Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Eternal Wines First Releases by Winemaker Brad Binko


There's a new winemaker in Walla Walla, Washington, by the name of Brad Binko. Write that name down. Now go look for his wines.

"Life is about stories so let’s go make one!" Brad Binko

Brad is a big guy, with a friendly smile and warm personality. He's quick to shake your hand and ready to talk wine. I enjoyed meeting Brad and enjoyed tasting his first releases. First releases? Yep, Brad has done a wonderful job crafting white, rose' and red wines. I'm quite impressed at the quality, depth of flavor, maturity of style and his cool label designs. Have you written down his name yet?

Originally from Buffalo, New York, Brad Binko is a Certified Sommelier and today is making small lots of terroir driven Washington wines. He focuses on Rhone Varietals and single vineyard wines using native fermentation, extended maceration, and non-intrusive wine-making techniques. Eternal Wines only uses hand harvested fruit from premium vineyards. Production is at 400 cases.

Brad Binko studied winemaking at the Center for Enology and Viticulture on the campus of Walla Walla Community College. He is the assistant winemaker at Walla Faces Winery and owner/winemaker for his own Eternal Wines. Established in 2014, Eternal Wines is located at 1460 F Street in Walla Walla, Washington at the airport district.

Follow along with my tasting notes. I encourage you to ask for, seek out and drink Eternal Wines. If you would like to meet Mr. Binko in person, outside of Walla Walla, he will be pouring his wines on Saturday 9 July at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, Washington.

Tasting Notes - First Releases


1. Visit Columbia Valley 2015 Northern White Blend 

Color:  Straw, some effervescence at open.
Nose: Honeyed pear/melon, floral aroma blown in with fresh rain on an early morning breeze. Big like.
Palate: Weighty, tropical, salinity, orange zest, focused to the middle, pineapple, savory into the dry, crisp, slightly tart finish. Like. Ready to drink and for food.

15 Minutes: Toast, pear, honey, marmalade on the nose. Pear with honeyed brioche, lightly spiced, medium body, with Braeburn apple and apple tannin into the crisp finish. Like. Would be wonderful with fried chicken, grilled trout or Halibut fish and chips.

30 Minutes: Toasty, honeyed pear, almost tropical on the nose. Fresh, juicy, apple, pear, kiwi, pineapple, party in the mouth! Would be wonderful with Tilapia, grilled shrimp, and mango salsa. Like.

1 Hour: Toasty minerality, stone fruit, lemon honey on the nose. Fresh, pear to lemon, nuttiness on the medium finish. Like. Broiled Halibut would be lovely with this wine. Or chicken wings.

Day Two: Yum, mango-peach on the attack, floral quality to the nose with banana, pleasant weight, mango-peach into the dry finish. Craved duck tacos. A perfect summer patio sipper.

Thoughts: Stylish, friendly wine, definitely a wine for summer fare and seafood. While suitable for white linen meals, Tilapia, Halibut and Trout, this wine could equally chill with finger food, fried chicken and fish and chips. Mango Salsa optional. My speed.
Recommended + Great Value.


Blend: 90% Roussanne, 8% Marsanne, 2% Viognier
Vineyards: Art Den Hoed(YV), Blue Mountain(WW), M. Anderson(WW)
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13.7%
Sample provided by winery
Production 42 Cases
SRP: $19


2. Welcome to Columbia Valley 2014 Chardonnay 

Color: Gold.
Nose: Vanilla, lemon taffy.
Palate: Vanilla, taffy, lemon, dry on the gums, crisp, dried pear, light spice, medium-light body, light stone fruit on the dry finish.

15 Minutes: Light yeast and nuttiness, vanilla with melon on the nose. Melon, spiced pear, focused to back, melon and spiced pear followed into the enjoyable medium finish.

30 Minutes: Toasty nose, savory with light melon, nutty. Focused, vanilla, melon, hint of sweet fruit, spice, pear skin, dry finish, tingle back palate.

1 Hour: Spicy, nutty, toasty nose. Lemon, bright on tongue, baked pear, focused to middle, integrated, more my speed at this point. Like.

