Memorial Day weekend trip to the Columbia Gorge (Day 3)

Memorial Day weekend trip to the Columbia Gorge (Day 3) 1280 960 celo4life

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to take my third trip to the Columbia Gorge and also take another look at the Willamette Valley. I was really excited about this visit because it was my first look at the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. I got a late start leaving Seattle and got caught in the usual “look at everyone around you” traffic, but I managed to make it to four really good wineries. Each of the wineries on this trip was unique in their own way and I was really pleased with what’s coming out of the region. The picture above is a shot from the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. You’ll see these rock formation throughout this region. The Washington side of the Columbia Gorge is like night and day compared to the Oregon side. The climate & terroir is very different from the Oregon side which makes this region very exciting to visit. So without further adieu 🙂

Cor Cellars

Cor Cellars

When I arrived at Cor Cellars, I was greeted by Lana in the tasting room. On this windy day, I was wondering if anyone was going to be coming around the vineyards, but it wasn’t long before a large group of people arrived as I was leaving. Cor Cellars had 5 wines available at the time, but have expanded to 8 wines in their collection. The price points are very approachable and the wines are great for any level of collector. I managed to pick up 3 great wines on my visit and have plans to pick up more in the future!:

Cor Cellars 2009 Alba Cor

Refreshingly different, this wine is made with a nod to the Alsatian wines of northern France. The barrel fermented Gewürztraminer adds spicy honeysuckle and floral spring aromas, while the Pinot Gris contributes vibrant pear and melon, refreshing acidity and structure.

  • Varietals: 54% Pinot Gris / 46% Gewürztraminer
  • Vineyard: Celilo Vineyard
  • Appellation: Columbia Gorge
  • Fermentation: Pinot Gris: Stainless Steel / Gewürztraminer: 100% neutral French oak
  • Time in Barrel: 5 months

Cor Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

There are no tasting notes available on this wine and I believe it’s because it is sold out. I will contact the winery and see if I can obtain them. One thing to note, they have released a 2009 Old Hwy white wine which is a Sauvignon Blanc blend. I will definitely check this out!

Cor Cellars 2008 Momentum

Black cherry, plum and cassis, with hints of dark chocolate, spice and violets. Starting with a base of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is floral, regal and extensive, we add Merlot for silky texture, Petit Verdot for spice and then finally Malbec for its earthy and expressive personality.

  • Varietals: 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Petit Verdot, 21% Merlot, 21% Malbec
  • Vineyards: McKinley Springs Vineyards / Alder Ridge Vineyards
  • Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills
  • Barrel: 90% French / 10% American (40% new / 60% two-year-old)
  • Time in Barrel: 10 months
  • Bottled: August 2009

Syncline Wine Cellars

Probably one of the more talked about wineries in the Columbia Gorge, Syncline Wine Cellars offers many wines in their collection. Some of their wines are blended with grapes you may or may not be familiar with: Cinsault, Counoise, Carignan just to name a few. I found most of their wines to be light and have a very european feel to them. If you’re looking for wines that you can hold onto or drink immediately, this is the winery for you.

The tasting room is very large and was busy during my visit. I was greeted by Georgia and Sara who were very pleasant and fun to talk to. I had the opportunity of taking home 3 wines on my visit. I would’ve taken home more, but it was only the beginning of my trip 🙂

Syncline Wine Cellars 2009 Rosé

Following our faith in Rhone varietals, this Rosé is in direct response to our fascination with hedonistic country wines. Immediately striking with pale water-melon color, the aromas practically leap from the glass. A medley of different grapes yield a full satisfying dry wine: The Cinsault base gives the unmistakable aroma of rose water and violets, Grenache gives juicy strawberry and musky watermelon rind aromas and flavors, Mourvedre sends its characteristic spice to the mix, Counoise and Carignan bring fresh acidity and ripe berry notes. Finishing completely dry, this is as serious as rosé gets.

Harvest Notes

Appellation: Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley
Varietals: 37% Cinsault / 35% Counoise / 12% Grenache / 11% Mourvedre / 5% Carignan

I picked this wine up in my belief that it will develop quite nicely over time. The blend on this wine is unlike anything I have tried or have in my collection. It was a very subtle wine and had a good balance. I’m looking forward to opening this bottle sometime next year or the year after that.

Syncline Wine Cellars 2008 Roussanne

Unfortunately, the tasting notes for the 2008 Roussanne are unavailable, but here are the 2009 tasting notes to give you an idea on the wine. I’ve always enjoyed Roussanne wines from Washington State and this was among my favorites. The nose on this wine was very nice and the flavors came through very nicely. Definitely one for the summer time or to be enjoyed with a nice dinner.

Syncline Wine Cellars 2008 Subduction Red

Long inspired by the wines of the Southern Rhone Valley, this is our answer to a Washington version of a Cotes-du-Rhone Villages wine. Ripe and hedonistic, this wine displays vivid ruby color with varying degrees of purple-black. This is a blend of classic southern French varieties that are unique and expressive on their own; yet each contributes to create a harmonious whole. Bold and seductive, this wine exhibits ripe raspberry, violet and game aromas, with juicy plum flavors. The bright, supple finish and pleasing fruit-filled mouthfeel make Subduction Red adaptable to many foods and occasions.

