Saturday, February 26, 2011

Updated: Local Wineries: Red Mountain

List of Red Mountain Wineries.
I've updated the Local Wineries page.

Made time this morning to add Red Mountain AVA information and a list of Red Mountain Wineries to the Local Wineries page. This list does not include Benton City wineries, yet. There are some recent additions to Red Mountain which may not be reflected by my list. I'll do more research to confirm.

I will be adding a legend to the list of wineries: V= Visited Facility, R=Reviewed Wine.

If you notice any errors or omissions, please post a comment.

Thanks for the tweets, #ff, #wawine, #ww, @wild4wawine


Friday, February 25, 2011

Who is Prosser Vineyard and Winery?

Prosser Vineyard and Winery 2009 Syrah, First Release!

This week I was at the local grocer, once again looking for a bottle of wine to accompany dinner.

My habit is not to buy the wine I know and enjoy, but to seek out the wines I don’t know, and learn more about them. This strategy does not always provide for an enjoyable bottle of wine. Sometimes it does. On display for several weeks, is a wine I did not know, Prosser Vineyard and Winery 2009 Syrah.  Torn between a cool looking bottle of Spanish wine, a local organic Cabernet, and the unknown Prosser Vineyard and Winery Syrah, I pushed past my misgivings about the label (not my favorite design). I decided to take a chance on this bottle of Syrah priced at a reasonable $10.99.

First Washington Wine is a Syrah

The label on this bottle confused me. 

Was this wine made by a vineyard owner, a winery, an organization/club or by the city of Prosser? After some research, I learned that this wine is made by winemaker William Jenkin. William is the former owner and winemaker of the award winning Pamo Valley Vineyard & Winery in Ramona, California. He relocated to Prosser, Washington in 2007. While he has planted Malbec, Bill and his fiancé Lisa Mahoney purchased their Syrah grapes from Coyote Canyon Vineyard, located within the *Horse Heaven Hills AVA.  This, their first vintage, was released early in 2011.

The Wine

On opening, this wine had a very dusty nose, after some air a distinct aroma of mushrooms, and then nuts emerged. After an hour an undertone of dark fruit laced with violets was present, just under the mushroom. In the mouth the nutty mushroom flavors continued, the wine was a bit funky, as a good Syrah can be (I liked), the fruit flavors became more obvious the longer the wine was open. It had good mouth feel with medium tannins noticeable on the sides of my tongue. This is a very dark wine, so dark it seemed to absorb light. Not the typical Washington Syrah and unlike most I've enjoyed over the last 8 years.

I’d suggest pairing this wine with any dish benefiting from mushrooms: steak, prime rib, venison, leg of lamb, beef stroganoff, meatloaf, you get the idea – this wine is similar to a complimentary sauce.

Day two notes: Most prominent is a stewed plum core, the mushroom is faint, almost a memory.

At $11 the Prosser Vineyard and Winery 2009 Syrah is a very intriguing Syrah. Go grab some and enjoy the journey, marvel at the flavors and reflect on the diversity of Washington State Syrah. Terrific job Mr. Jenkin, I look forward to your future releases. Recommended.

Prosser Vineyard & Winery,
131604 West Shelby Road, Prosser, WA 99350,
Phone: 509.778.2482


*About Horse Heaven Hills AVA

The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is an American Viticultural Area in southeastern Washington, and is part of the larger Columbia Valley AVA. The Horse Heaven Hills AVA borders the Yakima Valley AVA on the north and the Columbia River on the south. Elevations in this AVA range from 200 feet (61 m) above sea level in the south to 1,800 feet (549 m) above sea level at the northern boundary. Grapes planted in the south-facing slopes of the Horse Heaven Hills benefit from strong winds that arrive from the west via the Columbia Gorge, reducing the likelihood of rot and fungal diseases.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2 Great Wines from Hightower Cellars

Hightower Cellars 2008 Out of Line and 2008 Murray Syrah

Friday, I was out looking for a birthday present, for a fellow wine lover. While browsing through the birthday cards, I started to think about the most memorable wines of 2010. Which wines did I truly enjoy last year? And which of those wines would be the perfect wine gift? Ah ha! Hightower Cellars Murray Syrah!

