lounge leather chair sitting off in the corner.

Columbia Valley, 10,000 cases, 14.5% alc., $75

Frenchman Hills Winery

Excellent. Here’s the first wine made in their

2005 Sentinel Gap Vineyards Red Wine

showpiece facility on Red Mountain, and — as usual — winemaker Marcus Notaro got his pick of lots from nine vineyards in four appellations. He arrived at Cabernet Sauvignon (72%), backed by Merlot (19%), Cabernet Franc (4%), Petit Verdot (3%) and Syrah to produce plummy aromas with boysenberry, vanilla, espresso, leather and malted milk balls. It’s an easy entry of Bing cherries, pomegranate and boysenberry flavors, giving it shiny acidity to play with the taut tannin structure. A flourish of marionberry in the finish bodes well for braised meats.

Des Voigne Cellars 2007 The Duke Red Wine Columbia Valley, 239 cases, 14.8% alc., $28

Excellent. A few of Washington’s most prized

vineyards — Les Collines, Zephyr Ridge, Kiona and Stillwater Creek — fill this Zinfandel-based tribute to Duke Ellington. Blueberries, black cherries, strawberry fruit leather, chocolate and eucalyptus aromas play a strong tune of more blueberries and blackberries. Zesty acidity tickles the palate, and its Dr Pepper notes bring down the call. Darren Des Voigne suggests dropping the needle on Ramsey Lewis’ At The Bohemian Caverns while sitting down with.

DiStefano Winery

Columbia Valley, 1,610 cases, 15% alc., $27

Award-Winning Wines

Recommended. This operation near Royal City,

Wash., names this for the geologic formation near Mattawa, Wash., created by the Columbia River and carved by the Ice Age floods. Here’s a straight-forward blend of Merlot (51%), Cab (34%) and Syrah that features cherry jam, dried strawberry, raspberry and tobacco. Lively acidity gives way to a finish of Red Hot candy.

2006 Cuvée Marquis Columbia Valley, 192 cases, 14.7% alc., $45

Outstanding! The Coldiron family wisely retained Charlie Hoppes to make these first wines for their new Walla Walla operation. Fruit from Weinbau, Stillwater Creek, Gamache and Goose Ridge vineyards filled eight barrels, and the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (20%) and Malbec is topped with aromas of raspberry, strawberry, plum, orange zest, milk chocolate, vanilla, chalkboard dust, cedar, coffee and black olive. Those are mirrored on the palate in a dark and creamy approach as cherries, plums and coffee pop out in a supremely balanced structure.

Outstanding! Ray Sandidge works primarily on the north shore of Lake Chelan, but here’s a client on the south shore. This blend of Rhône varieties — Syrah (60%), Grenache (27%) and Mourvèdre — shows off hints of cherry cobbler, boysenberry, smoked game meat, bacon and cedar. It follows through on the palate in a manner so jammy with blackberries and cherries that you want to slather it on toast. Instead, serve it with lamb shanks or braised ribs.

2006 Boushey Vineyard Red Wine Yakima Valley, 315 cases, 14.8% alc., $50

Karma Vineyards

Excellent. In 1980, Dick Boushey began planting

2007 Try Red Wine

his vineyard in Grandview, Wash., and this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (64%), Merlot (29%) and Cabernet Franc receives a warm embrace from 75% new oak. Blueberry, Ovaltine, vanilla creme, smoke and tar aromas drop into a nicely balanced drink of blueberries and black cherry with notes of charcoal and more tar in the background.

Fidelitas Wines 2006 Optu Red Wine


Excellent. One of the best spots to enjoy food

and wine in the new Lake Chelan AVA is this small family-owned operation. The melding of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Malbec (30%) and Merlot makes for aromas of pie cherry, cedar, sandalwood, cigar leaf and cracked green peppercorns. Pie cherries continue onto the palate with a burst of blackberry and a trail of anise and saddle leather.

Lone Canary

Outstanding! Derived from the Latin word for

2005 DuBrul Vineyard Reserve

W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

306 SE ASH ST. & MLK

Columbia Valley, 300 cases, 13.8% alc., $30

Columbia Valley, 800 cases, 14.9% alc., $40

“best,” optu fit as this Red Mountain winery’s blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (68%), Merlot (23%) and Cabernet Franc hails from six premier sites — Champoux, Kiona, Weinbau, Stillwater Creek, Conner-Lee and Boushey. It’s charming from front to back and head to toe, starting with blueberries, raspberries, vanilla cream, chocolate cake and light oak spice.

Steel Racks, Wood Bins, WineSafe Luggage & Lead-Free Crystal.

2007 Zen Red Wine Columbia Valley, 399 cases, 13.8% alc., $40

Fidelitas Wines

Climate Controlled Self-Storage rentals with 24-7 access. Dometic “Silent Cellar” wine cabinets for home storage. Unique Wine Accessories and Necessities.

Karma Vineyards

Columbia Valley, 585 cases, 14.9% alc., $28

varieties is extremely expressive in the nose that hints at sweetness with notes of cordial cherries, malted milk balls, brown sugar, crushed leaf and cedar. However, it’s plummy, cherry and tasty with lively tannins and late acidity.


Glencorrie Winery

2005 Domenica Red Wine Recommended. This Merlot-led blend of Bordeaux

Tasting Room open: Dec.-Jan.: Daily 12 noon - 3 pm Feb.-Nov.: Daily 10 am - 5 pm 530 Gurley Rd., Granger, WA 98932

Yakima Valley, 195 cases, 14.4% alc., $35

Recommended. Few folks get their hands on fruit

from this cult vineyard in Outlook, Wash. This Spokane winery led with Merlot (66%) and followed with Cabernet Sauvignon (34%) for a drink that’s opulent with blueberries, black cherries, blackberry, French roast coffee and maple nut. Drink now for optimum enjoyment. W I N T E R 2 0 0 9 / 2 0 1 0 • W I N E P R E S S N O RT H W E S T


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Mannina Cellars 2007 Cali Red Wine Walla Walla Valley, 982 cases, 14.2% alc., $17

Recommended. Don Redman includes a bit of

Sangiovese into this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (51%) and Merlot (42%), the third vintage of this wine named after his grandmother. She’s a sweetie, too, opening with a can of homemade blackberry preserves, plums and cherries on the chocolaty midpalate, then finished with nice tar and dried strawberries.

Northwest Cellars 2006 Intrigue Red Wine Columbia Valley, 528 cases, 13.8% alc., $28

Excellent. Early on, Bob Delf’s operation in

Kirkland, Wash., made its name with personalized labels, but the wines soon became serious. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), Syrah (22%), Pinot Noir (18%) and Carmenere is eclectic and enthralling, starting with blackberry, boysenberry and a slice of green bell pepper as well as coffee. Big blue fruit streams in and stretches across the juicy palate with French oak accents and chocolaty tannin.

Shadows focus on one internationally famous winemaker, this project revolves around two principals — Agustin Huneeus, Sr., and Philippe Melka. The tandem decided on a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (54%), Merlot (20%) Petit Verdot (15%), Cabernet Franc (6%) and Syrah from throughout the Columbia Valley, including Dionysus, Sagemoor and Wallula vineyards. What emerges are aromas of black cherries, cola, mint/chocolate chip ice cream, black pepper and toasted oak. The drink itself is of blueberries and cream with milk chocolaty tannins.

Pleasant Hill Cellars

Pleasant Hill Cellars

Columbia Valley, 92 cases, 14.8% alc., $26

2006 Alegria Red Wine

Recommended. This formula is basically

Columbia Valley, 94 cases, 14.6% alc., $24

Recommended. This husband-and-wife winery in

Carnation, Wash., continues to spin out tasty little blending lots as if they were solving a Rubik’s Cube. Malbec (31%), Sangiovese (31%), Merlot (26%) and Petit Verdot get worked out to a theme of plums and Chukar Cherries, accented by heavy toasted, pie cherry acidity and chewy tannins that will soften in two to three years.

Northwest Totem Cellars

Pleasant Hill Cellars

2006 Potlach Red Wine

2006 Donatella Red Wine

Columbia Valley, 120 cases, 13.6% alc., $30

Columbia Valley, 96 cases, 14.7% alc., $26

Excellent. This marks just the second vintage of

Outstanding! Larry Lindvig loves to focus on blends and tiny lots. And in our eyes, he continues to succeed. His Super Tuscan style from the Yakima Valley incorporates Sangiovese (37%) from Snipes Canyon, both Cab (25%) and Merlot (25%) from Elephant Mountain, and Malbec (13%) from the Gilbert clan. Rich oak aromas fall in behind a wealth of black cherry, blueberry, strawberry fruit leather, along with mint, eucalyptus and tar. It’s black and muscular in the mouth with warm oak, yet there’s ample acidity and more mint in the finish. He offers it to tasting room visitors and pairs it his appetizer featuring garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and feta.

red-wine production by Mike Sharadin, and he excelled with this blend of Syrah (52%), Tempranillo (45%) and Petit Verdot. Richness emerges early with blackberries, canned plums, lilac, cinnamon and green peppercorn aromas, followed by the same dark fruit on the palate. Boysenberries add midpalate acidity, and the tannins ride along in the back seat.

