Category Archives: Other NW Wine Recommendations
For the Week of October 16, 2016: Kiona Vineyards 2014 Chenin Blanc Ice Wine – This perennial Red Mountain favorite from the Williams Family is certain to put a smile on your face at the end of the day. Consistently produced since the 1980’s, this phenomenal wine is packed with tropical, stone fruit, and strawberry flavors, while brisk acidity impeccably balances a sky-high 17.2% residual sugar content…resulting in a mile-long finish that’s sweet without being overbearing. Easily stands up to any dessert you can throw at it, or serve it cordial-style on it’s own as “dessert in a glass.”
For the week of October 9, 2016: Lobo Hills Wine Co. 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – Looking for a Cab that will hold it’s own against a hearty beef stew? This Columbia Valley-sourced selection, blended with a bit of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot will easily do the trick. Black currant, blackberry, and black licorice flavors converge in this big-finishing wine with good structure and nicely balanced acidity. Give it a bit of aeration time and it opens up beautifully and additional cellaring should also give this wine additional polish and depth.
For the week of October 2, 2016: Arbor Crest Cellars N/V Cliff House White – Spokane winemaker Kristina van Loben Sels (pictured at left) has completely outdone herself with this overachieving, incredibly well-priced wine. A blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Chardonnay, it opens with crisp Fuji apple and apricot flavors that melt into more full-bodied fruits of pineapple and guava that are nicely balanced with a splash of finishing acidity. This is truly a delicious, must-try wine and at only $12 a bottle you can afford to buy it by the case.
For the week of September 25, 2016: Cougar Crest Winery 2014 Viognier – Another winner from the Walla Walla winery, particular for those who enjoy flavorful, full-bodied white wines. Big, beautiful aromas and flavors of peach, honeydew melon, and tropical fruits predominate, with a soft, round finish that make it a prime candidate to pair with rich foods. A couple of pairing suggestions: roast pumpkin soup with heavy cream or fresh lobster tail dipped in clarified butter.
For the week of September 18, 2016: Mellisoni Vineyards 2013 Syrah – Rob and Donna Mellison have a great thing going at their Lake Chelan winery…spectacular views, good wine, and first-class service. This gorgeous Syrah displays dark cherry flavors that become more concentrated as the wine progresses. The finish is lenghty, slight chewy, and inky with a trace of minerality that’s representative of the Lake Chelan AVA. Check out the wines in person during the off-season when spring and summer tourists have departed and you’ll be able to enjoy a much more leisurely visit.
For the week of September 11, 2016: Pacific Rim Winery 2014 Riesling – Looking for a solid, classic Washington Riesling at an affordable price? Pacifc Rim has you covered with this nicely priced selection that should meet all your Riesling needs. White peach and apricot aromas and flavors, and a slighty sweet finish with well-balanced acidity make this ideal for pairing with spicy cuisine or equally nice as a summertime sipper. Priced around $10, it’s easy to spring for a few extras to have on hand (and in case you run low, the 2015 vintage is also currently available).
For the week of September 4, 2016: Bellingar Estates 2014 Oregon Pinot Noir – Born and raised in Bellingham, Washington, Evan Bellingar headed south to Oregon’s Willamette Valley to produce his first commercially released vintage…and it’s a winner. This strikingly ruby-colored, lighter-styled Pinot features ample red cherry and raspberry flavors to lead off, with a splash of cranberry on the finish and a touch of the varietal’s signature earthiness. Pair it up with a variety of foods, but keep Pacific Northwest salmon at the top of your list and you’ll have an incredible culinary combination.
For the week of August 28, 2016: Cor Cellars 2014 Alba Cor – White wine blends continue to be a growing part of the Washington wine scene and this combination of Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris from the Columbia Gorge winery is a perfect example of what to expect. Juicy pear and honeydew melon aromas and flavors fill the glass, with bracing acidity and a trace of spiciness on the finish. Serve it well-chilled and enjoy with anything seafood or simply on its own as a great starter wine.
