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Northwest WINERY OF THE YEAR

Plus, winners from Oregon, Washington and Idaho

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WINE PRESS

Vol. 17, No. 1

Spring 2014

NORTHWEST Feat u res

D e partme nts

14 Stoller Family Estate

6 Wine Knows

Our 2014 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year.

18 Regional Wineries of the Year

Discover which wineries in Oregon, Washington and Idaho have won awards this year.

30 72 Hours in the Walla Walla Valley

A guide for wine tourists.

40 Rhône Tasting Results

Results and tasting notes for 125 of the best Rhône-style blends and varietal wines.

62 Match Makers

Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen adds spice to Walla Walla, Wa dining (Recipes and wine pairings).

Cover Story

Northwest Winery of the Year On the cover: Stoller Family Estate winemaker Melissa Burr (photo by Carolyn Wells-Kramer) and the Stoller vineyard in the autumn (photo by Leti Catoira-Rice, courtesy of Stoller Estate). On this page: Sun sets on the Stoller Estate tasting room in Dayton, Oregon (photo by Mike Haverkate, courtesy of Stoller Family Estate).

Washington must keep growing

8 A Distant Perspective Grenache: the Rhone’s other great red

10 Swirl, Sniff & Sip Wineries find prosperity in numbers

12 Nom de Vine: Stories Behind Wine Names Dunham Cellars Lewis Vineyard

58 Northwest Wine Events 70 Grapes of Roth Take my advice; don’t take my advice


WINE PRESS NORTHWEST

Win e Pre ss Northwest is fo r th o s e w i th a n i nt e re s t i n wine — from th e n o vi c e to th e v et e ran . We focus on Wa s h i n gto n , O re go n a n d I d ah o’s talented win e ma ke rs a n d th e w in e rie s , vintners and res ta u ra n ts th a t sh owcas e Northwest win e s . We a re de di c a te d to all who savor the f ru i ts o f th e i r l a bo r. E di tor an d P u blish er: Greg g McConnell 5 0 9-582-1 4 4 3 gm ccon n ell@winepressnw. c o m C ontr i b utor: Andy Perdu e C ontr i b utor: Eric D eger ma n Tasti ng pa n el: D ick Bou s h e y, S e a n Ha i l s , Greg g McConnell, Andy Pe rdu e , Ke n R ob ertson, D ave Se a ve r, Heat h er Unwin, Frank Ro th M aste r fa cilit a t or: Ha n k S a u e r G r ap hi c design er: Mis ty B a ke r C ol umnists: Jon Bauer, Da n B e rge r, Ke n R ob ertson, Cok e Ro th , An dy Pe rdu e C ontr i b ut in g ph ot ograph er s : Caroly n Wells- Kramer, C WK Ph o to gra ph y, Colb y D. Kuschatk a, cdki ma gi n g. c o m In me mo ria m: Bob Woe h l e r A d ve r ti s in g sa les: Carol Perk ins, 5 0 9 - 5 8 2 -1 4 3 8 E -m ail: cperk ins@winepre s s n w. c o m To sub scribe: Subscrip ti o n s c o s t $ 2 0 U. S . per y ear for four issues. Ma i l c h e c k, mo n e y o rd e r or c redit card num be r a n d e x pi ra ti o n dat e t o address below or s u bs c ri be s e c u re l y o n ou r web site www.win e pre s s n w. c o m. S ub s crip tions and custome r s e r vi c e : 8 0 0-538-5 6 1 9 e -m ail: info@winepressn w. c o m L ette r s t o th e editor: We e n c o u ra ge you r t h oughts and comme n ts a bo u t o u r pu b licat io n and about No rth w e s t w i n e s i n gen e ral. Write to us at th e a ddre s s be l o w. Fre e w e ekly n ewslet ter : S i gn u p fo r o u r f ree Pacific Northwest W i n e o f th e We e k e -m ail n ewsletter at winepre s s n w. c o m A d d r e ss: 3 3 3 W. Canal D rive Ke n n e w ick , WA 9 9 3 3 6 © 2014 W ine Press North w e s t A Tri-C ity Herald publica ti o n

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the wine knows BY ANDY PERDUE

Washington must keep growing

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ne of the most-often-asked questions I hear is about the sustainability of the growth of Washington’s wine industry. Are there too many wineries and too many grapes? How much bigger can we get? Washington isn’t nearly big enough. Here’s one of many reasons why: Washington has pretty much run out of red wine grapes, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In mid-December, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates announced that it would be taking the Columbia Crest Two Vines tier (pretty much its lowest-priced Washington wine) and turning it into its own brand. That isn’t a big deal. But this is what is: The new Two Vines label includes a quarter-million cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made from grapes grown in California’s Central Valley. There are two reasons for this. The first is that Washington red wine grapes are too valuable to sell for $6 per bottle, so a lot of the production that was going into Two Vines now will move into the midpriced categories of Columbia Crest Grand Estates and H3 (and likely other brands, such as 14 Hands). The second reason is that Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has, essentially, run out of red wine grapes in Washington. Kari Leitch, vice president of communications for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates told me this: “All of our sourcing across the portfolio is tapped.” Ste. Michelle Wine Estates owns the state’s three largest wineries: Chateau Ste. Michelle (2.7 million cases annually), Columbia Crest (1.7 million) and 14 Hands (1 million-plus). It uses two out of every three wine grapes grown in Washington state. And now it’s looking to California out of necessity for its lower-tier wines. This is the loudest signal that the Washington wine industry is nowhere near big enough.

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In 2012, an economic report came out showing the Washington wine industry — the nation’s second-largest wine-producing state — is worth $8.6 billion per year to this state. When that report was released, Ste. Michelle CEO Ted Baseler told me that a crisis is looming, that within five years, the American wine industry won’t have enough grapes to slake the thirst of the wine-drinking public. America, by the way, is the world’s largest wine-drinking country. “As an industry, we need more vineyards,” he said. Last year, Washington topped 50,000 acres of wine grapes. How much more do we need? Baseler said another 10,000 acres “would be a nice start. If there are not substantial amounts of vines planted in California, Oregon and Washington in the next five years, there will be a shortage of premium grapes.” Where will these vineyards go? For the most part, there are two primary regions of opportunity: the Horse Heaven Hills and the Wahluke Slope. Both are warm, and both have abundant space. The Horse Heaven Hills, a 570,000-acre swath of land south of the Yakima Valley and the Tri-Cities, is turning out to be the sweet spot for premium Cabernet Sauvignon. Ste. Michelle began planting grapes there in the 1970s and is well aware of the opportunity. Indeed, since 2009, Horse Heaven Hills acreage has grown from 9,053 to 11,731. That’s a 30 percent increase in five years. Of that, Cabernet Sauvignon has gone from 2,917 acres to 4,291 — a 47 percent increase in Cab alone. These days, vines rarely go into the ground without a contract, and I can guarantee you that most of these new vineyards are being planted for Ste. Michelle. The Wahluke Slope is smaller — 81,000 acres in size — and has fewer acres (more than 6,000), but it is as warm as Red Moun-

tain, the land is less expensive, and water is reasonably plentiful. It is perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and other red grapes. These two areas fuel the Washington wine industry’s engine. Another reason to believe Washington is far from large enough is market share. Out of every 100 bottles of wine purchased in Washington, only about 40 are made in Washington. In other words, Washington residents buy way more wine from outside of our region than from inside. The opposite is true in California, which enjoys a 70 percent market share. In France, Italy, Germany and other traditional wine-producing countries, market share is closer to 100 percent: The French primarily drink French wine. Washington will never achieve 100 percent market share. For one thing, it doesn’t make jug wine (it can’t because the grapes cost too much to grow here). For another, enjoying a diversity of wine from around the world is healthy. We don’t want a wine monoculture. But a market share of 60 to 70 percent is more than reasonable, and that means Washington can easily grow by 50 percent just to supply in-state needs. More vineyards, more winemakers, more wine. It needs to happen, and it will.  Andy Perdue is a wine journalist, author and judge. Learn more about wine at www. greatnorthwestwine.com.

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a distant perspective BY DAN BERGER

Grenache: the Rhône’s other great red

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he conventional way of thinking about the Rhône Valley and its red wines is that Syrah is king. That surely is evident from the fact that the best wines from the northern Rhône are wines like Hermitage and Cote-Rotie – powerful statements of how good Syrah can be. At their best, these are monumental wines and, in the hands of inspired growers and wine makers, create long-lived wines that rival the best aged reds in the world. I have even heard Bordeaux lovers, with ample cellars, grudgingly mumble niceties for older Rhônes – though they wouldn’t even recognize the existence of Burgundy. Rhône lovers usually suggest that Syrah must be the greatest grape of them all in the Rhône, notably since French law which permits some 21 other grape varieties to exist, and be used in blends. So important is Syrah, they say, that the southern Rhône wines also typically have Syrah in them. As a wine lover who prefers the Rhône’s “other” great red grape, I take offense to such solipsistic thinking. Sure, Syrah is a nice grape and all that, but real wine lovers understand Grenache to be the secret to great Rhône blends. I always fall back to my standard question of Rhône lovers: What makes you people so high and mighty about Syrah when you know darn well that when it’s young, Syrahs are hard as nails and pretty undrinkable. Or they are so loaded with funky aromas that they are off-putting? And why do you love such wines even though when they are young, they are one-dimensional and hard to wade through their tannins? And that to enjoy them you have to wait a decade or more? Then I bring up the grandeur of the southern Rhône red blends, like Chateauneuf-duPape. These wines do not require as much aging (some call for almost no aging at all). Most taste pretty darn good soon after release, and generally they are less expensive.

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The northern Rhône lovers shoot back that Grenache, the dominant grape in the southern region, isn’t anywhere near as noble as is Syrah. My clever rejoinder: “Oh, yeah? Sez who?” In fact, Grenache is, in some ways, just as noble a grape as any in the world. A magnificent blender, it also delivers superb flavors on its own, and has in its genetic makeup the ability to make startlingly fine rose wines, a medium weight red, a dark and powerful wine (from certain regions), and has been successfully used in port-style dessert wines. About 15 years ago, when the red Rhône revolution was just heating up in California, I attended a Rhône Rangers walk-around tasting and decided a good story to pursue was to find out which of the blends had Grenache in them. A handful of wineries said they used as much Grenache as they could get, and those who didn’t use the grape all asked me if I knew where they could get some! There has historically been a shortage of Grenache, and what keeps many growers from planting it are a series of drawbacks that make it sound risky. And the tale gets complicated with technical issues. For one thing, many growers say they don’t like the risk of planting a grape for which demand isn’t obvious and guaranteed. Nor do they want to plant a grape whose potential revenue may be low (on a per-ton basis). The fact that it is an amazingly prolific grower is a false sign of easy profits. That’s because Grenache may well give huge crops, but at those levels, color is nearly non-existent, with the result that red wine isn’t a likely outcome. So to get good color and flavor, the grower has to be ruthless in hedging and green thinning. Smaller crops are better than huge ones. Moreover, the grape doesn’t yield its classic flavors until it has been on the vine a lot longer than other grapes, which makes

it a relatively late-harvester, and that could conflict with the harvest of other late-arriving grapes like Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Wineries hate a lot of different grapes all coming into the winery at the same time. All of which leads us to the inevitable conclusion that a good quality Grenache (let alone a great one) likely will have upwards of 15% alcohol. To avoid this, many wine makers resort to alcohol-reduction techniques such as reserve osmosis or evaporative perstraction (told you this would be complicated). And finally a Grenache with its lovely floral flavors and aromas also might be too light for wineries to charge a lot for, so a few such wines are darkened with the addition of Syrah or Petite Sirah, which actually could have the effect of changing the aroma in a negative way. All these complicated machinations for a grape variety that most consumers do not care about? Is it worth it for the wineries? Let’s go back to what I heard at the Rhône Rangers’ tasting 15 years ago, when every wine maker who was asked about Grenache and who replied that he or she didn’t use it also asked where they could get some. Wine makers know the benefits of Grenache, how it almost always helps Syrah. They also know how Grenache has aromas and flavors that no other grape can deliver. Sure, Syrah is an important grape. Most people know that. But wine makers who are in the know would probably tell you, if they were truthful, that for excitement and personality, Grenache is the answer.  Dan Berger is a nationally renowned wine writer who lives in Santa Rosa, Calif. He publishes a weekly column Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences (VintageExperiences. com).

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swirl, sniff & sip BY KEN ROBERTSON

Wineries find prosperity in numbers

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hen my wife and I started tasting wine seriously about 20 years ago, we usually had to travel for miles across Eastern Washington to visit five or six wineries. Now in Woodinville, there are dozens. What’s happened? Several factors are at work in the Northwest. First, our region is creating new wineries by the score every year. When I came to the Tri-Cities in 1976, there were six bonded wineries in Washington. Now there are more than 690, not counting second- and thirdlabel wines made by the same winery. And frankly, that number is likely out of date, since it was calculated early this year. At the recent Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers convention, one of the industry folks I talked with said the total has passed 700. Oregon’s growth has been almost as rapid. In 1976, that state had 11 wineries. Now there are about 550, with the largest number in the Willamette Valley west of Interstate 5. In both states, setting a firm count is futile, because new wineries open every week or two. Idaho and British Columbia haven’t seen such explosive growth, but both are still developing vineyards and other infrastructure needed to support more growth. This rapid growth has naturally created clusters of wineries in grape-growing regions, but it’s not the sole factor. In Washington’s Walla Walla County, you can hardly drive a few miles in the countryside or walk a few blocks in downtown Walla Walla without encountering several wineries. It’s become the highly touted center of the Northwest’s thriving wine industry, even though the Pinot Noir fanatics in the Willamette might disagree. This county with a population of fewer than 60,000 is home to more than 110 wineries. That’s because Walla Walla wines are perceived to be among the world’s finest and thus can command the highest prices. Most of the grapes crushed each fall in the county come from elsewhere, but perception is what counts here.

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Wine buffs who spend a day or two touring the wineries clustered at the Walla Walla airport will find plenty to like at the 20-plus wineries, which include highly rated Dunham Cellars and Five Star Cellars. The airport property attracted them by offering inexpensive facilities, and its wineries have prospered because as a group they attract far more visitors than any single one could individually. The Northwest’s premier “wine park,” though, is Woodinville, which about 70 wineries call home and where dozens more have opened tasting rooms that often draw larger crowds than their wine-making facilities and tasting rooms in Eastern Washington. Seattle, as a major population center whose residents and visitors enjoy fine wine and food, created the possibility for nearby Woodinville’s explosive growth. It’s the same principle fast-food restaurants discovered a few decades ago: Build together at a busy intersection or highway exit, and crowds will come. Woodinville was the earliest, anchored by Chateau Ste. Michelle and Associated Vintners, which later became Columbia Winery. Another early, although smaller cluster, was created about 30 years ago in southwest Richland, Wash., when Barnard Griffin, Bookwalter and Tagaris began building on Tulip Lane, a street made famous by Barnard Griffin’s wine label. All three have prospered by offering a different selection of wines, food and entertainment. Prosser, Wash., also is home to a winery park with some of its tenants in small incubator-type tasting rooms and sharing winemaking facilities. The cluster of wineries just off Interstate 82 includes such longtime Yakima Valley labels as Apex and Thurston Wolfe, plus relative newcomers Coyote Canyon, Millbrandt Cellars and Airfield Estates. Such successes naturally are prompting plans for similar developments. In the TriCities, for example, the Port of Kennewick and City of Kennewick are partnering to create a similar facility along the Columbia River just inland from the port’s successful Clover

Island redevelopment that includes a hotel, restaurants and brew pub. An added attraction for wineries that locate there will be a city- and port-funded effluent treatment system. The evidence that clustering is working well in the wine industry likely will put several more plans on drawing boards across the Northwest. It’s an exciting concept for wineries and can foster related businesses, attract more wine tourists and pump money into existing hotels, restaurants and specialty shops. And cities, counties and ports see a potential for more tax dollars. Wine words: Batonnage and sur lie It’s spring, so it must be time for another trip down the linguistic lane that leads to France. So, imagine you’ve made a perfectly lovely Chardonnay that’s been resting in its oak barrels for a time, but some little thing just seems to be lacking. A thoughtful sip after extracting a sample from the bonde (bunghole), and but of course! It’s time for a little batonnage (using a steel rod with a paddle-shaped end, now usually driven by an electric drill) to stir up the lees — alias barrel sediment, which contains fine particles of dormant, dying or dead yeast. Chardonnay left to age sur lie, with a little judicious stirring, can develop an amazing toasty and hazel nut-like flavor and aroma. The process also can help create a creaminess and freshness and soften the oak flavors from the barrel. If done well, the result is a Chardonnay that might compare to the famed wines of Montrachet. In sparkling wine, or Champagne, if the wine is made in that region of France, sur lie aging, minus the batonnage and plus riddling, helps create the toasty, yeasty aromas that sparkling wine buffs adore. Sur lie aging also is commonly used in Muscadet wines of the Loire Valley to add the same complexities to that region’s wines made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes. Ken Robertson, the retired editor of the Tri-City Herald, has been sipping Northwest wines and writing about them since 1976.