Okanogan Estate & Vineyards 2005 Bench Rock Red Wine Washington, 500 cases, 13.9% alc., $20

Recommended. Vineyards just south of the

U.S./Canadian border build this bold blend that features notes of cherry, root beer, oregano, chalkboard dust, smoky cedar and bittersweet chocolate. Pair this up with well-marbled meats or hearty stews.

Otis Kenyon Wines 2007 Matchless Red Walla Walla Valley, 797 cases, 14.4% alc., $23

Excellent. Dave Stephenson is a behind-the-

scenes veteran in the valley, and he’s cast out this blend of Merlot (70%) and Cabernet Sauvignon from Seven Hills and Lodmell vineyards that can match proprietary blends from neighboring wineries charging twice the price. The nose shows no skimping on the oak with cherries, pomegranate, moist earth and cedar fighting for attention. Drink down raspberry jam flavors with cherry, rhubarb and cocoa powder catching up, whisked along by food-friendly acidity and some brambleberry seed tannin. Enjoy with rich tomato-based meat sauces.

Pirouette 2006 Red Wine Columbia Valley, 1,733 cases, 14.6% alc., $55

Excellent. While the other programs at Long


Pleasant Hill Cellars NV Panache Red Wine Columbia Valley, 77 cases, 14.8% alc., $22

2007 Roadhouse Red Columbia Valley, 95 cases, 14.7% alc., $20

Recommended. One can almost envision stepping

into a roadhouse as aromas feature a Swisher Sweet cigar along with strawberry, blueberry, rose hips, milk chocolate and black pepper. It’s a straight-shooter too with easy-going and long flavors of blueberries, plums, vanilla cream and more pepper.

Pleasant Hill Cellars 2006 Ultimo Grande

Bordeaux-based (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot) with some Tempranillo (25%). It’s full of boysenberries, loganberries and cherries and backed by Baker’s chocolate and bold tannins.

Rio Vista Wines 2007 Estate Loony Red Wine Columbia Valley, 200 cases, 14.2% alc., $25

Recommended. This vintage marks the third

commercial release by self-taught Chelanarea winemaker John Little. His blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc is a showy one, starting with hints of loganberry, plum, boysenberry, currant, river rock, rose hips and wood smoke. It’s dark and juicy with black cherries and boysenberry, finished by chocolate and chalky tannins. Here’s another one to watch in two to three years.

C.R. Sandidge Wines 2006 Stone Tree Red Columbia Valley, 400 cases, 14.1% alc., $39

Excellent. Wenatchee Valley native Ray

Sandidge has a special touch with Rhône varieties, and this blend carries some showy oak as pie cherry and lingonberry aromas are joined by Godiva chocolate, vanilla extract and candela tobacco. Sweet raspberry and cherry extract swarm the tongue in a very juicy fashion with nice acidity, finished by more expensive chocolate.

Outstanding! An alumni of the Boeing Wine

C.R. Sandidge Wines

Club, Larry Lindvig indeed has a flair for blending. In this case, it’s ruled by Rhône varieties Syrah (45%), Mourvedre (25%) and Grenache (22%) with a feathery touch of Merlot (4%) and Tempranillo. It’s kid stuff with Milk Dud and Hostess cherry pie aromas, then reaches adulthood with smooth flavors of cherries and blueberries, backed by well-managed tannins.

2004 Tri*Umph Red Wine

Pleasant Hill Cellars 2006 Renaissance II Red Wine

Yakima Valley, 300 cases, 13% alc., $50

Excellent. Chocolate-covered cherry aromas

include cinnamon, nutmeg, pencil shavings and turmeric. They funnel into flavors that continue the creamy chocolate and cherry theme, braced by acidity that grudgingly gives way to some pleasing grip of tannin in the finish. Ray Sandidge predicts a life of eight to 10 years, and the relative absence of alcohol may well reward such patience.

Columbia Valley, 95 cases, 15% alc., $24

Second Crossing

Recommended. Lemberger from a vineyard

2007 Long Creek Red

planted in Prosser, Wash., by legendary grape researcher George Carter makes up a quarter of this blend, which is equal parts Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah. The Lemberger and Syrah account for the sweetness inside its jammy profile of black cherries, plums and blackberries. Tarry and charry oak fill in the corners.

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Okanagan Valley, 300 cases, 14.9% alc., $18 CDN

Recommended. Twisted Tree Winery in Osoyoos,

B.C., succeeds with this second-label blend of Tannat (42%), Malbec (22%), Tempranillo (14%), Merlot (14%) and Carmenere. It’s jacked up with raspberry and red currant aromas, which are met with tobacco, saddle leather, moist earth and cedar. What’s in store is a fullW I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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recent releases bodied structure of strawberry freezer jam, dried cherries and pomegranate with bright acidity. Late tannin will sidle up to a lean cut of beef such as flank steak.

Sweet Valley Wines 2007 Double Barrel Red Wine Walla Walla Valley, 537 cases, 15.4% alc., $20

Excellent. Josh McDaniel’s double-barrel blast of

Cabernet Sauvignon (48%) and Merlot (48%) includes a splash of Syrah, and the sources are rather illustrious — including Pepper Bridge, Les Collines and Seven Hills. Aromas conjure up thoughts of boysenberries, a powdered bismarck pastry filled with jam, currant liqueur and toasted almonds. The tasty drink profiles blueberry, raspberry and currant juice with a tug of tannin in the finish.

3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2007 Reserve Cab-Merlot


Dalles, Ore., produced the fruit for the first reserve Chardonnay for our 2007 Oregon Winery of the Year, and its two years spent in barrel doesn’t overpower delicate aromas of verbena, lilac, coconut milk and butterscotch. It’s oh-so-creamy on the palate with notes of coconut cream pie, lemon custard, caramel corn and butterscotch throughout. There’s a lot of oak showing, but there’s nice underlying acidity running all along.

Lake Chelan Winery

Covey Run Winery

2007 La Dolce Vida Champoux Vineyard Chardonnay

2006 Reserve Chardonnay

2008 Chardonnay Columbia Valley, 578 cases, 13.7% alc., $22

Recommended. This easy-drinking Chardonnay

from a top Lake Chehlan AVA producer delivers accents of Red Delicious apple, pear butter, Breyer’s French vanilla ice cream, coconut and butterscotch.

Olympic Cellars

Columbia Valley, 5,175 cases, 14.1% alc., $10

Horse Heaven Hills, 200 cases, 13.7% alc., $16

Recommended. This tasting reserve-level

Recommended. Pineapple, butterscotch and heav-

Chardonnay is a steal at twice the price. It opens with notes of orchard fruit, leading with sweet pears, and pineapple funnel into a reserve-style structure showing vanilla, butterscotch and balance.

ily toasted oak aromas transcend to the palate with mouthfilling buttery notes. There’s late acidity, a bit of pineapple core in the finish and lingering oak accents.

Redman Vineyard & Winery

Snake River Valley, 1,157 cases, 14.2% alc., $22

Gilbert Cellars

2007 Chardonnay

Recommended. Gary Cunningham’s young

2008 Unoaked Chardonnay

Eola-Amity Hills, 200 cases, 12.7% alc., $22

operation north of Eagle, Idaho, will soon transition to organic estate fruit for its red program. Meanwhile, this blend showcases plump blueberries, boysenberries and canned cherries to go with mature barrel tones of milk chocolate and fresh-brewed coffee. There’s enjoyable chewiness and tonguesmacking tartness to pair with a plate of Beef Bourguignon.

Columbia Valley, 374 cases, 13.2% alc., $17

Recommended. The Redmans drove to

Recommended. Four Feathers Vineyard, which

Crawford Beck Vineyard for this inviting drink that’s unburdened by new oak and loaded with Gala apple, navel orange and spiced pears. Long-lasting lemony acidity invites a pairing with prawns sautéed in wine and garlic.

Thirsty Pagans 2005 Communion Red Wine

is adjacent to sultry Cold Creek Vineyard overlooking the Columbia River north of the Yakima Valley and south of the Wahluke Slope, takes the lead in this fruit-forward drink from Yakima. Pear notes, along with dusty apples, jasmine, rose petal and a hint of blueberry dominate this deliciously dry Chardonnay that benefits from a squirt of grapefruit acidity in the finish.

Horse Heaven Hills, 250 cases, 14.2% alc., $26

Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards

Outstanding! Alder Ridge winemaker Rob

2008 Chardonnay

Chowanietz and his wife, Jeanie Inglis, hatched their own label that is creating happy heathens. Sweet oak tones play out in this berry bomb of blackberry, blueberry and cassis. The body of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Merlot (15%), Malbec (5%) and Petit Verdot is creamy and smooth with a rather hedonistic finish of chocolate and more berries. It is available via mailing list.