I last reviewed Hightower Cellars 2008 Murray Syrah in August 2010. Tim and Kelly Hightower planted the vines for that wine on their Red Mountain property, a mix of mostly Syrah and some Viognier – a classic Rhone style blend. They enjoyed the first fruits of their labor in their 2007 Murray Syrah – a vintage I missed out on. The 2008 Murray Syrah really appealed to me. But where would I be able to purchase a bottle, in time for the party? When in doubt, drive to their Red Mountain winery of course.

Open for Tasting: Hightower Cellars Red Mountain Winery

Hightower Cellars is located at the very top of Red Mountain, off of a gravel road at the end of Sunset road. At the top of Sunset road, take a left on to the gravel road and then take the second right, that gravel road will lead you to Hightower Cellars, winery and tasting room. I was extremely fortunate to stop by the winery last Friday; the tasting room just re-opened after being closed for the winter. Call me doubly fortunate, both Kelly and Tim Hightower were at the winery. I spent an hour catching up with Tim and Kelly; catching up while I tasted all of their wonderful red wines (big smile). I did end up purchasing a bottle of the 2008 Murray Syrah for my friend’s birthday. And I took home a bottle of the 2008 Out Of Line Red for myself.

2008 Out Of Line Red Wine

My review today is of the 2008 Out of Line Red wine.  Out of Line refers to the fact that they planted their vineyard rows canted eleven degrees off of north south. This orientation more evenly balances the sun exposure on each side of the vine row, increasing the exposure on the east and decreasing it on the west. This makes for more evenly developed fruit and a better harvest.

Blend: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 7% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot. Estate bottled 100% Red Mountain fruit.

I’m currently enjoying Paul Gregutts newest book,Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide, Second Edition. His final summary of Hightower Cellars is, “…I applaud its industry and commitment, and I hope it will continue to look for its own unique expression of that valuable Red Mountain terroir.”

A Wine for the Decade

Well, I’m pleased to pronounce that Kelly and Tim Hightower have found that unique expression in their 2008 Out Of Line Red Wine. For the last four days, I have been enjoying that bottle of the 2008 Out Of Line. Yes, the same bottle is holding up exceedingly well. I believe Tim and Kelly have crafted a wine for the decade. This friends, is a wine to lie down, put it in your wine cellar, your wine fridge, your parents basement or a dark closet if you have to. But put some away now.

Seldom do you find a wine of this caliber at this price point, $25 at the winery. This wine is packed, compressed, and layered with scrumptious Red Mountain flavors; it has taken half a week for me to get a feel for this wine. While it is presently dark, robust, dry, wound up and unhurried in expressing itself, don’t let that fool you – this amazing wine has no flaw, except youth. Hightower Cellars 2008 Out Of Line Red wine deserves another 5 to 10 years to develop further in the bottle. This is going to be a long lived Red Mountain Red Wine. It’s not a buy me drink me today wine. It’s a classically styled wine, destined for wine cellars everywhere.  If you’re smart, grab some bottles now and put them away. You can thank me later. Dark fruit, cherry, vanilla, currants, violets, cigar box, pepper, oak, and that’s on day four!

Purchase this wine and view winery notes here: 2008 Out of Line Red 

Read my review of the 2008 Murray Syrah here. Buy some of the 2008 Murray Syrah while you still can – it’s ready to drink now. And go visit Hightower Cellars when you are in the area. They are a Red Mountain winery not to be missed. Follow Tim and Kelly Hightower on Facebook and twitter and their website:


Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Romantic Indictment

Accused of Romanticizing Wine

Last week I met with a member of the wine industry. It was pointed out to me that I “romanticize wine”. This comment has fixed in my head, so I’m writing about it to purge it from my thoughts. Today, I looked up the definition of the word romantic; the two definitions of “romantic” which could be applied to this observation include:
1. fanciful; impractical; unrealistic: romantic ideas.
2. imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure,chivalry, etc.

Wow. Is that what was meant? Are my views truly “fanciful”, “impractical” and “unrealistic”?  Yes, I do appreciate the story of wine, the presentation of wine and how great the wine experience can be – especially if the wine is really good. My attitude towards and my characterization of a "good wine" are admittedly influenced by the personality and passion of the winemaker.

