Archive for February, 2009

February 2009: Washington Reds

Because of the huge local following that Washington wines enjoy here in Seattle, we thought it would be fun (and helpful) to blind taste a lineup of Washington reds.  As these wines often get lumped together as big, fruity, oaky wines, it is informative to see the different write ups below.  As well, Washington wines are generally pricy, so make sure you indulge with a wine that suits your palate:

EXCELLENT (90 – 94 points):
Jones of Washington 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (90 points)
Region: Wahluke Slope, WA; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon; Retail: $20.50
Nose: Welcome to Washington! Ripe, dark cherry with prominent new oak. It has that “new car” smell … pretty & exciting. Palate is surprisingly complex – bing cherry syrup – you can almost taste the pit. Round smooth mouthfeel with a pleasant finish of nutmeg and dark chocolate. (Gina)  Ripe blackberry, some car tire, and balsamic in the nose.  Dense fruit, cassis, loganberry show brighter on the palate than the nose would lead you to believe. Great structure and a lengthy finish – cassis liqueur but not too sweet. (Theresa)

L’Ecole 2005 Merlot (90 points)
Region: Columbia Valley, WA; Varietals: Merlot; Retail: $35
Good, clean, dark red color. Soft notes of fresh berries with a hint of mint. Perfect balance between acidity and tannins. Good luscious red. Almost a Dolcetto D’Alba character. I think it’s a Merlot 2006. (Giuseppe) Nose: slight vanilla, maple sugar, cherry candy, nice limestone minerals. Palate: beautifully balanced, round, rich yet lean, blackberry spice. Is this a Washington wine? (Ken)

O’Shea Scarborough 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (90 points)
Region: Yakima Valley, WA; Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon; Retail: $40
Beautiful nose of dark fruit & forest floor. Medium-bodied, smooth with wonderful flavors of dark fruit, black currants and blackberries. Elegant, well-balanced and great acidity wtih a long finish and fine tannins. (Jens)  Mirky brick red. The nose hints at leather & tobacco.  Cooked spice – not a lot of fruit on the nose. Wow! What a powerhouse in the mouth.  Dark cherry, smoke, earth, subtle cedar & vanilla. Not necessarily my style, but definitely interesting and well-made. (Gina)

VERY GOOD (85 – 89 points):
Darby “The Dark Side” 2006 Syrah (89 points)
Region: Walla Walla Valley, WA; Varietals: Syrah; Retail: $29
Beautiful aromas of blueberries, olives and thyme. Well-balanced, elegant, great acidity and concentrations. Flavors of black olives combined with dark fruit. A wonderful finish with spicy, herbal notes. (Jens)  Nose: roasted poblanos pepper, dark chocolate with almonds, searing blackberry fruit with seeds, savory flavors, bruléed sugar. Palate: nice & spicy roasted cumin/coriander seed, big boy, roasted meat, over the top but good firm tannins, bracing acidity. Uncle! (Ken)

Seven Hills 2005 Tempranillo (89 points)
Region: Columbia Valley, WA; Varietals: Tempranillo; Retail: $34
Cigar box nose with hints of cinnamon in the background. There is a savory quality to the flavor. Warmer spices and fruit. A nice medium body and nice balance. (Theresa)  Brownies, more of an elegant style, relaxed, juicy, moderate structure. (Catherine)

Thurston Wolfe 2006 Petite Sirah (89 points)
Region: Zephyr Ridge/Horse Heaven Hills, WA; Varietals: Petit Sirah; Retail: $23
Color – saturated purple black. Aromas of blackberries & smoke. Pleasant berry syrup mid-palate followed by smoky, bitter, oaky finish. (Matt)  Subdued aromas of black currants, olives and mushrooms. Medium- to full-bodied. Dark fruit flavors, olives, with blackberry and chocolate notes. Great acidity. Hints of vanilla on the long finish. Fine tannins. (Jens)

Walla Walla Vintners 2006 Sangiovese (89 points)
Region: Columbia Valley, WA; Varietals: Sangiovese; Retail: $26
High tone fruit – cherry, strawberry, raspberry – smells like jam without the added sugar. Same fruit flavors on the palate. Bright acidity makes this very food friendly.  Would very much like this wine with dinner. (Theresa)  Brambleberries & fresh blue fruit perfume, iron, rich & creamy milk chocolate sensation, well integrated dark chocolate shavings & cocoa finish, pleasurable but supple, ready now with food, but definitely could age 5+ years. (Catherine)

Bunnell Family Cellars 2006 àpic (88 points)
Region: Wahluke Slope, WA; Varietals: Syrah/Cinsault/Mourvedre/Grenache; Retail: $38
Nose: Sweet cherry pie, coconut, menthol, melted sugar, vanillin. Palate: Nice brambly boysenberry, sweet oak, cola, firm. (Ken)  Color dark. Aroma of fresh berries, bubblegum, smoke and hints of celery. Palate and finish are clobbered by massive oak-charred wood, vanilla & butterscotch dominant. (Matt)

Cullin Hills 2006 Estate Cabernet Franc Weinbau Vineyard (88 points)
Region: Wahluke Slope, WA; Varietals: Cabernet Franc; Retail: $32
Sweet blueberries and raspberries on the nose. Smooth, medium-bodied, well-balanced and elegant. Dark fruit with notes of cocoa and dark chocolate. Well integrated acidity. Fine tannins on the finish. (Jens)  This is a bright red with good grip. Good nuances of dark cherries and black prunes. It has well-balanced tannins and fruits. Finishes quite long. Good. It might get better with age. (Giuseppe)

Efeste 2005 “Final-Final” (88 points)
Region: Columbia Valley, WA; Varietals: 50% Syrah/50% Cabernet Sauvignon; Retail: $30
Nose: Dark…no…the darkest o’ berries. Rich, velvety, masculine & spicy and that’s just the nose. The palate does not disappoint, black cherry, truffle and cinnamon, leathery finish. It grips you and doesn’t let go. This should be a lollipop flavor. (Gina)

Mannina Cellars 2005 Merlot (88 points)
Region: Walla Walla Valley, WA; Varietals: Merlot; Retail: $29
Nose: roasted spices: fennel & cumin, black cherry chocolate, dried cranberries, mocha high tone. Palate: nice high notes, classic kirsch & cassis.  Espresso grinds, nice rich oak (French?), spices. (Ken)  Chocolate, coffee & savory herbs on the nose.  A pop of spice (cardamom/cinnamon) on the palate make this unusual & interesting. Good amount of tannin and acid.  Alcohol kept in check. (Theresa)

Patit Creek Cellars 2004 Merlot (87 points)
Region: Columbia Valley, WA; Varietals: Merlot; Retail: $31
Bright red, ruby [color], lovely nose of cherry and red berries, very clean and lean on the palate, but well made with a good finish. Old World style.  Young, would love to taste it in a few years. (Giuseppe)  Dusty, minerally, sappy blueberries spread on toast, good acidity, bitter lasting anise tannins that settle in on your tongue, like this, has good potential. (Catherine)

Tasting Panel (February 10, 2009):  Giuseppe Carraturo, Gina Gregory, Matt Gubitosa, Ken O’Hara, Catherine Reynolds, Theresa Slechta, Jens Strecker


February 14, 2009 at 8:16 pm Leave a comment