Thursday, August 13, 2015

Taste the Romance of Red Mountain at Hedges Family Estate @hedgeswine


An end of the world wine destination.

Some may consider SE Washington the ends of the earth. Miles of desert, few trees, rolling hills called mountains, wheat fields, apple orchards, hops and vineyards. I missed last weeks #winechat discussion on twitter because I was busy writing about the three hour lunch I enjoyed that day on Red Mountain with the marketing team of Hedges Family Estate winery. The #winechat topic was "End of the world wines." How appropriate a caption for the lunch I enjoyed and this post.

FYI: The Red Mountain AVA is the smallest in the state at only 4,040 acres. The AVA has 1,199 acres under cultivation. Primary grape varieties planted include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. The vineyards have produced grapes for some of the most sought after wines in Washington State. Only 15 minutes from my front door.

Christophe Hedges, General Manager.
Arriving at the Hedges winery for lunch, I found Christophe Hedges around back working on building a door for the new tool shop. Christophe warmly greeted me as he left his door project. One of the other new additions he showed me, was the construction of the new wood-fired bakery. The new bakery is attached to the southern end of the winery, next to the family kitchen.

This was my second lunch with Christophe Hedges and my first lunch with Boo Walker. Christophe and Boo are the marketing team for Hedges Estate wines. They frequently travel across the country and overseas representing Hedges Red Mountain wines. As they travel around the world, they also represent Red Mountain and Washington wine. They take these roles seriously and consider themselves the “Guardians of Red Mountain.” I found their company and passion for wine stirring.

The Hedges Family Estate winery is located on Red Mountain, near the top of Sunset road. It is elegantly styled as a French Chateau and functions as production winery, tasting room, wine cellar and has an intimate kitchen and soon to be completed wood-fired bakery. The captivating view from their stone patio and fountain will inform you that you are somewhere special. A testament to the vision and conviction of this winemaking family.

Winemaker Sarah Goedhart

Sarah Goedhart, Head winemaker.
Christophes' sister, Sarah Goedhart, is now Hedges winemaker. She has taken over winemaking since her Uncle Pete Hedges retired last year. Quality is strong. At lunch we enjoyed four red wines plus a special, not for sale, white wine. Think bio-dynamic, native yeast and wild fermentation. Concepts being embraced at Hedges reflect the terroir of their Red Mountain AVA estate. Sarah was unable to attend lunch, though I do have a photo of her I took at the winery. Tasting notes are below.

It was obvious to me, the pride Christophe has for his sister. I have been a fan of her Goedhart Syrah for several years. I recommend you begin collecting wines made by Ms. Goedhart now, as they will increase in popularity and demand as the awareness of her talent increases.

Context is Important

Lunch included a lively discussion about some of our favorite wine anecdotes as we compared Washington wines to those from diverse regions of the world. The thread constantly returned to Red Mountain and the quality fruit grown within the AVA. Christophe and Boo understand and embrace wine culture and wine lifestyle. The appreciation was reinforced by drinking the wine at the winery where it was made, next to the ripening fruit of the new harvest. Context is important to appreciation.

“We must take time for time, and wine.” 
- Jean-Charles Boisset

Lunch Menu

We enjoyed a conversation filled three hour lunch. We dined alfresco on the patio in front of the kitchen. Four Hedges red wines and one special white wine were paired with a multi-course lunch.

We were graciously attended by Hedges Estate Managers, Heather and Ryan Brown. This wife and husband team live on the Estate and work to enhance the Red Mountain experience. They used fresh, tasty ingredients to showcase the lovely wines on the table.




The pleasant afternoon breeze, redolent of ripening fruit from the estate vineyard, calmed the spirit and encouraged gustatory enjoyment, from the bowl of vegetable bean soup, to the plated steak salad, the plum torte and the savory cheese plate, this was truly a wonderful and stimulating repast.