Columbia Valley, 5,000 cases, 13.7% alc., $16

Whites Chardonnay Cassini Cellars 2008 Reserve Chardonnay Okanagan Valley, 290 cases, 14.4% alc., $25 CDN

Excellent. A newcomer to the Golden Mile in

Oliver, B.C., Romanian-born Adrian Capeneata shows a continuing commitment to quality. It’s exceedingly expressive, starting with early aromas of Red Delicious apple, mango, pineapple, pears, Thompson seedless grape that are backed by buttered pretzel and caramel from the oak influence. That French oak shows more on the palate with honey and lemon. It’s lovely and long on the back end with butterscotch, and it should go well with a light curry, prawns in a spicy coconut sauce or Thai-style halibut.

Cathedral Ridge Winery 2007 McDuffee Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay Columbia Valley, 75 cases, 14.6% alc., $36

Recommended. A 25-year-old site near The W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

Excellent. Jeff and Vicki Gordon’s 100-acre site

Vale Wine Co. 2008 Chardonnay Snake River Valley, 135 cases, 13.6% alc., $16

Recommended. Asian pear, cotton candy and

tangy orange notes fill the corners of this delicious fruit-forward drink by this new winery, which tapped into Polo Cove and Arena Valley vineyards.

makes them among the family estate wineries in Washington, exemplified by the scale of this release. It’s done a bit in a reserve-style with fruit from new and a year-old barrels factoring into a stainless-steel program for an alluring nose of apple, pear, orange blossom, banana, pineapple, lemon yogurt and sandalwood. That lemon yogurt gets spooned on the tongue with toasted oak tones, but there’s a persistent acidity that slides along into a finish of butterscotch candy. The Gordons suggest a plating of chicken roasted with citrus and sage.

Recommended. it’s a nicely straight-forward Chardonnay buoyed by Golden Delicious apple, Asian pear, apricot and lots of citrus to complement lemon chicken in a mushroom sauce.

Karma Vineyards

Excellent. An incredible aromatic display

2007 Chardonnay Columbia Valley, 248 cases, 14.2% alc., $23

Recommended. This product of Smasne Vineyard

in the Yakima Valley features a reserve style full of toasted oak, vanilla bean, butterscotch candy, apricots and a refreshing amount of lemony acidity. It’s a tasty wine to enjoy on the deck of this Lake Chelan producer.

Westport Winery 2008 Shorebird Chardonnay Washington, 236 cases, 12% alc., $18

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Dijon Clone Chardonnay Willamette Valley, 1,508 cases, 13% alc., $18

includes pears, pineapple, apple sauce, melon and a squirt of citrus. Delicious tartness strikes the palate with more honeydew melon and Granny Smith apple. There’s little evidence of the 10 months in French oak, and that makes for easy pairings with grilled halibut and seared scallops.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Estate Vineyard Dijon Clones Chardonnay

Kramer Vineyards

Willamette Valley, 187 cases, 13% alc., $30

2006 Barrel Select Chardonnay Yamhill-Carlton District, 100 cases, 14.6% alc., $20

Recommended. While it comes from a program

featuring younger barrels, there’s plenty behind the oak. The tones and rather soft structure includes grapefruit, quince, pear, river rock and lemons to go with the butterscotch and vanilla.

Recommended. Dijon clones 76 and 96 take

center stage in this release from one of Oregon’s largest producers, opening with pineapple, chalkboard dust and bees wax aromas. It’s an expressive and juicy entry of mangoes and more pineapple. The butterscotch and creamy midpalate are followed by a touch of tannin.

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recent releases

Riesling Elk Cove Vineyards

almond amble into generous flavors of grapefruit, figs, apple and enough lime acidity to balance the residual sugar (3%).

2007 Estate Riesling

Pinot Gris

Willamette Valley, 786 cases, 12% alc., $19

Excellent. At age 32, these vines rank among

Oregon’s oldest, and their crop load of 3 tons per acre yields brilliance. It leads with classic minerality and river rock aromas, backed by tropical fruit. On the attack, it’s Granny Smith apple and Bosc pear, followed by Tropicana orange juice in the midpalate. The sweetness (1.7% residual sugar) dotes on the finish, joined by a slice of jicama. Enjoy with a Waldorf salad or fruit plate.

Girardet Wine Cellars

Blue Pirate

that opens with vanilla, lemon, kumquat and apples. It’s a crowd pleaser on the palate with sweet apples and vanilla as lemony acidity builds along the way. Toasty oak returns in the finish of this wine named after Trudy’s daughter, who now serves as co-winemaker.

2008 Pinot Gris

Maysara Winery

Oregon, 5,000 cases, 13.5% alc., $20

2008 Pinot Gris

Recommended. Back in the day, bluebirds would

pilfer filberts being delivered to the historic building that now houses this winery in Dundee, Ore. Hence, blue pirates. Orchard fruit, along with nutty oak, runs through this creamy drink of Dole pineapple, lemon curd and yellow grapefruit.

Willamette Valley, 1,100 cases, 12.5% alc., $16

Excellent. This family operation in McMinnville,

Ore., continues to excel with this variety. Apple blossom, pears, lemon, jasmine and butterscotch aromas fall into a tropical fruit entry of pineapple and passion fruit. Pear in the midpalate and citrusy acidity make this easy to come back to.

2007 Riesling

Elk Cove Vineyards

Umpqua Valley, 953 cases, 11.5% alc., $16

2008 Pinot Gris

Pend d’Oreille Winery

Willamette Valley, 14,200 cases, 13% alc., $19

2008 Pinot Gris

Excellent. Marc Girardet continues his father’s

tradition with a delicious off-dry (2.7%) drink that opens with aromas of melon, citrus and hints of butterscotch. Melon and orange keep coming on the palate with ample acidity and a finish of sliced Pink Lady apple. Enjoy alongside a fruit and cheese plate or Asian fare.

Love & Squalor 2008 Eola Hills Vineyard Riesling Willamette Valley, 115 cases, 12.4% alc., $18

Recommended. Matt Berson’s full-time job is

assisting at the inspiring project that is Brooks Winery in Oregon’s Eola-Amity Hills. However, he bought fruit from his boss — Chris Williams — for his own Portland Wine Co. Gala apple, lemon and facial powder tones highlight the structure of this relatively crisp and slightly offdry Riesling, which comes in at 1.9% residual sugar.

Nk’Mip Cellars 2008 Winemaker Series Riesling Okanagan Valley, 1,431 cases, 13.5% alc., $18 CDN

Excellent. A historically cool summer and vio-

lent July windstorm put a crimp on the Inkameep Vineyard near Oliver, but winemaker Randy Picton persevered nicely. This young Riesling casts out notes of fresh-cut Honeycrisp apple, apricot, pineapple, candy corn, lychee, cotton candy, celery leaf and lime zest. The palate is focused on mouthwatering yellow grapefruit, backed by more apples and rosewater, then finished with gooseberry and minerality.

Poet’s Leap 2008 Riesling Columbia Valley, 2,656 cases, 12.9% alc., $20

Recommended. Dionysus, Wallula and the Long

Shadows Vintners’ estate Sonnet sites make for an expressive drink loaded with Golden Delicious apple, Bartlett pear and grassy notes. Hints of slate and lime acidity keep the residual sugar (1.4%) in check.

Westport Winery

Outstanding! Many in Oregon believe this vintage may rival the historic heights of 1999, and Adam Campbell’s presentation of Pinot Gris appears as one of the first barometric readings. It’s fruit-forward in the aromatics of tangerine and pineapple, joined by a perception of sweetness with candy corn, a beguiling puff of facial powder and some hints of barrel in almond extract. Prepare for an amazing explosion of blood orange and juicy apricot on the attack with a piece of Jolly Rancher green apple candy in the midpalate. What follows is a flourish to the finish with yellow grapefruit, a twist of lemon, a pinch of anise and banana. We can picture this with ceviche served at the Dundee Bistro.

Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2008 Optimum Pinot Gris Okanagan Valley, 175 cases, 13.2% alc., $19 CDN

Recommended. Walter and Gordon Gehringer

don’t use oak in many of their wines, but this tier and this grape typically get a light treatment. Gooseberry, apple box and mineral aromas evolve into an entry of grapefruit, apricot and honeydew flavors, finished with apple skin and jasmine. It’s backed by enjoyable tartness and acidity to play with food, especially fresh oysters.

King Estate 2008 Signature Collection Pinot Gris

Recommended. Columbia Valley fruit goes to the

Idaho Panhandle, where it’s transformed into an offering of tropical fruit aromas backed by pineapple, bubble gum, butterscotch and river rock. Kumquat and Granny Smith flavors make for a tart approach and an ideal foil for creamy lemon chicken.

Torii Mor Vineyard & Winery 2008 Pinot Gris Willamette Valley, 900 cases, 13% alc., $16

Excellent. The harvest on Oct. 18 at Stone Ridge

Vineyard in West Linn seems well-timed. Grapefruit, pineapple and candy corn aromas pop up through barrel notes of sandalwood and torched caramel. Barrel fermenting brings about a rich entry of peaches and pink grapefruit, backed by lemony acidity and finished with butterscotch candy.

Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc Dry Falls Cellars 2008 Semillon Traditionelle Wahluke Slope, 60 cases, 14.8% alc., $18

Recommended. Grapes off one the Slope’s oldest

sites — Rosebud Vineyard — went to this small winery at the old Moses Lake airport. Aromas of pineapple, pears, starfruit and citrus turn tropical on the palate. The finish of figs and late acidity make this particularly memorable.

Oregon, 71,000 cases, 13% alc., $16

Outstanding! The Kings of Eugene also serve

as international ambassadors for this grape. After 16 years of producing the variety, they label this as their “signature” style of winemaker John Albin. Complexity shows in the aromas of Asian pear, peach, gooseberry, apple blossom and lemon custard. Pear notes follow through to the drink, which features a delicious midpalate of blood orange, and yellow grapefruit shines through the five months of sur lie aging. That racy citrus acidity makes for a tremendous finish and thoughts of chicken Alfredo.

2008 Elk River Riesling

Kramer Vineyards

Washington, 270 cases, 11% alc., $22

2007 Kimberly’s Reserve Pinot Gris

Excellent. Coastal estate fruit produced delicious

Yamhill-Carlton District, 150 cases, 13% alc., $18

results for a second straight vintage for Dana Roberts. Aromas of lime, spiced apple and

Excellent. Even those who might not care for oak


Washington, 450 cases, 13.7% alc., $15

in their Pinot Gris can appreciate this offering

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Fidelitas Wines 2007 Semillon Columbia Valley, 583 cases, 14.3% alc., $20

Recommended. Sur lie aging in French oak produces aromas of almond butter, apples, citrus and mint, followed by lengthy flavors of orange/vanilla ice cream and a late dose of lemon/lime acidity. Suggested pairings include oysters, scallops, white fish and chicken dishes.

DiStefano Winery 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley, 1,200 cases, 14.2% alc., $18

Excellent. Mark Newton’s winery in Woodinville,

Wash., has long embraced this white Bordeaux variety, and winemaker Hillary Sjolund carries the tradition, using Semillon (8%) as a blender. Inviting aromas of fruit cocktail include Mandarin orange, tangerine, lime, minerality W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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recent releases and a slice of celery. Lots of lime awaits you on the palate with notes of slate, fresh pineapple sweetness, Granny Smith apple tartness and a slice of starfruit. Serve it cold for refreshment or pair it with Pacific Ocean seafood and shellfish.

nose of apple, starfruit, pineapple, orange zest and lemon pepper. The pace quickens on the palate with tart apple, Asian pear and yellow grapefruit. Serve alongside white fish or coq au vin.

Spangler Vineyards

Maysara Winery

2008 Sauvignon Blanc

2008 Pinot Blanc

Southern Oregon, 185 cases, 13.7% alc., $18.

McMinnville, 200 cases, 12% alc., $17

Recommended. This profile of lime, gooseberry,

Excellent. This vintage marked the 10th anniver-

jasmine, celery leaf, muscat and bold acidity will find a delicious match with oysters on the half shell.

sary of the estate Momtazi vineyard and is believed to be the first Demeter certified biodynamic wine in the Northwest. Its nose is full of lychee, jasmine, dried pineapple, cotton candy and lemon zest. The rather lively palate features pears and Golden Delicious apples on the attack, pineapple in the midpalate and lots of lemons and orange in the finish.

Viognier Lake Chelan Winery 2008 Viognier Columbia Valley, 300 cases, 13.8% alc., $24

Excellent. Ray Sandidge raised the bar at Yakima

Valley wineries Hyatt and Kestrel before returning to his roots near Entiat, Wash. His clients also include this family friendly winery in Chelan, and his successes continue. Aromas of orange peel, marshmallow, lemon pepper and allspice include whiffs of smoke, eucalyptus oil and wintergreen. It’s passionfruit, mango and canteloupe when it comes to flavors with lime crispness throughout. We can envision pairing this with perch or fried catfish.

Sweet Valley Wines 2008 Viognier Excellent. Fruit from McKinley Springs in the

Horse Heaven Hills and Markham-Banks Vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley (25%) join forces to produce aromas of apples, pears, Bananas Foster, apple blossoms and light toast. There’s a repeat of that flaming dessert on the palate with a hint of maple sweetness, nuttiness and peppermint in the finish.


Nk’Mip Cellars 2008 Pinot Blanc Okanagan Valley, 2,786 cases, 13.5% alc., $17 CDN

Recommended. Floral aromas include dusty apple,

starfruit, gooseberry, vanilla and freshly peeled potato skins. Then, it explodes in the mouth with more orchard fruit and pungent lime acidity, touched by river rock in the lengthy finish.

Other whites

Columbia Valley, 500 cases, 13% alc., $18

Recommended. Luke Bradford trained at nearby

Wind River and Syncline before launching his own winery near Lyle, Wash. This screwcap offering of Pinot Gris (52%) and Gewürztraminer releases notes of apple crisp, pear, pineapple, a hint of blackberry and gooseberry tartness.

Westport Winery 2008 Captain Grey’s Gewürztraminer

San Juan Vineyards 2008 Estate Madeleine Angevine Excellent. Three acres of island fruit make up

one of the largest productions of this variety in the Northwest. The cross of Madeleine Royale and Précoce de Malingre spins out Riesling-like aromas of jasmine, Golden Delicious apple, pear and lemon, along with rose petal facial power, jicama and orange peel. It’s quite brash with its big and juicy entry of yellow grapefruit and lemon, backed by honeydew melon. Enjoy with oysters on the half shell.

Washington, 208 cases, 12% alc., $22

Excellent. This Washington coast operation

has Muscat of Norway plantings maturing, but this bottling shows skill with mature fruit. There’s a medley of citrus, jasmine, Williams Lectric Shave and minerality in the aromas. It’s Juicy Fruit gum and more grapefruit on the soft entry, with mint, pineapple and lemon zest in the finish to balance the residual sugar (4%).

White blends

Washington, 280 cases, 11% alc., $24

Recommended. Aromas of grapefruit and banana

Anne Amie Vineyards

with hints of honey and lamb’s wool turn into more banana, sweetened grapefruit and Jones Lemon/Lime soda. It leans toward the soft side, so serve it chilled.

2008 Amrita Cuvée

Pinot Blanc Elk Cove Vineyards 2008 Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley, 1,190 cases, 13% alc., $19

Excellent. Few show such dedication to this quiet

descendant of Pinot Noir. It’s indeed a subtle W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

2008 Vicuna Blanca White Wine

(78%) — backed by Riesling (18%), Chenin Blanc (2%) and Gewürztraminer (2%) — and is meant to be enjoyed as a patio companion. And while it’s deliciously juicy with citrus and Granny Smith apple, it also made us ponder pairings with bouillabaisse or ceviche.

Chelan Estate Vineyards & Winery 2007 Chardonnay-Viognier Columbia Valley, 350 casaes, 12% alc., $22

Recommended. Because the fruit comes from out-

side the Lake Chelan AVA, the next vintage of this wine will be under a new label — CE Vineyards. This vintage is tasty with notes of Romeo apples, lemony citrus, potato peel and pineapple in a soft structure.

Fidelitas Wines 2008 Optu White Wine Columbia Valley, 355 cases, 14.2% alc., $32

Excellent. The prized white in Charlie Hoppes’

2008 Maritime Muscat

2008 Celilo Vineyard Alba Cor White Wine

Blackwood Lane Recommended. This blend leads with Pinot Gris

Westport Winery

Cor Cellars

Vindaloo or offer it with a plate of fruit and Camembert cheese.

Okanagan Valley, 210 cases, 12.8% alc., $19 CDN

Puget Sound, 583 cases, 11.2% alc., $17

Columbia Valley, 98 cases, 13.6% alc., $18


Willamette Valley, 1,054 cases, 13.2% alc., $16

Outstanding! Its name is a Buddhist reference to ambrosia, and there’s a sense of paradise in this blending of Pinot Gris (19%), MüllerThurgau (18%), Pinot Blanc (17%), Chardonnay (17%), Gewürztraminer (15%) and Viognier (14%). Pink grapefruit, Pink Lady apple, jasmine, banana and facial powder accents only begin to describe the ins and outs. It’s beautiful and balanced (0.5%) with mouthwatering acidity. Enjoy with Lamb

portfolio is a blend of Bordeaux varieties Sauvignon Blanc (56%) off Gamache Vineyard and Semillon from Stillwater Creek. Dusty orange, lemon/lime and jicama aromas carry into a flavors of yellow grapefruit and rosewater.

Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards 2008 Edelzwicker White Wine Columbia Valley, 225 cases, 13.5% alc., $18

Excellent. Judy Phelps’ delightful off-dry German-

style blend of Riesling and Gewürztraminer opens with a bouquet of spicy Asian pear, Granny Smith apple, minerality and a hint of seltzer. There’s an early hit of sugared yellow grapefruit on the palate, followed by passionfruit, jasmine, banana and apple sauce, then polished a touch of wintergreen.

LaStella Winery 2008 Leggiero Okanagan Valley, 175 cases, 13.5% alc., $25 CDN

Excellent. A five-minute drive north from Oroville,

Wash., delivers you to the doorstep of this young winery in Osoyoos, B.C., and home to this unoaked Chardonnay. Asian pear, grapefruit juice, lime peel and flinty aromas transcend to crisp flavors of tropical fruit joined by more grapefruit and tart gooseberry. It’s a lovely and cleansing structure that offers lingering lime on the back end.

Mount Baker Vineyards & Winery 2007 Semi-Sauv Reserve Yakima Valley, 70 cases, 13.2% alc., $20

Recommended. The road to Mount Shuksan

affords you the chance to pick up some of this blend of Sauvignon Blanc (53%) and Semillon, which features tropical notes with lychee and passionfruit, followed by flavors of Sprite, caramel apple and walnuts. Chill this because of its softer structure (0.9% residual sugar) and delicate acidity.

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recent releases

Rio Vista Wines 2008 Sunset on the River Estate White Wine Columbia Valley, 100 cases, 12.5% alc., $20

ment. A portion of the proceeds from this pink go to assist wayward animals at the North Beach PAWS in Ocean Shores.

Excellent. This boutique winery near Chelan,

Wash., is accessible to Columbia River traffic, and John Little’s blend of Pinot Gris (60%) and Gewürztraminer is ideal for boating and quaffing. Dusty apple, Asian pear, starfruit and jasmine aromas come through with a surprising hit of sweetness on the entry. Canned pineapple pops up in the midpalate, balanced with lime-like acidity, and it leaves the dock with spices such as cardamom, cumin and cinnamon.

Thurston Wolfe Winery 2008 PGV Washington, 2,200 cases, 13.5% alc., $16

Excellent. This year, Wade Wolfe left the Muscat

out of his wildly popular screwcapped blend of Pinot Gris (57%) off Burgess and Crawford vineyards with Viognier from Coyote Canyon. This edition shows pears, apple, big minerality, lime and even some huckleberry in the nose. It’s very expressive and juicy entering the palate as segmented orange, blueberries and lime seem to demand Northwest seafood, including a fish taco.

Westport Winery 2008 Bordello Blonde White Wine Washington, 368 cases, 11% alc., $20

Recommended. A blend of Gewürztraminer

(75%) and Riesling, it’s hugely tropical in the aromas and the flavors of fruit cocktail and banana. Those who enjoy brunch wines will lap this up.

Rosés Anne Amie Vineyards 2007 Prismé Pinot Noir Blanc Willamette Valley, 390 cases, 13.5% alc., $45

Recommended. This Carlton, Ore., winery draws

off free-run Pinot Noir juice and avoids skin contact, turning what would normally be a red wine into essentially a white wine. It’s then aged on the lees and in French oak for 18 months. That yields corresponding notes of butterscotch, honeysuckle, candy corn, quince, lemon pepper and citrus with a finish of ghee. Enjoy with cracked crab or pan-fried scallops.

Westport Winery 2008 Smoky Nor’Western White Cabernet Franc Washington, 188 cases, 13% alc., $27

Recommended. Rainier cherries, canned plums,

sliced rhubarb, toffee and drip coffee notes highlight this quaffable pink that’s off-dry (2.5% residual sugar). A portion of the proceeds from this pink benefit the Museum of the North Beach in Aberdeen, Wash.

Sparkling wine Domaine Ste. Michelle NV Blanc de Blancs Recommended. Thinking of serving

Chardonnay? Consider this as a fun — and less expensive — alternative with a seemingly endless choice of food applications. (See our Match Maker feature starting on Page 78). Dusty apple, baked coconut cake and diesel aromas play out on the palate with refreshing yellow grapefruit flavors in a dry style (1.05% residual sugar) and a long finish of lime and quinine.

Domaine Ste. Michelle NV Blanc de Noirs Columbia Valley, 20,081 cases, 11% alc., $12

Excellent. A French term for white from red,

here’s 100% Pinot Noir with just enough skin contact to create a pinkish hue. Aromas broadcast a hint of Rainier cherry, huckleberry, apple, citrus and candy corn. The dab of sweetness (1.15% residual sugar) highlights strawberries and raspberries, and the flourish of citrusy acidity drives it toward Chinese food, lemon chicken or a cheese and fruit plate that includes dates and figs.

Westport Winery NV Dawn Patrol White Wine Washington, 360 cases, 11% alc., $25

Outstanding! This ranks among the most remarkable offerings from this rapidly expanding 2-year-old family operation in Grays Harbor. It’s Riesling that’s turned red by raspberry juice. The drink is alluring and very intense from beginning to end, and the texture taunts you into thoughts of picking seeds out of your teeth. There’s lip-smacking acidity, which makes it a balanced deck wine with 12.5% residual sugar, so chill it and kill it.

Westport Winery NV Peaches on the Beaches Peach Wine Washington, 382 cases, 10% alc., $21

Recommended. Simple yet tasty, this sweet treat

(10% residual sugar) is filled with pineapple, apricot, Gala apple and orange marmalade with perfumy spices of cardamom and coriander.

Dessert wines

Domaine Ste. Michelle

Apolloni Vineyards

NV Brut

2008 Dolce Vino Viognier

Columbia Valley, 191,540 cases, 11.5% alc., $12

Columbia Valley, 248 cases, 12.6% alc., $22

Excellent. Rick Casqueiro’s largest production

Recommended. This Rhône variety is a reliable

exudes Gala apple, Bartlett pear, candied ginger and almond aromas. It’s remarkably frothy in the mouth with more orchard fruit, shiny acidity and a mouthwatering finish that demands your return. The Richland, Wash., bubbleman enjoys this with sashimi or bagels and lox. (1.19% residual sugar).

candidate for dessert wines, and here’s no exception. It readily gives off aromas of lime, pineapple, spearmint, clover honey, gardenia and carameled apple. On the palate, it shows apricot, honey and cut peaches over vanilla ice cream, topped by a late burst of acidity to play with the residual sugar (13.7%).

Domaine Ste. Michelle

Claar Cellars

NV Extra Dry

2008 White Bluffs Late Harvest Riesling

Columbia Valley, 25,000 cases, 11.5% alc., $12

Columbia Valley, 223 cases, 11.5% alc., $16

Outstanding! Here’s the most festive and widely appealing of the lineup from the Northwest’s largest sparkling wine house. Big bubbles of this Chardonnay (80%), Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier blend bring out perfumy ambrosia salad, lychee, peaches and caramel. Complex flavors of pineapple, melon and white strawberries find balance, and the finish with angel food cake makes this superb at receptions or as an aperitif. An easy way to remember the sweetness level (2.3% residual sugar) is that extra dry means off-dry.

Recommended. When they mean late, these folks

Karma Vineyards 2006 Sparkling Wine

2008 True White Merlot

Columbia Valley, 408 cases, 12.5% alc., $45

Washington, 181 cases, 13% alc., $29

Excellent. Beyond the outdoor restaurant and

Recommended. It’s an unusual yet worthy usage

behind the cozy tasting room is a cave at this little paradise on Lake Chelan’s south shore. There you’ll find the riddling rack for these bubbles by Ray Sandidge. He does this in a reserve brut methode champenoise style from Smasne Vineyard Chardonnay (65%) in the


Fruit wines

Columbia Valley, 32,640 cases, 11.5% alc., $12

Westport Winery

for Merlot, and the attraction begins with its brilliant red color. Blueberry, blackberry and raspberry come together in the aromas and come back around in the mouth, where a squeeze of cranberry adds just enough acidity for enjoy-

Yakima Valley and Karma’s estate Pinot Noir. It opens with hints of apple butter, Sprite, coconut, caramel, toasted marshmallow and yeastiness. It’s an easy drink of Pink Lady apple and pear syrup (1% residual sugar) with more caramel and fresh-baked cake in the finish.

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weren’t kidding. They grapes were picked Dec. 10, with fermentation extending into the second week of January. The results are inviting and tasty with notes of pineapples, apricots and Juicy Fruit gum with sweet lemony finish (10.8% residual sugar) that fits for either brunch or the hot tub.

Davis Creek Cellars 2008 Boise Blanco Late Harvest Riesling Snake River Valley, 110 cases, 12.5% alc., $20

Recommended. Wind Ridge Vineyard produced

the fruit for Gina Davis’ dessert debut. Notes feature poached pear with caramel and nuts to make it mouthfilling, creamy and pleasant at 8% residual sugar.

Fujishin Family Cellars 2008 Late Harvest Chardonnay Snake River Valley, 85 cases, 11.53% alc., $20

Excellent. Not often is Chardonnay done in a

dessert style, but Caldwell, Idaho, winemaker W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Abiqua Wind Vinyeard

this very appealing.