Day Two: Fluid, spicy, peach, hazelnut shell, focused to middle, touch of melon and lime skin, crisp and dry mid-palate, quite tasty into the medium finish. Like. Sauteed lobster, bowl of steamed mussels, crusty bread and melted butter for dipping would be good companions with this wine. Like.

Thoughts: Took an hour for this wine to hit my button. I should have decanted a little. Day two this wine hit my sweet spot. Expect this wine to evolve in bottle and will only get better with a little time. The cool post card inspired label would make a wonderful memento/gift from Washington wine country.


Blend: 100% Chardonnay
AVA: Columbia Valley
Vineyard: White Bluffs
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13.9%
Sample provided by winery
Production 60 Cases
SRP: $19


3. Welcome to Yakima Valley Semi-Sweet Sparkling Riesling

Color: Pale straw to yellow.
Nose: Toasted nose with minerality and pear skin.
Palate: Slightly sweet, honeyed, crisp on the tongue, focused to mid-palate, pear juice and yeast with lemon and a savory note on the finish. Wants spicy food.

Thoughts: Too sweet for me to enjoy by itself. Best with spicy food, I had a bottle of hot sauce on hand and it matched well with savory foods. A tentative recommendation for those who like their sparkling wine sweeter than I do. I can't do sweet bubbles.


Blend: 100% Riesling
Vineyard: Selenium Vineyard, Yakima Valley
ABV: 12%
Residual Sugar 9 g/l
Sample provided by winery
Production 88 Cases
SRP: $19


4. Eternal Beauty 2015 Rose'

Color: Pretty pale pink, orange highlights, clear and clean.
Nose: Light fruit, cherry, perfumed, minerality.
Palate: Crisp, medium weight, pow with the cherry, ripe strawberry, nice grip on gums and cheeks, almost savory, satisfying, my style of dry rose'. Not a wimpy pink wine. Big Like.

At 15 minutes: Round, less fruit, cherry to strawberry-rhubarb, spiciness, cinnamon, textured, apple cinnamon on finish with a tingle on the lips. Sexy.

At 30 minutes: Big hit of minerality, strawberry, rhubarb, spiciness, textured, acid zip, focused down the palate, apple into the zesty finish. This wine danced on the palate. Big like.

At One Hour: Minerality on the nose, toasted, strawberry, watermelon, spicy, dry, tannic, crisp.

Day Two: Strawberry, brioche, light creaminess, dusting of grated orange, vanilla custard, fresh, satisfying medium finish. Big like, my speed.

Thoughts: Serve cold and watch the bottle disappear. Not a wimpy pink wine. Sexy. Good luck tracking down this first vintage. Sold out at the winery. Some bottles still available at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, Washington at time of posting.
Strongly Recommended

Blend: 75% Syrah, 10% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 5% Roussanne
AVA: Walla Walla
Vineyards: Morrison Lane(WW), Gamache(CV), Blue Mountain(WW)
Winemaker, Brad Binko
Closure, natural cork
ABV: 12%
Sample provided by winery 
Production 30 Cases
SRP: $19


5. Eternal Wine Rocket Man Red 2014 Columbia Valley
"Warning: drinking this will not make you fly!"
Color: Red plum with dark plum core.
Nose: Smoky cherry, mineral, mint.
Palate: Broad, soft cherry, spike of acid mid-palate, cherry, mint and chocolate, light tannin, bright note on medium-light finish. Enjoyable at open.

15 Minutes: Dark cherry, apple skin, soft spice, white pepper, milk chocolate, mint on nose. Fine tannin, friendly greeting, cherry, chocolate, mint, integrated and tasty on palate, almost restrained, focused to middle of palate, pleasant chocolate and mint on the medium-light finish. Balanced and tasty, medium body right in the sweet spot. Ready for food or just to drink.

30 Minutes: Cherry cola, light spice, mint to rose petal, almost candied vanilla on the nose. Cherry, cola, chocolate, focused to front, fine tannin, medium body, grip on lower gums, medium-light finish.