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wi ne c o untry: pro s se r

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nom de vine

Nom de vine: Stories behind wine names

Dunham Cellars Lewis Vineyard By Jon Bauer

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inemakers, of course, are responsible for the art that goes in the bottle, but few create the art that goes on the bottle. From its start in the late ‘90s, Dunham Cellar’s Lewis Vineyard wines have featured the paintings of co-founder and winemaker Eric Dunham. Fittingly, the interest in painting grew out of a appreciation for wine and camaraderie. “I’d get together with friends who were painters and musicians. The musicians would bring their instruments and the painters would bring their paints,” Dunham said. It didn’t take much coaxing, or much wine, for Dunham to pick up a paintbrush. Dunham grew up around wine. His father, Mike, an insurance salesman, would have wine at the dinner table and enjoyed entertaining friends, sometimes with a young Eric dressed in a tux and serving guests. After four years in the Navy and with a college degree in irrigation and fluid dynamics, Jeff Dunham found himself in a father-son conversation. “Dad and I were on a rained-out fishing trip, and he asked me what I was going to do, and I told him I wanted to make wine,” he said. Dunham learned his craft at two of the bigger names in Washington winemaking in the ‘90s: He interned for seven months at Hogue Cellars, then landed a job at L’Ecole No. 41 as assistant winemaker under L’Ecole’s Marty Clubb. He progressed to making small lots of his own wine under the Dunham Cellars name, releasing a 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon in 1997, and then launching the winery in 1999 in a World War II-era hangar at the Walla Walla airport with the help of his family. His father and fishing partner joined him as co-founder. Mike Dunham died last May, but not without taking part in his son’s success. “It was his dream come true,” he said. While the winery gets fruit from Walla Walla, Columbia and Yakima valleys, Dunham’s paintings are used on bottles of wine from the winery’s Lewis Estate Vineyard in the foothills of the Columbia Valley’s Rattlesnake Ridge. When it came time to design a label Dunham had plenty of talented friends he could have asked for artwork, “but I didn’t want to open that Pandora’s box” of favoring one friend’s work over another. So Dunham put his own painting on a bottle of Syrah. “We still have the painting hanging in the winery,” he said. Dunham’s paintings are abstract and impressionistic oils. Dunham doesn’t try to explain his art. Or can’t. “I’ll have people ask me what I was trying to say. Shoot, if I know. ‘I think I’ll paint;’ that’s what I was thinking,” he said. Dunham paints when he can find time. It’s an avocation that’s complementary to his winemaking.

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Aquatic Gardens

••• Dunham Cellars

www.dunhamcellars.com 150 E. Boeing Ave., Walla Walla, WA 99362 509-529-4685

“They’re a little different. Painting’s more relaxing. Winemaking can be relaxing at times, but it takes more baby-sitting,” he said. And just as the art helps sell the wine, the wine has helped sell some of the paintings to friends and others who appreciate the pairing of two creative pursuits. Two decades later, Dunham has lost count of how many paintings have graced the Lewis Vineyard label. Starting this spring, three more releases, 400 cases each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot will be released through the winery, restaurants, wine shops and Dunham’s wine club. Does Dunham wonder how his life would be different if, at one of those parties, he picked up a guitar rather than a paintbrush? “My pace of life would be a lot faster.”  Jon Bauer is Wine Press Northwest’s Salish Sea correspondent. The longtime newspaperman lives near La Conner, Wash

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Pac i f i c N orthw es t

Winer y of the Year

D ay to n , Or e g o n story by andy perdue // photos by Carolyn Wells-Kramer

Stoller Vineyard manager Rob Schultz and head winemaker Melissa Burr


winery of the year

AWARDS

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n just two decades, a former turkey farm has become one of the finest vineyards in Oregon and home to an exciting winery rooted to the land and a model for sustainability. Bill Stoller has been involved in the Oregon wine industry for more than a quarter-century. He began planting his estate vineyard in the early 1990s, launched Stoller Family Estate less than 2 decades later and oversees our Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year for 2014. Stoller was born on the farm and grew up nearby. He has fond memories of the land his father and uncle purchased in 1943. “I was very attached to this all throughout my early years,” he said. “I played and grew up here. Now I work and take care of these hills.” Stoller and his wife, Cathy, bought the land from his cousin in 1993, the same year they became co-owners of Chehalem Winery with founder Harry PetersonNedry. In 2001, they launched Stoller Family Estate, with Peterson-Nedry mak-

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ing the first two vintages. In 2003, Melissa Burr came to Stoller as head winemaker. She made the next two vintages at Chehalem while helping to design the state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly building at the vineyard, where crush took place in 2005. Since then, Stoller has steadily increased production from a few hundred cases to nearly 17,000 today. And as the vines have aged and Burr, 38, has matured as a winemaker, Stoller wines have earned a reputation as some of the best in Oregon. Burr, who grew up not far away in Salem, went to Mount Hood Community College, then Portland State University, where she earned a bachelor of science with the intention of getting into naturopathic medicine. But life turned toward wine when her in-laws purchased an old vineyard near the Columbia Gorge town

of White Salmon, Wash. She and her husband became more interested in wine, and she decided to make that her passion and vocation. After learning more about fermentation science at Oregon State University and taking enology classes at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Burr landed a harvest internship in 2001 at Cooper Mountain Vineyards in Beaverton. She figured it would be a nice, easy way to gain some hands-on knowledge of the business. Little did she know. A few days before harvest began, Cooper’s winemaker quit, and Burr suddenly was in charge of making about 16,000 cases of wine on her own. “I was able to get hands-on everything!” she said with a smile. “Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay. It was a great experience.”

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AWARDS

winery of the year

Thanks to consulting winemaker Rich Cushman — owner of Viento Wines in Hood River — Burr got through that first harvest relatively unscathed. She stayed on at Cooper through the 2002 vintage before being lured to Stoller. During her tenure, the vineyard has expanded to 190 acres of vines, with about 30 more acres to be planted in the next few years. Burr keeps half for her production, and the rest of the fruit goes to such top wineries as Chehalem, Argyle, Adelsheim and Boedecker.

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With 10 harvests at Stoller behind her, Burr sees her winemaking style maturing with the vineyard. “When I started, the vines were 10 years younger,” she said. “Now I am seeing the maturity and complexity of our wines, thanks to these older vines. I feel fortunate to have been at the same place for 10 years. You only get one vintage per year, and you build on that. I’m confident in my winemaking, and now I can keep progressing and pushing the wines to the next level.” Stoller, who co-founded Express

Employment Professionals in 1983 and also owns Xenium, a human resources outsourcing company, brought in Gary Mortensen in early 2012 to run his winery in the newly created position of president. Mortensen had spent more than a decade in the wine industry as vice president of Sokol Blosser, a two-generation winery just two miles from Stoller. There, Mortensen came up with a new wine for owner Susan Sokol Blosser that would change everything. In fact, it was downright revolutionary. Mortensen, a certified Beatles fan, called the blend of nine grapes “Evolution No. 9” — naming it for the song “Revolution 9” on The Beatles’ White Album. “It was cool because the baby boomers got it and the gen-x’ers got it,” he said. “The label was covered with cryptic White Album references. We dropped the “R” because we didn’t want to get sued by Yoko Ono.” Mortensen left Sokol Blosser in 1999 and went into the tech startup world and also got into documentary filmmaking. He produced “This is War: Memories of Iraq” and “Shepherds of Helmand,” both about Oregonians who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he missed the wine industry and was pining to return when he heard Stoller was looking for a leader. Mortensen was the final major piece of a team that is taking the winery to incredible heights. Running the vineyard operation is Rob Schultz, who came to Stoller in 2011. “Rob is a total character,” Mortensen said. “He is one of the most engaging people, and he takes great pride in being a farmer. He calls himself a wine farmer and loves the land. The maverick in him gives us the fruit we need.” Mortensen, always quick to make a Beatles reference, sees parallels with his winemaker and vineyard manager. “They’re like Lennon and McCartney writing a song,” he said. “There’s a healthy tension. These two come at it from different perspectives, and that’s why we’re getting such good fruit. They’re always respectful, but it’s fun to watch them. The bottom line is everybody here wants to make the best wine.” WINEPRESSNW.COM


winery of the year

Stoller, Burr and Mortensen are quick to praise Noah Bieszczad, their assistant winemaker for the past seven years. “Noah is one of our unsung heroes,” Stoller said. “He’s responsible for production and bottling, and he deserves a lot of credit for our quality.” Mortensen agrees and is excited with the direction the winery is going. “This team is so committed,” he said. “It’s the greatest team I’ve worked with, regardless of industry. They’re tremendous from top to bottom, a great organization.” Equally important is the winery’s facilities. The winemaking building is certified LEED gold, meaning it is sustainably built and environmentally friendly. The new tasting room is equally impressive. Thanks to being run 100 percent on solar power in the oft-cloudy Willamette Valley, the tasting room is energy neutral. “I’ve always had the belief that when you build something, you build it sustainably,” Stoller said. “It starts with the land, which you want taken care of for centuries to

come, and you want to make the buildings part of the land.” His deep respect for this land drives Stoller to continued excellence. His new tasting room offers a 180-degree view that includes Mount Hood and the Willamette Valley to the west, but the focus is on the vineyards. “When you see our land, it’s a rolling, undulating hill,” he said. “It puts you in a trance. It’s mesmerizing to just sit and look at. It’s a great portrait that has been there all along. All we had to do was put vines on it.” One person missing from the team today is Cathy Stoller. In late 2011, she tragically died after a fall in their home. “She will be remembered by everyone for the fun things she did with the winery and our people,” said Stoller, his voice softening as he thought about his wife and longtime partner. Burr honors her memory with Cathy’s Pinot Noir, a $100 bottle that is distinctively different from her other wines.

Cathy’s Pinot Noir combines elegance and power, highlighting earthy — dare we say “Burgundian” — notes over the high-toned red fruit more typical of Dundee Hills reds. “I always feel a bit of pressure when making Cathy’s wine,” Burr said. “I don’t want to be too heavy-handed, but I want it to be focused. I know in my head what I want in the glass.” Her efforts paid off last year, when the 2010 Cathy’s Pinot Noir earned best-inclass at the inaugural Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, held at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River. And Burr’s 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir, which won gold at the same judging, ranked No. 6 in The Seattle Times’ top 50 Northwest wines of 2013 and No. 11 in Great Northwest Wine’s top 100 list. The 2009 SV Pinot Noir earned a double gold in the 2013 Great Northwest Wine Competition. Mortensen expects no less. “When you have 100 percent estate fruit, that means we control everything from pruning to bottling,” he said. “To me, that leads to the highest level of quality.” That quality, he reiterated, starts at the top. “Bill Stoller is one of the most welcoming people I’ve ever met,” he said. “We put ‘Family Estate’ on the label because that’s important to Bill. He makes everyone feel like family.” Burr could not agree more. “A big reason I’m here is because we all feel like we’re part of the family, not just employees. I’ve been really grateful for that.” e  Andy Perdue is a wine journalist, author and inter-

national judge. Find out more at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

Visiting Stoller Family Estate

Past Pacific Northwest Wineries of the Year

16161 N.E. McDougall Road, Dayton, Ore. 503-864-3404 www.stollerfamilyestate.com Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

2013: Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, Wash. 2012: Thurston Wolfe, Prosser, Wash. 2011: Zerba Cellars, Milton-Freewater, Ore. 2010: Vin du Lac, Chelan, Wash. 2009: Wild Goose Vineyards, Okanagan Falls, B.C. 2008: Dunham Cellars, Walla Walla, Wash.

How the Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year is chosen The Winery of the Year is selected based on longevity, quality, reputation, industry involvement, facilities and other considerations. A winery may win the award once.

WINEPRESSN W .C O M

AWARDS

2007: Elk Cove Vineyards, Gaston, Ore. 2006: Barnard Griffin: Richland, Wash. 2005: Ken Wright Cellars: Carlton, Ore. 2004: L’Ecole No. 41, Lowden, Wash. 2003: Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, Summerland, B.C. 2002: Columbia Crest, Paterson, Wash.

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winery of the year

Oregon

Winery Year of the

Harry Peterson-Nedry, Founder/Senior Winemaker and Wynne Petterson-Nedry, Winemaker. P hoto by Caroly n W ells- Kramer, CW k Photograph y

Chehalam N e w b e r g, OR

P

erhaps the best barometer of the Willamette Valley wine industry is the growing number of secondgeneration winemakers successfully taking the lead in the family business. At Chehalem Wines, the only question is how the erudite Harry Peterson-Nedry, 66, wants to describe the transition of his daughter, Wynne, into his role as head winemaker. “I’ve done succession plans for people in other industries, and we haven’t formally 18

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created one,” he said. “Mine was more of an assumption if it was Wynne’s desire and if she saw the benefits.” Handing off the baton at their 20,000-case winery has been a success. Chehalem Wines continues to burnish its reputation as one the Pacific Northwest’s elite producers of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling, and its selection as Wine Press Northwest’s 2014 Oregon Winery of the Year was solidified with the 2013 Platinum Competition. Chehalem’s 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir from Ribbon Ridge was voted the top Pinot Noir in the year-end judging, and the 2010 Ian’s

Reserve Chardonnay also received a Platinum. And the Chehalem 2012 Three Vineyard Riesling — Wynne’s first crush as head winemaker — earned best of class at the 2013 Great Northwest Wine Invitational. “2012 was the most perfect vintage I could have started with,” Wynne said. “It was warm and easy. The fruit was beautiful, and the timing of harvest was great. Now 2013 let me put a few of my problem-solving

••• Chehalam

www.chehalemwines.com 106 S Center Street • Newberg, OR 97132 (503) 538-4700 WINEPRESSNW.COM


winery of the year pieces to work. It was more fun and more of a challenge, which I like.” Few winemakers in the Pacific Northwest have displayed the vision her father has over the years. “If you are a chemist who grew up on a farm and love wine, and you find yourself in an area that has a nascent wine industry that you can get involved in, there’s plenty to do,” he said. “In the late ‘70s, it seemed the right thing to do.” He was the first to plant on Ribbon Ridge, the smallest American Viticultural Area in the Pacific Northwest. “It was naiveté at its best,” he said of the 55-acre Ridgecrest Vineyard, which he planted in 1980 soon after Wynne’s birth. “Dick Erath’s original vineyard was not far from there, and that was the only reference we had to the quality of what might be there. Everything else was luck.” Not long after, Peterson-Nedry struck up a friendship and partnership with Bill and Cathy Stoller. In 1993, Peterson-Nedry shared expertise on planting the Stollers’ 175-acre vineyard and designing their Dundee Hills winery. “I think the Stoller property is the best

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Chardonnay vineyard in the state,” he said. In 1995, Chehalem took over Corral Creek Vineyard’s 32 acres of vines and moved the winemaking to Newberg. Peterson-Nedry also has been an industry leader in the screwcap movement. His research of alternative closures began in 1994 and continues. Their first vintage using Stelvins was 2003, and he moved all his wines under threads in 2008. “We can inundate you with lots of data, but our feeling about natural cork is that we wish it would work better than it does,” he said. Peterson-Nedry also is leading the charge for kegs at restaurants and wine shops in Oregon, which goes beyond Chehalem’s support of carbon-neutral and Salmon Safe practices. “I think it’s again a new way of turning people onto wine and allowing people to show that it’s valid as a day-to-day beverage rather than a special event beverage,” he said. Chehalem also is the third second-generation winery to receive one of Wine Press Northwest’s top awards, following in the footsteps of Elk Cove Vineyards and Ponzi Vineyards, but Wynne’s full-time entry into the cellar took time.

AWARDS

She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania with a chemistry degree and worked in upstate New York for a pharmaceutical firm. The money was good, but the lifestyle was not. “Their hot wings are good, and I did learn how to drive in the snow,” she said wryly. So the pull of the winery grew. She went to University of California-Davis, where she earned a master’s in enology and went to work for her dad full time in 2009. Strangely, it was destiny — not design — that led Harry to Oregon. “I originally came to the West Coast after my first stint in the industry, and I came out here to use another degree that I had — English — with the intention of writing the great American novel. I spent my savings living in a cabin in the mountains near Seattle and needed to go back to earning a living the technical way, which led me to Portland.” And now the next chapter of Chehalem Wines’ great story is being written. e — By Eric Degerman

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winery to watch

Oregon

Winery Watch to

Winemaker Leah Jorgensen P hoto by Josh Chang

L e ah Jor g e n s e n C e lla r s P o r t l a n d, OR

L

eah Jorgensen worked the U.S. wine industry on both coasts and lived in the Willamette Valley long enough to realize Oregon doesn’t need another boutique Pinot Noir producer. So the spirited assistant coach for Jesuit High School’s girls lacrosse team is taking a shot at making Cabernet Franc the way she wants — in the style of France’s Loire Valley. “Most of the vineyards in the United States plant Cabernet Franc so that it is a blending grape, but it has been a rock star in the Loire Valley,” Jorgensen said. “That is the style of Cabernet Franc I want. I’m not interested in one-dimensional bell pepper, stewed tomato or real heavy wines.” This “Loiregonian” turned heads last year with her Leah Jorgensen Cellars 2012 Tour Rain Vin Rouge, a lithesome blend of twothirds Cabernet Franc and one-third Gamay Noir that’s filled with fresh strawberries, raspberries, cherries and finesse. Production topped out a 86 cases, yet it ranked No. 33 on The Seattle Times’ Top 50 Northwest Wines of 2013 and begins to explain why Leah Jorgensen Cellars is Wine Press Northwest’s Oregon Winery to Watch for 2014. 20

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“I’m still new at this in terms of production,” Jorgensen said. “To me, this is not second nature. It’s even weird for me to call myself a winemaker.” And yet her career in wine comes with as many layers as her 2012 Flat Track Cabernet Franc, a tiny, 40-case production the selfdescribed tomboy uses to help support the Rose City Rollers roller derby. Soon after graduating from Sweet Briar College in Virginia, she managed Chrysalis Vineyards near Washington, D.C., before working for a distributor in the nation’s capital. Her portfolio featured wines of the Loire Valley, and her main customers were restaurants and embassies. Ironically, her sales of Pinot Noir made by Domaine Drouhin prompted the famed producer to invite Jorgensen to Oregon Pinot Camp in 2004. Her life changed forever, and her father — who grew up on a farm near Eugene — could understand. “It took three hours before I called my parents and said, ‘I’m moving to Oregon,’ ” Jorgensen said. Erath Winery hired her immediately for sales and marketing, and she worked for

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates before joining Adelsheim Vineyard. By 2009, she’d given up full-time employment to study enology at the Northwest Viticulture Center in Salem. Along the way she got harvest and cellar work, first at Anne Amie Vineyards and then at Shea Wine Cellars with Drew Voit, who left the famed Yamhill producer to focus on his Harper Voit wines at the newly re-occupied Beacon Hill Estate winery in Gaston. It is co-leased by a few friends and is where Leah Jorgensen Cellars wines are made. “I do want people to know these wines were crafted by a woman,” she said. “I’’m proud of that.” The third wine from her commercial second vintage was the 2012 Mae’s Vineyard Blanc de Cabernet Franc from the Applegate Valley, a 40-case white expression of Cab Franc that Jorgensen believes breaks ground in the United States. The vineyard is owned and operated by Rogue Valley winemaker Herb Quady, and they have plans to develop a block of Chenin Blanc — arguably the Loire Valley’s most famous variety. “I am 100 percent committed to Cab Franc,” she said. “I want to make it as cherished in Oregon as Pinot Noir, but I don’t know if that’s possible.” This year, Leah Jorgensen Cellars will grow beyond 400 cases. The wines are available at the Beacon Hill facility by appointment only, but she can be found three nights a week slinging wines and waxing poetics at Corkscrew Wine Bar in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood. “I went to a women’s college because in grade school the old gender-limiting messages were always reinforced — ‘girls are good in English and boys are good at science,’ ” she said. “Times have certainly changed, but there’s still a ways to go for women in wine in terms of getting the head winemaking jobs and competitive salaries.” e — By Eric Degerman

••• Leah Jorgensen Cellars leahjorgensencellars.com 503-713-3277

WINEPRESSNW.COM


AWARDS

winery of the year

idaho

Winery Year of the

Leslie Preston P hoto by darin oswald/( boise ) idaho statesman

Co iled Win e s Ga rd e n C i ty, Idah o

W

hen Leslie Preston left Boise for college, she had no idea making Idaho wine would bring her back home. The journey began at the University of Oregon to study romance languages, which got her into the nation’s top winemaking school — University of California-Davis — as a French Lit instructor. She knew little about wine, even though it surrounded her. Winemaking students would take her class in preparation for internships in France. “To be honest, winemaking started as a misguided interest,” Preston said. “I wanted to find something that blended traveling 22

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and studies in France. Apparently, I’m a slow learner because it took me awhile to get it.” But her intelligence and dedication, combined with guidance from famous professors and mentors, developed into Coiled Wines, which is Wine Press Northwest’s 2014 Idaho Winery of the Year. “The real purpose for Coiled is to make the best wine I can from Idaho fruit and be a part of what’s going on here,” Preston said. Her 2012 Dry Riesling ranked as one of the Pacific Northwest’s best last year, landing at No. 44 on The Seattle Times’ top 50 wines of 2013 after winning best of show at the Idaho Wine Competition. “I didn’t know a lot about Riesling before I came to Idaho, I just know that I love to drink it,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be blown away by this grape.”