For the week of August 21, 2016: Bergevin Lane “Linen” 2015 Rose – This second label from the Walla Walla winery serves up affordably priced choices that deliver plenty of flavor and quality. This delcious Rose is comprised of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and offers mouth-watering red cherry and strawberry flavors with an edgier finishing note of crisp, citrusy rhubarb. It’s a perfect “shrimp on the barby” accompaniment at the budget-friendly price of only about $15 a bottle.
For the week of August 14, 2016: Su Lei Cellars 2014 Sauvignon Blanc – Walla Walla’s Tanya Woodley is one of several women winemakers that are putting their mark on the Washington wine industry. Tanya notes that this Sauvignon Blanc “is made in a New Zealand style,” which means you can expect plenty of racy acidity and a touch of herbaceousness. But there’s also a more pleasant, rounder quality to this wine with its key lime, citrus and Granny Smith apple flavors. Serve chilled with fresh shrimp and you’ve can an incredible summertime combination.
For the week of August 7, 2016: Proper Wines 2013 Estate Syrah – Only 600 cases of this wine were produced so purchasing it sooner, rather than later, is the order of the day. A beautiful wine from start to finish, with lovely chocolate and espresso aromas and ample yet balanced black cherry and blueberry fruit on the palate. The finish melts into a swirl of vanilla bean with a lingering, velvety quality. Superbly crafted. Available on line at www.properwines.com.
For the week of July 31, 2016: Palencia Wine Co. “El Vinador” 2013 Tempranillo – This amazing wine from Walla Walla opens with velvety currant and black tea flavors that melt into ultra-dark cherry and bittersweet chocolate. An extended finish is framed by toasted vanilla bean. Just how good is this wine? Easily worthy of its $50-a-bottle price tag and truly a wine to savor.
For the week of July 24, 2016: Edward Lynne Cellars 2014 Malbec – Winemaker Bill Kintner has done a nice job with this increasingly popular varietal from his Camano Island-based winery. Generous dark plum flavors and undertones of black currant start you off, with understated brambly spice accents on a velvety finish. This ready-to-drink Malbec may not be an ideal candidate for long-term cellaring, but it’s certainly a pleasure to drink in the short run.
For the Week of July 17, 2016: Randolph Cellars 2013 Syrah – This varietally perfect Syrah hits all the right notes from start to finish. Smoky aromatics carry over to the palate along with rich, dark fruit, a flourish of spice and a touch of bacon fat on a toasty finish. A stunning effort from the Snohomish winery and winner of this year’s Best of Show award at the Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival.
For the week of July 10, 2016: Robert Ramsay Cellars 2015 Mason’s White – Winemaker Bob Harris’s wines are always spot on, and this just-released white is another prime example of the quality of wines you’ll find at his Woodinville tasting room. Made entirely from Roussanne, it features complex aromas and flavors of butterscotch, baked apple, hazelnut and caramel, along with a weighty, full-bodied finish that are characteristic of this Rhone varietal.
For the Week of July 3, 2016: Masquerade Wine Co. Non-Vintage Sparkling Lemberger – This underused red varietal finds a place in an unlikely place: as a sparkling wine. Yeasty brioche aromatics and tasty black cherry flavors predominate, with a lingering finish of cherry that’s fruity without being sweet. Winemaker Bill Kimmerly shows a deft touch in crafting this incredibly delicious, must-try wine that’s available only at the Bellingham tasting room.
For the Week of June 26, 2016: Tempus Cellars 2013 Riesling – Evergreen Vineyards, located in Central Washington’s Ancient Lakes AVA, has quickly become one of the state’s premiere growing regions for Riesling. This current release from Walla Walla winemaker Joe Forest, is a prime example of the quality of grapes coming from this area. Imagine biting into a fresh white peach, with all the wonderful fruit backed by crisp, laser-sharp acidity and steely minerality, and that’s what you’ll find with this wine. Refreshing, clean, and flavorful, it’s an absolute pleasure to taste.