An apt example of this, “romanticism” is my review of àMaurice Cellars wine maker, Anna Schafer.

“Anna Schafer is the co-winemaker for her family owned àMaurice Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington. She my friends is the future of Washington wine… I was fortunate to enjoy an hour in the company of an intelligent, serious and passionate Washington winemaker. She's engaging, knowledgeable… With a background in Art History, Ms. Schafer also designed the winery label using her grandfather's signature — àMaurice… After sampling àMaurice Syrah and Chardonnay, I would say the winemaker has created an “aesthetic” all her own — reflective of the grapes she chose to use, her personal style, passion and perspective. These are not lazy, rural wines — but big, expressive urban wines, deserving of sunsets reflected off skyscrapers, fine meals in intimate settings and perfect for entertaining your cherished friends… The winemakers “aesthetic” encompass a union of skill, knowledge, experience and passion for winemaking — which is reflected by what is in the bottle, the glass and ultimately its final destination. After meeting this winemaker, I better understand her wine. An industrious winemaker, Anna Schafer makes her wine in Walla Walla, lives part-time in Seattle and manages to work for winemaker Paul Hobbs of Viña Cobos in Argentina! She speaks Italian and is learning Spanish… I highly recommend àMaurice Cellars and strongly urge you to take some time to visit the winery.”

What do you think? Does the definition fit?

While some of the imagery I used is romantic, it is also descriptive, heartfelt and sincere. If you review some of my other posts, I have also taken the time to research the subject of: Sulfite's in Wine.

“According to the FDA, there are people who are allergic to sulfites, but this is a very small subset of the population. The FDA estimates that 1 in 100 is sulfitesensitive, but for the 10% who are asthmatic, up to 5% are at risk of sulfitesensitivity. Of those, the ones with the most severe reactions are reported as steroid-dependent and are taking drugs such as prednisone ormethylprednisolone. See: William Bincoletto, Red Wine Headache vs. Sulfite Allergy.”

So, proof that my articles are occasionally educational, not fanciful, nor imbued with or dominated by idealism. By definition, I’d call them “unromantic”.

Two definitions of “romantic” which I would choose to embrace on this blog include:
1. displaying or expressing love or strong affection.
2. ardent; passionate; fervent.

Much better; I choose to write about my strong affections for wine and the ardent and passionate winemakers I meet. So, I may have a quixotic bent, but then I am, "Wild 4 Washington Wine".


Thursday, February 10, 2011

1 New Release from Garrison Creek Cellars

Garrison Creek Cellars announces the release of their 2007 Zinfandel!

Last year, I visited Walla Walla during Spring Release weekend. Garrison Creek Cellars was the highlight of my visit - see article (Garrison Creek Cellars).

I just received notice that Garrison Creek Cellars is releasing their 2007 Zinfandel. I'm spreading the word, this is your opportunity to take this marvelous wine home.

Winery Supplied Note (more below):
"This wine’s toasty vanilla and bright raspberry characteristics will lend themselves beautifully to bittersweet chocolates."  It is their second Zinfandel ever released, and they are quite proud of it.

Limited quantities of this wine and all purchases are first-come, first-served.  This wine can be purchased directly through the winery via email, or over the phone at (509) 525-7377.  Pricing, case discount, and tasting notes are included below.

Also, the first ever release of Garrison Creek Cellars Library wines.  
If you are missing any of their sold out vintages in your vertical flight, you can now fill the gap.  They are offering the following wines, at $85/bottle:
  • 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon (43 bottles remaining)
  • 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (Walla Walla and Columbia Valley appellations) (36 bottles each remaining)
  • 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (33 bottles remaining)
  • 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (37 bottles remaining)
  • 2002 Syrah (36 bottles remaining)
Winery Tasting Notes
GARRISON CREEK CELLARS 2007 Zinfandel Walla Walla Valley
Zinfandel is a relatively rare variety in Washington vineyards; this 2007 vintage is our second  from our estate vineyard, Les Collines. Our winemaking goal for this wine was to showcase the bright berry fruit that is characteristic of Zinfandels, and then add warm, spicy notes with barrel aging. We aged this vintage in new French oak barrels for 19 months, and then bottled it at the end of May 2009. A year and a half of bottle aging followed, and the resulting wine has a very pleasing, full finish.  