We Are Romantics

As we ate and savored the juice of Red Mountain, we discussed terroir, winemaking, wine culture and the art of wine. We agreed at almost the same moment that we are romantics. Each of us fixated, fascinated and seduced by wine. Romantics in love with the concept of and culture of wine country life. Hedges makes and sells wine while deriving pleasure from sharing the beauty of the terroir.

"Our goal is to treat our wines with reverence and let the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself." 
- Hedges Family Estate

Christophe has planted his own vineyard which he farms biodynamicly at his home. His lovely wife Maggie is now making wine from those grapes. A living testament to the tradition and passion of winemaking reflecting terroir. I look forward to tasting and sharing that tradition with friends.

Boo Walker, Director Strategic Relations and Communications.

Boo Walker is also a published author. He shared that he is working on a new book. This time a weighty read of some 500 pages, aptly named "Red Mountain." I have read two of his previous books, "Low Country Punch" and "Turn or Burn." Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Boo uses that as the setting for the first book. The second book starts on Red Mountain then moves to Seattle. These are gritty stories about tough men who also have an appreciation for Washington wine. They are fun, action filled reads. I could tell just from these two books how his style is developing. I look forward to reading “Red Mountain” when it is finished.

Palpable Change

A new winemaker, a new bakery, a new white wine, Hedges is growing and changing. Red Mountain is also changing with new wineries, just planted vineyards and a soon to be realized 40 room lodge and restaurant. Red Mountain is waking up and people are noticing. While the present acknowledges the wonder that is the Red Mountain AVA, the future is full of potential. A potential that is in motion and soon to be under construction. Change is coming. It is palpable. Come visit and embrace Red Mountain wine culture. Wonderful things are happening. Be a part of this transformation and enjoy some fantastic wine.


Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain Winery & Vineyards
Phone: (509) 588-3155
53511 N Sunset Road
Benton City, WA 99320
twitter: @hedgeswine


Hedges Family Estate Wines Lunch Tasting Notes

1. White Wine Hedges Single Barrel Red Mountain Estate - Not for sale.
The first vintage of Marsanne/Viognier blend from Red Mountain.  It’s a DLD (Descendants Liegeois Dupont) Syrah’s sister: DLD Le Blanc. Only one barrel made. It’s third leaf fruit. Spicy, funky/earthy, toast, focused fruit on the nose. Round, focused to back and middle, nutty, dry pear, mineral, touch oily with light spice and salinity. Pair with firm, flavorful cheese. Notes from 7 hours after lunch. At lunch there was lemon on the finish. Interesting.

2. Hedges Family Estate 2012 Red Mountain (formerly 3 Vineyard) - Unreleased.
Hedges flagship wine with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 8% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec. This wine represents all vineyard blocks farmed within the Hedges Family Estate vineyard portfolio. Redolent of Red Mountain terroir. Scrumptious. Spoke volumes. Hunt down this vintage. Cellar as much as you can. Showing off on day two.

3. Goedhart Family 2011 Red Mountain Syrah Bel Villa Vineyard - $26.99
Grown on a 15 acre vineyard, named Les Gosses, this wine displays the qualities of low yield farming. Food worthy Syrah, wonderful structure, will not dominate your palate. Dark fruit, violets and concentrated lavender at front, tar and dark chocolate at middle, with medium-long finish. Yum.

4. Descendants Liegeois Dupont 2012 Red Mountain Syrah Les Gosses Vineyard - $26.99
Gorgeous color, broad enticing nose, tease, gingerbread, palate pleaser spread front to back, dark inky quality, violets, blackberry, tar, felty tannin, dry baby, not over the top, but sexy long finish. Titilating. Are you Red Mountain experienced?

Perfect dinner, porterhouse with La Haute Cuvee.