For the Week of June 19, 2016: Gifford-Hirlinger Winery 2013 Stateline Red – Located in Walla Walla and less than a stone’s throw from the Oregon border, Gifford-Hirlinger has been a favorite of mine since its inception. Winemaker Mike Berghan somehow manages to put together this five-varietal blend, all sourced from Walla Walla fruit, and get it out the door for only $18 a bottle. Nice red plum and berry flavors, a bit of peppery spice, good acidity, decent tannins…in short, a well-balanced wine that you’ll be hard-pressed to match in quality from this area at this price point.
For the week of June 12, 2016: Forgeron Cellars 2012 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – This completely over-the-top Cabernet from winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla will put you in state of red wine bliss. Open a bottle, and you’ll feel like you’re walking through a field of wild blackberries. This fruit carries over to the palate, along with flavors of black plum and currant, spicy cinnamon accents and a finish that simply will not stop. Nearly half the grapes were sourced from Walla Walla AVA vineyards, and a bit of Petit Verdot was blended in. Exceptional!
For the week of June 5, 2016: Bergevin Lane Winery “Linen” Wines – Bergevin Lane has been a presence on the Walla Walla wine scene for many years and their Linen series of wines provide wine enthusiasts with solid, dependable choices at incredibly reasonable prices. Current releases include Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Carmenere, Merlot, and Rose…all priced at about $12 to $14 a bottle.
For the week of May 29, 2016: Lost River Winery 2014 Pinot Gris – Pinot Gris has been a rising star among Washington white wines and it now trails only Riesling and Chardonnay in terms of production. This selection from winemaker John Morgan is a prime example of why this wine has become so popular. Tropical fruit, pear and citrus flavors predominate, and although it’s made with a bit of residual sugar you won’t taste the sweetness because of the wine’s brisk acidity. The end result is a refreshing Pinot Gris with a bit of heft, big mouthfeel, and excellent food-pairing potential.
For the week of May 22, 2016: Naches Heights Vineyard Non-Vintage Riesling – The Naches Heights Appellation boasts some of the highest elevation vineyards in the State, and this winery is located on a scenic plateau northwest of Yakima. Winemaker Phil Cline has done a nice job with this wine…packing it with tropical pineapple, Granny Smith apple, and crisp peach flavors along with a bright flourish of lime zest to balance out the trace of sweetness. This is classic, flavorful Washington Riesling and certain to be a crowd-pleaser.
For the week of May 15, 2016: Masquerade Wine Company Non-Vintage Moscato – Located in Bellingham, Masquerade is one of only a handful of Washington wineries that produce sparkling wine. This one is a sensory delight, with lovely floral aromas of gardenia and honeysuckle, big flavors of spiced pear and lychee and an off-dry finish with just a shade under 2% residual sugar. The wine’s gentle sweetness will provide a nice contrast to 2-star or higher Asian cuisine or it can be enjoyed chilled as a perfect spring or summertime sipper.
For the week of May 8, 2016: Tucannon Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – If you prefer your Cabernets “drink ready” with a minimum of cellaring time, this gorgeous Cab from the Red Mountain winery is a perfect fit. Incredible aromas of beeswax, vanilla wafer, and meadow grasses lead off, with delicious red cherry flavors on the palate and a finish of toasted hazelnut. It’s a bit lighter in body than most Washington Cabernets, and a refreshing alternative for those who prefer a red that’s a bit less “heavy-handed.”
For the week of May 1, 2016: Jones of Washington 2015 Rose of Syrah – Fruity, but not sweet, this absolutely amazing Rose is one of the best Roses – and one of the best wines, period – that I’ve tasted this year. Strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, and honeydew flavors hit you with mouth-watering precision and are backed by steely acidity and Ancient Lakes’ signature minerality. The icing on the cake is the $14 price tag, which means you should be buying this wine by the case and drinking it regularly.
For the week of April 24, 2016: Maryhill Winery 2012 Marvell GSM – Let’s raise a glass to Maryhill Winery with its stunning tasting room location, wonderful, cordial owners Craig and Vicky Luethold, and award-winning winemaker Richard Batchelor. This latest version of Marvell – a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre – is a grand slam with big, bold aromas and flavors of chocolate cherry that end with a flourish of cracked black pepper and sturdy tannins. Bring on anything beef to serve with this amazing red wine.