And yet, she’s quickly established a reputation with the Germanic white as her 2011 Dry Riesling earned a gold the year prior in the state competition, as did her 2010 Black Mamba ($28) — a bold blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah. The Coiled 2010 Sidewinder ($25), a Syrah, received a silver medal at the 2013 Great Northwest Wine Competition staged in Hood River, Ore. “I’m a little more comfortable experimenting and a little more confident as a winemaker because I’ve had more years with this fruit,” Preston said. “The first couple of years making my own wine was terrifying. I was, ‘Oh, crap, I’m responsible for everything!”

••• Coiled

www.coiledwines.com 107 1/2 E 44th St., Garden City, ID 83714 707-480-4919 WINEPRESSNW.COM


In 2001, she had no science background, but that didn’t stop Preston from earning her master’s degree in enology at Davis while working at wineries. That list included Clos du Bois and Saintsbury before she landed a job at famed Stags’ Leap Winery with Robert Brittan, who elevated the Napa Valley brand and used Petite Sirah as his signature wine during his 17 years there. “She was a delight to work with, and I remember how staunchly proud she was about Idaho” said Brittan, who resigned in 2005 to launch Brittan Vineyards back in his home state of Oregon. “She really wanted to make Syrah in Idaho. That was a big thing for her.” An opportunity to advance at Stags’ Leap came just after Preston and her husband, software engineer Ross Lamb, started their family. “It was an amazing job, but I didn’t want to be away from my son as much as I would have,” she said. “The bulk of my friends were in the wine world, and it was a world that I still wanted to be a part of, but I needed to do it a different way.” Her transition to Idaho winemaking took time. The first vintage was 2006, when she made seven barrels of Syrah in Boise at Fraser Vineyards. “In 2007, I had another child on the way, and it was overwhelming to launch a new brand out of state with a new baby,” Preston said. “The challenges of motherhood have been the source of a lot of creativity.” A year later, she established Coiled with 400 cases, but it wasn’t until 2012 when she moved her family to her hometown. “My husband is a sailor and a California boy,” Preston said. “We loved California and had a good life there, but we knew we needed to stop doing this back and forth or we needed to move. The production part was OK, but selling it while living out of state was the hard part.” Now that she’s a local girl who’s done well and come back home, Coiled Wines is a much easier sell with Preston’s face behind the brand. Last fall, she increased production to nearly 1,000 cases, and the 44th Street Winemakers co-op that Coiled shares with Cinder Wines and Telaya has Boise buzzing about wine. “My hope is to own part of a vineyard at some point,” Preston said. “My husband chokes at the sound of that. Maybe it’s not smart, and maybe it’s not a strength of mine, but I want to be a part of the collaborative and the passion in Idaho and see Idaho take the next step.” e

winery of the year

AWARDS

— Eric Degerman WINEPRESSN W .C O M

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winery to watch

Idaho

Winery Watch to

Helen and Tim Harless, Photo courtesy of Hat Ranch Winery

Hat Ranc h W in e ry Ca d w ell, ID

L

ife would be much different for Tim Harless had he followed the herd and brought a six-pack of beer to that summer party in Wichita Falls, Texas. “It was an informal thing with six or eight other people, and they all had brought beer,” he said. “It was 100 degrees, and I was drinking my chilled Sauvignon Blanc. They told me, ‘We know someone you ought to meet.’ ” That’s how Tim and Dr. Helen Harless got paired up in 2006. A mutual love for wine and their desire to live in the country led them to the Snake River Valley and launch Hat Ranch Winery — Wine Press Northwest’s Idaho Winery to Watch. “There are only 50 wineries in Idaho, so we won’t get lost, and the community has been fantastic,” he said. His early wines have helped him stand out. From a critical standpoint, the Hat Ranch 2011 Tempranillo might be his top wine, earning a gold medal at the 2013 Great

••• Hat Ranch Winery

www.hatranchwinery.com 15345 Plum Road, Caldwell, Idaho 83607 208-994-6416 24

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Northwest Wine Competition. A year prior, his 2011 Chardonnay picked up a gold at the Northwest Wine Summit. This winter, he took a major step by acquiring Vale Wine Co. — the 2013 Idaho Winery to Watch — from his mentor, John Danielson. “I worked alongside John for three years making our own wines, and he would let me bounce ideas off of him and ask him to double-check the crazy wine math,” Harless said. “Now I feel comfortable with how everything works at this facility. You get to know your kitchen pretty well.” Tim, 50, has spent much of his life strapped into a cockpit. He graduated from Ohio State with a degree in aerospace engineering before becoming an instructor pilot in the Air Force with 10 years of active duty and more than a decade in the reserves. His interest and inspiration for wine began when he took his parents to Italy for a vacation. It led to winemaking classes at Grayson County Community College in Denison, Texas. “Some people get a boat and go bass fishing. Some have a cabin in the woods and go hunting,” he said. “This is my hobby.”

Helen’s background in the industry came when she lived in the Bay Area and spent two years working for Wine Spectator, which included her role as assistant tasting coordinator of the magazine’s blind judgings. However, they met in 2006 in Texas, where Helen was finishing up her first tour in the Air Force as a dentist. She’d achieved the rank of captain and was still sorting out her career path. “She was exiting, so I had to act fast,” Tim said with a chuckle. They scouted the West Coast before landing on the Sunnyslope and launching Hat Ranch — named for his great-grandparents Wyoming homestead — in 2011 with their 2009 Hat Trick Red, a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Syrah. Their total production was 450 cases. At this point, there are four Hat Ranch wines, which include a Merlot and an off-dry Riesling. In its brief history, Hat Ranch has received at least a silver medal in regional competitions with each wine they make. He will produce 800 cases from the 2013 vintage, but he’s gearing up to make a combined 1,200 cases between the Hat Ranch and Vale brands. He’ll continue to use the winemaking facilities at the University of Idaho’s incubator in Caldwell for both. And when they can find all the plant material they are looking for, Hat Ranch will be planted with about 5 acres of vines in equal amounts of Muscat Ottonel, Tempranillo and — of course — Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyard is just below the deck of their B&B and by the tasting room, which has a view of the Owyhee Mountains. “At my age, I want to make wine for another 10 to 15 years,” he said. “We’ll stay here and see how big this thing gets. Any recognition that the Boise area and Idaho gets lifts all of our boats. Right now, from where we sit and by the looks of the Snake River Valley, it’s pretty nice.” e — By Eric Degerman

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winery of the year

Washington

Winery Year of the

From left to right: Kevin Mott, head winemaker; Rick Small, owner, director of production; Darcey Fugman-Small, owner, general manager P hoto by Colby D . Kuschatka

W o o dwar d Can yo n L o w den, Washi ngton

L

OWDEN, Wash. — Rick Small is happiest in wide-open spaces where he can smell fresh air and feel the soil between his fingers. Some 37 years ago, Small returned home to one of the smallest towns in Washington after completing his agriculture degree at Washington State University. He thought about becoming an architect. His dad had other designs. “I knew there was a little activity going on in the wine industry with Associated Vintners and Chateau Ste. Michelle,” he said. “I thought it would be something I’d be interested in.” 26

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It was 1977, and he turned to his father, a wheat farmer in Lowden, an unincorporated town in the Walla Walla Valley that was — and remains — home to about 15 people. “There weren’t many grapes around,” he said. “I started learning about grapes and varieties. I mentioned to my dad that it would not be a bad idea to try an experimental vineyard. He agreed.” They chose a rocky hillside where his dad couldn’t grow wheat, and Small planted Chardonnay. “I think it was my dad’s way of keeping me in agriculture,” he said. “I’m really glad he did.”

The next year, his friend Gary Figgins launched Leonetti Cellar. “I got to know Gary through my brother Jim,” he said. “We were all in the Army Reserve together. I was intrigued by what Gary was doing. It was infectious.” By 1981, Small was getting a crop off those Chardonnay vines, and he bought Cabernet Sauvignon from Sagemoor

••• Woodward Canyon Winery www.woodwardcanyon.com 11920 Highway 12, Lowden 509-525-4129 Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WINEPRESSNW.COM


winery of the year Vineyards north of Pasco and launched Woodward Canyon Winery. Success came quickly. Those first wines were winning top awards at regional wine competitions, bolstering Small’s confidence that he was heading in the right direction. In 1990, Small’s 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon landed at No. 10 in Wine Spectator’s top 100 list. It was a first for any Washington wine and his second trip to the top 100 in as many years. “It was pretty clear we had something going,” he said. By that point, Small was on the hunt for the best grapes in the state. A few years earlier, he began buying grapes from Mercer Ranch Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. In 1996, grape grower Paul Champoux approached Small and three other winemakers about forming a partnership to purchase the property, which became Champoux Vineyards. “It’s one of the really incredible vineyards in the state,” Small said. “It takes someone who has precision and who can extract that character out of the soil — and then the winemaker just tries to finesse it from

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there. It’s agriculture all the way.” That’s what it comes down to for Small: getting the very best from everything. For many years, he would track down the finest grapes and invest in the best barrels and equipment, eschewing the temptation to build a fancy tasting room. “The wine doesn’t know if it’s in an old shed or a $5 million chateau,” Small said. “We bought the best barrels, and when we started doing better, we began improving the buildings. I know a lot of places that have fancy buildings, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have success.” Today, he and his wife, Darcey, are tasting that success. The two met when she was working for the Walla Walla County planning department. The Bremerton native thought she would be in Walla Walla for just a short time, but the couple married in 1980 and never thought of leaving after that. About a decade ago, Small had the maturity to realize he couldn’t successfully make 18,000 cases of wine, tend the vines and go out on endless sales trips. So he reluctantly released the cellar duties to Kevin Mott, now his head winemaker.

AWARDS

“Handing the winemaking reins to Kevin was difficult,” Small said. “But there was no way I way I could do it all myself.” That doesn’t mean Small isn’t in the cellar — a lot. But he enjoys that comfort of walking his vineyards. “I feel very comfortable there,” he said. “It gets me back to the soil.” Small is 67 now, but it is difficult to see him finding a rocking chair on some porch anytime soon. However, when that day arrives, his daughter, Jordan, will step in. She spent five years working at Long Shadows Vintners for Gilles Nicault — one of Small’s former assistant winemakers — and this winter came to work for her parents as an assistant winemaker. “She’s the succession plan. She understands that.” Meanwhile, Small and his team will continue to press forward, making little improvements here and there in a quest for perfection. “I’m not satisfied,” he said. “We haven’t made our best wines yet.” e — Andy Perdue

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winery to watch

Washington

Winery Watch to

Chris Peterson and Marty Taucher

Aven n ia

Wo o di nvi l l e, Washin gto n

A

s crowded and talented as the burgeoning Woodinville wine scene is, a small, young winery is distinguishing itself. Avennia has completed just its third crush, yet the 1,600-case winery in Woodinville’s warehouse district already is producing head-turning wines, thanks to the talents of Chris Peterson and Marty Taucher. The pair met while Peterson was an assistant winemaker at acclaimed DeLille Cellars and Taucher — working on his third career — was an intern. “We got to talking,” Peterson said. “He wanted to do something fun, so we decided to get into business together.” What always sounds so easy usually isn’t, though. And their roads to winemaking took divergent paths to Woodinville. Peterson, a University of Washington grad, worked at FedEx before deciding on winemaking as a vocation, so he headed east of the Cascade Mountains to learn the craft at Walla Walla Community College. He was one of the vaunted program’s first graduates. After that, he landed at DeLille Cellars, working alongside Chris Upchurch, a winemaker 28

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who has perfected the category of highend red blends in Washington. Taucher, meanwhile, came from the technology sector. The Oregon State University grad went to work at Microsoft in 1984 — two years before the software giant went public. He worked there until 1999 before taking early retirement. For the next 10 years, he focused on being a dad and doing some angel investing. “I had a great 10 years being interested in interesting things,” he said. “I felt I had another good run in me.” Taucher’s longtime passion was wine, so he enrolled at South Seattle Community College’s wine program in 2009 and applied for a harvest internship at DeLille, where Peterson hired him. Taucher was the cellar rat, cleaning bins, doing punchdowns and every other undesirable job in the winery. “Chris was really patient with me,” Taucher said. “He didn’t drive me out of there with the hard work.” For one of his classes, Taucher had to write a business plan — “I knew my way around spreadsheets and marketing” — and showed it to Peterson, who got excited. They launched Avennia with the 2010 harvest as co-owners, with Peterson taking care of all winemaking and vineyard-relation duties and Taucher running the business side. They chose the name Avennia as a homage to the French city of Avignon and crushed enough grapes to make 1,100 cases. The first key to their success was their vineyard sources, and they are legendary: Sagemoor, Boushey, Alder Ridge, Red Willow and Kiona, among others. “My DeLille connection opened the door, no doubt,” Peterson said. “But we still had to convince grape growers that we were serious. They really care about where their fruit goes, so it took some convincing.” It shouldn’t anymore. Their 2010 Sestina, a Cab-based blend, was a huge hit with wine lovers who discovered Avennia,

and the wine landed at No. 18 on The Seattle Times 2013 list of top Northwest wines. A Boushey Vineyard Syrah sold out almost immediately, and now grape growers are more than happy to work with them. “We are adding new blocks from top vineyards,” Taucher said. “Great fruit, great vineyards and great growers help make our wine. Without them, we could not be successful. That has been enormous.” Last fall, the pair added Upland Vineyard near Sunnyside — which has some of the oldest vines in the Pacific Northwest — to their lineup. They crushed 75 tons of grapes during the 2013 harvest, which should push their production toward 3,000 cases. Taucher and Peterson figure they will peak at between 4,000 and 5,000 cases. More than half of their wines are sold directly to their fans, though they do sell to retail shops, high-end groceries and top-shelf Seattle area restaurants. They also sell their wines through distributors to seven other states. Avennia produces five wines: Sestina is a Bordeaux-style blend that leads with Cabernet Sauvignon; Gravura is a Bordeaux-style blend that includes barrels that didn’t make the cut for Sestina; Justine is a Rhône-style red blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah; Arnaut is the Boushey Vineyard Syrah; and Oliane is a Sauvignon Blanc using grapes from Boushey and Red Willow vineyards. Avennia does not have a tasting room at its facility, though it does open its doors to customers three times per year for release parties. Sign up for Avennia’s mailing list on its website. e — By Andy Perdue, Photo by Anne Chase, Anne Chase Photography

••• Avennia

www.avennia.com 18808 142nd Ave. N.E. Ste 2B, Woodinville, 98072 WINEPRESSNW.COM


72 H o u r s in the


Wa ll a Wa lla

Valley

// By Andy Perdue Photography by colby d. kuschatka (cdK imaging)


FEATURE

tour walla walla

Wineries

Lodmell Cellars tasting room in the Marcus Whitman Hotel

B

y just about any measure, the Walla Walla Valley is the ultimate wine destination experience in the Pacific Northwest — and right up there with Napa and Sonoma on the West Coast.

Here are a few reasons for that assessment: • It has a concentration of high-quality wineries focusing primarily on red wines. • It has a good number of great restaurants. • It’s far enough away from population centers so it is rarely too crowded. • It is home to many beautiful vineyards. • Nestled at the base of the Blue Mountains, it is beautiful.

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With about 130 wineries, there is simply no way to take in the whole of Walla Walla in just 72 hours. Look at your first visit as an appetizer, an opportunity to get a feel for the region and how you want to approach it on your next visit. Here is a primer on the Walla Walla Valley. For your three-day weekend, plan on visiting no more than 15 wineries. This will give you room to drive around and enjoy each stop at a pace that isn’t rushed yet is memorable.

