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05.06.2014

Wine Highlights from Taste Washington 2014

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Every spring, as new buds strain to burst out on trees still rainswept and windblown, Seattle plays host to its annual celebration of Washington State Wine. Every time I attend Taste Washington, I find myself asking why I don't visit every year. It is one of the best large scale tasting events in the country, and that's even before we begin talking about the wine.

Held in the large convention center near the Seahawks' stadium, the event features wine seminars, food vendors, cooking demonstrations, and about ten people shucking oysters constantly during the event. The food alone makes the event worth attending, but of course the wine pushes it over the top.

Simply put, not even most residents of Washington state pay enough attention to Washington wine, which has two huge things going for it:

1. It is much less expensive than California wine, as a rule.
2. It suffers far less from being overwrought with oak, ripeness, and showmanship.

Whenever I attend Taste Washington, I kick myself for not owning or drinking more Washington State wines. Those who know the state at all tend to think of it as a red wine producer, and in particular, home to the Bordeaux varieties. This is true, but there are far more facets to the state, including exceptional Rhone-style wines, very competent Rieslings, and even some Loire varieties.

At the moment, the state's wine industry seems to be gnawing its lower lip, trying to figure out whether or not it has an identity crisis (somehow every wine region seems to think it needs a signature grape variety or wine style -- why, I'm not sure). Who knows where that will end up, but in the meantime, there's nowhere else in the United States where you can get such high quality wine for around $25.

Just check out some of the prices on my favorites from the tasting below. Most wines of this caliber in Napa would cost $15 to $30 more, and you can double that amount for Cabernet.

If you haven't done yourself the favor of exploring the wines of Washington state, I suggest you start now, and mark your calendar for a trip to Seattle in early April next year for the next installment. I know I will be.

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WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5

2011 Array Cellars "Dijon Clone, Otis Harlan Vyd." Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, Washington $32
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of stony lemon and juicy grapefruit. In the mouth, bright, juicy grapefruit, lemon curd, and wet stone flavors linger for a long time in the finish. Great acidity and brightness.

2012 Cadaretta Winery "SBS" White Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $23. click to buy.
2012 Efeste "Feral" Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, Washington $20. click to buy.
2012 Pomum Cellars Riesling, Yakima, Washington $16. click to buy.

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2012 Airfield Estates Winery "Lightning" White Rhône Blend, Yakima Valley, Washington $20
2012 Alleromb "La Reyna Blanca" Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington $56
2012 àMaurice Cellars Viognier, Columbia Valley, Washington $34
2011 Array Cellars "Conner- Lee Vineyard" Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington $32
2012 Avennia "Oliane" Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley, Washington $25
2012 Buty Winery Chardonnay, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $??
2013 COR Cellars "ALBA COR" White Blend, Columbia Gorge, Washington $18
2012 Januik "Cold Creek" Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington $30
2012 Tamarack Cellars Viognier, Columbia Valley, Washington $24
2012 Two vintners "O.g." Gewurztraminer, Yakima Valley, Washington $??
2012 Waitsburg Cellars "The Aromatics " Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington $17
2012 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay, Washington State, Washington $44

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2012 Alleromb "La Reyna Blanca" Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, Washington $50
2011 AntoLin Cellars Riesling, Yakima Valley, Washington $14
2011 Array Cellars Chardonnay, Washington State, Washington $25
2011 Buty Winery White blend, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $??
2012 Figgins "Estate" Riesling, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $30
2012 L'Ecole No 41 "Estate Luminesce" White Bordeaux Blend, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $20

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2011 AntoLin Cellars Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington $19
2013 Bartholomew Winery "Upland Vineyard" Aligote, Snipes Mountain, Washington $19
2012 Efeste "Evergreen" Riesling, Ancient Lakes, Washington $20
2012 Nefarious Cellars "Consequence" White blend, Columbia valley, Washington $20
2012 Nefarious Cellars "Estate" Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington $20

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2012 Apex Cellars Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington $15
2013 Charles Smith Wines/K Vintners "Kung Fu Girl" Riesling, Ancient Lakes, Washington $12
2012 Patterson Cellars "Melange Blanc" White Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $23

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
NV Syncline "Scintillation Brut Rose" Champagne blend, Columbia Gorge, Washington $30
2013 Bartholomew Winery Rosé of Carmenere, Columbia Valley, Washington $15

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2013 COR Cellars "Rosae" Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Columbia Gorge, Washington $18


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RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5

2010 Efeste "Nana" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $44
Quite sadly, I lost my tasting note on this wine, likely due to fat fingering my iPad at some point when I was making other notes. Suffice it to say, this wine was awesome. click to buy.

RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5

2011 Betz Family Winery "Pere de Famille" Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington $68
A medium dark purple in the glass, this wine offers wonderful floral and cassis aromas that make the mouth water. In the mouth, juicy cassis, violets and black cherry flavors are bright with excellent acidity. Fine grained, taut tannins stretch like a skein of musculature around and through the fruit. Long finish, and seemingly quite ageworthy. click to buy.