1 Hour: Cherry cola, candy, light spice with perfume on nose. Yum on palate, nice texture, fine tannin, dark cherry, chocolate, medium-light body, chocolate mint with apple tannin and that texture followed through into the medium finish. Big like.

Decanted 1 Hour: Nice dark color. Earthiness with cherry/plum, slate and cola on the nose. Touch creamy, candied cherry cola, smooth medium body, freshness, light grip on the gums and tongue, focus to mid palate, medium finish with mint. Like.

Day Two: Juicy dark fruit, smooth, edged with violets, tar and cola, light tannin and blueberry into the medium finish.

Day Three: Juicy cherry, blueberry, with coffee, bright and round mid-palate, modest tannin on the medium cherry finish. Like. 

Thoughts: I like that this is not a "huge" wine. It is approachable, medium-light bodied, tasty and delivered satisfaction at open and until the bottle was empty. Well done. Ready to drink alone or with food. Should continue to evolve in bottle over the next few years. Pretty darn good, plus that cool label closes the deal.


Aged 1 year in barrel, then 1 year in bottle before release.
Blend: 45% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc.
Closure: Natural Cork.
ABV: 14.5%
Sample provided by winery
Production 42 Cases
SRP: $25

Eternal Wines
Open for tastings Fri-Sun 10am-6pm and by appointment
1460 F Street
Walla Walla, Washington 99362

Well done Mr. Brad Binko. Excellent showing for a first release. I look forward to your future releases and continued success. Write that name down. Now go look for his wines.


Monday, June 13, 2016

3 Lauren Ashton Cellars Wines Reviewed + A Wine of the Week!


A pleasure to review these three current releases from Lauren Ashton Cellars.

Two years ago I enjoyed visiting with Lauren Ashton Cellars winemaker Kit Singh at his Woodinville, Washington tasting room. We discussed his wines and philosophy of winemaking while he poured. He's smart, focused, passionate, and earnest about his goals. He makes truly great wines and is still a Dentist first and foremost.

Kit Singh and his wife named their Woodinville winery after their children, Ashley Lauren and Ashton Troy. The sophisticated labels on these wines have images reflecting his wife's European and Estonian heritage and culture. With a background in Chemistry, and a DDS, Kit studied viticulture and enology in Seattle and at UC Davis. He interned at DeLille Cellars in Woodinville and even taught wine science at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle Community College. Lauren Ashton Cellars was established in 2009. Yes, impressed by this guy.

Lauren Ashton Cellars Woodinville Tasting Room.

If you can't make it to the Woodinville tasting room, I hope you have the opportunity to purchase these wines to enjoy at home. They are marvelous. I have written the following wine reviews to assist in your wine purchasing decisions. Enjoy.

Wine Reviews


1. Lauren Ashton Cellars 2014 Roussanne a Wine of the Week! 
*Note: Roussanne is a richly complex and unique white grape varietal, indigenous to the Rhône Valley of France. 
Winemaking: The fruit was whole cluster pressed, clarified and fermented. One third of the blend was fermented in new French oak, one third in neutral oak and one third in stainless steel. The fermentation was done at cool temperatures to preserve the aromas. The barrel portion was stirred on the lees. 
Tasting Notes:

Color: Pale gold.
Nose: Minerality, brioche, pear skin, nutmeg.
Palate: Good weight, fluid, honeyed, orange essence, bright on the tongue, light creaminess, white grapefruit on the fresh finish. Like.

15 Minutes: Soy, jasmine tea, smooth wet rock added to the nose. Contemplative. Focused palate, honeyed, rich ripe pear, ripe Fuji apple, hint of lychee, full in the mouth, balanced acidity, enjoyable fluid quality, fresh medium finish. Big like.

30 Minutes: Toasty, yeasty, with jasmine tea, wet rock on nose. Good weight, fresh, balanced, pear/apple/essence of orange skin with touch of spice on the finish. Big like.