Let’s start with the wineries. With more than 130 of them, you might think the place is overrun, but because the wineries have congregated in four distinct regions of the valley, they have a spread-out feel that provides plenty of space for wine travelers. If you wanted to plan your visit accordingly, you could easily spend one full day in each region, giving you the opportunity to take a deeper dive and spend less time moving between wineries. While this strategy leaves out one of the four areas, that also gives you another reason to come back at a later time. Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these areas. West of town: If you are arriving by car, you will encounter this area of the valley first. A dozen miles west of Walla Walla, the town of Lowden is home to two of the valley’s oldest and most famous wineries: Woodward Canyon and L’Ecole No. 41. They are on the left side of the highway as you head east and are next door to each other. Woodward Canyon has a restaurant that is open seasonally. Closer to town, you will encounter a dozen other wineries, including Reininger, Long Shadows, Three Rivers, Waterbrook and Cougar Crest. A new highway bypasses some of these, but there are well-marked exits that get you to these wineries in less than two minutes. As you arrive into Walla Walla, look for Canoe Ridge Vineyard, Bergevin Lane and Foundry Vineyards. Downtown: For the most part, the

“Downtown is where the restaurants tend to be, so scheduling winery visits and meals is much easier.” WINEPRESSNW.COM


tour walla walla

FEATURE

Walla Walla Vintners

downtown area is home to tasting rooms, though there are a handful of full-production wineries, too. One of the big advantages of downtown is ample parking and the ability to walk from winery to winery. If a convention at the Marcus Whitman Hotel brings you to town, it’s pretty easy to slip out of a boring workshop and visit three or four tasting rooms. Downtown also is where the restaurants tend to be, so scheduling winery visits and meals is much easier. Wine touring could not be much easier than inside the Marcus Whitman, which is home to six winery tasting rooms — all within a few feet of each other. The wineries include Trio, Tero, Flying Trout, Locati, Don Carlo and Lodmell. The Marcus Whitman shares a parking lot with Seven Hills Winery, one of the valley’s oldest producers (which started in Milton-Freewater, Ore., 15 miles to the south). Seven Hills shares a building with Whitehouse-Crawford, one of the finest restaurants in town. WINEPRESSN W .C O M

Other downtown wineries include DaMa, Fort Walla Walla Cellars, Otis Kenyon, Trust Cellars and Spring Valley Vineyard. And if there is a winery you couldn’t get to, stop by the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman Wine Shop. Walla Walla native

Catie McIntire got her start in the wine business as a blogger, and that morphed into an online retail site, which now is a thriving wine shop. She is just steps away from the Marcus Whitman. Catie also is the valley’s best source of information on what is happening in and around town.

Woodward Canyon Tasting room

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Airport/east of town: The history of the old Walla Walla airport dates back before World War II, and many of the buildings from that era remain. Back in the mid1990s, several start-up wineries saw these buildings as a great opportunity and began to convert them to tasting rooms and production facilities. Now there are enough to spend an entire weekend tasting wine. Two of the oldest wineries at the airport are Tamarack Cellars and Dunham Cellars, both among the best producers in the valley. Reininger Winery got its start here until moving to a much larger facility west of town. Since then, such wineries as Eleganté Cellars, Five Star Cellars, Mannina Cellars and Revelry Vintners have opened at the airport. A few years ago, the Port of Walla Walla built five incubator buildings at the airport to help wineries get their start. Today, they are occupied by Palencia Wine Co., Corvus Cellars, Walla Faces and Kontos Cellars. A microbrewery also is making plans to open in one of the buildings. Just a few blocks from the airport is Walla Walla Community College’s Center

Walla Walla Roastery, barista Douglas Fairbanks 34

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Seven Hills Winery Tasting Room

for Enology & Viticulture. Inside it is the tasting room for College Cellars, which is producing award-winning and affordable wines. East of town on Mill Creek Road is another handful of wineries, including K Vintners and Walla Walla Vintners. K Vintners is owned by the indomitable Charles Smith, who also has a downtown tasting room. Walla Walla Vintners is one of the valley’s oldest producers and is run by Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri,

two longtime friends who began making wine together in the early 1980s. Anderson founded the Walla Walla Community College winemaking program. South of town: Travel about 15 minutes south of downtown Walla Walla to the Oregon state line and you will discover a whole new world of wineries. About 20 producers on both sides of the border are within a five-minute drive of each other. And they are home to some of the most talented winemakers in the valley. They include such luminaries as Dusted Valley Vintners, Zerba Cellars, Northstar, Pepper Bridge Winery, Saviah Cellars, Sleight of Hand Cellars, Reynvaan Vineyards and Watermill. The southside wineries are primarily on country roads (though Zerba Cellars is along the highway), so traveling through this area provides that sense of freedom as you ramble through wheat fields and vineyards. This is one of the few winery destinations in the valley where you can actually see grapes growing, and it’s easy — even fun — to get lost down here. Just be sure to bring a picnic with you because there isn’t much in the way of food available, although Andrae Bopp’s food truck can often be found stationed at various wineries on weekends. What about Leonetti or Cayuse? You might be asking why some of the valley’s WINEPRESSNW.COM


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FEATURE

“the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel is in the heart of downtown and has been restored to its past glory.” most famous producers aren’t mentioned here. It’s because they aren’t generally open to the public. Leonetti Cellar, the valley’s oldest producer, is open one weekend a year — and only to those who are on its list. The same goes for such wineries as Abeja and Cayuse. Most or all of their wines are presold, so they have no need to be open to the public. That said, if you have a friend or family member who is on the Leonetti list, they are allowed to bring one guest with them. Promise to take them to dinner at Canlis or to a Seahawk game or any other bribe that might get you into Leonetti. It’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Lodging You have plenty of options for where to stay, from budget motels to one of the grandest hotels in the Northwest. Starting at the top, the historic Marcus

Andrae’s Kitchen Mobile-Catering-Co-op, chef Andrae Bopp pictured

Whitman Hotel is in the heart of downtown and has been restored to its past glory. Thanks to being home to six tasting rooms in its lobby, you could spend an entire afternoon here, too. There are about a dozen B&Bs in Walla Walla, some of which are connected to wineries (including Walla Faces and the Inn at Abeja.) You’ll also find plenty of national chain hotels and motels to fit your travel budget.

Food Thanks primarily to the wine industry,

Walla Walla is blessed with many excellent restaurants. Olive Market Place, which is downtown on Main Street, is a great spot for breakfast, thanks to a great ambiance, freshbaked goods and coffee. It’s also perfect for lunch. For lunch, try Pho Sho, a Vietnamese restaurant that is downtown, or Andrae’s Kitchen, which is inside a gas station/ convenience store at the corner of 9th and Rose. Proprietor Andrae Bopp also runs a food truck around the valley on weekends. For burgers and fries, the Ice Burg is a favorite with locals. Want to take a picnic lunch? Stop at Cugini Import Italian Market just west of town to pick up everything from sandwiches to cheeses to locally cured meats. For dinner, you have loads of choices downtown, including Whitehouse-Crawford, The Marc at the Marcus Whitman Hotel, Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen and T Maccarone’s. Espresso places are ubiquitous in Walla Walla. My favorite is Walla Walla Roastery in the airport district.

Marcus Whitman Hotel WINEPRESSN W .C O M

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Other activities Walla Walla has a long, rich history. It is home to three colleges (Whitman College, Walla Walla University and Walla Walla Community College), all of which play host to the performing arts. The Fort Walla Walla Museum and the Whitman Mission both provide respites from wine tasting while also giving you culture points.

Getting to Walla Walla Walla Walla is a full four hours of driving from Seattle, all primarily on four-lane highways. Just get on Interstate 90 and head east toward the Tri-Cities. Once you get to Pasco, you have another 45 miles to go. From Portland, it’s just under four hours through the Columbia Gorge. The Walla Walla Regional Airport has two direct flights daily from Seatac if you prefer to fly.

sides of Washington are easy to drive. And Holiday Barrel Tasting is another longtime event that is the first full weekend of December. The wineries typically have their tasting rooms decorated for Christmas, and with the wines from harvest completed and safely tucked away in barrels, everyone is in a great mood.

More info During the past 15 years, nearly every wine or travel publication on the planet has written about the Walla Walla Valley, so there is no shortage of information on the region.

For the most up-to-date info on wineries, tasting room hours and events, visit the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance website at www.wallawallawine.com. For information on where to stay, where to eat and what to do, visit the Tourism Walla Walla website at www.wallawalla.org. e  Andy Perdue is the wine columnist for The Seattle

Times and editor & publisher of Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

When to visit Walla Walla is a year-round destination. Even in winter, snow rarely stays long enough to cause problems. Because of its relative remoteness from the population centers of Portland and Seattle, even the busiest summer weekends will never come close to approaching the madness of traffic that has befallen Napa Valley. If you want to enjoy Walla Walla during a big, festival, exciting time and meet a lot of people, then choose one of the event weekends. Spring Release Weekend, known as “Leonetti Weekend,” is always the first weekend in May. This is, by far, the biggest, most crowded time in Walla Walla, and nearly every winery is open. The following weekend is the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede, which also is fun because of all the colorful hot-air balloons that fill the skies. Somewhat newer is Fall Release Weekend, which takes place the first full weekend in November. Typically, the mountain passes that separate the two 36

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Pho Sho

Marcus Whitman Hotel WINEPRESSN W .C O M

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wine country: WALLA WALLA VALLEY

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wine country: WALLA WALLA VALLEY

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TA STING RESULTS

rhône

Re d Rh ô n e blen ds By Andy Perdue P Hotos by Bob Brawdy

T

hrough the first 17 years of this publication, we have put on a lot of fun and fascinating wine judgings. This might have been the most exciting yet, as we took the opportunity to taste styles of wines that are just now emerging on the Northwest wine landscape. We put out a call for red Rhône blends and red Rhône varietal wines, minus Syrah. We received an astonishing 125 wines, half of which were blends. Our judges had the opportunity to taste through wines that could well play an important role in the future of the Washington, Oregon and Idaho wine industries. The Rhône Valley is in southern France and follows the Rhône River. It is separated into two regions: the northern and southern Rhône. The north is cooler, and the only red wine grape permitted there is Syrah. In the south, which is much more Mediterranean in 40

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climate, also is much more diverse, with up to 10 red varieties allowed. Several of these grapes have made their way to the New World, particularly Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. But we also are seeing lesser-known grapes such as Cinsault, Carignan, Counoise and Petite Sirah. Emerging as the Northwest king of Rhône reds is Ron Bunnell, owner and winemaker of Bunnell Family Cellar in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser, Wash. Bunnell, the former head winemaker for Chateau Ste. Michelle, launched his own winery in 2004. He and his wife, Susan, also run Wine O’Clock, a popular restaurant at their Prosser winery, and they have a Woodinville tasting room, as well. Bunnell got his first taste of Syrah while working in Napa Valley in the 1980s. Later, when he worked for Kendall-Jackson in Sonoma County, he was in charge of it Syrahs. “That really started to solidify my affin-

ity for the grape,” he said. “When I came to Washington in 1999, there were a lot of new plantings of Syrah. I felt like I was witnessing something. I really felt like Syrah could be one of the pre-eminent grapes in Washington. In multiple Syrah judgings conducted by Wine Press Northwest, Bunnell’s Syrahs — he makes three versions now — have always risen to the top of the heap. Now, his efforts with Rhône blends and other red varieties show his prowess for them, too. Of the six wines Bunnell submitted, five earned our top “Outstanding” rating, and the sixth gained an “Excellent” rating. “When I left Ste. Michelle, I chose Syrah as my focus for a number of reasons,” he said. I love the variety and flavor profiles. Syrah seems to perform at an earlier vine age than a lot of other varieties. And it has so many different expressions depending on where it is grown. There’s a friendliness to these wines, a robustness. It goes along with my style.” While we saw a lot of examples of Rhône blends and varieties in this judging, these are niche wines at best. You will notice that only one of these wines is more than 1,000 WINEPRESSNW.COM


rhône

WINE RATINGS All rated wines are tasted blind then placed in the following categories: Outstanding These wines have superior characteristics and should be highly sought after. Excellent Top-notch wines with particularly high qualities. Recommended Delicious, well-made wines with true varietal characteristics. Best Buy! A wine that is $15 or under. Prices are suggested retail.

cases in production. The total case production represented in this tasting was 24,478 cases, which averages to just 196 cases per wine. None of the largest producers in the Northwest are doing anything of scale, primarily because of the small amounts of these lesser-known grapes being grown. This means your best bets for finding these wines are directly from the producers or through a favorite wine merchant willing to carry small-production wines. WINEPRESSN W .C O M

This competition took place in late January at the Clover Island Inn in Kennewick, Wash. Our judges were Heather Unwin, executive director of the Red Mountain AVA Alliance; Gregg McConnell, editor and publisher of Wine Press Northwest magazine; Sean Hails, head winemaker for Columbia Winery in Woodinville, Wash.; Dick Boushey, grape grower in the Yakima Valley and on Red Mountain; Frank Roth, head winemaker for Tagaris Winery in Richland, Wash.; Ken Robertson, columnist for Wine Press Northwest; and Dave Seaver, tasting panelist for Great Northwest Wine. The judging was run by Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue of Great Northwest Wine. For this judging, we separated the results by category, with a brief introduction to each style or variety. Here are the results.

Red Rhône blends

T

raditionally from France’s Rhône Valley in southern France, these styles of reds are a contrast to the big, brooding wines of Bordeaux or the elegant, ethereal reds of Burgundy. In the New World, this category of wine is

TASTING RESULTS

known as “GSM,” which stands for the three most common grapes used in the blend: Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. However, other Rhône varieties also find their way into the mix, including Counoise, Cinsault, Carignan and Petite Sirah.

Outstanding

Alexandria Nicole Cellars $42 2011 Members Only, Horse Heaven Hills This small-production wine from a top Yakima Valley winery is a blend of Grenache (57%), Syrah and Mourvèdre using grapes from the estate Destiny Ridge Vineyard. It opens with aromas of blueberry, cherry and vanilla, followed by flavors of huckleberry, cherry, chocolate and blueberry. It’s all backed with plush tannins and beautiful integration and balance. (237 cases, 14.6% alc.) Icon Cellars $27 2011 du Pape, Columbia Valley This small winery in the western Cascade Mountains town of Carnation, Wash., is crafting superb wines. This is a blend of Grenache (54%), Syrah and Mourvèdre that opens with aromas of dense, dark fruit, ripe strawberry and plum, followed by rich flavors of ripe black fruit backed with mild tannins, elegant acidity and beautiful depth. (90 cases, 14.4% alc.)

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Efeste $45 2011 Emmy, Wahluke Slope Efeste has quickly become an iconic winery in Woodinville, Wash., and this Mourvèdre-based blend only heightens its status. This reveals aromas of fresh-ground coffee, exotic spices, red plum and strawberry. A rich, dense entry leads to a core of ripe plum and blackberry. This is a thick, focused red wine. (258 cases, 15% alc.) Upland Estates Winery $28 2011 Julian, Snipes Mountain Third-generation grape grower Todd Newhouse and winemaker Robert Smasne combine on this blend that is an even split between Grenache and Mourvèdre, with 20% Syrah to balance it out. The wine is named in honor of Julian Steenbergen, who made wine on Snipes Mountain in the 1950s. This reveals exotic aromas of violet, lilac, rose petal and black cherry, followed by rich flavors of vanilla, boysenberry and pomegranate. (120 cases, 13.7% alc.) Bunnell Family Cellar $34 2008 Lia, Columbia Valley Former Chateau Ste. Michelle head winemaker Ron Bunnell crafted this blend of four grapes: Mourvèdre, Grenache, Counoise and Syrah. The result is a stylish red with aromas of anise, dusty cherry, French vanilla and cherry, followed by textured flavors of blackberry and ripe plum. (288 cases, 14.5% alc.)

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Bunnell Family Cellar $34 2008 Vif, Columbia Valley Winemaker Ron Bunnell is a master with Rhône varieties, and this is a blend that leads with Syrah (58%) and includes Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah. It offers aromas and flavors of dusty cherry, blueberry, milk chocolate and a hint of lilac. It’s a massive, mouth-filling wine on the palate, yet everything is in complete harmony. (426 cases, 14.1% alc.) 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards $26 2011 Reserve Syrah-Mourvèdre, Snake River Valley Based in tiny Eagle, Idaho, just north of Boise, 3 Horse Ranch grows organic grapes for its wines. This is a Syrah-heavy blend that opens with aromas of smoky bacon, dusty plum and minerality, followed by elegant flavors of blackberry, blueberry and huckleberry, all backed with bright acidity and modest tannins. (1,788 cases, 14.3% alc.) Kana Winery $22 2009 Dark Star, Columbia Valley Dark Star is a Syrah-leading blend that includes Mourvèdre and Grenache and opens with aromas of vanilla, black cherry and chalkboard dust, followed by flavors of blackberry, bacon and spices. It’s a gorgeous wine made by a Yakima, Wash., winery. (600 cases, 14.7% alc.)

Doyenne $44 2011 Métier, Red Mountain This label for highly regarded DeLille Cellars in Woodinville, Wash., is a blend of nearly equal parts Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. It opens with aromas of strawberry and light cherry, followed by elegant flavors of pomegranate and ripe cherry. The moderate tannins lift up undertones of the ripe fruit in this powerful yet refined red. (400 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Excellent Crayelle Cellars $28 2011 Bishop’s Block, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley Based in the tiny North Cascades town of Cashmere, Wash., Crayelle is run by veteran winemaker Craig Mitrakul. This wine is a field blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache from a vineyard just above Crescent Bar south of Wenatchee. It provides aromas and flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and blueberry, all backed with fine-grained tannins. (25 cases, 13.8% alc.) Upland Estates Winery $28 2009 Julian, Snipes Mountain This older vintage of Julian, a Syrah-based blend from Upland in the Yakima Valley, shows off aromas and flavors of oak, coconut, red cherry and plum and is backed with ample acidity and tannin. (120 cases, 13.9% alc.)