2008 Chloe’s Breeze Müller-Thurgau

Anne Amie Vineyards

Willamette Valley, 132 cases, 12.5% alc., $12

2008 Müller-Thurgau Cuvée

Recommended. Hermann Muller’s cross of Riesling and Sylvaner thrives

in the Willamette Valley. This version opens with a reach of peaches and apricots, some lychee, handmade caramels and a lemon tonic. The palate focuses on that orchard fruit and finishes with Limeade and sliced almond. Try with chimichurri-influenced Mexican food.

Abiqua Wind Vineyard

Willamette Valley, 874 cases, 12% alc., $14

Excellent. Chateau Benoit in Lafayette, Ore., grew and produced some

of the best M-T in the Northwest. Thankfully, philanthropist Robert Pamplin preserved the vines when he bought the winery in 1999. The drink is remarkably perfumy and filled with citrusy notes, particularly tangerine and nectarine. It’s backed by minerality and finished dry. Enjoy with pan-fried oysters and Mexican dishes.

2008 Gloria Anne Gewürztraminer Willamette Valley, 130 cases, 12% alc., $12

Apolloni Vineyards

Outstanding! Pete Buffington proudly points out that Silverton is on the “other side” of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and he’s been dry farming these vines for nearly 30 years. And this offering is all about the fruit. In the glass, it’s filled with pineapple, passionfruit, citrus and cantaloupe. Sweetened pineapple and tangerine spill out across the mouth, and that perception — combined with lemony acidity — makes

2008 Pinot Blanc

Martin Fujishin provides a blueprint from what used to be called the Polo Cove Vineyard. Beguiling aromas of nectarine, ruby red grapefruit, candy corn and rose petal drop into tasty flavors of a Pink Lady apple and an orange Creamsicle. There’s a late dose of acidity to soup up the residual sugar (8.5%), and some almond extract in the finish for complexity.

Pêntage Winery 2007 Slow Vineyards Late Harvest Okangana Valley, 40 cases, 10.5% alc., $23 CDN

Excellent. Paul Gardner’s picturesque operation

overlooking Skaha Lake draws in Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat from this Naramata Bench site. Aromas of peach, apricot, blood orange and rosewater expand and demand your attention. It develops into flavors of tangerine with orange syrup, braced by crisp acidity and a slice of nectarine in the finish. Residual sugar is 15%.

Scatter Creek Winery NV Frost Tease Dessert Wine Washington, 72 cases, 13.5% alc., $25

Outstanding! Terril Keary grabbed our attention earlier this year with a delectable off-dry Gewürztraminer, and now the Tenino, Wash., vintner has a new product. Frozen grapes of Yakima Valley Riesling (85%) were blended with cranberry (10%) from Westport and boysenberry out of Shelton. The array of aromas includes strawberry, rhubarb, watermelon, black cherry and spearmint. The drink is hugely viscous and laced with more cherries, strawberry jam, homemade caramel, cinnamon and cloves. She’s loaded with sweetness (14% residual sugar), personality and can be enjoyed with waffles or out of someone’s navel.

Westport Winery 2008 Shiver Me Timbers Late Harvest Riesling Washington, 169 cases, 10% alc., $27

Recommended. Orchard fruit along the lines of W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

Willamette Valley, 524 cases, 13.3% alc., $15

Excellent. Alfredo Apolloni might prefer to name this “Pinot Bianco” in

the Italian tradition, and it’s a showy example. A sniff brings in thoughts of ambrosia salad, a squeeze of lime, honeysuckle and cotton candy. There’s a big spoonful of that fruit cocktail and fresh pineapple on the

apricot, pears and apple include accents of honeysuckle and Graham cracker inside a delicious but soft structure that’s capped by pineapple and lychee.

Ice wine Covey Run Winery 2006 Reserve Semillon Ice Wine Yakima Valley, 7,000 cases, 11% alc., $23

Excellent. This white Bordeaux grape makes for

some amazingly complex dessert wines, and here’s no exception. Whiffs of orange marmalade, glacéed apricot, pineapple, honeysuckle, lychee and baked pie crust come trickling through to the tongue. There’s a sense of mouth-watering baked lemon tart with the crust, and finish of nutmeg, clove and orange spice.

Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards 2008 Gewürztraminer Ice Wine Columbia Valley, 95 cases, 8.24% alc., $37

Recommended. December temperatures in

Eastern Washington made it easy to decide when to harvest this vintage of ice wine. The Gordons pulled these off to produce a tropical presentation with nice viscosity that includes notes of apricot, grilled pineapple, a cedar frond, orange zest, cinnamon and melted vanilla ice cream. The residual sugar stands at a remarkable 32%.

Wapato Point Cellars 2005 Merlot/Zinfandel Ice Wine Columbia Valley, 290 cases, 12% alc., $36

Excellent. Even though it’s a blend, it’s true ice wine by virtue of the grapes being plucked in December from vines at Jones (Merlot) and their Chelan estate site of Cougar Ridge (Zin). There’s cinnamon, apricot, peach, Bit O’Honey and some maple-cured bacon in the nose. Think of chocolate cake with nuts and raspberry filling on the palate, joined by cherry cola, blood orange acidity and dried apricot. Look for some black licorice in the sweet finish of 18% residual sugar.

Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation (PS Form 3526) 1. Publication Title: Wine Press Northwest. 3. Filing Date: 10/1/09. 4. Issue Frequency: Quarterly. 5. Number of Issues Published Annually: 4. 6. Annual Subscription Price: $20. 7./8. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication: 333 W. Canal Dr., Kennewick, WA 99336. 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: Rufus M. Friday, Andy Perdue, Eric Degerman, 333 W. Canal Dr., Kennewick, WA 99336. 10. Owner: The McClatchy Company, a Delaware Corporation, 2100 Q. Street, Sacramento, CA 95816. Stockholders of record holding 1% or more of the total amount of stock of The McClatchy Company are: The Estate of James B. McClatchy, William Ellery McClatchy, William K. Coblentz and Gary B. Pruitt, as trustees of the trust for the benefit of Charles K. McClatchy, trust for the benefit of James B. McClatchy, trust for the benefit of William Ellery McClatchy and trust for the benefit of Sue M. Stiles; Estate of James B. McClatchy; Molly Maloney Evangelisti; Betty Lou Maloney Trust; Brown McClatchy Maloney; Kevin Sorenson McClatchy; and Adair Rideout McClatchy (all c/o The McClatchy Company, P.O. Box 1579, Sacramento, CA 95852-0779); Fred Eychaner, 1645 W. Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614-1919; and Cede & Co., c/o The Depository Trust Company, P.O. Box 20, Bowling Green Station, New York, NY 10004-9998. 11. Cede & Co., c/o The Depository Trust Co., P.O. Box 20 Bowling Green Station, New York, NY 10004-9998 12: Tax Status: Has not changed during the preceding 12 months. 13. Publication Title: Wine Press Northwest. 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: 9/4/06. 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation. Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months/Average No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date: a. Total Number of Copies: 12,329/12,000. b. Paid and/or Requested Circulation. (1) Paid/Requested Outside-County Mail Subscription Stated on Form 3541: 2,087/2,483. (2) Paid In-County Subscription: 218/258. (3) Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other Non-USPS Paid Distribution: 2,256/2,648. (4) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: 31/39. c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 4,592/5,428. d. Free Distribution by Mail. (1) Outside-County as Stated on Form 3541: 1,725/1,972. (2) In-County as Stated on Form 3541: 124/131. (3) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: 192/179. e. Free Distribution Outside the Mail: 1,047/1,040. f. Total Free Distribution: 3,088/3,322. g. Total Distribution: 7,680/8,750. Copies not Distributed: 4,649/3,250. i. Total: 12,329/12,000. j. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 59.8%/62.0%.

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entry with fig and lanolin in the middle. Next, there’s a whisk of gooseberry and lemony acidity to the finish. Serve as an aperitif or with Thai food.

Apolloni Vineyards 2008 Pinot Grigio Willamette Valley, 687 cases, 13.5% alc., $15

Recommended. The Italian influence at this

Forest Grove, Ore., winery is on display here in this offering profiling tropical fruit, Gala apples, pineapple and custard, balanced by starfruit and citrus acidity.

Claar Cellars 2008 White Bluffs Unoaked Chardonnay Columbia Valley, 280 cases, 13.3% alc., $13

Excellent. This 96-acre, second-generation

vineyard continues to produce quality wines under the guiding hand of longtime French winemaker Bruno Corneaux. Its stainlesssteel fermentation allows for aromas of peach, lemon curd, banana taffy, almond, handmade caramel and straw. Blood oranges and tangerine flavors stream across the palate, followed by more peaches and a spoon of lemon sorbet in the finish.