2012 Two vintners Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington $??
Dark garnet in color, this wine has a light funk to it with dark earth and cassis aromas backing up the hint of leather. In the mouth, flavors of cassis and blackberry are beautifully bright and juicy thanks to excellent acidity. Long and pleasurable.

2011 Betz Family Winery "La Cote Rousse" Syrah, Red Mountain, Washington $55
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and blackberry fruit. In the mouth smooth, taut tannins wrap around a core of wet earth and juicy blackberry fruit. Somewhat brooding and dark, but not dense. Excellent acidity.
2009 àMaurice Cellars "Fred the Hummingbird" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $47 Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and blackberry. In the mouth, a juicy body of stony blackberry, cassis, and earth flavors is enlivened with great acidity. Fabulous long finish, with faint tannins. click to buy.

2011 Andrew Will "Sorella" Red Bordeaux Blend, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington $70
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of juicy black cherry strained through dark earth. In the mouth, thick tannins envelop a core of dark loamy cherry flavors. Good balance, but the tannins are muscular and tense, and could do with a few years to mellow. click to buy.

2011 Avennia "Arnaut" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Washington $48
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of rich cassis and blackberry aromas. Despite this rich aroma, the wine is decidedly lean in the mouth, offering stony flavors of blackberry that have a lovely mineral quality thanks to excellent acidity. Very long finish with supple tannins. click to buy.

2008 Boudreaux Cellars "Reserve" Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State, Washington $100
Deep ruby in color, this wine smells of cherry, graphite, and tobacco. In the mouth, bright cherry fruit merges with a slight spicy note, and both are dusted with very fine grained tannins. Beautifully juicy acidity, and a long finish. 13.9% alcohol. click to buy.

2010 Bartholomew Winery "Reciprocity - Cab/Carmenere" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $28
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of green bell pepper, cherry, and earth. In the mouth the wine has a wonderfully mineral quality with juicy herbal-tinged cherry fruit and smooth, taut tannins. Great acidity and brightness. Long finish. click to buy.

2012 Syncline Grenache, Columbia Valley, Washington $25
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of strawberry and cherry fruit. In the mouth spicy cedar, strawberry, cherry, and earthy forest floor aromas are shot through with fantastically great acidity. Practically no tannins to speak of. A blend of Grenache and Cinsault. click to buy.

2010 Owen Roe "Red willow" Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, Washington $36
Medium purple in color, this wine smells of cherry and green herbs. In the mouth, flavors of cherry, green herbs, wet earth, and wet stone nestle into a bed of supple suede-like tannins. Great acidity keeps the fruit juicy and bright. click to buy.

2011 Andrew Will "Two Blondes" Red Bordeaux Blend, Yakima Valley, Washington $52
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of juicy black cherry fruit. In the mouth, the wine delivers much the same: a core of juicy black cherry, powdered with faint tannins and bouncy with excellent, bright acidity. Long finish.

2011 Pomum Cellars Graciano, Snipes Mountain, Washington $30
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of spicy cedar and dry herbs. In the mouth the wine offers a medley of cherry, blackberry, and dry herb flavors dusted by light tannins and boisterous with bright juicy acidity. Medium-bodied and quite cheerful, with a long finish. Excellent.

2010 àMaurice Cellars "Night Owl" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $35 click to buy.
2010 àMaurice Cellars "Owl and Crown" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $35 click to buy.
2010 àMaurice Cellars "Morris Graves" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $35
2011 Avennia "Sestina" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $55 click to buy.
2011 Avennia "Gravura" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $36 click to buy.
2011 Avennia "Justine" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $40 click to buy.
2009 Buty Winery "Columbia Rediviva (Library Selection)" Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington $50 click to buy.
2011 Cadaretta Winery "Springboard" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $??
2008 Efeste "Tough guy" Red Blend, Red mountain, Washington $55
2010 Efeste "Upright" Merlot, Red Mountain, Washington $39 click to buy.
2007 Gramercy Cellars Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington $45 click to buy.
2010 Gramercy Cellars "Lagniappe" Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington $60 click to buy.
2010 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington $48 click to buy.
2011 Owen Roe "Chapel Block" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Washington $55 click to buy.
2011 Pomum Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington $32
2011 Southard Winery "Lawrence Vineyard" Red Rhône Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $22 click to buy.
2011 Syncline "Boushey" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Washington $35 click to buy.
2012 Two vintners Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington $??


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9

2011 CAVU Cellars "Alder Ridge Vineyard" Barbera, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington $30
Medium purple in color, this wine smells of grapey bright cassis and blackberry aromas with a hint of cedar. In the mouth tangy blackberry and orange peel flavors have a nice acidic edge to them, and quite faint supple tannins.