Harvest Notes

Appellation: Columbia Valley (80%Horse Heaven, 20% Wahluke Slope)
Varietals: 26% Grenache / 25% Syrah / 24% Cinsault / 12% Mourvedre / 9% Counoise / 4% Carignan

This was one of my favorite wines during the tasting. Just look at that blend of varietals above 🙂

Memaloose Winery

Overlooking the Hood River is Memaloose Winery. Driving up to the winery, I noticed the great views of the river and the high winds in the area. It’s very unique and definitely worth the visit. As I was getting out of the car, I was greeted by a curious, 4 legged friend:

Wine dogs are just so entertaining 😉 Inside the winery, I was greeted by Rob who was quite knowledgable about the region and quite friendly. Memaloose had 4 wines at the time and was barrel tasting a 5th wine. Now they carry 6 wines. All their wines have a european feel to them and weren’t high on alcohol volume. I only took one wine home, but I would’ve taken home two if the other one was available at the time:

Memaloose 2008 Rosé of Tempranillo

Unfortunately there are no tasting notes available for this wine. I can tell you that it was a very pleasant rosé that you can enjoy during those summer months. As their tag line suggests, Memaloose wines go well with food.

Domaine Pouillon

My last stop on day one, and my favorite, was Domaine Pouillon. This winery focuses on Rhone style blends. I had the pleasure of hanging out with the winemakers while I listened to some classics on their antique record player. The feel of this winery is very warm & inviting and I highly suggest taking a visit. I tasted through all their wines and I wound up taking these home:

Domaine Pouillon 2008 Deux
Double Gold, Seattle Wine Awards, May 2010

Unfortunately there are no tasting notes for this wine, but here are the stats:

Columbia Valley AVA
Source: Brehm Vineyards & Coyote Canyon Vineyard
57% Chardonnay  43% Viognier
Cases Produced: 199     ABV: 13.8%

This is an excellent wine that you can have with a nice dinner or it can stand alone. I’ll be looking forward to trying out the 2009 vintage in the spring. To give you an idea, here are the tasting notes for the 2009 vintage.

Domaine Pouillon Black Dot

Horse Heaven Hills AVA
Source: McKinley Springs Vineyard & Coyote Canyon Vineyard
35% Grenache 25% Syrah 30% Zinfandel 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Cases Produced: 352 ABV: 14%

“The nose of Black Dot delights with hits of curry spices, licorice, and blueberries. This wine has a balanced tannin structure with an extremely long and nuanced finish of marionberries, anise, and earth.

The blend for Black Dot changes every year. This wine is blended by spirit and flavor, (we’re always trying to recreate the first magical vintage that contained grape varieties that no one can seem remember). An experiment in non-conventional winemaking, Black Dot proudly breaks the rules.”

The first words out of my mouth when I tried this wine were, “DAMN!”  I was really impressed by the flavor of this wine, it was quite unique. This wine has a lot of depth and its worth holding on to.

After a long day of tasting, it was time for me to head back to my hotel and rest up for the Willamette Valley portion of the trip. Overall, it was a great day of wine tasting and I will be looking forward to my next visit on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge.

June 3, 2010: Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up @ Purple Wine Bar, Part 1

June 3, 2010: Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up @ Purple Wine Bar, Part 1 1316 1600 celo4life

The other day, I received an invitation  to attend the Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up at Purple Wine Bar in Bellevue, WA. I was surprised and honored to receive the invitation, considering that I’m relatively new to the scene. I didn’t know what to expect, but I love surprises :D.

When I arrived at the event, I was greeted by Cynthia Daste, executive director for Woodinville Wine Country. Around the table was a collection of bloggers from around the area and representatives from various wineries. After some initial introductions, I took my seat at the table and started on a whirlwind tour of 15 different wines. For this entry, I will introduce you to each winery & the wines I tasted, where you can find them (if available), and a few of my personal thoughts on each. So without further adieu….

Brian Carter Cellars

Brian Carter Cellars

Brian Carter Cellars is a winery I have yet to visit, but has been on my early list of wineries to check out in the Woodinville area. It was fitting that they would be present at the event so I can learn a little bit about their wines. Although they only had one wine at the event, it was enough motivation for me to want to try all their wines!

Brian Carter Cellars 2009 Abracadabra Rosé
Beautiful electric pink in color, aromas of ripe strawberries abound with more subtle notes of peaches and orange blossoms. On the palate is beautiful fruit backed up by deliciously crisp acidity.

My Notes: This wine was just released on June 1, 2010 and is a great addition to the collection of wines at Brian Carter Cellars. The wine had the kind of creamy finish that you’ll find with some rosé wines and had a very nice flavor. This is definitely a wine I could enjoy on many occasions and is one to pick up this summer. The current price is $20 and you can either pick this up online at Brian Carter Cellars, buy it at their tasting room, or limited retail shops.