5. La Haute Cuvee 2012 Hedges Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1.5L - $130
100% Cabernet Sauvignon farmed to Demeter Biodynamic discipline, from the original blocks dating back to 1990, it is a blend of Hedges Estate and Magdalena parcels, both under family control. Just a baby. Good weight, dry and responsive, with dried cherries, fragrant smell of the wine barrel, in a good way, whiff of Madagascar vanilla, touch of black olive, dark chocolate, dry, dry, dry, long finish. Cool back palate action. Just a hint of what is to come. I would cellar for at least 5 years. Unfined, unfiltered. Yeah baby! La Haute Cuvée is the first Demeter-certified Biodynamic Cabernet Sauvignon ever made in Washington State. Fantastic on day five.

FYI: Many of Washington's cult wines are produced from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in the Red Mountain AVA including the 2002, 2003 and 2005 Quilceda Creek Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon, which scored the rare 100 point wine rating from Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate. Only 15 other wines in the US have received this designation, all made from California grapes. 

Related Post: Lunch with Christophe Hedges, August 2011. 

I can think of no finer destination than Red Mountain and Hedges Family Estate. Do not wait until the end of the world to begin your sojourn to Red Mountain. Consider yourself invited.

* Suggested musical Pairing, Angus and Julia Stone.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wine of the Week Kiona 2012 Red Mountain Syrah @kionawine


Time for Red Mountain Syrah! 

Many of my recent posts have focused on white and rose' wines. It's been two weeks of triple digit weather in SE Washington, so I have favored chilled wines. I am ready for a break from the heat.

As much as I enjoy chilled white and pink wines in the summer, I still crave red wine, especially once the sun dips near the horizon. One of my favorite varieties is Syrah, Washington Syrah and Red Mountain Syrah. In that order. There's a quality and complexity to Red Mountain wines which titillates and gratifies the senses. This bottle of Kiona Vineyards and Winery 2012 Red Mountain Syrah did not disappoint. A worthwhile Wine of the Week.

Tasting Notes Kiona 2012 Red Mountain Syrah

Color: Bright Garnet.
Nose: Violets, dark notes in background, soft soil, candied.
Palate: Round, blue fruit focused to front, dry on the gums, tingle back of mouth, a little heat on the flavorful light finish.

After 15 minutes: Broad nose, sarsaparilla, dark chocolate, violets, coffee. Medium body, chocolate, blueberries, fine tannin, lavender, tar, focused to mid-palate, pretty finish, lingering dark fruit with twinge of acid. Enjoyable and perfect for burgers.

After 30 minutes: Gorgeous color. Perfumed, violets, lavender, boysenberries , blueberry, dark chocolate, tarred earth. Tastes like a Washington Syrah to me. Big smile.

At an hour: Perfumed and focused, violets and chocolate danced with blueberries, dried sage and tarred coffee across the palate, fine tannin with gentle grip on the tongue and teeth, gingerbread and lavender on the medium-long finish. Yes, not bad. Purple tongue. Recommended.

Day two: Wonderful mouth feel, textured, fine tannin coated the mouth, dark fruit, tar into almost black licorice, fluid dark chocolate quality, lavender and earthy notes with orange into grippy long finish. Big Like. Food not needed. Strongly Recommended.


Thoughts: There's a reason Kiona and Red Mountain are synonymous for premium wine production. This was a lovely wine, especially at the price I paid locally. As tasty as this wine was on day one, it shined on day two. Decant if you drink today or hold for a year or three in your cellar. Kiona again shows their talent for working with Red Mountain fruit. Regular readers know how fond I am for Washington Syrah, this wine put a big smile on my face, purple tongue included. Bravo! You want to drink this wine. Strongly Recommended + Wine of the Week.

State: Washington
AVA: Red Mountain
Vineyards: Emory, Heart of the Hill
Blend: Syrah 95%, Mourvèdre 5%
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 14.4%
SRP: $25
Purchased locally

Kiona Vineyards and Winery
44612 N Sunset Rd
Benton City WA 99320

Scott Williams discussing Kiona vineyards on Red Mountain.

About Kiona Vineyards and Winery

In 1975, John Williams planted the first vineyard on Red Mountain, now a designated American Viticultural Area known as the Red Mountain AVA. An AVA known for growing wonderful fruit and producing gorgeous, plush wines. Today Kiona Vineyards and Winery farms over 230 estate-planted acres on Red Mountain.

