My first experience with Latah Creek Wine Cellars included a visit to their Spokane tasting room about 15 to 20 years ago. I seem to recall that they had several pretty decent white wines, some adequate reds, and something called Maywine, a mildy spicy offering that could best be described as “unique”.
Like many Washington wineries that have had a couple of decades of experience to do some fine tuning, Latah Creek has markedly improved the quality of their wines. Mike Conway has been the head winemaker since the company’s incetpion in 1982, and his daughter, Natalie Conway-Barnes, now works with him as assistant winemaker. Their current releases reflect the extra effort and dedication that goes into elevating the status of one’s wines from simply ordinary to premium.
Their 2006 Semillon is a grand slam, and it makes me wonder why more Washington winemakers aren’t producing this varietal. Beginning with a pleasant aroma of fresh cut rhubarb, the flavors seem to change from stone fruits to a nice, mineral-like quality. It’s remarkably complex for a white wine at this price point (only about $10 a bottle) and it should pair perfectly with shellfish and seafood.
The 2005 Merlot (about $15) from Washington’s Wahluke Slope region is also quite nice, although it was a bit lighter in body with a touch more acdity that I expected. The wine is highlighted with bright red furit flavors of cherry and cranberry and ample tannins that make it a great match with a range of foods from creamy pastas to roast pork.
Another winner is the 2005 Cabernet-Syrah (about $20), the winery’s first effort at this 50-50 red wine blend. This beautiful wine displays depth and character, with intense dark fruit flavors and a touch of chocolate on a lenghtly, elegant finish. Outstanding!
You should be able to purchase or order Latah Creek wines from selected area Haggen stores. They can also be ordered online at www.latahcreek.com.