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 2

June 3, 2010: Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up @ Purple Wine Bar, Part 2 1316 1600 celo4life

As I mentioned at the end of Part 1, we’ll now focus on the remainder of the Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up covering wines from  Pomum Cellars, William Church Winery, Patterson Cellars, and Matthews Estates.

Pomum Cellars

Pomum Cellars

Pomum Cellars is another winery in Woodinville I have yet to visit, but based on my conversation with the winemaker, I’ll be stopping by very soon. Pomum had two wines at the event:

Pomum Cellars 2005 Shya Red (video link – fast forward to the 10:50 mark for the review)

Unfortunately, I do not have tasting notes for this wine, but we have something a little bit better. Gary Vaynerchuk, the star of Wine Library TV and Director of Operations at Wine Library in Springfield, NJ., reviewed this wine on his show and gave it great reviews. Here is a link to the episode: Wine Library TV review on Pomum Cellars 2005 Shya Red (fast forward to the 10:50 mark)

My take: I really wish this one was still available. If you’re into wines that have a great earthy quality, this is the one for you.  Great earthy flavor and an excellent blend that can stand-alone, but it would be a shame not have it with a meal. If you happen to find someone who has it, convince them to open it 😉

Pomum Cellars 2008 Riesling

Washington State is one of the few places on Earth that excels at growing the classiest white grape of all: Riesling. This fact has been well-known in the State for decades and as a consequence some of the oldest vinifera plantings happen to be Riesling. One of the finest old vine Riesling vineyards is the excellent Upland Vineyard near Sunnyside. Approaching 40 years of age, these vines have become entrenched with their environment and therefore yield some the best expression of Washington State Riesling available. Our 2008 Riesling is made with the utmost respect for the fruit. Our goal is to best convey the vines’ complex story without any obstructions. This means no oak, fining or cold stabilization was used during winemaking. Aromas of citrus, apricot and nectarine are followed by noticeable minerality and a long finish that is perfectly balanced by the excellent acidity. This wine is ready to enjoy on release and may even evolve further in the bottle for a few years. One hundred and twenty-five cases produced.

My take: MaryCatherine and I both found this to be a very nice wine. MaryCatherine picked up hints of vanilla when she tried the wine while I picked up a bit of citrus fruit. This is a very smooth and easy drinking riesling that I would definitely pick up. You can find this wine at Village Wines, Pete’s Wine Shop, Esquin, at Pomum Cellar’s tasting room for about $18

William Church Winery

William Church Winery

William Church Winery is a winery we’ll be paying a visit to in the coming weeks/months. Their selection for the evening is one that opened the floor to a fun and spirited debate 😉

William Church Winery 2009 Viognier

Our award-winning Viognier has gained a reputation for its beautiful aromatics, rich flavors & incredible balance. The heat in the summer of 2009 resulted in a concentrated wine full of ripe tropical and honeysuckle notes and rich flavors of pear & apricot. It’s the perfect summer deck wine that has the acidity to keep it fresh and inviting while less than 1% residual sugar rounds out the flavors. A long slow fermentation helps retain the beautiful aromatics this grape is known for. Everything you’ve come to expect from our Viognier and more.  Serve with gourmet cheeses, seafood or try it with your favorite spicy Asian dish.

My take: If you notice in the description, it suggests that you can enjoy this “with your favorite spicy Asian dish.” This is where the debate comes in 🙂 It is my suggestion that this wine can be enjoyed with habanero bbq ribs or another spicy blend of bbq. The representative from William Church wasn’t so sure. So, what we’re going to do is make this wine and my ribs as part of our next food and wine pairing challenge! As far as the wine goes, it has a light sweetness to it and I picked up hints of pear flavor on it. You can find this wine in grocery stores & wine shops throughout the Puget Sound or at William Church Winery.

Patterson Cellars

Patterson Cellars

Patterson Cellars brought two wines to the event which includes a grape that’s on the rise in Washington.

Patterson Cellars 2009 Chardonnay

Straw colored, with lush pineapple, honeydew and nectarine followed by a bright acid finish. This Chardonnay has depth and balance with a hint of toasty oak and a crisp fruit finish.

My take: The nose on this wine was a bit unique and it kept drawing me. I’ll need to revisit this wine so I can tell you more about it. At the time I tried this one, I couldn’t tell if it was crisp or had a little bite to it. Currently, this wine is only available in the tasting room.