JJ Williams at Taste Washington 2015.

You will find three generations of Williams working the Kiona Winery and Vineyards, Founder John, his son Scott and grandson JJ Williams. They have created a true legacy and treasure on Red Mountain. A family owned and operated Vineyard and Winery known as Kiona. Stop by the winery tasting room and taste the reason Kiona and Red Mountain are synonymous for premium wine; tell them Wild 4 Washington Wine sent you. Thank me later.


Inspired by New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Nobilo Wines


Juli, thank you for the inspirational recommendation. Kia Ora!

My New Zealand blogging partner, Juli Crompe of Kiwi Daydreaming, is a fan of Nobilo Wines Sauvignon Blanc. You will always see a case of Nobilo wines in her home. Juli shared about the Nobilo Regional collection, " wine of choice for any season, any day of the week."

It is my pleasure this summer to confirm that Juli is correct. Nobilo makes wonderful New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Both the Nobilo Regional Collection and their Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc will tingle your palate and toes. These are delicious, vibrant New Zealand wines. The Nobilo Regional Collection can often be found locally priced around $10. That's a win!

If you want to take it up a notch, try the Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc. Nobilo Icon wines are rich, complex and full bodied, with excellent weight, structure and balance. Definitely raising the bar for Sauvignon Blanc. Bring some Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc home and savor the inspiration of New Zealand wine. Buy it by the case and your set. Enjoy.


1. Nobilo Regional Collection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 New Zealand

Color: Straw.
Nose: Enticing, tropical with salinity, lime, mineral, white pepper.
Palate: Lime, saline, mineral, citrus, fresh across the palate, nice wash front to back, not overly acidic, white grapefruit on medium finish.

With air: Lovely white grapefruit. Taste of morning sunshine. Dry, bright finish. Bottle went quick.

Thoughts: Good alone and with fried shrimp. Think seafood. Recommended.

Blend: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Closure: Screw Cap
ABV: 12.5%
Sample provided by winery


2. Nobilo Icon Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 New Zealand

*Note: The Nobilo Icon label represents the pinnacle of Nobilo winemaking, and is made from only the very best fruit from their Marlborough vineyards.

Color: Silver straw, green highlights.
Nose: Mineral, kiwi, lime, papaya, herbal note, grass.
Palate: Nice texture, creamy-bright, mineral, tropical, savory quality, lime, citrus pith, melon, dry, with a lingering fresh, savory finish.

After 30 minutes: Lively fruit, melon-papaya action mid-palate to front palate, zowy! Perky wine.

Day three: Grapefruit, tropical notes, chill, satisfying classy finish. Exceptionally good, balanced, light breeze, sunshine, few clouds, expressive sipper on the patio. Left me quite content. Wonderful with seafood and Nuevo Flamenco music.

Thoughts: Fantastic with seafood and shredded cabbage. Strongly recommended.

Blend: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Closure: Screw Cap
ABV: 12%
Sample provided by winery


Nobilo Winemaker

Winemaker David Edmonds joined Nobilo in 2002. His passion is Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. As a child, David spent a lot of time visiting the wine district just north of Wellington with his parents. It was during those family outings in which his interest in grape-growing and winemaking took root. He has a degree in horticulture science at Christchurch's Lincoln University. Well done Mr. Edmonds.

About Nobilo Wines

With the threat of war, in 1936 Nikola and Zuva Nobilo left Croatia and moved to New Zealand. They brought with them 300 years of winemaking tradition. In 1943, they planted some of New Zealand’s first commercial vines at Huapai, west of Auckland. By the 1970s, Nikola was a successful winemaker who helped lead the move to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

He also worked on developing winegrowing regions like Marlborough. In 1994, Nikola was awarded an Order of the British Empire medal for his contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

Time for you to enjoy Nobilo wines at your home.