Cases produced: 150

Vineyard: Les Collines
Release date: December 2010
Barrel aging: 19 months new French oak
Alcohol: 15.4% by volume

Winemaker notes: Generous notes of raspberry and strawberry jam in the nose; a medium-full, supple body is balanced by firm acidity, making it a versatile wine to pair with fine meals.

Price per Bottle: $55
Case: $594 (reflects 10% case discount)


How to Ruin the Wine Experience - Expectations Not Met

Finding fault with a glass cork

Regular readers know that I avoid negative comments about wines and wineries. I feel that there are already plenty of negative opinions out there, so I don’t need to add my voice to them. Characteristically, I focus on the wines I like and my positive wine experiences. Today however, I feel compelled to share a negative experience.
Glass on Glass Stopper (glass cork)
Four years ago I wrote about wine closure technologies (Seeking Closure). In the article I discuss the merits and failures of natural cork, synthetic cork, screw caps, boxed wine and the newer technology of glass cork (glass-on-glass stopper). At the time I had only seen a glass cork once, and felt unqualified to express an opinion. Well that’s changed; I definitely have an opinion on glass closures.

History of the glass-on-glass stopper
The "glass-on-glass" stopper was introduced in 2004. Two brands I am aware of are, Vino Seal and Vino-Lok. Most of the online information on these technologies is from 2004 and 2006.

“Vino-Seal combines the glass stopper with an inert o-ring to provide a hermetic seal. The patented design prevents oxidation and contaminates from entering the bottle, while retaining desirable free sulfur levels. In addition, no corkscrew is needed for opening the bottle and the wine can be resealed with the closure.”

“Vino-Lok, a glass stopper with a sealing ring made of DuPont™ Elvax® eythylene-vinyl acetate and developed by Alcoa Deutschland. Its decisive advantage: the much-feared corking of the wine is no longer possible, and neither the glass nor the Elvax® produces an aftertaste or odor. Vino-Lok is aesthetically pleasing and can be easily opened without the use of other implements - the protective cap is removed and the stopper is pulled out by hand - and sits tightly in the bottle when reinserted.”

Forming an opinion on glass closures
Recently, upon a recommendation, I purchased a bottle of wine made by a favored Washington winery. I’ve personally visited with the winemaker of this bottle of wine, have enjoyed wines made by this winery over the last five years and recommend them as a “must try”. This particular bottle of wine was a red blend of two varietals 50% + 50%, it was a 2009 vintage (that’s as specific as I’ll get). This was my first time purchasing this particular blend and vintage.

Perhaps you understand my eagerness to open this bottle. To say I was looking forward to enjoying this wine is an understatement. I had great expectations and preconceptions. To my surprise, I unexpectedly discovered that they sealed this bottle with a glass cork. There was no noticeable indicator on the bottle stating that it was sealed with a glass stopper.

So Why Glass?
"Independent market research indicates there are three benefits winemakers look for when selecting a wine stopper: The stopper must protect the flavor and aroma of the wine, the closure must easily integrate into a bottling line, and it must deliver a premium image. Vino-Seal meets these requirements," said Laura Clark, Adult Beverage Marketing Manager, Alcoa CSI. 2006

See also:
The Ritual of opening wine
Natural cork is something I've grown fond of. I enjoy the ritual of opening a bottle of wine: 1. Remove the foil, 2. Insert the screw, 3. Turn, turn, turn, 4. Leverage out the cork - "pop", 5. Smell the cork, 6. Pour a little wine in the glass, 7. Swirl, swirl the wine, 8. Smell the wine and finally, 9. Taste and enjoy.

How it went down
Bottle in hand, excited to open this bottle; the knife on my waiter’s key quickly cut through the foil and released the closure easier than anticipated. As I stared into the open bottle, my first thought was, "oh, no, the cork is missing!" Then I felt the weight of the glass in my left hand and I realized I'd opened my first bottle of wine with a glass closure.

A glass closure, a glass-on-glass stopper, yes, it really is a glass stopper – and as appealing as a glass stopper can be. My anticipation at opening this bottle was deflated by how easily the glass stopper slipped out. It was a let-down opening this bottle. Hey, I was expecting a real cork, not a glass stopper!