2009 Balboa Winery "Mith" Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $45
2009 Balboa Winery "Eidolon" Red Blend, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $75
2008 Brian Carter Cellars "Solesce" Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State, Washington $??
2009 Brian Carter Cellars "Byzance" Red Rhône Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $34
2008 Brian Carter Cellars "Le Coursier" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $34
2011 Buty Winery "Rediviva of the Stones" Red Blend, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $60
2006 Buty Winery "Columbia Rediviva (Library Selection)" Red Blend, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington $50
2011 Cadaretta Winery Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington $35
2009 CAVU Cellars "Les Collines Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $35
2009 Charles Smith Wines/K Vintners "The hustler" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $45
2009 Col Solare "Col Solare" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $75
2002 Col Solare "Col Solare" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $75
2011 COR Cellars "Hogback Ridge Vineyard" Malbec, Columbia Valley, Washington $28
2011 COR Cellars "McKinley Springs Vineyards" Petit Verdot, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington $26
2009 Covington Cellars Sangiovese., Walla Walla Valley, Washington $36
2011 DeLille Cellars, Doyenne "DeLille Cellars Four Flags" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Washington $65
2011 DeLille Cellars, Doyenne "DeLille Cellars D2" Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $42
2010 Figgins "Estate" Red Bordeaux Blend, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $85
2010 Gorman Winery "The Bully" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Washington $50
2011 Gorman Winery "The Pixie" Syrah, Red Mountain, Washington $45
2011 Gramercy Cellars "L'Idiot du Village" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $42
2011 L'Ecole No 41 "Estate Ferguson" Red Bordeaux Blend, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $60
2010 Long Shadows - SAGGI Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $45
2011 Nefarious Cellars "Estate" Syrah, Lake Chelan, Washington $30
2010 Northstar "Premier" Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington $85
2010 Northstar Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington $40
2011 Pomum Cellars "TINTO" Tempranillo, Columbia Valley, Washington $30
2011 Soos Creek Wine Cellars "Ciel du cheval" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $30
2011 Southard Winery "StoneTree" Syrah, Wahluke Slope, Washington $24
2010 Tamarack Cellars Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington $28
2012 Two vintners Zinfandel, Walla Walla, Washington $??

RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2010 Alleromb "Scarline Vineyard" Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington $110
2010 AntoLin Cellars "Estate" Carmenere, Yakima Valley, Washington $25
2011 Apex Cellars "Catalyst Red Wine" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $20
2011 Apex Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington $20
2009 Balboa Winery "BalBOA Constrictor" Red Bordeaux Blend, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $36
2009 Brian Carter Cellars "Tutturosso" Red Blend, Yakima Valley, Washington $34
2011 Cave B Estate Winery "Cave B Vineyards" Tempranillo, Columbia Valley, Washington $33
2009 CAVU Cellars Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington $??
2011 Charles Smith Wines/K Vintners "River Rock" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $45
2009 Covington Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $36
2011 DeLille Cellars, Doyenne "Doyenne Aix" Red Rhône Blend, Red Mountain, Washington $38
2011 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $89
2007 Gramercy Cellars Tempranillo, Columbia Valley, Washington $??
2011 Januik Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington $25
2011 Januik Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington $30
2011 L'Ecole No 41 "Estate Grown" Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $35
2010 Long Shadows - CHESTER KIDDER Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $50
2011 Nefarious Cellars "Spinner" Red Blend, Wahluke slope, Washington $30
2009 Northstar "Walla Walla" Merlot, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $50
2010 Northstar Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington $40
2011 Soos Creek Wine Cellars "Sundance" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $20
2010 Tamarack Cellars Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, Washington $25
2012 Waitsburg Cellars "Three Red Blend" Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington $25

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2012 Airfield Estates Winery "Runway" Merlot, Yakima Valley, Washington $18
2011 Airfield Estates Winery "Aviator" Red Bordeaux Blend, Yakima Valley, Washington $30
2010 AntoLin Cellars "Estate" Malbec, Yakima Valley, Washington $25
2012 Buried Cane Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington $14
2010 CAVU Cellars "Horizon red" Red Blend, Columbia valley, Washington $??
2011 Charles Smith Wines/K Vintners "Northridge Vineyard" Merlot, Wahluke Slope, Washington $45
2010 Covington Cellars "Olsen Vineyard" Petite Sirah, Yakima Valley, Washington $40
2010 Long Shadows - SEQUEL Syrah, Columbia Valley, Washington $50
2011 Patterson Cellars Tempranillo, Columbia Valley, Washington $30
2011 Patterson Cellars Cabernet franc, Columbia Valley, Washington $38

RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2010 Bunnell Family Cellar "Boushey Vineyard" Sangiovese, Yakima Valley, Washington $22
2007 Lodmell Cellars "Lodmell Cellars Estate Merlot" Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington $33
2009 Page Cellars "Preface" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Washington $37

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