Tag Archive | Columbia Valley

2013 Genoa Cellars Flying Colors Red Blend

I got this wine a few years ago when my girlfriends and I went to the Whidbey Island Half Marathon.  We did a wine tasting in a little wine shop in Coupeville, WA, and I fell in love with this wine.  I finally opened it, and it did not disappoint.  It is a red blend, with bold flavors of blackberry and hints of tobacco and cocoa, with medium tannins.

Genoa Cellars is located in Woodinville, Washington, and they focus on Super-Tuscan-style wines made from Sangiovese blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot.  They source their grapes from vineyards in the Wahluke Slope and Red Mountain regions in Eastern Washington.

I couldn’t find any information online for the 2013 vintage, but the Genoa Cellars 2015 Flying Colors Tuscan-style Red Blend won Double Gold in the Cascadia International Wine Competition. The blend for the 2013 vintage is 53% Sangiovese, 32% Syrah, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot.

At $29, it is a bit of a splurge, but if I don’t treat myself who will? Happy Monday!

Two Good Cabs

I’m not a huge fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly not Washington made Cab.  I too often find that drinking some of those big, bold Washington Cabs is like chewing on a hunk of wood.  Dry oak.  But I have had a couple recently that have surprised me, in a good way.

2010 La Playa Claret

This is a big wine, and while it isn’t predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, it still has quite a bit of Cab.  The blend is 41% Petit Verdot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 4% Carmenere. It is a big tannic wine, but it isn’t too dry though – it has a nice balance.  On the nose, there is the strong scent of tobacco.  On the palate, it has flavors of stewed plums and leather.  It was harvested by hand and aged for 8 months in French and American oak.

This wine really reminded me that living in Chile was the main reason I started loving wine.  And I do love Chilean wine!  I really should drink a lot more of it.

2011 Revelry Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Jon poured me a glass of this wine when he couldn’t offer me any more La Playa, because…. you guessed it… he drank it all.  Revelry is a Walla Walla winery, sourcing their fruit from several areas in the Columbia Valley.  Although they are a fairly new winery, with their first vintage in 2005, they have managed to secure fruit from several elite vineyards, including Sagemoor Vineyard, and vineyards on Red Mountain and the Horse Heaven Hills.

On the nose, I got lots of blackberry, and on the palate, it had medium tannins and wasn’t super dry.  It was a fruity Cab, almost slightly jammy, but in a wonderful balanced kind of way.  Not a fruit bomb by any means, but certainly more fruit than your typical overly oaked Washington Cab.  I loved it!  The grapes for this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon came from various vineyards, including Red Mountain, The Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills, and the Walla Walla Valley.  It spent 12-16 months in the 100% French Oak barrels, with 30% being new French Oak.

Jon and I both loved these two wines, which is unusual because we tend to go for something very different in a big, red wine.  If you have had either one, let me know what you think!

Arbor Crest 2012 Riesling

I was craving a white tonight – even though the temperature is currently 27 degrees outside with the wind chill bringing it down to 19.  But it is nice inside, as I watch the first of the Olympics broadcasts with Oliver snuggled up next to me.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars is located in Spokane, WA and this Riesling is sourced from the Dionysus Vineyard in the Columbia Valley.  Arbor Crest is one of the oldest wineries in Washington – it opened in 1982 as the 29th winery in the state.

When we visited in August 2013, we didn’t get to visit the winery’s Cliff House Estate (it was closed that evening), a beautiful mansion located at the top of a 450 foot cliff.  The views from the top of the hill outside looked spectacular, so I’m sure it would be an amazing place to relax on the patio with a glass of their wine.  One day…

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2012 Riesling - Dionysus Vineyard

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2012 Riesling – Dionysus Vineyard

2012 was a great year in the Dionysus vineyard, with warm summer days and cooler nights that allowed for the right amount of acid retention.  The 2012 Riesling was aged in stainless steel tanks.  It is a lovely straw color, and on the nose, you pick up a lot of tropical fruit smells, ripe pineapple and honey, with a hint of a floral smell.  On the palate, you get the same ripe pineapple flavor with loads of honey.  The mouth feel is thick and syrupy.

If you have a chance to try it, be sure to let me know what you think!

A Happy Ending at L’Ecole

Our last tasting of the day on our Walla Walla wine tour weekend was at L’Ecole No. 41 in the historic Frenchtown School just outside of Walla Walla in Lowden.  The building was built in 1915,  to replace the first Frenchtown School, a log cabin from 1870.  L’Ecole was founded in 1983, and is the third oldest winery in the Walla Walla area.