Dusted Valley Vintners

Dusted Valley Vintners

Dusted Valley Vintners is another winery I have yet to visit, but is high on my list of wineries to check out. Their lone wine at the event was one of my top picks out of all of the wines throughout the night!

Dusted Valley Vintners 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon V.R. Special
The blood, sweat and tears that went in to growing this wine are dedicated to the loving memory of my Grandpa Vernon Rhodes. He was a truly amazing man. This Cab takes its name from his miraculous chocolate chip cookie the “V. R. Special”. I bet you wish you could dunk one in a glass of this wine right now. Rest easy Grandpa Rhodes. We love you!

This Cab has a beautiful bouquet on the nose, great fruit and silky tannin on the palate, and a lingering finish that will keep you wondering for minutes.

My take: This is a wine that has a lot of heart & soul and I highly recommend picking up a bottle. I found this wine to have a great earthy quality and it brought on visions of pairing this with smoked salmon or a dish that involved some sort of cream sauce, like pasta. This wine is only available at their tasting room and goes for $53.

Woodinville Wine Cellars

Woodinville Wine Cellars

Prior to this event, I had the pleasure of tasting four of Woodinville Wine Cellars’ wines and was really impressed by their depth and drinkability. So it was nice to revisit two of the four wines I had at a previous wine tasting which are currently in my wine cellar.

Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
After a long warm summer, we harvested amazing fruit from our two Sauvignon Blanc vineyards. The Artz Vineyard on Red Mountain is in a warmer region infusing the grapes with wonderful full-bodied tropical tones, while Stillwater Creek Vineyard is a cooler climate giving the wine more classic notes such as grapefruit, green apple and star anise. Together, they make a wonderful, balanced combination.

The nose has nice tropical tones as well as white peaches and mineral. Vibrant acidity washes over the palate with flavors of honeydew melon, and grapefruit. Citrus notes mingle together — reminiscent of biting into a cold green apple. A great complement to seafood, chicken, or your favorite soft cheese.

Woodinville Wine Cellars 2007 Little Bear Creek Red Wine
The fourth release of our favorite “entry-level” red, goes back to the 2005 Bordeaux style – predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with hints of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. With aromas of red cherry and raspberry followed by huge red and black cherry flavors, this sweetly fruited, lengthy wine has the most “bang for the buck” yet. Bring this wine to your next dinner party or wine tasting and be the star.

My Take: The Sauvignon Blanc is a great wine for the summer time that should be enjoyed on your deck, boat, beach, etc. Make sure to enjoy this wine with a lot of friends because its great for parties. This wine is available at their tasting room for $18 or you can find it in retail wine shops around the area. The Little Bear Creek is a clear winner and at $20, is a steal. This wine goes down smooth and is great to bring to social gatherings or dinners. Since it’s in my cellar, you know I recommend it 😉

DeLille Cellars

DeLILLE Cellars

Another winery on my hit list is DeLille Cellars. I’ve been hearing many great things about the winery and have received many requests to invite them to a future wine tasting.  Their lone wine of the evening is a varietal that is starting to create some buzz in Washington and is turning out to be one of my favorite whites:

Doyenne 2008 Roussanne (DeLille Cellars)
This wine is so complex this year, we found ourselves trying to one-up each other with notes on the nose and palate. The trademark lime and floral notes on the nose are surrounded by subtle hints of sweet green tea, white pepper, hibiscus and chamomile flowers, wet stone and capsicum. On the palate, this wine has a balanced mouthful of lime, honeydew melon, Bartlett pears, and the aforementioned flowers and spices. The acidity perfectly supports the broad body of the wine, and echoes in the long and complex finish.

My take: This wine is great from the moment you smell the wine to when it hits your palate and goes down your throat. Very flavorful and balanced. Lucky for you, you can pick this wine up at QFC’s, Wholefoods, Metropolitan Markets, PCC’s, various wine shops, or you can either purchase it online through the winery or go to the winery! The price is $32 a bottle, but it’s well worth it.

Page Cellars

Page Cellars

We end part 1 with Page Cellars, a tasting room I have visited before. When you visit the tasting room in Woodinville, you’ll be greeted by a very friendly and knowledgeable staff. For the event, they presented us with a wine that currently resides in my cellar:

Page Cellars 2009 Sentimental Blonde Sauvignon Blanc

Unfortunately, there are no tasting notes available for this wine, but I can tell you that it’s a blend of 80% Sauvignon blanc and 20% Semillion. When my friend MaryCatherine tried this wine, she described it as girly. I kind of laughed and asked what she meant. She described the wine as having a flowery nose to it and I got what she meant 🙂 This wine doesn’t have much sweetness to it, but it does have a lot of flavor & depth. This is another wine that you can enjoy during the summer months or whenever you feel like drinking a white wine. This wine is available at QFC’s, Albertson’s, various wine shops, or online & at their tasting room

So that’s all for part 1. Coming up in part 2, we’ll go through the rest of the wines that include Pomum Cellars, William Church Winery, Patterson Cellars, and Matthews Estates.