For the week of April 17, 2016: Memaloose 2011 Mistral Ranch – The Columbia Gorge Appellation has to be one of the most diverse wine regions in Washington. Over 45 varietals are grown here, and this wine from Memaloose showcases two of them: Syrah and Grenache. It’s an easy-to-drink red wine; medium in body with dark fruits to start before finishing with leaner flavors of red currant and red cherry. Try it with a duck, pork or roast beef entree.
For the week of April 10, 2016: GLM Wine Co. 2013 The Denier – Tom Davis and Tracey DeGraff run a great operation at their winery in Blaine. Seemingly reluctant to produce a mainstream wine, they’ve struck the right chord with this 80/20 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, sourced from Pasco’s Burgess Vineyards. There’s a nice plummy quality to this wine, with a distinctive yet subtle finish of blackberry and blueberry. Medium to full-bodied with good texture, it’s drinking beautifully now…and additional cellaring promises to make it even better.
For the week of April 3, 2016: William Church Winery 2013 Malbec – Rod and Leslie Balsley of Woodinville have a number of killer red wines currently available (to go with an equal stunning Viognier for those who prefer white wine). This Gamache Vineyards Malbec is a prime example, with lovely floral aromas, generous spiced berry flavors, and a lenghty, velvety finish. There’s an elegant quality to this wine that suggests a prime rib pairing, although I also wouldn’t hesitate to try it with anything off the barbeque including lamb burgers or a big, juicy steak.
For the Week of March 27, 2016: Portteus Winery 2014 Rattlesnake Red – Paul Portteus started his winery long before the Rattlesnake Hills region where his vineyards are located earned AVA status. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sangiovese is a well-priced red that showcases a few of these varietals. The Cab provides some nice body and tannic structure, the Zin contributes a mouthful of spicy raspberry flavors, and the Sangio offers a bit of bright acidity to balance out the package. With a dollop of vanilla on the finish, this is an easy-to-drink red with plenty of broad-ranging appeal.
For the week of March 20, 2016: Palencia Wine Company 2014 Albarino – Victor Palencia continues to amaze us with this incredible effort with one of the State’s newer varietals. This refreshing, complex white wine is a sensory delight, with aromas and flavors of apple and spiced pear, backed by bracing acidity and finished with notes of lime zest, allspice and beautiful minerality. Further evidence of Palencia’s winemaking prowess: his 2015 Albarino, which took best of show honors at this year’s Cascadia Wine Competition and has just been released to the public.
For the week of March 13, 2016: Owen Roe Winery 2013 Yakima Valley Red Wine – This stunning, perfectly balanced red wine blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, is indicative of everything on the tasting menu currently available from this Yakima Winery. Winemaker/Partner David O’Rielly not only makes great wines, you’ll find that he and his wife, Angelica, are cordial and gracious hosts…should they happen be there when you pay them a highly recommended visit.
For the week of March 6, 2016: Lost River Winery 2013 Barbera – Winemaker John Morgan hits all the right notes on this spectacular red wine sourced from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Smoky undertones and touches of pepper and spice accentuate a base of reserved black cherry fruit, licorice root, and black plum. As if that weren’t enough, the acidity level and tannins offer impeccable balance, making this a “complete package” wine that should put it on your must-try list. Exceptional!
For the week of February 28, 2016: Dusty Cellars Winery 2014 Spartan – Scheduled for release in May, 2016, this 100-percent Rattlesnake Hills Merlot from the Camano Island Winery is a nod to the mascot from nearby Stanwood High School. It’s an easy-to-drink Merlot with blackberry and black currant flavors, nicely balanced with a splash of acidity and soft tannins. Husband-and-wife owners/winemakers Ryan and Dusty Kramer are doing a fine job with their wines and, as congenial hosts, make a visit to their tasting room (open the first full weekend of every month) well worth the visit.