We arrived towards the end of the day, but our server was more than gracious about guiding us through a tasting and answering our questions.  The tasting room retains many of the original historic features, including the hardwood floors, and has been decorated with period Barrister Bookcases collected by the winery’s original owner. The ambiance of the tasting room just adds to the charm.

L 'Ecole No. 41 Tasting Room in the Historic Frenchtown School

L ‘Ecole No. 41 Tasting Room in the Historic Frenchtown School

We began with the 2011 Estate Luminesce, a blend of 67% Semillon and 33% Sauvignon Blanc, from Seven Hills Vineyard.  It showed tart citrus and floral flavors.  Then we had the 2011 Columbia Valley Chardonnay, a very well balanced wine with apple and minerality on light oak.  It is a Chardonnay that both Jon and I can enjoy because it is a great balance between the unoaked Chards that I love and the big, buttery Chards that are Jon’s favorites.

Moving on to the red wines, we started with the 2009 Estate Merlot, with grapes from the Seven Hills Vineyard.  It was a nicely balanced wine with medium tannins and black cherry flavors. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold wine aged in 40% new oak, with flavors of tobacco and heavier tannins.

Next we tried the 2009 Estate Perigee, a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Malbec, and 4% Petit Verdot.  This is a very elegant Bordeaux blend that was aged for 22 months – a very nice wine.

The last wine that we tasted was the Candy Mountain Vineyard Red Wine.  It hasn’t been released yet; it will come out in April 2013.  It is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Merlot.  This is a fantastic wine with flavors of blackberry and chocolate.  There are only 350 cases, and I’m sure it will sell quickly.  I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t buy it that day!

It was a great end to a wonderful day of wine tasting – L ‘Ecole was a real treat.

Woodinville – The Wine Country of Warehouses, Part 1

We took a day in September to drive down to the Woodinville winery area.  It is a little out of our way, but hey, it was raining at home, so what better way to enjoy an afternoon when you have to be outside anyway?  It poured on our drive, but by the time we ended up in Woodinville, it was a blustery, but not rainy, afternoon.  We arrived a bit early, and a lot of the wineries don’t open until noon on Sunday, so our first stop ended up being a place that wasn’t on our list.

Novelty Hill-Januik’s facility was very modern looking, with cement walls with wood accents.  The interior is minimalist, and kind of cavernous, and reminded me of all the bachelor pads we see rich men on tv living in.  There are actual two partner wineries here, Novelty Hill and Januik.  Mike Januik makes the wine for both.  You can choose different flights, $5 for their “Columbia Valley” tasting, or for $10 you can choose either their “King Cab” or reserve wine flight.  When you choose a flight, then you get to choose four wines from the list to taste.  I went with the $5 flight, and Jon chose the reserve flight – we frequently strategize this way, because most places don’t have a problem if you share.  The first drawback was their tasting room servers were predominantely young, college age women who didn’t seem to know anything about the wine they were serving.  I love getting the opinion of the server on what wines they like and how they describe the wine they pour.  Our server didn’t have much to say at all, but she did have a beautiful blue topaz pendant and ring set.  I digress.  Anyway, back to the tasting.

Novelty Hill/Januik Tasting Room

Here’s what we thought.  Their wines were decent – not outstanding.  The 2007 Novelty Hill Stillwater Creek Sauvignon Blanc was a good clean white.  I really enjoyed it.  Their Januik 2008 Chardonnay had an oakey nose, but was not all that oakey on the palate.  It was a nice medium bodied crisp apple Chardonnay.  Jon would have preferred something more buttery and oakey, but I liked it.  The Januik 2009 Bacchus Riesling smelled crisp and had a lot of mineral smell.  But I was disappointed with the taste; it tasted flat to me.  It wasn’t overly sweet though like many Rieslings are.

Of the reds, there were several that were very good, but I’m not sure it justifies the prices.  Their Januik 2007 Champoux Cab Sauvignon had nice light oak and a good balance – we both really enjoyed this one, which is unusual for us to both like a Cab Sauvignon.  The Januik 2006 Klipsun Merlot was a bold Merlot which Jon liked.  He also liked the Januik 2007 Lewis Syrah – he liked it because it was not as jammy as many syrahs.  The Novelty Hill 2006 Columbia Valley Syrah was more suited to Jon; he thought it was strong and bold with a lot of fruit and oak.  I thought it would be better with a bit more of that jammy taste that Jon complains about.

I guess to sum it up, the wine was good, but it had that big business wine feel.  I would have preferred more of that small winery feel.