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AniChe Cellars $26 2011 7 Gables, Columbia Valley This small winery in the Columbia Gorge town of Underwood, Wash., blended no fewer than seven grapes for this blend, leading with Syrah and including small amounts of two Rhône whites: Roussanne and Marsanne. It’s a subtle wine with aromas and flavors of rose petal, red cherry, cranberry and black licorice. (224 cases, 14.2% alc.) Reininger Winery $34 2011 Helix SoRho, Columbia Valley Walla Walla Valley winemaker Chuck Reininger leads with Mourvèdre and includes Grenache and Cinsault in this beautiful red blend. It offers aromas and flavors of boysenberry, plum, blueberry and cherry, all backed with elegant tannins and ample acidity. (268 cases, 14.2% alc.) The Bunnell Family Cellar $34 2008 Apic, Wahluke Slope Longtime Washington winemaker Ron Bunnell leads with Syrah in this blend that includes Grenache and Petite Sirah. It’s a rich, dense wine with aromas and flavors of chocolate, plum, blackberry and black olive. (402 cases, 14.5% alc.) Quady North $25 2012 Bomba, Rogue Valley Owner/winemaker Herb Quady went heavy on Grenache backed with Syrah on this fresh, young and delicious red. It shows off aromas and flavors of cherry, plum, boysenberry and pomegranate and is drinking beautifully. (130 cases, 14% alc.) WINEPRESSN W .C O M

Mercer Estates Winery $40 2010 Reserve Ode to Brothers, Horse Heaven Hills This Yakima Valley winery is owned by a family that has farmed in eastern Washington for more than a century, and this red blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is a tribute. It reveals aromas and flavors of plum, rhubarb-cherry pie and hints of bacon, all backed with mild tannins. (337 cases, 14.3% alc.) Betz Family Winery $45 2011 Besoleil, Columbia Valley Iconic Washington winemaker Bob Betz blended five grapes into this classic red: Grenache, Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvèdre and Syrah. It opens with aromas of fresh lilacs and cherry, followed by fresh, elegant flavors of blueberry, plum and blackberry, all backed with gorgeous acidity. (600 cases, 14.2% alc.) Nota Bene Cellars $30 2011 Una Notte, Columbia Valley This winery in south Seattle created a blend of Grenache and Syrah from top vineyards, including StoneTree, Red Willow and Stillwater Creek. It reveals fascinating aromas and flavors of blood orange, pie cherry, red plum and exotic spices, all backed with bright acidity. (107 cases, 14.74% alc.) Ribera Vineyards $22 2011 Confluence, Columbia Valley This small producer west of Oregon City in the Willamette Valley used grapes from Washington’s warm Red Mountain for this blend of Mourvèdre,

TASTING RESULTS

Syrah, Grenache and Counoise. It is an exotic wine with aromas of crushed herbs, horehound and black pepper, followed by flavors of blueberry, plum and licorice. (320 cases, 14.2% alc.) Cairdeas Winery $38 2011 Greine, Columbia Valley Based on the north shore of Lake Chelan, this Rhône-focused winery has crafted a delicious blend of Syrah (co-fermented with Viognier) and Petite Sirah that offers up aromas and flavors of boysenberry, blueberry and vanilla ice cream. It’s all backed with bold tannins. (75 cases, 13.5% alc.) Corvus Cellars $29 2010 Syrah-Petite Sirah, Red Mountain Corvus Cellars at the Walla Walla airport uses estate grapes from Red Mountain for this delicious blend. It reveals aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, blackberry and black pepper, all backed with superb balance and complexity. (245 cases, 14.8% alc.) Daven Lore Winery $28 2011 Aridisol Red, Columbia Valley Owner/winemaker Gord Taylor blended Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Durif (Petite Sirah) to create this beautiful red that shows off aromas and flavors of oak, chocolate and blackberry. It’s a big, focused, chewy wine to pair with grilled meats. (113 cases, 13.8% alc.)

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Saviah Cellars $38 2010 GSM, Yakima Valley Longtime Walla Walla Valley winemaker Rich Funk leads with Grenache and includes equal parts Syrah and Mourvèdre from Elephant Mountain in the northwestern Yakima Valley. It’s a big wine with notes of Marionberry, boysenberry, blueberry and plum. Moderate tannins back this big, ripe red. (168 cases, 14.3% alc.) Smasne Cellars $44 2010 Ancient Rocks, Snipes Mountain Winemaker Robert Smasne’s blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah finished No. 2 on Great Northwest Wine’s top 100 wines of 2013, and it’s still showing beautifully here, with aromas and flavors of cherry cola, fresh blueberry and whispers of smoke on the finish. (125 cases, 13.9% alc.) Kerloo Cellars $26 2011 Majestic, Columbia Valley This downtown Walla Walla winery has crafted a delicious blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre that provides aromas and flavors of chocolate, coffee, blueberry and acidity, all backed with moderate tannins and bright acidity. (253 cases, 13.8% alc.) AniChe Cellars $34 2011 Moth Love, Rattlesnake Hills Winemaker Rachael Horn used grapes from highly touted Elephant Mountain Vineyard for this blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache. It reveals aromas and flavors of white raspberry, fresh cranberry, red cherry and cinnamon, all backed with subtle tannins that give way to a memorable finish. (220 cases, 14.4% alc.) Coyote Canyon Winery $25 2011 Tres Cruces, Horse Heaven Hills Grape grower and winemaker Mike Andrews went heavy on this Syrah and included Grenache and Mourvèdre in this big, dense red. Aromas of espresso beans and minerality give way to flavors of blackberry, boysenberry and black truffle. (450 cases, 14.4% alc.) Agate Ridge Vineyard $36 2011 DK Reserve, Southern Oregon Winemaker Brian Denner named this blend after founder Don Kinderman and included Grenache, Syrah and Petite Sirah. It provides aromas and flavors of strawberry, cherry, raspberry and violets, all backed with bright acidity and supple tannins. (244 cases, 14.4% alc.) Quady North $25 2011 GSM, Rogue Valley Southern Oregon winemaker Herb Quady blended Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre to craft this delicious red that opens with aromas of raspberry, strawberry and lime zest, followed by bright flavors of red grapefruit, white strawberry and raspberry. (232 cases, 13% alc.) Alexandria Nicole Cellars $42 2011 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Rock Star Red, Horse Heaven Hills The wine directors at two top restaurants — Barking Frog in Woodinville and El Gaucho in Seattle — helped come up with this blend of Syrah, 44

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Grenache and Mourvèdre. It provides aromas and flavors of pomegranate, cherry, chocolate and black pepper. (227 cases, 14.6% alc.) Tamarack Cellars $28 2011 Spicebox, Columbia Valley Winemakers Ron Coleman and Danny Gordon blended Grenache, Counoise and Syrah to craft this delicious red wine. It offers aromas and flavors of blueberry cobbler, blackberry, coffee and rich, dark intensity. (168 cases, 14.12% alc.) Long Walk Vineyard $23 2010 Orchard Red Table Wine, Rogue Valley Southern Oregon winemaker Linda Donovan used grapes from a 2,000-foot-elevation vineyard near Ashland to craft this blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan and Grenache. It is loaded with aromas and flavors of raspberry, sun-dried tomato, mint and red cherry. (175 cases, 13% alc.) Airfield Estates Winery $25 2011 Mustang, Yakima Valley Marcus Miller is the winemaker behind this Yakima Valley family producer. He blended Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce a red with aromas and flavors of blueberry, chocolate and pomegranate. It’s a pretty, medium-bodied wine. (700 cases, 13% alc.) Sigillo Cellars $25 2011 Relativity, Columbia Valley This young winery in the Cascade town of Snoqualmie, Wash., has crafted a delicious blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre that reveals aromas and flavors of chocolate, blackberry, boysenberry and maple syrup. It’s rich, bold wine with good length. (84 cases, 13.8% alc.) Covington Cellars $45 2010 Ma Belle, Yakima Valley Covington Cellars in Woodinville, Wash., blended Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah for this luscious red that offers aromas and flavors of espresso, dark chocolate, strawberry and ripe plum. (128 cases, 15% alc.) Northwest Cellars $24 2011 Madrigal, Columbia Valley Kirkland, Wash., vintner Bob Delf has put together this pretty blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah that reveals aromas and flavors of oak, dark plum and chocolate. It is a well-balanced wine with plenty of length. (506 cases, 13.9% alc.) Convergence Zone Cellars $29 2011 Virga, Columbia Valley Winemaker Scott Greenberg is quietly making a strong reputation for himself and his Woodinville winery. This is a blend primarily of Mourvèdre and Grenache, and it offers up aromas of oak, dark plum, espresso, black olive and dark chocolate. (62 cases, 14.5% alc.) Dowsett Family Winery $30 2010 Devotion, Columbia Valley Walla Walla winemaker Chris Dowsett blended Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre to create this superb red that provides aromas and flavors of lilac, cedar, orange zest and blueberry, all backed with elegant tannins and rich acidity. (173 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Brian Carter Cellars $35 2010 Byzance, Columbia Valley Longtime Washington winemaker Brian Carter founded his Woodinville winery on building blends, and this superb red includes Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Counoise and Cinsault. It is a dark, brooding wine with aromas and flavors of forest floor, leather, boysenberry, plum and dark chocolate. (728 cases, 14.2% alc.) Snake River Winery $20 2010 GSM, Snake River Valley Owner/winemaker Scott DeSeelhorst made this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre from his estate Arena Valley Vineyard, and it shows off aromas and flavors of cedar, green peppercorn, golden raspberry and saddle leather. (182 cases, 13.9% alc.) Merry Cellars $38 2011 Mourvedre-Syrah, Columbia Valley Patrick Merry runs his winery in the university town of Pullman, Wash., and this is a gorgeous blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre that offers aromas and flavors of blueberry, red cherry, boysenberry and blackberry. It’s beautifully balanced with just the right amount of ripeness and structure. (133 cases, 14.9% alc.) Ribera Vineyards $34 2011 Intrigue, Columbia Valley This Willamette Valley producer blended equal parts Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Counoise to craft a delicious red that reveals aromas and flavors of fresh cedar, cherry, boysenberry and pomegranate, all backed by a rich midpalate and a juicy finish. (100 cases, 14.4% alc.) Waters $40 2012 Tremolo, Columbia Valley This Syrah-heavy blend from a Walla Walla Valley winery shows off aromas and flavors of spicy oak, dark chocolate, plum and blackberry jam. It’s a rich wine backed with ample tannin, acidity and flavor. (280 cases, 14.5% alc.) Avennia $38 2011 Justine, Columbia Valley Woodinville winemaker Chris Peterson blended Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah from top Washington vineyards to put together this delicious red that provides aromas and flavors of milk chocolate, dusty cherry and cranberry. This is a young wine that is still developing in the bottle. (320 cases, 14.9% alc.)

Recommended Walter Dacon $38 2009 GSM, Columbia Valley Lloyd Anderson, a longtime top Syrah producer from the Olympic Peninsula town of Shelton, has crafted this blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache. It is a bold wine with aromas and flavors of blackberry, chocolate and toasted oak. (244 cases, 15.5% alc.) Martin-Scott Winery $20 2011 Cole’s Collage, Columbia Valley Mike Scott crafts small amounts of wine for his East Wenatchee, Wash., winery. This is a rare blend WINEPRESSNW.COM


rhône that leads with Cinsault and includes Mourvèdre, Counoise and Grenache. It’s loaded with elegant flavors of cranberry, loganberry and dark chocolate, all backed with firm tannins. (51 cases, 13.7% alc.) Arcane Cellars $20 2012 Wheatland Red, Columbia Valley This winery near Oregon is using Washington grapes to produce this blend of Grenache, Counoise, Syrah and Mourvèdre. It reveals notes of bacon fat, strawberry, blueberry and mild oak, all backed with rich, dense structure. (212 cases, 13.5% alc.) Milbrandt Vineyards $28 2010 Vineyard Series Mosaic, Wahluke Slope This Grenache-heavy blend from a top Washington winery shows off aromas and flavors of huckleberry, vanilla, espresso and plum. It’s a really pretty wine with just a hint of oak. (250 cases, 14.5% alc.) Upland Estates Winery $28 2010 Julian, Snipes Mountain Winemaker Robert Smasne blended Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre to craft a red wine bursting aromas and flavors of blueberry, huckleberry, vanilla and exotic spices. (120 cases, 13.9% alc.) Vortex Cellars $23 2010 CM2, Rattlesnake Hills Ed Wicklein, a home brewer turned Woodinville winemaker, has crafted a delicious blend of Cinsault and Mourvèdre that shows off rich flavors and aromas of coffee, chocolate, blackberry and blueberry. (100 cases, 13.2% alc.) Terra Blanca Winery $45 2008 Signature Series Galet, Red Mountain Longtime Red Mountain vintner Keith Pilgrim blended Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Counoise to craft a red wine with aromas and flavors of blood orange, raspberry, pomegranate and fresh cear. (112 cases, 13.5% alc.) AniChe Cellars $32 2011 Three Witches, Horse Heaven Hills Rare is the wine that has Carignan, a variety found in abundance in California’s Central Valley. This blend from a Columbia Gorge producer is nearly equal parts Cinsault, Carignan and Counoise. It offers notes of bright berry, black pepper and dark chocolate. (105 cases, 14.2% alc.) Domaine Pouillon $24 2010 Katydid, Horse Heaven Hills This Columbia Gorge producer has crafted a luscious blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault that offers up aromas and flavors of Bing cherry, forest floor, toast and plum. Modest tannins give it youthful approachability. (737 cases, 14.4% alc.) Seven of Hearts $25 2011 GSM, Columbia Valley Oregon winemaker Byron Dooley used grapes from the Washington side of the Columbia Valley to put together this blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. It reveals notes of dark, dense fruit, dark chocolate, walnut and alder bacon. It’s a rich, yummy wine. (329 cases, 13.4% alc.)

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Barnard Griffin $25 2010 Cotes du Rob, Washington Rob Griffin, the dean of Washington winemakers, is in the GSM game with this blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Mourvèdre. It’s a rich, delicious red with aromas and flavors of black cherry, dark chocolate and a yummy underlying creaminess. (150 cases, 13.7% alc.) Kana Winery $25 2009 Scarlet Fire, Columbia Valley This Yakima, Wash., winery blended mostly Mourvèdre with a little Grenache, Counoise and Syrah to craft a deliciously dense red that offers aromas and flavors of sweet spice, red and black plum and ample oak. (300 cases, 14.3% alc.) Gilbert Cellars $22 2011 Allobroges, Wahluke Slope Yakima winemaker Justin Neufeld blended Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre to craft this delicious red that shows off aromas and flavors of plum, boysenberry, fresh-brewed espresso and exotic spices. (998 cases, 14.2% alc.)

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Grenache

ne of the most popular wine grapes in the world, Grenache is a key variety in Southern Rhône, where it plays a big role in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In Spain, the grape is known as Garnacha (and a few wineries here in the New World use that name). Grenache has a long history in Washington, though it was used primarily for rosés in the early days. New clones have since arrived, and 1,000 tons of Grenache were crushed in 2012 in Washington. It’s a variety on the rise.

Outstanding Zerba Cellars $38 2010 Grenache, Columbia Valley Doug Nierman continues to make some of the finest wine in the Pacific Northwest at this winery on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. This Grenache includes a fair bit of Syrah from estate grapes near Milton-Freewater. Aromas of coconut, chocolate, clove and plum give way to flavors of blueberry, black cherry, black tea and red plum in a big finish. (94 cases, 14.4% alc.) Bunnell Family Cellar $34 2009 Grenache, Columbia Valley Ron Bunnell, who emigrated to Washington from California in 1999, is burnishing his reputation with Rhône varieties with this impressive Grenache. It opens with aromas of black licorice, toast, plum and blueberry, followed by a rich entry that leads to flavors of red plum, raspberry, chocolate and plum. It’s a beautiful and complete wine. (137 cases, 14.8% alc.) Agate Ridge Vineyard $23 2010 Grenache, Southern Oregon Winemaker Brian Denner used grapes from his 5-acre estate vineyard to craft one of the finest red wines we’ve tasted. It opens with aromas of Dr. Pepper, red currant and crushed leaf, followed by flavors of green peppercorn, coffee, raspberry and a bit of oak. (75 cases, 13.8% alc.)

TASTING RESULTS

Excellent Milbrandt Vineyards $28 2010 Vineyard Series Grenache, Wahluke Slope Josh Maloney, a graduate of the University of Ste. Michelle, crafted this Grenache from estate grapes on the western edge of the Wahluke Slope. It opens with aromas of strawberry, cherry and chocolate, followed by rich, yummy flavors of chocolate-covered strawberry, cherry liqueur and ripe raspberry. Available only at the Prosser tasting room. (250 cases, 14.5% alc.) Abacela $25 2011 Garnacha, Umpqua Valley This Southern Oregon winery likes to put a Spanish twist on its wines, so it chose the Iberian name for Grenache. The wine offers aromas and flavors of wintergreen, white strawberry, red raspberry and red currant. It’s a delicious example of Grenache. (189 cases, 13.5% alc.) Alexandria Nicole Cellars $42 2011 Purple Reign Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills Owner/winemaker Jarrod Boyle has almost as much fun naming his wines as he does making them. This is a big, juicy, hedonistic wine with aromas and flavors of rose petal, plum, juice and boysenberry. A silky midpalate leads to a memorable finish. (194 cases, 14.4% alc.) Daven Lore Winery $35 2011 Grenache, Yakima Valley Yakima Valley winemaker Gord Taylor has made a superb wine from a cool vintage. This opens with aromas that reminded us more of Pinot Noir than Grenache, with notes of red currant, violet and rose petals. On the palate, it reveals distinctive flavors of raspberry, cherry and sweet herbs. A classy and elegant wine. (75 cases, 15.3% alc.)