The Wine
So how was the wine? The wine was just ok. It did not "wow" as I had expected. I saved most of the bottle for the next day, hoping it just needed a little oxidation. Day two and the wine tasted no better, it seemed flavorful, but lifeless.

Admittedly, my complaint with this wine may not lie with the glass cork, it could be the wine. But that perceived weak, and unexpected glass closure, set me up to find fault with the stopper. The closure ruined my wine experience. I believe that if this bottle had been sealed with a real cork, my perception of this wine would be better. It would have met expectations.

My opinion is that, natural cork is still the best closure for wine. And natural cork is good for the environment (read the article). I'll take real cork next time, thank you.

I welcome and encourage your comments on this article. This was my first real world experience with a glass stopper. If you feel the same about glass closures or have had positive experiences with glass stoppers, please leave a comment. You can also tweet me @wild4wawine.

There, I feel better for sharing.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Wine Tasting at Hamilton Cellars

Last month, I met with Stacie Hamilton of Hamilton Cellars winery (read post), the newest winery in town. Friday, I met again with Stacie, but this time Stacie and I sat down and tasted Hamilton Cellars marvelous wines.
Stacie Hamilton and me. Photo courtesy of original image at
Hamilton Cellars has a complete lineup of wine: 2008 White blend, 2009 Rosé of Malbec, 2006/2007/2008 Bona Vita Red blend, 2007 Merlot, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2007 Malbec. There is a $5 tasting fee per person, which is refunded with bottle purchase.

We began with the 2008 White Wine
This wine is 83% Semillon, my favorite white wine varietal, backed up with 17% Viognier. This is a very successful wine. It’s very rich, with a great floral and baked bread nose, full in the mouth and quite satisfying. I’m thinking seafood, crab, lobster, mussels and prawns.

Next, 2009 Rosé of Malbec
Ha! This one will surprise you, it surprised me. The Rosé instantly reminded me of summer 2009, specifically July 2009 – bright, sunny, warm, happy times. Happy times indeed, you can call the Rosé of Malbec “summer in the bottle”. What revelry of flavors, strawberry, watermelon and cranberry, dry, bright and tasty. This wine put a big smile on my face.

2007 Merlot
I suggest you take time for more than a taste of this wine. It’s composed of 100% Merlot, with fruit from Stillwater Creek and Weinbau Vineyards. Stillwater Creek is a 245-acre vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills in Washington State’s Columbia Valley. Weinbau Vineyard was planted in the mid 1970's. Located at the East edge of the Wahluke Slope AVA, Weinbau Vineyard is part of the renowned SBDW (Sagemoor, Bachus, Dionysius, Weinbau) consortium, and represents some of the oldest vines in the State. This Merlot has a dark core.

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
A classic Washington Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in oak for 23 months, full of flavor and very “yummy” I bought a glass of this wine after Stacie and I finished our tasting.

2007 Malbec
Malbec is on focus at Hamilton Cellars. The 2007 Malbec is all Washington Malbec goodness. It’s made from a blend of Malbec from Snipes Canyon and Conner Lee vineyards. A perfect steak wine, it has flavors of red fruit, is peppery, tannic and has a long finish.

When you visit, you can also try a flight of wines: Malbec Flight 3 oz. samples of – 2009 Rose of Malbec, 2007 Bona Vita, 2007 Malbec, Bona Vita Flight 3 oz. samples of – 2006, 2007, 2008 vintages of Bona Vita

Vertical tasting of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Bona Vita
I tasted the Bona Vita vintages after the Rosé of Malbec, but Stacie had me try the Bona Vita Flight at the end of our tasting, so I could better compare all three vintages side by side. Bona Vita is a Malbec biased blend, each vintage has different percentages of Malbec and other red wine varietals.