Caldwell, Idaho, knows how to handle it in a fruit-forward style, starting with aromatics of blood orange, blueberries, pears, apple blossom and a big scrape of lemon peel. The mouth-filling delivery is round and bright with Granny Smith apple, more orange and a piece of caramel. Pair it up with lime-influenced Mexican dishes.

Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery 2008 Ogopogo’s Lair Pinot Grigio

Hester Creek Estate Winery

Okanagan Valley, 2,733 cases, 13% alc., $15 CDN

2007 Pinot Blanc

Excellent. This somewhat underground project

Okanagan Valley, 5,000 cases, 13.8% alc., $16 CDN

of Mission Hill Family Estate keeps producing deliciously affordable wine. Hints of homemade apple sauce with cinnamon, lemon, minerality, petrol and butterscotch are brightened by yellow grapefruit and its pith. That acidity builds inside a dry structure that will lend to spicy Asian food.

Recommended. No region in the Pacific

Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery

2008 Pinot Gris Willamette Valley, 200 cases, 13.5% alc., $13

Recommended. Oregon’s signature white at this

Recommended. Sadly, the white-tailed jack rab-

young Dallas winery exudes notes of lemon/lime, melon and grapefruit with pleasing grassiness, minerality and balance. Look for this in wine shops because it’s sold out at the winery.

Recommended. This large-scale Washington

Gilbert Cellers

winery long has served as a reliable proponent for “gee whiz,” and this is full of pineapple, dried apricot and lemon/lime notes a peach pit in the finish. Its sugar is at 1.6%.

2008 Estate Gewürztraminer Columbia Valley, 246 cases, 12.4% alc., $15

Outstanding! Justin Neufeld has several estate

baked apple, dried papaya and minerality run true on the palate with more tangerine, a flash of orange and late Limeade acidity. Its sugar is at 3.8%.

sites in his quiver, but Sunrise Vineyard near Yakima made him a marksman with this release. Aromas feature an assortment of pink grapefruit, apple, peach, gooseberry, Circus Peanut candy and a pina colada Lifesaver. The crowd-pleasing palate is focused on tree-ripened pears and juicy peaches, though, and there’s just enough citrusy acidity to balance the residual sugar (2.2%).

Covey Run Winery

Gilbert Cellars

2007 Riesling

2008 Riesling

Columbia Valley, 77,000 cases, 11.5% alc., $10

Columbia Valley, 328 cases, 12.5% alc., $15

Excellent. Kate Michaud hit the ground running

Excellent. A diverse vineyard program allows

at this Sunnyside, Wash., winery in 2007, and this is showing tangerine, lemon, wet stone and some grassiness. There’s reward on the palate with long flavors of yellow grapefruit, lemons, pear, bright acidity, some minerality and appealing bitterness in the finish. Enjoy with poached white fish and orange wedges or a beet salad. Its sugar is at 1.6%.

Justin Neufeld, who trained at Columbia Crest, to exert control from start to finish. Here’s a delightful expression from Stone Ridge Vineyard near Othello, Wash., that opens with notes of lime sherbet, lemon custard, lychee, sliced almonds and an apple/pear tart. That orchard fruit continues to pour through with more lychee, sweetened grapefruit and Asian pear tartness to balance the residual sugar (2%).

Covey Run Winery 2007 Reserve Late Harvest Riesling Columbia Valley, 5,175 cases, 10% alc., $12

Recommended. Alluring notes of pink grapefruit,

Fujishin Family Cellars 2008 Bitner Vineyard Viognier Snake River Valley, 103 cases, 14.2% alc., $15

Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards

Excellent. It’s rare to see this Rhône white vari-

2008 Shameless Hussy Roussanne

ety in this price category at such quality. Martin Fujishin, a young winemaker in

Excellent. The shtick for this tier is that for the


Illahe Vineyards & Winery

Okanagan Valley, 2,022 cases, 13.5% alc., $12 CDN

Columbia Valley, 23,650 cases, 13% alc., $9

2008 Gewürztraminer

Northwest can match the Okanagan Valley’s dedication to this Burgundy variety. Here’s a delicate offering that features tones of juicy Bosc pears, lemon/lime citrus and grassiness in a sublimely mouth-coating structure.

2007 Townsend Jack Unoaked Chardonnay

bit is extinct, but the folks at Mission Hill continue to be prolific with this project. Notes of pears, starfruit, Cling peaches sweet herbs, cilantro and vanilla hop around, finishing with a slice of Granny Smith apple tartness. Enjoy with tortilla chips and a fruit salsa.

Covey Run Winery

price “they don’t deliver what they promise.” Instead, she puts out. The aromas tease with a Pink Lady apple, peach ice cream, pineapple, vanilla and lemon. Thankfully, this opens up on the flavors too with more peaches and crisp apples with bright acidity. There’s some butterscotch candy and a hint of Grand Marnier in the finish. This wine is sold out at the winery.

Columbia Valley, 75 cases, 13.8% alc., $15

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Kamiak 2008 Windust White Wine Columbia Valley, 2,843 cases, 13.7% alc., $10

Excellent. Gordon Brothers near Pasco, Wash.,

is redefining its second label, and this fruitforward Sauvignon Blanc-based blend (90%) certainly stands out. It’s musky in the nose, along with blood orange, pineapple, baked apple, toasted almonds and rub of rosemary. Sweet pineapple and juicy mango flavors find balance with starfruit tartness and lingering lemony acidity.

King Estate 2008 Acrobat Pinot Gris Oregon, 12,000 cases, 12.5% alc., $12

Excellent. Eugene’s icon winery delivers its

new lower-priced tier while still relying on its certified organic Domaine vineyard for the bulk of this production. Inviting aromas feature Golden Delicious apple, peach, lemon peel, banana and butterscotch. There’s more of the apple on the entry, then a rush of grapefruit, kiwi and lemony acidity, which more than offsets the dab of residual sugar (0.7%). Some pineapple and citrus pith in the finish solicit pairing ideas such as lime chicken in a cream sauce or penne with pork.

King Estate 2008 next Riesling Washington, 8,000 cases, 13% alc., $12

Outstanding! The Kings saw the future of Pinot Gris in Oregon, and they’ve made a commitment to Riesling in Washington by acquiring a 40-acre parcel at the spectacular Wallula

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Vineyard near Finley, Wash. Their results are a stunning as the view. Tangerine, apricot, orange marmalade and lime tones waft in the nose and come across on the palate, featuring a bright citrus entry and persistent juiciness to the finish.

Knipprath Cellars

pineapple, papaya, fresh corn, blood orange, clean linen and subtle barrel toast. It’s delicious and crisp on the entry with fruit to match the nose, particularly the pineapple and oranges, with just a bit of citrus pith in the finish for balance and to enjoy with fare such as seafood pasta, poultry or hard cheeses.

Pend d’Oreille Winery

Columbia Valley, 13% alc., $14

2007 Chardonnay

Recommended. One of Spokane’s oldest winer-

Idaho, 156 cases, 13.8% alc., $15

ies shows skill with more than just its array of tasty dessert wines. In the restored Parkwater school they blended in some Viognier to produce notes of passionfruit, bananas and butterscotch that explode and expand across the palate with early richness and lemon zest acidity.

Excellent. Stephen Meyer continues to find it

2006 Dijon Chardonnay Willamette Valley, 250 cases, 14.7% alc., $15

Recommended. Trudy Kramer is into her third

decade in the Oregon wine industry, and she continues to offer value. There’s some oak to this, but there’s also nice richness and plenty of fruit as Golden Delicious apples, Asian pear and sweetened lemon make for a balanced quaffer.

Kramer Vineyards 2007 Müller-Thurgau Yamhill-Carlton District, 240 cases, 12% alc., $10

Recommended. Inviting lychee, jasmine, starfruit,

lime and mineral aromas drop into sweet peaches, apples and more lychee flavors. It stays sweet through the midpalate before a tart finish of kumquat and more starfruit. Enjoy as a sipper or paired with Asian food.

Mercer Estates 2008 Pinot Gris Columbia Valley, 2,383 cases, 13.3% alc., $14

Outstanding! David Forsyth helped create

Hogue Cellars’ remarkable reputation for this grape, so this rating with his new Prosser, Wash., winery is no surprise. Estate grapes from Brooks and Sunnyside vineyards in the Yakima Valley were blended with some from Wallula Vineyard, and the aromas include low-hanging apples and pears, starfruit, chalkboard dust and a squirt of lemon. It’s a clean, straight-forward and balanced delivery of Honeycrisp apple and tart lemon, capped by apple peel bitterness.

Mission Hill Family Estate 2007 Five Vineyards Chardonnay Okanagan Valley, 2,000 cases, 13.5% alc., $14 CDN

Outstanding! John Simes taps into five parcels in Canada’s southern Okanagan — Naramata, Oliver and Osoyoos — for this program. While this lot spent eight months in American oak, it proved to be spot-on, resulting in enticing and exotic aromatics of sliced

W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

San Juan Vineyards 2008 Riesling Yakima Valley, 233 cases, 13.4% alc., $15

2008 Roussanne

Kramer Vineyards

rus and diesel notes. Enjoy this during a warm day on his beach downstream from Wells Dam or on a cold day next to a bowl of pho.