For the week of February 21, 2016: Ginkgo Forest Winery 2014 Viognier – Mike and Lois Thiede have done an awesome job with this big, flavorful Viognier that’s indicative of the wines you’ll find from the Wahluke Slope AVA. Expect plenty of Golden Delicious apple, peach, and apricot flavors from this viscous, full-bodied white. Bonus selection: the winery’s 2011 Malbec, where the cooler vintage puts less emphasis on the understated blackberry and blueberry fruit flavors that persist into a slightly smoky finish. It’s drinkly beautifully and highly affordable at around $20 a bottle.
For the week of February 14, 2016: Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Merlot – For those who don’t like to spend a small fortune on wines, $10 to $12 a bottle seems to be the upper limit. If that’s the case, here’s a Washington Merlot that will fit the bill while delivering plenty. Roasted coffee bean aromatics, a mouthful of black currant and cherry fruit, and hints of chocolate and vanilla on the finish highlight this easy-to-drink, highly affordable red.
For the week of February 7, 2016: Thurston Wolfe 2010 JTW’s Port – Perfect for pairing with almost anything chocolate, this Port-Style blend from Prosser primarily consists of Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Sirah. It’s packed with wonderful layers of dark cherry fruit, hazelnut, caramel, chocolate and a trace of peppery spice on the ultra-long finish. While some Ports are overly sweet or overly hot, all the components fall into place here for a beautifully balanced, highly enjoyable fortified wine.
For the week of January 31, 2016: Vartanyan Estate Winery 2014 Sweet Riesling – Whatcom County’s Margarita Vartanyan (pictured at right) has produced a gem of a Riesling at a super-affordable price (about $14). Mouth-watering, juicy pear and pineapple flavors finish with a splash of bracing acidity that perfectly balances a hardly noticeable 7% residual sugar content. How good is this wine? My youngest sister, who rarely drinks white wine enjoyed it so much that she bought a bottle during a recent visit to the tasting room. Outstanding!
For the week of January 24, 2016: Masquerade Wine Co. Non-Vintage Sparkling Riesling – Sparkling wines are one of the things Bellingham’s Masquerade Wine Co. does best and this Riesling is a classic example. Big, golden delicious apple flavors, a flourish of yeasty brioche, and ample residual sugar on the finish will make this an instant favorite of those who like their sparklers with a touch of sweetness. It should pair well with anything in the brunch line, especially eggs benedict with a creamy hollandaise sauce.
For the week of January 17, 2016: Waterbrook Winery 2014 Chardonnay – This well-priced (about $12) Chardonnay from the Walla Walla-based winery makes a great accompaniment to a variety of lighter entrees including chicken, pork and halibut. Apple aromas and flavors are followed by a touch of dried apricot, with finishing notes of nutmeg and vanilla. There’s also a bit of toasted oak in the background that doesn’t overwhelm the wine’s nicely balanced flavor profile.
For the week of January 10, 2016: Barrister Winery Non-Vintage Rough Justice X – Barrister Winery continues as one of Spokane’s top wineries with another exceptional effort from winemakers Michael White and Greg Lipsker. This red wine blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is filled with understated blueberry, plum, and black currant fruits, a twist of white pepper and smoky undertones that make it a pleasure to taste.
For the week of January 3, 2016: Barnard Griffin 2014 Riesling – If you’ve blown your holiday budget and need to cut back on expenditures in January, here’s a great wine that will fit the bill without compromising on quality. Crisp flavors of Granny Smith apple, pear, pineapple and citrus highlight this tasty white wine, with just a touch of sweetness on the finish to move it into the off-dry category. It’s a steal at only about $10 a bottle.
For the week of December 27, 2015: Try something sparkling from several Washington wineries! Possible choices include Masquerade Wine Company and Mount Baker Vineyards in Bellingham, Mountain Dome in Spokane, Chelan’s Karma Vineyards or Treveri Cellars in Yakima. Cheers and Happy New Year!