1 Hour: Smelled of rising bread, pear torte, delicate spices and minerality. Lovely on the palate, focused to middle, fresh and baked pear, peach skin, brioche, touch dry on the gums and sides of tongue, freshness with a bit of savoriness into the fluid medium finish. Well done.

Day Two: Textured, elegant, light nuttiness with sliced Asian pear and apple, balanced, pleasantly dry, restraint made for a delicious drinking wine. Food not required. Lovely, lovely. If you want food, perfect for fresh Oysters and steamed Penn Cove Mussels. Bravo.

Thoughts: A premium white wine which hit my buttons. Serve for best friends and with rich, savory seafood. Lobster, King Crab, fried Oysters and Butter Clams come to mind.
Drink now.
Strongly Recommended.
+ Wine of the Week. 

2014 Rousanne paired with garlic shrimp fettuccine. 

Blend: Roussanne
AVA Columbia Valley
Vineyards: Dineen Family Vineyard
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 13.5%
Winemaker Kit Singh
Sample provided by winery
115 Cases
SRP: $25


2. Lauren Ashton Cellars 2012 Cuvée Mirabelle GSM 
Winemaking: The grapes were handpicked and co -fermented. The wine continued its alcoholic fermentation in French oak until it was dry and then proceeded through Malolactic conversion prior to being racked and returned to barrel where it was aged for 28 months.
Tasting Notes:

Color: Garnet.
Nose: Soft red berry, raspberry, focused to cherry, orange rind.
Palate: Acid tickled ears, focused to front with bright cherry, milk chocolate, vanilla, currant, medium weight, tingle top of palate.

15 Minutes: Dark earthy notes, perfume, cherry and orange rind on the nose. Tingle on tongue, rich cherry, textured, blueberry juice, touch of sage on the bright medium finish.

30 Minutes: Smoky nose, dark and red fruits. Silky, dry, focused to mid-palate, dark, tarry blueberry, tarragon, orange essence, ripe cherry, medium-long finish. Showed well with light heat.

1 Hour: Integrated, mint on nose and palate added to enjoyment, gentle tannin, supple, cherry, blueberry, coffee. Like.

1 Hour Decanted: Dry on the gums, tannin more obvious, wants fatty food, cherry, vanilla, tar in background, integrated, blueberry with coffee into the medium-long finish.

1.5 Hours decanted: Dark fruit with bitter coffee on the nose. Rich palate, savory, black cherry, ripe blueberry, fine tannin, tarragon, tar, good mouth feel, medium-long finish, my speed. Big like.

2 Hours decanted: Polished. Balanced. Most enjoyable. Well integrated, tasty sipper ready for food and friends. Dried cherries and blueberries, good grip and medium-long finish. Big like.

3 Hours decanted: Delectable with steak dinner. Lovely fluid quality. Flavors spot on. Rich fruit, medley of red and dark flavors with savory notes danced down the middle of the palate. Pleasantly dry and complimentary to grilled rib-eye. Yum!

Thoughts: Intriguing new release from winemaker Kit Singh. Huge potential with this GSM blend. Fabulous with steak dinner after the wine was decanted for three hours. It did not make it to day two!
Strongly Recommended.
Decant 3 hours if you drink now.
Cellar for 3 - 6 years if you can resist. 


Blend: Grenache 34%, Syrah 33%, Mourvèdre 33%
AVA: Columbia Valley
Vineyards: Den Hoed Vineyard, Ambassador Vineyard
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 14.5%
Winemaker Kit Singh
Sample provided by winery
250 Cases
SRP: $50


3. Lauren Ashton Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon 
Winemaking: The grapes were harvested separately, bunch sorted, de-stemmed and transferred to 1 ton fermenters. Approximately 50% of the berries were left whole and uncrushed. After fermentation, the must was drained of free run juice and the skins were lightly pressed. The wine continued its alcoholic fermentation in French oak until it was dry and then proceeded through Malolactic conversion prior to being racked and returned to barrel. It was left to mature undisturbed for 28 months before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

Color: Dark garnet.
Nose: Oak wine barrel, cherry, floral, orange skin.
Palate: Mouth filling dark cherry, nice bite of acid and tannin at top of palate, chocolate, sage, some yogurt in background, medium-short finish.