2006 Bona Vita – Very focused and serious. Time has been good to this vintage. 36% Malbec, 32% Cab Sav, 16% Petit Verdot, 16% Merlot.
2007 Bona Vita – For me, sharp and a bit funky. It’s at an awkward stage and will probably come around in a few months. I'll try it again in 2 or 3 months. 51% Malbec, 24% Cab Sav, 13% Merlot, 12% Cab Franc.
2008 Bona Vita- This vintage hit my buttons, it has a great nose is bright, spicy, dry and friendly - reminded me of a very good Zinfandel. The 2008 was at my speed Friday. A perfect wine, one you can enjoy with food and friends. 58% Malbec, 17% Cab Sav, 17% Cab Franc, 8% Merlot.

Wow, that was fun and a great way to compare how each vintage differs.

After my tasting with Stacie, I spent some time at the front bar. I enjoyed a glass of the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, and visited with Ben Simons of Friday afternoon, there was a steady flow of customers at Hamilton Cellars. Several wine club members were having a great time in Milton’s Lair, while first time visitors were enjoying the wonderful wines of Hamilton Cellars for the first time.

Thank you Stacie for your hospitality, I’ll be back.

Hamilton Cellars is located in Queens Gate Village, on Keene Road in South Richland. The tasting room is open Wednesday – Sunday, check their website for hours, They have plenty of room for you and your friends - put them on your must visit list.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Going Tasting Today @HamiltonCellars

There's an Internet outage in our region today (Frontier) so I'm using the Internet at our public library. Thank you!

Today I'm finally going to taste at Hamilton Cellars. I'll be there at 3 pm. Stop by and say hello if you're in the area. Ben of @vinotology will be pouring.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Barnard Griffin Winery Visit Wows

Wine Wednesday, a Perfect Afternoon for Wine Tasting

Barnard Griffin Winery off of Tulip Lane.
Winter has returned to the Columbia Valley, today was sunny, but a very cold day. Since today is Wine Wednesday, #WW, I thought it was time to stop in and visit my friends at Barnard Griffin winery. It's been more than a year since I last visited the Barnard Griffin winery, far too long.

Rob Griffin and his wife Deborah were in the tasting room when I arrived and warmly greeted me. I then visited with tasting room manager Kim Gravenslund, who showed me the current lineup. You may already be familiar with the Barnard Griffin “tulip” label wines. These delicious wines are widely available around the country - I purchase them on a regular basis myself. So those wines I did not taste today. Today I sampled the Reserve Barnard Griffin wines – all 10 of them!

Elise checks the wine before pouring.
I was happy to have Rob and Deborah’s daughter, Elise, pour for me. Elise now works at the winery and was an especially gracious host and guide. I have to note that we did not sample all 10 Reserve wines. The one Reserve wine I did not taste was the 2009 Rosé of Sangiovese - I last mentioned the Rosé of Sangiovese November 2010, so I did not need to taste it again (I already know how good it is).

*While I was at the winery, I was told that the remaining 2009 Rosé of Sangiovese, is on sale for only $100 a case, while supply lasts. Also of note, the 2010 Rosé of Sangiovese will be released soon – check with the winery.

Tasting Notes: These tasting notes are for the wines which stand out in my sensory memory. All the wines were delicious, but these are the wines that wowed me.

2009 Viognier – Wow, this is an elegant white wine, soft, fruity, essence of orange blossoms, Viognier as it should be. This would be a great date night wine, a supple wine to share with someone special.

2009 Roussanne – I think I actually said “wow” out loud when I tasted this wine. It’s crisp and dry, an unanticipated contrast of citrus and flower blossom with a satisfying dry finish. Roll me over and take me to brunch Roussanne, you would be fantastic with a crab salad. Anyone game?

Detail of the Barnard Griffin 2008 Grenache.
2008 Grenache – I don’t think Grenache is supposed to be this complex a wine. Wow, again, I was fascinated with all aspects of this Grenache. The captivating nose had me transfixed, swirl, sniff, and talk to Elise, swirl, and sniff. There are layers to this wine, aromas and flavors and the finish, it’s a light body red and well balanced; it’s fruity, spicy, with pomegranate, pepper, strawberry, and currant. Elise said that just a kiss of oak was used. Seek this one out, call the winery and order now. I really enjoyed this Grenache.

2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Just pure Cabernet Sauvignon in this bottle. Classic, big cherry Cabernet, dry and succulent the way a Cab should be. It’s not intimidating, very approachable and easy to enjoy. A Rob Griffin classic.