For the week of December 13, 2015: Dunham Cellars 2011 Lewis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Big blackberry and sweet cedar aromatics start you off, with dark, round fruits of black cherry and cassis on the palate. Finishing touches of slate and spice add additional layers to a wine that exudes luxury from start to finish. The $75-a-bottle price tag seems a bit hefty until you take the first sip. This is an all-around tremendous Washington wine worthy of a place among the state’s best from the 2011 vintage.
For the week of December 6, 2015: Frichette Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon – Keep your eye on husband and wife winemaker/owners Greg and Shae Frichette (pictured at right with son, Jayden). They’re off to a terrific start and Shae’s outgoing personality makes everyone feel welcome at their Red Mountain winery. Their 2012 Cab opens with lovely plum and eucalyptus aromatics, flavors of blueberry and espresso, and a slightly chewy finish with toasted oak and vanilla accents. Drink now or enjoy in another five to seven years and purchase at the tasting room or on line at frichettewinery.com.
For the week of November 29, 2015: Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Indian Wells Merlot – For wine drinkers stuck on under-$10 Australian Shirazes, take a small step up to the $15 to $19 price range and enjoy this easy-to-drink Washington Merlot. Jammy plum and blackberry flavors fill the glass, and melt into a soft, lengthy finish that makes this wine a pleasure to taste.
For the week of November 15, 2015: Barnard Griffin 2014 Fume Blanc – Rob Griffin does it again with this nicely complex white wine that should pair perfectly with seafood, chicken or that Thanksgiving turkey. Stone fruits, green melon, and gentle citrus aromas and flavors lead to a crisp finish with a touch of herbaceousness. At around $9-a-bottle, this insanely underpriced wine is a prime candidate for a case purchase and to have on hand for large groups and holiday parties.
For the week of November 8, 2015: Robert Ramsay Cellars 2012 La Previa – Woodinville winemaker Bob Harris has crafted a completely over-the-top red blend comprised of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Counoise. There’s a seductive quality to this wine, with luscious black cherry fruit that’s beautifully balanced with minerality and acidity along with a velvety texture and spicy accents on the finish. This wine truly is the complete package and probably one of the best wines I’ve tasted in 2015.
For the week of November 1, 2015: Dunham Cellars 2012 Trutina – According to the label, Trutina is Latin for “balance,” and that easily sums up this tremendous effort from the Walla Walla winery. Juicy blackberry and cherry fruit, undertones of toasted caramel and a hint of herbaceousness round out this stunning blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah and Petit Verdot.
For the week of October 26, 2015: Kiona Vineyards and Winery 2103 Chardonnay – Need a nice, reliable middle-of-the-road Chardonnay? Try this affordable option from Red Mountain’s Kiona Winery. Gentle apple flavors with a touch of oak and just enough brightness on the finish make this an almost-certain crowd pleaser. Try it with a creamy, roasted pumpkin soup for a perfect autumnal combination.
For the week of October 19, 2015: J Bookwalter Wines 2013 Subplot No. 30 – This long-time Washington winery based in Richland (with a second tasting studio in Woodinville) has a history of producing some stellar blends and this current release is no exception. Nicely complex with red berry and plum fruit, the finish hints at roasted coffee with a touch of vanilla. It’s a nicely-priced combination of five red varietals that should keep virtually everyone happy.
For the week of October 12, 2015: Mount Baker Vineyards 2014 Muller Thurgau – The Puget Sound region produces a number of cooler climate grapes that are unique to the Western portion of the state…and here’s a great example. Imagine biting into a crisp, Fuji apple and you’ll set the backdrop for this vibrant, flavorful white wine. Its mild sweetness is perfectly balanced with brisk acidity, making it a natural to pair with shellfish or seafood.
For the week of October 5, 2015: Cougar Crest Winery 2009 Merlot – This gorgeous Merlot from the Walla Walla Valley is a fine representation of a varietal many feel the state does best. Beautiful dark cherry and black plum aromas and flavors melt into a velvety soft finish. Perfect for sipping on its own during a cool, autumn day.