15 Minutes: Spice, cherry, blackberry and mushroom on the nose, focused but tight. Cherry, blackberry, blueberry, focus to middle-back of palate, bitter dark chocolate, a lovely medium finish. Appealing and full of promise. Like.

30 Minutes: Nose little changed. Silky mouth feel, fine tannin, focused middle to front of palate, dark cherry, sage, bitter chocolate on dry, medium finish.

1 Hour: Dark, earthy nose with herbal notes. Yum, mouth filling dark cherry, blackberry, earthy, orange pith, dark chocolate, fine tannin, with creamy yogurt and hint of bell pepper on the dry, medium finish. Like.

1 Hour Decanted: Similar to the 1 Hour not decanted, seemed softer, but much drier on the tongue, cheeks and gums. Craved a juicy steak. Lovely medium-long finish.

2 Hours Decanted: There we go. Integrated, polished, savory dark fruit, earthy core with bright notes, ummami character of soy, mushroom, and meat, medium-long finish.

Day two: Subdued, inviting nose, cherry, slate, pepper mill, boysenberry. Yum, focused, rich fruit, pleasantly dry, nice brightness on the tongue, cherry, blackberry, dark chocolate, tar/mushroom, medium-long finish. Wants food. Will pair with a steak.

Thoughts: Please decant if you open now. I've noticed that many Washington red wines from 2012 are in need of more cellar time. Some are beginning to show well, but others still need more time in bottle. This wine was wound tight.
Strongly Recommended.
Decant 2 hours if you drink now.
Cellar for 2 to 6.


AVA: Red Mountain
Vineyards: Quintessence Vineyard, Amabassador Vineyard 
Closure: Natural Cork
ABV: 14.5%
Winemaker Kit Singh
125 Cases
SRP: $50
Sample for review

Lauren Ashton Cellars
Tasting Room

14545 148th Ave NE
Suite  211
Woodiville, Wa 98072

Phone: 206-504-8546

Feels great to share my sentiments on these Washington wines today.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Columbia Crest Launches Concerts at the Winery: “Tunes, Wines & Vines”


PATERSON, Wash. (May 26, 2016)

 – Columbia Crest Winery located in Paterson, Washington, will kick off a weekend of live music this summer in August. Columbia Crest will host The Buckinghams on Friday, August 19th at 7:00PM and Crystal Gayle on Saturday, August 20th at 7:00PM. Tickets for the concerts will go on sale Saturday, May 28th at 10AM online-only at www.ticketmaster.com and through all Ticketmaster outlets.

The Columbia Crest 2016 “Tunes, Wines & Vines” concerts will take place on the winery’s picturesque lawn overlooking the estate vineyards and Columbia River with attendance for up to 1,000. The Columbia Crest wine shop is open before the shows with wine and picnic items available for purchase. Guests can choose to pack a picnic or purchase cuisine from local food trucks, all while enjoying great live music and acclaimed wines from Columbia Crest.

Concert-goers may also bring their own non-alcoholic beverages. (The Washington State Liquor Cannabis Board requires that all alcoholic beverages consumed on the winery grounds be purchased at the winery.)

Both shows will feature general admission seating on the lawn. Tickets for The Buckinghams are $45.00 and tickets for Crystal Gayle are $50. Performances take place regardless of weather.

Columbia Crest is located at 178810 State Rt 221 in Paterson, Washington. For more information visit online at www.columbiacrest.com or read the Concerts FAQ.

Note: Driving directions to Columbia Crest Winery, Paterson, Washington.


About Columbia Crest

Founded in 1983, Columbia Crest has grown from a small winery in a relatively unknown wine region to one of the most significant wineries in the U.S. and a major force behind Washington State’s emergence as a world-class wine region. In 2009, Wine Spectator magazine named the Columbia Crest 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon the No. 1 Wine in the World on its Top 100 list, the first time a wine from Washington State has received the ranking. More information about the winery can be found at columbiacrest.com.

# # #