R e d R h ô ne by the numbers

e Number of wines: 125 e Percentage of “Outstanding” wines: 17.6 e Percentage of “Excellent” wines: 56 e Percentage of “Recommended” wines: 24.8 e Average bottle price: $32 e Average alcohol: 14.2% e Total cases represented: 24,478 e AVAs represented: 15 e Wines by AVA: Columbia Valley (35), Horse Heaven Hills (14), Yakima Valley (13), Wahluke Slope (13), Snipes Mountain (12), Red Mountain (11), Rogue Valley (8), Snake River Valley (4), Umpqua Valley (4), Southern Oregon (2), Applegate Valley (2), Walla Walla Valley (2), Washington (2), Rattlesnake Hills (2), Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley (1). S p ring 2 0 1 4 • Win e Pre s s N o r thwest

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Seven of Hearts $29 2011 Grenache, Columbia Valley Byron Dooley crafts superb Pinot Noir from his winery in Carlton, Ore., but he also has a penchant for bigger red wines from both sides of the Columbia River. This Grenache opens with aromas of black pepper, cranberry and blueberry, followed by racy flavors of boysenberry and raspberry. This wine emphasizes finesse over power. (98 cases, 13.4% alc.) Reustle - Prayer Rock Vineyards $27 2011 Grenache, Umpqua Valley Winemaker Stephen Reustle is producing some of the best wines in Southern Oregon, and this Grenache is a superb example. It reveals aromas and flavors of pink rose petals, red currant, cherry taffy, cranberry and crushed herbs. It’s a complex and beautiful wine. (95 cases, 13.2% alc.) Kerloo Cellars $40 2011 Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills This Walla Walla winery reaches into the Horse Heaven Hills for its Grenache grapes. This opens with aromas of maple, plum and berry, followed by rich flavors of black pepper and ripe plum. There’s a lot going on in this pretty wine. (81 cases, 13.2% alc.) Chateau Lorane $20 2009 Grenache, Rogue Valley Dave Gruber has been making wine in the southern Willamette Valley for years, and he reached into Southern Oregon’s Quail Run Vineyard for the grapes to make this delicious red. It opens with aromas of oak and black cherry that give way to flavors of boysenberry, huckleberry and French vanilla. (150 cases, 14.1% alc.) Mercer Estates Winery $30 2010 Spice Cabinet Vineyard Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills The Mercer family planted Spice Cabinet in a bowl overlooking the Columbia River with a lot of different varieties. This Grenache features aromas and flavors of cranberry, rhubarb, strawberry, black pepper and rich red plum. It’s a beautiful wine with a memorable finish. (51 cases, 14.88% alc.) Whidbey Island Winery $29 2011 Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills Longtime western Washington winemaker Greg Osenbach reached into famed Alder Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills for this Grenache, which also includes a bit of Syrah. Bright aromas of strawberry and red licorice give way to bright, classic flavors of cherry, raspberry and chocolate. (60 cases, 14.5% alc.) Crater Lake Cellars $16 2012 Grenache, Rogue Valley This small winery north of Medford, Ore., crafted this 100% Grenache using Rogue Valley grapes. It is a rich, ripe wine with aromas and flavors of boysenberry, creamy milk chocolate and black cherry. (168 cases, 12.9% alc.) Smasne Cellars $34 2010 Upland Vineyard Grenache, Snipes Mountain Winemaker Robert Smasne and grower Todd Newhouse have a great partnership in this small 46

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AVA in the Yakima Valley. This dark, delicious Grenache offers aromas and flavors of dark plum, minerality, chocolate and moist earth. It’s a rich, brooding wine. (154 cases, 23.9% alc.) Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden $45 2011 Grenache 42, Applegate Valley This biodynamically farmed winery and vineyard in Southern Oregon has crafted a bright, delicious Grenache that provides aromas and flavors of cigar, leaf, fresh celery, boysenberry, black currant and blueberry, all backed by bright acidity. (130 cases, 13.3% alc.) Sigillo Cellars $23 2011 Grenache, Snipes Mountain This is just the second release from a winery in the Cascade Mountains town of Snoqualmie. Winemaker Steve Bailey used grapes from Upland Vineyard in the Yakima Valley to craft a pretty and focused Grenache with aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry, dark chocolate and a hint of blueberry. (63 cases, 13.8% alc.) Upland Estates Winery $32 2011 Grenache, Snipes Mountain Grape grower Todd Newhouse manages one of Washington’s oldest vineyards, with vines going back to 1917. This Grenache, made by winemaker Robert Smasne, opens with classic aromas of cranberry, cherry and strawberry, followed by round, juicy flavors of high-toned red fruit backed with bright intensity and modest tannins. (75 cases, 13.9% alc.) Michael Florentino Cellars $35 2011 Mezclado Garnache, Snipes Mountain Woodinville winemaker Brad Sherman used grapes from Upland Vineyard on Snipes Mountain, along with a little from Red Mountain to produce this delicious and distinctive Grenache. It offers aromas and flavors of coconut, black cherry, black currant and hedonistic ripe strawberry. (112 cases, 14.7% alc.) Coyote Canyon Winery $25 2010 Grenache, Horse Heaven Hills Mike Andrews, one of the top grape growers in the Horse Heaven Hills, has a winery in the Vintners Village in the Yakima Valley town of Prosser. This Grenache provides aromas and flavors of black currant, lime zest, dark raspberry and fresh cedar. It’s thoroughly delicious wine. (244 cases, 14.3% alc.)

Smasne Cellars $34 2011 Upland Vineyard Grenache, Snipes Mountain Omnipresent Yakima Valley winemaker Robert Smasne is the state’s leading expert on grapes from Snipes Mountain. This pretty Grenache is a big, dark, complex wine with aromas and flavors of black pepper, walnut, dark cherry and juicy plum. (154 cases, 23.9% alc.) Arcane Cellars $32 2012 Grenache, Columbia Valley Willamette Valley winemaker Jason Leal Silva used grapes from Lonesome Spring Ranch in the Yakima Valley. This full-bodied red reveals aromas and flavors of black currant, pie cherry, spice and toast. (63 cases, 13.5% alc.) Kerloo Cellars $40 2011 Upland Vineyard Grenache, Snipes Mountain Kerloo makes two distinctively different Grenaches from different AVAs. This example from Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley shows off aromas and flavors of strawberry, cherry, vanilla and crushed herbs. (34 cases, 13.7% alc.) Snake River Winery $20 2008 Grenache, Snake River Valley The grapes for this tasty Grenache come from one of Idaho’s oldest and most established vineyards, Arena Valley. This wine offers aromas and flavors of leather, black pepper, toasted oak and black cherry. (162 cases, 14% alc.)

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Mourvèdre

hough not as famous as Syrah or Grenache, Mourvèdre plays an important role in France’s Rhône Valley as a blending grape. Rarely has it played the lead role, but adventurous winemakers now are diving in. Last year, Washington wineries crushed 800 tons of Mourvèdre, putting it on the radar of consumers and winemakers alike.

Outstanding

Reustle - Prayer Rock Vineyards $27 2011 Grenache, Umpqua Valley This yummy Grenache from Southern Oregon is bursting with aromas and flavors of red cherry, strawberry, cranberry and black olive. It’s a rich, dense yet juicy wine with plenty of depth and length. (43 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Knight Hill Winery $28 2011 Mourvèdre, Wahluke Slope Owner Terry Harrison runs this rising star in Washington’s Rattlesnake Hills. Prosser winemaker Anke Wildman brought in the grapes for this superb example of Mourvèdre from StoneTree on the Wahluke Slope — which is owned and operated by her husband, Tedd Wildman. The resulting wine is magnificent, with aromas of cedar, vanilla, plum and black licorice, followed by stunning flavors of ripe plum, caramel, dark berries and well-integrated oak. It is beautifully made. (160 cases, 14.2% alc.)

L’Ecole No 41 $36 2011 StoneTree Vineyard Grenache, Wahluke Slope StoneTree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope has established itself as one of Washington’s premier vineyards. This lovely Grenache from a top Walla Walla Valley winery offers aromas and flavors of blueberry, black cherry, cola and loads of purple fruit. (190 cases, 15% alc.)

Bunnell Family Cellar $36 2008 Mourvèdre, Wahluke Slope Ron Bunnell learned his craft in California and came to Washington to take over the head winemaking job at Chateau Ste. Michelle. When he left to start his eponymous winery, he chose to focus on Rhône varieties, particularly Syrah. He’s since branched out and is showing his prowess with all Rhône reds. This delicious Mourvèdre

Recommended

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rhône opens with aromas of mocha, fresh plum, lavender and saddle leather, followed by flavors of clove, pomegranate and plums, all backed with bright acidity and modest tannins. (409 cases, 14.1% alc.) Daven Lore Winery $35 2011 Arthur’s Vineyard Mourvèdre, Yakima Valley This is the third vintage for this variety from a top Prosser, Wash., winery. The grapes come from Art den Hoed’s vineyard, along with just a touch of Grenache, Syrah and Durif. It opens with aromas of Graham cracker, Bing cherry and plum, followed by ripe, balanced flavors of purple fruit and sweet yellow bell pepper. (80 cases, 14.3% alc.) Milbrandt Vineyards $28 2010 Vineyard Series Mourvèdre, Wahluke Slope Winemaker Josh Maloney has raised the bar for Washington wine since arriving here and now is showing off his prowess at Milbrandt. This tasting-room-only bottling uses all estate grapes from the warm Wahluke Slope and reveals aromas of pretty oak, spice and purple fruit, followed by rich, delicious flavors of boysenberry, horehound and black cherry. (250 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Excellent Airfield Estates Winery $28 2012 Mourvèdre, Yakima Valley This longtime Yakima Valley vineyard has its winery in Prosser and a satellite tasting room in Woodinville. This delicious example of Mourvèdre opens with aromas of pie cherry, pomegranate, violet and lilac, followed by juicy flavors of plum and pomegranate. It’s all backed with lingering acidity and well-managed tannins. (100 cases, 13.3% alc.) Coyote Canyon Winery $38 2009 H/H Estates Robert Andrews Reserve Mourvèdre, Horse Heaven Hills Owner Mike Andrews honors his father, Robert — who also is a partner in the Coyote Canyon Vineyard — with this delicious Mourvèdre. It offers aromas and flavors of brown sugar, black cherry, leather and ripe dark plum. It’s a beautifully balanced red wine. (120 cases, 14.4% alc.) Dowsett Family Winery $40 2011 Mourvèdre, Red Mountain Heart of the Hill Vineyard on Red Mountain is owned by the Williams family from Kiona Vineyards & Winery. It is just below Col Solare and has become a favorite with winemakers statewide since being planted a few years ago. This example from a Walla Walla winery shows off aromas and flavors of black truffle, ripe plum, black olive and black pepper. (107 cases, 14.1% alc.) Mercer Estates Winery $33 2010 Spice Cabinet Vineyard Mourvèdre, Horse Heaven Hills Spice Cabinet is one of winemaker Jessica Munnell’s favorite estate vineyards, and she is producing some of the winery’s finest wines from here. This example reveals aromas and flavors of pretty purple fruit, vanilla, black currant WINEPRESSN W .C O M

and plum on a creamy midpalate. This is a rich, bold wine. (86 cases, 13.5% alc.) Smasne Cellars $44 2011 Upland Vineyard Mourvèdre, Snipes Mountain Winemaker Robert Smasne works with one of his favorite vineyards for this Mourvèdre. It is sa complex red wine with aromas of boysenberry, cocoa powder and tar, followed by rich flavors of pomegranate, red plum and pie cherry. (45 cases, 13.9% alc.) Eleven Winery $35 2011 Sugarloaf Vineyard Mourvèdre, Yakima Valley Bainbridge Island winemaker Matt Albee uses grapes from Sugarloaf Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Mountains, one of the state’s fast-rising fruit sources. The resulting wine is loaded with aromas and flavors of black currant, black pepper, black truffle and dark chocolate. (170 cases, 13.6% alc.)

Recommended Zerba Cellars $38 2011 Mourvèdre, Walla Walla Valley Using estate grapes from the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley, winemaker Doug Nierman has crafted a delicious Mourvèdre with aromas and flavors of dried cherry covered with dark chocolate, as well as notes of pomegranate and pie cherry. (98 cases, 14.4% alc.) Nota Bene Cellars $30 2011 Mourvèdre, Red Mountain Seattle winemaker Tim Narby uses grapes from Heart of the Hill Vineyard to craft this delicious Mourvèdre with aromas and flavors of huckleberry, vanilla and oak. It’s a rich, mouth-filling wine. (36 cases, 13.97% alc.) Forsyth Brio $35 2011 Heart of the Hill Mourvèdre, Red Mountain Longtime Yakima Valley winemaker David Forsyth produces small amounts of wine under his own boutique label, and this is a departure from his usual Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a lovely, understated wine with aromas and flavors of plum, black olive, cedar, and crushed herbs. (46 cases, 14.7% alc.) L. Donovan Wines $25 2010 Mourvèdre, Rogue Valley Southern Oregon winemaker Linda Donovan used grapes from Long Walk Vineyard near Ashland to craft this bright, assertive red wine with aromas and flavors of plum, dark cherry and rich dark chocolate. (175 cases, 13% alc.) Snowgrass Winery $30 2011 Heart of the Hill Rapscallion Mourvèdre, Red Mountain Alan Moen, a longtime observer and writer of Washington wine, now has his own winery in the North Central Washington town of Entiat. Using grapes from Red Mountain, he has crafted a Mourvèdre that reveals aromas and flavors of pomegranate, blueberry, cola and minerality. (25 cases, 13.5% alc.)

TASTING RESULTS

Seven of Hearts $29 2011 Mourvèdre, Columbia Valley Winemaker Byron Dooley used grapes from Hellsgate Vineyard near Goldendale, Wash., to produce this luscious Mourvèdre. It is a bright, food-friendly red with aromas and flavors of spices, cherry and crushed herbs. (98 cases, 12.6% alc.) Smasne Cellars $44 2010 Upland Vineyard Mourvèdre, Snipes Mountain Winemaker Robert Smasne leaves no stone unturned and few grape varieties unfermented at his Yakima Valley winery. This example of Mourvèdre from Snipes Mountain near Sunnyside offers aromas and flavors of Marionberry, juicy plum, pink peppercorn and dusty cherry. (45 cases, 13.9% alc.) Michael Florentino Cellars $28 2010 Monastrell, Red Mountain Using the Spanish name for Mourvèdre, this Woodinville winery also included 20% Counoise in this hearty red wine. It’s a rich red with aromas and flavors of ripe dark plum, dark chocolate and pomegranate. (56 cases, 14.9% alc.) Terra Blanca Winery $40 2009 Signature Series Mourvèdre, Red Mountain Winemaker Keith Pilgrim has crafted a delicious example of Mourvèdre using estate grapes. It offers aromas and flavors of spice, red cherry, pomegranate, sweet herbs and a wisp of smoke. (184 cases, 13.5% alc.)

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Petite Sirah

s we like to say, Petite Sirah is neither petite nor Syrah. Rather, it’s a brute of a grape. The word “petite” comes from the tiny berries, which result in rich, dark, tannic wines. Its origins are murky, though it is believed to be a cross-pollination of Syrah and the obscure Peloursin variety. This occurred in the 1860s. Though it is rarely found in the Rhône Valley, it is considered a Rhône variety by the Rhône Rangers. It is most famous in California, where it makes some of the biggest, finest and most age-worthy wines coming out of the Golden State. In the Northwest, this is still a new variety, so plantings are still pretty young and undeveloped. However, this tasting of 15 examples shows us what great potential Petite Sirah has in the Northwest, particularly in Washington’s Columbia Valley.

Outstanding Milbrandt Vineyards $28 2010 Vineyard Series Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope Winemaker Josh Maloney used grapes from the estate Northridge Vineyard on the upper reaches of the warm Wahluke Slope. He blended a bit of Petit Verdot, Malbec and S p ring 2 0 1 4 • Win e Pre s s N o r thwest

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Grenache into this impressive wine. It opens with big, dark aromas of chocolate cake, espresso, black licorice and boysenberry. On the palate, it shows its strength with thick, dark flavors of ripe plum, coffee, maple syrup and dark chocolate. It’s all backed with massive yet jammy tannins. As one judge said, “This is just smokin’!” (250 cases, 13.5% alc.)

has the opportunity to be a focus there. From one of the top wineries in Idaho comes a great Petite Sirah. It’s a big, bold, thick, dark red with aromas of caramel, molasses, plum and blackberry. On the palate, it’s loaded with flavors of plum, blackberry, boysenberry, coffee, black pepper and tobacco. It’s a huge wine that cries out for roasted meats. (45 cases, 13.8% alc.)

Bunnell Family Cellar $40 2009 Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope Ron Bunnell’s experience with Petite Sirah in California has prepared him for making it in Washington. This is a big, plush wine that emphasizes richness over power. It opens with aromas of caramel, boysenberry syrup and toast, followed by a rich entry that gives way to flavors of sweet dark fruit, mocha, coffee and inky plum. It’s a big, accommodating wine. (86 cases, 14.4% alc.)

Alexandria Nicole Cellars $45 2011 Mr. Big Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills Owner/winemaker Jarrod Boyle is a big man and is well suited to make a big wine. This Petite Sirah from his Destiny Ridge Vineyard grapes opens with aromas of purple fruit, caramel and blueberry. On the palate, this rich, extracted wine offers flavors of black pepper, blueberry, blackberry and boysenberry. It’s all backed with big, hairy tannins that will make your tastebuds cry with delight. (188 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Smasne Cellars $44 2011 Petite Sirah, Yakima Valley Robert Smasne’s version of Petite Sirah uses grapes from the somewhat cooler Yakima Valley during a cool vintage. That didn’t seem to matter. This opens with aromas that reminded us of freshfrom-the-oven brownies, rich plum and oak, followed by huge, dark flavors of blackberry, allspice, mincemeat and chocolate cake. Bold tannins back up the massive fruit. (124 cases, 13.9% alc.) Fraser Vineyard $30 2011 Petite Sirah, Snake River Valley The Snake River Valley is building a reputation for Rhône varieties, and perhaps Petite Sirah

Excellent Agate Ridge Vineyard $32 2009 Petite Sirah, Rogue Valley Prior to his move to North Carolina, winemaker Kiley Evans used grapes from Agate Ridge’s 2 acres of estate Petite Sirah in Southern Oregon. This is a glass-coating wine, with aromas of huckleberry, dark plum and vanilla, followed by rich, resinous flavors of black licorice, boysenberry and ripe plum. It’s a bold wine with plush tannins. (240 cases, 14.5% alc.)