Recommended. Mouthwatering aromas of baked

easy to work Kirby Vicker’s fruit in the Snake River Valley, and this is one of their best collaborations. Tropical aromas include tantalizing pineapple and light oak tones. The drink is enjoyable, warm and lively with pears, apples, butter with quince in the finish. It’s charming in its diversity from aroma to farewell, and if you want an oaky chardonnay, this has more balance that most.

Pleasant Hill Cellars 2008 Constance’s Cuvée

apple, lychee, jasmine and caramel turn into flavors of dried papaya and peach with burnt caramel and canned pineapple in the finish, which leans quite dry at 0.6% residual sugar.

Shadow Mountain Vineyards 2007 Pinot Gris Willamette Valley, 529 cases, 13.5% alc., $14

Recommended. Pink Lady apples, pears and

melons — both honeydew and cantaloupe — form the baseline for a fruit-forward, yet dry, offering from this Junction City winery and vineyard that used sustainable practices.

Columbia Valley, 82 cases, 13.8% alc. $15

Vale Wine Co.

Recommended. Just two fewer percentage

2008 Riesling

points of Marsanne (27%) and Larry Lindvig could have simply labeled this as Viognier (73%), but that’s not this Western Washington winemaker’s style. Aromas of apricot preserves, orange peel, gooseberry, jasmine and Juicy Fruit gum turn into a bone-dry structure of starfruit and gooseberry with pear on the finish.

Snake River Valley, 234 cases, 13.2% alc., $14

Ridge Crest

2008 Pinot Gris

Recommended. John Danielson’s young vine-

yard is in Vale, Ore., but he shares a tasting room in Caldwell, Idaho, where he’s pouring this drink filled with apples and pear, then finished with lemon/lime citrus.

Willamette Valley Vineyards Willamette Valley, 24,000 cases, 13% alc., $15

2007 Chardonnay Columbia Valley, 225 cases, 13.5% alc., $10

Excellent. The Claar family in Pasco, Wash.,

has launched a second tier to its already affordable portfolio of wines. Here’s a lively fruit-forward Chardonnay, a product of its stainless-steel fermentation (70%). The nose is of fresh apple cider, sweet pear, a bit of citrus and crushed hazelnut. Its hallmark is the palate of pear and tangerine with bright acidity and a lemony finish that should make this an excellent foil of goat cheese with pear jelly.

Rio Vista Wines 2007 Chardonnay Columbia Valley, 200 cases, 14.3% alc., $15

Recommended. Those looking for unoaked

Chardonnay will be happy to drive to or dock at this winery on the Columbia River near Chelan, Wash. Apple, apricot, pineapple and citrus notes glide along in steely fashion, and it’s finished with hints of quinine and orange zest.

Rio Vista Wines 2007 Riesling Columbia Valley, 100 cases, 12.86% alc., $15

Recommended. John Little left this off-dry (2.7%

residual sugar) and maintained nice floral, cit-

Recommended. A lively and widely available

drink that includes Pinot Blanc and Muscat, it’s bright with yellow grapefruit and pear tones, capped with baked apple.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2008 Dry Riesling Willamette Valley, 1,025 cases, 12.5% alc., $14

Recommended. Seriously dry at 0.15% residual

sugar, it casts out classic aromas of diesel, lemons, anise and Thai basil. Nothing gets in the way of its slaty and lemony structure, and the spine-tingling acidity hangs onto the tongue. Suggested pairings include halibut with a mango-chili salsa.

Willamette Valley Vineyards 2008 Riesling Willamette Valley, 20,414 cases, 10% alc., $12

Outstanding! As members of the International Riesling Foundation, they’ve categorized this as “medium sweet” at 4.3% residual sugar. Enchantment begins with the nose of beautiful lemon, lychee, cantaloupe, dried mango and orange zest. Delicious flavors feature Texas pink grapefruit and lemon sherbet that’s backed by plenty of acidity for Asian food or as an aperitif.

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vintage musings BY BOB WOEHLER

Maryhill’s amazing first decade


aryhill Winery, voted Wine Press Northwest’s 2009 Washington Winery of the Year, celebrated its 10th vintage this fall. Few Pacific Northwest wineries have the majestic setting of Maryhill, which is perched on a towering hillside above the Columbia River with vineyards below. Mount Hood is across the river, and the historic Maryhill Museum is less then two miles away. And few business people would have taken the risk that Craig and Vicki Leuthold did to erect a destination winery in the remote, wind-swept cliffs above the Columbia just south of Goldendale. The site is about 100 miles from any populated area, including Portland to the west and the Tri-Cities to the northeast. Seattle folks have a choice of 220 miles over two mountain passes or 265 miles via Portland and the Columbia Gorge. “We were terrified on opening day. It was the most exhausted I’ve ever been in my life,” Vicki Leuthold said. It was a “build it and they will come” scenario that has paid off. They were surprised the first year when about 4,500 visitors came. But that was only the beginning. What helped was the Maryhill Museum of Art, which has long been a tourist destination. Also The Dalles and Hood River areas were drawing in tourists because of wind surfing on the Columbia. Besides making a large variety of tasty wines, the Leutholds provide a scenic place for travelers to stop and picnic and take in the view while sipping their wines. The arbor-covered deck with intertwined grape leaves is a favorite spot today for tourists to take a break on Highway 14 or Interstate 84 across the river in Oregon. The Leutholds also invested in building a 4,000-seat amphitheater just below the winery that attracts large crowds several times a year to watch artists such as Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, B.B. King and the Counting Crows. What all this means is that today Maryhill attracts 75,000 to 80,000 visitors a year. While the winery doesn’t have a restaurant, it does offer catering for special events. The Dalles, 17 miles downstream, has a growing number of restaurants and lodging offerings, and nearby Goldendale has also seen an increase in lodging and eateries. Wine production in 1999 was 4,000 cases. Today, Maryhill produces 80,000 cases, which puts it in the upper level of Washington wineries for production. Although Maryhill has changed winemakers a few times over the past decade, it has continued to improve on a wine portfolio that numbers nearly 30 different bottlings. Richard Batchelor, a New Zealander, joined Maryhill as winemaker in time for the 2009 harvest after spending several years working in California. Maryhill has received acclaim for its Sangiovese Rosé, Gewürztraminer and Zinfandel. The 2005 Cabernet Franc 102

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won a Double Platinum a year ago in Wine Press Northwest’s annual judging of the best of the best. At the 10-year celebration in late September, the Leutholds brought out some past vintages. 1999 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley: Still lively and juicy with currant and chocolate components with good acids and a finish of dried raspberries. 2000 Zinfandel, Columbia Valley: Begins with slight herbal aromas, then shows big berry flavors, including strawberries. When first released, it beat out more than 200 California Zinfandels in the West Coast Wine Competition in 2002. 2001 Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley:

This reveals aromas and flavors of oak, spices and classic black currants. 2002 Proprietor’s Reserve Zinfandel, Columbia Valley: This opens with aromas of sweet herbs, followed by long, juicy flavors of plums and cherries. 2003 Fort Rock Red, Columbia Valley: This precursor to the wildly popular Winemaker’s Red is smooth, lean and food friendly with cherries and good acids. 2004 Proprietor’s Reserve Syrah, Columbia Valley: Some smoke and bacon aromas yield to rich milk chocolate-covered cherries. 2005 Proprietor’s Reserve Grenache, Columbia Valley: Floral aromas and dried cranberry flavors. 2006 Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley: Wow! Smooth and silky with concentrated blackberry aromas. Bright tannins complement the blackberry jam flavors. Also tasted were a select number of current releases. 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Barbera, Columbia Valley, $24: Ripe plum flavors are set up by candied fruit aromas. 2007 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $14: Creamy and ripe, it’s showing green apples and citrus. 2008 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $14: A classic picnic wine for out on the Maryhill deck, it’s juicy with crisp cherry and cranberry aromas and flavors. A top award-winning wine. 2008 Viognier, Columbia Valley, $15: Fragrant aromas of jasmine and Honeycrisp apple flavors. 2005 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $18: Smooth and mellow showing oak, berries and dark chocolate. 2005 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $18: Lively and spicy cinnamon and black cherries. 2007 Winemaker’s Red, Columbia Valley, $14: A classic Bordeauxstyle blend that gives rich boysenberry flavors with an inviting oak entry. 2006 Zinfandel, Columbia Valley, $22: This is a dandy Zin and is so enjoyable with big spice and berry flavors, including caramel and plums, and a lingering finish. BOB WOEHLER is Wine Press Northwest’s tasting editor. He has been writing about Northwest wine since 1976. W I N E P R E S S N W. C O M

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Wine Press Northwest Winter 2009/10  

Winter issue of Wine Press Northwest, featuring a Wine Lover's Guide to Portland, the results of our 10th annual Platinum Judging, a blind j...

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