Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gordon Brothers Winery Visit and Tasting

An Eminent Family Owned Washington Winery

Yesterday, owner Jeff Gordon, daughter Katie Nelson and winemaker Tim Henley took time off from their busy schedules to visit with me and tour the Gordon Brothers Estate Vineyards and winery. Tim and I barrel and tank sampled through 2008 and 2009, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Kamiak White and the 2007 Tradition (gorgeousness).

Gordon Brothers has been producing outstanding wines since 1985. They share the privilege of being among the earliest, eminent Washington wineries. My first visit to the Gordon Brothers winery was about 20 years ago. Back then, there was a small tasting room adjacent to the family home. While the tasting room is now located in Woodinville, Washington, as always, the fruit is grown and the wine is made, on their property overlooking the Snake River and Levy Park.

These vines are not afraid of heights

Gordon Brothers winemaker, Tim Henley, was my genial guide as we toured the 100 acres of estate vineyards. The vineyards hug basalt cliffs above the Snake River and border fields of Gordon Brothers other crops; cherries, sweet corn and melon. Tim is originally from California, he and his family moved to Washington just four years ago to make wine in Washington State. After three hours visiting with Tim, it’s obvious to me that he enjoys working with Gordon Brothers’ fruit and is captivated by Washington.

Tim shared with me that Gordon Brothers is making the transition to Certified Organic vineyards. Their lovely 2008 Reserve Chardonnay is made from Certified Organic fruit, just like all of their other crops. Eventually, all of their Estate Vineyards may be Certified Organic.

WinemakerTim Henley pulling some 2009 Merlot to taste

Gordon Brothers also has newer plantings of a Cabernet Sauvignon clone named “Clone 6”. The Clone 6 vines produce more open clusters of grapes, providing extra sun exposure – the vines are located on the rocky south east hillside and receive a lot of sun and wind. The wine made from the Clone 6 fruit is bottled but not yet released, it is called “2008 SIX” Cabernet Sauvignon. It was my pleasure to sample the 2008 SIX. While there are those who don’t believe Washington State wineries can produce long lived wines, suitable for the cellar – the 2008 SIX my friends is a wine to collect and is perfectly suited for your cellar or wine fridge. It’s in a very pretty bottle, perfect for showing off.


Gordon Brothers is also growing Tempranillo, yes, Tempranillo. I’m a big Tempranillo fan, so I’m always happy to see Washington wineries working with this varietal. Yesterday, we sampled 2009 and 2008 Tempranillo, though not yet bottled, wine club members are in for a big treat when it’s released. Gordon Brothers wine club members are enjoying the benefits of Tim’s work with limited production wines and special blends. Wine club shipments are in spring and fall.


What else did I learn? Gordon Brothers has a second label called “Kamiak”. The Kamiak label is obviously a way to sell wines that don’t fit with the Gordon Brothers original label. That’s to our benefit, because these quality wines are priced lower and intended for a different audience. The 2007 Kamiak Rock Lake Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah the 2008 Kamiak Windust White is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. Katie sent me home with a bottle of each, so I’m looking forward to reviewing these wines soon – I’m thinking summer barbecue with friends. Thank you Katie.


Barrels of 2009 Syrah, lovely stuff in those barrels

Some of the memorable barrel samples include; 2009 Reserve Chardonnay, 2008 Merlot, 2007 Tradition, and the 2008 Tempranillo. Surprisingly, I even enjoyed the barrel samples of Syrah Tim shared with me. His Syrah ranged from fruity to funky. As much as I liked the fruity Syrah, the funky one in the last barrel we sampled truly intrigued. Tim still has to sort out which barrels and which blends these wines will go into from the cellar. That’s his job and he’s the right man for that job. He’s obviously an asset to the Gordon Brothers family.

Food Pairings at Home

Chicken and Chardonnay

I had time to pair the Gordon Brothers 2008 Chardonnay with grilled chicken (lemon juice, oregano, garlic). When I served the chicken, it needed some fresh lime juice, salt and hot sauce, then it became the perfect pairing. This Chardonnay is quite crisp, almost tart, minimal oak does not interfere with the fruit and really enhances the enjoyment of the chicken.

Bacon Wrapped Prawns and Reserve Chardonnay

Today, I was able to pair Gordon Brothers 2008 Reserve Chardonnay with bacon wrapped wild prawns. Loved this pairing; the smoky-sweetness of the bacon and prawns work so well with this toasty nosed, buttery-rich, Chardonnay and the acidity in the wine is just right for cutting through the bacon fat – simply scrumptious.

Winemaker Tim Henley is crafting exciting new Gordon Brothers vintages. If you have never had a bottle of Gordon Brothers, or haven’t had a bottle recently, it’s past time for you to take some Gordon Brothers wine home. Thanks for being so generous with your time yesterday Tim. Big thumbs up to you and the wines you are making.

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Gordon Brothers winemaker Tim Henley at Bin 20 Restaurant on Wednesday July 28th at the Pasco Red Lion. Tim will be pouring wines paired with specially selected courses. This is a six course meal; price is $60 per person. To make your reservations, call Perlicia Mullen-Rando, Red Lion Food & Beverage Manager, (509) 544-3950.

Gordon Brothers Tasting Room, Location: 19501 144th Ave. NE #A-800, Woodinville, WA 98072 Hours: Friday & Saturday, Noon-7PM, Sunday Noon-5PM and by appointment, Phone: (425) 398-9323, Email: tastingroom@gordonwines.com

Cheers!