Northwest Cellars $32 2011 Petite Sirah, Yakima Valley Vintner Bob Delf operates his winery in Kirkland, Wash., and also has a tasting room presence in Spokane. This is a big wine using grapes from den Hoed vineyard in the Yakima Valley. It was aged 20 months in new and used oak. The result is a rich wine with aromas of oak, licorice, leather and plum, followed by intriguing, extracted flavors of dark plum and blackberry. Hints of allspice and green tea give way to a big finish. (148 cases, 13.9% alc.) Palouse Winery $50 2010 Black Pearl Petite Sirah, Washington Palouse Winery on Vashon Island west of Seattle uses grapes from famed Portteus Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills. This is a big wine with aromas of dark chocolate, black licorice, boysenberry and golden raisin. Rich tannins greet the palate, with flavors of chocolate, plum, blackberry and blueberry. It’s a plush wine with a spicy finish. (72 cases, 13.5% alc.) Covington Cellars $40 2010 Petite Sirah, Yakima Valley Woodinville winemaker Morgan Lee used grapes from Olsen Vineyard near Prosser, along with a bit from StoneTree Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope for this thick, rich red wine. It opens with aromas of black walnut, black licorice, black cherry and chocolate cake. On the palate, its thick tannins give way to bold, dark flavors of ripe plum, black cherry, blackberry and walnut. (85 cases, 14.7% alc.)

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TA STING RESULTS

rhône

Plaisance Ranch $25 2011 Petite Sirah, Applegate Valley Deep in Southern Oregon, winemaker Joe Ginet used grapes from estate vineyards for this luscious Petite Sirah. It reveals aromas and flavors of cedar, cigar, plum, black licorice and new leather. It’s a big, earthy wine with dark plum flavors on the finish. (50 cases, 13.5% alc.) Zerba Cellars $50 2010 Reserve Petite Sirah, Walla Walla Valley Winemaker Doug Nierman brought in grapes from the estate Cockburn Vineyard at the base of the Blue Mountains for this dark, intense wine. It opens with aromas of dark chocolate and boysenberry, leading to big, thick flavors of plum, blackberry syrup and espresso, all backed with moderate tannins. (68 cases, 13.7% alc.) Sleeping Dog Wines $30 2010 Petite Sirah, Yakima Valley Larry Oates, owner of this little winery near Red Mountain, has crafted a delicious Petite Sirah that shows off more elegance than power. It opens with aromas of oak, toast and plum, which give way to flavors of blackberry jam and black olive, all backed with velvety tannins. (43 cases, 14.3% alc.) Westport Winery $29 2011 Swimmer Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope The Roberts family operates this destination winery on the Washington coast and uses grapes from Jones Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope for this robust red wine. It offers aromas and flavors of huckleberry pie, vanilla, plum sauce and chocolate, all backed with bold tannins and a pleasant toastiness. (103 cases, 14% alc.) Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards $35 2011 Petite Sirah, Columbia Valley Judy Phelps is the owner/winemaker for this small, feisty winery on the north shore of Lake Chelan. She brought in grapes from Lonesome Spring Ranch in the Yakima Valley for this expressive Petite Sirah. It unveils aromas and flavors of blackberry, espresso, leather, plum and dark chocolate, all wrapped around rich yet approachable tannins. (125 cases, 13.5% alc.)

Recommended Chateau Lorane $20 2007 Petite Sirah, Rogue Valley Owner Linde Kester took the reins on this wine from Chateau Lorane, a small winery not far from Eugene, Ore. Using grapes from Quail Run Vineyard in the Rogue Valley, he has crafted a yummy Petite Sirah with aromas and flavors of oak, black licorice, ripe plum, moist earth and new leather. (175 cases, 13.8% alc.)

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Counoise

ounoise is one of the small players in the Rhône Valley, typically used as a blending grape to boost acidity. It is rare to see it as a stand-alone variety, though a handful are made now in Washington. Counoise is, at best, a footnote in Washington, one of those grapes that is unusual to see and fun to try when you run across it.

Outstanding Tamarack Cellars $25 2011 Ciel du Cheval Counoise, Red Mountain Owner Ron Coleman and winemaker Danny Coleman used grapes from famed Ciel du Cheval on Red Mountain for this superior example of Counoise. This is a remarkable wine considering the cool vintage, though Red Mountain enjoys enough heat to fully ripen grapes most every year. This opens with aromas of boysenberry, blueberry and coffee, followed by bright, rich flavors of chocolate and cherry. As expected with this variety, the acidity provides plenty of structure, and the tannins play a minor role. (112 cases, 14.2% alc.)

Excellent Sol Stone Wine $28 2011 Roselle Counoise, Yakima Valley This young winery in Sammamish, Wash., has crafted a delicious example of Counoise that reveals aromas of dusty cherry, dried cherry and earthiness, followed by rich flavors of pomegranate and cranberry. It’s a bright red wine backed with ample acidity and just screams for veal, pasta or even salmon. (60 cases, 13.9% alc.)

Airfield Estates Winery $28 2012 Counoise, Yakima Valley Winemaker Marcus Miller uses estate grapes for this Counoise that offers up aromas and flavors of blueberry, huckleberry, plum and a hint of leather. It’s a bright wine with plenty of acidity. (70 cases, 13.3% alc.) Michael Florentino Cellars $28 2011 Counoise, Red Mountain Winemaker Bradley Sherman brought in grapes from famed Ciel du Cheval, blending a bit of Syrah for richness and depth. The result is an elegant and intriguing wine with aromas of lilac, violets and fresh sage, followed by flavors of blueberry, pomegranate and Rainier cherry. (56 cases, 14.6% alc.)

Recommended Ribera Vineyards $25 2011 Counoise, Columbia Valley This Oregon winery used grapes from Red Heaven Vineyard on Red Mountain but because of federal labeling laws, cannot list it as a Red Mountain wine. It opens with aromas of golden raspberry, apricot and cherry, followed by flavors of cranberry and blood orange. A bright, refreshing wine. (40 cases, 14.2% alc.)

T

Cinsault

hough more widely planted in southern France’s Longuedoc region, Cinsault also is grown in small amounts in the Rhône Valley. It’s also widely planted in North Africa, primarily Algeria and Morocco, which are former French colonies. Small amounts are grown in Washington, where Cinsault often is used as a minor blending grape that can add depth of character and more fruit to a wine’s aroma. We had just one example submitted for this judging.

Excellent Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards $35 2011 The Coquette, Wahluke Slope Winemaker Judy Phelps brought in grapes from Rosebud, a historic vineyard on the Wahluke Slope with a focus on organic farming. The resulting wine is lighter in color, almost like a Pinot Noir. It opens with aromas of dusty raspberry, rosehip and pomegranate. On the palate, it is a delight, with racy flavors of raspberry and juicy strawberry. It’s beautifully balance. (70 cases, 13.8% alc.) e



Andy Perdue is the wine columnist for The Seattle Times

and editor & publisher of Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

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wine country: TRI-CITIES, RED MOUNTAIN & PROSSER

WINE COUNTRY: WILLAMETTE VALLEY & YAMHILL COUNTY

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wine country: TRI-CITIES, RED MOUNTAIN & PROSSER

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Chihuly Glass event to kick off Taste Washington Chihuly Garden and Glass has partnered with Taste Washington to offer an exclusive kick-off party the evening before the annual Taste Washington event. The first annual Red & White Party will be held March 27, 7-10 p.m. in the Glasshouse at Chihuly Garden and Glass. The Red & White Party, a Taste Washington magnum wine tasting event, will feature 21 of the state’s most celebrated wineries pouring 90+ point wines, many of which will be magnums. Guests are invited to don their best red and white cocktail attire and prepare their palates for an evening of great wine and food, courtesy of Chef Ivan Szilak and Collections Café. After a tour through the exhibition’s galleries and garden, guests will arrive in the Glasshouse, ready to enjoy wines from the likes of Sparkman Cellars, Leonetti Cellar, Januik, Col Solare and more. Each winemaker is expected to pour two vintages, many of which will only be available for tasting at this Taste Washington event. Live music will be provided by members of the Seattle Rock Orchestra. Tickets are $195 (inclusive) and are available now at www.redandwhiteparty.com. Taste Washington, the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event, will be held in Seattle on March 29 and 30 at CenturyLink Field Event Center. The event features more than 200 Washington wineries, acclaimed local restaurants, educational seminars and chef demonstrations. Tickets for the Grand Tasting and educational seminars are now on sale at http://tastewashington. org/. General one-day admission tickets are $80 and allow patrons to attend the Grand Tasting from 2 to 5 p.m. VIP tasting begins at 1 p.m. and allows wine enthusiasts early and exclusive access to winemakers and chefs. VIP one-day tickets are $145. Two-day ticket prices are $125 for general admission and $185 for VIP admission. Taste Washington seminars will also be held at CenturyLink Field Event Center, before the Grand Tasting, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on both March 29 and 30. These seminars are led by top national wine personalities and sommeliers. Educational topics for seminars showcase various aspects of Washington wine, wine and food pairing demonstrations, and even food pairings with beer and spirits. For more information, visit http:// tastewashington.org/seminars-2014/. About Chihuly Garden and Glass: Opened May 21, 2012, Chihuly Garden and Glass, brings together all the elements of Dale Chihuly’s work, including Drawings, signature glass series, large architectural installations and personal collections in a long-term exhibition. For more information visit: www.chihulygardenandglass.com. WINEPRESSN W .C O M

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WINE COUNTRY: CENTRAL WASHINGTON, LAKE CHELAN & LEAVENWORTH

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No r t hw e st Wine Events Marc h 29 Capital Food and Wine Festival, Lacey, Wash. Northwest wines take center stage at the 25th annual fundraiser for St. Martin’s University. Cost is $15. Contact 360-438-4366 or go to capitalfoodandwinefestival.com 29-30 Taste Washington, Seattle. Washington’s signature wine event at the CenturyLink Field Event Center spans two days of public tasting and education. Tickets start at $80. Go to tastewashington.org

April 11-12 Celebration of Syrah, Troutdale, Ore. McMenamins Edgefield Winery brings in winemakers and distributors from the Northwest and beyond for the 13th annual Syrah showdown. Go to celebrationofsyrah.com 12-13 North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend. Gaston, Ore.. More than 20 members of the North Willamette Vintners group offer tastings, culinary samples, education and events. Tickets start at $30. Go to nwvintners.org 12-13 Columbia Gorge Passport Kickoff Weekend. Wineries along both sides of the Columbia River participate. The weekend includes a winegrowers’ fundraising dinner, pouring and auction for hospice. Tickets start at $15. Go to columbiagorgewine.com 25 Festival of Wine and Flowers, Spokane. The 23rd annual tasting and auction of Washington wines at Manito Country Club raises money for St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute. Go to festivalofwineandflowers.com. 25-27 Spring Barrel Tasting, Yakima Valley, Wash. This longtime annual event showcases more than 40 wineries and special seminars in the Northwest’s oldest appellation. Cost is $35. Go to wineyakimavalley.org. 25-27 Astoria Warrenton Crab & Seafood Festival, Astoria, Ore. Sip wine from more than 40 Oregon wineries while enjoying seafood at the mouth of the Columbia River. This marks the event’s 32nd year. Go to oldoregon.com.

May

3-4 Passport to Woodinville. Woodinville, Wash. These are the only two days of the year when all of these wineries are open to the public. Cost is $65. Go to woodinvillewinecountry.com. 9-11 Spring Barrel Tasting, Spokane, Wash. Spokane wineries continue to open their doors to visitors on Mother’s Day weekend. Go to spokanewineries.net. 10 Enumclaw Wine Walk, Enumclaw, Wash. The streets will be closed during this evening pouring of 20 wineries in 20 local businesses. Go to enumclawchamber.com. 17 Northwest Corks and Crush, Puyallup, Wash. Wineries in Oregon and Washington pour and help fund services at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital. Go to multicare.org/home/northwest-corks-crush. 17 Central Washington Art of Wine Competition and Tasting. Ellensburg, Wash. About 30 wineries are set to pour at this fifth annual event. Cost is $45. Go to kittitascountychamber.com. 17-18 Columbia Gorge Wine and Pear Festival. Wineries along both sides of the Columbia River participate with tastings from more than 20 wineries and pairings with local fruit. Go to wineandpearfest.com 24 Revelry on Red Mountain, Benton City, Wash. Wine country chefs and winemakers gather at Col Solare in support of the Auction of Washington Wines. Cost is $95. Go to auctionofwashingtonwines.org/events/revelry. 24-26 Memorial Weekend in Wine Country. Willamette Valley, Ore. More than 150 wineries participate in the 24th year of the event. Go to willamettewines.com.

June 8 Savor Idaho, Boise. The Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission puts wineries and restaurants on display for the sixth year at the Idaho Botanical Gardens. Cost is $45. Go to savoridaho.org. 20-21 Sisters Wine & Brew Festival, Sisters, Ore. This event includes food, music and wine education. Go to sisterswineandbrew.com.

1-11 The Okanagan Spring Wine Festival. Okanagan Valley, B.C. It includes more than 100 events. Go to thewinefestivals.com. 2-4 Spring Release Weekend, Walla Walla, Wash. Also known as “Leonetti Weekend,” this is one of two weekends when nearly every winery is open. Go to wallawallawine.com.

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WINE COUNTRY: PUGET SOUND & WESTERN WASHINGTON

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WESTERN WASHINGTON cont.

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wine country: SOUTHERN OREGON

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MATCH MAKERS

Saffron

Mediterranean Kitchen Saffron adds sweet spice

To Walla Walla Dining Story by Eric Degerman // Photos by Colby D. Kuschatka

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ALLA WALLA, Wash. — Here’s a secret for those who want to see some of the Walla Walla Valley rock star winemakers with their hair down — book a table at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen. “I’ll think, ‘Please don’t let anything tragic happen here because we’d lose a chunk of the winemaking community,’ ” said general manager Island Ainsworth. “I’d say there are at least two winery people here every night.” The reasons for the attraction are many, but it starts with Chris Ainsworth and his wife, Island. His culinary skills have earned him six consecutive nominations for the iconic James Beard Foundation Awards’ Best Northwest Chef title. (The Seattle Weekly dubbed him the region’s Susan Lucci because he’s still waiting for win No. 1). And then there’s Island, whose vivacious attitude and uncanny ability to remember names and faces disarms almost everyone who enters Saffron. “When you walk in the door and get hugged — that’s part of what makes it awesome,” Chris said. “A place like this is hard to find, but for Island and I, what we bring is unique to us. The food and the front of the house is what we offer. And we have fun with it.” If you haven’t been to Saffron, the Ainsworths and their team will want to get to know you, so plan on an enjoyable and leisurely two-hour dinner. Their tables are made out of riddling racks, but they won’t seat a party larger than six guests. Nothing is static at Saffron, just a few blocks from the Marcus Whitman Hotel. 62

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Chris’ menu can change several times a week in the summer, and the reason Island doesn’t post her wine list online is because she changes it daily. “A sense of place, terroir, is why we are here and why everything ties together,” she said. “It becomes an experience here in the valley, and it becomes more than just going wine tasting. The guest will say, ‘My server told me about this wine. I had this wine and then I had to go out to the winery.’ It becomes this magical thing. You get to taste the place.” It’s something restaurants in Walla Walla can do, but not those in Woodinville. And being a part of wine country is why they left Seattle. The Ainsworths first spent year at a winery/restaurant in the Tri-Cities before moving to the Walla Walla Valley in the spring of 2007. “That time in the Tri-Cities confirmed that Island and I could work together, and I also really began to source from local farmers and having relationships with them,” he said. “I was looking in Seattle and other places to open our own restaurant, but Walla Walla kind of grabs you. People are friendly, and it has its charms.” As is the case with many chefs, before Ainsworth put roots in Walla Walla he rarely stayed in one restaurant for more than a year. He grew up in a Massachusetts household that enjoyed seafood and cooked Italian, then moved to Alabama where he attended Troy University and helped an uncle who was opening an Italian-American restaurant. By the sounds of it, the nephew did most of the construction work, and then when the doors finally

opened, Ainsworth found himself in the kitchen. “There were long hours of going to school in the morning then going to work at the restaurant — first doing prep and then working all the way through to close,” Ainsworth said. “For some reason, cooking just came super-easy to me, and that’s when I thought, ‘Man, maybe I should follow this cooking thing.’ “ So he enrolled in Walt Disney World’s well-rounded apprenticeship program. In 1996, he intended for his next step to be the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., but changed his mind after learning a bit more about the French Culinary Institute. The next year, after graduating, he moved to Connecticut and found himself working for a star on the rise, celebrity chef/restaurateur Todd English. “This career is a lot of hard work, a little bit of who you know and a little bit of being in the right place at the right time,” Ainsworth said. He cooked in several of English’s East Coast restaurants, then abruptly decided to leave for Mexico, a moment he refers to as his “walkabout.” In the back of his mind for many years was a desire to live in Seattle, so he stuck out his thumb in Baja and hitchhiked north. Fortunately, the first car to pick him up was bound for Seattle, and he ended up living in the driver’s basement for a year. “When Island met me, I was still living there,” he said with a smile. Ainsworth was far from a bum. He used his Todd English references to work at The Dahlia Lounge for Tom Douglas and Brasa WINEPRESSNW.COM


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Adamant Cellars $22 2012 Albariño, Walla Walla Valley  — 90 cases, 13% alcohol For many in Colorado during the 1990s, the adult beverage of choice was beer. Devin Stinger was different. He was an Albariño guy. “I was drinking wine in my 20s and I got hooked on Spanish Albariño,” Stinger said. “That was my everyday drinker. I can’t really explain it, but I would buy this one particular Albariño, and I would buy it by the case.” Now his Adamant Cellars is one of a handful of wineries in the Pacific Northwest producing Albariño, and it’s a standout in the Walla Walla Valley. “I always wanted to make some because I love its character, but I couldn’t get any grapes,” he said. So in 2009, Stinger and his artist wife, Debra, partnered with Scott Sears to establish Gateshead Vineyard just northeast of famed Pepper Bridge Vineyard. They planted 3 acres of Iberian Peninsula grapes — 2 acres of Tempranillo, and a single acre of Albariño. The 2012 vintage marks his first commercial production of Albariño, and it accounts for less than 10 percent of his total production. “It gives you these little tiny clusters and you don’t get a whole lot of grapes per cluster,” Stinger said. “I’d like to be able to get 4 tons per acre out of it, which would get us to about 120 cases, but right now we’re just over 3 tons.” Stinger styles it bone-dry and oakfree, presenting it as a deliciously fun alternative to Pinot Gris, opening with aromas of starfruit, Asian pear, melon, gooseberry and white peach. Those hints of white fruit transition to the palate that leads with white peach, backed by slightly spritzy citrus acidity and a finish of peach pit. In 1999, Stinger began making wine in the basement of his Portland home, a hobby to share with his father. Family ties and the search for grapes introduced him to Walla Walla, so when decided to take the next step, the former software developer at Intel launched Adamant at the airport. He was part of the inaugural class of five incubator wineries nurtured by the Port of Walla Walla in 2006. “Us and Trio Vintners were the very first ones in there,” Stinger said. “We’ve since graduated — or hatched, as I call it — next to Buty, so we didn’t move very far.” Adamant Cellars, 525 E. Cessna Ave., Walla Walla, WA, 99362, 509529-4161, adamantcellars.com.