2008 Ciel Du Cheval Merlot – I’m a long time fan of the Ciel du Cheval Merlot. The grapes come from one of the most famous Red Mountain vineyards in Washington (most famous in Washington?). Words cannot do this wine justice. It puts many other wines to shame. This wine should be on your 2011 must taste, must buy and must drink list. This wine is truly decadent, rich, huge, gorgeousness - they should call it "Decadence".

2009 Orange Muscat – This is another signature Barnard Griffin wine, and my Mothers favorite wine too. Everything you could love in a gently sweet, white wine. Don’t think desert wine, this is more of an aperitif wine. It has flavors of orange and peach, yes a bit sweet, but not heavy, it is very satisfying. I think this has to be the best Orange Muscat I’ve enjoyed in the last six years. Recommended.

2009 Reserve Syrah Port – Another classic Rob Griffin wine, with a little Tempranillo and Touriga added this time. Now this is a sweet desert wine, but in a manly way. I like it. There’s a bit of chocolate on the nose, followed by rich dark fruit flavors. This little bottle won’t last long – it’s very easy to enjoy. If you have never sampled a Washington Syrah port, this is one for the shopping list.

Art Glass by Deborah Barnard.
 A visit to Barnard Griffin winery is quite unlike a visit to any other Washington winery. I’m not just talking about Rob Griffin’s award winning wines. Nor am I only talking about the staggering array of wines available to sample. The winery is also an art gallery filled with dazzling art glass crafted by Deborah Barnard. This is one winery to stimulate the senses.

To sum up, I left the Barnard Griffin winery in a good mood – I enjoyed the friendly reception, the wine conversation and of course, all of the wines. There's a lot going on with this winery. And there's more to share, but this post is already long enough. I should visit them more often, you should too. Go find their wines, if you can’t find them locally, ask your grocer to bring some in. You may also be able to order direct from their website. Visit Barnard Griffin winery the next time you are in Eastern Washington - you are sure to be wowed.

* note: Barnard Griffin winery will be pouring their wines at Taste Washington Seattle on the 27th of March. There's still time to buy tickets.

Barnard Griffin Winery
878 Tulip Lane, Richland, Washington 99352
Phone: (509) 627-0266
Tasting Room is open 10AM - 6PM daily


Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Lovely 2009 Badger Mountain Organic Chardonnay, NSA

Washington Wine Goodness in a Blue Bottle
Badger Mountain Wine with Rustic French Inspired Dinner
This wine is produced using organic fruit and it is also a No Sulfites Added (NSA) organic wine. In 1990 Badger Mountain Vineyard became the first USDA Certified Organic wine grape vineyard in Washington State. Produced in the Columbia Valley AVA, Badger Mountain Wines benefit from an ideal location and climate, deep volcanic soil, and organic production – that’s win, win in my book.

I strongly recommend you buy this wine. It is reasonably priced around $10 (the blue bottle just makes it easy to recognize).  Friday evening, we enjoyed this wine with dinner I prepared; a rustic, herbed chicken with caramelized vegetables. This was a delectable food and wine pairing.

A balanced mineral core gives this wine a superb foundation. Lovely stone fruit flavors, mostly of pear are satisfyingly accompanied by a tasty baked bread finish. This wine is made from Organic grapes, NSA and a pleasure to drink. If you have never enjoyed an Organic, NSA wine, then you are in for a treat when you try this one. The screw cap ensures you'll be able to get to it easily.

Blend information
96% Certified Organic Chardonnay
4% Certified Organic Semillon
85% Badger Mountain Estate Vineyard Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
11% Arete Vineyard Chardonnay, Wahluke Slope
4% Badger Mountain Estate Vineyard Semillon, Columbia Valley
13% alcohol
5,000 cases produced

The Organic Chardonnay grapes were harvested at night to take advantage of the cooler temperatures, and ensuring higher quality (preventing fermentation from wild yeast). The Chardonnay had an average brix of 22.5. No malolactic fermentation was used for this wine.

Badger Mountain Vineyard & Powers Winery
1106 S. Jurupa St.
Kennewick, WA 99338

I reviewed the 2008 Badger Mountain Organic Chardonnay NSA, in September 2009.