Patterson Cellars 2009 Late Harvest Roussanne

This dessert wine was made from Roussanne that was left to hang until mid November, this extended hang time allowed the fruit to dehydrate and concentrate the sugars. The fruit was whole cluster pressed, after pressing, the sugar was 38.5 Brix, the fermentation was carried out for four months in once used French oak barrels using Sauterne yeast. The fermentation was stopped when it was determined there was a proper balance of sugar and alcohol. 11.5% alcohol, 9.2 g/L TA, 3.51 pH, Residual sugar 18%. Enjoy the aromas of dried apricots, mango, and honeysuckle, followed by flavors of pear, nectarine, and honey, firm acidity with a long peach finish.

My Take: This is just an excellent wine throughout. I find myself wanting to include this in a dessert, whether in the baking process or just putting it on top of ice cream. This wine is available in wine shops, select grocery stores, and in the tasting room.

Matthews Estates

Matthews Estates

Our final wines of the evening were the most fun. The representative from Matthews Estates provided us with a taste test that you won’t find in most tastings. They brought two wines and had us try a bottle that was opened between 5 – 10 mins and 1 hr 30 mins  – 1 hr 40 mins. The results were surprising:

Matthews Estates 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

“A pale golden hue, with notes of pineapple and honey. A quick swirl releases additional aromatics of ripe peach and melon, plus a hint of flint. The palate is bright and vibrant, exhibiting lush minerality and a balanced silky texture.” – A.M.

At 5 mins: When we tried the bottle that was open for 5 minutes, we felt the wine was fairly light and had a taste of stone fruit.

At 1 hr 30 mins: When we tried the bottle that was open for an hour and a half, we enjoyed the wine a lot more. It was a bit more subtle on the nose, the taste was more smooth and it just got better as it opened up. One other interesting fact is that this wine tastes a lot better in an enclosed wine glass vs a wider glass. Keep that in mind when pouring this for friends.

Matthews Estates 2007 Claret

Deeply colored, dark garnet to the rim. A super-ripe nose of currants, blackberries, black cherry, plum and licorice. A touch of spice in the background, with a hint of vanilla bean. This wine is thick and rich, with super-fine mouth-coating tannins and the texture of fine dark chocolate on the finish. A Claret unlike any we have produced to date.

At 10 mins: At 10 minutes, we couldn’t really taste the fruit in the wine. It felt confined, tight, and/or not very open. The nose of the wine did smell good though.

At 1 hr 40 mins: The 1 hr 40 minute bottle had a lot more depth and a nice smokiness to it. It really came alive with more time to breathe

Overall, we learned a few lessons from this test. The first thing we learned was never judge a wine by your first taste. Sometimes a good wine needs time to breathe and open up as wines evolve over time. What you taste at one moment will taste different the next. Had I tasted these two wines at their early points, I may not purchase them. Knowing what I know about them now, I would highly suggest them.  You can pick these wines up online or at their tasting room.

Those were all the highlights from the Woodinville Wine Country Tweet Up. We had a great time trying all the wines and I look forward to visiting each of these wineries and/or having them at one of our events very soon!

Wine acquisitions: September 28, 2009

Wine acquisitions: September 28, 2009 640 428 celo4life

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been acquiring a bunch of wine. Here are my latest acquisitions:

2007 The Chocolate Block by Boekenhoutskloof Franschhoek (South Africa)
Just by the name, you know this wine has to be good. And good it most certainly is! Hints of dark chocolate and ripe fruit dominate the aromatic profile of this wine. Rich and ripe, the wine has a generous mouth feel and mid-palate weight with a minimum of five years ageing potential. A blend of syrah, grenache, cabernet and others!

2007 Spice Route Viognier (South Africa)
2006 Dante California Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 The Ghost of 413 Columbia Valley Riesling
2007 The Ghost of 413 Columbia Valley Red Wine
2006 Murphy’s Law Red Wine (Columbia Valley)
2006 Valhall Wines West Chardonnay, Dry Creek Valley (California)

I also have a few new sparkling wines
Montelliana Prosecco Extra Dry Sparkling Wine (Italy)
Cava Parxet Cuvèe 21 Brut Sparkling Wine (Spain)
Duval-Leroy Brut Champagne (France)

I’ll add descriptions on all of these later. Just wanted to get this list out!