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Island and Chris Ainsworth

for Tamara Murphy. However, the siren of Todd English lured him back — first to help open Bonfire in Boston, then heading back to Seattle to launch The Fish Club inside the Marriott. Making both crosscountry trips was Island, who grew up in Kent and surrounded by her Vietnamese family.

“He says that when he met me, he was interviewing for his GM,” Island chuckled. “I’ve always been in customer service. My background was in coffee in Seattle.” You will get no denial from Chris. “I always knew that I would have my own place and that my wife probably was going to work with me,” he said. “We met, and we were inseparable from Day One.” Ainsworth got The Fish Club going in 2005 but left for wine country after a year. In time, their friends at Monteillet Fromagerie in Dayton — Pierre-Louis and Joan — recruited them to Walla Walla. They opened Saffron in May 2007. WINEPRESSNW.COM


MATCH MAKERS

Octopus with Potatoes, Olives, Pimenton and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Serves 2

5 pounds octopus 2 bay leaves 6 red potatoes ¼ cup Kalamata olives, chopped ½ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley 2 tablespoons Pimenton dulce 2 tablespoons Pimenton picante ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds 1 teaspoon sea salt Lemon juice, to taste Extra-virgin olive oil 1. Clean the octopus by removing the beak head. Place octopus and potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them. Fill with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Add bay leaves and season with a pinch of sea salt. 2. You may need to weigh down the octopus with a plate to keep it in a the pot. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for about an hour. 3. While octopus is simmering, make the seasoning by adding cumin, coriander and salt into a spice grinder and grinding until fine. Add spice and salt into a small bowl and mix in the pimenton dulce and pimenton picante and set aside. This is your pimenton seasoning salt. 4. When octopus and potatoes are done, remove from heat and let cool just enough to handle. Make sure to save the broth. Chop the octopus and potatoes into large bite-sized chunks. 5. Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add a few ounces of the broth. Quickly add the olives and the chopped octopus, potatoes and a dash of fresh lemon juice. 6. Spoon the octopus, potatoes and olives onto a serving platter or bowl, and include the juices. Sprinkle the pimenton seasoning salt over the dish so it looks like a red dusting over it. 7. Spread some picked flat-leaf parsley around randomly and drizzle with EVOO. Enjoy warm. Chef ’s note: The octopus and potatoes can be cooked 1-2 days in advance if necessary. However, they would be even better if flash-grilled over a charcoal or wood grill before tossing dressing.

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“We did this all on our own,” Chris said. “We took the little bit that we had and made it work.” Six months later, as if one restaurant wasn’t enough, their landlord convinced them to take over his own office space and open a Vietnamese pho restaurant adjacent to Saffron. Shared prep areas and recipes adapted from Island’s family have been critical to Sho Pho’s success. “It’s made with the same love that goes into Saffron. It’s all natural and local. We hand-roll every egg roll. We hand-roll every meatball, and we don’t use MSG,” Chris said. “Once you eat it, you are hooked, and it’s been on a slow and steady incline from the start. We’d get hate mail if we ever closed it. And I’d go hungry. That’s where we go eat a lot of the time.” Their lives would be less complicated without Sho Pho, but the loyal clientele and low employee turnover means the Ainsworths still have time to dote on their Rhodesian ridgebacks, hang out with winemaking pals or go target shooting. Chris unwinds playing disc golf, while Island takes time for yoga, knitting and sewing. “I’m pretty crafty,” she said. And while this spring will mark seven years of Saffron, they don’t appear to be slowing down. “The statistics for couples in this industry are not good,” Island said. “It’s very hard on every relationship you have. You miss things. You work on weekends. You work on holidays. For the longest time in our relationship, we were like ships passing in the night. You just need to celebrate your successes and talk about your weaknesses — and we’re both so different from each other.” For the Match Maker project, the Ainsworths collaborated on an appetizer — their octopus dish made with local potatoes, olives, pimentón and extra virgin olive oil — to pair with the Adamant Cellars 2012 Estate Albariño from the Walla Walla Valley. “Albariño, being of Spanish origin, should work well with the octopus, the olives and the pimentón because they are friends in general flavors of Spain,” he said. “This Albariño doesn’t have a ton of acidity, but the little bit

••• Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen

of sweetness counters nicely with the olives and other stuff going on in there.” Perhaps as a tribute to the name of their restaurant, they paired the Bunchgrass Winery 2010 Triolet, a blend of red Bordeaux varieties, with Lamb Tagine al Maftoun, which includes saffron chaariya. The richness and tender nature of the naturally farmed lamb from Upper Dry Creek, simmered in the dark spice blend, held its own against the black cherry, toasted oak and depth of the Triolet. “We can’t have a super-big oaky wine and can’t have a soft wine,” he said. “Our flavors can be bold, but this wine does well with the spicy flavors of a tagine. Bunchgrass, they do nicely balanced wines, and that’s important.” Bunchgrass tends to be a constant on Saffron’s wine list, which leads with 30 local wines and a handful of glass pours, but Island adds, “We try to give everybody in the valley a little love.” That starts to explain why she holds wine seminars with the servers each week, and it’s also why the entire team approaches each table with the expectation of presenting a wine pairing dinner. “When my sisters come to visit, they ask, ‘Do you know anyone who is NOT in the wine industry?” Island said. “But that’s why we’re here. I get so excited when the wineries win awards because I’m so proud. It’s wonderful.” e

Bunchgrass Winery $28 2010 Triolet, Walla Walla Valley  — 175 cases, 14.3% alcohol Tom Olander moved from San Diego to Walla Walla in 2001, leaving one famous hotel for another. And while the hospitality industry lured him to the valley, the wine community led Olander to friendships, a winemaking education and ownership in one of the region’s oldest brands. “I moved up from the Hotel del Coronado because I was recruited to open the Marcus Whitman Hotel,” Olander said. “I was there for the first six months, and in that time I fell in love with Walla Walla.” Soon, he served as restaurant manager and wine buyer for renowned Whitehouse-Crawford, spending nearly five years there. He took part in the first winemaking classes at Walla Walla Community College before moving to Abeja, where he worked at the winery and inn. Along the way, Olander met winemaker Roger Cockerline, who founded Bunchgrass Winery in 1997, but Cockerline also was one of the first grape growers in the valley. In 2006, after nearly 25 years in the wine industry, Cockerline, a retired educator, wanted to step aside, so Olander and his longtime partner Barb Commare stepped in. Bunchgrass continues its longtime bond with Walla Walla Vintners, which is where Olander makes the red wines. It’s allowed Bunchgrass to grow from 400 cases to 850 cases, with a goal of reaching 1,200 cases in 2015. “For the Bunchgrass wines, it’s not only about the great fruit, but there’s also a savory quality that comes through in this wine,” Olander said. “The dried herbs and cedar are the qualities that makes this great to pair with food. And as a trained sommelier, I don’t want there to be heavy oak, either.” Bunchgrass’ flagship wine remains the Triolet, and its formula has been a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, with a focus on Dwelley Vineyard for the Cabs and Frazier Bluff Vineyard for the Petit Verdot. In 2010, the combination was 68-28-4. “Petit Verdot is just so dark and rich and has such great color,” Olander said. “It adds all those elements and shows up in the finish, adding depth and helps lengthen the finish on the wine.” * Bunchgrass Winery, 151 Bunchgrass Lane, Walla Walla WA 99362, 509540-8963, bunchgrasswinery.com

saffronmediterraneankitchen.com 125 W. Alder St., Walla Walla, WA, 99362 509-525-2112 66

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MATCH MAKERS

Lamb Tagine al Maftoun Serves 2

5 pounds boneless leg of lamb 3 eggs, uncooked 2 sweet onions, grated 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped ¼ pound butter ¼ cup sweet paprika 1 tablespoon cumin, ground 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 cinnamon sticks, whole 2 teaspoons saffron 4 quarts water ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped ¼ cup cilantro, chopped Lemon juice, to taste 1 cup Greek-style yogurt Zest from 1 lemon 2 cloves garlic, pressed 2 cups cappalletti noodles – broken into 1.5 inch pieces 2 tablespoons butter 1 quart saffron water 1 cucumber – cut into strips 1 cup cilantro ¼ cup parsley Salt & Pepper 1. If using a tagine, be sure to have prepped it according to its specifications and use a heat diffuser if it is made of clay. Be sure it is a cooking tagine and not a serving tagine. Serving tagines are usually quite decorative looking. 2. Cut the leg of lamb into chunks and marinate with about a 1/4 cup of grated onions and half of the chopped garlic. 3. Season liberally with salt and pepper and some olive oil, and let sit in the fridge for a couple hours. 4. In a large cooking tagine — or a skillet if you can’t find a tagine — heat the butter until just starting to brown. Add the lamb chunks and cook, just getting a little color on the meat. 5. Remove the chunks and add a little olive oil just to coat the pan if you need to. Add the rest of the grated onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. 6. Add the lamb back in continuing to cook. Add the spices and cook for another minute. Stir in the herbs. Add the water to just cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. 7. Simmer for about an hour and a half or until tender. Season with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Lemon yogurt

1. Grind garlic with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. WINEPRESSN W .C O M

2. In a bowl combine pressed garlic, yogurt, zest of 1 lemon, the juice of the one lemon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Saffron noodles

1. Grind a pinch of saffron in a mortar and pestle until it becomes a powder, or grind in a spice grinder. 2. Add to water and heat to a simmer. Season well with salt and reserve. 3. Heat butter in a separate pot. 4. Add the broken noodles and cook, stirring until they start to turn a golden brown. 5. Add the saffron water to just barely cover the noodles and simmer until just starting to soften. The noodles should be turning yellow and able to bend a bit without breaking. Just 1-2 minutes. 6. Strain in a fine mesh sieve over a sink and run cold water over them until fully cooled, removing the starch. Let drain in the sieve for 5-10 minutes or until needed in the next step.

Final assembly 1. Once the lamb is tender and the simmering sauce has been reduced and seasoned to your taste with some fresh lemon, salt and pepper, add three uncooked eggs to the middle of the tagine. Season the eggs with a little salt, pepper and a pinch of ground cumin. 2. Add the noodles to the center of the tagine, covering the eggs by making sort of golden nest on top of the eggs, lamb and sauce. 3. Cover the tagine and continue to simmer for a few minutes until the eggs are set and the noodles have been steamed through. 4. Dress the picked parsley, cilantro and cucumbers with a dash of fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl. 5. Present the tagine at the table. Be sure to use a towel or tile as not to burn the table. Drizzle the yogurt over the noodles reserving some for the side. 6. Garnish with the dressed herb and cucumber salad. S p ring 2 0 1 4 • Win e Pre s s N o r thwest

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wi ne c ountry: Shop s & Dire ctory

Washington Olympic, Kitsap Peninsula, San Juans COMPASS WINES, 1405 Commercial Ave., Anacortes, WA. 360-293-6500; fax: 360-588-1895. Extensive collection of rare & collectable wines. Wine storage. Only 2 blocks from the marinas. Dockside delivery available. compasswines.com

Oregon Greater Portland Area BRENTWOOD WINE COMPANY — Internet fine wine weekly auctions. The Northwest's largest buyer of fine wine. Outright purchase or Consignment option where you set the price. For free appraisal, email wine list: appraisals@brentwoodwine.com (503) 638-9463 (WINE) www.brentwoodwine.com

Oregon Coast THE CELLAR ON 10TH, Astoria. Corner of 10th & Marine Dr. Finest selection of regional wines. Wine bar; weekly tastings; storage; gifts. (503) 325-6600 • www.thecellaron10th.com E-mail us: thecellaron10th@aol.com

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COLUMN

grapes of roth BY COKE ROTH

Take my advice; don’t take my advice

D

on’tcha just love it when you get subjectively inapplicable advice? Representations that your backside looks slim in those pants, that the poppy seed between your teeth looks like an onyx in the ivory, or that the Kimchee has beguiling complexity. So is it with us in the wine commentator racket when we take our readers to the woodshed if they don’t embrace the wines we like. With my omnipotence, my omniscience, how could you disagree with me, you uncultured swine?! Let’s just say that I loved Kimchee (this is a huge hypothetical)… you know, the result of perfectly good spiced vegetables left to rot into a slimy, yet crunchy substance. By waxing on poetic over the wonderful regurgitative (Note to reader… Spellcheck and I disagree that is a word…you read it first here…ahem) nuances of what only a Philistine would call food, I may convince you Kimchee was actually good, or better than the average autolytically attacked flora. Conversely, I could wordsmith you into disliking it based on my staunch and unblemished record of detesting Kimchee, over which I would prefer to eat live goldfish. So is it with wine that one person’s treasure is another’s trash. And I am here to make the case that anyone else’s wine opinion should not be viewed as the rule, but rather, as a rough guideline to provide some guidance, but nothing more than that. When I officially entered the wine industry in 1972, wine writers were hell-bent-for-election on promoting insipid, over-oaked, high alcohol Chardonnay… and calling it Pinot Chardonnay… we all bought in. They said the French had it all wrong, that the wines went well with food, and that they would age, and that it was the way the Creator intended Chardonnay to be made…all wrong. I would love to have one of today’s wine fashionistas talk smack about the sweet Concord sipped every evening by my most inspiring maternal grandfather George Neidhart…

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“young man, you wanna step outside…?” This wine and similar sweet reds were his evening celebration, his reward. If grandpa had listened to us wine columnists, judges, tasters, aficionados, whatever, he would have never found the perfect wine for him. In one of my previous writings, which I view as a victimless crime, I noted that the heavily favored, inexpensive wine we wine judges consumed with dinner was summarily dismissed the next day in the judging. It went well with food, but lacked the viscosity to be meritorious by the panel. If the restaurant owner had used our competition results, it would have been yanked from the menu, cheating us out of a good time. Recently I tasted a wine that smelled like the south end of a north-bound mule that had freshly painted toenails, after which I wanted criminal charges brought against the winemaker. Then, guess what a friend brought to dinner? You got it; that exact bottle of wine. And, as he extoled the virtues of the wine he bestowed, I took a lethal three ounce dose of reflux inducer, and with watered and crossed eyes, asked him if he thought Kimchee would pair with it. Good thing he didn’t talk to me before that or I could have embarrassed myself. Also, understand that not all wines are tasted by commentators or panels. Wine publications and competitions don’t go out and buy wine to taste… Heaven forbid. Wineries send wines to HQ or the competition to be tasted. So if you rely upon your buying guide to be in print or online, only a fraction of the wines will get ink... or megabytes. Moreover, wine snapshots are inherently inaccurate because the wine changes over time, making most everything soon yesterday’s newspaper. How do you know whether a wine is good when someone hasn’t told you whether it is good? Taste the wine yourself and make up your own mind…what a concept! Some wine commentators are wine dicta-

tors…perish the thought that the ocean of bargain wine, consumed by folks around the world, would be heralded as consumable by a self-appointed expert. My guess is that you learned more from your mistakes than you did from your successes. And as much as I would like you to be the beneficiary of the tens of thousands of wines I have tasted over the last forty-plus years, my humble opinion of what you like will likely fall short of your mark. There is a big difference between crazy and stupid, so my suggestion is to keep your eyes wide open, lose your gullibility and try the Kimchee… what the hell do I know?! Look, my taste is only my taste, and is not your taste. You carefully select food, cars, homes, clothes, occupations without someone telling you what is for you. There are even different brands of Kimchee, for some reason, from which you, not me, can select your favorite jar of biodegraded sludge. Then when it comes to wine, you pick up some rag that says a wine is great, or not, letting some other dude make your selection…hmmmm. Behold your own opinion with commentary as your starting point, not your finish line. So, my advice is this: don’t take my advice. Or the advice of others for that matter. Make up your own mind on the wine you like. Use what we present here at WinePress Northwest and at various competitions as rough guidelines to select wines, for occasions and friends, with or without Kimchee, to be consumed in moderation, frequently.  COKE ROTH is an attorney who lives in Richland, Wash. He is an original member of Wine Press Northwest’s tasting panel. Learn more about him at cokerothlaw.com

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Wine Press Northwest Spring 2014  

In the Spring 2014, we feature our Wineries of the Year. We also reveal the results of our Rhône tasting and give you a guide to 72 hours in...